Sovereignty

Sovereignty

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Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided. In theoretical terms, the idea of "sovereignty", historically, from Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 to Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

, has always necessitated a moral imperative on the entity exercising it.

For centuries past, the idea that a state could be sovereign was always connected to its ability to guarantee the best interests of its own citizens. Thus, if a state could not act in the best interests of its own citizens, it could not be thought of as a “sovereign” state.

The concept of sovereignty has been discussed, debated and questioned throughout history, from the time of the Romans through to the present day. It has changed in its definition, concept, and application throughout, especially during the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

. The current notion of state sovereignty is often traced back to the Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

 (1648), which, in relation to state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

s, codified the basic principles:
  • territorial integrity
    Territorial integrity
    Territorial integrity is the principle under international law that nation-states should not attempt to promote secessionist movements or to promote border changes in other nation-states...

  • border inviolability
  • supremacy of the state (rather than the Church)
  • a sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority within its jurisdiction.

History


Different cultures and governments have, understandably, had different ideas about sovereignty.

Classical


The Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 jurist Ulpian
Ulpian
Gnaeus Domitius Annius Ulpianus , anglicized as Ulpian, was a Roman jurist of Tyrian ancestry.-Biography:The exact time and place of his birth are unknown, but the period of his literary activity was between AD 211 and 222...

 observed that:
  • The imperium
    Imperium
    Imperium is a Latin word which, in a broad sense, translates roughly as 'power to command'. In ancient Rome, different kinds of power or authority were distinguished by different terms. Imperium, referred to the sovereignty of the state over the individual...

    of the people is transferred to the Emperor
    Roman Emperor
    The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

    ,
  • The Emperor is not bound by the law,
  • The Emperor's word is law. Emperor is the law making and abiding force.


Ulpian was expressing the idea that the Emperor exercised a rather absolute form of sovereignty, although he did not use the term expressly. Ulpian's statements were known in medieval Europe, but sovereignty was not an important concept in medieval times. Medieval monarchs were not sovereign, at least not strongly so, because they were constrained by, and shared power with, their feudal
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 aristocracy. Furthermore, both were strongly constrained by custom. "sovereignty." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 05 Oct. 2011. .

Medieval


Sovereignty existed during the Medieval Period as the de jure
De jure
De jure is an expression that means "concerning law", as contrasted with de facto, which means "concerning fact".De jure = 'Legally', De facto = 'In fact'....

 rights of nobility and royalty, and in the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

 capability of individuals to make their own choices in life.

Around c. 1380-1400, the issue of feminine sovereignty was addressed in Geoffrey Chaucer's Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 collection of Canterbury Tales, specifically in The Wife of Bath's Tale.

A later English Arthurian romance, The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell (c. 1450), uses much of the same elements of the Wife of Bath's tale, yet changes the setting to the court of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The story revolves around the knight Sir Gawain granting to Dame Ragnell, his new bride, what is purported to be wanted most by women: sovereignty.

Reformation


Sovereignty reemerged as a concept in the late 16th century, a time when civil wars had created a craving for stronger central authority, when monarchs had begun to gather power into their own hands at the expense of the nobility, and the modern nation state was emerging. Jean Bodin
Jean Bodin
Jean Bodin was a French jurist and political philosopher, member of the Parlement of Paris and professor of law in Toulouse. He is best known for his theory of sovereignty; he was also an influential writer on demonology....

, partly in reaction to the chaos of the French wars of religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

; and Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

, partly in reaction to the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

, both presented theories of sovereignty calling for strong central authority in the form of absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

. In his 1576 treatise Les Six Livres de la République ("Six Books of the Republic") Bodin argued that it is inherent in the nature of the state that sovereignty must be: "sovereignty." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 05 Oct. 2011. .
  • Absolute: On this point he said that the sovereign must not be hedged in with obligations and conditions, must be able to legislate without his (or its) subjects' consent, must not be bound by the laws of his predecessors, and could not, because it is illogical, be bound by his own laws.
  • Perpetual: Not temporarily delegated as to a strong leader in an emergency or to a state employee such as a magistrate
    Magistrate
    A magistrate is an officer of the state; in modern usage the term usually refers to a judge or prosecutor. This was not always the case; in ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest government officers and possessed both judicial and executive powers. Today, in common law systems, a...

