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Overview: Effects of Global Law on Sovereignty
The development of global law changes the way we think about the sovereignty of governments. Global law requires states to surrender some degree of sovereignty. Joining a global legal community means that states agree to be bound by conventions beyond their own jurisdictions.
While some authors suggest that the globalization of law spells the demise of the sovereignty of the state, other authors say that it is too early to tell what the outcome of the globalization of law will be for the nation-state. Whatever the outcome, most authors agree that the character of state sovereignty is changing in an increasingly globalized world.
Even if states are no longer the single location of sovereignty within an international context, they are far from irrelevant. Sovereignty has become more complex. State sovereignty has “fractured” so that specialized agencies within the state work to create global laws in participation with global legal networks.
Regionalization and Beyond
The formation of regional governance bodies also means a change in state sovereignty. In the case of the European Union, member states have explicitly surrendered aspects of sovereignty to the regional governing body. Other forms of regionalization (such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) do not require the same level of surrender. In these cases governance bodies facilitate cooperation among states without an decreasing of the political sovereignty of the member states.
When a state recognizes that there are universal principles that apply to all states, it also recognizes (if only implicitly) that its sovereignty is limited, in principle, with respect to how it treats its own citizens. Rules of war and global human rights law are examples of the widespread recognition of universal principles that place some limits on state sovereignty.
Keytexts used to create this overview:
National Boundaries Become Less Important in a Global Age
A New Vision of a Global Legal Order
Three Perspectives on Globalization
Who’s in Charge? Rethinking Sovereignty for a Global Age
Sovereignty over Global Markets Becomes More Complex
The Development of Human Rights Language
Public-Private Networks Shape International Commercial Law