Globalization and the Undermining of State Sovereignty

Globalization and the Undermining of State Sovereignty
Prepared By: Professor Michel NEHME

In the same way, yet, with different magnitude to all states developed or developing, Lebanon’s sovereignty is undermined by a number of factors related to domestic, regional, international and the rapidly developing globalization process. The latter has been the concern of all governments of the world especially in Europe, USA and the Middle East at large. All governments are concerned with investigation to dwell into forces shaping the evolution of the nation-state within the new Global Trends. For the sake of limiting the scope of this article to something that could be well griped, the domestic and regional factors are left out.

Political science Scholars interested in the well being of their own states, have identified many circumstances that have and might substantially affect the evolution of the nation-state in the future in light of the globalization pressures, but they did not anticipate its demise or even its radical transformation. Generally they emphasized the adaptability of the state as a form of political organization. Given the diversity of influences in this respect, they did not envision any single predominant outcome.  They did explore some of the consequential changes that might result from five basic sources:

1. The process of globalization.

2. The evolution of political attitudes.

3. The activities of non-state actors.

4. The emerging standards of governmental performance.

5. Domestic and regional constraints as in the case of Lebanon


The above are consensus among informed decision-makers and scholars but they are not exclusive factors and so are the following predictions:

1. States will remain the principal actors sharing powers with other non-state actors in international affairs for at least two decades to come, although scholars differ considerably regarding the degree of predominance states would retain.  This range of views primarily stem from differing beliefs regarding the impact of globalization and the changing role of non-state actors.

2. The development of a more interdependent world would create more and more trans-sovereign problems that are not responsive to unilateral state action.  But this does not imply that multilateral state action would be ineffective.

3. The continuing rise of newly influential non-state actors and their networks would compete with the state for people’s allegiance in certain issue areas.

4. States possess the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances rather than be overcome by them, i.e., states governed in accordance with increasingly standardized performance criteria could preserve legitimacy even while delegating to non-state actors the responsibility for providing various services within the state’s territory.

 All of these arguments had merit.  However, given the widely disparate capacities of states especially Lebanon and the Middle East at large and varying popular standards of expected state performance, individual states will respond to globalization and the rise of non-state actors differently.  Some states and specifically the developed states appear to have an advantage in this regard and thus they are likely to use globalization-related developments and non-state actors as tools to improve their legitimacy and cohesion.  Other states like Lebanon will not be able to handle the evolving international environment, and some of these will fail and lack behind. A number of states will merely cope: their governments will remain in power, but these states will not contribute meaningfully to solving pressing trans-sovereign problems, and their citizens’ quality of life will fall behind.

 There are three additional points related to the range of possible state responses. First, unilateral state action will become less effective as trans-sovereign problems become more prevalent.  Second, ongoing globalization and the increasing influence of non-state actors will pressure states to change the manner, mode and method in which they exercise authority over affairs in their territories.  Governments like the Lebanese one undergo pressure to change from monopoly providers of services to managers of services that are provided both by the state and by a variety of non-state actors like local and regional NGOs and international corporations.  Third, the increased numbers and influence of non-state actors that operate across state boundaries and the need to grapple with trans-sovereign problems will tend to create increasingly uniform standards concerning what constitutes acceptable governmental performance measured by global standards. Globalization is setting up new standards that states have to adhere to in order to be able to part with the game. Who is supportive and who is against this trend. That lies in the difference between Globalization and Globalism.



Globalisation, as a theory, argues that states and societies are increasingly being ‘disciplined’ to behave as if they were private markets operating in a global territory. ‘Disciplinary’ forces affecting states and societies are attributed to the global capital market, transnational corporations (TNCs), and structural adjustment policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, which are all driven by neo-liberal economic ideology. Some scholars, such as Stephen Gill, see these agents as representing an emerging system of global economic governance (‘disciplinary neo-liberalism’) based on a quasi-constitutional framework for the reconstitution of the legal rights, prerogatives, and freedom of movement for capital on a world scale (‘new-constitutionalism’)[1].



An image of politics different from realism and pluralism. Globalism focuses on the importance of economy, especially capitalist relations of dominance or exploitation, to understanding world politics. The globalist image is influenced by Marxist analyses of exploitative relations, although not all globalists are Marxists. Dependency theory, whether understood in Marxist or non-Marxist terms, is categorised here as part of the globalist image. Also included is the view that international relations are best understood if one sees them as occurring within a world-capitalist system[2].

