Earl Conteh-Morgan


The contemporary international system is characterized by change and continuity in fundamental socio-political processes and economic relationships that constitute the foundation on which state and non-state interactions unfold. In particular, post-Cold War fin de siècle international politics, rather than producing a new era of global peace, economic prosperity, and symmetrical interdependence, is instead characterized by a widening scope and intensity of geopolitical fluidity and socio-economic effervescence which tend either to (1) undermine state sovereignty, (2) assail human rights practices, or (3) impel the key actors (great powers and major international organizations) of the international system to adopt a foreign policy posture of Aintervention@ with the goal of managing the global political economy. The ever-increasing negative effects of transnational social forces tend to generate the pervasive force of a liberal cosmopolitan moral view of international relations that increasingly sanctions both military and non-military interventions to maintain the existing structure of states and international society. The consequence is that states, in particular weak developing states, are progressively losing their individual identities, rights, and obligations vis-à-vis civil society, in the wake of the external impositions. In other words, the high incidence of violent ethnopolitical conflicts as well as the dislocative effects of weak developing economies are increasingly undermining the twin pillars of non-intervention and state sovereignty. Conflict/peacekeeping interventions and economic dislocation/external policy impositions now constitute the most formidable sources of assault on the decision-making autonomy, territorial integrity, and overall sovereignty of the developing state.

Essentially, the overall objective of this paper is to utilize arguments and perspectives from Gramscian theorists, world systems analysts, and the neo-Marxist literature to show how the developing state=s sovereignty is being assailed by various transnational developments such as (1) the expansion and internationalization of peacekeeping/humanitarian intervention efforts, or (2) newly emerging power relationships and structures that derive from crisis in politico-economic systems, especially in developing states. The relationship between developing state sovereignty and national/global systemic forces could be understood more fully by examining the latter=s impact on issues that generate external interventions.

The conceptualization of intervention in this analysis is broad and includes both coercive/military forms of intervention, and non-military/consensual forms of intervention. Interventions, even when consensual, often have serious human rights implications because of their tendency to subvert the managerial capacity of the state vis-à-vis the welfare of its citizens (Cox, 1981; Szentes 1988). An example of such an intervention in the area of economic policy is the coercive consensual relationship or consensual domination of the developing state by great powers and International Financial Institutions (IFIs). In post-Cold War international society military-strategic-defensive issues are rapidly giving way to socio-economic globalization processes. As a result, non-military forms of intervention by great powers and IFIs on developing state sovereignty are increasingly becoming a moral problem, as manifested in the reaction of large segments of developing state civil society to external economic impositions, such as IMF conditionalities.

In particular, the focus of this paper will revolve around two dimensions of transnational/ global developments that threaten the managerial autonomy of the developing state. The first of these dimensions is the changed nature of conflict in the international system as manifested in the rise in internal, intrastate violence as opposed to inter-state conflicts which undermine the sovereignty of the state and produce external peacekeeping interventions. The second dimension is the economic dislocative effects of rapid globalization processes and deepening market forces that impel the intervention of IFIs in developing state economies, thereby destabilizing the Asocial contract@ between state and citizens. In other words, to what extent do violent conflicts within developing states and interventions by external actors undermine the national sovereignty of the state? Or to what extent do IMF/World Bank policy impositions affect the capacity of the state to provide for the socio-economic welfare of its citizens? The issues of intra-state conflict/intervention and economic impositions will be used as a body of empirical evidence to illustrate the primary features of a declining developing state sovereignty, and its implications for human rights practice.

Transnational Forces and the State: An Overview

There are three dimensions relevant to the analysis of socio political and economic developments at the global level that adversely affect the developing state=s sovereignty. The first is the practical-conjunctural level viewed in terms of intentional human agency (Robinson, 1996; Wallersten, 1970). At this level, it is important to draw the distinction between means (which are policies) and ends (which are interests), and to recognize the tactical nature of many policy related disputes between the developing state and external actors over the most effective means of achieving ends. The second dimension is the underlying global structure in which states and groups engage with the broader world system. Analysis at this level is structural analysis. Structure shapes and conditions events and activities at the state level, often apart from intentionality. The third dimension refers to processes in international society which straddle both the practical-conjunctural and the underlying global structure. The third dimension, interconnecting the other two levels of analysis, it enables analysts to identify mechanisms that monitor functionalist teleology.

