With the issue of globalization, sovereignty is facing a tough challenge. Many are left to wonder whether the State has the power to keep its sovereignty, or most of the powers are dictated by the international community. Sovereignty which is defined as the State’s most essential attribute of being self-sufficient, for example, by making supreme decisions on its domestic policies and being independent in its foreign policymaking, is facing a rapid erosion from the face of the earth due to the world’s new face of globalization (Jerry and Jerry, p 311). With the changing of the world’s outlook on globalization, the issue of democracy also comes into play. Does sovereignty of the State lead to a democratic society where people can command without being commanded? From a superficial point of view, only a sovereign State can give its people the ability to command without being commanded, but with a little study, it becomes evident that not only sovereignty can give citizens the ability to command. Globalization which, according to many, interferes with sovereignty, can also give people commanding power without being commanded. It is, therefore, not true that only sovereignty can exist, which can give people the ability to command without being commanded. A little analysis of the relationship between sovereignty and democracy can give an insight of the role of sovereignty in the democratic wellbeing of a State.
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Role of sovereignty on democratic wellbeing
It is quite evident that losing of sovereignty can temper with the democratic rights of the citizens. Most of the agents of globalization usually render their interests more important than the interests of the citizens. According to McGrew (1997), “Accelerating global and regional interconnectedness poses distinct challenges to liberal democratic forms of governance.” McGrew therefore tries to show that the trends of globalization which come in terms of financial market and in other forms as crime organizations like drug cartels usually affect the traditional modes of regulation of a given State. This means that their interests usually override the interests of the State.
Sovereignty guarantees workers’ rights in terms of legislations put up by several States in regard to their specific environments. Several fighters for workers’ rights had put in their efforts to come up with these legislations. These rights movements eventually got guaranteed response to their plights through enacting of legislative measures that were purely based on the needs of the workers in the given State. These efforts are thus lost with losing of sovereignty. While quoting Tilly, Munck (2002) posits that external interference of a State’s sovereignty undermines these rules and legislations that had been enacted by the State making them inapplicable in relation t the international labor laws. Munck goes on to say that the effect of the internalization of the economy has led to ineffective social policies by the State due to an upper hand being given to the international expectations at the expense of the National ones. Among these social policies are the labor laws.
Another point where the people’s command is evidenced is in the economic market. Through ownership of shares in terms of privatizing public utilities has been viewed as a way of taking command by the normal citizen. In addition, the variability in consumer choice has also been viewed as a step forward in terms of democracy. This has been believed to lead to natural market forces, which eventually lead to democracy. Several economics books and other analysis had purported that these developments led to democracy which gives the citizens a say in terms of taking control of the market.
These beliefs mentioned above do not really lead to democracy. There are other factors that play beyond the superficiality viewed from these points. Starting with the market forces, it is not evident to show that free markets lead to democracy. Market liberalization and has not favored all countries in the same way. There seem to be bias inclinations within countries and also within regions. There are some regions that tend to have more power decision making powers over others. This gives the citizens of the weaker country power to own the privatized institution but not the power to make decisions. Liberalization of markets therefore does not give the citizen more power instead; he is limited within a given diversity of goods and services dictated by the powerful players favored by the market (Munck p13).
About the workers’ rights, it is quite arguable that the international community is not deteriorating the labor laws but instead, it is strengthening it even more. More and more workers unions are embracing the universal labor laws, which are more practical and has led to a new perspective of thinking and restructuring domestic laws. Munck points out that even the most conservative labor movements have changed their tactics to embrace the new international labor laws, which are aimed at fighting excessive capitalism that does not consider the rights of the workers. Munck thus quotes Tilly when he says that workers can only enjoy their rights in the new world order if they can only invent strategies that embrace the international capacity. This means that domestic laws cannot give the workers rights to enjoy a favorable working environment during this time of capitalism where organizations strive to achieve maximized profit with the minimum possible costs. It is therefore important that international labor laws are adhered to. This means that people’s choices within a given state based on their sovereignty cannot give them the ability to enjoy labor laws (Tilly, p. 216).
McGrew (1997) in his argument that global politics can enhance democracy, states that only a certain facet of globalization can affect democracy negatively. This therefore means that with a good choice of regulations, globalization could give the normal citizen more power to command than the powers he possesses in his State. McGrew posits that globalization gives citizens with political empowerment and democracy (Keohane 1995)). It is therefore inadvisable to take globalization as a block with a single face. The different facets of it should be put into consideration before making any concrete decisions on whether sovereignty is the only weapon that a citizen can have in order to command and not be commanded.
Many countries have had an authoritarian government which, within their sovereignty, did not give the people a chance to command. Instead, they were subjected to the dictator’s expectations. The involvement of the international community through the Human Rights movements has, instead, given them a chance to have a say. This shows that the international community through its Human rights movements and other social movements, according to McGrew (p. 46) has led to a reconstruction and reconstitution of the existing traditional notions into more powerful international standards of rights. McGrew uses the words reconstitution to mean that the traditional State’s policies are not abolished. Instead, they are improved and retouched to meet the international standards.
Finally, supremacy of sovereignty can lead to atrocities beyond human explanation. A good example is the Darfur crisis (Haas, par. 7). The international community has failed to bring a viable solution to the crisis because of the issue of sovereignty. The citizens of South Sudan are not in a position to command on their rights under their own sovereignty, but the participation of the international community can give them power to have a say on their rights. It is therefore evident that sovereignty does not give the citizens power to command.
In conclusion, the people’s will can command even strongly outside the jurisdiction of sovereignty. It is therefore not agreeable to say that only in a sovereign State can the people’s will command without being commanded. We have seen that through abuse of power, sovereignty can lead to there being no room for citizens to command their will. In addition, it is also evident that international standards set by transnational movements have contributed greatly in the reconstruction and reconstitution of the traditional National policies to give the citizens more power to command their will. Therefore, people have more power outside the State’s sovereignty to dictate their will as compared to being within the dictates of sovereignty.
Haas, R. Sovereignty and Globalization. The Political inquirer. Web.
Jerry, D., Jerry, G. Big Explanatory Sociological Dictionary (1999). 2 vols. Vol. 2. Moscow.
McGrew, A. World order and political space. In A global world? (1995). edited by J. Anderson, C. Brook, and A. Cochrane. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Munck, R., Globalization and labour: The new great transformation? 2002 London: Zed Books.
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Tilly, C. Globalisation threatens labor’s rights. International Labor and Working-Class History 47 (1995): 1-23.