The Westphalian system came about because of the peace treaties of Westphalia and Osnabruck in 1648 that officially marked the end of the 30 years war that destroyed a larger part of Europe between 1618 and 148. It is viewed that the treaties did not only end the war but also triggered the beginning of a new international system considered as the foundation of the present-day nation state system based on sovereignty often referred to as the Westphalian system (Zwierlein, 2013. 38, 1, pp. 65-95)
The Westphalian model and sovereignty have been key debated issues since it is claimed that the peace of Westphalia denotes important changes in various characteristics of the state system at the time that it was adapted to the modern political situations. McGrew, in his view, points out that the peace treaties are responsible for the present-day statehood and current world politics. Miller also agrees to McGrew’s assertion and relates the treaties to the current European systems (Haslam 76, 3, p. 619). However, Krasner’s opinion contrasts these former ideas. Teschke also rejects the idea that the treaties symbolized the beginning of transformation to modernity.
The major questions that are yet to be answered are; did the events of 1648 result in the Westphalian model? Did it bring the decisive changes for the current political systems? Did the model ever exist at all? It should be noted that the principles of the model include sovereignty, autonomy and territoriality. Some individuals argue that 1648 is a mythical belief and that nations have neither been sovereign nor entities separated exclusively by territory (Navari, 2007. 33, 4, pp. 577-595) These individuals also argue that the principle of self-determination has to-date been an illusion. Krasner’s argument has been profound on the contemporary European Union and humanitarian interventions. In addition, Krasner asserts that the transition from an olden to the current systems of state do not have it origin form one single event, but rather several interrelated events. He further argues that the transition into modern state system carried the occurrence of several events that took quite a long time, which he approximates to be two centuries. In order to prove that the idea of one event was incorrect, Teschke developed a social property relations theory, which he argues presents the process as having taken place before 1648 all through several years and even proceeded after this year. This theory disputed Miller’s claim on the decentralized system of state because of the treaties to be mythical.
The myth of sovereignty, self-determination and territoriality
Krasner in his opinion regards the assertion that sovereign rights of a state fully command a distinctive territory as a myth. He argues that the movement of goods, people, finance, information and ideas has always existed and therefore the idea of sovereignty is untrue. Krasner further emphasized his assertion with the European imperialism and colonialism in the 17th and 19th centuries and the Africa’s division by European powers (Saeidi, 2006. 15, 2, pp. 11-25). By acquiring these new land lands, the principles of sovereignty and self-determination were severely contradicted. To further support Krasner’s idea, for example, the recent intervention on Libya’s case, in trying to stop the human rights violation in the country, by the international community disregards the principles of sovereignty and self-determination. In 1998, NATO secretary general at that time argued that the principles of humanity and democracy were irrelevant to the former Westphalian model (Ringmar, 2012, 66, 1, pp. 1-25). Krasner also asserts that the declarations of United Nations on Human Rights outline the appropriate collection of rights referred to as the human rights that should be granted regardless of the policies of the governments to which they belong (Moore, 2009. 44, 3, pp. 497-511).
The European Union contradicts the view of sovereignty of the nations. The EU has a concept of shared sovereignty also is against the sovereignty and territoriality principles of the Westphalian model. The EU’s court of justice breaks the principle of national jurisdiction, which only operates in predetermined boundaries. A common market that allows for free movement of labor, goods, services, capital and other factors of production are considered by Krasner to counter Miller’s assertion (Caporaso, 2000. 2, 2, p. 1).
Teschke in his opinion disagrees with the Westphalian model. However, he confirms that 17th century England demarked the beginning of change in the formation of the current state systems. He argues that no single event or particular date can be specified to have been the commencement of a new era (Osiander, 2001. 55, 2, pp. 251-287). He cites England since it experienced its initial agrarian revolution in the 16th and 17th century. It also changed its leadership style from the dynastic to parliamentary sovereignty. These several ideas of Teschke complemented those of Krasner in disputing Miller’s theory.
The peace treaties of 1648 led to the assertion of Westphalian model. According to this model, the states had the principles of territoriality, sovereignty, equality, legality and self-determination. From Krasner’s point of view, the model is an untrue assertion for most states and in his examples, he clarifies that the above principles do not apply to most of the modern states. Teschke, also seconds the Krasner’s idea by explaining that the model is not responsible for the current state, and that the current state systems were not brought about by a single event and that a specific date cannot be identified to be the commencement of the transition, but several events that took place over a long period.
The study of international relations is important in helping the learners understand international relations such as diverse economics, law, ethics, strategy, philosophy, environment and culture.
Haslam, J n.d., 'Sovereignty (Book Review)', International Affairs, 76, 3, p. 619, SocINDEX with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 February 2013.
Cohan, J 2006, 'SOVEREIGNTY IN A POSTSOVEREIGN WORLD', Florida Journal Of International Law, 18, 3, pp. 907-961, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 February 2013.
Puscas, I 2009, 'On Vulnerability in the South: Sovereignty in the Post-Colonial Space', Alternatives: Turkish Journal Of International Relations, 8, 4, pp. 79-93, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 February 2013.
Moore, T 2009, 'Violations of Sovereignty and Regime Engineering: A Critique of the State Theory of Stephen Krasner', Australian Journal Of Political Science, 44, 3, pp. 497-511, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 February 2013.
Caporaso, JA 2000, 'Changes in the Westphalian Order: Territory, Public Authority, and Sovereignty', International Studies Review, 2, 2, p. 1, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 February 2013.
Osiander, A 2001, 'Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth', International Organization, 55, 2, pp. 251-287, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 February 2013.
Saeidi, S 2006, 'International Political System and the Westphalian Paradigm: a Call for Revision', DOMES: Digest Of Middle East Studies, 15, 2, pp. 11-25, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 February 2013.
Navari, C 2007, 'States and State Systems: Democratic, Westphalian or Both?', Review Of International Studies, 33, 4, pp. 577-595, EconLit with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 February 2013.
Ringmar, E 2012, 'Performing International Systems: Two East-Asian Alternatives to the Westphalian Order', International Organization, 66, 1, pp. 1-25, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 February 2013.
Zwierlein, C 2013, 'Security Politics and Conspiracy Theories in the Emerging European State System (15th/16th c.)', Historical Social Research, 38, 1, pp. 65-95, SocINDEX with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 February 2013.