Guyana Times Weekly Column The Economy & Finance JB’s Insight Author: JC. Bhagwandin Date: June 25, 2020 Article # 26/2020

The paradoxical evolution of the contextualisation of the term “Sovereignty” in an ever-increasing Globalised world: - understanding the paradigm shift of this phenomenon

Politicians and sections of society have been using the term “sovereignty” conveniently in different contexts, particularly in the case of Guyana wherein there is rising political tensions.  The country is yet to conclude its general and regional elections held on March 2, 2020. Notably, a number of advocacies within certain spheres of the political spectrum and the citizenry have been calling for the non-interference by foreigners and even Heads of Governments in the Caribbean Community on the Guyana elections fiasco.

In these respects, this author is of the view that there are symptoms mirroring the prerequisites of that which might enable a forceful illegal imposition of an official dictatorial regime. This assertion is premised from having carefully assessed the events that are unfolding within the political economy which are all well documented in the public domain in official media houses and on various social media platforms. It is against these backgrounds that have prompted this article to examine the various contextual constructs of the term sovereignty of a State, and, to bring about an understanding of the legitimate basis upon which the international and regional players have an integral role to play in ensuring that a government is elected on strict adherence to the democratic principles – especially bordering respect for the rule of law.

The concept of sovereignty is not neutral. Rather, it is used as a tool in a variety of contexts by political agents to establish and preserve their rule. Instances of competition and interdependence are relevant because they potentially threaten state survival. In these two instances, for example, there are five distinguished uses of sovereignty. Firstly, States use sovereignty for competitive advantage in situations of internal competition; secondly, sovereignty is used to temporarily subordinate the interest of citizens to those of the state in situations of external competition; thirdly, some states use sovereignty to reduce situations of interdependence. In a globalised world, however, this is rather less or infeasible. Fourth, sovereignty is sometimes used to conquer interdependence, yet, this may only be effective when a world-state is created, and fifth, states use sovereignty to manage interdependence (Veen, 2007).   The illustration below shows how some states choose to use sovereignty. The plotted positions do not imply that these different uses are mutually exclusive. Nonetheless, the conduct of some states suggests that they have a preferred usage of sovereignty as a tool (Veen, 2007).






Source: Veer (2007), College of Europe

Globalization is a historical process that has offered an abundance of opportunities and reward in the past and continue to so do today (Sen 2002a, cited by Khan, 2019). Economically and culturally, the modern world system existed more than five centuries ago. The late nineteenth century was characterised as the period of intense globalization, when millions migrated, trade greatly expanded, and new norms and organizations emerged to govern international conduct (Khan, 2019). Scholars have argued that the movement of people, goods, and finances across national borders was at least free and significant as it is today. Hence, today’s meaning of globalisation imposes limit on the power of governments (Micklethwait, 2000, cited by Khan, 2019).

The international system has become less a state-centric, coordinative mechanism than a collectivity of specialised transnational regimes that penetrates into the political constitution of domestic polities. Technological advancements have accelerated the migration and transplantation of legal rules and practices. Nonstate actors and cross-border social movements have become significant actors in international governance. They have assumed the power to create transnational law that governs many dimensions of the political economy that was previously monopolised by the jurisdiction of the sovereign state. Sovereignty is at the heart of both public and international law and the legal constitution of territorial state. Substantive changes in the international system unavoidably affect the shape of sovereignty and the future of State law (Khan, 2019).

Notwithstanding, cognisance need to be taken wherein states have a broader role to play in order to achieve the benefits most from the process of globalization. Countries, therefore, may require extensive institutional reforms to so do. Underdevelopment, for example in the case of Guyana, is the result of misuse of natural and human resources. Globalization in many cases offers the opportunity to reduce the misuse of resources and promotes its efficient use. At the end, however, proper development still remains in the hands of the people and the States whereas the process of globalisation can serve as the ultimate catalyst (Khan & Alam, 2015).

In forthcoming articles, the author shall examine the impact of globalisation over the last two – three decades in Guyana and the future prospects of Globalisation in shaping a transformed economic landscape from a developing economy to a developed economy.


About the Author:

  1. Bhagwandin is a macro-finance and research analyst, lecturer and business & financial consultant. The views expressed are exclusively his own and do not necessarily represent those of this newspaper and the institutions he represents. For comments, send to


Eric. C, 2010, Globalisation and the future of the law of Sovereign State, Oxford University Press and New York University School of Law.

Khan. A & Alam. M, 2015, Rethinking Nation-State in Era of Globalisation, Journal of International Relations, Vol. VI, No.6.

Veen. V, 2007, the Valuable Tool of Sovereignty: its use of situations in competition and interdependence, College of Europe.