The Effect of Globalization on State Sovereignty

The Effect of Globalization on State Sovereignty

Globalization is a subjective and ambiguous term that continues to attract divergent views on whether it is undermining state sovereignty or not. Critics have repeatedly downplayed its influence. They believe that geopolitics and states are undoubtedly potent forces and agents with the real impact on the world. On the other hand, hyper-globalists are rather pessimistic that globalization has eroded the sovereignty of states (Held & McGrew, 2002). Regarding its impacts on the national state power, it is important to analyze aspects of sovereignty that have been undermined. Before immersing deeper into the topic, state sovereignty should be defined first to understand how globalization has affected it. When a state is sovereign, it means there is no any superior political or legal command within nations encircled by boundaries. The key focus here is on the national borders. It implies that leaders enjoy total control over their states, and no one can meddle in sovereign matters of other nations. Moreover, there should be no stronger political and legal power than the state one (Held & McGrew, 2002). However, nowadays, global forces affect states’ ability to influence their societal and economic spheres.      

Factors Contributing to the Impairment of State Power

Currently, globalization is viewed as a means to broaden, deepen and accelerate the process of world interconnection. The latter is expanding intensively, extensively and fast, causing severe effects globally. State interconnectedness is real and can be seen in politics, culture, and economics (Held & McGrew, 2002). Such aspect or rather globalization has liquidated the importance of boundaries and borders that separate continents, regions and countries. As a result, the territorial aspect of a sovereign state is undermined by globalization (Oji & Ozioko, 2010).

The term “globalization” is broad. Countries have been interlinked socially, politically and economically on the national level. Regarding the political sphere, globalization is evident in the evolution and expansion of global governance. The latter consists of transitional networks, international institutions, and states, and through these channels, it has succeeded in expanding its scope and impact worldwide. The aftermath of its activities includes increased politicization, for example, G-20 and the United Nations (Held & McGrew, 2002).

Global governance has seen the emergence of powerful, complex, non-governmental and private agencies in the creation and implementation of world policies. For instance, world credit-rating agencies establish the credit status of corporations and states worldwide. Therefore, it is clear that he home-ground monopoly enjoyed by local politicians has been undermined. In addition, any state is not immune from external interferences and has to obey the laws of this international system. It does not matter whether the nation is forced or chooses to consider the latter, the truth is that globalization has impeded state sovereignty by wielding foreign influences. Among the increasing number of transnational policy issues, there is pollution, drugs, human rights and terrorism, which require international cooperation for their solution (Grigsby, 2015).

Besides the political aspects, globalization is also evident in global structures, system order, creation of laws, problem-solving process, and security maintenance. Clearly, this goes against the aspects of a sovereign state regarding the principle of supreme authority over politics with its borders. Although such global system respects continued state centrality and geopolitics, it does not allow the state to decline international laws. This system continues to embed the state in a worldwide web of multilateral politics and institutions. Such systems include the G-20, NATO, and the World Bank. There are also transitional interconnections like the International Chamber of Commerce. These developments can be termed as deterritorialization or the growth of super-territorial relations among humans (Held & McGrew, 2002).  

Economically, globalization has integrated world economies still pushing for liberalism in the international economic system. This fact is supported by the continued expansion of global production, finance and commerce, bringing together the economic fortune of states across the globe. The nation has no option but to adapt to this new world economic trend. Integration has incapacitated the state economy from cushioning itself from the contagion effect of turmoil in the world’s financial market (Grigsby, 2015). It is pushed by such organizations as the WTO, EU, IMF, G7, and the UN, just to mention a few. The external influence on the individual state undermines state sovereignty. Moreover, it impairs the assumption of the latter as a self-sufficient unit. Both economic and political aspects of globalization show that the issue separates the political life into domestic and international aspects (Held & McGrew, 2002).

Socially, globalization has led to the development of new communication systems. It is important in the formation of multilateral agencies and global politics. These systems link intergovernmental, nongovernment organizations, governments, and a wide variety of transnational pressure groups to share ideas, information and cultures among t different culture groups. The digital revolution in coomputers, information technology and microelectronics has made the globe virtually accessible. Television, satellite, telephone and jet transportation have dramatically changed the nature of political communication (Held & McGrew, 2002). An intimate connection between social, political and physical settings, which have separated states, has been erased. Advancements in communication systems have produced the world, where features and peculiarities of a state can be represented and interpreted through global and regional communication. These connections unite different forces within and outside a nation, making it confident in exercising power across vast distances. This trend has caused a shift towards a multilayered system of global and regional governance, rupturing state sovereignty (Oji & Ozioko, 2010).

Consequences of Undermined State Sovereignty on National (Domestic) Politics

Despite all these facts, hyper-globalists hold a different view. They argue that shifts in supra-national governance and organizations do not imply that state sovereignty is destabilized even if its position has been changed. Standard laws reached by state agreements can only be implemented if a territorial institution imposing them domestically has the power to act. These bodies can be states only. Furthermore, for international treaties to be enforced, they must be planned, signed and delivered internationally and domestically by nations. Therefore, states act as integral players in globalization, regarding global economics and governance (Held & McGrew, 2002). 

Locally, the notion of the sovereignty of a state as a self-sufficient faction with exclusive political authority has been damaged by globalization because an outside influence percolates into the psyche of the population. Hence, individuals within a country are more aware of modern ideas and issues other than norms and ethos imposed on them by their governments. As a result, the influence of local political players and the elite on the nation has been decreased dramatically. Internationally, the sovereignty of the state identified by territorial boundaries is tearing off with the increasing effect of the international community and global governance (Oji & Ozioko, 2010).  


Based on the discussion above with particular emphasis on many features of globalization, it is in clear that this issue has significantly impaired the sovereignty of states. In reality, such destabilizations will progress as long as the impacts of globalization on social, economic and political spheres accelerate in the future. The greatest catalyst of the weakening of state sovereignty will be advancements in technology.