Globalization and Sovereignty

January 7, 2012 at 23:09

Although there are distinct approaches on the actors of international relations, as an actor, nation-state can maintain its dominant role in international politics. But according to some theorists, spreading of globalization changes the forms of nation-state and influences indirectly its sovereignty. Therefore, in International Relations discipline, “choice among globalization and sovereignty” is so controversial issue.


In general, sovereignty is the independent authority over a geographic area as a territory and people live there. But there is also different meaning of the term. According to Westfalia agreement, sovereignty means also that states can’t intervene to other states territory where the state has sovereignty. In international law, sovereignty is the acknowledgement of one state to other. Moreover, there are also two types of sovereignty: internal and external. Internal is the state authority over the concrete place and concrete people. But external sovereignty is the freedom of state to act its functions as an actor in international politics.

Under globalization impact, the notion of nation-state encounter with global economy. How do states treat in this situation? Should they prevent themselves to integrate global economy and prevent economic development? Or should they integrate?! With helping of Multinational Companies (MNCs), the problem was solved and now states can’t stand apart global economy. But the condition makes new opportunity for MNCs to promote their impact on economy and politics of states in domestic dimension. In sum, MNCs is transformed to fear against sovereignty of nation-states.

Furthermore, creating of regional and international organizations and their requirement to states are also new limitation for nation-states. So there are concrete requirement of the organizations about internal and external function of states. Moreover, global civil society and international NGOs and spreading of them in most of countries influence domestic politics of states, develop civil society here and make alternative power against government authority. Therefore, most of authority regimes indicate this condition as a limitation of sovereignty.

Globalization brings three big actors into international relations such as MNCs, International Organizations and international NGOs are a great deal danger of existence of sovereignty. But what should state do to prevent the hazard?! Should states protest globalization and strengthen central authority? Or should they check the notion of sovereignty again? Or is new equilibrium mechanism needed?

Human rights

When states join international organization such as European Council and OSCE, human rights issues, democratization process, and rule of law are required from them. Mostly authoritarian regimes don’t follow the policy and because of that they are critiqued and are politically pressed by international organizations. And the regimes estimate the treatment of the organization as an intervention to their internal sovereignty. But in these organizations, “human rights are not internal issues of states” is a slogan and it is known in advance by the states. Why do these states join the organization although they know the slogan.

It is shown that globalization and international politics are so complicated issues. At the same time, states don’t want to stand apart global economy, and also can’t accept the MNCs as an alternative power. States join some international organization with understanding they never follow the policy, and don’t accept their critique and don’t change anything.

It is shown that the imbalance between state sovereignty and globalization is in ideological dimension. The ideology of the regime can’t suit with globalization values such as liberal and democratic values. But to choose one of them globalization or sovereignty is inevitable because to stand in among the distinct ways is just a waste a time in development.

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