The modern state is a central concept in political science. It refers to a territorial entity that exercises sovereign authority and whose government has the power to make and enforce laws, administer justice and control resources. This entity is characterised by its legitimacy, its sovereignty, its delimited territory and its people.
As a discipline, political science is devoted to the study of the modern state, its institutions and the processes that shape public policy. It also examines power structures, ideologies, international politics and various forms of governance. The modern state plays an essential role in defining a country's political identity. It is the entity that organises and defines the political, social and economic life of a nation. The modern state is also responsible for protecting human rights and ensuring social justice. The concept of the modern state has evolved over time. Today, it is often associated with concepts such as the welfare state, which suggests that the state has a responsibility for the social and economic well-being of its citizens. Moreover, with globalisation and contemporary challenges such as climate change and cyber security, the role and nature of the modern state are constantly evolving. By analysing these transformations and studying different models of the state around the world, political science plays a crucial role in our understanding of the modern state.
The state can be understood and analysed from a number of angles, highlighting different facets of how it functions.
- The State as a set of norms - normative political theories: From this perspective, the State is seen as a set of principles, rules and norms that govern the way it functions and the way its citizens are expected to behave. It is the study of the ideal of the state, the ethical and moral principles that should guide its actions. Normative political theories seek to define what a good state should be, what its objectives should be and how it should achieve these objectives.
- The state as a site of power and authority: Here, the focus is on the state as the entity that holds and exercises power. The state is seen as the ultimate authority that controls society and has the power to enforce its laws and rules. The aim is to explore how the state uses this power, how it is contested, negotiated and distributed, and how it influences social and political relations.
- The state as a set of institutions and their effects: In this perspective, attention is focused on the state as a set of institutions - such as the government, the judiciary, public administration, etc. - that have concrete effects on society. - which have concrete effects on society and citizens' lives. This approach examines how these institutions are structured, how they interact, how they influence public policy and how they affect the well-being of citizens.
These three approaches provide a useful analytical framework for understanding the modern state, its roles and functions, and its impact on society. They also provide a basis for understanding the challenges and opportunities facing the state in the contemporary context.
The Concept of the State[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Definition of the State[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The state is a complex concept that has evolved over time and varies according to historical and cultural contexts. Basically, the state is a political entity with sovereignty over a defined territory and population. It has the power to make and enforce laws, impose order, control and defend its territory, and conduct relations with other states.
The foundations of the state can be traced back to antiquity, with early examples in Egypt, Greece and China.
- In ancient Egypt, the concept of the state was linked to the figure of the pharaoh, who was considered a living god and held absolute power over the territory and the people. The state bureaucracy was organised to serve the pharaoh and administer the country.
- In ancient Greece, the idea of the city-state emerged, where an urban territory and its surrounding countryside formed an independent political unit, or "polis". It was a community of free citizens who participated directly in political decision-making, a concept that laid the foundations for democracy.
- In ancient China, the state was organised around the notion of the 'Mandate of Heaven', according to which the ruler, or emperor, had the right to govern as long as he maintained order and prosperity. The role of the state was to ensure social harmony and maintain cosmic order.
The modern concept of the state as we know it today began to take shape in Western Europe at the end of the Middle Ages, with the decline of feudalism and the advent of the Renaissance. During the feudal period, power was largely decentralised. Local lords held considerable power over their lands and subjects, and the king's authority was often limited. In addition, the papacy and the empire had a major influence on political and social life. However, with the decline of the feudal system and the rise of cities and trade during the Renaissance, power began to be centralised. Kings began to consolidate their authority, establish centralised administrations and assert control over their territories. It was at this time that the first nation-states emerged, with defined borders and centralised authority. The declining influence of the papacy and imperial institutions also played a key role. With the decline of these supra-national authorities, kings were able to assert their sovereignty and take control of their territory and population. These transformations laid the foundations of the modern state. However, it should be noted that the process of state formation differed greatly from region to region and country to country, and that the concept of the state has continued to evolve and develop to the present day.
The emergence of the modern state is a vast and complex subject for study, and many scholars have contributed to our understanding of this process. One of the most important is undoubtedly Charles Tilly, the American sociologist and political scientist best known for his work on the evolution of European states. Tilly put forward the idea that the emergence of the modern state in Europe was closely linked to war. In his book "Coercion, Capital, and European States, AD 990-1992", he argues that those states that succeeded in mobilising resources for war succeeded in centralising and developing. In other words, the need to raise armies, collect taxes to finance wars, and maintain internal order led to the creation of centralised administrations and the consolidation of state authority. He also emphasised the importance of internal social conflict in state formation, in particular the way states responded to revolts and uprisings. Tilly's theory has had a significant influence on our understanding of the evolution of the state. However, it should be noted that his theory applies primarily to Europe, and that the emergence of the modern state can vary considerably according to historical, cultural and geographical contexts.
For Charles Tilly, in order to account for the formation of the modern state, three major historical dynamics need to be taken into account:
- importance of war and the growing tendency of the state to monopolise coercion, which will therefore lead to a contrast between the state sphere, where violence reigns, and the sphere of civil life, where non-violence prevails. In his view, war played a central role in the emergence of the modern state in Europe, because of its impact on political and social organisation. According to Tilly, the need for sovereigns to commit significant resources to warfare, particularly as a result of developments in military technology (such as the introduction of gunpowder in the 15th century), led to increased centralisation of power. To finance increasingly costly wars, sovereigns had to develop an efficient bureaucracy to collect taxes on a regular and systematic basis. This led to the creation of a "state budget", a major innovation in the organisation of the state. In addition, the need to recruit men for war and to provide equipment and food supplies led to the creation of specialised government departments. This also contributed to the growth of the state bureaucracy. Finally, the state's ability to levy taxes on its subjects was accompanied by a growing demand from them to have a say in government. This led to the emergence of public assemblies and the establishment of certain forms of political representation. Increasingly costly wars required growing resources, prompting rulers to develop more efficient and regular systems of taxation. The management of these funds led to the conceptualisation of the 'state budget', an innovation that remains central to the management of modern states. To support these war efforts, the rulers also had to develop an increasingly complex bureaucracy. This included the creation of government departments dedicated to the mobilisation and maintenance of armies, the provision of war material and the supply of food. Bureaucracy was also required to administer the more robust taxation system. In addition, as the state increased its capacity to levy taxes, subjects began to demand greater representation and accountability from their rulers. This dynamic contributed to the emergence of public assemblies and the establishment of certain forms of political representation. In short, Tilly's thesis suggests that the dynamics of war were a major factor in the emergence of the modern state and its bureaucracy. However, it should be noted that this theory has its critics, and that other factors may also have played an important role in the evolution of the state.
- The advent and economic development of market capitalism. From the 15th century onwards, there was a profound economic transformation linked to the rise of trade and finance. From the 15th century onwards, the rise of trade and finance led to profound economic transformations. The development of merchant capitalism, with its predominance of commercial and banking activities, led to growing urbanisation and an intensification of trade. This led to the emergence of a new social group, the bourgeoisie, comprising merchants and traders who profited from the production and trade of goods. Unlike the peasantry, the bourgeoisie was a politically free social group that played a key role in financing states, as it accumulated capital and lent money to rulers. Charles Tilly also emphasised the importance of the monetarisation of the economy in this process. In his view, in regions where the economy was highly monetarised, the most centralised and powerful states tended to emerge. Moreover, the presence of trading cities within a state's territory had a significant influence on its ability to mobilise resources for war.
- changes in ideology and collective representations that will lead to a strengthening of the state's legitimacy. Changes in ideologies and collective representations have also played an important role in strengthening the legitimacy of the modern state. One major transformation was the emergence of individualism, which marked a break with the collective consciousness of the feudal era. As the historian George Duby illustrated in his book "Les trois ordres", feudal ideology was structured around a trifunctional order: those who pray (the clergy), those who fight (the knights) and those who work (the peasants). In this system, individual membership of an order was largely predetermined. With the emergence of individualism, however, this concept began to change. Individuals began to see themselves not as members of a predetermined order, but as contracting parties in relations with the sovereign, the rulers and the government. For example, a merchant might see himself as an individual capable of negotiating his relationship with different rulers, and might choose to offer his loyalty to the one who levied the fewest taxes. This development has had a significant impact on the legitimacy of the state. Whereas the legitimacy of the feudal state was often based on respect for tradition and established hierarchies, the legitimacy of the modern state is increasingly based on its ability to respect and protect individual rights and interests. This has led to major changes in the way the state is organised and governed.
The predominant form of state today is the nation state. In fact, the idea of the nation state is closely linked to the idea of national sovereignty, which means that a state is governed in the interests of its own national population. The idea of the nation state began to grow in importance in Europe in the 19th century, when it was put into practice as part of the unification movements in Italy and Germany. These movements sought to bring together linguistically and culturally similar territories and populations into a single political entity, thereby creating a "nation state". In the twentieth century, the concept of the nation state spread well beyond Europe. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War, for example, led to the creation of Turkey as a nation state. The decolonisation of the 1950s and 1960s also gave rise to a large number of new nation states. In many of these cases, the borders of the new states were drawn by the retreating colonial powers, often without taking into account the ethnic or cultural realities on the ground. This often led to tensions and conflicts that continue to this day.
According to Weber, an influential German sociologist, the state is a "human community which, within the limits of a determined territory... successfully claims for itself the monopoly of legitimate physical violence." This definition emphasises three main aspects of the state:
- Territoriality: the state must control a specific territory. This is the spatial dimension of the state, referring to the geographical area over which the state exercises its power.
- Community: the state is a community of people. This is the human dimension of the state, referring to the population that the state governs.
- Monopoly of legitimate violence: the state has the exclusive right to use force to maintain order and enforce its rules. This is what distinguishes the state from other types of political organisation.
Weber's definition puts forward the idea that the legitimacy of the state rests largely on its ability to monopolise the use of physical violence in a legitimate manner. This capacity is essential for maintaining social order and for the state to be able to exercise its authority effectively. It should be noted that although this definition is widely accepted, it has also been criticised and debated. Some argue, for example, that the legitimacy of the state rests not only on its monopoly of violence, but also on its ability to provide public goods, protect human rights, promote social justice and so on.
The Territory as part of the State[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Territory is an essential element in the definition of the State, and distinguishes it from the notion of "nation". In simple terms, territory refers to the geographical space delimited and controlled by a state. It includes not only land, but also resources, airspace and, in some cases, territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.
On the other hand, the notion of "nation" is often defined in more cultural or ethnic terms. A nation is generally understood as a group of people who share a common identity based on characteristics such as language, culture, ethnicity, religion, traditions or a common history. A nation may or may not coincide with the borders of a state. For example, the "Navajo nation" in the United States, or the "Kurdish nation" in the Middle East, are nations that do not correspond to a specific territorial state.
The idea of the nation state attempts to combine these two concepts, proposing the ideal of a state where the population shares a common national identity. In practice, however, many states are multinational or multicultural, and the perfect alignment of nation and state is rare.
The concepts of state and nation are not necessarily strictly linked. The nation generally refers to a group of people who share a common identity based on cultural, ethnic, linguistic or historical characteristics, and this identity may exist independently of a specific territory or state.
The example of the Jewish community before the creation of the State of Israel illustrates this idea perfectly. For thousands of years, the Jews saw themselves as part of a nation, despite the fact that they were scattered across many different countries and regions. This sense of belonging to a Jewish nation has persisted despite the absence of a specifically Jewish territory or state.
It should also be noted that there are nations that do not have their own state, sometimes referred to as "stateless nations". The Kurds, for example, are often cited as a nation without a state, because although they have a strong sense of national identity, they do not have their own independent country. Conversely, many states are multinational or multi-ethnic, home to several groups that may consider themselves separate nations. Belgium, for example, includes both Flemings and Walloons, each with their own distinct language and culture.
In short, while the state refers to a political and territorial entity, the nation is a more fluid and subjective concept, based on a sense of belonging to a community. The two do not always coincide.
Population: essential to the structure of the State[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The nation state, as the dominant model of political organisation, has strengthened the link between nation and state, and by extension, the link between nation and territory. The idea behind the concept of the nation state is that each 'nation', or people with a common cultural identity, should have its own state. In an ideal nation state, the borders of the state would coincide perfectly with the extent of the nation.
However, the reality is often more complex. There are many nations that do not have their own state. The Kurds are a commonly cited example. On the other hand, many states are multi-ethnic or multinational and do not have a single 'nation' that corresponds exactly to their borders.
As far as "diaspora nations" are concerned, this is a term that is generally used to refer to groups of people who share a common national identity but who are scattered across different countries or regions. Gypsies, also known as Roma, are an example of this. Although they have no specific territory or state associated with them, they have a common culture, language and history that constitute a national identity.
