◈ Question What is the significance of Peace of Westphalia as a new stage in the evolution of international society? How does the post- Westphalia era differ from the pre-Westphalia era?
The Pre-Westphalian Era ▪ The world was mostly organized into city-states, particularly in the East Mediterranean region.
The Pre-Westphalian Era ▪ There were several empires such as Persian, Roman, Arab, Chinese, Mogul, Mayan, Aztec and etc. ▪ Relations between political units were controlled within the empire by the emperor or central authority. >>Sovereignty did not exist during this period.
The Pre-Westphalian Era ▪ Different forms of supranational religious authority coexisted. ▪ Medieval Europe was composed of a complex mosaic of subnational and transnational entities, all of which claimed various entitlements and possessed some kind of independent military capacity. ▪ The Catholic Church was an important unifying element in medieval Europe’s international society. The Church’s comprehensive moral and ethical code touched upon international relations in several respects.
The Pre-Westphalian Era ▪ From 15C, the larger and more powerful states such as France and the Habsburg Empire were increasingly dominating some of the smaller states. ▪ The Protestant Reformation in 16C was a severe blow to the Catholic Church’s supreme authority. ▪ Columbus’s voyage to the New World in 1492 not only raised a new spatial awareness and interest in territory.
The Peace of Westphalia ▪ Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October in 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. ▪ These treaties brought an end to the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) between Spain and the Dutch Republic. (Ratification of the Peace of Münster, 1648)
The Peace of Westphalia ▪ The Peace of Westphalia established the right of the German states to conduct their own diplomatic relations. ▪ A clear acknowledgement of their sovereignty. ▪ Also the first formal acceptance of sovereign equality for a significant number of states.
The Peace of Westphalia Key principles in the Peace of Westphalia ▪ The Peace of Westphalia acknowledged the sovereignty of states and the fundamental right of political self-determination. ▪ The principle of legal equality between states were included. ▪ The treaties prevent the one state or outside powers from intervening in the internal affairs of another state.
The Post-Westphalian Era ▪ Only ten key players and their interaction determined the course of events. ▪ Europe in its entirety constituted a kind of republic with the central elements; a determination by all states to preserve their freedom, a mutual recognition of each other’s right to an independent existence, and a reliance on a balance of power. ▪ Diplomacy and international law were seen as the other two key institutions of international society.
The Post-Westphalian Era ▪ After the French Revolution, revolutionary insistence that sovereignty was vested in the nation gave a crucial impetus to the idea of ‘national self-determination’. This was the principle that was starting to dominate international politics in 19~20 centuries. This also began to endanger imperial systems denying the rights of nations. ▪ Furthermore, the main European powers set themselves apart from the smaller ones to establish a kind of great power’s club, known as the ‘Concert of Europe’.
Conclusion ▪ Significance ① The Peace of Westphalia established the modern concept of state’s sovereignty. ▪ The treaties acknowledged the nation-state’s sovereignty for the first time. The nation-states were recognized as autonomous and independent actors within their territories. ▪ The Thirty Years' War and Westphalia treaties demolished the authority of emperor in Europe/the spiritual supremacy of the Pope. >>The state system of Europe came to be based on the principle of equality of status and complete independence of the states.
Conclusion ▪ Significance ② The Peace of Westphalia introduced a scheme of Collective Security in the international political system. ▪ The concept of Collective Security was partially mentioned in the Treaty of Münster, which was part of the Peace of Westphalia. ▪ The Peace of Westphalia established a 'Collective Security' system: i) a sweeping ban on the use of force; ii) a prohibition on individual self- defense, except after the expiry of a long period; iii) the duty of all states to act in collective self-defense.
Conclusion ▪ Significance ② The Peace of Westphalia introduced a scheme of Collective Security in the international political system. ▪ The scheme of collective security established by the Peace of Westphalia was never put into effect. ▪ Nevertheless, the Peace of Westphalia introduced a Collective Security system to the international relations and provided the basis of the League of Nations in 1919. ▪ They clearly confirm that states possessed collective security powers long before the advent of the United Nations.
Conclusion ▪ Principles from Peace of Westphalia are obsolete anymore?? ▪ Should the sovereignty always be respected? ▪ State actors in the twenty-first century have to cooperate by going beyond the limitations and barriers of Westphalian principles in order to address well such issues as environment, humanitarian crisis and poverty in the globalization era.