Sovereign state: Wikis

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This article is about sovereign independent states. For subnational entities called states, see Federated state. For other uses, see State.

A sovereign state (commonly simply referred to as a state) is a political association with effective internal and external sovereignty over a geographic area and population which is not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state.[1] While in abstract terms a sovereign state can exist without being recognised by other sovereign states, unrecognised states will often find it hard to exercise full treaty-making powers and engage in diplomatic relations with other sovereign states. For a list of all 203 states, see the List of sovereign states page.Thus meaning that the HRH Queen Elizabeth I would be the head of stare for these nations.

Definition

Although the term often includes broadly all institutions of government or rule—ancient and modern—the modern state system bears a number of characteristics that were first consolidated beginning in earnest in the 15th century, when the term "state" also acquired its current meaning. Thus the word is often used in a strict sense to refer only to modern political systems.

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, origins, and history. However, the adjectives national and international also refer to matters pertaining to what are strictly sovereign states, as in national capital, international law.
  • State refers to the set of governing and supportive institutions that have sovereignty over a definite territory and population.

Because terminology has changed over time and past writers often used the word "state" in a different ways it is difficult to accurately define the concept of state. Mikhail Bakunin used the term simply to mean a governing organization. Other writers used the term "state" to mean any law-making or law-enforcement agency. Karl Marx defined the state as the institution used by the ruling class of a country to maintain the conditions of its rule. According to Max Weber, the state is an organization with an effective monopoly on the use of legitimate violence in a particular geographic area. Fascists and some nationalist ideologies view the state as an organic body synonymous with the cultural construct of the nation.

Constitutive theory of statehood

In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna the Final Act only recognised 39 sovereign states in the European diplomatic system, and as a result it was firmly established that in future new states would have to be recognised by other states, and that meant in practice recognition by one or more of the great powers.[2]

The constitutive theory was developed in the 19th century to define what is and is not a state. With this theory, the obligation to obey international law depends on an entity's recognition by other sovereign governments. Because of this, new states could not immediately become part of the international community or be bound by international law, and recognized nations did not have to respect international law in their dealings with them.[3]

One of the major criticisms of this law is the confusion caused when some states recognize a new entity, but other states do not, a situation the theory does not deal with. Hersch Lauterpacht, one of the theory's main proponents, suggested that it is a state's duty to grant recognition as a possible solution. However, a state may use any criteria when judging if they should give recognition and they have no obligation to use such criteria. Many states may only recognize another state if it is to their advantage.[3]

Declarative theory of statehood

One of the criteria most commonly cited by micronations with regard to difficulty getting international recognition is the Montevideo Convention. The Montevideo Convention was signed on December 26 1933 by the United States, Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, Paraguay, Mexico, Panama, Bolivia, Guatemala, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Cuba but it never received international consensus.[4] The Montevideo Convention has four conditions that an entity must meet to become a state:

  • a permanent population
  • defined territory
  • Government
  • capacity to enter into relations with other states

De facto and de jure states

Most sovereign states are states de jure and de facto (i.e. they exist both in law and in reality). However, sometimes states exist only as de jure states in that an organisation is recognised as having sovereignty over and being the legitimate government of a territory over which they have no actual control. Many continental European states maintained governments-in-exile during the Second World War which continued to enjoy diplomatic relations with the Allies, notwithstanding that their countries were under Nazi occupation. A present day example is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which is a United Nations observer, has bi-lateral diplomatic relations with 104 states, while having no territory and possessing only extraterritorial areas (i.e. embassies and consulates).[5] Other states may have sovereignty over a territory but lack international recognition, these are de facto states only. Somaliland is commonly considered to be such a state.[6][7][8][9] For a list of entities that wish to be universally recognized as sovereign states, but do not have complete worldwide diplomatic recognition, see the list of states with limited recognition.