Institutionalization is an integral aspect of the Gramscian notion of hegemony because institutions (whether political-military, or socio-economic) provide the systemic legitimacy for dealing with conflicts either coercively or through peaceful means (Gramsci, 1971). The underlying structure of interstate relations intrinsically involves an enforcement potential under the control of the powerful nations. Consequently, there are two distinct forms of Great Power-weak state relations: coercive and consensual. In the latter sense, strong states exercise leadership over weak states by gaining their perennial consent. To a large degree the use of force is obviated to the extent that the developing state submits to the prevailing power relations. Continuous submission is enhanced by the fact that the dominant states are willing to make concessions and implement implement policy adjustments, both of which from time to time help to alleviate the politico-economic burdens of the weak states. Institutions provide the legitimacy of power relations, articulate the hegemonic mission of the powerful, and appeal for the cooperation of the weak. For example, images of proper global economic relations have been institutionalized and universalized by institutions such as the IMF, GATT (WTO), and the World Bank. Similarly, institutional provisions for dealing with intractable and extensive conflict situations are located within the jurisdiction of the UN Security Council, and more recently within regional security organizations like NATO and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Developments are underway to make regional organizations, like the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Organization of American States (OAS), more responsive to peacekeeping interventions. Thus hegemony, comprised of both coercive and consensual relations, helps to cement and legitimize, internationalize, and disseminate the prevailing moral and cultural values, of the dominant states. The hegemonic functions of the great powers, with the Aconsent@ of the weak states, create functional unity in a system of diversity.

To a large extent, then, subordinate states either give Aunwilling consent@ or Avoluntary consent@ to the social logic imposed on specific issues by the strong states. Accordingly, social forces that commence within the powerful states soon spill over into weak states, and the policy implications or adaptive mechanisms that accompany them are imposed upon or integrated into the political economy of the weak states. The socio-political developments produced by the dynamics of the economic system in turn generate institutions and policy changes that determine world orders (Colcough, C, & J. Manor, 1991; UNRISD, 1995; Toulmin, 1992). Stated differently, economic crises and political transformations generate new policy imperatives and/or social forces, which in turn bring about changes in the structure of states and their relationship with civil society. For example, the transnational social forces unleashed by both the Cold War competition and post-Cold War era influence state structures both at their core and periphery. In other words, changes in systemic polarity spawn forces that influence state structures, underscoring the fact that state structures are largely a reflection of existing forces and a particular structure of world order.

A world hegemony in this sense is thus the result of the individual and collective social forces of the dominant advanced industrial states. The IFIs, the culture, the technology, and other entities associated with this collective hegemony constitute guidelines for development models in developing states. Such a collective hegemony could have a profound effect on the lives of groups in poor countries. In his analysis of world hegemony, Robert Cox makes reference to the effect hegemony has on peripheral states as a passive revolution:

A world hegemony is thus in its beginnings an outward expansion of the internal (national) hegemony established by a dominant social class. The economic and social institutions, the culture, the technology associated with this national hegemony become patterns for emulation abroad. Such an expansive hegemony impinges on the more peripheral countries as a passive revolution. These countries have not undergone the same thorough social revolution, nor have their economies developed in the same way, but they try to incorporate elements from the hegemonic model with disturbing old power structures....In the world hegemonic model, hegemony is more intense and consistent at the core and more laden with contradictions at the periphery (Cox. 1996:137).

The near policy convergence among advanced industrial countries in this post-Cold War era, unifies socio-economic and political structures of this collective hegemony into a system of universal norms, institutions, and mechanisms. This system spells out general rules of national and international behavior for both states and national actors whose activities transcend national boundaries. In short, these rules further institutionalize further institutionalize dominant modes of socio-political and economic interactions.

