The concept of sovereignty is now strained. It droppeth as a gentle revelation onto the populace beneath — Shakespeare transmuted.
REAL sovereignty existed during the imperial era when empires rose to defend their right to absolute power by force of arms. The price of such defence was always very high in terms of human life and paid for by the subjects of the country. Sometimes those who decided to wage war were called to account; for example, in the case of Germany's Third Reich during the last century, which was highlighted at the trials in Nuremberg. Today, very few heads of state are called to account for crimes against humanity and genocide or for barbaric aggression against mankind by the newly found variety of "guerilla" warfare now labelled "terrorism".
As the world becomes more transformed by dynamic influences such as nuclear warfare, this heralded the rise and fall of the world's principal power brokers, including the British and Portuguese Empires, the Soviet Union, Germany's Third Reich, and the Japanese Empire, so that the nature of sovereignty has inevitably been changed forever.
In the last century, the world's transformation began on a fine summer's morning when members of a historic conference sat down to breakfast at the Mount Washington Hotel in the rural town of Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in the USA. Emerging from World War II in 1944, Europe was in ruins after six years of devastating destruction resulting from the monumental effort to quell the advance of militant Fascism. Out of the pressing need to reconstruct the towns and cities pulverised by allied bombing was born the concept for a Bank of Reconstruction and Development. In time, the global nature of the bank's work evolved and became enshrined in its new name, the World Bank. Simultaneously, a companion organisation was created as a subsidiary of the bank, called the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — which we have come to know very well — that provides the regulatory and procedural framework for the bank's lending practices.
A third but less conspicuous entity is the International Trade Organisation (ITO), which existed for a variety of reasons, was eventually stillborn in 1948. Alternatively, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was established by 23 countries representing 80 per cent of the world's trade which held its first meeting at Geneva in 1947. By progression, the GATT morphed into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995. So there is now a triumvirate which regulates the conduct of world business including dispute resolution. It is believed that the triumvirate has not eroded the absolute power exerted by independent nations. In reality, by voluntary concession, States have ceded a good measure of power and independence to give effect to globalisation of the world's nations. For example, can sovereignty be exercised over the Internet transmissions accessed by domestic users? Similarly, the infusion of foreign culture by satellite broadcasts to domestic television receivers? Can the instantaneous transfer of funds by computer be influenced by sovereignty?
The establishment of a reciprocal Free Trade Agreement with the US would require further concessions of sovereignty as trade barriers are removed and markets are opened to unfettered competition. The dominance and control by the triumvirate, being the ultimate recourse on matters of international trade and national economic management, would intensify as currently experienced by Jamaica. The "Rules of the Game" cannot be altered without prior approval of the triumvirate, in our case by the International Monetary Fund.
A novel situation would arise when, as forecast, the US and the EU begin negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement, and the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) clause in the EPA would apply in that any concession made by the EU to the US that is more beneficial than that granted to the Cariforum states under the EPA, would therefore also have to be offered to the Cariforum states. Of course there would be "consultations" as provided in the EPA, as the EU presents their interpretation of the MFN clause in such circumstances.
In all matters, whether it is the lawful administration of capital punishment or accepting the imposition of security measures by the world's superpower within our maritime jurisdiction, there is an element of compromise now present which did not exist in earlier times. This is the price of progress, and the elimination of discriminatory treatment in international business, which now includes human rights and our treatment of the environment. Numerous armed conflicts continue today around the globe with causes bearing such diverse names as "ethnic cleansing" or "Jihad". However, real power no longer comes "from the muzzle of a gun" as proclaimed by Mao Tse Tung, but from economic superiority as reflected in a country's balance of trade and personified in the G7 grouping of the world's strongest economies.
In the developing countries, particularly in the case of the Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS), where sovereignty has become a shadow of its former self, and is now but an idealistic rallying point for national integrity, but nonetheless subject to the rules of the new world order, where trade is the vehicle for the development and growth of power. No longer is a nation's prosperity determined by the "sceptre's sway" but by its net worth in the markets of the world. This is where the battle for the preservation of our borders must now be directed.