See also

References

  1. ^ "sovereign", The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Houghton Mifflin Company), 2004, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sovereign, retrieved 21 February 2010, "adj. 1. Self-governing; independent: a sovereign state." 
    "sovereign", The New Oxford American Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press), ISBN 0-19-517077-6, "adjective ... [ attrib. ] (of a nation or state) fully independent and determining its own affairs: a sovereign, democratic republic." 
    Central Intelligence Agency, "Entities", The CIA World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/docs/notesanddefs.html#E, retrieved 23 February 2010, "'Independent state' refers to a people politically organized into a sovereign state with a definite territory." 
    See also, the decision of the British House of Lords in Duff Development Co. v. Kelantan Government [1924] 1 AC 797.
  2. ^ Kalevi Jaakko Holsti Taming the Sovereigns p. 128
  3. ^ a b Hillier, Tim (1998). Sourcebook on Public International Law. Routledge. pp. 201–2. ISBN 1859410502. http://books.google.com/books?id=Kr0sOuIx8q8C. 
  4. ^ "Convention on Rights and Duties of States (inter-American); December 26, 1933". The Avalon Project. Yale University. 2008-11-17. Archived from the original on 2008-02-15. http://web.archive.org/web/20080215090153/http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/intdip/interam/intam03.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  5. ^ Bilateral relations with countries, Retrieved 2009-12-22
  6. ^ Arieff, Alexis (November 2008). "De facto Statehood? The Strange Case of Somaliland". Yale Journal of International Affairs. http://yalejournal.org/article/de-facto-statehood-strange-case-somaliland. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  7. ^ "The List: Six Reasons You May Need A New Atlas Soon". Foreign Policy Magazine. July 2007. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3903. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  8. ^ "Overview of De-facto States". Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. July 2008. http://www.unpo.org/content/view/8418/244/. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  9. ^ Wiren, Robert (April 2008). "France recognizes de facto Somaliland". Les Nouvelles d'Addis Magazine. http://www.lesnouvelles.org/P10_magazine/15_grandentretien/15055_mahamudsalahnur_eng.html. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
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Simple English

A sovereign state is when there is sovereignty over an area of land and population which is not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state.[1] While a sovereign state can exist without other states accepting it, these states will often find it hard to make treaties or interact with other sovereign states. For a list of all 203 states, see the List of sovereign states page.

Contents

What a sovereign state is

There is no rule to say what exactly makes a state. Usually, the things a state must have are mainly political, not legal.[2] The Czechs and the Poles were seen as separate states during World War I, even though they did not exist as states yet. L.C. Green explained this by saying that "recognition of statehood is a matter of discretion, it is open to any existing state to accept as a state any entity it wishes, regardless of the existence of territory or an established government."[3]

This means that it is up to any state that already exists to treat any other group as a state. This recognition can be direct or implied. When a state does this, it usually means that the group will also be treated as a state for things that happened in the past. It does not need to mean that the state wants to have a diplomatic relationship with the other group.

Sovereignty is a word that is often used wrongly.[4] Lassa Oppenheim said that there is no idea whose meaning is more controversial than sovereignty. No one argues the fact that from the time the idea of sovereignty was first used in political science until now, there has never been one meaning that everyone agreed on.[5] Justice Evatt of the High Court of Australia says that "sovereignty is neither a question of fact, nor a question of law, but a question that does not arise at all." [6]

Although the word sovereignty often includes all types of government, ancient and modern, the modern state has some links to the type of government first seen in the 15th century, when the term "state" also first meant what it does today. Because of this, the word is often used to refer only to modern political systems.

We often use the words "country", "nation", and "state" as if they mean the same thing; but there is actually a difference:

  • A nation is a group of people who are believed to share common customs, origins, and history. However, the adjectives national and international are used about what is strictly a sovereign state, as in national capital, international law.
  • A state is the government and other supporting groups of people that have sovereignty over an area of land and population.

Because the meaning of the words has changed over time and past writers often used the word "state" in a different ways it is difficult to say exactly what a state is. Mikhail Bakunin used the word simply to mean a governing organization. Other writers used the word "state" to mean any law-making or law enforcement agency. Karl Marx said that the state was what was used by the ruling class of a country to control the rule. According to Max Weber, the state is an organization who are the only people allowed to use violence in a particular area.

