Approaches to global politics

The United Nations General Assembly.

The Specification requires that students have a good contextual knowledge and understanding of the following:

Historical background to global politics

World wars of 20th century (WW1 and WW2); Cold War period (1945 as turning point in world history?); post-Cold War period (1989-91 as turning point in world history?); globalization (international trade and interdependence since 1980s and 1990s); ‘war on terror’ (9/11 as turning point in world history?).

Sovereignty and the state-system

Emergence of the modern state-system (rise of modern state in 17th century Europe; decline of other forms of authority (Papacy, Holy Roman Empire etc); 1648 Peace of Westphalia); development of nation-states (rise of nationalism from late 18th century onwards; nature of nation-state (political and cultural unity)); state-centric view of international politics (billiard-ball model)

Nature of sovereignty

The principle of absolute and unlimited power;

internal sovereignty (unchallengeable authority within state borders; monopoly of legitimate means of violence, etc);

external sovereignty (state/national sovereignty; legal equality of states; principle of non-interference;

inviolability of borders, etc); sovereignty in practice (hierarchy of states; imperialism, etc)

Debating the relevance of sovereignty – realist belief that states, and therefore sovereignty, remain key to global politics; state sovereignty as basis for international law (norm of noninterference), etc.

Erosion of sovereignty – development of ‘post-sovereign’ states; economic globalization and the loss of economic sovereignty; permeable borders and transnational actors (transnational corporations (TNCs), nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), terrorist groups, etc); growth of regional and global governance;

trend towards humanitarian intervention; ‘failed states’, etc.

SOVEREIGNTY PDF

Sovereignty

Introduction to the Study of International Politics

Over the past 20 years the face of international politics and the established global order itself have changed fundamentally. As a result, the challenges and threats to global peace, stability and security have also changed. The age of bipolarity, in which the post war world was divided into two hostile and antagonistic blocs is gone. However, it is as yet unclear as to what the shape of the new order is. The London declaration (1990) may have ended the cold war but a new catalogue of uncertainties has emerged. In place of the threats of Soviet expansionism, Western mistrust of Soviet intentions, the aptly named doctrine of MAD, (mutually assured destruction) and cold war conflicts by proxy in East Asia, Latin America and Africa, the threats to security and stability the world now faces come in very different forms.

There are many examples of these ‘new’ threats.

Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction

The burgeoning arms trade

civil conflict

ethnic strife, genocide, virulent nationalism, resource wars, ecological and environmental degradation, poverty, disease, drug and human trafficking and terrorism are all issues that have appeared swiftly and dramatically upon both the international and domestic political agenda. And they have done so with astonishing rapidity. The concerns of just two decades ago have not entirely vanished, but they are taking recognisably different forms.

Concern over a direct nuclear conflagration between East and West for example has been supplanted by concern over nuclear proliferation. Though the vast nuclear arsenals of the ‘big five’ remain, the new nuclear threat is now one of proliferation. As well as the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (The USA, Russia, Britain, China and France) we may also add Israel, India and Pakistan as fully subscribed members of the nuclear club. In addition other states, most notably Iran, are seeking to acquire nuclear weapons and North Korea have successfully conducted nuclear testing.  What protection do international treaties on non – proliferation actually afford and what are the implications of nuclear proliferation for future peace and global security? Is there a strategic or moral case that the west can make for non-proliferation, short of abandoning their own arsenals?

Nuclear weapons are not the only concern. Non-proliferation treaties and protocols also seek to address threats to stability, peace and security posed by the development and acquisition of biological and chemical weapons. It is also relevant to note the buoyancy of the global arms trade, worth in excess of $100bn, per annum, itself a threat to stability and security, especially in the world’s poorest regions.

Similarly concerns over terrorism are now much more than merely domestic, and have become trans-national in reach and importance, witnessed by the events of September 11th 2001 and the Bali, Madrid and London bombings, as well as the fractures and fissures evident in the international response to such threats. In the 1970s nation states were more or less concerned with combating internal terrorism: The IRA/INLA in the Republic of Ireland and the UK, ETA in Spain, Action Directe in France or Brigado Rossi in Italy. Whilst it is true that there has always been an international dimension to the activities of terrorist groups such as Black September, or the PLO, as well as some degree of international cooperation on countering the threat posed, the new ‘war on terror’ possesses altogether different dimensions.