The pervasive effects of core collective hegemony, however, subvert the developing state=s monopoly of legitimate and autonomous decision-making within its own territory. The rules that core states have developed, upheld, and institutionalized help to maintain and deepen the marginalization of the developing state. Because these norms and rules (both international law and less formal rules) are largely handed down to them, the developing states undergo a process of socialization involving both Acoerced consent@ and voluntary internalization. States that deliberately challenge these transnational interstate rules are viewed as a threat to world order and its juridical foundation. Such states could be labeled pariahs, rogues, or outlaws and face politico-economic sanctions from other states and dominant non-state actors (Armstrong, 1993; Beckman, 1992).

The developing state can share, although Aunwillingly@, in some developments that affect national political economies, often unwilling to reverse asymmetrical relationships with developed countries, or outrightly reject adverse policy impositions from supranational institutions. For example, the developing states of the international system attempted to reconstruct the international system in the mid 1970s (NIEO demands), but failed because of their weakness. In other words, fundamental transformation can only occur in international systems through a process in which normative change in states= relations is transmitted to the international stage by powerful states or some hegemon, be it military, economic, political, or cultural. Because of powerful states and IFIs, for example, international systemic structures are not immutable, but rather the very structures are dependent for their modification or reproduction on the practices and changing institutions of these key actors. Fundamental change in the international system occurs when principal actors, through changes in their interests, power or practices, change the rules and norms that underlie international relations. In essence, changes in the practice of these hegemonic international actors depend on changes in the practices of their key domestic actors--individuals, power elite, and civil society in general (Gill, 1995; Ruggie, 1982). Thus profound developments in international relations can occur when beliefs and identities of key domestic entities in advanced industrial countries are altered, thereby also altering the norms and rules that are constitutive of international relations, often quite independent of both domestic and international actors of weak states. For example, the end of the Cold War, accelerated by changes (perestroika, glasnost) in the Soviet Union, resulted in changing the nature, scope, and intensity of violent conflict in many developing states; spawned new conflicts as well; these changes ushered in a period of democratization urged on the developing states by the powerful actors.

Impelled by its marginal status in the international system, the developing world has often challenged Western European concepts of international law and human rights (Lissitzyn, 1963). From the point of view of developing states, international law was originally created to protect and reflect the class and state interests of the former colonial masters and contains little or no substantive content of equity and justice when extended to Asia, Africa, or Latin-America. In the latter cases, international law was frequently used as an instrument for the protection of the private economic interests of the powerful Western states. Key international institutions (the IMF, World Bank, or WTO), which are a reflection of international law, are the glue for safeguarding the global politico-economic structure that ensures the dominance of the advanced industrial states. In spite of the differences in interests, culture, and levels of education among these developing states, they all invariably exhibit tendencies of resentment toward international law. The underlying reasons for such resentment include foreign domination, attitudes of superiority by the Western countries, the status of dependent developing states, and their general adverse experiences within the international legal framework of the Westphalian state system (Oppenheim, 1955; Brierly, 1963). Nonetheless, in varying degrees, the developing states participate in the development and codification of international law. They resort to its norms in disputes with other states and in deliberations in international organizations, while at the same time complaining about the overwhelming dominance of advanced industrial states in key international organizations like the IMF and the World Bank.

Because of the perceptible current of discontent expressed by developing states about traditional international law, many observers often advocate the further development of international law so that it would play a more meaningful role in North-South relations. The understanding that international law needs to be further developed, coupled with the constant concessions made by the North towards the South, is a recognition that the traditional norms of international law do not necessarily serve the needs and aspirations of the developing states. In particular, some of the requirements of the international institutions that reinforce the traditional norms of international law are often too painful when applied to developing societies.