State’s sovereignty is stemmed from the basic attributes of the state and are in brief the following:

1. Legitimacy: stems from the need of people’s acceptance and need to their state.

2. Capacity: Is the ability of the state to control.

3. Cohesion: is when the state acts as one entity.

 In light with such explications, there is going to be a major impact of globalization on state behavior as it exhibits its sovereignty.  Particularly so because of the dramatically increased efficiency of handling information, the integration of national economies into global financial markets, the increasing penetrations of borders, and the continuing expansion in the volume of international trade, all factors that make states progressively more interdependent (or dependent in some cases) upon forces and institutions outside their borders.   

If globalization is de facto actuality, how a state can respond to globalization in a way that successfully preserves its capacity, legitimacy, and cohesion.  For major powers like the USA and Europe, the state must increasingly concentrate on managing flows to achieve a greater share of world output rather than, as in the past, focusing on gathering amounts of territory, natural resources, population, and production within its borders[3]. In the case of Lebanon, cohesion and finding an acceptable solution that brings the state together in a unitary structure of command channels is a priority hard to achieve thus making Lebanon lacking the initiative at the level of the state to be assertive in the international community and leaving the crucial tasks to the NGOs and the private sector to handle. Historically, state capacity had been viewed in military terms, always concerned with the ability to control and mobilize manpower and other resources.  Now, states are moving toward a model more like that of a modern multinational corporation, employing decentralized production and outsourcing for raw materials and intermediate products.  If these trends continue, states must be in a position to control flows across and within their borders.  In addition to directing flows of capital, technology, and labor, the state must also attract the right factors to enter its own territory.  In this regard, scholars stressed that this phenomenon does not necessarily mean that the state is weaker, but rather that the source of its power and capacity has changed. 

One of the provocative images constructed by scholars asserts that these trends of globalization would lead states to become divided into “head” and “body” states.  Head states, with their mature financial systems, high educational levels, and advanced technological capability, will optimize their work forces to provide services, including the design and financing of production facilities in the body states, where large pools of relatively inexpensive labor can produce goods at lower cost than in the head countries. But we are all skeptical that body states could routinely evolve into head states, observing that a system characterized by a head/body state division could intensify inequality and be inherently unstable. In other words, developing states find that they are confronted with a dilemma when dealing with globalization. State governments must open their economies to global competition in order to attract development capital, but this leaves them dangerously susceptible to financial crises.  An open economy in an interdependent world can be a risky venture for a developing state like Lebanon though it has managed to overcome some major obstacles resulting from continuing financial crisis internationally and regionally.

 Though the state will not disappear, but sovereignty hammered by globalization is changing. In democratizing states, and states undergoing transitions after empire, state capacity has declined. Regime effectiveness suffers as new political and economic institutions are constructed while day-to-day governance must continue. However, legitimacy may be increasing in these states even though state capacity is decreasing.  In developed states, one might argue that globalization’s open markets, societies, and technologies are increasing state capacity.  However, even in the most powerful states, such as the United States, the public sector is either shrinking or not growing as fast as the private sector.  Relative to the private sector, state capacity has decreased, leading even the strongest states to enter into partnerships with non-state actors to try to manage trans-sovereign problems, from money laundering to cyber crime.  In places like Lebanon, disproportionate growth in the private sector vs. the public sector allowed criminal and terrorist networks to grow faster than the state’s ability to respond despite the fact that most of these terrorist groups are temporarily dormant.  Democratic, capitalist states are not able to increase state capacity radically without compromising ideological principles that underlie the legitimacy of the state.  Non-state actors are able to make relatively free use of significant prior investments in global infrastructure.  States will not wither away; citizens still expect states to provide justice, peace, and collective representation.  However, in states like Lebanon, the private sector is investing in information technology faster and more extensively than the public sector. This means that the private sector’s capacity is increasing in technology, information, speed of response, adaptive organizational structures, resources, personnel, and competency relative to state capacity.  States’ attempts to work with the private sector to manage trans-sovereign problems (by borrowing, buying, or deferring to private sector capacity) may have the unintended effect of further undermining and changing sovereignty.


The above potential and possible state responses in Lebanon are justified by five influences most probably Lebanon is sharing with the world and all are going to face:

1. The world will experience remarkable efficiency gains in the handling of information.

2. Population dynamics will be characterized by rapid growth at least through 2025, with virtually all of the projected increase expected to occur in the poorest sectors of the world’s population.

3. Based on current trends, it appears that, as the process of adjustment to technological change proceeds, the benefits of economic growth will be concentrated at the top of the economic spectrum, causing the gulf between richest and poorest to grow.