The iconic attacks on Washington and New York in September 2001, etched permanently upon the American national psyche, ushered in the war on terror, a war which many argue cannot be won. It is not a conventional symmetrical war, state upon state, but a coalition of states intent on defeating an umbrella organisation with no conventional structure and no single national identity. It is asymmetrical warfare and points to a potential future in which alliances will tackle multi-national threats to security, whether they be natural or man made in origin. Al Qaeda is more an idea than an organisation and though it does have specific demands, such as the withdrawal of US troops from Saudi Arabia, it is inconceivable that there could be any meaningful negotiations with it, such as those that appear to have ended the conflict in Northern Ireland, despite ongoing political paralysis.

Atrocities, such as those committed by Pol Pot in Cambodia, still occur but there has been at least some willingness upon the part of the international community to address how best to respond, with, for example, the establishment of the International Criminal Court. The humanitarian crisis in Darfur and other acts of genocide in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia suggest that the international community has yet to come to terms with how to prevent or deal with crimes against humanity. What, if anything, has been the positive impact of the establishment of the International Criminal Court in The Hague? How damaging for the ICC is it that the trial of Milosevic did not come to its natural conclusion? And what of the court’s inability to bring to trial Radovan Karadic and Mladic? Should Saddam Hussein have been tried by the ICC rather than Iraqi courts? Is it conceivable that Western leaders could be tried for pursuance of war crimes or prosecuting an illegal war, or is the practical rather than theoretical jurisdiction of the court limited in this regard? What of other international courts? Can the International Court of Justice become a fully-fledged international court with the ability to make binding its decisions, or are international institutions merely and always dependent upon the will of nation states to accept their jurisdictions?

Africa is changing too, albeit at a snail’s pace. For so long the international community’s ‘basket case’ there are, at last, hints of development, not least because the superpowers have stopped conducting their ideological wars there, as they were in the 1970s. F.W de Klerk, the last President to preside over apartheid South Africa, consigned that abhorrent regime to history, and Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected President of South Africa. In 2001 Libya sought to come out of international isolation, with cessation of its WMD programme and sharing of intelligence with the United States in the war on terror, all as part of a bid to get US sanctions lifted and normalise diplomatic relations. Attempts have been made by the world’s most powerful nations to address issues of poverty and aids in Africa. The success or otherwise of these policies remains to be judged.

In Latin American military dictatorships have been replaced with fledgling democracies and China has begun in earnest to embrace capitalism, at least in its economic form, if not yet adopting the attendant political culture of liberal-democracy. Its presence on the UN Security Council permanent 5, however, presents barriers to a UN move against human rights abuses by China in Tibet.

Other threats to stability and security are also present. Global warming is now, according to virtually all scientific evidence, accelerating at such a pace that the trend will soon be irreversible.  Climate change brings with it instability and catastrophe which even rich nations will have no immunity from. But the inevitable catastrophes will strike the poorer nations first and harder, because they lack the resources to recover from such disasters. How urgent is the political will on this matter and to what extent are politicians paying more than mere lip service to the problem? Once again, the question of the effectiveness of international treaties and protocols, such as Kyoto, raises itself.

In regards to international aid and development, declarations of good intent, for example at the G8 summit in Gleneagles in July 2005, have made little immediate impact in countries (and continents) afflicted by poverty and disease. So the question arises as to the motives and intentions of the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Can they be a force for alleviating poverty, or do they simply serve to support the interests of the world’s richest states? In an increasingly trans-national age, how secure, or indeed relevant, are national borders, and what measures need to be taken for more effective detection and prevention of human and drug trafficking?

The dominant political figures of the late 1980s and early 1990s have of course departed and, equally, the concerns that affected their administrations are rapidly changing course. Reagan, Gorbachev and Thatcher, who together ended the cold war, are gone. So too are the Communist dictators Ceaucescu and Honecher, their countries absorbed into a western European sphere of influence, with German reunification and Romanian accession to the European Union. Poland and Hungary are full members of NATO and Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia and even Albania enjoy partnership status within the Alliance. European expansion and integration continues apace, despite the odd stumbling block such as French and Dutch rejection of the proposed EU draft constitution. Democracy and free market capitalism, however imperfect, have been embraced in the former Communist bloc, and former adversaries, the United States and Russia, now co-operate on a number of platforms, undreamed of when the first tentative steps of the Helsinki process were taken in 1975, or when Gorbachev and Reagan were struggling to find common ground in Reykjavik, during their summit negotiations on arms reduction in 1986.