    . He held that sovereignty must be perpetual because anyone with the power to enforce a time limit on the governing power must be above the governing power, which would be impossible if the governing power is absolute.


Bodin rejected the notion of transference of sovereignty from people to sovereign; natural law and divine law confer upon the sovereign the right to rule. And the sovereign is not above divine law or natural law. He is above (ie. not bound by) only positive law
Positive law
Positive law is the term generally used to describe man-made laws which bestow specific privileges upon, or remove them from, an individual or group...

, that is, laws made by humans. The fact that the sovereign must obey divine and natural law imposes ethical constraints on him. Bodin also held that the lois royales, the fundamental laws of the French monarchy which regulated matters such as succession, are natural laws and are binding on the French sovereign.
How divine and natural law could in practice be enforced on the sovereign is a problematic feature of Bodin's philosophy: any person capable of enforcing them on him would be above him.

Despite his commitment to absolutism, Bodin held some moderate opinions on how government should in practice be carried out. He held that although the sovereign is not obliged to, it is advisable for him, as a practical expedient, to convene a senate
Senate
A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or chamber of a legislature or parliament. There have been many such bodies in history, since senate means the assembly of the eldest and wiser members of the society and ruling class...

 from whom he can obtain advice, to delegate some power to magistrates for the practical administration of the law, and to use the Estates
Estates of the realm
The Estates of the realm were the broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society, recognized in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in Christian Europe; they are sometimes distinguished as the three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and commoners, and are often referred to by...

 as a means of communicating with the people.

With his doctrine that sovereignty is conferred by divine law, Bodin predefined the scope of the divine right of kings
Divine Right of Kings
The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

.

Age of Enlightenment


Hobbes, in Leviathan
Leviathan (book)
Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil — commonly called simply Leviathan — is a book written by Thomas Hobbes and published in 1651. Its name derives from the biblical Leviathan...

(1651) introduced an early version of the social contract (or contractarian) theory, arguing that to overcome the "nasty, brutish and short" quality of life without the cooperation of other human beings, people must join in a "commonwealth" and submit to a "Soveraigne Power" that is able to compel them to act in the common good. This expediency argument attracted many of the early proponents of sovereignty. Hobbes deduced from the definition of sovereignty that it must be:
  • Absolute: because conditions could only be imposed on a sovereign if there were some outside arbitrator to determine when he had violated them, in which case the sovereign would not be the final authority.

  • Indivisible: The sovereign is the only final authority in his territory; he does not share final authority with any other entity. Hobbes held this to be true because otherwise there would be no way of resolving a disagreement between the multiple authorities.


Hobbes' hypothesis that the ruler's sovereignty is contracted to him by the people in return for his maintaining their safety, led him to conclude that if the ruler fails to do this, the people are released from their obligation to obey him.

Bodin's and Hobbes's theories would decisively shape the concept of sovereignty, which we can find again in the social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

 theories, for example, in Rousseau's (1712–1778) definition of popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

 (with early antecedents in Francisco Suárez
Francisco Suárez
Francisco Suárez was a Spanish Jesuit priest, philosopher and theologian, one of the leading figures of the School of Salamanca movement, and generally regarded among the greatest scholastics after Thomas Aquinas....

's theory of the origin of power), which only differs in that he considers the people to be the legitimate sovereign. Likewise, it is inalienable – Rousseau condemned the distinction between the origin and the exercise of sovereignty, a distinction upon which constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 or representative democracy
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 are founded. Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He is one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic...

, Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

, John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

, and Montesquieu are also key figures in the unfolding of the concept of sovereignty.

