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The Concepts of Sovereignty

Referencing Styles : APA | Pages : 1


Sovereignty as a term refers to the meaning of having the full right or power of a governing body over itself, without having interference from any outside sources or bodies. In the field of theory related to politics, Sovereignty holds the position for a substantive term entrusting the supreme authority leaving some polity. The term arises from the Latin term ‘superanus’ which carries the meaning of ‘chief’ or ‘ruler’.

The concepts of Sovereignty have been the topic of discussion throughput history and are still taken as a topic of active debate. The definition, application and concept has undergone constant change throughout, especially during the era of Age of Enlightenment. The current notion related to state Sovereignty consists of four aspects which includes territory, authority, population and recognition. As stated by Stephen D. Krasner, the term could be understood in four different ways,

  • Domestic Sovereignty- actual control over a state is exercised by any authority organized within the state.
  • Interdependence Sovereignty- actual control of movement across a state’s borders with an assumption that a border exists.
  • International legal Sovereignty- which refers to the formal recognition by any other sovereign state.
  • Westphalian Sovereignty- lack of any other authority keeping aside the domestic authority.

More often, all of these four aspects appear together but is not necessary within this particular case. As stated by Immanuel Wallerstein, another prime feature of Sovereignty is that it belongs to claim that might be recognized by other carrying a meaning which says that, Sovereignty is a lot more than a matter of legitimacy which has the requirement of reciprocal recognition. Sovereignty refers to a hypothetical trade which consists the potential conflicting sides, showing respect to the de facto reality power and exchange of such recognitions as their one of the least costly strategy.

In history, Sovereignty had reemerged as a concept in the late 16th century, the time when the civil wars had been a craving for a stronger central authority during the time when the monarchs had begun gathering power into their own hands against the expense of the nobility and when the modern nation state was emerging. Jean Bodin, who was a part within the reaction to the chaos of the French wars of religion had presented the theories of Sovereignty calling for a stronger central authority possessing a form of absolute monarchy. Bodin again argued that, the inherent nature of state of the Sovereignty must be,

  • Absolute- at a point where the sovereign must be hedged along with obligations and conditions, must contain the ability to legislate without the subjects consent and must not be bounded by the laws of his predecessors and also could not be because of it being illogical and again being bounded by laws.
  • Perpetual- which is not temporarily delegated as to a strong leader who is in an emergency or a state employee such as a magistrate. That individual had that Sovereignty since the person was entrusted with such power to have an enforcement of a time limit upon the governing power.

Bodin rejected this particular notion of transference of Sovereignty from the normal people to the ruler keeping in mind the natural and the divine law which used to confer upon the sovereign right to rule. However, the sovereign is not above the divine or the natural law, but is above the positive law and the laws made by the humans, themselves. Bodin again highlighted that a sovereign is bound to have observations of certain primary rules which have been derived from the divine law, the law of reason or nature and again the laws related to the state laws which determine who the sovereign will be, who will be the successor to the Sovereignty and what will be the limitations placed upon the sovereign power. Hence, Bodin’s sovereign was placed upon by some restrictions by the constitutional and the higher law of the state which were again considered as a binding upon every single individual belonging to the state. The restrictions of having to obey the divine and the natural laws imposed certain ethical constraints upon Bodin. Bodin had also held, Lois royales, which refers to the fundamental laws belonging to the French monarchy contained regulated matters such as succession, are the natural laws and the binding imposed upon the French Sovereign. Despite his whole life commitment to absolutism, Bodin used to carry certain moderate opinions on how the government in current practice should be carried out by the government officials. Bodin had a belief that, the most divine, excellent and the most proper royalty was governed in parts both by aristocrats and democrats.



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