Westphalian sovereignty

Westphalian sovereignty

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Westphalian sovereignty is the concept of nation-state
Nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

 sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 based on two things: territoriality and the absence of a role for external agents in domestic structures.

Scholars of international relations have identified the modern, Western originated, international system
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

 of states
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

, multinational corporation
Multinational corporation
A multi national corporation or enterprise , is a corporation or an enterprise that manages production or delivers services in more than one country. It can also be referred to as an international corporation...

s, and organizations, as having begun at the Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

 in 1648. Both the basis and the conclusion of this view have been attacked by some revisionist
Historical revisionism
In historiography, historical revisionism is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations, and decision-making processes surrounding a historical event...

 academics and politicians, with revisionists questioning the significance of the Peace, and some commentators and politicians attacking the Westphalian system of sovereign nation-state
Nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

s.

Traditional view


Adherents to the concept of a Westphalian system refer to the Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

, signed in 1648, in which the major European countries agreed to respect the principle of territorial integrity
Territorial integrity
Territorial integrity is the principle under international law that nation-states should not attempt to promote secessionist movements or to promote border changes in other nation-states...

. In the Westphalian system, the national interests and goals of states (and later nation-states) were widely assumed to go beyond those of any citizen or any ruler. States became the primary institutional agents in an interstate system of relations.

The Peace of Westphalia is said to have ended attempts to impose supranational authority on European states. The "Westphalian" doctrine of states as independent agents was bolstered by the rise in 19th century thought of nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

, under which legitimate states
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 were assumed to correspond to nations—groups of people united by language and culture. Benedict Anderson
Benedict Anderson
Benedict Richard O'Gorman Anderson is Aaron L. Binenkorb Professor Emeritus of International Studies, Government & Asian Studies at Cornell University, and is best known for his celebrated book Imagined Communities, first published in 1983...

 refers to these putative nations as "imagined communities
Imagined communities
Imagined communities are a concept coined by Benedict Anderson. He believes that a nation is a community socially constructed, imagined by the people who perceive themselves as part of that group...

."

The Westphalian system reached its peak in the late 19th century. Although practical considerations still led powerful states to seek to influence the affairs of others, forcible intervention by one country in the domestic affairs of another was less frequent between 1850 and 1900 than in most previous and subsequent periods (Leurdijk 1986).

The Peace of Westphalia is important in modern international relations
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

 theory, and is often defined as the beginning of the international system with which the discipline deals.

International relations theorists have identified several key principles of the Peace of Westphalia, which explain the Peace's significance and its impact on the world today:
  1. The principle of the sovereignty
    Sovereignty
    Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

     of states
    Sovereign state
    A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

     and the fundamental right of political self determination
  2. The principle of (legal) equality between states
  3. The principle of non-intervention of one state in the internal affairs of another state


These principles are shared by the "realist"
Realism (international relations)
In the study of international relations, Realism or political realism prioritizes national interest and security over ideology, moral concerns and social reconstructions...

 international relations paradigm today, which explains why the system of states is referred to as "The Westphalian System".

Both the idea of Westphalian sovereignty and its applicability in practice have been questioned from the mid-20th century onwards from a variety of viewpoints. Much of the debate has turned on the ideas of internationalism
Internationalism (politics)
Internationalism is a political movement which advocates a greater economic and political cooperation among nations for the theoretical benefit of all...

 and globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

 which, in various interpretations, appear to conflict with Westphalian sovereignty.

Modern views on the Westphalian system


The Westphalian system is used as a shorthand by academics to describe the system of states which make up the world today.

In 1998, at a Symposium on the Continuing Political Relevance of the Peace of Westphalia, the then NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana
Javier Solana
Francisco Javier Solana de Madariaga, KOGF is a Spanish physicist and Socialist politician. After serving in the Spanish government under Felipe González and Secretary General of NATO , he was appointed the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary...

 said that "humanity and democracy [were] two principles essentially irrelevant to the original Westphalian order" and levied a criticism that "the Westphalian system had its limits. For one, the principle of sovereignty it relied on also produced the basis for rivalry, not community of states; exclusion, not integration."

In 2000, Germany's Foreign Minister
Foreign Minister of Germany
The Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs is the head of the Federal Foreign Office and a member of the Cabinet of Germany. The current office holder is Guido Westerwelle...

 Joschka Fischer
Joschka Fischer
Joseph Martin "Joschka" Fischer is a German politician of the Alliance '90/The Greens. He served as Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany in the cabinet of Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005...

 referred to the Peace of Westphalia in his Humboldt
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

 Speech, which argued that the system of European politics set up by Westphalia was obsolete: "The core of the concept of Europe after 1945 was and still is a rejection of the European balance-of-power principle and the hegemonic ambitions of individual states that had emerged following the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, a rejection which took the form of closer meshing of vital interests and the transfer of nation-state sovereign rights to supranational European institutions."

In the aftermath of the 11 March 2004 Madrid attacks, Lewis ‘Atiyyatullah, who claims to represent the terrorist network al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

, declared that "the international system built-up by the West since the Treaty of Westphalia will collapse; and a new international system will rise under the leadership of a mighty Islamic state". It has also been claimed that globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

 is bringing an evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 of the international system past the sovereign Westphalian state.

However others speak favorably of the Westphalian state, notably European nationalists
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and American paleoconservative
Paleoconservatism
Paleoconservatism is a term for a conservative political philosophy found primarily in the United States stressing tradition, limited government, civil society, anti-colonialism, anti-corporatism and anti-federalism, along with religious, regional, national and Western identity. Chilton...

