7 Main Reasons for the Decline of Nation State System

U.R. Ghai in his “International Politics: Theory and Practice” has listed following factors giving “setbacks for the traditional state centric international system:

(1) Increased Interdependence:

The age of mass production resulting from advances registered in scientific, technological and industrial spheres, the consequent possibility of meeting the increased demands for socio-economic welfare of the people, the communications revolution, increased mobility of the people all over the globe, etc. have all combined to provide for increased and ever increasing international interdependence.

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This has compelled the nation-states to enter into increased international intercourse. Each nation-state finds itself now interdependent upon others just as others depend upon it.

The rich states are dependent upon the poor for purchasing raw materials and selling the finished products and the poor states cannot meet the demands of their populations without depending upon the rich states.

(2) Nationalistic Universalism:

In this age of internationalism, the nation-state finds it essential to formulate the goals of its national interests in such a way as can help the achievement of universally recognized objectives of international relations.

Even the powerful actors, including the two super powers, now find it impossible to ignore the need for efforts towards arms control and disarmament even while these continue to remain involved in an arms race.

(3) Trends towards International (regional) Integration:

The economic integration of Western European states (with single European currency and banking system), the attempt at regional economic/ integration of the ASEAN states, the emergence of SAARC, the emergence of a large number of regional organizations-defence oriented as well as a functional, the rise of a large number of global organizations actively engaged in promoting socio­economic cultural cooperation among the nation- states, the stability of the United Nations and an increasing realization about its utility as a shared organisation, the trend towards institutionalization of bilateral as well as regional relations, the strength of the international movements like Afro-Asian solidarity movement and Non-aligned Movement, the consolidation of the Third World, the growing signs of an European Union consisting of both Western and Eastern European nations etc., all such developments indicate the increased community consciousness among the people of the World.

The national boundaries are no longer regarded absolutely sacred and essential for human well being. Such a feeling has played an important role in diluting nationalism in favour of internationalism or at least universalistic nationalism.

(4) The Nuclear Age and its Impact:

The emergence of the nuclear weapons has seriously affected the nation-state. A modem nation-state finds itself incapable of providing security to its people from a possible nuclear war.

The non-nuclear states today find themselves defenseless against the threats of a nuclear war. The nuclear powers have the means, rather the overkill capacity, and yet they find it difficult to use it to securing their desired goals.

(5) Limitations on National Power:

Rise of World Public Opinion, codification of International Law and its increased role; a strong movement in favour of disarmament and arms control etc. have been a source of big limitation on the national power of a state in contemporary era of international relations.

The nation-state finds it very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve its desired goals of national interests by the use of force/war in international relations.

(6) The Erosion of the concept of sovereign Equality of the Nation-states:

In contemporary times the U.S.A., Russia, Britain, France and China as nuclear powers holding the veto power in the U.N. Security Council, Japan and Germany as the two new economically and technologically advanced states and other four or five local leviathans are the main actors. Most of the smaller states are either totally or partially dependent upon the rich, developed and powerful nations.

The control that the U.S.A. enjoys over international economic institutions clearly gives it an edge over other states. Hence equality of all nation-states has not been an operational principle. It is true only in theory.

(7) Rise of several powerful Non-state Actors:

The rise of several powerful non-state actors like the Multinational Corporations, has still adversely affected the nation-state system. These non-state actors, called as transnational, non-government, or multinational actors, are formed by private companies or people living in different parts of the world for carrying out a particular trade or production and distribution of goods and services.

These are not formally associated with the governments of the states whose people/companies join hands to establish them.