The second book of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Du Contrat Social, ou Principes du droit politique (1762) deals with sovereignty and its rights. Sovereignty, or the general will, is inalienable, for the will cannot be transmitted; it is indivisible, since it is essentially general; it is infallible and always right, determined and limited in its power by the common interest; it acts through laws. Law is the decision of the general will in regard to some object of common interest, but though the general will is always right and desires only good, its judgment is not always enlightened, and consequently does not always see wherein the common good lies; hence the necessity of the legislator. But the legislator has, of himself, no authority; he is only a guide who drafts and proposes laws, but the people alone (that is, the sovereign or general will) has authority to make and impose them.

Rousseau, in his 1763 treatise Of the Social Contract
argued, "the growth of the State giving the trustees of public authority more and means to abuse their power, the more the Government has to have force to contain the people, the more force the Sovereign should have in turn in order to contain the Government," with the understanding that the Sovereign is "a collective being of wonder" (Book II, Chapter I) resulting from "the general will" of the people, and that "what any man, whoever he may be, orders on his own, is not a law" (Book II, Chapter VI) – and furthermore predicated on the assumption that the people have an unbiased means by which to ascertain the general will. Thus the legal maxim, "there is no law without a sovereign."

The 1789 French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 shifted the possession of sovereignty from the sovereign ruler to the nation and its people.

Carl Schmitt
Carl Schmitt
Carl Schmitt was a German jurist, philosopher, political theorist, and professor of law.Schmitt published several essays, influential in the 20th century and beyond, on the mentalities that surround the effective wielding of political power...

 (1888–1985) defined sovereignty as "the power to decide the state of exception
State of exception
State of Exception may mean:* State of exception* State of Exception , a book written by Giorgio Agamben...

", in an attempt, argues Giorgio Agamben
Giorgio Agamben
Giorgio Agamben is an Italian political philosopher best known for his work investigating the concepts of the state of exception and homo sacer....

, to counter Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin
Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish intellectual, who functioned variously as a literary critic, philosopher, sociologist, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist...

's theory of violence
Violence
Violence is the use of physical force to apply a state to others contrary to their wishes. violence, while often a stand-alone issue, is often the culmination of other kinds of conflict, e.g...

 as radically disjoint from law. Georges Bataille
Georges Bataille
Georges Bataille was a French writer. His multifaceted work is linked to the domains of literature, anthropology, philosophy, economy, sociology and history of art...

's heterodox conception of sovereignty, which may be said to be an "anti-sovereignty", also inspired many thinkers, such as Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

, Agamben or Jean-Luc Nancy
Jean-Luc Nancy
Jean-Luc Nancy is a French philosopher.Nancy's first book, published in 1973, was Le titre de la lettre , a reading of the work of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, written in collaboration with Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe...

.

Definition and types



Absoluteness


An important factor of sovereignty is its degree of absoluteness
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

. A sovereign power has absolute sovereignty when it is not restricted by a constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

, by the law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

s of its predecessors, or by custom
Custom (law)
Custom in law is the established pattern of behavior that can be objectively verified within a particular social setting. A claim can be carried out in defense of "what has always been done and accepted by law." Customary law exists where:...

, and no areas of law or policy are reserved as being outside its control. International law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

; policies and actions of neighboring states; cooperation and respect of the populace; means of enforcement; and resources to enact policy are factors that might limit sovereignty. For example, parents are not guaranteed the right to decide some matters in the upbringing of their children independent of societal regulation, and municipalities do not have unlimited jurisdiction in local matters, thus neither parents nor municipalities have absolute sovereignty. Theorists have diverged over the desirability of increased absoluteness.

Exclusivity


A key element of sovereignty in a legalistic sense is that of exclusivity of jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

. Specifically, the degree to which decisions made by a sovereign entity might be contradicted by another authority. International law, competing branches of government, and authorities reserved for subordinate entities (such as federated states or republics) represent legal infringements on exclusivity. Social institutions such as religious bodies, corporations, and competing political parties might represent de facto infringements on exclusivity.

De jure and de facto


De jure
De jure
De jure is an expression that means "concerning law", as contrasted with de facto, which means "concerning fact".De jure = 'Legally', De facto = 'In fact'....

