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what is the relationship between globalisation and sovereignty?

the relationship between globalisation and sovereignty is the extent to which independent sovereign states are able to control the forces of globalisation

for example, can states insulate themselves from economic and financial shocks in the international system? or can they no longer act as single units?


what is the growing realisation between states?

there is a growing realisation among states that they need to work together to achieve common goals and that common problems need common solutions

there has subsequently been an effort among states to pursue common approaches to global and regional problems through global and regional governance institutions like the UN, the IPCC, the EU and ASEAN

the existence of these institutions can be seen as an acknowledgement that states are no longer as sovereign as they once were


factors behind the widening and deepening of interconnectedness and interdependence

cost of communication

cost of transport

human links


factors behind increasing interconnectedness: cost of communication

a key factor behind globalisation is the rising speed and frequency of communication

technology has had a huge impact and brought huge changes, from the development of the printing press to the telegram to the telephone and to the digital technology of today

mass communication that is virtually instantaneous is now available to billions of people who can use the internet on tablets and mobile phones and access the latest news 24 hours a day

the cost of communication has fallen just as rapidly — today, sending an email or using social media to share information online is virtually free

this increases globalisation, which challenges state sovereignty as states are increasingly interconnected and can no longer act as independent entities


factors behind increasing interconnectedness: cost of transport

like communication, the speed and cost of transport has changed hugely

in 1800, it would take 2 months for a ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean with its cargo, but today a ship can make the same journey in less than a week and a plane can cross the Atlantic in around 5 hours

consequently, the costs of transportation have fallen as well

meaning that transportation costs are no longer prohibitive when it comes to moving goods around the world, which makes global supply changes possible

it also makes the production of goods in other parts of the world possible, meaning that fresh produce can be shipped from a field in one continent to a supermarket in another in a matter of days

this increases globalisation and thus challenges state sovereignty


factors behind increasing interconnectedness: human links

migration has increased due to the low-costs of staying in contact and the relatively low cost of travel to different countries and regions

globalisation and economic growth have encouraged workers to move to countries with high economic development in search of a better life

Gulf states like Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are very wealthy due to oil production, which has encouraged economic migrants to move to those countries to work

over 50% of the population of these states is now made up of immigrants and both Australia and Switzerland have migrant populations approaching 30% of the total

increasing wealth and leisure time have also led to a huge change in holiday patterns, including the growth of international tourism and long haul travel

as people travel, they meet new people, experience different cultures, form links with each other and stay in touch, thus increasing the interconnectedness of states

increases cultural globalisation, decreases state sovereignty


case study of interconnected trade (demonstrates how interconnected and interdependent the world has become)

the UK imports almost half of its food — this includes food that needs to be grown in warmer climates such as bananas and oranges as well as food to satisfy the year-round demand for fruit and vegetables that would be off-season in the UK

despite having a significant farming industry that exports a considerable amount of its produce, the UK is not self-sufficient in food

between 40-50% of food consumed in the UK is imported from overseas, including around 25% from EU countries — this reliance on imported food is only likely to increase further

examples of staple foods imported to the UK from overseas include tea, coffee, cocoa, bananas, oranges, rice and peanuts

both international trade and the UK’s food security are reliant on factors outside of the UK’s control — things like environmental disasters, poor harvests, animal epidemics and fluctuating currencies can all impact the price and availability of food in the UK

the UK also imports vast numbers of cars and other vehicles, the oil and electricity to power these vehicles, pharmaceuticals, gems and precious metals and clothing — figures suggest that 90% of clothes worn in the UK are imported from overseas

the UK is also reliant on the export of many products and this two way trade is necessary for the prosperity of the UK, including securing employment and low-cost goods for consumers — for example, the largest food/drink export from the UK is whiskey, worth £5 billion a year

this demonstrates that the UK is part of an interdependent and interconnected world


challenges to state control over citizens caused by globalisation

in recent years, the emphasis on states as key actors in the international system has been harder to sustain

there is now a host of actors in the international system, including terrorist organisations like ISIS, TNCs like Nike, global pressure groups like Amnesty International, religious leaders, NGOs like Oxfam and global movements

all of which can increasingly be seen to have increasing influence in global politics

liberals argue that such a non-state actors significantly influence the world today and mean that the state is no longer the principal actor in the international system

it can be argued that states are less likely to be able to exercise their sovereignty in the face of global challenges due to the rise of such nonstate actors


why do some people argue that there is no such thing as international law?

