Sovereignty is the full right and power of a governing body over
itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies. In
political theory, sovereignty is a substantive term designating
supreme authority over some polity. It is a basic principle
underlying the dominant Westphalian model of state foundation.
1 Different approaches
2.4 Age of Enlightenment
3 Definition and types
De jure and de facto
Sovereignty and independence
3.4.1 Modern internal sovereignty
3.6 Shared and pooled
7 Relation to rule of law
8 See also
10 Further reading
The concepts of sovereignty have been discussed throughout history,
and are still actively debated. Its definition, concept, and
application has changed throughout, especially during the Age of
Enlightenment. The current notion of state sovereignty contains four
aspects consisting of territory, population, authority and
recognition. According to Stephen D. Krasner, the term could also
be understood in four different ways:
domestic sovereignty – actual control over a state exercised by an
authority organized within this state,
interdependence sovereignty – actual control of movement across
state's borders, assuming the borders exist,
international legal sovereignty – formal recognition by other
Westphalian sovereignty – lack of other authority over state other
than the domestic authority (examples of such other authorities could
be a non-domestic church, a non-domestic political organization, or
any other external agent).
Often, these four aspects all appear together, but this is not
necessarily the case – they are not affected by one another, and
there are historical examples of states that were non-sovereign in one
aspect while at the same time being sovereign in another of these
aspects. According to Immanuel Wallerstein, another fundamental
feature of sovereignty is that it is a claim that must be recognised
by others if it is to have any meaning: "
Sovereignty is more than
anything else a matter of legitimacy [...that] requires reciprocal
Sovereignty is a hypothetical trade, in which two
potentially conflicting sides, respecting de facto realities of power,
exchange such recognitions as their least costly strategy."
The Roman jurist
Ulpian observed that:
The people transferred all their imperium and power to the Emperor.
Cum lege regia, quae de imperio eius lata est, populus ei et in eum
omne suum imperium et potestatem conferat (Digest I.4.1)
The emperor is not bound by the laws. Princeps legibus solutus est
A decision by the emperor has the force of a statute. Quod principi
placuit legis habet vigorem. (Digest I.4.1)
Ulpian was expressing the idea that the Emperor exercised a rather
absolute form of sovereignty, that originated in the people, although
he did not use the term expressly.
Classical Ulpian's statements were known in medieval Europe, but
sovereignty was 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
aristocracy. Furthermore, both were strongly constrained by
Sovereignty existed during the Medieval Period as the de jure rights
of nobility and royalty, and in the de facto 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 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 many 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.
We desire most from men,
From men both lund and poor,
To have sovereignty without lies.
For where we have sovereignty, all is ours,
Though a knight be ever so fierce,
And ever win mastery.
It is our desire to have master
Over such a sir.
Such is our purpose.
— The Wedding of
Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell (c. 1450), 
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 onto their own hands at the
expense of the nobility, and the modern nation state was emerging.
Jean Bodin, partly in reaction to the chaos of the French wars of
religion, presented theories of sovereignty calling for strong central
authority in the form of absolute monarchy. 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
Absolute: On this point he said that the sovereign must 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
Perpetual: Not temporarily delegated as to a strong leader in an
emergency or to a state employee such as a magistrate. 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 the ruler (also known as the 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, that is, laws made by humans. He emphasized that a
sovereign is bound to observe certain basic rules derived from the
divine law, the law of nature or reason, and the law that is common to
all nations (jus gentium), as well as the fundamental laws of the
state that determine who is the sovereign, who succeeds to
sovereignty, and what limits the sovereign power. Thus, Bodin’s
sovereign was restricted by the constitutional law of the state and by
the higher law that was considered as binding upon every human
being. 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
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 from whom he can
obtain advice, to delegate some power to magistrates for the practical
administration of the law, and to use the Estates as a means of
communicating with the people. Bodin believed that
“the most divine, most excellent, and the state form most proper to
royalty is governed partly aristocratically and partly
With his doctrine that sovereignty is conferred by divine law, Bodin
predefined the scope of the divine right of kings.