Yet, superficially, some familiar aspects of the global politics of two decades ago remain. The Israeli – Arab conflict continues, as does the west’s dependence upon middle-eastern oil. The organisation and ownership of the international political economy continues to be in the hands of the few richest states and the familiar problems that face the developing world are far from being eradicated. The main international institutions have struggled to adapt to a rapidly changing world order, though some, such as NATO, have been more successful than others.

What of the role of the United Nations in ensuring global peace stability and security? Is it an ineffective institution, desperately in need of ‘proving its relevance’? Does it need to be reformed so that it no longer is structured to reflect post WWII realities? Is there an urgent need to reform the security council and create additional permanent members such as Japan, India, Brazil or even the EU? What of security council resolutions which are never enforced or acted upon? What can be done to ensure that the authority and credibility of the UN is not diminished by compliance failure? Why can Nato act when the UN seems to have its hands tied? And, in terms of the North Atlantic Alliance, does it still have a role and if so what should that role be?  Do emerging tensions between Europe, the European Union and the United States threaten the long-term viability of the transatlantic alliance? What also of the emerging tensions between Europe and Russia? How have these come about after the triumph of democracy over totalitarianism?

The end of the cold war prompted George H.W. Bush to declare the ushering in of ‘a new world order’, in which the bipolar age of rivalry between the communist east and the capitalist west, had been swept away by the tide of history to be replaced with a fundamentally different global balance of power. Francis Fukuyama famously pronounced his ‘end of history’ thesis, in which liberal democracy and capitalism would triumph as the end state form of all countries, in all regions of the world.

However, what shape this new world order will take has not yet been decided. There are many potential permutations. Will it be one of American hegemony and unilateralism?  Or will a genuinely multi-polar order emerge, as states such as China, India and non-state actors such as the EU grow in economic, diplomatic, political and military influence and act as a counterweight to US dominance? And what are the prospects for a future global commons based on peace, security, stability and universal democracy? The nature of the international order will continue to change at an ever increasing pace. Today’s certainties are few and there may be even fewer tomorrow.

UNIT THREE REVISION BY TOPIC: Superpowers Questions

SUPERPOWERS

Superpowers Mind Map

Short Answer Questions

Is China a superpower? (15 marks)

A superpower is a state that possesses great power ‘plus great mobility of power’.

The term superpower was coined to refer to the USA and the Soviet Union in the early Cold War period.

The features usually associated with a superpower include the following:

They enjoy a leadership role in the international system and are able to impose their will on smaller states within their sphere of influence.

They possess enormous military resources, enabling them to project effective military power far from their territory.

Some argue that superpowers have a special responsibility to maintain international order and thus enjoy a privileged status in international forums.

China’s status as a superpower depends on a number of considerations:

China can reasonably be described as an economic superpower, in view of its sustained very high levels of economic growth and the fact that it became the world’s leading exporter in 2009 as well as the world’s second largest economy in 2010.

Although China is the world’s second largest military spender and possesses the world’s largest army, it may not yet qualify as a military superpower as it does not have a proven capacity to project military power well beyond its territory.

China does not yet have a clear sphere of influence in the sense that the USA and the Soviet Union clearly did during the Cold War period.

There is uncertain evidence that China has accepted its superpower status in terms of being willing to shoulder responsibility for maintaining international order.

Essay Questions

Is China now a superpower? (45 marks)

To consider this question candidates need to examine the characteristics of a superpower. The main criteria are: military, economic, cultural/social and diplomatic/political power.

