Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Jacobs Elements of Sovereignty

The Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, declares that the entities that were English colonies in America were now "free and independent States." Those thirteen States eventually formed the sovereign nation we know as the United States of America. The United States regarded itself as a federation of sovereign States, with the federation itself as a sovereign nation among the nations of the world.

But what does it mean to be a sovereign state? What is sovereignty?

One way of defining sovereignty is to list its elements. Sovereignty is not really an all-or-nothing affair. An individual nation can be more or less sovereign, depending on the elements of sovereignty it retains.

If we are going to study globalization to determine what we should be doing about it, we need to figure out politically what is happening. In large part, globalization is the process of the degrading of the sovereignty of individual nations and the transferring of elements of sovereignty from the nation-state to other nations or supranational organizations.

So, let's declare a list of the elements of sovereignty (including overlapping elements to help in articulation) to aid us in this analysis. I will give it a label, as selfish as it is, since references to this list in future postings and discussions outside this blog will make further discussions clearer and references easier. Forgive me.

The Jacobs Elements of Sovereignty.

I declare that the fully sovereign nation has:

1. Exclusive power to tax its own citizens living in its territory and transactions originating or occurring within its territory.

2. Exclusive power to set and maintain tariffs on goods entering into or leaving its territory.

3. Exclusive power to make its own money and to regulate the use of money in its territory (Example: U.S. requires purchase of U.S.-based stocks in U.S. dollars.).

4. Exclusive power to have and control its own military and internal police force.

5. Exclusive power to jail its own citizens living in its territory and the right to prohibit other outside countries or international organizations from jailing its resident citizens or taking its citizens away.

6. Exclusive power to make and control its own domestic policy including the control of its own culture.

7. Exclusive power to make and control its own foreign policy.

8. Exclusive power to make and control its own governmental structure and systems.

9. Exclusive power to control its own natural resources.

10. Power to establish how its government will be involved in its society instead of having such involvement dictated by treaties or other nations or supranational organizations.

11. Exclusive power to control immigration to, emigration from, and residency in its territory.

12. Freedom from remedies against the sovereign nation for violation of treaties with outsiders except such action as may be taken by the outsider or outsiders without the consent of the sovereign. (This is unlike contracts between non-sovereign or less-sovereign entities that are subject to a higher third party, such as a court or tribunal, to impose remedies upon proven breaches.)

13. (Speaking in religious terms) Authority coming directly from God rather than through another nation or entity.

So this is a pretty good list of the elements of sovereignty. Getting a handle on these elements will help us to analyze globalization through the lens of sovereignty and should help us to figure out what political structures, rights, and processes we should put in place now to get ready for the coming Leviathan of one world government and its precursors and approximations.

More later . . .


Anonymous said...

You've excluded the responsibilities of sovereignty in this global age. At the 2005 World Summit, governments adopted in the Outcome Report that sovereignty by definition included a responsibility to protect those within its territory or otherwise under its jurisdiction. Failure to act on this responsibility delegated the responsibility to do so to the international community, through intervention if necessary.

Global Observer said...

Thanks to Anonymous for his/her thoughtful comment. The Jacobs Elements of Sovereignty detail powers of sovereignty. The beg the question: What are the responsibilities of sovereignty? And, if those responsibilities are not fulfilled, what are the powers of other nation-states or international organizations to intervene?

dilbertgeg said...

From what Trilateralists like Joseph Nye say -- and I think I agree -- there will NOT be some global parliamentary form of govt.

What there will be -- and this has been growing for 50 - 100 years -- is the growth of institutions to manage Global Trade between countries and amongst Multi-National Corporations.

MNCs themselves violate National Sovereignty to a degree, but many people would claim that these are just 'free enterprise'. Not one corporation can exist without a govt, by definition.

Should global trade be managed or unmanaged? More importantly, will ONLY the interests of profit and growth be represented, or will *other* interests such as that of ordinary persons be represented?

A no-governance wild west situation where MNCs run amok (as they have been doing in the Third World) is as perilous as some total governance model.

A big fear is that HUMANS will be increasingly trapped by authoritarian controls and the need for permits to travel, while CORPORATIONS will be de-regulated and "fast-tracked". Ironically, the logic of many conservatives is that this radical development is just dandy.