Sovereignty: extinction or adaptation? – Karl Laubacher

With the rise of a more connected world, sporting international organizations, more powerful and sprawling corporations, and new designations for nations, some would like to argue that the influence and sovereignty of the state are under threat.  Many wonder what a world would look like with the end of the state as we know it, with possible dramatic changes for international politics as we know it.  However, Stephen Krasner, a professor of political science at Stanford, finds the the state is only growing stronger as the world is more globalized, adapting to a more open world by taking more rights and changing how they accept the pressure from new and adapting outside influences.

Krasner starts out by addressing common assumptions about states and when the idea of a state formed and what the definition of a state really is in the modern age.  He argues that defining a state about its final authority in an area is incorrect, when in fact it should be about if other entities are interfering with it’s internal affairs and whether they are able to enter international agreements.  A current example is the Ukraine situation, where the state does not have final authority over the area but, Russia is generally deemed to be encroaching on Ukraine’s sovereignty by interfering and assisting rebels inside Ukrainian borders.

Once a definition of sovereignty is established, Krasner continues addressing common ideas of changes in the international system which seem to encroach on sovereignty.  The often cited idea of universal human rights is tossed aside by showing a number of alleged humans rights abuses where other nations have not chosen to intervene in the affair of the nation in question.  Krasner is correct in this with events such as the Rwanda genocide and Syrian civil war, both of with cited as human rights disaster, continued or continue without large scale intervention in the name of a human rights accord.

Additionally, as globalization continues its spread, many believe that the phenomena is the end of the state as we know it but, Krasner argues advancement in technology and integration of trade allow a state to take on more of a role than it used to.  With currencies and companies being traded and located around the world, states now have more power to effect the world economy in the past as well as to regulate on a much more finite level.  Fines and regulations can now effect companies, individuals, and even other nations across the world because of their choice of currency or leading industry.

The crowning example of a threat to democracy is the European Union, the supranational organization which unites Europe and takes certain sovereignty from members states so that the Union can make the decisions for them.  Unprecedented, the example does not seem to have many copycats coming out of the woodwork.  The special nature of the region, especially of the regional powerhouse Germany is cited by Krasner as the main reason the EU is able to exist and thrive.  NAFTA is cited as another opening to a supranational organization but, there is continuing disinterest on both sides.  The political and logistical landscape in other regions restrict the building of advanced trade agreements, ruining potential political integration.

Throughout, I agree with Krasner, and show, that the state continues to hold a monopoly on sovereignty.  The first fifty years of advanced international organization have seen plenty of change and in another fifty, the world may need to revisit the question and definition of sovereignty again.


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