, or legal, sovereignty concerns the expressed and institutionally recognised right to exercise control over a territory.

De facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

, or actual, sovereignty is concerned with whether control in fact exists. Cooperation and respect of the populace; control of resources in, or moved into, an area; means of enforcement and security; and ability to carry out various functions of state all represent measures of de facto sovereignty. When control is practiced predominately by military or police force it is considered coercive sovereignty.

It is generally held that sovereignty requires not only the legal right to exercise power, but the actual exercise of such power. Thus, de jure sovereignty without de facto sovereignty has limited recognition.

Internal


Internal sovereignty is the relationship between a sovereign power and its own subjects. A central concern is legitimacy
Legitimacy (political science)
In political science, legitimacy is the popular acceptance of a governing law or régime as an authority. Whereas “authority” denotes a specific position in an established government, the term “legitimacy” denotes a system of government — wherein “government” denotes “sphere of influence”...

: by what right does a government exercise authority? Claims of legitimacy might refer to the divine right of kings
Divine Right of Kings
The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

 or to a social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

 (i.e. popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

).

With Sovereignty meaning holding supreme, independent authority over a region or state, Internal Sovereignty refers to the internal affairs of the state and the location of supreme power within it. A state that has internal sovereignty is one with a government that has been elected by the people and has the popular legitimacy. Internal sovereignty examines the internal affairs of a state and how it operates. It is important to have strong internal sovereignty in relation to keeping order and peace. When you have weak internal sovereignty organization such as rebel groups will undermined the authority and disrupt the peace. The presence of a strong authority allows you to keep agreement and enforce sanctions for the violation of laws. The ability for leadership to prevent these violations is a key variable in determining internal sovereignty. The lack of internal sovereignty can cause war in one of two ways, first, undermining the value of agreement by allowing costly violations and second requiring such large subsidies for implementation that they render war cheaper than peace. Leadership needs to be able to promise members, especially those like armies, police forces, or paramilitaries will abide by agreements. The presence of strong internal sovereignty allows a state to deter opposition groups in exchange for bargaining. It has been said that a more decentralized authority would be more efficient in keeping peace because the deal must please not only the leadership but also the opposition group. While the operations and affairs within a state are relative to the level of sovereignty within that state, there is still an argument between who should hold the authority in a sovereign state.

This argument between who should hold the authority within a sovereign state is called the traditional doctrine of public sovereignty. This discussion is between an internal sovereign or an authority of public sovereignty. An internal sovereign is a political body that possesses ultimate, final and independent authority; one whose decisions are binding upon all citizens, groups and institutions in society. Early thinkers believe sovereignty should be vested in the hands of a single person, a monarch. They believed the overriding merit of vesting sovereignty in a single individual was that sovereignty would therefore be indivisible; it would be expressed in a single voice that could claim final authority. An example of an internal sovereign or monarch is Louis XIV of France during the seventeenth century; Louis XIV claimed that he was the state. Jean-Jacques Rousseau rejected monarchial rule in favor of the other type of authority within a sovereign state, public sovereignty. Public Sovereignty is the belief that ultimate authority is vested in the people themselves, expressed in the idea of the general will. This means that the power is elected and supported by its members, the authority has a central goal of the good of the people in mind. The idea of public sovereignty has often been the basis for modern democratic theory.

Modern Internal Sovereignty:
Within the modern governmental system you usually find internal sovereignty in states that have public sovereignty and rarely find it within a state controlled by an internal sovereign. A form of government that is a little different from both is the UK parliament system. From 1790-1859 it was argued that sovereignty in the UK was vested neither in the Crown nor in the people but in the "Monarch in Parliament". This is the origin of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty and is usually seen as the fundamental principle of the British constitution. With these principles of parliamentary sovereignty majority control can gain access to unlimited constitutional authority, creating what has been called "elective dictatorship" or "modern autocracy". Public sovereignty in modern governments is a lot more common with examples like the USA, Canada, Australia and India where government is divided into different levels.

