Essay Sample on Effects of Globalization on Sovereignty and Inequality

Published: 2023-02-06
Essay Sample on Effects of Globalization on Sovereignty and Inequality
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Globalization International relations International business Human rights
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1524 words
13 min read

The end of the 20th century ushered in the 21st century which is majorly characterized by rapid advancements in technology and globalization. The contemporary era of globalization has seen increased integration of world countries, contraction of distances, and reduced significance of territorial boundaries (Mills, 2009; Scholte, 2004). Globalization has emerged as a strong force that influences the movement of goods and services from one country to another without the imposition of import taxes. As such, this has fueled technological developments, rapid flow of information, and an increase in trade volume which have made globalization a strong force that no nation can resist (Scholte, 2004). Due to the increased flow of information, mobility of people, and integration of countries, unintended consequences have been noted. Such impacts include reduced sovereignty of individual countries and varying inequality levels in different socioeconomic aspects.

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Unlike in the 19th century where sovereign countries assessed their vulnerability with respect to another country, modern sovereign states determine their strengths with respect to forces outside their control. In this view, globalization is perceived as an opposing force to national sovereignty. The opponents of globalization assert that globalization has eradicated the significance of borders and forced governments to adopt such economic policies as privatization, liberalization, deregulations, and downsizing of big governments. In addition, the contemporary world which initially comprised of 195 sovereign countries now includes non-sovereign players like non-governmental organizations, terrorist groups, and multinational companies. The activities of these non-sovereign players (which are dependent on how a state reacts and responds to them) have huge impacts on a country and sometimes erode the monopoly of power once enjoyed by sovereign nations (Scholte, 2004).

The increased participation of non-sovereign players and their ability to influence global activities have increased calls for the implementation of new governance mechanisms at all levels and include all players. However, this does not mean that multinationals like Google should have a seat at the United Nations Assembly but their representatives in such global organizations especially when there are deliberations on issues in which they could potentially affect the outcomes. Based on this premise, it is evident that if the current global system is to function effectively, countries must be willing to give up some sovereignty to world organizations. In fact, this is already happening in the trade sector where countries agree to respect the rulings of the World Trade Organization because they benefit from a fair global trading order. This instance demonstrates that globalization is not only weakening sovereignty but also it will continue to encourage or force countries to give up their sovereignty so as to protect themselves given that they cannot control what is happening elsewhere (Trebilcock, Howse, & Eliason, 2005). Thus, globalization has eradicated the sanctuary status associated with sovereignty. This has already been witnessed after the 9/11 attacks in America by the Al-Qaeda. After the attacks, the United Nations Security Council (a global organization) voted to allow America's allies to invade Afghanistan and depose the administration that provided support to Al-Qaeda.

The emergence of global organizations like the United Nations Security Council and the World Trade Organization as regulators and policymakers has not only reduced the sovereignty of countries but also closed the gap on inequality levels in different sectors like labor sectors and human rights. This is achieved through the signing of treaties whereby individual states recognize to have an international obligation. A sovereign country that is a member of an international organizational sees its sovereignty diminished by the activities of that organization which spans across administrative, legislative, jurisdictional, and supervisory spheres. As such, the member states are curtailed to act as they want. Given that states cannot act arbitrary, their sovereignty in domestic decision-making has reduced which in turn has strengthened both transnational and domestic civil rights groups. Throughout the 19th century, there were numerous global civil rights groups that called for the abolition of slavery, equal rights for women, end of racial discrimination, and better working conditions. In the globalization era, transnational civil groups have increased exponentially while the availability of cheap and fast communications methods have enabled such groups to organize and mobilize to influence international laws and public policies. Since these groups are highly influential, questions arise about the sovereignty of states and the integrity of policymaking. These groups were highly influential in advocating for the rights of workers in Nike factories in China (Locke, Qin, & Brause, 2007). Although the problems are still being resolved, the groups helped in raising awareness on the plight of workers which resulted in action by the employer.

Further, the relationship between globalization, sovereignty, and inequality is demonstrated by the membership of country to an international organization like the African Union or the European Union because it contravenes the principles of sovereignty but helps to reduce inequality between persons of different groups. This is true for human rights which have significantly influenced international laws and diminished the sovereignty of countries to mistreat their nationals. As such, this tendency is seen as an indication of a growing phenomenon whereby people across the world are concerned with the behavior of administrations towards other fellow human beings in different countries. In particular, the United Nations requires member countries to become signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human rights. Human rights are based on the principle that they are both individualistic and collective. For instance, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on Human Rights of 1993 required signatories to commit themselves to protect women's rights, end racial discrimination and protect children's rights (The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1993). Other agreements include the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples adopted in 1960 which led to the end of the colonization era and independence of many countries (The United Nations, 2019). In all these instances, member states are required and expected to commit and respect the laws. In some cases, international organizations do not require unanimous agreement but only majority votes. In such cases, the sovereignty of opposing countries is significantly diminished. Even though the sovereignty of individual countries is diminished, these treaties especially those on human rights have had enormous positive effects in reducing inequality levels.

On the other hand, globalization has increased inequality with respect to socioeconomic aspects and reduces state sovereignty. Typically, the developed countries initiate most of the global trends in the socio-economic and political spheres. This was true for globalization which originated in the Western countries as big corporations like Nike expanded in foreign countries in search of cheap labor and market for their products. As globalization intensified, wages in both the developed and developing countries grew. However, data from Nike shows that the average wage of its employees in developed countries are about 20 times more than in developing countries (Dreher, & Gaston, 2008). However, a comparison between different groups in the developing countries shows that income inequality has reduced. On the contrary, income inequality has increased in developed countries. These results are consistent when the size of countries' economies are compared. They show that globalization has significantly expanded the size of the economic basket of developing countries by a huge proportion than the developed countries which have expanded by only a small proportion. This is illustrated by the emergence of India and China as major players in the global economy. Although the developing countries have seen their economies grow, their sovereignty has diminished. The massive flow of capital and investments, popularly known as foreign direct investments, are characterized by collapsing of borders, change of laws to accommodate new players, and joining international organizations. This was noted when China and other Asian countries joined the World Trade Organization in the early 2000s so as to attract investments (Pomfret, 2007). As a result, the sovereignty of these countries was reduced as WTO was now the primary administrative and regulatory organization.

Overall, globalization has had several impacts on inequality and sovereignty of states. The emergence of global organizations like the European Union has reduced the sovereignty of member states as these bodies now assume the primary regulatory and administrative roles. However, globalization has reduced inequality with respect to human rights among different populations. Also, globalization has increased income inequality in developed countries but reduced income inequality in developing countries. For the global system to work better, it is vital that states give up some of their sovereignty.


Dreher, A., & Gaston, N. (2008). Has globalization increased inequality? Review of International Economics, 16(3), 516-536.

Locke, R. M., Qin, F., & Brause, A. (2007). Does monitoring improve labor standards? Lessons from Nike. ILR Review, 61(1), 3-31.

Pomfret, R. (2007). Is regionalism an increasing feature of the world economy? World Economy, 30(6), 923-947.

Scholte, J. A. (2004). Globalization and governance: from statism to polycentrism (pp. No130-04). University of Warwick Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. (1993, June). OHCHR Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. Retrieved from

The United Nations. (2019). The United Nations and Decolonization - Declaration. Retrieved from

Trebilcock, M., Howse, R., & Eliason, A. (2005). The regulation of international trade. Routledge.

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