Westphalian sovereignty is the concept of
nation-state sovereigntybased on two principles: territoriality and the exclusion of external actors from domestic authority structures.
academics have asserted that the international system of states, multinational corporations and organizations which exists today began in 1648 at the Peace of Westphalia. [cite book |last=Gabel|first=Medard|authorlink=Medard Gabel |coauthors=Henry Bruner |title=Global Inc.: An Atlas of the Multinational Corporation |year=2003|publisher= The New Press|location=New York|isbn=1-56584-727-X|pages=p. 2] Both the basis and the result of this view have been attacked by revisionist academics and politiciansalike, with revisionists questioning the significance of the Peace, and commentators and politicians attacking the Westphalian System of sovereign nation-states.
Adherents to the concept of a Westphalian system trace it back to the
Peace of Westphalia, signed in 1648, in which, it is claimed, the major European powers agreed to abide by the principle of territorial integrity. In the Westphalian system, the interests and goals of nation-states were widely assumed to transcend those of any individual citizen or even any ruler.
The Peace of Westphalia is said to have ended attempts at the imposition of any supranational authority on European states. The "Westphalian" doctrine of states as independent actors was bolstered by the rise in 19th century thought of
nationalism, under which legitimate stateswere assumed to correspond to " nations"—groups of people united by language and culture. Benedict Andersonrefers to these putative nations as " imagined communities."
The Westphalian system reached its apogee in the late 19th century. Although practical considerations still led powerful states to seek to influence the affairs of others, forcible intervention by one country in the domestic affairs of another was less frequent in the period between 1850 and 1900 than in most previous and subsequent periods (Leurdijk 1986).
The Peace of Westphalia is crucially important to modern
international relationstheory, with the Peace often being defined as the beginning of the international system with which the discipline deals.cite journal | author=Osiander, Andreas | title=Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth | journal=International Organization | year=2001 | pages=pp. 251-287 | volume=55 | doi=10.1162/00208180151140577 Here: p. 251.] cite journal | author=Gross, Leo | title=The Peace of Westphalia | journal=The American Journal of International Law | year=January 1948 | pages=pp. 20-41 | volume=42/1] [Jackson, R.H.; P. Owens (2005) "The Evolution of World Society" in: John Baylis; Steve Smith (eds.). "The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations." Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 53. ISBN 1-56584-727-X.]
International relations theorists have identified the Peace of Westphalia as having several key principles, which explain the Peace's significance and its impact on the world today:
#The principle of the
sovereigntyof states and the fundamental right of political self determination
#The principle of (legal) equality between states
#The principle of non-intervention of one state in the internal affairs of another state
These principles are common to the way the "realist" international relations paradigm views the international system today, which explains why the system of states is referred to as "The Westphalian System".
Both the idea of Westphalian sovereignty and its applicability in practice have been questioned from the mid-20th century onwards from a variety of viewpoints. Much of the debate has turned on the ideas of
internationalismand globalizationwhich, in various interpretations, appear to conflict with Westphalian sovereignty.
A notable defence of Westphalian sovereignty is to be found in
John Rawls' 1999 book, "A Law of Peoples".
The above interpretation of the Peace of Westphalia is not without its critics. Revisionist historians and international relations theorists argue against all of these points.
#Neither of the treaties mention sovereignty. Since the three chief participants (France, Sweden and Holy Roman Empire) were all already sovereign, their representatives saw no need to clarify this situation. [Osiander, p. 263.] In any case, the princes of Germany remained subordinate to the Holy Roman Emperor per the constitution. [http://www.pax-westphalica.de/ipmipo/indexen.html Instrumentum Pacis Monasteriens (IPM, Treaty of Münster)] , [http://law-ref.org/WESTPHALIA/article23.html section 23] ]
#While each German principality had its own legal system, the final Courts of Appeal applied to the whole of the Holy Roman Empire — the final appellate was the Emperor himself, and his decisions in cases brought to him were final and binding on all subordinates. [Osiander, p. 274.] The Emperor could, and did, depose princes when they were found by the courts to be at fault. [Osiander, p. 274.] cite journal | author=Trossbach, Werner | title=Fürstenabsetzungen im 18. Jahrhundert | journal=Zeitschrift für historische Forschung | year=1986 | pages=pp. 425-454 | volume=13]
#Both treaties specifically state that should the treaty be broken, France and Sweden held the right to intervene in the internal affairs of the Empire. [Osiander, p. 266.]
Rather than cementing sovereignty, revisionists hold that the treaty served to maintain the status quo ante. As such, the treaty cemented the theory of "Landeshoheit", in which state-like actors have a certain (usually high) degree of autonomy, but are not sovereign since they are subject to the laws, judiciary, and constitution of a higher body. [Osiander, pp. 270-277.]