 Pat Buchanan
Pat Buchanan
Patrick Joseph "Pat" Buchanan is an American paleoconservative political commentator, author, syndicated columnist, politician and broadcaster. Buchanan was a senior adviser to American Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, and was an original host on CNN's Crossfire. He sought...

. Some such supporters of the Westphalian state oppose socialism and some forms of capitalism for undermining the nation state. A major theme of Buchanan's political career, for example, has been attacking globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

, critical theory
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

, neoconservatism, and other philosophies he considers detrimental to today's Western nations.

Globalization and Westphalian sovereignty


During the 1980s and early 1990s, the emerging literature on globalization focused primarily on the erosion of interdependence sovereignty and Westphalian sovereignty. Much of this literature was primarily concerned to criticize realist
Realism (international relations)
In the study of international relations, Realism or political realism prioritizes national interest and security over ideology, moral concerns and social reconstructions...

 models of international politics in which the Westphalian notion of the state as a unitary agent are taken as axiomatic (Camilleri and Falk 1992).

The European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 concept of shared sovereignty is also somewhat contrary to historical views of Westphalian sovereignty, as it provides for external agents to interfere in nations' internal affairs.

In a 2008 article Phil Williams http://se2.isn.ch/serviceengine/FileContent?serviceID=ISFPub&fileid=8EEBA9FE-478E-EA2C-AA15-32FC9A59434A&lng=en links the rise of terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 and other violent non-state actors (VNSA
VNSA
Violent non-state actor refers to any organization that uses illegal violence to reach its goals...

's), which pose a threat to the Westphalian sovereignty of the state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

, to globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

.

Military intervention



Since the late 20th century, the idea of Westphalian sovereignty has been brought into further question by a range of actual and proposed military interventions in the former Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 among others.

Humanitarian intervention


The partial list includes interventions in Cambodia by Vietnam (Cambodian–Vietnamese War), Bangladesh (then a part of Pakistan) by India (Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military conflict between India and Pakistan. Indian, Bangladeshi and international sources consider the beginning of the war to be Operation Chengiz Khan, Pakistan's December 3, 1971 pre-emptive strike on 11 Indian airbases...

), Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

 by NATO (1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia
1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was NATO's military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. The strikes lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999...

), Iraq by the United States (2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

), Georgia by Russia (2008 South Ossetia war
2008 South Ossetia war
The 2008 South Ossetia War or Russo-Georgian War was an armed conflict in August 2008 between Georgia on one side, and Russia and separatist governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other....

) and Libya by NATO (2011 Libyan civil war
2011 Libyan civil war
The 2011 Libyan civil war was an armed conflict in the North African state of Libya, fought between forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government. The war was preceded by protests in Benghazi beginning on 15 February 2011, which led to clashes with security...

). These interventions had a questionable or weak basis in international law, but were carried out on the premise that they constituted humanitarian intervention
Humanitarian intervention
Humanitarian intervention "refers to a state using military force against another state when the chief publicly declared aim of that military action is ending human-rights violations being perpetrated by the state against which it is directed."...

, aimed at preventing genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

, large-scale loss of life, ethnic cleansing or the use of weapons of mass destruction. Neoconservatism
Neoconservatism
Neoconservatism in the United States is a branch of American conservatism. Since 2001, neoconservatism has been associated with democracy promotion, that is with assisting movements for democracy, in some cases by economic sanctions or military action....

 in particular has developed this line of thinking further, asserting that a lack of democracy may foreshadow future humanitarian crises, or that democracy itself constitutes a human right. However, proponents of neoconservatism have been accused of being concerned about democracy, human rights and humanitarian crises, only in countries where American global dominance is challenged: the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, China, Belarus, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela, etc., while largely ignoring the same issues in other countries friendlier to the United States, such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Georgia, and Colombia.

There is debate about whether recent infringements of state sovereignty, such as 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia
1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was NATO's military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. The strikes lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999...

 and subsequent de facto partition of Kosovo and the 2003 Iraq War, reflected these higher principles, or the real justification was simply self-defense or the promotion of political and economic interests. A new notion of contingent sovereignty
Contingent sovereignty
Contingent sovereignty refers to the new and still evolving theory which challenges the norm of non-intervention in the internal affairs of countries, commonly associated with the Westphalian doctrine of sovereignty....

 seems to be emerging in international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

, but it has not yet reached the point of legal legitimacy.

In the May 2011 "No Fly Zone" imposed upon Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, under their Responsibility to Protect
Responsibility to protect
The responsibility to protect is a norm or set of principles based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege, but a responsibility. RtoP focuses on preventing and halting four crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing, which it places under the generic...

 mandate, the Westphalian Sovereignty concept was in effect discarded as it was deemed necessary that in order to protect the civilian uprising in Libya there was call for "external agents to interfere in nations' internal affairs".

Failed states


A further criticism of Westphalian sovereignty arises in relation to allegedly failed states, of which Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 (before the 2001 US-led invasion
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

) is often considered an example.{} In this case, it is argued that no sovereignty exists and that international intervention is justified on humanitarian grounds and by the threats posed by failed states to neighboring countries and the world as a whole.

Some of the recent debate over Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

is also being cast in these same terms.{}

Further reading

  • Camilleri, J. and Falk, J. (1992), The End of Sovereignty?: The Politics of a Shrinking and Fragmenting World, Edward Elgar, Aldershot.
  • Leurdijk, J. (1986), Intervention in International Politics, Eisma BV, Leeuwarden, Netherlands.
  • Phil Williams: Violent Non-State Actors and National and International Security, ISN, 2008.

External links