These examples show that the relationship between nation, state and territory can vary considerably and is often much more complex than it first appears.
The state, as a concept and as a tangible reality, is a human construct. It is a product of history, power relations, ideologies and institutions created by human beings. The State is not only a political and legal entity that governs a certain territory, it is also a community of people. Without its citizens, a state would have no raison d'être. The people who live in a State are both the subjects of its power and the beneficiaries of its services. They contribute to its prosperity through their work, pay taxes to finance its activities, obey its laws and participate (in most cases) in its political process. In addition, the state has a responsibility to its citizens: to protect their rights and freedoms, to provide public services, to maintain order, and to promote the general welfare. The relationship between a state and its citizens is therefore fundamental to its legitimacy and functioning.
This is why it can be said that a State without inhabitants is inconceivable. Without people to constitute it, govern it and be governed by it, a State would have neither substance nor meaning.
The monopoly of legitimate physical coercion: a unique aspect of the State[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
In many historical societies, power, violence and coercion were much more diffuse. The monopoly of legitimate violence by the state is a characteristic of the modern state system, but this was not always the case. Before the emergence of modern states, the capacity to exercise violence was often distributed between different groups and institutions. For example, in the Middle Ages in Europe, legitimate violence was shared between a variety of actors, such as feudal lords, the Church, autonomous towns and so on. Each of these actors could exercise a form of legitimate violence in certain contexts. With the emergence of the modern state, the process of centralising power gradually led to the establishment of the state's monopoly on legitimate violence. This development is often linked to the need to maintain order, secure borders and control internal conflicts. However, even in modern states, violence and coercion can sometimes be exercised by other actors, such as criminal groups or paramilitary organisations. These situations are generally seen as challenges to the authority of the state and its monopoly on violence.
According to Tilly, "the activity of the state in general, and hence its emergence, has created a sharp contrast between the violence of the state sphere and the non-violence of civilian life. The European states provoked this contrast, and they did so by setting up reserved means of coercion and by forbidding civilian populations access to these means. The difficulty or significance of the change should not be underestimated; for most of European history, most men were always armed. Moreover, in all states, local and regional potentates had sufficient means of coercion at their disposal, far greater than that of the state if they were brought together in a coalition. For a long time in many parts of Europe, nobles had the right to wage private wars, and bandits flourished almost everywhere throughout the 17th century. In Sicily, the mafiosi, professionals of patented and protected violence, continue to terrorise the population today. Outside the control of the state, people often profited fruitfully from the reasoned use of violence. Nevertheless, since the seventeenth century, rulers have succeeded in tilting the balance in favour of the state rather than their rivals; they have made the carrying of personal weapons illegal and unpopular, outlawed private militias and succeeded in justifying clashes between armed police and armed civilians. At the same time, the expansion of the state's own armed forces began to outstrip the arsenal available to potential domestic rivals".
This passage from Charles Tilly highlights a key change in the transition to modern states: the growing monopoly of legitimate violence by the state. This process has not been easy or quick, because in the past many actors could legitimately use force. For example, feudal lords could wage private wars, and many ordinary men were armed. However, over time, states gradually succeeded in restricting access to the means of coercion and monopolising violence. They banned private militias, made the carrying of personal weapons illegal and unpopular, and established powerful state police forces and armies. At the same time, they delegitimised the use of force by other actors, such as nobles and bandits. However, Tilly notes that this process was not entirely complete or uniform. In Sicily, for example, organisations such as the mafia continued to use violence effectively, despite state control. Moreover, in many parts of the world, private and non-state violence remains a major challenge to public order and the legitimacy of the state. Tilly's quote therefore highlights the importance of the monopoly of legitimate violence for the constitution of modern states, but also reminds us that this monopoly is never absolute and is often contested.
One of the key aspects of Max Weber's definition of the modern state is the monopoly of legitimate violence. In other words, in a well-organised and stable society, only the state has the right to use force to maintain order and enforce the law. This monopoly is crucial to the functioning of the modern state. It enables the state to maintain public order, protect citizens' rights and freedoms, and enforce laws effectively. At the same time, it limits the scope for non-state actors, such as criminal groups or individuals, to use violence to achieve their ends. However, it should be noted that this monopoly of the state is not always complete or uncontested. There are many cases where non-state actors exert significant violence, whether through organised crime, domestic violence or armed rebellion. Moreover, in certain circumstances, the state itself can abuse its monopoly on violence, leading to human rights violations and tyranny. Overall, the state's monopoly of violence is a key feature of the modern state, but it is also a source of many challenges and tensions.
Le concept de l'État ayant le monopole de la force légitime est une idéalisation qui ne reflète pas toujours la réalité complexe et nuancée sur le terrain. De nombreux pays à travers le monde ont des groupes armés non étatiques qui contestent le monopole de l'État sur l'usage de la force. En effet, dans de nombreux cas, ces groupes sont capables de contrôler des territoires, d'exercer une autorité substantielle sur les populations locales et de mener des opérations militaires ou paramilitaires contre l'État ou d'autres acteurs. L'Armée Républicaine Irlandaise (IRA) en Irlande du Nord et le Hamas dans les Territoires palestiniens sont des exemples notables de tels groupes. Ces situations soulèvent de nombreuses questions difficiles concernant la légitimité, l'autorité et le contrôle de la violence. Par exemple, quand un groupe non étatique contrôle un territoire et exerce une autorité sur sa population, peut-il être considéré comme un État de facto ? Et si un groupe non étatique a le soutien d'une grande partie de la population locale, est-ce que cela lui donne une certaine légitimité pour utiliser la force ? Ces questions sont très controversées et il n'y a pas de réponses simples. Cependant, elles soulignent le fait que la réalité de la politique, du pouvoir et de la violence est souvent beaucoup plus complexe que les théories simplifiées de l'État et du monopole de la violence peuvent le laisser croire.
The legitimacy of the use of force by the state is a concept that depends largely on perspective and context. The use of force may be considered legitimate if the government exercising it is itself considered legitimate and if the use of force is considered necessary and proportionate to maintain public order, national security or to enforce the law. However, it is important to stress that even if a government is generally considered legitimate, this does not mean that all its uses of force will necessarily be seen as legitimate. There are many examples in history where governments have used force in abusive or oppressive ways, which have been widely condemned as illegitimate. In addition, the question of legitimacy can be heavily influenced by factors such as culture, religion, history, political ideologies and power relations. For example, what is considered a legitimate use of force in one society may be considered totally illegitimate in another. Finally, it should be noted that the notion of legitimacy is not always clearly defined or universally accepted. What may be considered a "freedom fighter" for some may be seen as a "terrorist" for others. This ambiguity and subjectivity can often make discussions about the legitimacy of the use of force very complex and controversial.
In some cases, armed groups may justify the use of force as a response to repression or perceived injustice committed by the state or other legitimate authorities. These groups may argue that they are using violence to defend themselves, their community or an oppressive authority. This is a common reason for armed conflict, guerrilla warfare or resistance movements. However, it is important to note that although these groups may claim legitimacy for their use of violence, this does not necessarily mean that their use will be recognised as legitimate by others, including the international community, other citizens or even other members of their own community. Moreover, the use of violence by these groups can often result in human rights violations, collateral damage and other negative consequences for innocent civilians. Ultimately, the question of whether or not the use of force is legitimate can be very complex and controversial, and can depend on a multitude of factors, including the specific context, the motivations of the actors involved, and the norms and values of the society.
Contemporary definitions of the State[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The complex and multidimensional nature of the state means that it cannot be reduced to a simple or universal definition. The multiple definitions of the state reflect different disciplinary perspectives, theoretical approaches, historical and political contexts, as well as cultural and regional variations.
In different disciplines such as political science, law, sociology, economics or history, the approach to understanding the state varies. For example, a jurist might examine the state from the point of view of legal structure and laws, while a sociologist might focus on power relations and social institutions. Moreover, the conception of the state has evolved over time and varies according to historical contexts. Contemporary definitions of the state may therefore reflect different phases in its historical development. The nature of the state may also vary from one region or culture to another. Western definitions of the state may not apply in the same way in non-Western contexts. Furthermore, the interpretation of the state may be influenced by political ideologies. A Marxist perspective, for example, might see the state as an instrument of the ruling class, whereas a liberal perspective might see it as a neutral arbiter between different social interests. Finally, given the inherent complexity of the state, which comprises a multitude of actors, institutions, rules and processes, it is not surprising that there are many ways of defining it. These various definitions help us to grasp the different facets of the state, and to better understand its role and functioning in different contexts.
The most common definitions include the following:
- Legal definition: A state is a subject of international law with a defined territory, a permanent population, a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. This definition, widely used in international law, is often associated with the Montevideo Convention of 1933.
- Max Weber definition: For the sociologist Max Weber, a state is an entity that successfully claims a monopoly on legitimate physical violence in a given territory. This definition emphasises the state's ability to maintain order and enforce the law through its monopoly of legitimate violence.
- Institutional definition: Some political theorists define the state in terms of organisations and institutions. According to this view, a state is a set of political institutions (such as the government, bureaucracies, armed forces, etc.) that possess authority over a specific territory and its population.
As defined by Charles Tilly in his 1985 article War Making and State Making as Organized Crime, states are "[States are] relatively centralized, differentiated organizations, the officials of which, more or less, successfully claim control over the chief concentrated means of violence within a population inhabiting a large contiguous territory." Charles Tilly's quotation from his 1985 article, "War Making and State Making as Organized Crime", offers a succinct but profound definition of the state. According to Tilly, states are "relatively centralised, differentiated organisations, whose leaders claim, more or less, control over the principal concentrated means of violence within a population inhabiting a vast contiguous territory".
This highlights a few key points in his conception of the state:
- Centralisation: States are organisations where power is concentrated and organised around a central authority. This centralisation allows for better coordination and more effective control over the various functions and responsibilities of the state.
- Differentiation: States are made up of many different parts, each with its own roles and responsibilities. This differentiation allows the state to perform a multitude of functions necessary for its survival and effective functioning.
- Control of violence: A crucial aspect of Tilly's definition is the assertion that states claim control over the principal means of violence. This means that they have a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within their territory. This monopoly is essential for maintaining order and the authority of the state.
- Population and territory: The state is also defined by the population it governs and the territory it controls. These two aspects are crucial to the existence and functioning of a state.
Tilly's definition offers a pragmatic and realistic vision of the state, emphasising its coercive capacities and its role as an organised entity with a monopoly on violence.
The definition of the state proposed by Douglass North in his 1981 book "Structure and Change in Economic History" emphasises the importance of violence and fiscal power in structuring the boundaries of the state. North defines the state as "an organisation with a comparative advantage in violence, extending over a geographical area whose boundaries are determined by its power to tax its constituents".
- Comparative advantage in violence: This concept refers to the idea that the state has a greater capacity than other entities to exercise violence legitimately. This enables it to impose its authority and maintain order within its borders.
- Borders determined by the power to tax: North also emphasises the importance of the power to tax in defining the state's borders. The state's ability to levy taxes on its constituents is an essential element of its sovereignty and its ability to function effectively.
- Geographical area: The State is defined by a certain geographical area. The boundaries of this area are determined by the power of the state to exercise violence legitimately and to levy taxes on its constituents.
This definition emphasises the importance of economic and coercive aspects in the conception of the state, while recognising that the power and scope of the state may vary according to its ability to mobilise resources through taxation.
The definition of the state proposed by Clark and Golder in their book "Principles of Comparative Politics" published in 2009 focuses on the use of coercion and the threat of force to rule over a given territory. According to them, "A state is an entity that uses coercion and the threat of force to rule over a given territory. A failed state is a state-like entity that cannot coerce and is unable to effectively control the inhabitants of a given territory." This definition highlights the crucial role of coercion in the exercise of state power. The use of force and the threat of force are seen as key elements of state authority. Clark and Golder also introduced the notion of the failed state. According to them, a failed state is an entity that resembles a state but is incapable of effectively exercising coercion or controlling the inhabitants of a given territory. This concept is important because it allows us to understand the fragility of certain states and the problems that can arise from their inability to exercise authority effectively. In short, this definition emphasises the state's ability to control and reign over a territory through the use of coercion and the threat of force.
In some modern definitions of the state, the notion of legitimacy and monopoly over the use of violence may be attenuated. This may in part reflect the complex reality of a world where non-state actors may also exercise some form of coercion or violence, as is the case with some terrorist or organised crime groups. Yet the notion of territory remains central to most definitions of the state. A state is generally recognised as having control over a specific territory, even if the reality of this control may vary in practice. A state's coercive capacity is not limited to the actual use of force. Sometimes the mere threat of coercion can be enough to maintain order and ensure compliance. Indeed, coercion often works through deterrence: fear of potential consequences can prevent individuals from behaving in undesirable or illegal ways. It is important to note that these definitions are not exhaustive and may vary according to theoretical perspectives and historical and geographical contexts. Ultimately, the study of the state requires a nuanced and multidimensional understanding of its different aspects and functions.