Age of Enlightenment
During the Age of Enlightenment, the idea of sovereignty gained both
legal and moral force as the main Western description of the meaning
and power of a State. In particular, the "Social contract" as a
mechanism for establishing sovereignty was suggested and, by 1800,
widely accepted, especially in the new
United States and France,
though also in Great Britain to a lesser extent.
Thomas Hobbes, in Leviathan (1651) arrived a conception of sovereignty
similar to Bodin's, which had just achieved legal status in the "Peace
of Westphalia", but for different reasons. He created the first modern
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 [sic] 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
strengthened the definition of sovereignty beyond either Westphalian
or Bodin's, by saying 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 physical
safety—led him to conclude that if and when the ruler fails, the
people recover their ability to protect themselves by forming a new
Hobbes's theories decisively shape the concept of sovereignty through
the medium of social contract theories. Jean-Jacques Rousseau's
(1712–1778) definition of popular sovereignty (with early
antecedents in Francisco Suárez's theory of the origin of power),
provides that the people are the legitimate sovereign. Rousseau
considered sovereignty to be inalienable; he condemned the distinction
between the origin and the exercise of sovereignty, a distinction upon
which constitutional monarchy or representative democracy is founded.
John Locke, and
Montesquieu are also key figures in the unfolding of
the concept of sovereignty; their views differ with Rousseau and with
Hobbes on this issue of alienability.
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
Rousseau, in 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."
Definition and types
There exists perhaps no conception the meaning of which is more
controversial than that of sovereignty. It is an indisputable fact
that this conception, from the moment when it was introduced into
political science until the present day, has never had a meaning which
was universally agreed upon.
Lassa Oppenheim (30-03-1858 – 07-10-1919), an authority on
An important factor of sovereignty is its degree of
absoluteness. A sovereign power has absolute sovereignty when it
is not restricted by a constitution, by the laws of its predecessors,
or by custom, and no areas of law or policy are reserved as being
outside its control. International law; 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.
A key element of sovereignty in a legalistic sense is that of
exclusivity of jurisdiction. Specifically, the degree to which
decisions made by a sovereign entity might be contradicted by another
authority. Along these lines, the German sociologist Max Weber
proposed that sovereignty is a community's monopoly on the legitimate
use of force; and thus any group claiming the same right must either
be brought under the yoke of the sovereign, proven illegitimate, or
otherwise contested and defeated for sovereignty to be genuine.
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
De jure and de facto
De jure, or legal, sovereignty concerns the expressed and
institutionally recognised right to exercise control over a territory.
De facto, 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
predominantly by military or police force it is considered coercive
Sovereignty and independence
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State sovereignty is sometimes viewed synonymously with independence,
however, sovereignty can be transferred as a legal right whereas
independence cannot. A state can achieve de facto independence
long after acquiring sovereignty, such as in the case of Cambodia,
Laos and Vietnam. Additionally, independence can also be suspended
when an entire region becomes subject to an occupation such as when
Iraq had been overrun by the forces to take part in the
Iraq War of
Iraq had not been annexed by any country, so its sovereignty
during this period was not contested by any state including those
present on the territory. Alternatively, independence can be lost
completely when sovereignty itself becomes the subject of dispute. The
pre-World War II administrations of Latvia,
Lithuania and Estonia
maintained an exile existence (and considerable international
recognition) whilst the entities were annexed by the
Soviet Union and
governed locally by their pro-Soviet functionaries. When in 1991
Estonia re-enacted independence, it was done so
on the basis of continuity directly from the pre-Soviet
republics. Another complicated sovereignty scenario can arise
when regime itself is the subject of dispute. In the case of Poland,
Poland which governed
Poland from 1945 to
1989 is now seen to have been an illegal entity by the modern Polish
administration. The post-1989 Polish state claims direct continuity
from the Second Polish
Republic which ended in 1939. For other reasons
Poland maintains its communist-era outline as opposed to its
pre-World War II shape which included areas now in Belarus, Czech
Ukraine but did not include some of
its western regions that were then in Germany.