On a more general level, international law, either intentionally or by accident, reinforced an international division of labor. In the process of global capital accumulation that accompanied the modern world system, benefits accrued unequally among nations creating a North-South gap in power, wealth, and prestige (Wallerstein, 1970; Amin, 1974; Sunkel, O. & Fuenzalida, Edmundo R.; 1979). The ensuing process of uneven development and asymmetry has proved to be a constraint on the decisional latitude of the developing state. Within a single global economy the periphery, satellite, or underdeveloped states have been penetrated and influenced, balkanized, and even imposed upon in the capitalist process of surplus extraction from the South to the North. Consequently, systemic struggles over the appropriation of wealth take place between and within nations, with the developing states at the poor receiving end of an asymmetric relationship. Changes in North-South relations automatically generate changes in national political economies of the South. In particular, globalization processes, as aspects of a new phase of capitalism, are transforming rather than merely having a marginal effect on all political ingredients in capitalist relations between North and South. Consequently there is an apparent tradeoff between equality/welfare and efficiency/privatization. The transnationalization of the state which produced intensive and extensive internationalization embedded in globalization processes, networks, and discourses, is threatening the sovereign state by making it nearly impossible for the state to perform its civic socio-economic and welfare functions. A further deepening and intensification of globalization processes could make the developing state meaningless or obsolete (O=Brien, 1992; Weber, 1995; Strange, 1996; Friedman, 1992).

In the developing state, state sovereignty and the authority and legitimacy that go with it are not always recognized by the overwhelming majority of individuals and non-state collectivities. The sovereignty principle and even its practice seem fated to be constrained and undermined at the international level, and it is difficult to see how the weak developing state will regain what it has lost. Although sovereign authority is not the same as the capacity to control everything, it is nonetheless challenged in many parts of the world. Most, if not all, of contemporary national struggles are struggles in which groups (guerilla forces or ethnic insurgency) are pitted against the state because of the desire to ensure group security or self-actualization. The clear challenge to the state that is revealed by such struggles is, perhaps, the final and most convincing evidence that the force of globalization, coupled with the loosening of hegemonic (spheres of influence) ties between great and small states, is a significant factor in rendering the state unacceptable or an obstacle to many groups. As group frustration intensifies, it escalates to violent outbursts which in some cases produce external intervention, and a further diminution of state sovereignty assailed from both within and without. Accordingly, peacekeeping interventions develop within the context of transnational political processes and an extended view of the nation that transcends territorial integrity and the sanctity of the doctrine of state sovereignty.

Conflicts and Peacemaking Interventions

While traditional international relations characterizes the international system as one of anarchy, classical conceptions of state structure tend to assume that in a territory comprised of people, sovereignty, and an effective government, domestic anarchy or state collapse will be forestalled (Bull, 1984; Waltz, 1979). Yet, the experience of the post-Cold War era, in particular, is characterized by centrifugal forces of violent ethnonationalism related to normative concerns of human rights and democratization that in turn spawn responses (for example peacekeeping interventions) from the international system. These interventions reflect a shift away from a strict adherence to the doctrine of state sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention. The widening scope and intensity of violent conflicts that produce great power and UN-sanctioned interventions in civil wars underscore the fact that principles, doctrines, and practices institutionalized through constant application, may be modified, violated, or changed in response to systemic disequilibrium. Such changes are made in response to the increased concern for the international or national protection of human rights: an idea that gained increased concern after 1945. Furthermore, such ideational developments that are transformed into new practices that violate existing modus operandi may originate from purely internal developments (for example, the clamor for democratization that produces violent civil conflicts), or from external developments and changing conceptions of policy such as the indexing of democratization to IMF conditionalities. Interventions, whether coercive or non-coercive, are undertaken by the key actors as part of the twin functions of Asocialization@ and Ahomogenization@ of international society.

Ideational change and international practice regarding intervention to protect human rights were spawned by the end of the Cold War and the turbulence of that era. Internally, developing state sovereignty is assailed by ethnopolitical and other challenges to the state, and externally, by the international response to intense civil strife that results in genocide and massive suffering. The great powers under the umbrella of the UN have now extended their peacekeeping operations to include interventions in civil wars. The end of great-power ideological rivalry has produced unity in the pursuit of systemic stability and greater international cooperation under the auspices of the UN and other international mechanisms. The outcome is greater international social control by great powers and the UN Security Council over developing states. A critical element in Gramscian thought is the idea of social control which takes place on two levels: in civil society and political society (the state) (Robinson, 1996; Aguelli, E. & Murphy, C., 1988). In cases like Yugoslavia, Somalia, Angola, and Rwanda, where at some point social control through the state (political society) has been lost, a rejuvenated and ascendant Security Council, coupled with a dominant rich North, can exercise their hegemonic functions by arresting total state disintegration through peacekeeping interventions.