Constitutive theory of statehood

In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna the Final Act only recognized 39 sovereign states in Europe. Because of this, they said that in future new states would have to be recognized by other states. In practice, this meant recognition by one or more of the most powerful countries.[7]

This constitutive theory was developed in the 19th century to describe what is and is not a state. With this theory, the need to follow international law depends on whether other sovereign governments recognize the group. Because of this, new states could not become part of the international community or be bound by international law straight away, so recognized nations did not have to respect international law in their dealings with them.[8]

One of the major criticisms of this law is the confusion that happens when some states recognize a new group, but other states do not. Hersch Lauterpacht, one of the main people who supported the theory, suggested that it is a state's job to grant recognition as a possible solution. However, a state may use any set of rules when judging if they should give recognition. Many states may only recognize another state if it will help them.[8]

Declarative theory of statehood

One of the criteria most commonly used by micronations is the Montevideo Convention. The Montevideo Convention was signed on December 26 1933 by the United States, Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, Paraguay, Mexico, Panama, Bolivia, Guatemala, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Cuba but it never received international consensus.[9] The Montevideo Convention has four conditions that a group "should" meet to become a state:

  • a population that lives there
  • a set piece of land
  • a government
  • the ability to enter into relations with other states

According to this, the existence of a state does not depend upon recognition by other states. Whether or not an group meets the conditions is decided by other states when they decide if they are going to treat that group as a state. Usually, new states are formally recognized by at least a few other states.[10]

De facto and de jure states

Most sovereign states are states de jure and de facto. This means they exist both in law and in real life. However, sometimes states are only de jure states. This means that other states see a group as the true government of a place where they have no actual control. Many European states had governments-in-exile during the Second World War which still had relations with the Allies, even though their countries were under Nazi occupation. An example today is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which is a United Nations observer, has bi-lateral diplomatic relations with 104 states. It has no land of its own, only embassies and consulates.[11] Other states may have sovereignty over a place, but are not recognized by other states, these are de facto states only. Many people agree that Somaliland is such a state.[12][13][14][15]

References

  1. "sovereign", The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Houghton Mifflin Company), 2004, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sovereign, retrieved 21 February 2010, "adj. 1. Self-governing; independent: a sovereign state." 
    [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "sovereign"], The New Oxford American Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press), ISBN 0-19-517077-6, "adjective ... [ attrib. ] (of a nation or state) fully independent and determining its own affairs: a sovereign, democratic republic." 
    Central Intelligence Agency, "Entities", The CIA World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/docs/notesanddefs.html#E, retrieved 23 February 2010, "'Independent state' refers to a people politically organized into a sovereign state with a definite territory." 
    See also, the decision of the British House of Lords in Duff Development Co. v. Kelantan Government [1924] 1 AC 797.
  2. See B. Broms, "IV Recognition of States", pp 47-48 in International law: achievements and prospects, UNESCO Series, Mohammed Bedjaoui(ed), Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1991, ISBN 9231027166 [1]
  3. See Israel Yearbook on Human Rights, 1989, Yoram Dinstein, Mala Tabory eds., Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1990, ISBN 0-7923-0450-0, page 135-136 [2]
  4. See "Sovereignty: organized hypocrisy, Stephen D. Krasner, Princeton University Press, 1999, ISBN 069100711X
  5. 1 Lassa Oppenheim, International Law 66 (Sir Arnold D. McNair ed., 4th ed. 1928)
  6. See Sovereignty in cases of Mandated Territories, in "International law and the protection of Namibia's territorial integrity", By S. Akweenda, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1997, ISBN 9041104127, page 40
  7. Kalevi Jaakko Holsti Taming the Sovereigns p. 128
  8. 8.0 8.1 Hillier, Tim (1998). Sourcebook on Public International Law. Routledge. pp. 201–2. ISBN 1859410502. http://books.google.com/books?id=Kr0sOuIx8q8C. 
  9. "Convention on Rights and Duties of States (inter-American); December 26, 1933". The Avalon Project. Yale University. 2008-11-17. Archived from the original on 2008-02-15. http://web.archive.org/web/20080215090153/http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/intdip/interam/intam03.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  10. See for example "The Restatement (Third) of The Foreign Relations Law of the United States", American Law Institute, (1987), §201.(h)
  11. Bilateral relations with countries, Retrieved 2009-12-22
  12. Arieff, Alexis (November 2008). "De facto Statehood? The Strange Case of Somaliland". Yale Journal of International Affairs. http://yalejournal.org/article/de-facto-statehood-strange-case-somaliland. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  13. "The List: Six Reasons You May Need A New Atlas Soon". Foreign Policy Magazine. July 2007. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3903. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  14. "Overview of De-facto States". Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. July 2008. http://www.unpo.org/content/view/8418/244/. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  15. Wiren, Robert (April 2008). "France recognizes de facto Somaliland". Les Nouvelles d'Addis Magazine. http://www.lesnouvelles.org/P10_magazine/15_grandentretien/15055_mahamudsalahnur_eng.html. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 

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