Globalization: a fundamental challenge to state sovereignty

The growing dependency and interconnection between states has become less relevant than ever before. But what does this dependency and interconnectedness mean and to what extent does it affect the sovereignty and autonomy of the nations? In other words has globalization indeed presented a fundamental challenge to state sovereignty?

For one to understand the above question, a detailed explanation of the two terms is needed. This explanation will help measure the effect or challenges that globalization has on state sovereignty. Globalization is a very wide notion and among the so many definition of globalization, Martin Wolf defines globalization as a “journey, but toward an unreachable destination, the globalized world, a globalized economy in which neither distance nor national borders impede economic transaction, a world where the cost of transport and communication were zero and the barriers created by differing national jurisdictions had vanished” (Wolf, 2001: 178). Globalization is as a result of advances in communication, transportation, and information technologies. It describes the growing economic, political, technological, and cultural linkages that connect individuals, communities, businesses, and governments around the world. 

Three propositions can be made in an attempt to define state sovereignty. That is top authority (supreme authority, especially over a state), independence (the right to self-government without interference from outside) and independent state (politically independent). A state can be said to be sovereign if it has the ability to make and implement laws within its territory, and can function without any external power and assistance, and doesn’t acknowledges any higher authority above itself in the world of independent states.

Globalization is something of the past and has distinguished itself from that of the past in terms of rapid communication, market liberalization and the global integration of goods, services and production. That is to say, at first China was not dependent on economical relations with Europe in the past; nor was Europe on China. But today they all depend on each other. This states are been compelled to build relations in other for them to trade their goods and build a larger and stronger economy. This breaks the aspect of independence in the definition of state sovereignty. Although states are not literally forced to modify their conduct toward the international society or other states, it is in their interest to do so. States now are more likely to join forces with each other in terms of cooperation and political relation. Institutions such as the united nation, the economic community of West African states, African union and etc., are evidence of the effect of globalization on state sovereignty.

Politically, the fall of capitalism and communism is very significant. Countries are been pressured to give the rule of law a chance that is giving the people the power to take part in governance. Initially how countries organize their elections was not a great issue but due to globalization election of presidents are been monitored to prevent violence that may affect the world at large. Elsewhere in the Middle East, the emerging of negotiations on the Persian triangle, which is supposed to constitute a more widely political and economical cooperation between Khorasan (Afghanistan), Iran and Tajikistan could be an example. Currently in Africa the need for a common currency and the attempt to have one head of state for Africa is evidence of the fact that globalization is a challenge to state sovereignty.

In all things globalization has served as a great challenge to state sovereignty even though some aspects of state sovereignty still persist (supreme authority) that is head of states still have supreme authority over their states. For instance, a warrant has been issued for the arrest of the Sudanese President, Omar Hassan al- Bashir, for crimes against humanity but due to the supreme authority that he has in his state (state sovereignty) he cannot be arrested in his country unless he travels or is seen outside his country. Another example is the situation in Zimbabwe where President Robert Mugabe is paying a deaf ear to pressures from other institutions and countries to give democracy a chance in Zimbabwe. The emergence of transnational institutions, multinationals and benevolent organizations and the integration of international laws under consideration, one can conclude that there is a declining process to perceive in the sovereignty of the nation states. States are no longer safe and for that matter no state can be dependent on itself. This will cause globalization to gradually triumph over state sovereignty.



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