In terms of military power China has nuclear weapons and has the largest army in the world. However, China has limited means of projecting a military force outside of East Asia. The Chinese navy is weak in comparison with the US and its military hardware is a generation behind that of the USA. The present weakness of China is clearly illustrated in its failure to resolve the issue of Taiwan to its advantage – although both Hong Kong and Macau have returned to Chinese sovereignty. Nevertheless, China has recently launched a massive missile construction program, moreover it has launched a number of space satellites and a space exploration program is progressing rapidly. China is starting to make a claim to superpower status, but this is still a long way off.

Economically China is growing very rapidly but from an extremely weak base. The Pacific coast of eastern China produces more and more of the low technology consumer products that the rest of the world consumes. Membership of the WTO enables China’s products to enter global markets without being penalized with high import tariffs. When the profits from these basic manufactured goods are reinvested into higher value added, more technologically advanced products then the West will wake up to a world in which manufacturing is dominated by China. When this occurs, China will have the economic strength to develop a superpower military force, and Taiwan will find itself under intense pressure to rejoin the Chinese empire.

Decentralised business forces, not the state, have brought about China’s current economic growth. Capitalism was a Western invention, but the Chinese work ethic puts the West to shame and the Chinese may be able to develop their own form of capitalism which bears no resemblance to the `crony capitalism’ of Japan. Nevertheless there is a great deal of uncertainty, and the only undeniable truism, is that as yet China is an increasingly versatile economy but is still a long way behind the US.

Diplomatically, China has perhaps its best claim to Superpower status. As a Permanent member of the UN Security Council China can veto any resolution put to it. But so could France or Britain, hardly rivals for superpower status. Nevertheless, the veto power should not be ignored. Moreover, China has for decades presented itself as the `champion of the poor’, the defender of the Less Developed Countries (LDCs). In 2003 China led a group of LDCs known as G-21 to bring stalemate to the WTO talks in Mexico.

The G-21 demanded that the rich countries open their markets to agricultural products and services. However China’s claims to represent the Third World are unfounded.

Although China is a growing diplomatic power which refuses to conduct its foreign policy solely in terms of its relationship to the US, its power is too often exaggerated. The weakness of China compared to the US was demonstrated when the West ignored China’s protests over the bombing of Serbia in 1999, even after the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.
Finally, the impact of Chinese culture cannot be ignored. Nevertheless, the domination of US culture reigns supreme.

To conclude, Chinese power has been exaggerated by some following the demise of the USSR who believed that the new threat to US dominance would come from the East. 9/11 and the threat of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism has replaced this fear. Meanwhile China’s power is growing. It may be still simply a strong regional power and a rival to Japan, but China remains the most likely ‘next superpower’.

The Dragon's New Teeth

‘The USA is a power in decline.’ Discuss. (45 Marks)

Two contrasting images of global order have emerged since the end of the Cold War. One suggests that a unipolar world order has emerged in which the USA operates as a ‘global hegemon’.

Alternatively, the end of the Cold War bipolarity is seen to be giving way to the rise of a multipolar world order, in which, for a number of reasons, the USA no longer functions as the world’s sole superpower.

The view that the USA has emerged as an unchallengeable power, no longer merely a superpower but a ‘hyperpower’, can be defended in a number of ways, including the following.

The strongest basis for arguing that a uniploar world order has come into existence is the USA’s huge and increasing military lead over the rest of the world.

For example, the USA’s military spending in 2007 was nine times greater than China’s, the second largest.

The USA’s technological lead over other countries is also almost unassailable, accounting for about 40 per cent of world spending on research and development. US power is also underpinned by its growing population, expected to rise from 305 million to 439 million by 2050, and by the highly educated and skilled nature of the US population, particularly in areas such as science and high technology.

The USA, furthermore, retains enormous structural power, reflected in the considerable influence it exerts over institutions such as the WTO, IMF and World Bank, and in the role of the dollar as the world’s leading currency.

However, the USA has also been viewed as a power in decline.

Perhaps the most important factor has been the rise of emerging powers, notably China, India and Russia.

The USA’s relative importance on the world stage, has undoubtedly been affected by the dramatic growth of the Chinese economy, which is widely predicted to outstrip the US economy by 2020 if not before.

Some, indeed, argue that the centre of gravity of world politics and the global economy is in the process of shifting from a US-dominated West to a Chinese-dominated East.