The state, whatever its political regime, maintains its power and order by using some form of coercion or the threat of coercion. This coercion can take many forms, including the enforcement of laws and regulations, the administration of justice, the collection of taxes and the maintenance of public order. Tax coercion is a good example. Taxes are compulsory, and those who fail to pay them can face penalties, fines and even imprisonment. It is through this threat of coercion that the state can raise the revenue needed to provide public goods and services. However, the legitimacy of this coercion is crucial. In a democracy, for example, state coercion is generally perceived as legitimate because it is exercised as part of a political system in which citizens have the power to choose their leaders and influence public policy. In a dictatorship, on the other hand, state coercion may be perceived as illegitimate, particularly if it is used to suppress dissent and violate human rights.
In reality, absolute control of coercion by the state is rarely, if ever, fully achieved. In every society, there are a variety of non-state actors who have some capacity to exercise coercion or resist state coercion. This may take the form of criminal organisations, militant groups, private security companies, religious or traditional communities, among others. These actors can sometimes challenge or complement the state's ability to exert coercion, particularly in areas where the state is weak or absent. For example, in some parts of the world, organised criminal groups or armed militias may exercise effective control over particular territories, openly challenging the state's monopoly on violence. This is why the notion of "comparative advantage" introduced by North is important. Rather than describing the state as having an absolute monopoly on violence, North suggests that the state simply has a comparative advantage in the exercise of coercion. This recognises that, although the state is generally the most powerful actor in a given society, it is not the only actor capable of exercising coercion.
The notion of differentiation is central to the concept of the state. It refers to the distinction between the state and civil society, where the state maintains a degree of autonomy from the social, economic and political forces operating in society. Taxation is a good example of this differentiation. By levying taxes, the state exercises its authority and control over citizens and economic resources. It uses these resources to finance a variety of public functions, including defence and security, but also social services, education, infrastructure and other activities. By controlling these resources and deciding how they are allocated, the state distinguishes itself from civil society and asserts its authority. As Charles Tilly has pointed out, taxation has played a key role in the historical development of modern states. It has enabled states to accumulate the resources needed to finance armies and wars, reinforcing their authority and control over their territories. In addition, taxation has often been used as a tool to unify diverse territories and populations under a single state authority. As a result, the ability to raise and manage taxes effectively is often seen as an essential characteristic of a functional state.
The case of failed states[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Samuel Huntington, in his theory of political order, argues that the form of government (e.g. democracy, autocracy) is less important to the well-being of a society than the degree of government, that is, the ability of a state to effectively administer its policies and maintain order. For Huntington, the effectiveness of a government is measured by its level of bureaucracy, the stability of its institutions and its ability to maintain public order and provide essential public services to its citizens. From this perspective, a strong state is one that can maintain stability, order and provide basic services to its citizens, whether or not it is democratic. Huntington therefore argues that political order must precede modernisation and democratisation. In other words, before attempting to establish a democracy, one must first establish a solid, well-managed state.
The definition given by Clark, Golder and Golder in their 2009 book "Principles of Comparative Politics" focuses on the ability of a state to exercise power through coercion and the threat of force in a given territory: "A state is an entity that uses coercion and the threat of force to rule in a given territory. A failed state is a state like entity that cannot coerce and is unable to successfully control the inhabitants of a given territory." According to them, a state is an entity that uses coercion and the threat of force to rule over a given territory. That is, for a state to be considered as such, it must have the capacity to maintain order, enforce laws and effectively control the population within its borders. This capacity is generally backed up by the use of force, or the threat of force, to deter non-compliance with laws and regulations. In contrast, a "failed state" is a state that cannot exercise coercion and is unable to successfully control the inhabitants of a given territory. A failed state is a state that, for a variety of reasons, can no longer fulfil the basic functions of a state. Such states are often characterised by internal conflict, lack of territorial control, ineffective governance and an inability to provide basic public services to the population.
When a state is unable to apply or enforce its will, this can manifest itself in a number of ways. For example, there may be widespread non-compliance with the law, where citizens do not respect the laws and regulations laid down by the state. This is often the result of a lack of confidence in the legitimacy of the state or its effectiveness in enforcing the law. In addition, there may also be areas of the country where the state does not have effective control, which is often the case in failed or failing states. In these areas, other entities, such as armed groups, militias or criminal organisations, may exercise effective control. Finally, a state may be unable to provide basic public services to its citizens, such as health, education and security. This inability may result from a lack of resources, poor management or corruption.
A state that does not have sufficient means to exercise its constraint, or that does not have the capacity to exercise its authority effectively within its territory, is often referred to as a weak or failing state. The ability to levy taxes is often seen as a fundamental function of the state, as it enables public services to be financed and the machinery of government to function. If a state is unable to levy taxes effectively, this may indicate a lack of authority or control over its territory. It can also mean that the state is having difficulty providing basic services to its citizens, which in turn can erode its legitimacy and stability. In extreme cases, a state's inability to levy taxes can contribute to its collapse or failure, creating a power vacuum that can be exploited by non-state actors, such as armed groups or criminal organisations.
The following countries have faced significant challenges in terms of governance, political instability and conflict, which have undermined the ability of their respective governments to fully exercise their authority and deliver basic services to their citizens. However, it should be noted that the situation can vary considerably from one country to another, and even from one region to another within the same country. Moreover, these countries are working actively, often with the help of the international community, to overcome these challenges and improve their state capacity. Here is a brief description of the situation in each of these countries:
- Afghanistan: Since the withdrawal of US and NATO forces in 2021, the country is once again under Taliban control. The security and political situation remains volatile, and the Taliban government faces enormous challenges in governing the country.
- Somalia: Somalia has been plagued by civil war since the 1990s. However, since 2012, a process of political stabilisation has been underway with the formation of a federal government. However, the country continues to face major security challenges, particularly due to the activities of the militant group Al-Shabaab.
- Haiti: Haiti faced a number of challenges in terms of governance and political stability. The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 exacerbated the political crisis in the country. Haiti is also grappling with major economic difficulties and security issues, including kidnapping and banditry.
- Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone experienced a devastating civil war from 1991 to 2002. Since then, the country has made significant progress in reconciliation and reconstruction, but still faces major economic and social difficulties.
- Congo: The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been plagued by conflict and political instability for decades. Although the situation has improved since the end of the Congo war in 2003, the country still faces major challenges in terms of governance, security and development.
- Eritrea: Eritrea is an authoritarian state, and its government has been criticised for human rights violations. The country also faces significant economic challenges.
The Fund for Peace is an independent research and education organisation that works to prevent war and reduce violence. It has created the Fragile States Index (FSI) to assess stability and pressure on states around the world. The index is based on twelve separate indicators that measure different aspects of a state's fragility.
The Fund uses these twelve indicators for Peace to assess state fragility. Here is an explanation of each indicator:
- Demographic pressure: This indicator assesses the potential tensions resulting from demographic factors such as overpopulation, shortages of food and water resources, or lack of adequate infrastructure.
- Emergency humanitarian situation linked to population movements: This measures the scale of humanitarian crises caused by population movements, such as forced population displacement or refugee movements.
- Mobilisation of groups on the basis of grievances (revenge): It examines the extent to which particular groups may mobilise on the basis of real or perceived grievances, thereby threatening the stability of the state.
- Emigration: This measures the degree to which people emigrate from the country, often as a result of precarious political, economic or security conditions.
- Unequal economic development between groups: This indicator assesses the gap in economic development between different groups within the state, which can lead to social and political tensions.
- Poverty, economic decline: This measures the prevalence of poverty and the extent of economic decline, both of which can contribute to state fragility.
- Criminalisation of the state (lack of legitimacy): This indicator assesses the extent to which the state itself is involved in illegal or criminal activities, which can erode its legitimacy in the eyes of the population.
- Progressive deterioration of public services: This looks at how effectively the state is able to provide essential public services to its population, such as education, health and infrastructure.
- Violation of human rights and the rule of law: This indicator measures the extent of violations of human rights and the rule of law committed by the state or with its consent.
- Security apparatus operating as a state within the state: This assesses the extent to which state security forces operate independently of civilian or legal control, acting as a 'state within the state'.
- Division of elites: This indicator measures the degree of division or conflict between different elites within the state, whether political, economic, military or other.
- Intervention by other states or other external agents: This measures the degree of intervention by other states or external actors in the affairs of the state, which may contribute to its fragility.
Each indicator is rated on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 representing the least vulnerability and 10 representing the most vulnerability. Adding up the scores for each indicator gives a total score for each country, which is then used to establish an overall ranking of state fragility. It is important to note that the State Fragility Index is a relative and not an absolute measure of a state's vulnerability. It aims to give a general indication of the situation in a country, but does not claim to provide a complete or accurate picture of the reality on the ground. Moreover, the FSI is subject to criticism and debate among researchers and practitioners in the field of state stability and conflict prevention.
The following four categories defined by the Fund for Peace are used to classify the stability of states on the basis of their total scores on the twelve indicators. Each category represents a different level of stability or vulnerability:
- Alert: This category includes states with the highest scores and which are therefore the most vulnerable. These states present extremely worrying levels of fragility and risk of instability or conflict. They require urgent attention to avoid a major crisis or destabilisation. Examples: Afghanistan, Somalia.
- Warning: States in this category have fairly high scores, indicating a significant level of vulnerability, although not as severe as states on alert. These states often have systemic problems which, if left unresolved, could lead to a crisis. Examples: Iraq, Nigeria.
- Moderate: States in this category have moderate scores, indicating a degree of stability, but also the presence of challenges. They are generally stable, but have problems in certain areas that require attention to avoid further deterioration. Examples: Brazil, India.
- Sustainable: These states have the lowest scores, indicating a high level of stability. They generally have strong and effective institutions, robust economies and high levels of respect for human rights and the rule of law. However, no state is totally immune to challenges, so even states in this category must continue their efforts to maintain stability. Examples: Canada, Norway.
These categories provide a means of quickly assessing a state's level of stability and identifying areas that require attention or intervention.
These 2011 statistics clearly indicate that the majority of states around the world were facing significant stability and governance challenges. With 73% of states classified as being in a state of alert or warning, this underlines the global level of vulnerability and the need for effective measures to prevent instability and crisis. On the other hand, with only 15 out of 127 states (less than 12%) classified as stable and sustainable, it is clear that stable governance models such as democracy and the rule of law are far from being the global norm. These stable states are mainly concentrated in North America and Western Europe, indicating a marked geographical divide in terms of political and institutional stability.
According to Max Weber, in his book The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, the modern state is
In "The Theory of Social and Economic Organization", Max Weber offers a definition of the modern state that emphasises several fundamental elements: "the primary formal characteristics of the modern state are as follows: It possesses an administrative and legal order subject to change by legislation, to which the organized corporate activity of the administrative staff, which is also regulated by legislation, is oriented. This system of order claims binding authority, not only over the members of the state, the citizens, most of whom have obtained membership by birth, but also to a very large extent, over all action taking place in the area of its jurisdiction.It is thus a compulsory association with a territorial basis. Furthermore, today, the use of force is regarded as legitimate only so far as it is either permitted by the state or prescribed by it".
First, the state has an administrative and legal order that legislation can modify. This means that the state has a set of rules and structures governing its operation that acts of legislation can modify. Secondly, the organised activity of administrative staff is also regulated by legislation. This indicates that not only the administrative and legal order, but also the day-to-day functioning of the State administration is regulated by law. Thirdly, the State claims binding authority not only over its citizens, but also over all actions that take place within its territory. This makes the state a compulsory association based on territory. Finally, Weber emphasises that the use of force is considered legitimate only insofar as it is authorised or prescribed by the state. This means that the state has a monopoly on legitimate violence, and that any other use of force is considered illegitimate unless the state expressly authorises it.
The modern state is distinguished by its sovereign authority, which is exercised through legislation and respect for the law. The rules and obligations formulated by the State apply to all those residing within its territory, including the State itself. This means that the State is obliged to comply with its own laws and regulations. This idea is at the heart of the concept of the rule of law, according to which all persons, institutions and entities, including the State itself, are accountable to the law, which is applied fairly and equitably. From this perspective, the state's use of coercion or violence is not arbitrary. On the contrary, it is regulated by laws or constitutional provisions that define the circumstances and procedures for its use. This is why the State has a monopoly on "legitimate violence" - because its use of force is limited and regulated by law. This capacity for self-regulation is fundamental to the legitimacy of the State. Without it, the state risks becoming an oppressive and arbitrary entity, thereby losing its legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens.