4. Distorted population and economic development will lead to increased pressure for more equitable social development.  If too many societies fail to provide a more equitable pattern of development, the world as a whole may experience massive political instability.

5. Economic growth must be accomplished in an environmentally tractable manner to ensure its sustainability, a monumentally difficult task since improving standards of living mandate a doubling of food production and a tripling of energy production by 2050[4].

In this respect, Lester Salamon pointed out that the explosive growth of influential non-state actors is affecting not only the range of governmental functions, but how states govern.  The “new governance” entails a shift away from “programs and policies” thinking towards a “tools and instruments of action” approach.  An associated shift, in which the nonprofit sector is very significant, is in a change from “public sector versus private sector” thinking towards “public sector plus private sector” thinking.  This alters the role of the nation-state away from command and control towards negotiation and persuasion.  Where governments have traditionally viewed themselves as the exclusive provider of services, they will evolve into managers of services, turning over the provision of certain services to non-state actors that are better qualified to provide them[5].

As the influence of non-state actors grows, and the interaction between states and non-state actors expands, transparency may become a major tool in facilitating the adaptation to some of globalization’s effects.  An organization is transparent when information concerning its financial, administrative, and operational practices is available to the public.  Observing that the vast majority of non-state actors do not practice transparency, Most scholars stress the need for greater transparency as the influence of these actors grows.  One could notice that globalization is already nurturing the creation of a global civil society, whose emerging strength was demonstrated at the WTO meeting in Seattle.  Many civil society actors are networked very effectively, and are able to exert considerable influence on policy.  For state governments to be effective as the number of influential non-state actors grows, they must be able to obtain a large amount of reliable information about the operations of individual actors and their networks.  Similarly, the public must have access to reliable information, both to facilitate the grassroots assessment of government performance and to foster the development of healthy civil societies, both domestically and internationally.

In Lebanon, it is assumed that even where transparency exists through the diversity and polarization of the media, the state finds it very difficult to obtain and manage such large amounts of data.  Fortunately, transparency often makes large-scale data management by the state unnecessary.  Some regulatory actions by the state have fostered transparency and consequently have led to changes in behavior through grassroots action rather than government enforcement.  For example, the lowering of toxic waste levels by US industry following the passage of the Community Right to Know Act resulted from public mobilization after the government required firms to make information about pollution levels from individual sites available to the public, not from enhanced government oversight. It would be very welcome if the Lebanese government follows pursuit in cases that are very much similar.


Regardless of whether a fundamental change in the international system is underway, there is an expection that states will remain predominant at least through 2015, and probably for considerably longer.  But this assumption also incorporates the view that, in general, state capacity would decrease over the next fifteen years as a result of globalization and the increasing influence of non-state actors and their networks.  This assumptions are based on three principal reasons.

1. That states seem naturally suited to provide certain essential or core services that will continue to legitimize them unless individual regimes practice such poor governance that they drive their citizens to look for alternatives.  These services include the maintenance of law and order and the provision of justice.

2. Stephen Krasner contended that states are a very flexible form of political order with many tools at their disposal – including a bendable definition of sovereignty – for co-opting and otherwise accommodating increasing interdependencies and the emergence of newly-empowered non-state actors[6].

3. Both Krasner, in the distinction he draws between the concepts of state control and state authority,   and Stephen Flynn, who best illustrated this distinction through his discussion of the problems resulting from the increasing porosity of borders, called attention to the fact that the legitimacy that citizens ascribe to their state’s government is not directly proportional to the government’s ability to control directly events within its territory[7].

While these three factors provide states with the means to respond to globalization’s many challenges to state authority, actual responses will depend on each state’s particular endowment of internal resources and practices, as well as on the specific external pressures involved.  Even “successful” responses meaning those that preserve the state’s authority, legitimacy, and cohesion are likely to be accompanied by changes in state structure and governance.

The Evolution of Political Attitudes

Any assessment of state capacity, legitimacy and cohesion requires the application of some set of standards defining what constitutes sufficient state performance in these areas.  This is true even if one is only concerned with a “pass/fail” criterion, where failure means that the state has succumbed to violence or financial crisis.  However, if a more precise standard for measuring state performance is desired, it becomes apparent that the criteria for what constitutes acceptable capacity, legitimacy, and cohesion can and does vary from state to state and across time.

Stability within the state, according to most scholars, is tied to an appropriate balance in the types and amounts of functions a state performs.  Basically, citizens surrender some of their wealth and forgo certain liberties to live in a given state, and the ruling regime provides services, including some commitment to improving quality of life and the enforcement of law and order. State collapse is predicated upon the failure of the regime to provide expected services.  The expectations of the citizenry are predicated upon the amount of taxes they pay and the liberties they forgo.


