Is the Nation State in Decline Because of Globalization ?

Global Crises Need Global Solutions

Global crises require global solutions, so goes the new motto of policymakers around the world. As the world confronts economic crises that are systemic, climate change that cannot be solved by individual nations acting independently and security and other risks that need global responses, it is time to ask the question as to whether the nation state is in decline because of globalization and the emerging international threats.

Indeed, there have been calls for a new world order where supranational and global governance is the order of the day rather than individual nation states taking decisions on their own. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on which side of the debate you are on. For instance, for many of those who are participants and beneficiaries in the global economy, global governance is welcome, as it would increase their chances of growth and prosperity since they are the direct beneficiaries of globalization. However, for those who are left out of the global economy, the withering away of the nation state means that their access to basic services itself is imperiled and hence, they are the most vocal opponents of the new and emerging global governance paradigm.

History and Current Practice of Global Governance

Of course, global governance in one form or the other has always been prevalent since the beginning of the 20th century. The trend accelerated after World War 2 where the formation of the United Nations was the first step towards actualizing the system of global governance.

Further, the formation of the European Union was the actualization of the long cherished dream of pan European governance that many in Europe wanted to solve the problems of warring European powers. Apart from this, the WTO or the World Trade Organization, the IMF or the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank have all been instruments of global governance. Therefore, the new thrust towards a system of global governance that is based on the groupings of nations can be seen in the way the G-8 or the Group of Eight Developed Nations and the G-20 or the extended grouping of nations is a step towards realizing the goal of global governance. Added to this are the activities of the multinational corporations that follow global rules and insist on uniformity in economic policies across the world. These are the contours of the new world order that is being planned.

The Case for Global Governance

The point needs to be made that despite the criticism of hegemony of the west in this paradigm, there exists a case for global governance, as the crises of the 21st century are systemic and global in nature.

As mentioned earlier, neither climate change nor the spread of pandemics like HIV/AIDS can be tackled without all the countries getting together. Apart from this, the death of distance and the collapse of time due to the communications revolution mean that everybody from everywhere is connected to anywhere and anytime. Hence, this coming together of the peoples of the world means that unless there are joint efforts to tackle problems like cybercrime and protection of patents and other aspects, the solutions cannot be found.

Apart from this, with the realization that integration of the global economy is the only way forward to tackle the poverty and other global problems, there is a need for the countries of the world to get together. This can be seen in the way the MDGs or the Millennium Development Goals were agreed upon by the member states of the United Nations to tackle poverty, illiteracy, and the lack of access to basic services for the majority of the people in the world.

Closing Thoughts

Finally, whether one likes it or not and whether one views this aspect of global governance as infringing on the sovereignty of the nation states, the reality is that most nations in the world have signed up for this paradigm willingly. Hence, they cannot escape or avoid the concomitant responsibilities and the integration that comes about because of such commitments.


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Political Science