At the opposite end of the scale, there is no dispute regarding the
self-governance of certain self-proclaimed states such as
Republic of South Ossetia or the
Republic of Kosovo (see
List of states with limited recognition) since their governments
neither answer to a bigger state, nor is their governance subjected to
supervision. The sovereignty (i.e. legal right to govern) however, is
disputed in all three cases as the first two entities are claimed by
Georgia and the third by Serbia.
Internal sovereignty is the relationship between a sovereign power and
the political community. A central concern is legitimacy: by what
right does a government exercise authority? Claims of legitimacy might
refer to the divine right of kings or to a social contract (i.e.
popular sovereignty).
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, organisations such as rebel groups will undermine 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
monarchical 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, internal sovereignty is usually
found in states that have public sovereignty and rarely found 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
to 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.
Sovereign state § Recognition
External sovereignty concerns the relationship between a sovereign
power and other states. For example, the
United Kingdom uses the
following criterion when deciding under what conditions other states
recognise a political entity as having sovereignty over some
"Sovereignty." A government which exercises de facto administrative
control over a country and is not subordinate to any other government
in that country or a foreign sovereign state.
(The Arantzazu Mendi,  A.C. 256), Stroud's Judicial Dictionary
External sovereignty is connected with questions of international law
– such as: when, if ever, is intervention by one country into
another's territory permissible?
Following the Thirty Years' War, a European religious conflict that
embroiled much of the continent, the
Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia in 1648
established the notion of territorial sovereignty as a norm of
noninterference in the affairs of other nations, so-called Westphalian
sovereignty, 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 (Whose realm, his religion), leaving the Roman Catholic Church
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 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 was in this position between the
annexation in 1870 of the
Papal States by Italy and the signing of the
Lateran Treaties in 1929, a 59-year period during which 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.
Another case, sui generis, though often contested, is
the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the third sovereign entity
inside Italian territory (after
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 orders.
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, at the time the closest permanent equivalent to a
UN-type general assembly; confirmed 1620). These sovereign rights were
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, Netherlands or Czechoslovakia) 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 was in a similar situation
vis-à-vis the Iraqi occupation of its country during 1990–1991.
The government of
Republic of China was recognized as sovereign over
China from 1911 to 1971 despite that its mainland China territory
became occupied by Communist Chinese forces since 1949. In 1971 it
lost UN recognition to Chinese Communist-led People's
China and its sovereign and political status as a state became
disputed and it lost its ability to use "China" as its name and
therefore became commonly known as Taiwan.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is commonly mistaken to
be sovereign. It has been granted various degrees of special
privileges and legal immunities in many countries,[which?] that in
cases like Switzerland are considerable, The Committee is a
private organisation governed by Swiss law.
Shared and pooled
Just as the office of head of state 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 form of a condominium.
Likewise the member states of international organizations may
voluntarily bind themselves by treaty to a supranational organization,
such as a continental union. In the case of the European Union members
states this is called "pooled sovereignty".
Another example of shared and pooled sovereignty is the Acts of Union
1707 which created the unitary state now known as the United
Kingdom. It was a full economic union, meaning the
Scottish and English systems of currency, taxation and laws regulating
trade were aligned. Nonetheless, Scotland and England never fully
surrendered or pooled all of their governance sovereignty; they
retained many of their previous national institutional features and
characteristics, particularly relating to their legal, religious and
educational systems. In 2012, the Scottish Government, created in
1998 through devolution in the United Kingdom, negotiated terms with
Government of the
United Kingdom for the Scottish independence
referendum, 2014 which resulted in the people of Scotland deciding to
continue the pooling of its sovereignty with the rest of the United
A community of people who claim the right of self-determination based
on a common ethnicity, history and culture might seek to establish
sovereignty over a region, thus creating a nation-state. Such nations
are sometimes recognised as autonomous areas rather than as fully
sovereign, independent states.