External



External sovereignty concerns the relationship between a sovereign power and other states. For example, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 uses the following criterion when deciding under what conditions other states recognise a political entity as having sovereignty over some territory;
External sovereignty is connected with questions of international law, such as: when, if ever, is intervention by one country onto another's territory permissible?

Following the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

, a European religious conflict that embroiled much of the continent, the Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

 in 1648 established the notion of territorial sovereignty as a norm of noninterference in the affairs of other nations, so-called Westphalian sovereignty
Westphalian sovereignty
Westphalian sovereignty is the concept of nation-state sovereignty based on two things: territoriality and the absence of a role for external agents in domestic structures....

, even though the actual treaty itself reaffirmed the multiple levels of sovereignty of the Holy Roman Empire. This resulted as a natural extension of the older principle of cuius regio, eius religio
Cuius regio, eius religio
Cuius regio, eius religio is a phrase in Latin translated as "Whose realm, his religion", meaning the religion of the ruler dictated the religion of the ruled...

(Whose realm, his religion), leaving the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 with little ability to interfere with the internal affairs of many European states. It is a myth, however, that the Treaties of Westphalia created a new European order of equal sovereign states.

In international law, sovereignty means that a government possesses full control over affairs within a territorial or geographical area or limit. Determining whether a specific entity is sovereign is not an exact science, but often a matter of diplomatic dispute. There is usually an expectation that both de jure and de facto sovereignty rest in the same organisation at the place and time of concern. Foreign governments use varied criteria and political considerations when deciding whether or not to recognise the sovereignty of a state over a territory. Membership in the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 requires that "[t]he admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council."

Sovereignty may be recognized even when the sovereign body possesses no territory or its territory is under partial or total occupation by another power. The Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 was in this position between the annexation in 1870 of the Papal States
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

 by Italy and the signing of the Lateran Treaties
Lateran treaties
The Lateran Treaty is one of the Lateran Pacts of 1929 or Lateran Accords, three agreements made in 1929 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See, ratified June 7, 1929, ending the "Roman Question"...

 in 1929, when it was recognised as sovereign by many (mostly Roman Catholic) states despite possessing no territory – a situation resolved when the Lateran Treaties granted the Holy See sovereignty over the Vatican City
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

. Another case, sui generis
Sui generis
Sui generis is a Latin expression, literally meaning of its own kind/genus or unique in its characteristics. The expression is often used in analytic philosophy to indicate an idea, an entity, or a reality which cannot be included in a wider concept....

, though often contested, is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the third sovereign entity inside Italian territory (after San Marino
San Marino
San Marino, officially the Republic of San Marino , is a state situated on the Italian Peninsula on the eastern side of the Apennine Mountains. It is an enclave surrounded by Italy. Its size is just over with an estimated population of over 30,000. Its capital is the City of San Marino...

 and the Vatican City State) and the second inside the Italian capital (since in 1869 the Palazzo di Malta and the Villa Malta receive extraterritorial rights, in this way becoming the only "sovereign" territorial possessions of the modern Order), which is the last existing heir to one of several once militarily significant, crusader states of sovereign military order
Military order
A military order is a Christian society of knights that was founded for crusading, i.e. propagating or defending the faith , either in the Holy Land or against Islam or pagans in Europe...

s. In 1607 its Grand masters were also made Reichsfürst (princes of the Holy Roman Empire) by the Holy Roman Emperor, granting them seats in the Reichstag
Reichstag (Holy Roman Empire)
The Imperial Diet was the Diet, or general assembly, of the Imperial Estates of the Holy Roman Empire.During the period of the Empire, which lasted formally until 1806, the Diet was not a parliament in today's sense; instead, it was an assembly of the various estates of the realm...

, at the time the closest permanent equivalent to a UN-type general assembly; confirmed 1620). These sovereign rights never deposed, only the territories were lost. 100 modern states still maintain full diplomatic relations with the order (now de facto "the most prestigious service club"), and the UN awarded it observer status.