Internally, the state is being challenged by what D. Horowitz has described as the Apowerful, permeative, passionate, and pervasive,@ (Horowitz, 1985; Levinson, 1993:4) force of ethnonationalism. The constant struggle for power and resources in many resource-starved nations has produced a situation in which ethnic groups have resorted to pressure politics and coalition-building as a means of gaining political and economic power. Intractable and protracted conflicts have an especially destabilizing effect on the nation-state. Although conflict resolution efforts do sometimes produce formal accords, they rarely yield long-term peace and harmony. The duration, intensity, and scope of these violent conflicts have led to near-state collapse and some state failures. These consequences stem from the passionate, primordial, and permeative aspects of ethnic solidarity, that are in turn related to perceived high stakes in civil wars, the survival of a group, domination of one ethnic group by another, or their domination by the other group.

The primordial sentiments and ethnopolitical factors involved in multiethnic societies extend the violent conflicts beyond the obvious struggle for political and economic control to powerful xenophobic and ethnocentric expressions of hate. The consequence is that such conflicts become especially impervious to rational resolution. Thus, while assailed internally by these centrifugal ethnic rigidities, the international (via the UN) response has been intervention to maintain the structure of the state system. In most situations, international organizations and key state actors have to contend with the state itself, which in most situations is also a party to the dispute or has a stake in the victory of one group at the expense of another group. In their efforts to carry out their rescue and humanitarian functions, external peacekeeping intervention forces have at times had to carry out peace enforcement functions (doing battle if necessary with the state or rebels).

The UN Security Council, in cooperation with the Great Powers and regional organizations, have set the precedent of using accumulated physical power for the performance of a world system-maintenance function that often challenges the sovereignty of the nation in which it is applied. Since the early 1990s, optimism for the role of Security Council backed use of force has encouraged other states (and regional organizations) to use the same method. In 1992 former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali deliberately sought to expand the peace enforcement powers of the UN Security Council. In Agenda for Peace he recommended authorization of the use of force (Boutros-Ghali, 1992). Use of the UN Afig leaf@ to conduct military interventions even in civil wars, is impelled by public pressure amplified by media responses to grave violations of human rights in internal armed conflicts (e.g., in the former Yugoslavia, Haiti, Liberia, and Somalia.) Public outrage often turns into political pressure on both great powers and the UN to intervene in order to halt human rights violations whether by state or non-state aggressors.

With the end of the Cold War and the widening scope of violent intrastate conflicts, rationalization of the use of intervention in internal matters in contravention of the principle of non-intervention has developed as a trend in North-South relations. It is now argued that although Article 2(7) of the UN charter firmly endorses the principle of non-intervention, violent intrastate conflicts constitute Aa threat to international peace and security@ under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and therefore justifies UN Security Council use of force. In the determination of the existence of a threat to or breach of international peace, the Security Council has often exercised a wide mandate that tends to undermine the sovereign integrity of the state.

In particular, the principle of non-intervention in internal affairs appears to have been modified, thereby legitimizing UN/Great Power intervention for humanitarian purposes in conflicts of an essentially domestic nature (Harris, 1991). Resolution 688, for example, was adopted on 5 April 1991 in connection with Iraq=s suppression of Kurdish civilians following the Kurdish rebellion of March 1991 after Iraq=s defeat at the hand of the Gulf War coalition. For Iraq, the Resolution itself amounted to a Aflagrant, illegitimate intervention in Iraq=s internal affairs and a violation of Article 2 of the Charter.@ Resolution 688 was the first Security Council Resolution to determine the existence of a threat to international peace and security as a result of a state=s violation of its citizens= human rights. The atrocities committed by Idi Amin of Uganda, or Pol Pot of Cambodia, did not elicit such a determination, response, or use of force by either the UN or the powerful states.