The law provides the structural framework within which the state operates. It defines the form of government (e.g. republic, constitutional monarchy, etc.), the way in which power is distributed (e.g. unitary, federal, etc.), and the fundamental principles of political organisation (e.g. democracy, autocracy, etc.). In addition to these aspects, the law also establishes the framework for public administration. It defines the responsibilities of the various government bodies, the procedures to be followed in implementing policies, the rights and obligations of civil servants, etc. In addition, in democracies, the law generally provides for democratic control mechanisms, such as elections, public hearings and other forms of citizen participation, to ensure that public administration remains accountable and transparent. Finally, the law plays a crucial role in establishing the social and economic order within the State. It regulates a multitude of aspects of social and economic life, from the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms to the regulation of markets and the economy. In short, the law is an essential tool through which the State structures and organises its own activity and the lives of its citizens. Without the law, the State could not function effectively or fairly.
The notion of sovereignty[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
We have to go back to the sixteenth century to find the first elaboration of this notion by Jean Bodin, which was later examined in greater detail by Thomas Hobbes.
Jean Bodin (1530-1596) is often considered to be one of the first thinkers to have formulated a clear notion of sovereignty in his work "The Six Books of the Republic" (1576). Bodin defined sovereignty as supreme power over citizens and subjects, irresponsible to the latter. For Bodin, sovereignty was a necessary characteristic of the state and was perpetual, indivisible and absolute.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) also made a significant contribution to the idea of sovereignty. In his work Leviathan (1651), Hobbes argues that in order to avoid a state of war between all against all, men enter into a social contract and agree to submit to a sovereign. According to Hobbes, the sovereign, whether a person (as in a monarchy) or a group of people (as in a republic), holds the absolute and indefeasible power to maintain order and peace.
Between the 16th and 17th centuries, Europe underwent a period of significant upheaval. This period, often referred to as the "modern age", was marked by wars of religion, particularly in France and Germany, where conflicts between Catholics and Protestants caused major socio-political tensions. The Protestant Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther in the early 16th century, divided the European continent, leading to political unrest, violent conflict and war. At the same time as these religious wars were taking place, there was political instability due to the emergence of modern sovereign states. Monarchs sought to centralise their power and assert their authority, often through military conflict, in order to strengthen their control over their territories. This process led to the birth of the modern nation state, characterised by distinct territorial sovereignty and centralised authority. The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), which devastated much of Europe, is a striking example of this period. It began as a religious war in the Germanic Roman Empire, but developed into a wider political conflict involving several major European powers. The war eventually led to the Peace of Westphalia, which redefined the concept of sovereignty and established the modern idea of independent nation states.
Jean Bodin, a 16th-century French political philosopher, had one major preoccupation: to establish a legitimate and lasting authority at home. In his view, the creation and legitimisation of an internal order was essential to establish justice and guarantee individual freedoms. Bodin used the notion of sovereignty to describe the supreme authority exercised by the prince or monarch over his subjects throughout the kingdom. Later, in the 17th century, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes took up this idea in his major work "Leviathan". For Hobbes, the State was a powerful entity, which he nicknamed "Leviathan", and which held an absolute monopoly on the use of violence. This absolute and unchallengeable authority of the sovereign is necessary to maintain order and peace in society, thus avoiding what he calls the "state of nature", where life would be "solitary, poor, brutish and short". Thus, the notion of sovereignty, as developed by Bodin and Hobbes, refers to the idea of a supreme and absolute power, exercised by the state over a given territory, which is essential to guarantee order, justice and individual freedoms.
For Jean Bodin, sovereign authority is characterised by its absolute and perpetual nature. In his view, sovereignty represents the greatest power of command in a Republic, in other words, the unequalled ability to dictate laws, regulate society and control the use of force. It manifests itself through the exercise of power without restriction or constraint, other than those laid down by natural and divine law. This absolute power is indispensable for maintaining order and peace in society. It is also perpetual, as it cannot be annulled or revoked once it has been established. In other words, the sovereign retains his authority until he voluntarily decides to relinquish it or until he is overthrown by another power.
According to Bodin, the sovereign power is supreme and encompasses all the citizens of the Republic. This power has unlimited authority to create, interpret and apply laws. It is responsible for appointing magistrates and resolving disputes. Consequently, the Prince, as the holder of sovereignty, is considered to be the guardian of the political order. It is under the aegis of sovereignty that the state is able to maintain social and political order, administer justice, protect the rights of citizens and guarantee the well-being of society. Sovereignty is thus the cornerstone of state stability and social peace. It is important to note that this vision of sovereignty as absolute and perpetual power is not without controversy, particularly as regards the limits of sovereign power and respect for citizens' rights and freedoms.
In "Du Contrat Social", Rousseau develops the idea of a "state of nature" as a kind of pre-social and pre-political condition in which humanity would have lived before the advent of society and the state. He differs from Hobbes, however, in his view of this state of nature  Whereas for Hobbes the state of nature was characterised by a "war of all against all" where insecurity and fear reigned, for Rousseau the state of nature was a period of innocence, peace and equality. In his view, people were essentially good in the state of nature, but the creation of society, with its inequalities and conflicts, had corrupted this natural goodness. Rousseau proposed the social contract as a solution to this corruption. Individuals agree to submit to the general will, which represents the common good, in exchange for the protection of their rights and freedoms. So, for Rousseau, sovereignty belongs to the people, not to a monarch or an elite. It was this vision of sovereignty that would influence the theories of democracy and the republic.
The notion of sovereignty was first significantly developed by Jean Bodin in the 16th century. In his work "The Six Books of the Republic" (1576), Bodin defined sovereignty as "the absolute and perpetual power of a Republic", which is exercised by the State over its territory and population. According to Bodin, sovereignty is indivisible, inalienable and perpetual. It manifests itself in the power to make laws, declare war and peace, administer justice, control the currency and impose taxes. Internal sovereignty, on the other hand, refers to a state's ability to effectively control its territory and exercise authority over its population. This includes the ability to apply and enforce laws, maintain public order, protect citizens' rights and freedoms, and provide public services. A state with strong internal sovereignty is able to maintain order and stability within its borders, without the need for external intervention.
It is important to note that these two conceptions of sovereignty are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are often interdependent. A state may have sovereignty in Bodin's sense (i.e. the ability to make laws and decisions without external interference), but if it does not have strong internal sovereignty (i.e. the ability to enforce those laws and decisions effectively), its overall sovereignty may be compromised. Conversely, a state that has strong internal sovereignty but is subject to strong external pressure or interference may also find its overall sovereignty weakened.
Stephen D. Krasner, a specialist in international politics, has further explored the notion of sovereignty by proposing four distinct conceptions of sovereignty in his book Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (1999). These conceptions are:
- Domestic sovereignty: This refers to the organisation of public authority within a state and the state's ability to effectively exercise its authority and control its territory. It is linked to the concept of internal sovereignty mentioned above.
- Interdependent sovereignty: This concerns the ability of states to control cross-border movements of people, goods, ideas, etc. With globalisation, this form of sovereignty has become increasingly problematic, as states often find it difficult to control these cross-border flows.
- Westphalian sovereignty: Named after the Treaties of Westphalia (1648) which ended the Thirty Years' War in Europe, this concept refers to the exclusion of external interference in a state's internal affairs. It is a form of sovereignty that is often invoked in international discourse, although it is often violated in practice.
- Legal international sovereignty: This refers to the formal equality of all states within the international legal framework. In other words, all states, regardless of their size, power or wealth, are formally equal under international law.
These different conceptions of sovereignty highlight the complexity of the notion of sovereignty in contemporary international politics. They show that sovereignty is not simply the ability of a state to exercise power within its borders, but also involves issues of control over cross-border movements, non-interference and formal equality between states.
Legal sovereignty in the international context[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
International legal sovereignty is a central concept in international law. It refers to the mutual recognition of states as legally independent entities within the international community. In other words, it is the acceptance by states of the legitimacy of all other states as autonomous actors on the international stage. This means that each state has the right to govern its own territory without outside interference, and that other states must respect this right. This is what is generally understood when we talk about a state's "sovereignty". States also have the right to participate in international life, for example by signing treaties, joining international organisations or taking part in international negotiations.
However, international legal sovereignty does not necessarily guarantee a state's actual ability to exercise authority or control over its territory (known as "de facto sovereignty"). In many cases, a state may be recognised as legally sovereign but lack effective control over its territory or population. For example, a government may be unable to maintain law and order, provide basic public services or defend its borders against foreign invasion. In such cases, we often speak of "weak states" or "failed states". At the same time, international recognition can sometimes be contested or denied. For example, some territories may declare themselves independent and establish their own government, but not be recognised as sovereign states by the international community. Such territories are often referred to as "unrecognised states" or "de facto states".
International recognition of a state is often the result of bilateral processes. For example, Germany was the first country to recognise the independence of Slovenia and Croatia in November 1991, in the context of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. This recognition was subsequently followed by that of other countries, leading to the integration of these two new entities into the international community as sovereign states. Bilateral recognition is a way for a state to formally express its acceptance of the sovereignty and independence of another state. It generally involves the establishment of diplomatic relations and can also pave the way for bilateral cooperation agreements in various fields, such as trade, defence or culture.
However, bilateral recognition is not always followed by multilateral recognition. In other words, the fact that a State is recognised by another State does not necessarily mean that it will be recognised by the international community as a whole. For example, some States may choose not to recognise a new State because of political disagreements, territorial disputes or strategic considerations. Furthermore, international recognition of a state does not necessarily imply recognition by international organisations. For example, a state may be recognised by a large number of countries, but not admitted to the United Nations because of the veto of one or more permanent members of the Security Council.
International recognition of a state has profound and practical implications. It can open the door to a multitude of opportunities and advantages, both political and financial. Here are a few examples:
- Access to international organisations: Once recognised, a state can apply for membership of international organisations such as the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, etc. These memberships can provide it with a platform from which it can benefit. These memberships can provide a platform to collaborate with other nations, share concerns and perspectives, and participate in global decision-making.
- Financial and capital flows: International recognition can encourage foreign direct investment, access to international loans, development aid and other forms of financial support. It can also facilitate international trade by paving the way for bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.
- Symbolic status and power for leaders: When a state is recognised internationally, its leaders acquire greater domestic and international legitimacy. They are able to attend international summits, negotiate treaties, and represent their nation on the world stage.
While these benefits are potentially significant, international recognition also brings with it responsibilities. For example, a recognised state is expected to respect the principles of international law, such as respect for human rights, non-aggression and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
Westphalian Sovereignty: its origins and implications[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Westphalian sovereignty is a concept that originated in the 1648 Treaties of Westphalia, which put an end to the Thirty Years' War in Europe. This concept refers to the idea that each state has absolute and indisputable authority over its territory and population, and that no other state can interfere in its internal affairs. According to this concept of sovereignty, each state is independent and equal to others on the international stage, regardless of its size or economic or military power. It is this notion that has largely structured the modern international system. It is important to note, however, that Westphalian sovereignty has been modified and challenged several times over the centuries. From humanitarian interventions to international organisations and global norms on issues such as human rights and the environment, various forces have sought to modulate, restrict or transform Westphalian sovereignty.
The concept of Westphalian sovereignty emphasises the territorial independence and exclusive authority of the state over its territory, rejecting any external interference in the internal affairs of the state. This is a fundamental principle of international law, as clearly stated in the United Nations Charter. Article 2 of the UN Charter, in particular, affirms the sovereign equality of all its member states. This principle means that all States, regardless of their size, wealth or military power, have the same rights and obligations under international law. In addition, the UN Charter also enshrines the principle of non-interference, whereby no state has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of another state. This prohibition is intended to protect the sovereignty and independence of all States, large or small.
According to the principles of Westphalian sovereignty and the United Nations Charter, all states are equal in terms of sovereignty. This means that, regardless of their size, economic or military power, each state has the same authority and control over its territory, and no state can interfere in the internal affairs of another. Therefore, from the point of view of sovereignty, the United States is no more sovereign than Luxembourg or Malta. Each state has full authority over its own territory and is free to conduct its internal policy as it sees fit, without external interference.
Westphalian sovereignty establishes that each state has the exclusive right to exercise power and authority over its territory and population, without external interference. This implies that states are free to determine their own internal policies, including their political system, economy, laws and regulations, and that no other state has the right to interfere in these affairs. In other words, each state is regarded as an independent and autonomous entity, free to act as it wishes within its borders, as long as it does not violate international law. This concept is a fundamental pillar of today's international order and is enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
The principle of non-interference is directly linked to the Westphalian notion of sovereignty. According to this principle, no state has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of another state. This means that a country's political, economic, social and cultural decisions are its sole responsibility and cannot be subject to interference or meddling by another state. The principle of non-interference is also enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Article 2(7) of the Charter states: "Nothing in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state, or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter". However, it should be noted that there are certain exceptions to this principle, notably in cases of serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law, where the international community may be authorised to intervene to protect the individuals concerned, as stipulated in the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine adopted by the United Nations in 2005.
