Political Debates on Sovereignty and Territoriality

Political Debates on Sovereignty and Territoriality

Political Debates on Sovereignty and Territoriality

A globalised world marked by increased movement of people, goods, services and culture across the borders rapidly has led to debates over relevance of state borders and its territorial sovereign authority. Political Debates on Sovereignty and Territoriality is two sections divided.

The technological advancements that began with the advent of computers and internet along with growth of global financial markets have made the world a more interconnected place where states are not capable of acting alone but are interdependent upon each other.

Globalisation is often defined as the “set of processes through which sovereign nation states are criss-crossed and undermined by transnational actors with varying prospects for power, orientations, identities and networks” (Beck 2000). It is also defined as a “process or set of processes which embody the transformation of spatial organisation of social relations and transactions” (Held et al 1999).

These processes have economic, cultural, social and political ramifications for nation states and have shaped the global order since Second World War. The following chapter explores the political dimension of the processes of globalisation and explores the argument if the modern development in a globalised era is leading to the prediction of “end of state sovereignty” or the “twilight of state”.

The chapter is divided into two sections the first section explores the concept of state and sovereignty. It is followed by second section that explores the three positions on globalisation. The second section explains Its Relation to State Sovereignty.

Three Positions on Globalisation and Its Relation to State SovereigntySection One: State Sovereignty

The institution of state emerged in 15 and 16 century Europe as a system of centralised rule that subordinated all other forms of institutions. The modern notion of state was formalised by the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which made states sovereign entities.

International politics was thus understood as a ‘state system’. This state system firstly expanded from Europe into North America and during the nineteenth century, into South America and Japan, eventually becoming a truly global system in the twentieth century, due to the process of decolonization in Asia and Africa.

Defining state

The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of the State (1933) defines state in international law. Article 1 of this convention states that the state has four features:

  1. A defined territory
  2. A permanent population
  3. An effective government
  4. The capacity to enter into relations with other states

Internal sovereignty is a notion of supreme power or authority within a state, located in a body whose decisions are binding on all the individuals, groups and institutions within the territorial borders of the state. For example, a monarch or a parliament

External sovereignty refers to the absolute and unlimited authority that a state has as an actor in world affairs. There is no higher authority which can dictate any state and state is independent in defining its relations to other states and international actors. In global politics, external sovereignty guarantees that territorial integrity and political independence of every state is respected and not violated.

Section 2: Three Positions on Globalisation and Its Relation to State Sovereignty

The process of globalisation has led to a debate on role and relevance of state in a globalised world. The three schools skeptics, hyperglobalists and transformationalists have contrasting positions on this issue.

The sceptics:

1. place within states as opposed to amongst the states
2. There is nothing new about high levels of international trade and cross-border flows (Hirst and Thompson 1999).


1. Globalisation is a novel set of shifts in economic, cultural, technological and political arenas which has only intensified since 1980s.

2. The technological forces have created a single global economy.

3. There is rise in the notion of ‘borderless world where states and its borders have become irrelevant and are dominated by transnational forces.


1. Inter-connectedness has stretched social, political, economic and cultural activities across national borders as well as across the globe.

2. Trans-border or Trans-world activities like migration, growth of international trade and spread of popular culture like movies and tv series have only depend the level of interconnectedness.

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