The internecine and genocidal character of the Yugoslavian conflict produced Resolution 713 of 25 September 1991 which imposed an embargo on the entire region, and later Resolution 757 of 30 May 1992 imposing comprehensive economic sanctions on Serbia and Montenegro. Both Resolutions transformed the Yugoslavian domestic conflict into an international one (United Nations, 1995). By 1992 external powers had intervened militarily in the civil war.

In the post-Cold War era, state failure or near-state collapse characterized by a total absence of state sovereignty has generated UN/Great Power intervention in the developing state. In such cases, Somalia being a perfect example, the total absence of legitimate state authority did not raise problems of state sovereignty and domestic jurisdiction. Moreover, the precedent of intervention in domestic crisis had already been set in the case of Iraq and the Kurds, and in the former Yugoslavia. Thus, when the Security Council first imposed the mandatory arms embargo under Chapter VII (Resolution 733), there was little disagreement among Security Council member states of the principle of non-intervention.

UN/Great Power intervention in a developing state can be precipitated if a Aunique and exceptional circumstance@ is recognized. For example, the Security Council in 1993 determined that the situation in Haiti threatened international peace and security. Accordingly, in Resolution 841 of 16 June 1993 an embargo was imposed on trade with Haiti. The unique and exceptional circumstances in Haiti were caused by the following factors: a coup d=état that forced into exile the legitimate government of President Jean-Betrand Aristide; an environment of fear, persecution, and economic dislocation that threatened to generate numerous refugees to neighboring countries; the request for a UN trade embargo by the legitimate government of Haiti; and the fact that an Organization of American States (OAS) embargo was previously in existence and only needed to be universalized and further mandated by a Security Council sanction. Resolution 841 was thus precipitated by a coup d=état and thus marked a change in Security Council practice in the area of intervention in domestic affairs. The Council had never before been directly involved in restoring an ousted regime in the aftermath of a coup d=état in a sovereign state, an issue previously considered purely internal in character. Although the Security Council President announced that the Resolution should not be regarded as constituting a precedent, it nevertheless marked a change in Security Council practice.

More recently (February 1998), and following the post-Cold War precedent of intervention to prevent massive human rights violations and to restore democracy, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Monitoring Group, known as ECOMOG, used its forces, dominated largely by Nigerian soldiers, to oust the military junta in neighboring Sierra Leone, a junta that in May 1997 had ousted a democratically elected government. ECOMOG intervened to restore the ousted regime with the full support of the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations Security Council. In other words, domestic instability, massive atrocities, and the maintenance of democracy are increasingly becoming the concern of external actors, and no longer the exclusive domain of internal sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention in domestic affairs. Between 1990 and the creation of a stable environment in Liberia in 1997, ECOMOG forces had intervened to stop the carnage and ethnic bloodletting that pitted Gio/Mano ethnic groups on the one hand, and Krahn/Mandingo groups on the other (Magyar, K. & Conteh-Morgan, E., 1998).

Following the Gulf War, the objectives of forced intervention were initially limited to humanitarian purposes, but have gradually expanded in response to changing military needs in the conflicts concerned. The new resolutions spawned by the growing intensity of new conflict situations have implications for state sovereignty. But following the end of the Cold War, Security Council authorization of the use of force by states was introduced primarily for humanitarian purposes. Often the victim of the armed conflict was not a sovereign state, but civilians within the territory of a single state. Accordingly, the objective of the use of force in Resolution 770 of August 13 concerning the Bosnian conflict was to Afacilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance@ in order to guarantee the population=s minimum humanitarian needs (United Nations, 1992). Similarly, in the cases of Somalia (Resolution 794, 3 December 1992), Rwanda (Resolution 929, 22 June 1994), and Haiti (Resolution 940 of 31 July 1994), humanitarian needs were one reason for UN intervention. Despite initial US reluctance to intervene in 1992, the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Haiti and the rapid increase in refugees finally impelled the UN to act. President Clinton demanded that the military leadership in Haiti yield power immediately, and emphasized his resolve as follows: Awhen firm brutality occurs close to our shores, it affects our national interests. And we have a responsibility to act.@(Clinton, 1993) Since the Korean War, virtually all military operations based on Security Council authorized use of force have been led and dominated by Great Powers, especially the US forces. Some critics argue that Security Council authorization has only served as an instrument to perform a systems maintenance function to the benefit of great-power national interests. Security Council authorized use of force, however, cannot work effectively without the political leadership of the Great Powers and the participation of their overwhelming military power. Although in conflict with state sovereignty, intervention help to preserve the state and stop genocidal massacres and the blatant violation of human rights practices.