Most political scholars contended that an enormous increase in expectations has occurred since World War II.  The state is not being replaced, but the number of functions that society expects it to perform has increased dramatically.  Since states vary considerably in their ability to provide all of these additional functions, non-state actors have taken on many of them.  In addition to taking over state functions, and it is worth noting that non-state actors could raise or lower public expectations regarding certain state functions.

Most of the political observers believe that popular expectations of state capacity peaked during the heyday of communist regimes (whose expectations were successfully exported to many post-colonial states) and may now be declining.  But there exists a divided view regarding whether the size of the “pie” of functions will continue to grow.

Assessing shifting public attitudes towards state performance requires identifying an appropriate baseline from which to judge the effects of current trends.  Accordingly one could focus on the concept of sovereignty, which one could argue has always been violated to some degree.  Moreover, sovereignty is much more complex than the traditional view of a clearly packaged bundle of rules. Sovereignty has four dimensions, which do not always work together, either logically or empirically.  These dimensions are:

1. Domestic sovereignty, or the authority structure within states and the degree to which that structure exercises internal control;

2. Interdependence sovereignty, or the control over cross-border flows;

3. International legal sovereignty, a set of rules by which territorially bounded political entities with juridical independence are recognized; and

4. Westphalian sovereignty, or the exclusion of external authority over domestic issues.

When it comes to understanding the cocept of sovereinty there is a general trend of an “organized hypocrisy” in which most states generally invoked the rules of sovereignty, but frequently violated them. Violations of Westphalian sovereignty were particularly numerous. The fact that states do not have to be mere bystanders where standards and expectations are concerned.

1. Governments can and do actively participate in setting expectations.  For example, by promising their people extensive social services, communist and socialist regimes have had the effect of raising popular expectations concerning what constitutes adequate state capacity.  At the other end of the spectrum, the people of disappearing and collapsed states will slowly reduce their expectations concerning the services the state should provide, often coming to expect non-state actors to fill gaps in the provision of services.  This process can work both ways, however: revolutionary movements and other non-state actors can preemptively seek to change popular expectations in ways that make state capacity appear inadequate.

2. State governments may recognize that non-state actors might be the best agents to provide certain services that citizens reasonably expect.  In many cases, a government can delegate control to these actors, meet the expectations of their citizens, and, if handled properly, actually gain legitimacy in the process.  For example, given the techniques for controlling the movement of vast amounts of goods that business firms have developed, the U.S. government should delegate to certain offshore production companies the authority to prescreen certain types of intermediate manufactured goods that are subsequently shipped to the United States for final assembly.  This policy would alleviate the demands on already overworked U.S. Customs inspectors at major border crossing points where the sheer volume of goods and transactions that must be inspected under demanding time constraints seriously degrades the ability of current techniques to intercept contraband.  Given the need for large manufacturing firms to outsource and to practice “just in time” inventory control to remain competitive, companies should welcome this kind of government-business partnership because it improves transaction predictability and minimizes the time that goods are in transit.

3. States can abdicate control over functions that have become too fractious or otherwise too hard to handle without loss of legitimacy. The Peace of Westphalia incorporated just such an event: despite rhetorically endorsing the slogan cuius regio eius religio (the principle that the ruler could set the religion of his territory), at least within the Holy Roman Empire there was a commitment to religious toleration.  The principalities of the Empire agreed to a consociational form of decision making that effectively denied rulers the right to act unilaterally on religious issues.  Although this decision constituted a severe decrease in state capacity, states emerged as more unified political structures because they had shed responsibility for controlling an extremely contentious issue.

4. The assumption of four-dimensional definition of sovereignty implies that a state can offset decreases in one dimension of sovereignty by increasing its reliance on another dimension over which it has greater control.  For example, many of the factors eroding domestic sovereignty (the ability of government to exercise control within its territory) are based on flows.  The state possessing the appropriate endowments may be able to partially offset the erosion of domestic sovereignty by subscribing to international agreements that strengthen its interdependence sovereignty (the ability of state government to regulate flows across its borders). 


The Increasing Influence of Non-State Actors

 Non-state actors are not new to the international (or domestic) arena, but their numbers and influence have increased dramatically in recent years and continue to expand, fanned by the spread of information technology, the increasing importance of transsovereign issues, and changes in popular expectations. 

