Sovereignty is a much discussed topic today, in lieu of globalization and increased transnationalism. It is a notion that has been highly misunderstood, misconstrued and abused by individuals and nation states. Sovereignty is often described as a state in which a nation has complete and utmost authority over its territory and the government of the nation is independent in making decisions. The biggest problem with this perception of sovereignty is that it is heavily focused on states and territorial independence. I will be arguing throughout this essay that sovereignty cannot be tied down to these issues.
Sovereignty in the state-centric view is outdated and inapplicable to the highly transnational world we live in. Indeed, many groups and individuals who believe that being sovereign is inexplicably tied to not being affected or linked with any global processes on a transnational level are highly mistaken and naïve: “The glittering bribe the globalists are extending to us is this: Enhanced access to global markets –in exchange for your national sovereignty!” (Buchanan 1994). An anti-globalist, primarily due to fears about this supposed threat to sovereignty, people like Mr. Patrick Buchanan try to rile up hatred against anything “un-American”, arguing that this will lead to the betterment of the USA. There are scores of publications that are promote xenophobia, isolationism, symbolism and national pride as a backlash against the adverse effects of globalization and transnationalism on this cherished idea of sovereignty. Indeed, as Mary Tsai puts it, sovereignty “remains a jealously guarded right of every state.” (Tsai 2000). I will firstly be studying the concept of sovereignty, how it came about and how this history is interpreted and understood today. Following this, I will be examining the importance of sovereignty in our world today, how it is affected by capitalism, the role that international institutions and agreement play in the supposed eradication of sovereignty, and the possible future of sovereignty in the world.