The governments-in-exile of many European states (for instance, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 or Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

) during the Second World War were regarded as sovereign despite their territories being under foreign occupation; their governance resumed as soon as the occupation had ended. The government of Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 was in a similar situation vis-à-vis the Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

i occupation of its country during 1990-1991.

Commonly mistaken to be sovereign, the International Committee of the Red Cross, having been granted various degrees of special privileges and legal immunities
Immunity
-Medicine:* Immunity , resistance of an organism to infection or disease.* Immunity , a scientific journal published by Cell Press-Law:*Amnesty law, immunity from past crimes...

 in many countries, that in cases like Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 are considerable, which are described as amounting to de facto sovereignty, is a private organisation governed by Swiss law.

Shared


Just as the office of head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 can be vested jointly in several persons within a state, the sovereign jurisdiction over a single political territory can be shared jointly by two or more consenting powers, notably in the forms of a condominium
Condominium (international law)
In international law, a condominium is a political territory in or over which two or more sovereign powers formally agree to share equally dominium and exercise their rights jointly, without dividing it up into 'national' zones.Although a condominium has always been...

 or a co-principality (e.g. Andorra
Andorra
Andorra , officially the Principality of Andorra , also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, , is a small landlocked country in southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe having an area of...

).

Nation-states


A community of people who claim the right of self-determination
Self-determination
Self-determination is the principle in international law that nations have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or external interference...

 based on a common ethnicity, history and culture might seek to establish sovereignty over a region, thus creating a nation-state
Nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

. Such nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

s are sometimes recognised as autonomous area
Autonomous area
An autonomous area or autonomous entity is an area of a country that has a degree of autonomy, or freedom from an external authority. Typically it is either geographically distinct from the rest of the country or populated by a national minority. Countries that include autonomous areas are often...

s rather than as fully sovereign, independent states.

Federations


In a federal
Federal republic
A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government. A federation is the central government. The states in a federation also maintain the federation...

 system of government, sovereignty also refers to powers which a constituent state or republic possesses independently of the national government. In a confederation
Confederation
A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units for common action in relation to other units. Usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign...

 constituent entities retain the right to withdraw from the national body, but in a federation
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 member states or republics do not hold that right.

Controversy over states' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

 contributed to the outbreak of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. Eleven southern states in which slavery was legal declared their independence from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. The position of the United States government was that this act was unconstitutional and that secession was not a right that the states possessed, and thus that the states were not sovereign entities.

Acquisition


A number of methods of acquisition of sovereignty are presently or have historically been recognised by international law as lawful methods by which a state may acquire sovereignty over territory.

Justifications


There exist vastly differing views on the moral basis of sovereignty. A fundamental polarity is between theories that assert that sovereignty is vested directly in the sovereign by divine or natural right, and theories that assert it originates from the people. In the latter case there is a further division into those that assert that the people transfer their sovereignty to the sovereign (Hobbes), and those that assert that the people retain their sovereignty (Rousseau).

Absolute monarchies
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 are typically based on concepts such as the divine right of kings
Divine Right of Kings
The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

 in Europe or the mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimaze rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of...

 in China.

A republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, retain sovereignty over the government and where offices of state are not granted through heritage. A common modern definition of a republic is a government having a head of state who is not a monarch.

Democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 is based on the concept of popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

. In a direct democracy
Direct democracy
Direct democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives. Direct democracy is classically termed "pure democracy"...

 the public plays an active role in shaping and deciding policy. Representative democracy
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 permits a transfer of the exercise of sovereignty from the people to a legislative body
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 or an executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

 (or to some combination of legislature, executive and Judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

). Many representative democracies provide limited direct democracy through referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

, initiative
Initiative
In political science, an initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote...

, and recall
Recall election
A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before his or her term has ended...

.

Parliamentary sovereignty
Parliamentary sovereignty
Parliamentary sovereignty is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies. In the concept of parliamentary sovereignty, a legislative body has absolute sovereignty, meaning it is supreme to all other government institutions—including any executive or judicial bodies...

 refers to a representative democracy where the parliament is ultimately sovereign and not the executive power nor the judiciary.