Internal sovereignty refers to a state's ability to maintain order and exercise authority within its borders. This notion of sovereignty relates to the effectiveness of the structure of government, the extent of governmental control, the degree of cohesion among elites and citizens, and the ability to administer laws and policies effectively.
This form of sovereignty emphasises the state's authority over its citizens, its ability to maintain security, enforce laws and implement public policies. In this sense, internal sovereignty is closely linked to the concept of the state's monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force, as defined by Max Weber.
A state is considered to be fully internally sovereign when it is able to perform these functions effectively and without hindrance. On the other hand, if a state is unable to control its territory, ensure public order, provide basic services to its citizens or maintain the authority of its government, its internal sovereignty can be said to be limited or compromised. This is often the case with so-called "fragile" or "failed" states.
Interdependent Sovereignty: a new concept in a connected world[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Interdependence sovereignty deals with a state's ability to control and regulate transnational flows that cross its borders. These flows can take a variety of forms, including trade, capital movements, population migrations, the spread of information and ideas, and so on.
In an increasingly interconnected and globalised world, the notion of interdependent sovereignty has become increasingly important. The intensification of transnational flows can pose significant challenges to a state's sovereignty, insofar as it may limit its ability to control these flows and, consequently, to influence or determine internal outcomes. For example, globalisation has led to growing economic interdependence between states, with increasing international trade and financial flows. However, this has also created challenges for the interdependent sovereignty of states, as they may find themselves unable to control or regulate these flows effectively.
The same applies to the flow of information and ideas, facilitated by the rise of information and communication technologies. While these flows can stimulate the exchange and sharing of information, they can also pose challenges in terms of the regulation, control and censorship of information. In this way, the sovereignty of interdependence reflects the tensions and challenges that globalisation poses to the traditional notion of state sovereignty.
Taiwan is an interesting example of the application of different notions of sovereignty. From an international legal perspective, Taiwan is not recognised as a sovereign state by the majority of the international community, mainly due to the position of China, which considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and strongly opposes any formal recognition of its independence. However, from the point of view of Westphalian sovereignty, Taiwan functions as an independent state. It has its own government, its own constitution, a distinct economy, its own legal system, and it effectively controls its territory and population. It is not under the direct control of any external authority, which is in line with the definition of Westphalian sovereignty, which refers to the exclusion of external actors from exercising authority over a given territory. This situation clearly illustrates the complexity of notions of sovereignty in today's international system, and how different conceptions of sovereignty can coexist and come into conflict.
A state may be recognised as sovereign on the international stage, i.e. "international legal sovereignty", but have limited capacity to exercise effective authority or "internal sovereignty" over its own territory and population. Somalia is an example of this situation. Although it is recognised as a sovereign state by the international community and is a member of the United Nations, it struggles to maintain effective control over its entire territory and to provide basic services to its population, due to internal conflict and weak government institutions. This highlights how sovereignty, in practice, is often a more nuanced and complex concept than its theoretical definition might suggest. A state's sovereignty is not always absolute or uncontested, but can vary according to a variety of factors, including internal political stability, institutional capacity, international recognition, and geopolitical realities.
The European Union (EU) is a unique example of a supranational structure where member states have voluntarily ceded some of their sovereignty to common institutions. This system is often referred to as "shared sovereignty" or "supranational integration". In the EU, member countries have agreed to abide by the decisions taken by common institutions such as the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Court of Justice of the European Union, even when these decisions run counter to their own national policies. This is known as the acquis communautaire, which is the set of rights and obligations that bind all EU Member States. However, it is important to note that sovereignty is not completely eliminated in this system. EU Member States retain sovereignty in many areas, including defence and foreign policy, and they also have the right to withdraw from the Union, as the UK did with Brexit. Thus, the EU system represents a complex balance between national sovereignty and supranational sovereignty, where Member States have agreed to share some of their authority for the benefit of closer cooperation and integration.
Dani Rodrik's political trilemma of the global economy is a concept that highlights the inherent conflict between economic globalisation, the nation state (or national sovereignty) and democracy. According to Rodrik, these three forces cannot coexist perfectly. If we have two of them, we cannot have the third. More precisely:
- If we have economic globalisation and the nation state, then we cannot have democracy because economic decisions are made at a level outside democratic control.
- If we have economic globalisation and democracy, then we cannot have the nation state because economic decisions are taken at a global level and transcend national borders.
- If we have the nation state and democracy, then we cannot have economic globalisation because economic decisions are made at the national level and reflect democratic preferences, which can lead to restrictions on global trade and investment.
In terms of interdependent sovereignty, this means that in an increasingly globalised world, the nation state may find it difficult to control all aspects of its economy and society as it is increasingly influenced by external forces, such as flows of capital, goods, services and information. This can limit its ability to pursue independent public policies and respond to the preferences of its citizens, which in turn can have an impact on the legitimacy and stability of the state.
The impact of globalisation[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
What is globalisation?[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
According to Held, McGrew, Goldblatt and Parraton in their 1999 book "Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture", globalisation is defined as "the widening, deepening and accelerating global interconnectedness". In this context, "enlargement" refers to the extension of links and connections across the world, across continents and countries. It is an indication of the geographical reach of networks and systems of global relationships and interactions. "Deepening" refers to the intensification of levels of interaction and interdependence between actors and systems on a global scale. This translates into more and closer links between societies, economies, cultures and political institutions. Finally, "acceleration" refers to the increased speed of global interactions and processes. Thanks to the development of information and communication technologies, information, ideas, capital, goods, services and people are moving faster and faster across borders and regions. In other words, globalisation implies an increase and intensification of links and flows between countries and regions of the world. This includes trade, investment, migration, cultural exchanges, information and technology, which in turn can have profound effects on economies, societies, cultures and politics.
Intensification, in the context of globalisation, is the process by which connections and interactions between countries and entities around the world are strengthened and multiplied. This manifests itself in three main dimensions:
- Enlargement: This involves the extension of transnational links to an ever wider geographical scale, encompassing more and more regions, countries and peoples.
- Deepening: This refers to a deeper interdependence between countries and entities, meaning that events or changes in one country or region have more pronounced and direct effects on others. For example, in a globalised economy, an economic crisis in one major country can have major repercussions on the world economy.
- Acceleration: This refers to the increase in the speed at which interactions and transactions occur on a global scale. With technological advances, particularly in transport and communications, information, goods, services and even people can move around the world at unprecedented speed.
In short, increased globalisation implies growing interdependence between countries, which can have significant implications for the economy, politics, culture and other aspects of society on a global scale.
Global interdependence manifests itself in complex and multidimensional ways. Globalisation affects many spheres of human life and societal activity, creating interdependencies at various levels. Here are just a few examples of where this is happening:
- Economics: This is the area most often associated with globalisation. Global economic interdependence is evidenced by the intensification of international trade, the expansion of multinationals, the increased mobility of capital and the proliferation of international trade agreements.
- Political: Globalisation has also increased political interdependence between states. This is reflected in the growing role of international organisations, the development of international law and the need for countries to cooperate on global issues such as climate change, security and human rights.
- Social: Globalisation also fosters social interdependence through the flow of people (migration), global social networks, the sharing of cultures and the exchange of information.
- Technology: With the digital revolution, technological interdependence has become a major aspect of globalisation. The internet has transformed the way information is shared and consumed, and has facilitated the emergence of global online communities.
Each of these dimensions contributes to an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, where changes in one part of the world can have a significant impact elsewhere. However, it is important to note that this interdependence can also exacerbate inequalities and create new challenges.
Keohane and Nye have played a key role in conceptualising globalisation in terms of complex interdependence, emphasising the importance of understanding its multiple dimensions. Here is a slightly more detailed explanation of these dimensions:
- Political: This dimension of globalisation highlights the increased interconnectedness of politics and governments on a global scale. For example, countries cooperate and coordinate their policies within international organisations such as the United Nations or the World Health Organisation. In addition, a country's policies and laws may be influenced by international pressures or the adoption of global standards.
- Social: Social globalisation emphasises the interconnection of societies across borders. This includes the spread of ideas and information across cultures, as well as the migration of individuals. For example, the internet has enabled unprecedented communication and information sharing, leading to cultural convergence in some respects. Similarly, immigration and international travel have led to greater diversity within societies and a blending of cultures.
- Economic: Economic globalisation refers to the increasing integration of economies through international trade and capital flows. For example, trade liberalisation has led to a dramatic increase in international trade in goods and services. Similarly, financial liberalisation has facilitated international capital flows, allowing investors to invest easily in foreign countries. This has led to increased interdependence between economies, where economic events in one country can have an impact on others.
Each dimension of globalisation has its own implications and challenges, and they are often interdependent. For example, economic globalisation can influence social globalisation (for example, through migration flows) and vice versa.
What is economic globalisation?[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Economic globalisation refers to the growing integration of the economies of different countries around the world, made possible by trade liberalisation, foreign direct investment (FDI), capital flows and migration. It manifests itself in increased international trade in goods and services, increased international investment, greater economic interdependence between countries, and increasing standardisation and homogenisation of products and markets. According to Schwartz, a key feature of economic globalisation is "global price pressure". This means that, as a result of the increased interconnection of world markets, there is a tendency for prices to become more uniform on a global scale. For example, if prices for a certain good are lower in one country than in another, consumers may choose to buy that good in the country where it is cheaper, which will put downward pressure on prices in the country where the good is more expensive. This can happen not only for physical goods, but also for services and even for workers, in the case of migration or outsourcing. It is a phenomenon that can have major implications for companies, consumers and workers.
Economic interdependence between countries is characterised by transnational flows of goods, services, capital and sometimes workers. The growing importance of international trade and foreign direct investment means that the economies of different countries are increasingly interconnected. However, cross-border economic flows are also influenced by the public policies put in place by national governments. These policies can regulate the opening or closing of these flows, through a variety of mechanisms such as tariffs, quotas, immigration restrictions, capital controls and so on. For example, a country may decide to introduce tariffs to protect its local industries, which could reduce imports of certain goods. In addition, governments can also implement policies to attract foreign investment, for example by offering tax incentives or creating special economic zones. This means that, although economic interdependence is a major feature of globalisation, it is also influenced by policy decisions taken at national level. So the extent to which a country is integrated into the global economy depends on both economic and political factors.
The KOF Globalisation Index is an index developed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) that measures the degree of globalisation of different countries. It uses a wide range of data, covering 24 individual variables in three main categories: economic, social and political.
- Economic globalisation is measured by the size of a country's trade and financial flows relative to its economy, as well as restrictions on these flows.
- Social globalisation is measured by data on personal contacts (such as international telephone calls and money transfers), information (Internet and television access) and cultural attitudes.
- Political globalisation is measured by a country's degree of involvement in international relations, such as participation in international organisations, UN peacekeeping missions and international treaties.
The KOF index is updated annually, making it possible to track globalisation trends over several decades. It provides a useful tool for comparing the degree of globalisation between different countries and for analysing how globalisation is changing over time.
The KOF Index of Political Globalisation measures a country's integration into the international political world using a number of indicators, as follows
- The number of embassies in a country (25%): this reflects a country's degree of international political involvement, indicating how many other countries maintain official diplomatic relations with it.
- Membership of international organisations (28%): this measure gives an idea of a country's involvement in world affairs through its membership of various international organisations. The more organisations a country is a member of, the more politically integrated it is considered to be.
- Participation in United Nations Security Council missions (22%): this shows a country's willingness and ability to contribute to international security, particularly by providing troops or logistical support to UN peacekeeping missions.
- The number of international treaties signed (25%) reflects a country's commitment to international norms and rules. A country that has signed many treaties is considered to be more committed to the international system.
These four dimensions of political globalisation provide an overview of the extent to which a country is integrated into the global political system.
The KOF Social Globalisation Index focuses on a country's integration into the international social and cultural world. It uses several indicators, broken down as follows:
- Personal contact data (33%): These include measures such as international telephone traffic, international tourism, foreign population and the number of international letters per capita. These measures reflect the degree of communication and interaction between people in different countries.
- Information flow data (36%): This indicator measures the degree to which international information flows across a country's borders. It includes measures such as the number of Internet and television users per 1,000 inhabitants and the share of newspaper trade in GDP.
- Cultural proximity data (31%): This measure reflects the adoption of certain forms of globalised consumer culture. These include the number of McDonald's restaurants and Ikea shops per inhabitant, as well as the share of the book trade in GDP.
By using these three groups of indicators, the KOF index of social globalisation gives a picture of the degree to which a country is integrated into the world community beyond the purely economic or political dimensions. It shows how globalisation manifests itself in people's daily lives, whether through communication, information or consumer culture.