Modern views on the 'Westphalian Systems'
The Westphalian System is used as a shorthand by academics to describe the system of states which the world is made up of today. [Osiander, p. 251.]
1998, a Symposium on the continuing political Relevance of the Peace of Westphalia, then– NATOSecretary General Javier Solanasaid that "humanity and democracy [were] two principles essentially irrelevant to the original Westphalian order" and levied a criticism that "the Westphalian system had its limits. For one, the principle of sovereignty it relied on also produced the basis for rivalry, not community of states; exclusion, not integration." [Citation
title=Securing Peace in Europe
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
November 12, 1998
2000, then–German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischerreferred to the Peace of Westphalia in his Humboldt Speech, which argued that the system of European politics set up by Westphalia was obsolete: "The core of the concept of Europe after 1945was and still is a rejection of the European balance-of-power principle and the hegemonic ambitions of individual states that had emerged following the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, a rejection which took the form of closer meshing of vital interests and the transfer of nation-state sovereign rights to supranational European institutions." [Citation
title=From Confederacy to Federation - Thoughts on the Finality of European Integration
May 12, 2000
In the aftermath of the
11 March 2004 Madrid attacks, Lewis ‘Atiyyatullah, who claims to represent the terrorist network al-Qaeda, declared that "the international system built-up by the West since the Treaty of Westphalia ["sic"] will collapse; and a new international system will rise under the leadership of a mighty Islamic state". [Citation
title=Exclusive - Al-Qa’ida: Islamic State Will Control the World
publisher=The Media Line
April 1, 2004
accessdate=2008-07-06.] It has also been claimed that
globalizationis bringing an evolutionof the international system past the sovereign Westphalian state. [cite journal | author=Cutler, A. Claire | title=Critical Reflections on the Westphalian Assumptions of International Law and Organization: A Crisis of Legitimacy | journal= Review of International Studies | year=2001 | pages=pp. 133-150 | volume=27 | doi=10.1017/S0260210500001339 ]
However, European nationalists and some American paleoconservatives such as
Pat Buchananhold a favorable view of the Westphalian state. [Citation
title=Say Goodbye to the Mother Continent
author=Patrick J. Buchanan
January 1, 2002
title=The Death of the Nation State
author=Patrick J. Buchanan
May 23, 2006
accessdate=2008-05-21.] Supporters of the Westphalian state oppose socialism and some forms of capitalism for undermining the nation state. A major theme of Buchanan's political career, for example, has been attacking
globalization, critical theory, neoconservatism, and other philosophies he considers detrimental to today's Western nations.
Globalization and Westphalian sovereignty
During the 1980s and early 1990s, the emerging literature on globalization focused primarily on the apparent erosion of
interdependence sovereigntyand Westphalian sovereignty. Much of this literature was primarily concerned to criticize realist models of international politics in which the Westphalian notion of the state as a unitary actor are taken as axiomatic (Camilleri and Falk 1992).
European Unionconcept of shared sovereignty is also somewhat contrary to historical views of Westphalian sovereignty.
Since the late 1990s, the idea of Westphalian sovereignty has been brought into further question by a range of actual and proposed military interventions in the former
Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraqand Sudanamong others.
Some of these, including the interventions in
Yugoslavia, have been justified as humanitarian intervention, aimed at preventing imminent genocideor large-scale loss of life. Neoconservatismin particular has developed this line of thinking further, to assert that a lack of democracy may foreshadow future humanitarian crises, or that democracy constitutes a human right on its own.Fact|date=May 2008
There is, however, debate about whether recent infringements of state sovereignty, such as the 2003
Iraq War, really reflected these higher principles, or whether the real justification was simply that of self-defense or the promotion of political and economic interests, which is more consistent with the traditional view of Westphalian sovereignty. A new notion of contingent sovereigntyseems to be emerging in international law, but it has not yet reached the point of legal legitimacy.
A further criticism of Westphalian sovereignty arises in relation to allegedly
failed states, of which Afghanistan(before the 2001 US-led invasion) is often considered an example. In this case, it is argued that no sovereignty exists and that international intervention is justified on humanitarian grounds and by the threats posed by failed states to neighboring countries and the world as a whole. However, the 2001 invasion was justified more directly on the grounds of self-defense, as a response to the September 11, 2001 attackson the US. [ citation needed]
Some of the recent debate over
Somaliais also being cast in these same terms.
* Camilleri, J. and Falk, J. (1992), "The End of Sovereignty?: The Politics of a Shrinking and Fragmenting World", Edward Elgar, Aldershot.
* Leurdijk, J. (1986), "Intervention in International Politics", Eisma BV, Leeuwarden, Netherlands.
Peace of Westphalia
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