Sovereignty, Sovereignty and independence

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Sovereignty, in political theory, is a substantive term designating supreme authority over some polity. It is a basic principle underlying the dominant Westphalian model of state foundation.


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. Also a state may lose its independence temporarily while retaining its legal sovereignty as in the case of the illegal incorporation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union between 1940 and 1991.

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