The KOF Economic Globalisation Index measures a country's degree of economic integration into the world economy. It uses a variety of indicators, divided into two broad categories:
- Flows (50%): This category includes measures such as international trade as a percentage of GDP, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows as a percentage of GDP, FDI stocks as a percentage of GDP, portfolio investment as a percentage of GDP and income payments to foreigners as a percentage of GDP. These indicators measure the degree of connection and interdependence of a national economy with the rest of the world.
- Restrictions (50%): This category includes measures such as average tariffs, import barriers, taxes on international trade as a percentage of income and restrictions on capital accounts. These indicators assess the level of protectionism in an economy, i.e. the degree of restriction on the free movement of goods, services and capital.
By combining these two types of indicator, the KOF Index of Economic Globalisation provides an overview of the degree of openness and interdependence of an economy with the rest of the world. It provides an understanding of the extent to which an economy is integrated into the global economy, both in terms of economic flows and trade and financial policies.
The global economic trilemma: analysis of economic choices[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Dani Rodrik's "The Globalization Paradox" is an in-depth analysis of the dilemmas and conflicts that globalization poses for national democracies. Rodrik is a renowned economist, professor at Harvard University, and known for his significant contributions to debates on international economics, globalization, and development.
In his book, Rodrik presents his famous "globalisation trilemma". According to him, democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible: we cannot combine all three simultaneously. We can have at most two of the three at the same time.
This is how the trilemma works:
- If we want to have both global economic integration and national sovereignty, we must abandon democracy.
- If we want to have both democracy and national sovereignty, we have to give up global economic integration.
- And if we want to have both global economic integration and democracy, we have to give up national sovereignty.
In his book, Rodrik argues that we cannot have hyper-globalisation, national sovereignty and robust democracy all at the same time. We have to choose between the three. He argues that attempts to push globalisation to the limit have undermined national sovereignty and democracy, leading to a populist backlash against globalisation that we see in many countries. He argues for a more moderate form of globalisation that respects the rights of nations to protect themselves against global market forces.
The trilemma of the global economy, as presented by Dani Rodrik in Chapter IX of his book, 'The Paradox of Globalisation', is based on the idea that it is impossible to reconcile hyperglobalisation, democracy and national sovereignty simultaneously. Here is how he develops this idea:
- Hyperglobalisation: this is the promotion of unfettered global economic integration, allowing the free movement of goods, services and capital across international borders. This free movement is facilitated by international trade treaties and membership of supranational economic organisations.
- Nation-state: this is the principle according to which a political entity, a country, has sovereignty over its territory and its population, and is free to make its own political and economic decisions. The nation state is responsible for the well-being of its citizens and has the power to regulate its economy as it sees fit.
- Democratic policies: these are decisions taken by a government that is representative of the will of the people, as is the case in a democracy. In such a system, citizens have the right to vote and to participate directly or indirectly in the formulation of public policy.
Rodrik argues that it is impossible to fully combine these three elements. You cannot have hyperglobalisation (complete economic integration) while preserving the full sovereignty of the nation state and maintaining democratic policies. If a country chooses hyperglobalisation, it must sacrifice either national sovereignty (by allowing important economic decisions to be dictated by global market forces or supranational economic institutions) or democracy (by limiting the ability of citizens to influence economic policies through voting).
Rodrik therefore suggests that in a global economy we cannot simultaneously achieve hyper-globalisation (i.e. maximum economic integration), democracy (the ability of citizens to participate in the political decision-making of their country) and the nation state (the ability of a country to implement independent policies for the good of its citizens). In his view, the pursuit of globalisation creates a tension between democracy and the sovereignty of the nation state. If a country wants to reap the full economic benefits of globalisation, it may have to give up some political sovereignty, bowing to international rules and norms that may not correspond to the preferences of its citizens. Conversely, if a country values democracy and the sovereignty of the nation state, it may have to limit its integration into the global economy in order to maintain control over its economic and social policy. This is what Rodrik calls the 'trilemma' of the global economy, which highlights the complexity and challenges faced by countries in managing their integration into an increasingly interconnected global economy.
Democratic politics is deeply linked to interdependence sovereignty, as Stephen Krasner suggests. Interdependence sovereignty describes a state's ability to control or regulate transnational flows (people, goods, capital, information, etc.) across its borders. In essence, this means that a state has control over how it interacts with other states and with global market forces. In a democracy, citizens should ideally have a voice in how their country manages these international flows, whether through elections, freedom of expression, or other means of political participation. However, as Rodrik points out in his trilemma of the global economy, this sovereignty of interdependence can be compromised when states seek to further integrate their economies with those of other countries - a trend often associated with globalisation. In other words, the pressure to integrate more deeply into the global economy - and in particular to comply with the international norms and rules that facilitate this integration - can limit a state's ability to implement independent policies that reflect the preferences of its citizens. This, in turn, can create tensions with democratic principles.
The Bretton Woods era (1940s to 1970s) is a perfect example of what Rodrik describes as a balance between the nation state and democratic politics, with more limited control over hyper-globalisation. The Bretton Woods conference in 1944 laid the foundations for a new world economic order after the Second World War. The Bretton Woods agreements created international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to promote global monetary and economic stability. In addition, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was established to promote free trade through the reduction of tariff barriers. However, even with this growing economic integration, individual states still retained considerable leeway to pursue national economic policies. Capital controls, for example, were widely accepted. In addition, many states implemented policies of social welfare, full employment and industrialisation that reflected their specific national priorities. In other words, during the Bretton Woods period, globalisation was often seen as a means to national ends, rather than an end in itself. This contrasts with the era of globalisation that followed, when international economic integration increasingly became a priority in itself, often to the detriment of democratic politics and the nation state.
During the Bretton Woods period, governments frequently used policies of capital controls and tariffs to protect their national economies. These measures were used to control the movement of capital across borders, preserve financial stability, protect domestic infant industries and maintain employment. These controls were also used to avoid economic crises that might arise from speculative or unstable capital movements. By controlling capital flows, countries could often maintain greater stability in their exchange rates, which was essential for managing their economies. However, as the world moved towards greater globalisation from the 1970s and 1980s, many countries began to lift these controls and open their economies to international capital flows. This led to greater global economic integration, but also posed new challenges in terms of managing economic stability and protecting domestic industries and workers.
According to Dani Rodrik, the late 1970s marked a turning point in many countries' liberalisation of trade and financial policies. This period, sometimes referred to as the 'age of globalisation', saw a general decline in tariff and non-tariff barriers, greater financial liberalisation and an intensification of trade and foreign direct investment. However, contrary to some expectations, this economic globalisation has not led to a widespread weakening of the nation-state. Indeed, despite growing economic integration, nation-states have continued to play a central role in the governance of their economies. They have remained key players in regulating markets, providing public goods, social protection, macroeconomic management and implementing environmental policies, among others. However, Rodrik argues that this intensification of globalisation has created tensions between the nation-state and the imperatives of global economic integration, giving rise to what he calls the 'globalisation trilemma'. In his view, it is impossible to fully reconcile hyper-globalisation, the sovereignty of the nation-state and democracy; you can only have two of the three simultaneously.
Dani Rodrik points out in his work that one way of resolving the trilemma of globalisation would be to go beyond the framework of the nation-state and develop supranational governance structures. In other words, nation-states could transfer some of their sovereignty to international or supranational institutions to regulate the global economy more effectively. This could potentially make it possible to reconcile the three aspects of the trilemma: a globalised economy, democracy and regulation. Indeed, strengthened global governance could help frame globalisation in a more respectful way of democratic and social principles. One example of this type of supranational governance is the European Union, which exercises certain powers previously devolved to the Member States. However, implementing this type of governance presents major challenges, particularly in terms of democratic legitimacy and equity. It should also be noted that this approach is not unanimous and that many actors and analysts are concerned about the potential implications of such devolution of sovereignty, particularly as regards the potential erosion of democracy and national autonomy.
The importance of Governance in politics[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The Commission on Global Governance has formulated an eloquent definition of governance. It sees it as the accumulation of different methods by which individuals and institutions, whether public or private, administer their collective affairs. In her view, governance is a constant process in which divergent or conflicting interests can be harmonised, and in which cooperative action can be taken.
This is a definition of global governance proposed by the Commission on Global Governance in its 1995 report, "Our Global Neighborhood". To paraphrase, global governance is the set of multiple ways in which individuals and institutions, whether public or private, manage their common affairs. It is an ongoing process that enables conflicting or diverse interests to be taken into account, and cooperative actions to be undertaken. In other words, global governance is a kind of collaboration between different actors (including states, international organisations, businesses, civil society groups and individuals) to deal with problems that transcend national boundaries and require international cooperation. This definition highlights two essential characteristics of global governance: the diversity of the actors involved and the importance of consensus and cooperation. Global governance is not just a matter for states or official international organisations, but also involves non-state actors. Moreover, it requires consensus-building and a willingness to act cooperatively to solve common problems.
One criticism is that governance involves a multitude of actors, including individuals and institutions. What's more, governance is no longer just a matter for public authorities: private players are also getting involved to resolve conflicts of interest and find solutions for international cooperation in the face of major challenges and divergent interests at nation-state level.
Global governance involves a multitude of players. This includes not only national governments, but also individuals and institutions, both public and private. These actors can be non-governmental organisations, multinational companies, international financial institutions such as the IMF or the World Bank, and even influential individuals. Each of these actors has its own interests and priorities, which can lead to conflicts. For example, a multinational company may give priority to maximising profits, which could conflict with the sustainable development objectives of a non-governmental organisation. Similarly, the priorities of a national government may conflict with the directives of an international financial institution. However, in the context of global governance, these diverse actors work together to manage their common affairs. They must negotiate, cooperate and sometimes compromise to solve global problems. This ongoing interaction makes it possible to accommodate conflicting and diverse interests.
It is important to note that this is not just the domain of public authorities. Many private actors also have a role to play in global governance. For example, multinational companies can help solve global problems by adopting sustainable and ethical practices. Similarly, individuals can contribute by making informed consumer choices and by participating in movements to defend human rights or the environment. However, the participation of these private players in global governance also raises questions of accountability and legitimacy. For example, who holds these private players accountable for their actions? What legitimacy do they have to participate in global decision-making? These questions are at the heart of the debate on global governance.
Governance and government are two distinct concepts, although they are sometimes used interchangeably.
- Government generally refers to the set of institutions and individuals officially vested with political authority in a state. This typically includes the head of state, the cabinet, the legislature, the judiciary and public bureaucracies. The government has the power to make laws, apply them and interpret them, often within the framework of a constitution. It is the entity that exercises sovereign power on behalf of the people in a nation.
- Governance, on the other hand, is a broader term that refers to all the methods, processes and institutions, both formal and informal, by which a society is run. This includes not only government, but also a variety of other actors, such as non-governmental organisations, private companies and even influential individuals. Governance involves how power is exercised, how decisions are made and implemented, how conflicts are resolved, and how resources are managed in a society.
In addition, while government is usually limited to a specific jurisdiction, such as a country or a city, governance can be applied at a multitude of scales, from local to global. This includes the way in which transnational issues, such as climate change or migration, are managed across national borders.
Governance, in a modern and above all global context, involves a multitude of actors that are not strictly limited to the traditional nation state. In this context, the state, while still holding a monopoly on legitimate violence within its borders, becomes one entity among others in a wider and more complex web of power. These other entities may include international organisations such as the UN or the WTO, non-governmental organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières or Greenpeace, multinationals and large corporations, and even influential individuals and think tanks. These actors can all exert a degree of power and influence over the way global affairs are managed.
Moreover, in some cases, these actors may even wield power similar to that of the state. For example, some large companies can have considerable economic influence, and some non-governmental organisations can have a significant impact on social and environmental policies. That said, although the state is no longer the only actor on the international stage, it remains a major and important player. Even in an increasingly globalised world, states retain significant power in domestic, defence and foreign policy, and play a crucial role in shaping and implementing global governance.
Modern governance is much more complex and involves a variety of actors that go beyond the traditional framework of the nation state. These actors can influence policy at different levels and in different ways. Here is an expansion on the types of actors:
- Transnational firms: These companies, which operate in several countries, play an increasingly important role in global governance. Because of their size and economic influence, they can shape policies through lobbying or direct initiatives. For example, they may promote fair labour standards in their supply chains or commit to reducing their carbon emissions.
- Non-governmental organisations (NGOs): NGOs can have a significant influence on governance at a number of levels. They can lobby governments to change their policies, help implement programmes and services, and provide technical expertise and local knowledge that can guide policy decisions.
- Social movements: Social movements can act as drivers of change by bringing individuals and groups together around common causes. They can influence governance by lobbying for policy change, raising public awareness of specific issues, and helping to shape public debate.