External Economic Interventions and State Crisis

Although UN Security Council-sponsored interventions tend to protect the human rights of citizens in volatile and explosive states, external economic policy impositions (interventions) by IFIs are, to a limited extent, limiting the sovereign exercise of certain rights and duties by the developing state in relation to its citizens. Intervention in the form of globalization imperatives (in particular Structural Adjustment Policies-SAPs) undermine the ability of the developing state to manage, accumulate, and redistribute economic resources within its own territory (Beckman, 1994). Accordingly, this may be limiting the developing state=s capacity to achieve national political integration among its varied ethnocommunal groups, as well as its legitimacy vis-à-vis civil society in general.

Great power and IFI intervention in the developing state started with the economic collapse experienced during the late 1970s and early 1980s triggered by sharp price fluctuations on the raw materials market, the adverse terms of trade on exports as a result of these downward fluctuations, and the oil shocks that produced a downward spiral in the payments position of these developing states, thereby directly generating the debt crisis of the 1980s.

The combination of these deep-seated domestic problems and the recessionary international economic environment adversely affected the sustainability of the Asocial contract@ and the various neopatrimonial alliances and networks built around it to guarantee political stability. As the developing state became increasingly distressed by economic crisis, the legitimacy of the state and the model of nation-building on which it was based, was called into question by both civil society and international society. Thus, in order to maintain stability in developing states and arrest the deepening crisis in economic management, the key state actors and IFIs inaugurated a shift from welfarist principles based on Keynesianism to neo-liberal principles that placed greater emphasis on market forces and the struggle against inflation (Vilas, 1996). This shift translated into a deemphasis on the Keynesian goal of full employment and the role of the state in the economy. Coupled with this shift to neo-liberalism in economic policymaking was the effect of the process of economic globalization that greatly impacted the management of national economic policies all over the world. For example, during the late 1970=s, the deregulation of financial markets in powerful states meant that even these states started to lose control over their own national economic policies.

Neoliberalism eventually became an instrument for maintaining world order under the direction of the IMF, World Bank, and the Group of Seven (G7) powers. The catalyst for IMF imposition of neoliberal ideas into the developing state came with the debt crisis of the 1980s. Further resources to combat severe payments problems, budgetary, inflationary, and debt servicing burdens were made conditional on the adoption of SAPs. These SAPs entailed a strict application of massive and repeated currency devaluations, exchange and interest rate liberalization, public enterprise privatization, the withdrawal of all subsidies, and the abolition of state marketing boards, among others. Eventually SAPs resulted in massive unemployment as large numbers of public sector employees were laid off. Increasing donor (IMF, World Bank, G-7) intervention in national economies meant a generalized curb on developing state intervention in economic processes.

The economic austerity inherent in and produced by SAPs generated economic deprivation in both the poor and middle classes. SAPs also complicated the deepening social crisis in developing states, crisis which escalated into social unrest, social fragmentation, and greater inequality. In political terms, SAPs were often not the result of domestic consultation and popular approval, but were often the result of secret negotiations between external actors and unwilling state actors. Thus, developing state actors became increasingly accountable to powerful state and non-state donors rather than to their own citizens. The minimal human rights of citizens were further diminished when local opposition to the SAPs was often brutally repressed or stifled. Neoliberal ideas gradually became involved in political debates about poverty, gender, the environment, governance, and even human rights. In the process, the developing state is increasingly losing its decision-making autonomy to the hegemonic functions of powerful external actors.