This was dramatically demonstrated by the global economic crisis that emerged in 2008. This crisis has affected the standing of the US dollar and, arguably, hastened the relative economic decline of the USA.

US decline can also be seen in its loss of ‘soft’ power, partly resulting from the damage done to its moral authority by the ‘war on terror’ generally, and the Iraq war in particular.

Prolonged involvement in counter-insurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has revived concerns about the USA’s ‘imperial-overreach’.

To what extent is the global system now multipolar? (45 Marks Also features in the GLOBAL ORDER Questions)

Multipolarity refers to an international system in which there are three or more power centres. However, there is debate about whether the contemporary system is now best described as unipolar or as multipolar.

A unipolar global system is one in which there is a single pre-eminent state. Many have argued that the end of the Cold War can be seen as the ‘unipolar moment’, the end of an era of superpower bipolarity and the birth of the world in which the USA stood as the sole superpower.

Some have seen this as the creation of some kind of ‘American empire’, a trend resulting from US economic successors during the 1990s, coupled with the ongoing difficulties of other competitors, such as Japan, Russia and the EU.

The USA’s unassailable position in global affairs was evident in the unilateralist tendency of US foreign policy, particularly following the election of George W. Bush in 2000 and in particular by the so-called ‘war on terror’.

This has been interpreted as an attempt to preserve and reinforce the USA’s ‘benevolent global hegemony’ through a kind of ‘new’ imperialism that was based on unrivalled military strength, the USA’s strength in promoting democracy worldwide, and an interventionist foreign policy that was based on the idea of ‘regime change’, achieved by military means and possible through pre- emptive attack.

These tendencies were a clear indication of the existence of unipolarity.

However, the ‘unipolar moment’ in world politics may have passed, partly due to the tendency of the USA to succumb to the problem of imperial over-reach.

Although the USA accounts for around 50 per cent of global defence spending, its proportion of GDP is well below 50 per cent and declining in relative terms.

The economic fragility of the USA has been further illustrated by the global economic crisis that started in 2008.

The rise of China, India and other new powers creates the prospect either of the return of some form of bipolarity, in which global politics in the twenty-first century will be characterised by Sino-US relations, or the emergence of a truly multipolar system consisting of five or possibly more major world actors.

China’s rapid economic progress, its growing military capacity and its greater involvement in global affairs, Africa and elsewhere all demonstrate that the global system can no longer be seen as unipolar.

Other rising powers include India, Brazil and Russia. Trends towards multipolarity can also be seen in the implications of globalisation and the rise of non-state actors ranging from transnational corporations to terrorist groups and new social movements.

In this view, globalisation has strengthened a tendency towards pluralism in global politics, highlighted by the permeability of the state and the dispersal of power amongst governmental and non-governmental actors.

Finally, growing interdependence and the effects of the information and communication revolution have, arguably, changed the nature of power itself and made it more difficult for power to be concentrated in a small number of hands.

This is evident in the declining significance of ‘hard’ power, particularly military power, and the growing importance of ‘soft’ power.

The Obama administration has confronted major challenges in trying to address both the USA’s economic and foreign-policy problems.

To what extent has the rise of emerging powers altered the nature of world order? (45 Marks)

The growth of emerging powers, such as China, India and Brazil, can be seen to have altered the nature of world order in important ways.

In particular, it has created conditions of growing multipolarity, in which global power is divided amongst three or more major states.

Such a view is underpinned by economic developments, notably the fact that the balance of power in the world economy has shifted from the West to the East, especially due to the combined influence of China, India and Japan.

Such trends also have a political or diplomatic character, as reflected in the growing importance of bodies such as the G20 and the BRICs countries.

However, others argue that emerging powers have yet to fundamentally alter the nature of world order.

In most cases, this is based upon the view that none of these powers is yet strong enough to challenge the USA as the global hegemon.

The USA remains the world’s largest economy and has a still impressive global lead in ‘hitech’ production. Similarly, its military lead over the rest of the world is still considerable, being the only power that can sustain major military involvements in two or more parts of the world at the same time.

As the global hegemon, the USA also continues to exert disproportional structural power through its influence over a variety of institutions of global governance.