- International organisations: These organisations, such as the UN, the IMF and the World Bank, play a key role in global governance. They help coordinate international cooperation, establish common norms and rules, and provide forums for conflict resolution. Although they are often guided by the interests of their member states, they can also exert an independent influence and help shape international norms and policies.
Taken together, these actors contribute to the complexity and dynamics of governance in the contemporary world, reflecting the increasing interconnectedness of societies and global challenges.
Both national and international governance is shaped by a multitude of actors, each bringing their own perspective and influence. It is a complex process that goes beyond the traditional framework of national borders and national governments. At national level, transnational corporations, non-governmental organisations and social movements can influence policies and practices. They can put pressure on governments to adopt certain policies, provide services that complement or replace those of the state, or shape public discourse around particular issues. At the international level, these same actors, as well as international organisations, play an important role in shaping global norms, policies and practices. They can help coordinate international cooperation, establish common standards and provide forums for conflict resolution. In this context, the nation state remains an important player, but it is no longer the sole holder of authority. Governance is increasingly defined by the interaction of these different players, each making its own contribution to the decision-making process.
James Rosenau and Ernst-Otto Czempiel, two renowned researchers in international relations, have introduced the idea of "governance without government" to describe the nature of current world politics. In this concept, they emphasise the absence of a centralised world government, in contrast to the situation at national level. In this context, no single actor has the power to enforce laws or rules on a global scale. Instead, global governance takes the form of a complex network of actors and institutions - states, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, multinational companies, etc. - who work together, often informally, to manage global problems. This form of governance is based on cooperation, negotiation and consensus rather than coercion. It can also involve self-regulatory processes, in which actors voluntarily establish and respect certain norms or rules. However, governance without government also presents challenges, particularly in terms of accountability and legitimacy. For example, it can be difficult to hold actors accountable for their actions on a global scale, particularly when power structures are decentralised and actors have divergent interests.
Switzerland's political structure is based on a federal system. Under this system, the country is divided into cantons, each with its own government and constitution. However, the cantons are subject to the authority of the federal government based in Bern. The Swiss cantons have a degree of autonomy and can legislate in certain areas, such as education, health and certain taxes. However, the federal government has final authority in many key areas, such as defence, foreign affairs and monetary policy. In this arrangement, the Confederation, cantons and communes each have clearly defined powers and responsibilities. This division of powers ensures a balance between regional autonomy and national unity, which is a key feature of federal systems. As a result, the political authority of the canton of Geneva, while important for the management of local affairs, is subject to the authority of the Swiss federal government in matters that fall within the latter's remit.
Internationally, the sovereignty of nations is one of the cornerstones of world politics. The absence of a supreme global authority means that individual states are sovereign and free to make their own decisions. This is fundamentally rooted in the current international system, which is based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of any state. However, there are international organisations, such as the United Nations (UN), which seek to facilitate cooperation and coordination between nations. These organisations can issue recommendations and define international standards, but they do not have the power to compel states to follow these recommendations or comply with these standards. Compliance with these standards is generally based on the voluntary consent of states. There are, however, certain exceptions to this principle, particularly when international security is at stake. For example, the UN Security Council has the power to authorise sanctions or the use of force against a state that violates international law. However, even in these cases, the implementation of these decisions depends on the will of the UN member states. In short, although there is some form of international governance, the absence of a world government means that each state retains sovereignty over its own affairs.
The absence of world government is often characterised as a state of "anarchy" in international relations theory. The term "anarchy" is used not in the usual sense of disorder or chaos, but to describe a system in which there is no higher authority that can impose its decisions on the constituent units of the system. In other words, each state is sovereign and free to pursue its own interests as it sees fit, without being accountable to any higher authority. Scholars who adhere to the realist school of thought in international relations see anarchy as a fundamental and inevitable feature of the international system. In their view, this anarchy creates an environment of competition and mistrust, in which states must rely primarily on their own power to ensure their security and promote their interests.
The future of politics: multi-level governance[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Multilevel governance refers to the idea that authority and decision-making are distributed across more than one level of government - local, regional, national and supranational. It is a concept often used in the context of the European Union, where decision-making is shared between different levels of government. This concept captures the idea that political decision-making is not only the prerogative of the national government, but also involves authorities at different levels. These levels can vary from local to global, and include entities such as municipal governments, regions, non-governmental organisations, businesses and international institutions.
From a multi-level governance perspective, policy issues are often seen as requiring a multi-stakeholder and multi-level approach. This may require coordination and cooperation between different levels of government, as well as between the public and private sectors. The aim of multi-level governance is to bring political decisions closer to citizens, strengthen democracy and increase the effectiveness of public policies. However, implementing multi-level governance can also be a challenge, as it requires close coordination and cooperation between different actors and levels of government.
Nation-state sovereignty is a central concept in international politics. It describes the supreme authority of the nation state within its territorial borders. This authority can be exercised without external interference, unless it is voluntarily shared or delegated through international agreements or supranational bodies.
Historically, the nation state has been the principal unit of governance and the holder of the monopoly of legitimate violence within its territory. However, with globalisation and increasing economic, social and political interdependence, the sovereignty of the nation-state is increasingly being called into question. International relations are becoming increasingly complex, with the presence of non-state actors such as international organisations, non-governmental organisations, multinational companies and even individuals who can exert significant influence on the world stage.
In the context of multi-level governance, the nation-state is no longer the only competent authority. It now shares this competence with other levels of government, notably local, regional and supranational. Thus, political authority is no longer limited to national borders, but extends across different levels of government, raising new questions about the exercise of sovereignty in the modern era.
Globalisation has led to a significant reconfiguration of the sovereignty traditionally held by the nation state. This phenomenon can be analysed in terms of four shifts in authority:
- Upwards: In this process, the nation state cedes some of its authority to international organisations. This is often done to achieve common goals that are more effectively managed on a global scale. For example, by joining the United Nations, a country agrees to adhere to a series of international rules and standards, thereby limiting its sovereignty in certain areas.
- Down: Here, the nation state delegates some of its responsibilities to sub-national governments, such as regions or municipalities. This process can help to respond more effectively and appropriately to local needs and circumstances.
- Lateral: This movement describes the transfer of authority to transnational non-state actors, such as multinational companies or non-governmental organisations. These entities can wield significant power on a global scale, influencing political and economic decisions.
- To the right: This shift refers to the delegation of authority to integrated regional entities that transcend national borders. We might think of economic and political blocs such as the European Union or Mercosur. This regional integration often allows for more effective coordination and greater weight on the international stage.
Each of these movements illustrates a significant transformation in governance in the age of globalisation, where the nation-state is no longer the sole holder of sovereignty and where greater cooperation and coordination are needed to meet global challenges.
The notion of authority is more complex and fragmented than ever in the context of globalisation. Governance is no longer solely the domain of state actors, but now involves a multitude of private actors who play a crucial role in the conduct of global affairs. From multinational companies to non-governmental organisations and various interest groups, these private players are often in a position to influence policies and standards on a global scale. In this way, they can contribute to the formation of international rules, the resolution of conflicts and the promotion of various global objectives, such as sustainable development, human rights, security and so on. It is also important to note that these private players have varied and sometimes divergent interests, which can create challenges of coordination and accountability. Moreover, their growing power also raises important questions about the legitimacy and transparency of their actions.
In this context, the concept of governance has evolved to encompass these new dynamics. Global governance is therefore increasingly understood as a complex and multidimensional process involving a diversity of actors and institutions, operating at different levels, from local to global, and in various sectors, from public to private.
Multilevel governance is a complex phenomenon marked by several key characteristics:
- Shared decision-making: The first characteristic is that political decisions are taken by various entities located at different political levels. This may include local, regional, national, supra-national and global entities. Each level of governance may have its own set of competences and responsibilities, and decision-making is often the result of a process of negotiation and coordination between these different levels.
- Reciprocal interactions: A second characteristic is that the influences between the different levels of governance are not unilateral, but reciprocal. In other words, developments at one level can have a significant impact on the other levels, and vice versa. For example, a decision taken at national level may influence policies at local level, but local initiatives may also shape national policies.
- Different types of regulations and partnerships: Finally, multi-level governance includes different types of regulations and partnerships. This can include formal and informal cooperative arrangements between public and private entities, such as public-private partnerships, as well as various regulatory mechanisms that can range from direct state regulation to market governance.
In short, multi-level governance is a complex process involving a variety of actors operating at different levels, and marked by reciprocal relations and diversified regulation mechanisms.
1) Various entities at different political levels take political decisions.
In multi-level governance, policy decisions are taken by different entities operating at different levels. This can include various levels of government - local, regional, national, and international - as well as other types of organisations, such as non-governmental organisations, supranational institutions (such as the European Union or the United Nations), and even private sector entities in some cases.
Each entity has its own area of influence and competence, and decisions are often taken through a process of negotiation and consensus between these different stakeholders. For example, an environmental policy decision may require discussions between local, regional and national governments, as well as environmental organisations and private sector companies.
2) There are influences that are not unilateral, but rather reciprocal between these different levels, where developments at one level have significant impacts on other levels and vice versa.
In multi-level governance, there are reciprocal and not unilateral influences between the different levels of decision-making. In other words, what happens at one level can have a significant impact on the other levels, and vice versa.
To illustrate, let's take the case of a political decision taken at international level, such as the adoption of a global climate agreement. This decision may influence environmental policy at national level, which in turn may have an impact on regional and local policies. At the same time, changes at the local level, such as the adoption of renewable energy technologies, can also have an impact on national policies and potentially influence international discussions.
Furthermore, the actors at each level are not isolated from each other, but interact and communicate constantly. This can mean that changes at one level can be the result of influences from several other levels. In this interconnected environment, it is crucial for policy-makers to understand the dynamics at each level and to adopt a holistic approach to problem-solving.
An international agreement such as the Kyoto Protocol has repercussions for the signatory states, which undertake to respect certain conditions. In this case, the Kyoto Protocol aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Once a country, such as the United States, signs and ratifies such an agreement, it undertakes to modify its domestic policies to meet the targets set.
This may involve implementing a variety of measures, such as revising environmental regulations, encouraging the adoption of cleaner technologies, creating carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes, and so on. These changes can have a considerable impact on different sectors of the national economy, from heavy industry to energy, transport and agriculture.
This is an example of how a decision taken at international level (the agreement on the Kyoto Protocol) can influence national policies (the United States changing its environmental policies), which is characteristic of multi-level governance. However, it is also important to note that the effective implementation of these agreements depends heavily on the political will and capacity of the signatory states to act.
3) There are mutual interactions between the different levels involving various types of regulation, in particular various types of partnership between the private and public sectors.
Multilevel governance involves reciprocal interactions between different levels, from local to international. Each level can influence the others, and decisions taken at one level can have repercussions on the others. This can result in different types of regulation, adapted to each level. One aspect of this interaction is public-private partnerships. These partnerships are agreements between governments and private companies to finance and manage projects of public interest. They can take many forms and be used in many areas, such as infrastructure, education, health, the environment, etc.
Public-private partnerships are an example of how multi-level governance can work in practice. They illustrate how actors at different levels (governments at different levels, private companies, sometimes also NGOs or other civil society organisations) can work together to achieve common goals. In an increasingly interconnected world, this approach to governance is more and more necessary to deal with the complex and transnational challenges we face, such as climate change, poverty and inequality, migration, global security, etc.
Multilevel governance makes it possible to envisage a range of regulations, from purely public to purely private. This translates into a variety of types of public-private partnerships, including :
- Public regulation: In this scenario, the government or a public institution takes the initiative to regulate a sector or industry. This can be done through laws, regulations or directives. For example, the state may decide to regulate the carbon emissions of industries in order to protect the environment.
- Mixed regulation: This is a hybrid model where the public and private sectors share responsibility for regulation. An example of this type of partnership might be the government setting up a regulatory framework for a given industry, but with companies self-regulating certain aspects within that system (for example, by creating industry standards).
- Private regulation: In this scenario, private actors take the initiative to regulate. This may be the case in certain industries where companies set their own standards and regulations, often through industry groups or associations. For example, the software industry has developed coding and security standards that are widely respected by companies in the sector.
It is important to note that most modern regulation does not strictly fall into either of these categories, but lies somewhere in between. The specific mix of public and private regulation may vary depending on the sector, the country and the specific political and economic context.
One example of public legislation that would completely exclude private players is the decision by FIMNA, the body in Switzerland that supervises the financial sector, to order the transmission of banking data on certain customers to American banks. In this case, we have an example of public regulation where the regulatory body, FINMA (Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority) in Switzerland, took a unilateral decision. FINMA ordered certain banks to pass on banking data about certain customers to US banks. This decision could be linked to international regulatory obligations, investigations into illegal financial activities or efforts to improve transparency in the financial sector.
