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Discuss the view that globalization is increasingly rendering the state meaningless

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  1. The study of International Relations has been dominated by the realist tradition and their state centric approach
  2. Some recent evolutions like globalization have undermined the position of the state and its sovereignty in the international scene

Most of the theories pertaining to International Relations highlight the centrality of the state on the international scene. The Nation-state has been characterized by the principle of sovereignty since the Westphalia Treaty in 1648. A good definition of sovereignty can be found in the book on International Relation Theories: Discipline and Diversity: ?sovereignty refers to the capacity or characteristic (of nation-states) to be independent of external influence in the management of their internal affairs, where the distinction between internal and external is delimited by territorial boundaries of a state's claim to (sovereign) authority.? (Dunne, Kurki and Smith, 2007,p.270).

The State has an exclusive competence in its internal affairs, the monopoly of violence, constraints inside its boundaries, and autonomy in its foreign policy. According to International Law, all states are equal and sovereign. However, the phenomenon of globalization that developed during the twentieth century questions the place of the state in the international space.

Globalization refers to cross border flows of goods, investments, information and people, and seems to increase interdependence between states: ?Globalization is a complex multidimensional process which operates simultaneously across several institutional domains? (Held and McGrew, 1993, p.264). This phenomenon has economic, political and cultural dimensions, and creates some ?turbulences? that affect the nation-states and their sovereignty. Boundaries become increasingly insignificant with globalization. Nonetheless, the nation-state is based on the principle of territoriality.

Is globalization rendering the state meaningless? Can we talk about the end of the sovereignty of the state?

The study of International Relations has been dominated by the realist tradition and its state centric approach. Realism privileges one actor, which is the sovereign state.
Nevertheless, some recent evolutions like globalization have undermined the position of the state and its sovereignty in the international scene.

In an increasingly globalized world, sovereignty seems less relevant and appears compromised by the proliferation of cross border flows that the state cannot control.As Bertrand Badie, a French specialist in International Relations said, the control of the state over society now tends to decrease. There are new political spaces and the territorial boundaries of the states are less pertinent thanks to globalization. (Badie, 1998).
Tags: Globalization,International relations, Sovereignty of States, Principle of Territoriality

[...] Moreover, according to the realists, the IGOs cannot promote peace and stability, and cannot be a serious alternative to the state, as the failure of the League of Nations can fairly illustrate. Neo-realists concede that IGOs are only complementary to traditional diplomacy. With respect to the process of regionalization, as with ASEAN, regionalization does not really disrupt national sovereignty. The purpose of ASEAN is purely economical, and ASEAN has a policy of non-intervention in the sovereign affairs of the member states (Lawson p.112). The sovereignty of the state also resists because the intervention of other actors in internal affairs is forbidden. [...]


[...] Though some theorists would like to see the state as a dead entity, the international scene is witness to the multiplication of the number of nation-states: nation state has still no serious rival? (Burchill and Al p.82). To conclude, though some theorists see the end of state sovereignty as a consequence of globalization, reality is different and needs to be relativised. National sovereignty, as it was born during the Westphalia Treaty in 1648, does not exist anymore. It has evolved and adapted to a new international system where new actors, new political spaces, new issues, and new stakes appear. [...]

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