 Power relationships between non-state actors and the state defy simple categorization.  Some non-state actors and networks of non-state actors have been able to exert their collective will and bring about desired outcomes at the expense of the state’s capacity and legitimacy (e.g., transnational criminal networks).  In other cases, non-state actors help to harmonize state effort with that of other organizations, thus increasing the overall efficiency with which important issues are tackled (e.g., the Rollback Malaria Initiative).  Still other non-state actors serve as extensions of the state, receiving a majority of their funding from state governments.  This arrangement helps state governments distance themselves from projects that they either are ill-equipped to support directly or prefer to keep at arms length (e.g., many states provide funding to humanitarian nonprofit organizations that distribute food and medical aid).  In these cases, state legitimacy may be preserved, or even enhanced, despite the fact that the state has reduced its capacity.  Other non-state actors fill “capacity gaps,” i.e., perform functions that help people at the grassroots level when the state is unable to do so or is skeptical that some new innovation will work (e.g., microlending enterprises).  In these cases, state legitimacy may suffer.  Still other non-state actors remain marginalized, but the increasing spread of Internet access allows these groups to organize larger and larger constituencies and speak with ever-louder voices.


 Despite their diversity, non-state actors can be broadly grouped into four categories:

1. For-profit organizations,

2. Intergovernmental organizations,

3. Nonprofit organizations, and

4. Criminal organizations.


 The For-Profit Sector

Virginia Haufler’s[8] research pointed out that the growth in transnational corporations is one of the major challenges to states today.  Transnational corporations (TNCs) operate on a global basis, and their manufacturing facilities are integrated into a global production strategy.  Multinational corporations (MNCs), in contrast, are multidivisional business organizations in which separate production facilities are established in different countries.  More MNCs are becoming TNCs, and the top 100 TNCs are becoming increasingly trans-nationalized.  The largest possess assets greater than all but a handful of states. One effect of trans-nationalization is the fact that a growing share of world exports and imports is now accounted for by trade within corporations instead of between them. The most transnational sectors among the top 100 TNCs overall are food and beverages, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and electronics and electrical equipment.

 NGO scholars asserted that the organization of production has changed dramatically over the past two decades. Major corporations have centralized decision-making within the firm and some international markets are now dominated by only a few firms. At the same time, many firms are decentralizing operations into transnational networks of partners and suppliers. Large and small corporations participate in various types of relationships including joint ventures, strategic alliances, and technology partnerships. Networks of contractual relationships blur the boundaries of the firm and redefine the nature of international economic competition, as competitors cooperate on specific ventures. With the advent of e-commerce, corporate organization will change further, facilitating global, decentralized commercial relationships. All of this represents a transformation of the business world from the traditional hierarchical, arm’s-length model of organization and competition to something that is more complex and difficult to characterize.

Many government policy makers fear that transnational corporations are too transnational, with little commitment to any one national economy. The industrialized countries in particular express concern that even long-standing investors in a country may pull up roots and move offshore if a better opportunity presents itself. This action could undermine industrial and employment policies and create economic havoc in local communities. Typically, transnational corporations prefer not to be associated with any one country, although the way they organize and conduct business clearly reflects significant characteristics of their country of origin. In conflicts between home and host countries, many foreign investors try to remain neutral, although this can be extremely difficult. 

Industry standard-setting and corporate diplomacy are two areas of activity that have received much less attention than they deserve in discussions of state capacity. Both may affect state capacity by changing the relationships between the public and private sectors. Standard-setting typically is viewed as a public good that is a basic function of government. Private efforts to set industry standards may supply all the benefits of standardization without the need for government intervention, but it may also lead to the adoption of standards with pro-business biases that pose high barriers to entry to particular firms and countries attempting to participate in international markets. International corporate diplomacy is part of a larger trend in which non-state actors are almost equal participants in world affairs. The shape of world politics in the coming years will be determined significantly by negotiations among all actors that use transnational networks to coordinate their operations: non-governmental nonprofit groups; intergovernmental organizations; transnational corporations; and sovereign governments.


Intergovernmental Organizations

There have been numerous initiatives to identify, count and categorize intergovernmental organizations (IGOs).  However, as society becomes more complex, fluid, and dynamic, international organizations change along with it, and it becomes necessary to examine more comprehensive ways of categorizing their features.  It is particularly useful to explore the nature of IGO inter-linkages with other transnational bodies and networks, especially when this contributes to hybridization of form and function across classical categories. 

IGOs could be clustered into three groups:

1. Clusters dimensions that tend to be prime determinants of whether a “body” can be recognized as “existing” because it has some tangible form (physical offices), a legal form, and whether these exhibit some pattern over time.  The most conventional and narrow view of intergovernmental organization would focus on bodies that were permanent and treaty-based with secretariats.  Bodies of this type are the easiest about which to obtain data.

