What are the characteristics of Supranationalism?

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Supranationalism describes a system where nations come together to create an agreement, organization, or treaty that has greater powers than an individual nation has because its reach extends beyond national boundaries. International agreements may form for economic reasons, such as the European Union (EU) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which were designed to increase trade, or for political and military reasons such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO), which were designed to deal with the spread of communism. When a supranational agreement is created, members agree to abide by the policies established by the agreement, even if those policies may not be in the best interests of a particular member. For example, President Trump has stated that he feels that the NAFTA agreement is hurting the United States because jobs may be lost to other countries. Thus, in some ways, nations give up some of their autonomy when they create a supranational agreement, organization, or treaty. Other examples of supranational agreements include the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

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Supranationalism can be described as a process of multilateral decision and policy creation that transfers decision making authority from individual nation states to multilateral institutions and organizations. Some organizations and entities that could be described as supranational are:                                 

  1. The International Criminal Court (ICC)
  2. The European Union
  3. The World Trade Organization 

The major characteristics or features of supranationalism are: 

  1. It is based on international treaties
  2. Its legal authority supersedes domestic law
  3. Decisions usually come about as a result of consensus among member states
  4. Joining such organizations means given up parts of an individual states sovereignty
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