The Challenge & Complexities of Nation-State Sovereignty in the Era of 21st Century Internationalism

68 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2011

See all articles by Richard Lewis Dixon

Richard Lewis Dixon

Regent University; American Public University System

Date Written: June 15, 2011


For hundreds of years since the enactment of the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, the nation-state has been the mainstay of the international system. The nation-state has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, wars, economic turmoil, and political chaos, yet through it all it has remained relatively stable. Nation-state also has a dark side in the guise of neo-colonialism and the subjection of millions of people through the invoking of political sovereignty as imperial legitimacy. However, nothing has challenged the core foundations of the nation-state then the emergence of globalization in the 21st century.

In many respects, globalization has superseded the governmental ability of the nation-state by circumventing it through the integration of commerce, finance, trade, and technology. No longer is the nation-state the conduit by which TNC’s (Trans National Corporation), Diplomats, NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organization), and Supranational organizations must filter through in order to operate in and around its geographical sphere. The legitimacy of the state was its cloak of sovereignty which gave it card Blanche in the international system. The presence of globalization has had an evolutionary impact upon the way nations govern, communicate, negotiate, and interact with each other. These impacts are both positive and negative. In terms of positive attributes, the technological advancements due to globalization has improved commerce through increased FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in economically challenged nations, targeted infrastructure development, advanced literacy, inspired democratic movements via social networks, and created emerging middle class in rising powerhouses such as India and China. The negative effects of globalization is that it has pulled and tugged at the local, social, and economical moral fabrics of a nation-state which in turn causes unrest, financial meltdown, poverty, hunger, dissension, and interstate wars between ethnic, tribal, and religious groups due to the inability of the current structure of the nation-state to effectively harness its destructive elements. In essence, the purpose of this research is to examine the challenges of globalization to the political validity of the nation-state in the 21st century and to create a new political construct of national sovereignty that recognizes the importance of the nation-state and its stability of the international order.

Keywords: Treaty of Westphalia, political sovereignty, globalization, nation-state, international order, imperialism, neo-colonialism

Suggested Citation

Dixon, Richard Lewis, The Challenge & Complexities of Nation-State Sovereignty in the Era of 21st Century Internationalism (June 15, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Richard Lewis Dixon (Contact Author)

Regent University ( email )

1000 Regent University Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
United States

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American Public University System ( email )

111 W. Congress St.
Charles Town, WV 25514
United States

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