2. Clusters dimensions that determine whether a body has come into existence as the result of an intergovernmental initiative, regardless of whether it exists according to Group 1 guidelines.  The most conventional and narrow view of this category of intergovernmental organization would focus on bodies that were public, unmediated and autonomous, i.e., non-hybrid forms.  But organizations in this category can still become very complex.  For example, intergovernmental organizations may form collaborative arrangements, typically task forces for purposes of coordination on issues of common interest.

3. Categories according to the nature of the IGO’s membership.  Membership can be categorized according to the geographic area from which an IGO draws its membership or by the area in which it operates (e.g., universal, regional, bi-lateral).  IGOs can also be categorized according to the mix of governmental and nongovernmental organizations in their membership, by the degree with which they interact with other state and non-state actors, by their mode of operations (e.g., information exchange, consultative, technical), and by the degree to which they operate in a given sector of activity (e.g., banking, economic development, climate change, human rights).  The most conventional and narrow view of intergovernmental organization would tend to avoid the variants on each dimension, which apparently detract from the “intergovernmental” quality because of their specificity.

The functional boundaries of IGOs (through strategic alliances, partnerships, coalitions, multi-group initiatives and campaigns) have been effectively redefined.  Most importantly, the meaningful unit of analysis is shifting increasingly from isolated entities to networks or configurations of entities.

The vision of nation-state governance to 2015 is that it does not call for a radical transformation of institutions, which is unlikely in the absence of any major catastrophe.  Rather it calls for a change in the ways of thinking about what is circulated through society’s information systems as the triggering force for any action.  Nation-states will survive and evolve to the extent that they are able to cultivate more attractive, dynamic metaphors as information-interpretation vehicles through which to navigate the complexities of turbulent societies.


The Nonprofit Sector

In describing the nonprofit sector, Lester Salamon[9] asserted that the world is in the midst of a “global associational revolution,” a massive expansion of nonprofit activity and citizen action outside the boundaries of the market and the state, that may prove to be as significant a development as the rise of the nation-state.  This development reflects a number of rather profound social, political, and technological developments. This expansion has been caused by:

1. The limitations of states’ abilities to deal with the interrelated social welfare, developmental, and environmental challenges.

2. The spread of information technology, which has opened new opportunities for grassroots organizational development and cross-national organizational linkages.

3. The significant growth of educated middle classes, who turn to alternative forms of political organization to achieve upward mobility when they perceive that state-based forms of political organization are unresponsive.

4. The globalization of philanthropy and the emergence of external actors committed to fostering the growth of civil society in developing regions.

Nonprofit organizations appear to be growing much faster than the other components of the economies of the countries for which data are available.


 Salamon asserted that the spread and growth of nonprofit organizations throughout the world has important implications for the power and role of states and for the governance process.  For political parties, the proliferation of nonprofit organizations has disrupted their monopoly on the political process as upstart single-purpose groups emerge and attract popular support.  This trend also provides greater opportunities for popular political expression and contributes to the democratization of political systems.  While contributing to democratization, the expansion of nonprofit issue and interest representation can lead to political stalemate and gridlock; specific outcomes will depend on local political traditions, governance arrangements, and leadership skills. 

 Along with multinational corporations that challenge the premier role of national governments in the international arena, multinational nonprofit networks have also become major actors on the global policy scene.  Despite their loose structure, the ability of these networks to mobilize constituencies from around the globe has caused the impact of these networks on both domestic and international policy to grow.  Multinational corporations have been increasingly vulnerable to forms of cross-national mobilization by nonprofits.  Through access to the press and networks of local activists, nonprofit organizations are increasingly in a position to hold the reputations of large multinational corporations hostage, inducing the corporations to take preemptive action to fend off the risk.

 Salamon asserted that, along with a number of other forces, the growth of nonprofit organizations is pushing government into a far different role: a role as orchestrator and collaborator rather than monopoly provider of public services. In other words, states will increasingly manage the activities of a range of non-state actors that provide services directly to citizens rather than attempt to provide all services itself.  Salamon contends that the impulse for this transformation has been both conceptual and practical, stemming from both a growing public frustration with the cost and effectiveness of exclusively governmental solutions to complex social, economic, and environmental problems and an ideological commitment to rely heavily on alternative arrangements to address public problems.  The result of this transformation has been a massive proliferation of new tools of public action including loans, grants, and vouchers.  Their indirect nature and their reliance on a host of third parties to carry out public functions characterize these new tools.  As major beneficiaries of this trend, nonprofit organizations have been instrumental in advocating programs that they then help to implement.  Nonprofits consequently function both as pressure groups pushing governments to act and as partners helping governments respond to the pressure.