Consulting private stakeholders in public decision-making processes has become common practice, and is seen as a valuable way of bringing diverse and often expert perspectives into policy formulation. This process is sometimes referred to as "co-regulation" because it involves both government (the public authority) and private entities (businesses, NGOs, etc.). This is a crucial aspect of multi-level governance. Consultation of private stakeholders can take several forms, such as public discussion forums, round tables, working groups and surveys. These consultations allow private stakeholders to give their opinion on regulatory proposals and to offer alternative solutions or modifications. This approach can help to create more effective and balanced regulations, as it takes into account the perspectives of those who will be directly affected by the new rules. However, it is important that this process is transparent and fair to avoid certain interest groups having a disproportionate influence on policy...
Corporate codes of conduct, particularly those of large multinationals, are an important example of private regulation. These codes generally define the company's standards and expectations in terms of ethics, behaviour and social responsibility. Nike, for example, has adopted codes of conduct to regulate the behaviour of its suppliers in developing countries. These codes can include guidelines on respect for human rights, fair and safe labour standards, and sustainable environmental practices.
However, the effectiveness of such codes depends largely on the company's willingness and ability to implement and enforce them. Private codes of conduct can often be put in place to improve a company's public image, but without real commitment and effective enforcement mechanisms, they may not lead to significant change on the ground. Furthermore, while private codes of conduct can fill certain regulatory gaps in countries where governments are unable or unwilling to enforce labour laws, they are not a substitute for effective public regulation. Rather, they should be seen as a complement to strong public regulation.
Corporate codes of conduct are a major example of private regulation in the global economy. They enable companies to establish standards and rules of conduct for their operations, and in particular for their supply chains, which often span several countries. Codes of conduct can address a range of issues, such as respect for human rights, labour standards, corruption, business ethics, environmental protection and many others. By putting them in place, companies voluntarily undertake to respect certain standards, often going beyond what is required by law.
However, these private codes of conduct have also come in for criticism. Some are concerned that they are often implemented without sufficient independent oversight or verification. Moreover, they can sometimes be used as a smokescreen to divert attention from controversial business practices. Nevertheless, in a world where companies increasingly operate on a global scale, with supply chains that cross several jurisdictions, private regulation in the form of codes of conduct is playing an increasingly important role in the governance of the global economy.
Multi-level governance is defined by the existence of a multitude of reciprocal relationships between different levels of authority. The concept illustrates how decision-making and public action are distributed between different levels of government (local, regional, national, international) and how these levels interact with each other.
In multi-level governance, decisions are not only taken at the top by a central government, but also at lower levels, by local or regional authorities, for example. What's more, these levels of government can also interact with each other, for example, through coordination or cooperation mechanisms. This form of governance is increasingly common in contexts such as the European Union, where decisions are taken at several levels: local, national and supranational. It can also be seen in the context of natural resource management, where local, national and international players can all have a role to play.
One of the keys to multi-level governance is that actors at all levels have a degree of autonomy and capacity to influence outcomes. This creates additional complexity, as different levels may have different objectives and priorities, but it can also allow greater flexibility and capacity to respond to specific challenges at different levels.
This graph shows the significant evolution of the international treaty organisations, from a total of 37 at the beginning of the 20th century to over 246 in 2006. It also illustrates the growing importance of transnational players, in particular non-governmental organisations, whose numbers have increased dramatically, particularly since the second half of the 20th century.
These figures illustrate the significant expansion of international organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) since the beginning of the 20th century. These organisations play a crucial role in global governance, sometimes complementing or challenging the authority of nation states. International organisations, such as the United Nations, the World Health Organisation or the International Monetary Fund, are bodies that seek to regulate issues that transcend national borders, such as public health, economic issues or international peace and security. At the same time, the role of NGOs has also developed significantly. They can intervene in a wide range of areas, such as human rights, the environment, development and many others. NGOs can exert significant influence at both national and international level, and often act as mediators between civil society and official decision-making structures.
This expansion of international organisations and NGOs reflects the development of multi-level and global governance, which recognises that global challenges cannot be solved by nation states acting alone. This is an important development in the way global affairs are managed and regulated.
The growing importance of multinational companies can be clearly seen in the increase in the number of their main subsidiaries. In the 1980s, there were around 700. Today, that number has risen to more than 80,000, reflecting their expansion and growing influence in the global economy.
It is undeniable that multinational companies are playing an increasingly predominant role on the world stage. They have an increasing ability to influence economic, environmental and social policies through their international operations. A multinational parent company owns and manages several subsidiaries in different countries. For example, a large technology company based in the United States may have subsidiaries in Europe, Asia and Latin America. These subsidiaries are often set up to take advantage of specific resources or to be closer to target markets. The increase in the number of parent subsidiaries from 700 in the 1980s to over 80,000 today is testimony to the rapid spread of globalisation and world economic integration. This has important implications for global governance, as these companies often have more economic power than some states and can exert significant influence on local and international policies and regulations. In addition, the growing role of multinationals raises questions about corporate social responsibility and how companies can be held accountable for their actions on a global scale. It also highlights the need for more effective global governance mechanisms to regulate their activities and to ensure that they make a positive contribution to society.
The internationalisation of companies is a growing phenomenon, encouraged by globalisation and the development of information and communication technologies. It can be seen in a number of ways:
- Setting up subsidiaries abroad: Many companies seek to expand their presence abroad by setting up subsidiaries. These enable them to access new markets, obtain local resources and escape certain domestic constraints. The number of foreign subsidiaries has grown exponentially since the 1980s.
- Relocation of production: Companies are seeking to minimise their production costs by relocating some of their operations to countries where labour is cheaper. This phenomenon has contributed to the formation of global value chains, where different stages of production are carried out in different countries.
- International collaborations and partnerships: Companies are increasingly turning to international collaborations and partnerships to access specific skills and technologies, or to share the risks associated with costly or uncertain projects.
- Influencing public policy: With their growing size and economic weight, multinational companies have acquired significant influence over public policy, both nationally and internationally. For example, they can lobby for favourable regulations or influence international trade standards.
The internationalisation of business has profound implications for the world economy, societies and global governance. It also raises challenges in terms of regulation, equity and sustainability. Understanding these dynamics and their consequences is therefore essential for policy-makers, business leaders and society in general.
Regional blocs, such as the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) or Mercosur in South America, have transformed the balance of power and the nature of sovereignty.
For the European Union in particular, it is clear that the national sovereignty of Member States has been significantly altered in certain areas. These include
- Trade policy: The EU has exclusive competence for trade policy, which means that it negotiates and concludes trade agreements on behalf of all its Member States. As a result, the Member States have lost much of their decision-making power in the area of external trade.
- Monetary policy: The eurozone Member States have transferred their power over monetary policy to the European Central Bank. They can no longer set their own interest rates or issue their own currency.
- Competition rules: EU competition rules are very broad in scope and can affect many aspects of a Member State's economy.
- Environmental standards: The EU has established a number of strict environmental standards that all Member States must respect.
However, the degree of erosion of national sovereignty varies from one area to another. For example, in defence and foreign policy, EU Member States retain a large degree of sovereignty. Moreover, the erosion of sovereignty in certain areas can be seen as a trade-off for greater collective influence and a greater capacity to meet transnational challenges.
On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 means that authority is mainly exercised at the level of nation states, while 5 indicates authority fully deployed at the level of the European Union. There is a gradual gradation between these two extremes, where an increase in scale means a reduction in decisions taken at national level and an increase in decisions taken at supranational level. 1 represents a situation in which authority is mainly exercised by the nation state, and 5 a situation in which authority is exercised entirely by a supranational entity, such as the European Union. The intermediate values on the scale represent a shifting balance of power, with fewer decisions taken at national level and more decisions taken at supranational level as one moves up the scale. In other words, this scale is a way of measuring the degree of supranationality in governance - where a higher score indicates greater delegation of authority to a supranational entity than to the national authority.
The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), created in 1951, is considered to be the first step towards European economic and political integration. It brought together six countries (Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) with the aim of pooling the management of coal and steel production, two crucial industrial resources. This initiative was partly a response to the two devastating world wars at the beginning of the 20th century: by placing the production of these strategic resources under a common authority, the aim was to make a new war in Europe unthinkable and materially impossible. In 1957, these same countries signed the Treaties of Rome, which established the European Economic Community (EEC) and Euratom, extending integration to other economic areas.
This process of economic integration has resulted in a gradual erosion of national sovereignty in this area. Indeed, economic policies within the European Union are now often defined and implemented at a supranational level. This means that decisions on important issues, such as trade standards, monetary and fiscal policies, are taken collectively by the EU Member States, rather than by each country individually. It is in this context that the concept of multi-level governance has emerged, reflecting the increasing complexity of these institutional arrangements and the sharing of authority between different levels of government - local, national and supranational.
Social policy is an area that has traditionally been closely linked to national sovereignty. Countries have different histories, cultures and systems in this area, which makes it difficult to create common policies at EU level. In Europe, social policy encompasses a very wide range of activities, from healthcare and education to support for the elderly, child protection, housing and labour market regulation, among others. These policies are strongly rooted in national traditions and are often the result of social compromises specific to each country.
Within the European Union, social policy is primarily the responsibility of the Member States. However, the EU has a coordinating and supporting role, encouraging cooperation between Member States and providing guidelines for policies in certain areas, such as gender equality and non-discrimination. In addition, the European Union has put in place rules for the free movement of workers and the coordination of social security systems within the EU, but the implementation of these rules remains largely the responsibility of the Member States. For this reason, the integration of social policy at European level is less advanced than in other areas, such as the economy.
As far as internal security is concerned, the European Union has made considerable progress in integrating policies and practices. For example, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) coordinates and assists Member States in the management of their external borders. In addition, police cooperation (via Europol) and judicial cooperation (via Eurojust) are increasingly developed within the EU. However, integration is much less advanced in the areas of external security and defence. Defence policy remains largely the responsibility of the Member States, and there is no common EU army. There have been some initiatives to strengthen defence cooperation, such as the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) launched in 2017, but these initiatives are still under development and have not led to full integration. The difference between these two areas reflects both the EU's priorities and the limits of European integration. While the Union has always been more oriented towards managing internal issues and promoting economic cooperation, defence and external security have been areas where national sovereignty has been more resistant to integration.
It is true that in many countries there has been a growing tendency to decentralise certain powers and grant greater autonomy to the regions. This decentralisation, or devolution of power, is often motivated by the desire to bring government closer to citizens, to adapt public policies to the specific needs of certain regions, and sometimes to respond to regionalist or nationalist demands. The example of Catalonia in Spain is particularly significant. Since the restoration of democracy in Spain in the late 1970s, Catalonia has acquired a high degree of autonomy, with its own government and parliament, and significant powers in areas such as education, health and culture. In recent years, however, the desire of some Catalans to gain full independence has created tensions with the Spanish central government. However, it is important to note that the degree of decentralisation varies greatly from country to country. Some countries, such as France, have a more centralised tradition, while others, such as Germany or Belgium, are federal states where the regions or federated states have significant powers. In short, multi-level governance is increasingly the norm in many countries, with policy decisions taken at several levels - local, regional, national, and sometimes supranational - and with constant interaction between these different levels of government.
One of the main tasks of political science is to analyse and understand the complexity of interactions between different levels of governance. These interactions can be of different kinds: some are more direct and clearly institutionalised, as in the case of powers formally delegated by a national government to a regional authority, or obligations imposed by international treaties. Other interactions are less formal, but no less important. For example, decisions taken at international or supranational level can influence national policy through 'soft power' or social and cultural norms. Similarly, social movements or political trends that emerge at local level can end up influencing national or even international politics. Political science also seeks to understand how these interactions may be affected by various factors, such as economic conditions, social structures, cultural values and political ideologies. The ultimate aim of this analysis is to provide valuable information for political decision-making and for the design of effective public policies.
Switzerland's signature of the free trade agreement with Europe has led to a series of chain reactions at different levels of governance. On the one hand, the agreement strengthened inter-cantonal cooperation in Switzerland, as cantons realised that they needed to work together to navigate the new political and economic landscape created by the agreement. It has also strengthened collaboration between the Swiss federal government and the cantonal governments, as the bilateral agreements have had implications in areas such as security and education, which fall within the remit of the cantons. The agreement has also strengthened relations between the Swiss federal government and the European authorities in Brussels. Free trade agreements are complex instruments that require regular monitoring, interpretation and implementation, which means that Swiss and European officials must be in regular contact and work together to ensure that the agreement works as intended. All this illustrates how a single political decision, in this case the signing of a free trade agreement, can have repercussions at several levels of governance and require increased coordination and cooperation between different political actors. It also highlights the importance of multi-level governance and interdependence in the modern world.
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References[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
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