After looking through various sources both in text books and on the web, there seems little difference in opinion of what traditional sovereignty is, Robert Jackson describes sovereignty as an ‘international institution, meaning a set of rules which states play by”. There seems to be four criteria that a state must meet to be sovereign. Firstly a sovereign state is one that enjoys supreme political control within its own borders and these powers can not be withdrawn by any other body, also they command the use of legitimate force within its own borders.
Secondly as Richard Haass (a US ambassador) “it is capable of regulating movements across its borders” this is of course a reference to migration and asylum seeker policies. Another definition of sovereignty is that a state is free to make its own foreign policy decisions freely this includes the drawing up of treaties and alliances with other nations. Perhaps the most significant of all, is that it is recognised by other governments as having legal authority within its own borders and is entitled to freedom from external intervention.
The nature of sovereignty has significantly changed since the old Westphalia system which was established in Europe after the 1648 westphalian treaty, which recognised that states should be free to act within their own borders. Whilst these factors have never been absolute they have produced a solid and recognised foundation to which most have operated within, however in today’s world all of these factors (internal authority, border Control, policy autonomy, and non-intervention) are been challenged by many factors. Such as the conflict in interests between sovereign states, such changes have many to believe that the nature of sovereignty is changing dramatically as both politics and economics become more globalized.
The existence of so called ‘weak states’, such states lack legitimacy and find it difficult to exercise any control or power within their own borders, they often find themselves confronting insurgents or rebels who are trying to overthrow them and replace the regime with a tyrannical dictatorship style of government, this may lead to neighbouring states taking advantage of the vulnerability caused by the domestic problems within a state, such states may collapse and be classified as one of the so called ‘failed states’, it wasn’t until the events of September 11th 2001 that such states have come to the forefront of international politics, where as previously such states had been looked at purely through a humanitarian lens, western states have now realised that the problems in other states can have direct affects on them as it is now clear that they are a threat to national security as terrorist groups can thrive in countries where the government exercises very little control within their own borders, such lawfulness abroad can result in extremist groups, which resulted.
The USA and her allies taking military action against Afghanistan in January 2002 in direct response to Al Qaeda attacks on Washington and new York, despite the fact that Afghanistan wasn’t directly responsible for the attacks, it is accepted though that military action is appropriate if a state is seen as intentionally been neglectant and allowing terrorist organisations to operate within its borders, it is now felt that states don’t have the automatic rights of been sovereign and that they have certain obligations to uphold, for instance they must follow the principles of international law, if they are found to be in conflict with international law then the result maybe military action taken by UN member states.
The processes and outcomes of globalization have real effects on the sovereignty of states, the process of globalisation increases the permeability of national borders to the rapid flow of goods, people, information and capital, the result of this is that states can no longer keep their borders closed as this would be economically disastrous, it is fair to say that there is clear interdependence of economies, this processes is primarily driven by non state actors such as TNC’s whom therefore operate outside the control of national governments.
There are both positive and negative outcomes that come about from globalisations, the negative outcomes for instance the growth in telecommunications most noticeably the growth of the internet over the past decade which can link terrorist groups, globalisation therefore needs to be regulated and controlled and this means that states must co-operate to solve mutual problems, this is necessary to protect the interest of each state, for instance since September 11th there has been much cooperation between states to try and reduce terrorist activity particularly in so called problem regions, collective security is now the best way to protect your own sovereignty.