Transnational Criminal Organizations and Networks

Louise Shelley described transnational criminal organizations and networks[10], warning that, since they are clandestine, knowledge concerning their operations is sketchy at best and would profit greatly from further research.  Despite the secrecy that surrounds them, transnational criminal organizations are known to be extensive, and they are growing.  Criminal networks are flexible and capable of rapidly changing structure to suit particular missions and activities.  Transnational criminal groups incorporate components of licit business (to facilitate money laundering, for example) as well as elements of state governments (to assist in conducting illicit activities with a minimum of interference).  In some countries, such as Japan and Italy, organized crime has developed along with the state.  In others, such as Colombia, the rise of organized crime has contributed to the collapse of state institutions and the rise of regional conflicts. 

Violence and corruption are two potent weapons of organized crime in their struggle with the state.  Politicians and law enforcers who subsequently rethink their relationships and crack down on crime groups are subject to particularly violent retaliation. But often collusive relationships are based on the corruption of public officials without any hint of violence.  The costs of corruption can be as high or higher than those of organized crime.  Corruption reduces the level of foreign direct investment and makes domestic firms more reliant on bank loans. Corrupt countries also have more volatile stock markets, more insider training and smaller capital markets.  Research commissioned by Transparency International reveals that the highest levels of corruption are in many of the transitional societies of the former socialist world and also in those with strong export dependence on oil such as Azerbaijan, Indonesia, and Nigeria, which rank as the most corrupted countries.

 The Internet has also proved to be a valuable tool of organized crime, which exploits forms of Internet communication because electronic messages leave no trace and are hard or impossible to trace to their point of origin.  Information technology enables criminal groups to operate across borders in an environment essentially free from government controls.

Shelley noted that organized crime might not be an unmitigated bad in some parts of the world.  The proceeds of organized crime may be repatriated and invested in the host country, providing capital for economic development.  On the other hand, criminal groups may repatriate little of their capital.  For instance, crime groups in Russia and other post-socialist countries usually export almost all of their profits, exacerbating capital flight problems.



Today the state is the dominant mega-form of political association. The nation-state has taken hold around most of the world and its future has become the focus of a heated debate. The disintegration of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia gave birth to a number of new nation-states. Continuing ethnic violence around the world will likely bring to life even more nation-states. On the other hand, the ever-closer integration of the expanding European Union signals a movement away from the nation-state.

A whole set of global and domestic players challenge the authority of the state - from its economic and military power to its ability to provide social services and education. The boom in information and biological technologies further impedes the state’s ability to control its population.

Even if in the near future the state remains the only form of political organization, it will certainly undergo transformations. Early 20th century perceptions of state-sovereignty, citizenship, nation, and inter-state relations will have to change and adapt to these new forces.

World affairs are conducted less and less in the chancellery, and more and more in the big international institutions like the WTO. Traditional negotiators have forsaken old-style diplomacy to become travelling salesmen. This brings risks for the internal cohesion of nations as well as for the prospect of a more harmonious global order.

Not so long ago economic power was seen as only one of the trump cards in the power game. Now the frenetic race for trade is all that counts. The action is taking place at the meetings of the G7, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The new diplomacy is trying to carve out markets for itself.

During the Southeast Asia financial crisis, the New York Times discussed the “firewall strategy” of former United States Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Whenever a country needed help, Rubin used American muscle to insist on rapid ultra-liberalization. Giving “the markets” what they wanted The USA state department believed that this kind of pressure prevents the spread of crisis and allows for predictability of future crises.

Unfortunately, rather than effective “firewalls”, there were fire sales of devalued national assets to predatory foreign firms, huge capital flight, and increased vulnerability. The story, similar to many earlier ones - Mexico and the Latin American debt mess, for example - shows how profoundly externally-imposed liberalization is reshaping global lives. It also underlines how much diplomacy has changed in recent decades.


Readings brought into text

1)  David E. Sanger, “The Firewall: Doubts About a Tactic to Contain Chaos”, The New York Times, 3 September 1998.

2)  Philippe Rivière, “How the United States spies on us all”, Le Monde diplomatique English edition, January 1999.

3)  “A Survey of the World Economy: The Future of the State”, The Economist, 20 September 1997.

4)  Samuel P. Huntington, “The Erosion of American National Interest”, Foreign Affairs, September-October 1997, p. 28.

