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Interconnection and Sovereignty

Interconnection and Sovereignty

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand that a major source of contemporary international conflict is the tension between interconnection between nations and issues of national sovereignty

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Video Transcription

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One of the major sources of contemporary conflict in today's world is the growing tension between nations over issues of national sovereignty. I'm Marlene, and I'd like to take up that subject with you today.

So I have three words here on the whiteboard. Sovereignty, interconnectedness, and globalization. Now, sovereignty, of course, does refer to the right of any nation, any recognized nation, to decide its own policies and laws. So within the borders of any particular country, that country's government gets to decide what those laws are.

Interconnection, however, refers to and recognizes that the decisions of any one country are going to impact not only the countries next to that country, but could have global impacts in both formal or informal ways because of how connected we've grown as a world.

So for example, we are very connected through business trade and business travel. We do more and more business with one another globally. In fact, there are companies that are moving manufacturing and business offices to another country and doing a lot of their business in that country, which, of course, leads to even more business travel.

We also have tourism. A lot of tourist travel. You have a citizen from one country visiting another country, and, of course, while in that country, they follow the rules of that country. But should there be any altercation, some legal issue arise, the two countries would be dealing with one another because the citizen of one is in this other country being affected by that country's laws.

So these are just some examples of the interconnection in today's world. And globalization, of course, refers to the increasing connection we have between countries. And with the internet and increased communication and social media, we even see this growing more and more.

We are just a second away from knowing what's happening around the world. In fact, the whole Arab Spring revolution was Tweeted, and people found out about it on social media. And there was numerous responses to what was happening over in the Mideast from other nations not only right in that area, but around the globe.

So we're very interconnected in this world, and it can impact issues of national sovereignty. Now, the environment, human rights, and economy are all elements here that can be affected.

So if we were to look at human rights, for example, you have a country that says they have a sovereign right to deal with people in their country the way they see that it's right to do so according to their worldview. But this could lead to discrimination against women and minorities, and we've certainly seen that in countries.

And these discriminatory tactics can escalate. And sometimes there can be a full-out war against particular ethnic minorities. There can be gross human rights violations. And the world community does not stand by when this happens, because human rights are considered a universal value that go beyond the borders of any one nation.

So you'll have countries coming together, many times under the auspices of the UN, to step in when we see atrocities being committed against women or minorities in a particular nation. And we will say-- well, technically, of course, this country is going to say they have the right to do what they're doing, but the world will stand up and say, no. We are taking a stand against this and respond to respond in any number of ways.

There are trade embargoes. If any one country maybe is giving aid to that particular nation that's violating human rights, they may cut off the aid. There could be tariffs imposed. And in some cases, the nations may come together, perhaps under the auspices of the UN, and actually send in troops to stop the killing, to stop the human rights genocide in some cases.

So we've seen this happen. We've heard about this in the news in various instances. So that's one example of how our interconnectedness across the globe can cause responses from nations against the sovereign decisions of any one particular country.

Now, environment is another. We have, say, a country, a developing country, that wants to grow its economy and has begun manufacturing and does not have regulations in place to control carbon emissions. So there are climate concerns, there's pollution concerns, and particularly from the countries right around this nation there may be complaints and concerns.

But increasingly there will be globally as the world looks on and sees that there are impacts here on the rest of the world resulting from the sovereign decisions made by this particular nation who will most likely stand up and say-- speak up for themselves and say-- we have a right to do this. You can't tell us we can't develop industry, we can't manufacture. This is our right. It's our sovereign right.

Whereas other nations then will be protesting that decision because of the impact. We can also see this with economies. Just economic policies in particular countries may make it easier or more favorable for some countries to do business there. So they, of course, do business, and it may even lead to outsourcing.

We've heard a lot about outsourcing jobs to other countries, which of course can lead to internal conflicts within the country that is doing that when people lose jobs. And this is happening, of course, because of the interconnection and the economic policies of a particular country that is making it favorable for a particular business to do this.

So the economy, human rights, environment, these are all areas where the decisions of any one nation are going to have impacts, both formal and informal, on other countries. So how does conflict resolution fit in here? Well, it does fit in in that you can see there are attempts made to resolve these conflicts in a way that involves conflict resolution, peaceful mediation, between parties.

Because the issues really are the same as they would be in an interpersonal conflict, albeit much more complex involving many more people and maybe very hardened positions in some case. But the issues here, in terms of conflict resolution, remain the same.

So you can see mediation. You may have two countries who are having, say, an environmental dispute, and you may have mediation going on between those countries. Perhaps they've sent in negotiators for a particular country that both of the nations here, who are in conflict over particular policy, feel friendly towards. So there may be a negotiator or a mediator from that nation coming in to conduct a mediation or conduct discussions.

There's also shuttle diplomacy where you actually have a negotiator or a mediator, conflict intervenor, going between countries and maybe meeting separately with them and bringing back agreements and questions and things to be discussed by both sides.

So these are examples of what we see on a world scale. Mediation, negotiation, shuttle diplomacy, all being used as conflict resolution methods to work with decisions made but sovereign nations that may be impacting other nations globally.

So thank you for joining me, and I look forward to next time.

Terms to Know

A term used to describe increasing interconnection between countries.


In international conflict, the understanding that the decisions of one country have an impact on other countries through various kinds of formal and informal relationships.


The established right of a recognized government to determine internal policy and law of its country.