some argue that there is no such thing as international law because laws are sets of rules that can be enforced

however, a key aspect of the international system is the sovereignty of states, meaning that there is no higher authority than the state so international law cannot be enforced

there are no global police that can arrest a country and take them to a global court or throw them in a global prison

this can happen within a country where people are bound by the laws of the land and can be punished by the state because the law is superior to the individual, but there is no such compulsion in the international system so no laws are inforcible internationally


why do some people argue that there is such a thing as international law?

to others, international law is a set of international norms and standards of international behaviour — while these are not enforceable, they are highly respected

the community of states have approved of these standards and there is a strong consensus over many rules

even though international law cannot be enforced in the way that national law can, there are numerous reasons why states would still obey it....

• it is in their interests to do so — if they do not stay within international laws, nobody else will, therefore obeying the rules makes life more predictable and ordered for everyone

• international law can carry a certain legitimacy and obeying it gives a country soft power (the ability to attract and shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction) or respect in the modern world

• it is the morally right thing to do — states that believe in the rule of law should practice what they preach and apply this principle internationally too

• not obeying international law can lead to a state being isolated or in some circumstances punished — international law clearly does exist and there can be punishment of individuals who are personally responsible for crimes, there have been special tribunals dealing with such crimes and there is now an International Criminal Court (ICC)


what is humanitarian/forcible intervention?

military intervention carried out in the pursuit of humanitarian objectives rather than other objectives


what is the key tension in the international system between humanitarian intervention and sovereignty?

a key tension in the international system is between the principle of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other states and the moral case for intervention when a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in another state

there are questions about whether the world should stand by while innocent people are facing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes or whether states should intervene, thus dismissing the principle of national state sovereignty


since the Holocaust, what has there been greater support for?

there have been numerous cases where the international community stood by and did nothing as human rights were routinely violated

but it can be argued that since the Holocaust, there has been a great support for the idea that the international community should act if crimes against humanity are taking place in another country


problems with humanitarian intervention

using force in such situations raises considerable moral and legal questions....

• intervention may merely be a form of Westernisation and cultural imperialism

• intervention is not guaranteed to make the situation any better

• intervention goes against the principles of state sovereignty


problems with humanitarian intervention — a form of westernisation and cultural imperialism

forcible humanitarian intervention assumes that there are universal moral absolutes that unite the world

but these may actually be Western inventions and a form of cultural imperialism

perhaps Western powers use intervention on humanitarian grounds as an excuse to increase their own power and further their own national interests, or even as a pretext for the annexation of another state

for example, the Iraq War


problems with humanitarian intervention — not guaranteed to make the situation any better

humanitarian intervention is not guaranteed to make the situation any better

indeed, the use of force to prevent humanitarian catastrophes often escalates war and increase violence, which may lead to the loss of even more lives

it can be seen to go against the just war theory as it is not always a last resort and could lead to disproportionate responses and the loss of more lives

for example, in the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, intervention caused further instability in the region which led to the rise of militant Islam and anti-Western views and enabled ISIL to gain influence and power


problems with humanitarian intervention — goes against the principles of state sovereignty

forcible intervention goes against the principles of state sovereignty by interfering in the internal affairs of another state

there is a clear challenge to state sovereignty if humanitarian intervention is increasingly permitted by the international community


what else, relating to human rights, challenges state sovereignty?