As crisis deepened in the developing state, so did the Amanagerial dilemma@ or Athe fiscal crisis of the state@ intensify, (O=Connor, 1973; Barnet, R. & Mueller, R., 1974) resulting in severe economic deprivations for ordinary citizens. The state has thus abandoned its welfare function to supranational institutions, in particular the IMF and the World Bank. In other words, neoliberal internationalism is being progressively manifested in what Gill and Law refer to as the imposition of the Astructural power@ of transnational capital over the Adirect power@ of the state (Gill, S., & Law, D., 1989). In particular, images or intersubjective agreements of what constitute proper global economic relations are further reinforced by these transnational institutions as part of the dominance of the strong over the weak.

The violence (riots in Venezuela, Egypt, Nigeria, or Indonesia) spawned by the imposition of SAPs constitute human rights violations because of the coercion needed to enforce them, and also because of the economic deprivations they produce among groups in society. The imposition of SAPs also constitute paternalism: i.e., deciding for the developing state what will be the most efficient way to manage its economy and govern its society. In the end, since Western paternalism ends up imposing its will on an often reluctant state leadership, the outcome in a relationship of consensual domination.

Developing state economic crisis and external impositions are an integral part of the internationalization of the state. The motivation of state policy has shifted from domestic welfare to international competitiveness, the requirements of which include decreased state capacity or intervention in the economy. Internationalization effects call into question the very identity of the state vis-à-vis civil society. But in the case of the developing state, there is an inability to overcome this progressive diminution of state capacity and legitimacy through a reconceptualization of its identity and internationalization of the national interest. For the developing state, state policy has been narrowly transformed into a desire to enhance the global competitive position of the national economy, rather than, for example, making efforts to increase levels of domestic employment. In other words, domestic concerns have been subordinated to the requirements of globalization emanating from the dominant actors.


In the Westphalian model of interstate relations, intervention is generally believed to be legally and morally unacceptable. However, the violent conflictual nature of the post-Cold War international system and its attendant humanitarian imperatives are challenging the twin principles of state sovereignty and non-intervention because the intensity of genocidal massacres and ethnic bloodletting are so repulsive to international society. There is also a growing consensus in international relations that when such interventions are collectively authorized by either a regional organization, the international community, or great powers, they acquire legitimacy. This cosmopolitan moral theory of international relations is increasingly recognizing that members of the family of nations have an obligation to intervene to stop massive human rights violations. Thus, the once sacrosanct principle of non-intervention and sovereignty is being steadily undermined by the new scope and intensity of intra-state conflicts. However, such interventions could be viewed in terms of the need by dominant actors of the international system to perform their hegemonic function of preserving the integrity of the existing state-centric system and reducing the level of anarchy in the international system.

In the economic realm, economic interventions are outcomes of the impact of globalization processes on the sovereignty of the state. The relationship between globalization processes and sovereignty portrays a serious tension as SAPs, one aspect of globalization, challenge both state sovereignty and identity in the developing world. The transnationalization and supranationalism involved in SAPs challenge the effectiveness of both domestic and international state policies. The key international organizations embody the rules which facilitate the expansion of hegemonic world orders. These organizations reflect orientations favorable to the dominant social and economic forces emanating from the powerful states, but which often have some negative human rights consequences for the developing state. It has become evident that SAPs do not by themselves reduce poverty, and macroeconomic recovery does not translate into significant social improvement. In many developing states, the Anational popular state@ (or welfare state) declined as a result of SAPs. With the neoliberal model, the state was forced to abandon its role as an agent of social development and integration.

In sum, the developing state is a sociopolitical and economic example of an externally-imposed and intersubjective creation of great-power responses to material conditions. All the anomalies, paradoxes, and dilemmas inherent in the weak developing state, are products of a prevailing ontology, in this case, a post-Cold War ontology. The modern state system comprised of both developed and developing states is constitutive of contending interest-based images of appropriate socio-economic and political order which divide North and South, and create tensions among competing ethnocommunal groups.



1. This analysis is in part an attempt to apply the Gramscian notion of coercive and consensual domination to the international relations of North-South relations.

2. A profound manifestation of the dissatisfaction of developing countries toward international rules and regulations governing trade, finance, transfer of technology, and so on, were expressed in the NIEO demands of the mid 1970s in the United Nations.


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