State sovereignty

The surge in the development of communication technology in recent decades has seen systems that underpin society reshape themselves and spread internationally at the hands of globalisation. As Tomlinson (2003) contends, the phenomenon of globalisation is responsible for characterizing the threats to authority and power within nation states. This has directly challenged sovereignty claims, stemming out to all aspects of law including crime and criminal policy. While considering these factors, this essay will seek to examine the impact of globalisation on state sovereignty, and how crime and criminal justice are affected by such changes in an increasingly globalised world. McCulloch (2005) identifies the growing influence of multinational corporations over the world’s economic systems.

Corporations are taking control of international trade and national economy, seeing the involvement in labour exploitation operations that are immune to government control. While moving on to identify the changing nature of the original welfare state as a more repressive style is adopted; Bosworth’s (2008) notions of the implications of states surrendering further powers through the privatisation of prisons and social functions will then be considered.

The development of transnational crime and further threats to sovereignty claims will also be seen as states are faced with issues concerning where the exercise of power across borders is considered both legitimate and appropriate. Wonders’ (2007) explanations of states responses to such challenges, through attempts to reclaim lost power and control over borders, must not be ignored. This is seen through examples of border reconstruction projects and attempts to internationalise criminal law policies through the cooperation of nation states with one another.

Through such findings, it is clear that the consequences associated with globalisation undermine and weaken claims of state sovereignty. Power and authority declines, as provisions of the state become overtaken by corporations or privatised. Despite these issues, Nelken (2004) notes by engaging in attempts of combating challenges to state sovereignty and using globalisation to their advantage, states are again becoming stronger and reasserting authority once more.

Although increasingly “complex” (Tomlinson 2003), the phenomenon of globalisation can be understood in its simplest form as an “integrating process of global connectivity” (Tomlinson 2003) that has extensively progressed over the last sixty years. The past decade in particular, has witnessed the triumph of multinational corporations, which have directly influenced the changing and diminishing role of the state; intensified by globalisation.

McCulloch (2005) affirms that as corporations are seizing authority over fields that were originally in the power of the state such as international trade and the “domestic economy” (McCulloch 2005), the effects of this triumph have created the neo-liberal notion recognised as the “Race to the Bottom” (McCulloch 2005, p.20); a term crucial to the understanding of globalisation’s impacts upon state sovereignty. McCulloch (2005) addresses this concept, which sees profiteering corporations make labour exploitation investments by relocating jobs from the developed to poorer countries, resulting in the fall of employment rates in developed countries as migrants are exploited with minimum wages and dangerous conditions.

Glenn (1997) illustrates an extensive example of such exploitation through the movement of sports company ‘Nike’s’ production lines from The United States of America to South Korea and Taiwan, resulting in the loss of 65,000 US employees. All excess profits gained were not shared by those sovereign nations, but solely to the company itself. Following the democratisation of both countries, which saw the establishment of wage increases, Glenn (1997) continues to assert that Nike immediately relocated their production to China to again exploit low wages enabling higher profits.

Fletcher (2002) contends that such dramatic changes in labour and trade markets are the result of neo-liberal governments allowing economies, and therefore multinational corporations, affirm society’s rules that are vested in corporate interests. This leads to such corporations operating trans-nationally regardless of state control. Sovereignty therefore begins to erode as power to enforce influence over the economy and social and moral boundaries is withdrawn. McCulloch (2005) affirms that it is within these social boundaries that the state’s welfare compliances of offering protection to “vulnerable citizens” (McCulloch 2005, p.20) have also disintegrated, seeing the adoption of more repressive and militarised systems in the name of global capitalism.