UNIT THREE REVISION BY TOPIC: Sovereignty and Regionalism (please note that it is difficult to break unit three down precisely into ‘topics.’ There will always be some overlap. This is designed to organise your revision.Unit Three: Sovereignty and Regionalism QuestionsWhy is sovereignty now widely viewed as an outdated concept? (15 Marks)Advanced answers will discuss sovereignty in its various dimensions – legal, political, economic and military. They will also examine the relevance of state sovereignty given globalization.The Treaty of Westphalia established the supremacy of state sovereignty. This has restricted the ability of external forces to intervene in the domestic affairs of a state. However given the rise of organisations such as the European Union it is arguably more difficult to maintain meaningful sovereignty.Similarly the increased use of military intervention, in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, indicates a reduction in the significance attached to state sovereignty.Advanced answers should include evidence to suggest that there is still significance to sovereignty, such as by outlining the rise of nationalism, and the reaction to supranationalism.

AO1: Excellent understanding of the implications of state sovereignty for international politics, and of the realist belief that national interest defines policy making. Comprehensive awareness and knowledge of the rise of international organisations and globalization and their impact on state sovereignty.

AO2: Sophisticated analysis of the extent to which state sovereignty has been undermined by globalization and by international organisations such as the EU. Answers will include balance, with some emphasis given to the view that the nation state remains the dominant actor in global politics and state sovereignty is still significant.

Define state sovereignty, and explain its implications for international politics. (15 marks)

State sovereignty is the idea that states operate as autonomous and independent entities in world politics, sovereignty being the principle of absolute or unlimited power.

Distinctions are nevertheless made between legal sovereignty, defined in terms of authority, and political authority, defined in terms of power.

The main implications of state sovereignty for international politics include the following:

Sovereignty implies that there is no higher power or authority in international affairs than the state.

This implies that states operate in conditions of international anarchy, suggesting that they rely for their security and survival on self-help and view other states as at least a potential threat.

State sovereignty implies, at least in theory, that states are equal.

Sovereignty suggests the norm of non-intervention in international affairs, which has been embraced as the cornerstone of international law.

Explain the link between regionalism and globalization. (15 Marks)

Regionalism, like globalization can take many forms, including economic (regional trade blocs), security (military alliances) and cultural. Some have argued that globalization is merely regionalism and that the growth of regional bodies such as the EU refutes the notion of globalization.

Others argue that the growth of regionalism is a response to and an aspect of globalization. That is, many nations have formed or joined regional organisations in response to globalization and its threat to the nation-state.

Explain the driving forces behind regional integration and cooperation. (15 Marks)

A tendency towards regional integration and co-operation has been increasingly evident since the 1990’s, with the EU serving as the most advanced example worldwide, but with other examples including regional economic blocs such as NAFTA and ASEAN and regional political blocs such as the African Union.

The types of regional organisation range from loose and non-binding agreements amongst states to complex institutional arrangements, as found in the EU.

Although the driving forces for more regional integration and co-operation vary across different continents, regionalism as a global phenomenon has been a response to a number of wider developments.

The deepest of these is a recognition of growing interdependence and the rise of globalisation.

The most significant impetus towards international regionalism has undoubtedly been economic, reflecting the declining effectiveness of the nation-state as an independent economic entity. Regional economic blocs facilitate trade and economic specialisation amongst states, also giving them access to larger markets.

Most such blocs have come into existence since 1990 and have been a response to economic globalisation. Usually, regional blocs help to manage the integration of their regions into the global economy, while also fostering internal co- operation.

In cases such as the Council of Europe, the African Union and the Organisation of American States, regional bodies provide a looser foundation for political co-operation, having little or no economic role.

Explain the relationship between regionalism and globalisation. (15 Marks)

Regionalism, particularly in the form of ‘new regionalism’, has been linked to globalisation in a number of ways.

Regional economic blocs have tended to be formed in part because of the impact of globalisation on the economic independence of states.

As borders have become porous and economic sovereignty has declined, states have been inclined to work more closely with other states in the same region.

One motive for the formation of regional economic blocs is that these help states to resist pressure from intensified global competition.

These blocs therefore function as customs unions, ‘fortresses’ against the pressures from the wider global economy.

In an increasingly interdependent global economy, states seek prosperity through the establishment of free trade areas that give them access to larger markets and facilitate economic specialisation.

