Globalization Has Eroded State Sovereignty Term Paper

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Globalization and Sovereignty

Globalization and the Erosion of State Sovereignty

The key roadblock to achieving complete globalization of the economy is the issue of sovereignty. Just as human rights issues pit the rights of the state against the rights of the individual, so does globalization pit the good of the world against the rights of individual nation states to determine their destiny. Until advances in communication led to rapid integration on a global level, the issue of state sovereignty was rather clear. Each state had the right to govern as it saw fit. Happenings within the borders had little impact on the world at large. That is not to say that conflicts did not occur, such as when it found that a certain group was treated unfairly, but when the basic rights of the group had been restored, the world once again backed out. This research will explore many issues surrounding the subtle balance between globalization and the sovereignty of the state. It will examine both sides of the issue, and will support the thesis that globalization continues to have an increasingly negative impact on the sovereign rights of individual nation states.

Human Rights and Sovereignty

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The principle of state sovereignty, or that of the nation state, holds that each state has the right to determine issues regarding basic human rights. In some cases, the treatment of certain groups of people has resulted in what was considered abnormal or unacceptable by other nation states. Under the principal of sovereignty, these countries have the right to respond as they choose and the higher order of the world would have no say in it. However, this is not the philosophy of the movement towards globalization and certain rights are recognized as belonging to all inhabitants of planet earth, regardless of politics or any other form of discrimination. All persons are entitled to at least minimal standards of treatment. However, not all experts agree as to the effect that human rights have on the sovereignty of the state. The following will examine these extremes in opinion.

Term Paper on Globalization Has Eroded State Sovereignty Discuss Assignment

Donelly (2006) does not feel that the issue of sovereignty has had a drastic impact on human rights and that states are no less sovereign than they were fifty years ago. Donelly feels humans rights can exist without compromising the autonomy and national identity of the state. The argument is over the definition of sovereignty, not how to apply it. Sovereignty conveys the idea of supreme authority. When something has sovereignty over another entity, it implies supreme authority under the strictest interpretation of the definition (Steinberger, 2000). Sovereignty takes away the ability to self-rule and implies subordination. As we will demonstrate, it is a matter of degree.

Society means a group of people that have decided to live under a certain set of rules. This set of rules applies to everyone in the society. Societies develop certain procedures to maintain their particular set of norms. Societal norms differ from nation to nation. Societies use certain characteristics to distinguish themselves from on another. They may dress differently, eat different foods, and speak different languages. These are outward signs that are used to convey which particular set of norms to which the individual subscribes.

The norms of a society can be referred to as its "culture." Hofstede (2001) developed the most widely accepted definition of culture. They defined culture as "the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes one group or category of people from others." This is a rather simplistic definition, but one that serves as an anchor for the remainder of our discussion on sovereignty. When one talks about state sovereignty, they are actually talking about cultural sovereignty as well. People have a strong attachment to their cultural identity. Cultural identity is part of how we define who we are as individuals, as well as how we define the society in which we live. Identifying with a certain culture gives the person a sense of belonging. By recognizing their similarities within their culture, they also inherently recognize their differences from others as well.

The root of human rights issues stems from the recognition of these cultural lines (Weissbrody and Kruger, 2003). Often, when one group decides to subordinate another, it is because they have separate cultural issues that they feel cannot coexist. The response is often to try to subdue the culture. In some cases the treatment can be extreme. When one begins to explore sovereignty from the human rights standpoint, it becomes apparent that subordination means a loss of sovereignty of the group that is subordinated (Varynen, 2001). This issue is the foundation of fears of loss of sovereignty in connection with globalization. On a national level, cultural integration has often been associated with either loss of cultural identity for one group, or perhaps an attempt at extermination.

The world has many examples of this to draw from including Kosovo, South Africa, and slavery in the United States. These examples tell us that unification of cultures cannot occur without subordination of one group by another (Kay, 2001). This is the heart of the argument that globalization cannot occur without a loss of sovereignty. History has demonstrated many times over that unification is not actually unification at all, but a loss of human rights by one group, in favour of another. Unification and acculturation are synonymous in recent human history. Unification means subjugation of culture to the whole.

The Case of Feudalism and the Early History of the United States

Globalization is another term for Integration on an international level. It is simply an expansion of an old idea. If one goes back in the history of humankind, they will eventually reach a point where humanity existed in small local villages. Feudal society was a movement towards integration. However, this integration did not occur through compromise among villages. It occurred through subordination and domination of a particularly powerful landlord. These local landlords had to report to increasingly higher levels of authority until eventually they reached a King. The King was simply the lord over a collection of lower sovereign states. The King had the ultimate authority over the local population and they had to work in order to pay the ruler taxes.

Under the early feudal systems the local villages did not have the right to make their own laws and have self-determination. They could adopt local laws, but these laws could not conflict with those that were adopted by the King. To do so would result in punishment by the higher authority. The local village, let alone the individual were beholden to the higher authority, not by choice, but by fear of punishment. Individual villages had little or no sovereignty. The only way to gain sovereignty was to tear down the current system and to create a new system where the locals had more authority.

This is exactly what happened when a group of rogues decided to leave the mother country and sail to the Americas. They wished to create a society where subgroups had more ability to determine their destiny. The United States was founded on the principal that individual states would have the right to self-govern and determine the set of laws under which they wanted to live. This theory is excellent from a human point-of-view. This means that the individual can decide which state has a set of rules closer to their personal beliefs and they can then go live there. This ideal is akin to the idea that the individual can make their own rules, according to where they choose to live. This is a wonderful theory, if only it were true.

The fledgling states soon found that they had a plethora of problems to confront due to the free expression of many differing opinions. For instance, some held the belief that anyone not of obvious European decent was inferior and that they could be treated with significantly less respect than someone of Caucasian decent (Senarclens, 2003). This led to the acceptance of slavery in the South. The subjugation and near extermination of the North American aboriginals cannot be considered anything less than a loss of basic human rights. All of this occurred while the sovereign race promoted America as a place where all could pursue the basic human rights of "freedom, and the pursuit of happiness" (Brooks and Wohlforth, 2002).

The Civil War is one of the greatest examples that demonstrates that unification cannot occur without a loss of sovereignty and self-determination of one group or another (Brooks and Wohlforth, 2002). The sympathetic North eventually decided to launch a campaign to help restore the sovereignty of the African-American. In doing so they demonstrated that no state had the right to supersede the laws of the United States. The result of the civil war is that states are not sovereign after all.

The Civil War determined that the states cannot supersede the United States and adopt laws that contradict the larger body of the law. States can adopt stricter laws, or laws… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Globalization Has Eroded State Sovereignty.  (2007, January 12).  Retrieved February 24, 2021, from

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"Globalization Has Eroded State Sovereignty."  12 January 2007.  Web.  24 February 2021. <>.

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"Globalization Has Eroded State Sovereignty."  January 12, 2007.  Accessed February 24, 2021.