Sovereign state, Westphalian sovereignty

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Summary

A sovereign state is a nonphysical juridical entity of the international legal system that is represented by one centralized government that has supreme independent authority over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined territory, one government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither dependent on nor subject to any other power or state. The existence or disappearance of a state is a question of fact. While according to the declarative theory of state recognition a sovereign state can exist without being recognised by other sovereign states, unrecognised state

Details

Westphalian sovereignty is the concept of nation-state sovereignty based on territoriality and the absence of a role for external agents in domestic structures. It is an international system of states, multinational corporations, and organizations that began with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.

Sovereignty is a term that is frequently misused. Up until the 19th century, the radicalised concept of a "standard of civilisation" was routinely deployed to determine that certain peoples in the world were "uncivilised", and lacking organised societies. That position was reflected and constituted in the notion that their "sovereignty" was either completely lacking, or at least of an inferior character when compared to that of "civilised" people." Lassa Oppenheim said "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." In the opinion of H. V. Evatt of the High Court of Australia "sovereignty is neither a question of fact, nor a question of law, but a question that does not arise at all."

Sovereignty has taken on a different meaning with the development of the principle of self-determination and the prohibition against the threat or use of force as jus cogens norms of modern international law. The United Nations Charter, the Draft Declaration on Rights and Duties of States, and the charters of regional international organisations express the view that all states are juridically equal and enjoy the same rights and duties based upon the mere fact of their existence as persons under international law. The right of nations to determine their own political status and exercise permanent sovereignty within the limits of their territorial jurisdictions is widely recognised.

In political science, sovereignty is usually defined as the most essential attribute of the state in the form of its complete self-sufficiency in the frames of a certain territory, that is its supremacy in the domestic policy and independence in the foreign one.

In casual usage, the terms "country", "nation", and "state" are often used as if they were synonymous; but in a more strict usage they can be distinguished:

  • Nation denotes a people who are believed to or deemed to share common customs, religion, language, origins, ancestry or history. However, the adjectives national and international are frequently used to refer to matters pertaining to what are strictly sovereign states, as in national capital, international law.

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External Links

  • WikipediaOpinions of the Badinter Arbitration CommitteeA Brief Primer on International LawWhat constitutes the sovereign state?

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