Globalisation Is Making Nation-States More Potent and More Relevant

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Globalisation Is Making Nation-States More Potent and More Relevant

Table of Contents
Non-State Actors4
International Financial Institutions4
Inter-Governmental Organisations4
Transnational Companies (TNCs)5
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)6

Globalisation is a very controversial issue. Critics would argue that globalisation has dramatically increased inequality between and within nations. Advocates on the other hand would argue that the poor must invest in education to take advantage of globalisation. While globalisation in itself is not an issue, concern arises due to the continued rise of inequality between nations due to globalisation. Most nation-states view globalisation as an avenue through which to improve their economies, in the process improving the lives of and empowering their citizens. Resources (money, labour, raw materials, skills, finished products), “fashions and beliefs, rapidly move across territorial boundaries.“ “It has been assumed that the state has control over its own fate, subject only to compromises it must make and limits imposed upon it by actors, agencies and forces operating within its territorial boundaries.” However, in a bid to increase the benefits of globalisation, nation-states become part of a larger pattern of global transformations and global flows. This results in a loss of sovereignty and relevance as nation-states give up some of their power in the process. This essay will take an in depth look at how globalisation is rendering nation-states irrelevant.

Globalisation may be defined as the exchange of skills, labour, finance, communications, culture and political relations across borders. It includes economic, political, and military or security globalisation.

The concept of nation-states and their sovereignty was borne from the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. Sovereignty means exclusive authority within a state’s geographic borders, and international recognition by other states. For example, South Africa has complete control of it geographical borders, and any external forces requiring entry require the permission of the state.


“Externally, there is no absolute authority above and beyond the state.“ The nation-state should therefore be in a position to dictate their own path, and make their own decisions. Nevertheless, nation-states are sharing their power (social, political, & security) with businesses, and a variety of international organisations. These other actors which include non-governmental organisations and transnational companies among others play a pivotal role in determining government policy, and influence the nation-state’s authority.

Globalisation has resulted in nation-states losing control of their non-physical security requirements. These include information and technology which are now readily accessible to anyone with a computer. The state itself can be a threat to its security, but there is also the existence of external and internal threats, such as terrorists, organised criminals, and ethnic militias. The link created by globalisation means that nation-states are also concerned by security issues of other states as this may affect them financially. Some argue that the military clout of the nation-state has also diminished, with armies no longer being kept to defend the state, but rather to enforce civil order.

Non-State Actors

International Financial Institutions
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are international financial institutions which have reduced the power of nation-states, have also played a role in the loss of relevance of nation-states. Recently these institutions were known to attach conditions to the financial aid/loans nation-states requested. These conditions have been known to include rules/changes affecting...
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