Views on

  • Realists view sovereignty as being untouchable and as guaranteed to legitimate nation-states.
  • Rationalists see sovereignty similarly to Realists. However, Rationalism states that the sovereignty of a nation-state may be violated in extreme circumstances, such as human rights abuses.
  • Internationalists
    Internationalism (politics)
    Internationalism is a political movement which advocates a greater economic and political cooperation among nations for the theoretical benefit of all...

     believe that sovereignty is outdated and an unnecessary obstacle to achieving peace, in line with their belief of a 'global community'. In the light of the abuse of power by sovereign states such as Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Soviet Union, they argue that human beings are not necessarily protected by the state whose citizens they are, and that the respect for state sovereignty on which the UN Charter is founded is an obstacle to humanitarian intervention.
  • Anarchists and some libertarians
    Libertarianism
    Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

     deny the sovereignty of states and governments. Anarchists often argue for a specific individual kind of sovereignty, such as the Anarch as a sovereign individual
    Anarch (sovereign individual)
    The Anarch is a metaphysical ideal figure of a sovereign individual, conceived by Ernst Jünger in his novel Eumeswil . Jünger was greatly influenced by individualist anarchist Max Stirner...

    . Salvador Dalí
    Salvador Dalí
    Salvador Domènec Felip Jacint Dalí i Domènech, Marquis de Púbol , commonly known as Salvador Dalí , was a prominent Spanish Catalan surrealist painter born in Figueres,Spain....

    , for instance, talked of "anarcho-monarchist" (as usual for him, tongue in cheek); Antonin Artaud
    Antonin Artaud
    Antoine Marie Joseph Artaud, more well-known as Antonin Artaud was a French playwright, poet, actor and theatre director...

     of Heliogabalus
    Elagabalus
    Elagabalus , also known as Heliogabalus, was Roman Emperor from 218 to 222. A member of the Severan Dynasty, he was Syrian on his mother's side, the son of Julia Soaemias and Sextus Varius Marcellus. Early in his youth he served as a priest of the god El-Gabal at his hometown, Emesa...

    : Or, The Crowned Anarchist
    ; Max Stirner
    Max Stirner
    Johann Kaspar Schmidt , better known as Max Stirner , was a German philosopher, who ranks as one of the literary fathers of nihilism, existentialism, post-modernism and anarchism, especially of individualist anarchism...

     of The Ego and Its Own
    The Ego and Its Own
    The Ego and Its Own is a philosophical work by German philosopher Max Stirner . This work was first published in 1845, although with a stated publication date of "1844" to confuse the Prussian censors.-Content:...

    ; Georges Bataille
    Georges Bataille
    Georges Bataille was a French writer. His multifaceted work is linked to the domains of literature, anthropology, philosophy, economy, sociology and history of art...

     and Jacques Derrida
    Jacques Derrida
    Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

     of a kind of "antisovereignty". Therefore, anarchists join a classical conception of the individual as sovereign of himself, which forms the basis of political consciousness
    Political consciousness
    Following the work of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx outlined the workings of a political consciousness.-The politics of consciousness:...

    . The unified consciousness is sovereignty over one's own body, as Nietzsche demonstrated (see also Pierre Klossowski
    Pierre Klossowski
    Pierre Klossowski was a French writer, translator and artist. He was the eldest son of the artists Erich Klossowski and Baladine Klossowska, and his younger brother was the painter Balthus.-Life:...

    's book on Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle). See also self-ownership
    Self-ownership
    Self-ownership is the concept of property in one's own person, expressed as the moral or natural right of a person to be the exclusive controller of his own body and life. According to G...

    .
  • Imperialists
    Imperialism
    Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

     hold a view of sovereignty where power rightfully exists with those states that hold the greatest ability to impose the will of said state, by force or threat of force, over the populace or other states with weaker military or political will. They effectively deny the sovereignty of the individual in deference to either the 'good' of the whole, or to divine right
    Divine Right
    Divine Right may refer to:* The Divine right of kings, the doctrine that a monarch derives his or her power directly from God* Episcopal polity, the doctrine that is required in the church jure divino, i.e...