5)  Inge Kaul, “The fairness revolution”, Le Monde diplomatique English edition, June 2000.


[1]-   See Gill, S. “New Constitutionalism, Democratisation and Global Political Economy”, in Pacifica Review 10, 1, 1998.


[2]-   (Viotti, P. and M. Kauppi, (eds.). 1987. “International Relations Theory”. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York).


[3]-   See Richard Rosecrance, “The Rise of the Virtual State: Wealth and Power in the Coming Century”, (New York: Basic Books, 1999).


[4]-   See John D. Steinbruner, “Principles of Global Security”, (Washington, DC: the Brookings Institution Press, 2000).


[5]-   See Lester Salamon, “Nonstate Actors on the Global Scene:  The Case of Civil Society Organizations”, paper prepared for the National Intelligence Council Project, April 18, 2000.


[6]-   See Stephen D. Krasner, “Sovereignty:  Organized Hypocrisy”, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).


[7]-   Krasner, op. cit.


[8]-   For additional information, see Virginia Haufler, “Identifying, Counting, and categorizing actors in the For-Profit Sector and Their Effects on State Capacity”, paper prepared for the National Council Project, April 18, 2000.


[9]-   Salamon, op. cit.


[10]-  For additional information, see Louise Shelley, “Identifying, Counting and Categorizing Transnational Criminal Organizations”, paper prepared for the National Intelligence Council Project.


العولمة وتقويض سيادة الدولة

بالطريقة نفسها، وإنما بنسبة مختلفة عن كل البلدان النامية أو المتطورة، تتعرّض سيادة لبنان للتقويض بفعل عدد من العوامل المرتبطة بأمور محلّية وإقليمية ودوليّة وبعملية العولمة التي تتقدّم بسرعة.
وقد كانت هذه العملية محط اهتمام كل حكومات العالم، وبخاصة في أوروبا والولايات المتحدة الأميركية والشرق الأوسط، من أجل التحقيق لمعرفة القوى التي تصوغ تطوّر الدويلة داخل الدولة.
بهدف تلخيص هذا المقال ليصبح بالإمكان فهمه جيداً، تم التغاضي عن العوامل المحلّية والإقليمية.
حدَّد الباحثون في العلوم السياسية، المهتمون بمصالح دولهم، العديد من الظروف التي أثّرت وقد تؤثر بقوّة في تطوّر الدويلة داخل الدولة في المستقبل في ضوء ضغوط العولمة ولكنهم لم يتوقعوا زوالها أو حتى تحوّلها الجذري. لقد ركّزوا بشكل عام على تكيُّفية الدولة كشكل من أشكال التنظيم السياسي.
في ظل تنوّع التأثيرات في هذا المجال لم يتوصّل الباحثون إلى تصوّر أي نتيجة غالبة، إنما تحرّوا بعض التغييرات الهامّة التي قد تنتج عن خمسة مصادر أساسية:
-1    عملية العولمة
-2    تطوّر المواقف السياسية
-3    نشاطات المنظمات غير التابعة للدولة
-4    المعايير الناشئة للأداء الحكومي
-5    التقييدات المحلية والإقليمية كما هي حالة لبنان.
إن النقاط السابقة الذكر تلقى إجماعاً بين صنّاع القرار والباحثين، ولكنها ليست عوامل حصريّة. وهذا ينطبق أيضاً على التوقعات التالية:
-1    ستبقى الدول اللاعب الأساسي الذي يتشارك السلطات مع لاعبين غير تابعين لهذه الدول في مجال الشؤون الدولية لعقدين آخرين على الأقل على الرغم من أن آراء الباحثين تتباين بشكل كبير.
-2    تطوّر عالم تعتمد عناصره بعضها على بعض سيخلق المزيد من المشكلات السيادية.
-3    البروز المتزايد للاعبين مؤثرين جدد غير تابعين للدولة وشبكاتهم سيزيد من التنافس مع الدولة على ولاء الناس في بعض المسائل.
-4    تتمتَّع الدول بالمرونة للتكيف مع الظروف المتغيرة بدلاً من تحكّم هذه الظروف بالدول.
كل هذه النقاط لها أهمّيتها، غير أنه نظراً إلى القدرات المتباينة بشكل كبير بين الدول وبخاصة لبنان وبلدان الشرق الأوسط ستتفاعل الدول مع العولمة ومع بروز المنظمات غير التابعة لهذه الدول بصورة مختلفة. ويبدو أن بعض الدول، وبالتحديد المتطورة منها، لديه أفضلية في هذا المجال.