not only does humanitarian intervention challenge state sovereignty, the International Criminal Court (ICC) does too

it is based in the Hague in the Netherlands

while some significant global actors have not signed up, including the USA, China and Russia, the ICC is the first permanent international criminal court in the world

it has considerably advanced the concept of a higher international law — a large number of states have agreed definitions of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and have accepted that these crimes can be tried at an international level

this suggests that there is a little less anarchy in the international system and that states are not as sovereign as they once were


what has been an attempt to find a compromise between state sovereignty and humanitarian intervention?

an attempt to find a compromise between state sovereignty and humanitarian intervention has been the doctrine of responsibility to protect (R2P)

this doctrine has been in place since 2005 and focuses on the idea that state sovereignty comes with responsibilities

part of a state’s sovereignty is the responsibility to protect its own citizens and if the state fails to uphold this responsibility, the responsibility to protect falls on the international community, thus allowing for humanitarian intervention through force


is state sovereignty an outdated concept?

YES — states can no longer be said to be sovereign as the centrality of states is challenged by....

• the rapidly declining cost of communication and transport, which increases globalisation and challenges state sovereignty
• increasing human links
• challenges to state control over citizens in areas such as law
• the development of international law
• increasing humanitarian intervention
• increasing influence of nonstate actors in the international system

NO — states are still sovereign because...

• there is no higher power than the state, so international law is not enforceable


has globalisation undermined state sovereignty? YES

state borders are increasingly porous to people, capital and culture, so sovereignty has declined in significance

there has been a rise in nonstate actors such as TNCs, NGOs and terror organisations which operate outside the constraints of sovereignty and lessen states’ power

the trend towards regional and global governance to tackle global issues, such as environmental degradation, poverty and humanitarian crises, has undermined sovereignty

the growing role of international law around human rights and a growing global rights culture has seen the rise of bodies such as the ICC and of humanitarian intervention, which erodes state sovereignty


has globalisation undermined state sovereignty? NO

the borderless world is nonsense — as seen in the huge number of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees who are stuck in holding camps and the creation of the Great Chinese Firewall to control the flow of information into the state

states remain the key actors on the world stage, have re-emerged in relation to 9/11 and the global financial crisis and nearly all states still have internal sovereignty, apart from failed states

regional and global bodies are formed for states, by states — by working together, states are not undermining sovereignty but pooling it with other states to increase their collective power

Trump and the idea of ‘America First’ in relation to NATO, NAFTA and the Paris Agreement threatens to weaken global governance, demonstrating the central importance of states and shows that if states don’t comply with such organisations, those organisations are reduced in effectiveness

while the move towards a global rights based culture may be taking place in the West, China remains firmly wedded to its Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which includes mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty

with China’s rise in power, if it continues to assert sovereignty as a key principle, it will be a hammer blow to interventionists


difference in realist and liberal opinion on globalisation

the way in which globalisation has impacted state sovereignty is very controversial

realists have generally argued that by challenging the nation states centrality in international relations, globalisation is dangerously destabilising

however, liberals argue that it creates greater prosperity and makes the resolution of global collective dilemmas easier


in what ways has globalisation challenged the nation state? in what ways is state sovereignty no longer important? are states still sovereign?

economic globalisation


regional organisations

the internet

non-governmental organisations

challenges from below


globalisation has challenged the nation state: ECONOMIC GLOBALISATION

since the world is so closely economically connected, states cannot insulate themselves from global financial crises, such as the 2008 collapse of US bank Lehman Brothers

the huge financial influence of TNCs, such as Apple, Google and Microsoft, also means that states need to shape policy in such a way as to attract investment from TNCs

nation’s policymakers are therefore primarily concerned with creating conditions that are favourable for foreign investment, which significantly reduces a state’s freedom of manoeuvre

global acceptance of economic liberalism, encourages by the Bretton Woods institutions, further restricts the economic choices that governments can take, since in order to attract trade and investment, governments are forced to adopt policies of low taxation and free market reforms, sometimes at the expense of workers’ rights