    .

Relation to rule of law


Another topic is whether the law is held to be sovereign
Rule of law
The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...

, that is, whether it is above political or other interference. Sovereign law constitutes a true state of law, meaning the letter of the law (if constitutionally correct) is applicable and enforceable, even when against the political will of the nation, as long as not formally changed following the constitutional procedure. Strictly speaking, any deviation from this principle constitutes a revolution or a coup d'état, regardless of the intentions.

Sovereign as a title


In some cases, the title sovereign is not just a generic term, but an actual (part of the) formal style of a Head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

.

Thus from 22 June 1934, to 29 May 1953, (the title "Emperor of India" was dropped as of 15 August 1947, by retroactive proclamation dated 22 June 1948), the King of South Africa
King of South Africa
The King or Queen of South Africa was titular head of state of the Union of South Africa during the state's existence as a Dominion of the British Empire and later a Commonwealth Realm from 31 May 1910 to 31 May 1961, when the country became the Republic of South Africa...

 was styled in the Dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

 of South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

: "By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India and Sovereign in and over the Union of South Africa." Upon the accession of Elizabeth II to the Throne of South Africa in 1952, the title was changed to Queen of South Africa and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth
Head of the Commonwealth
The Head of the Commonwealth heads the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organisation which currently comprises 54 sovereign states. The position is currently occupied by the individual who serves as monarch of each of the Commonwealth realms, but has no day-to-day involvement in the...

, parallel to the style used in almost all the other Commonwealth realm
Commonwealth Realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...

s. The pope holds ex officio the title "Sovereign of the Vatican City State" in respect to Vatican City.

The adjective form can also be used in a Monarch's full style, as in pre-imperial Russia, 16 January 1547 – 22 November 1721: Bozhiyeyu Milostiyu Velikiy/Velikaya Gosudar'/Gosudarynya Tsar'/Tsaritsa i Velikiy/Velikaya Knyaz'/Knyaginya N.N. vseya Rossiy Samodyerzhets "By the Grace of God Great Sovereign Tsar/Tsarina and Grand Prince/Princess, N.N., of All Russia, Autocrat"

See also


  • Air sovereignty
    Air sovereignty
    Air sovereignty follows from state sovereignty and describes the fundamental right of a sovereign state to regulate the use of its airspace on its own Air sovereignty follows from state sovereignty and describes the fundamental right of a sovereign state to regulate the use of its airspace on its...

  • Basileus
    Basileus
    Basileus is a Greek term and title that has signified various types of monarchs in history. It is perhaps best known in English as a title used by the Byzantine Emperors, but also has a longer history of use for persons of authority and sovereigns in ancient Greece, as well as for the kings of...

  • Electronic leviathan
    Electronic leviathan
    The concept of Electronic Leviathan was developed on the basis of research into a product of electronic government, or, the Brazilian Public Key Infrastructure , conducted by Marcello Barra...

  • Neo-medievalism
    Neo-medievalism
    Neo-medievalism is a neologism that was first popularized by Italian medievalist Umberto Eco in his 1973 essay "Dreaming in the Middle Ages"...

  • Plenary authority
  • Souverainism
    Souverainism
    Souverainism , or sovereigntism is a doctrine which supports acquiring or preserving political independence of a nation or a region...

  • Sovereigntist
    Sovereigntist
    Sovereigntism may refer to:*Souverainism, a doctrine which supports acquiring or preserving political independence of a nation or a region*Quebec sovereignty movement...

  • Suzerainty
    Suzerainty
    Suzerainty occurs where a region or people is a tributary to a more powerful entity which controls its foreign affairs while allowing the tributary vassal state some limited domestic autonomy. The dominant entity in the suzerainty relationship, or the more powerful entity itself, is called a...

  • National sovereignty
    National sovereignty
    National sovereignty is the doctrine that sovereignty belongs to and derives from the nation, an abstract entity normally linked to a physical territory and its past, present, and future citizens. It is an ideological concept or doctrine derived from liberal political theory...