In a federal system of government, sovereignty also refers to powers
which a constituent state or republic possesses independently of the
national government. In a confederation constituent entities retain
the right to withdraw from the national body, but in a
federation member states or republics do not hold
that right.[dubious – discuss]
Different interpretations of state sovereignty in the
United States of
America, as it related to the expansion of slavery and fugitive slave
laws, led to the outbreak of the American Civil War. Depending on the
particular issue, sometimes both northern and southern states
justified their political positions by appealing to state sovereignty.
Fearing that slavery would be threatened by results of the 1860
presidential election, eleven slave states declared their independence
from the federal Union and formed a new confederation. The United
States government rejected the secessions as rebellion, declaring that
secession from the Union by an individual state was unconstitutional,
as the states were part of an indissolvable federation.[citation
Main article: Acquisition of sovereignty
A number of modes 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. The
classification of these modes originally derived from Roman property
law and from the 15th and 16th century with the development of
international law. The modes are:
Cession is the transfer of territory from one state to another usually
by means of treaty;
Occupation is the acquisition of territory that belongs to no state,
or terra nullius;
Prescription is the effective control of territory of another
Operations of nature is the acquisition of territory through natural
processes like river accretion or volcanism;
Creation is the process by which new land is reclaimed from the sea
such as in the Netherlands.
Limits of national jurisdiction and sovereignty
Outer space (including
Earth orbits; the
Moon and other celestial
bodies, and their orbits)
territorial waters airspace
contiguous zone airspace
land territory surface
internal waters surface
territorial waters surface
contiguous zone surface
Exclusive Economic Zone surface
international waters surface
Exclusive economic zone
land territory underground
Continental shelf surface
extended continental shelf surface
international seabed surface
Continental shelf underground
extended continental shelf underground
international seabed underground
full national jurisdiction and sovereignty
restrictions on national jurisdiction and sovereignty
international jurisdiction per common heritage of mankind
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 sovereigns 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
During the brief period of absolute monarchies in Europe, the divine
right of kings was an important competing justification for the
exercise of sovereignty. The
Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven had some similar
implications in China.
A republic 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 is based on the concept of popular sovereignty. In a direct
democracy the public plays an active role in shaping and deciding
Representative democracy permits a transfer of the exercise of
sovereignty from the people to a legislative body or an executive (or
to some combination of legislature, executive and Judiciary). Many
representative democracies provide limited direct democracy through
referendum, initiative, and recall.
Parliamentary sovereignty refers to a representative democracy where
the parliament is ultimately sovereign and not the executive power nor
Classical liberals such as Stuart Mill consider every individual as
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
Internationalists 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
Anarchists and some libertarians 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. Salvador
Dalí, for instance, talked of "anarcho-monarchist" (as usual for him,
tongue in cheek);
Antonin Artaud of Heliogabalus: Or, The Crowned
Max Stirner of The Ego and Its Own;
Georges Bataille and
Jacques Derrida 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. The unified
consciousness is sovereignty over one's own body, as Nietzsche
demonstrated (see also Pierre Klossowski's book on
Nietzsche and the
Vicious Circle). See also sovereignty of the individual and
Imperialists 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 of 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.
According to Matteo Laruffa "sovereignty resides in every public
action and policy as the exercise of executive powers by institutions
open to the participation of citizens to the decision-making
Relation to rule of law
Another topic is whether the law is held to be sovereign, 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.
Look up sovereignty in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Mandate of Heaven
Sovereignty of the Individual
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "article name
needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
^ a b c d e f "sovereignty (politics)". Encyclopædia Britannica.
Retrieved 5 August 2010.
^ a b Núñez, Jorge Emilio. "About the Impossibility of Absolute
State Sovereignty". International Journal for the Semiotics of Law.
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