Would you agree that we are still living in a world dominated by many of the principles from the Treaty of Westphalia? Or have we moved beyond it, with the increasing amount of interventions worldwide by such powers as the United States?
Is this an overlooked treaty, that in some ways is still playing a major role in our world today?
Also do the existence of NGOs, globalizations, pension plans like CALPERS which through its investments can shake governments cancel out Westphalia? Or is what is happening in the Ukraine existence of it being alive and well?
JMEnglish, I apologize for not responding to your question until now. I’m not sure how I missed it when you first posted it, but I’m just seeing it for the first time now.
I don’t give a lot of emphasis to the Treaty of Westphalia in the course. What mainstream historians will normally say about its significance is that it marks the end of using religion to justify war. Among Western states that’s still true, although in the broader international order? Maybe not so much.
The other thing that’s often said about it is that it establishes the modern nation-state system. I think that’s a more dubious claim.
Could I ask you to be more specific about what Westphalian principles you’re referring to if you have something else in mind?
I think you hit upon what i was trying get to on the notion that the Treaty of Westphalia was the beginning of the “modern nation-state”. As you seem to suggest, this may be a dubious claim.
My specific question is how much does the notion of what does it mean to be ‘sovereign’ go back to the Treaty of Westphalia. If I tell someone in my office, or among friends that I consider myself ‘sovereign’ they would probably mock me.
Does the modern day understanding of sovereignty being known as a nation-state trace its roots to the Treaty?
I hope that make sense. In any event, I appreciate your response, and thank you for getting back to me.
The modern theory of sovereignty had been developing since the mid-16th century, but it’s probably fair to say that the Peace of Westphalia was the first significant set of treaties to use that theory as its framework. Practically speaking, though, states like England and France had been operating on a lot of these assumptions for some time, so I don’t think it’s correct to say that the treaties “established” the nation-state idea. The major change, as I said earlier, is that states are for the most part agreeing not to intervene in each others’ religious affairs.