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A2 Government & Politics 11/09/12
To what extent is state sovereignty an outdated concept? 15 marks
Sovereignty is the principle of supreme and unquestionable authority, reflected in the claim by the
state to be the sole author of laws within its territory. External sovereignty (sometimes called `state
sovereignty' or `national sovereignty') refers to the capacity of the state to act independently and
autonomously on the world stage. This implies that states are legally equal and that the territorial
integrity and political independence of a state are inviolable. Internal sovereignty refers to the
location of supreme power/authority within the state. The institution of sovereignty is nevertheless
developing and changing, both as new concepts of sovereignty emerge and so sovereignty is
adapted to new circumstances. The supremacy of state sovereignty was established by the Treaty of
Westphalia in 1648 this restricted the ability of international force to intervene in the domestic affairs
of a state, therefore making sovereignty still a necessary and working concept. There are modern
phenomena that are argued to undermine sovereignty and they are International Organisations,
Military Intervention and Globalisation.
The first contemporary modern phenomena that undermine sovereignty are International
Organisations. The increase in International Organisations such as the European Union (EU) means
that state sovereignty is becoming more difficult to maintain. Through joining these organisations, you
are gathered with several other countries, and have to accept the legislation of that organisation this
takes away a state's political sovereignty, as a result proving that sovereignty is becoming more and
The second contemporary modern phenomena that undermine sovereignty are Military Intervention.
Military Intervention is another reason why sovereignty is viewed as an outdated concept because in
countries such as Kosovo, Bosnia and Iraq, military forces have gone in without permission, hence
destroying that state's sovereignty. This indicates that states are less concerned with other states
sovereignty, and therefore the concept of sovereignty is outdated.
The third contemporary modern phenomena that undermine sovereignty are Globalisation. Over the
years the global community has changed to such an extent that sovereignty is becoming less and less
of a reality. Globalisation has been a reason why sovereignty is in decline, through the increase in
economic growth, the increase of new technology and an increase in living standards, a cost has had
to be made. This cost was on sovereignty. Globalisation offences national sovereignty therefore
forcing many countries to lose their social and cultural identities.
In conclusion, the three contemporary modern phenomena which are the growth of Globalisation,
the increase in International Organisations and Military Intervention have all undermined sovereignty.