Jan 25, 2018 in Political

Nation States and Intergovernmental Organizations

Political realism is an approach where the role of nation-states is emphasized. It assumes that the main motive for all nation-states is national interests support (Ferraro). From to the political realistic view, the nation state is the most powerful organizational actor in the current system of international relations. From the liberal point of view, there exist other organizations that deteriorate state power. Professor Randall Baker points out that such forces as globalization and internationalization affect the state sovereignty (Baker).

According to Baker, intergovernmental organizations’ influence on global politics is getting stronger, while sovereign states’ control is fading. Such organizations as the WTO (World Trade Organization), the EU (European Union), and NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) turn into more powerful organizational actors. The professor claims that “globalization will lead to increasing diminution of the role of the “traditional” state by means of treaties, international organizations, free-trade agreements” (Baker).

It is interesting to take a closer look at a free-trade agreement that, according to Baker, tends to erode state power. North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect in 1994 and created opportunities for the economic growth in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico (NAFTANOW.org). It appears that the treaty was signed for common economic prosperity of the corresponding countries. NAFTA has made a revolution in the field of trade and investment in North America. The creation of NAFTA has had a positive influence on the labor market in the cooperating countries ensuring prosperity both for businesses and common people living in North America (NAFTANOW.org).

It appears that the treaty was signed for common economic prosperity of the corresponding countries. Nevertheless, Professor Baker expresses his concerns about the relation between common economic growth and sovereignty. Baker points out that the huge economic power operates beyond sovereign state; multinational corporations have no borders and considerably diminish the role of the nation-state (Baker).

Being a regional intergovernmental agreement, NAFTA may contradict the realists’ argument that the security dilemma of the nation state is the main problem in international relations. NAFTA insists that now, when the economy of Asia and South America is permanently growing, it is vital important for the North American Region to save its position. In this relation, economical concerns prevail over state sovereignty apprehension. The official NAFTA website provides convincing facts including significant figures that highlight the positive economical changes that the agreement brings to people who live and work in the United States, Mexico and Canada (NAFTANOW.org).

If such agreements as NAFTA advance the state economics, then it appears that these agreements work at the state’s side and, therefore, do not represent any threat to state sovereignty. It is logical that economic power only strengthen a state and by no means destructs its power. There is an interesting point of view expressed by Professor Kal Raustiala. According to him, “observers commonly argue that sovereignty is threatened by the ongoing expansion of global governance” (Raustiala, 842). The professor proposes that “changes in the international system or in domestic politics have already compromised  sovereignty in a irrevocable manner, and thus, international institutions, while rendering the erosion of sovereignty more legible, actually serve as a means to reassert sovereignty” (Raustiala, 843).

For the relists, nation states’ main concern is their political autonomy and territorial integrity (Ferraro). As intergovernmental organizations give perspective to international business without boundaries, state sovereignty – the chief value for the realists – seem to be in danger. Nevertheless, physical borders stay the same and nation states are not conquered. That introduces the opinions that not only are intergovernmental organizations harmless for nation state sovereignty, but also strengthen it.

The realists consider a nation-state the most powerful actor on the scene of international relations. The critics are concerned that globalization is threatening for the nation state’s sovereignty, as international organizations – such as the EU, the WTO, and NAFTA – undermining the nation state’s power. The above-mentioned organizations really play a significant role at different levels of state organization. However, this activity may not erode the state power, but even strengthen it; thus, intergovernmental organizations do not contradict national interests support.


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