Distinguish, using examples, between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism. (15 Marks)

Intergovernmentalism is any form of interaction between states that takes place on the basis of sovereign independence.

These includes treaties and alliances as well as leagues and confederations. Sovereignty is preserved through unanimous decision-making that gives each state a veto, at least over matters of vital national importance.

Supranationalism is the existence of an authority that is ‘higher’ than that of the nation- state and capable of imposing its will on it.

It can therefore be found in international federations, where sovereignty is shared between central and peripheral bodies.

Certain EU bodies have supranational authority.

Define state sovereignty, and explain its implications for international politics. (15 marks)

State sovereignty is the idea that states operate as autonomous and independent entities in world politics, sovereignty being the principle of absolute or unlimited power.

Distinctions are nevertheless made between legal sovereignty, defined in terms of authority, and political authority, defined in terms of power.

The main implications of state sovereignty for international politics include the following:

Sovereignty implies that there is no higher power or authority in international affairs than the state.

This implies that states operate in conditions of international anarchy, suggesting that they rely for their security and survival on self-help and view other states as at least a potential threat.

State sovereignty implies, at least in theory, that states are equal.

Sovereignty suggests the norm of non-intervention in international affairs, which has been embraced as the cornerstone of international law.

Distinguish, using examples, between economic regionalism and political regionalism. (15 Marks)

Economic regionalism refers to the creation of greater economic opportunities through cooperation amongst states in the same geographical region.

This may involve the establishment of free trade areas, where states agree to reduce tariffs or other barriers to trade, but it may also involve the establishment of customs unions or common markets.

Political regionalism refers to attempts by states in the same area to strengthen or protect shared values, thereby enhancing their image and reputation and gaining more a powerful domestic voice.

Examples of this can be seen in the case of the Council of Europe or the Arab League.

Essays

State sovereignty is now an outdated concept. Discuss (45 marks)

State sovereignty refers to the capacity of the state to act independently and autonomously on the world stage.

It implies that states are legally equal and that the territorial integrity and political independence of a state is inviolable.

State sovereignty can be viewed as an outdated concept for a variety of reasons.

These include, in particular, the advance of globalisation, which fosters deeper levels of interdependence and interconnectedness that mean that state borders are increasingly porous, the strengthening of non-state actors, notably transnational corporations and non-governmental organisation, the trend in favour of regional and global governance, which erodes the independent authority of national governments, and the growth of humanitarian intervention, possibly reflecting the fact that international law is no longer geared to upholding state sovereignty.

On the other hand, state sovereignty can be seen to be alive and well in a number of respects.

In the first place, it is by no means clear that globalisation has always worked to weaken the state as an autonomous entity; rather, in many ways it has transformed the state and helped to redefine state sovereignty.

Similarly, international law is still based on state sovereignty as a fundamental principle, reflected in the questionable status of humanitarian intervention in international law.

The idea that the growth of international organisations and the trend towards global governance inevitably makes state sovereignty irrelevant can also be challenged on the grounds that international bodies are overwhelmingly intergovernmental and not supranational, and serve therefore as forums within which sovereign states can take action on matters of mutual interest or concern.

To what extent has the rise of emerging powers altered the nature of world order?

The growth of emerging powers, such as China, India and Brazil, can be seen to have altered the nature of world order in important ways.

In particular, it has created conditions of growing multipolarity, in which global power is divided amongst three or more major states.

Such a view is underpinned by economic developments, notably the fact that the balance of power in the world economy has shifted from the West to the East, especially due to the combined influence of China, India and Japan.

Such trends also have a political or diplomatic character, as reflected in the growing importance of bodies such as the G20 and the BRICs countries.

However, others argue that emerging powers have yet to fundamentally alter the nature of world order.

In most cases, this is based upon the view that none of these powers is yet strong enough to challenge the USA as the global hegemon.

The USA remains the world’s largest economy and has a still impressive global lead in ‘hitech’ production. Similarly, its military lead over the rest of the world is still considerable, being the only power that can sustain major military involvements in two or more parts of the world at the same time.

As the global hegemon, the USA also continues to exert disproportional structural power through its influence over a variety of institutions of global governance.

Declining US Influence?


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