states clearly have less freedom of action, and according to Susan Strange “markets are now the masters of governments”


globalisation has challenged the nation state: INTERGOVERNMENTALISM

in an increasingly interconnected world, the interests of nation states are bound together with IGOs such as the IMF, World Bank and WTO

states have to except the authority of these bodies, even if governments perceive them to be against their national interests — for example, member states have to adopt WTO judgements

as lenders of last resort, both the IMF and World Bank impose conditions on recipient states that they have little choice but to accept

UN war crimes tribunals and the establishment of the ICC have also been instrumental in developing new universal standards by which states are expected to abide by — they may not have enforcement power, but states are heavily condemned if they do not follow their decisions

states accept legal limitations on their domestic jurisdiction in the ECtHR, the ICC and ICJ — according to Kofi Annan, sovereignty must be “responsible”, suggesting that it can be forfeited by unjust acts (R2P)

collective dilemmas, such as climate change, nuclear proliferation and terrorism, require intergovernmental solutions and states cannot solve these dilemmas by themselves

increasingly, it is IGOs rather than sovereign states that take the lead in addressing these collective dilemmas


globalisation has challenged the nation state: REGIONAL ORGANISATIONS

the spread of regionalism has impacted state sovereignty — the EU provides the most advanced example of regionalism as decisions, made by a qualified majority voting on the Council of Ministers, are legally binding to all member states

the European Central Bank sets common interest rates for Eurozone members and the Treaty of Lisbon provides the EU with a legal identity so that it can negotiate with sovereign states, as it has done with the signing of the TTIP

the majority of EU members still adhere to the Schengen Agreement, which allows passport free travel between member nations

other regional organisations such as NAFTA, ASEAN and Mercosur have also imposed certain free trade rules on their members, thereby limiting member states’ sovereignty

the pooling of sovereignty with regional organisations such as the EU, ASEAN and NAFTA demonstrate that state sovereignty is becoming less important


globalisation has challenged the nation state: THE INTERNET

the increasing reach of the internet compromises states’ physical borders

for example, access to anti-government websites and the organising power of social media contributed to the Arab Uprisings

the internet can also influence citizens and create new supranational allegiances through, for example, radicalisation which challenges national identity

cyber terrorism and cyber warfare further challenge the ability of states to protect their citizens

computer hackers can penetrate right to the heart of the government, making the protection of territorial state borders irrelevant to a state’s survival


globalisation has challenged the nation state: NGOs

NGOs are challenging the influence of the nationstate as their transnational influence, which the internet facilitates, reaches across borders

NGOs include global pressure groups, such as Human Rights Watch and Greenpeace, which now inform political debate across the world

celebrities play an increasingly key role in global issues — for example, Angelina Jolie is a UN Special Envoy for Refugees and has addressed the UNSC on the Syrian refugee crisis

global foundations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and the Clinton foundation, play a huge role in fighting poverty in the developing world while the near total eradication of guinea-worm disease has been due to the Carter Centre

demonstrates that it is NGOs and other non state actors that are growing in importance and having more and more influence on the global stage, challenging and undermining the influence of the state

states now share power with non-state actors, who make decisions that directly impact on the job prospects and living conditions of people globally


globalisation has challenged the nation state: CHALLENGES FROM BELOW

forces from within also challenge the integrity of the nationstate

instead of nationalism declining in importance, people still wish to define themselves according to ethnic and nationalist identities, even if this threatens existing state allegiances

Kosovo and East Timor’s recent independence has been justified on the grounds of self-determination, while the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 is based upon the nationalist principle that Crimeans view themselves as Russians rather than Ukrainians

in 2014, Scotland only narrowly voted not to secede from the UK and in 2015, Scottish nationalism peaked when the SNP won 56 of the 59 parliamentary seats in Scotland