Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no pure legal definition can be provided. In theoretical terms, the idea of "sovereignty", historically, from Socrates to Thomas Hobbes, has always necessitated a moral imperative on the entity exercising it.
For centuries past, the idea that a state could be sovereign was always connected to its ability to guarantee the best interests of its own citizens. Thus, if a state could not act in the best interests of its own citizens, it could not be thought of as a “sovereign” state.
The concept of sovereignty has been discussed throughout history, from the time of the Romans through to the present day. It has changed in its definition, concept, and application throughout, especially during the Age of Enlightenment. The current notion of state sovereignty contains four aspects, or different ways of understanding the term:
- 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 sovereign states,
- Westphalian sovereignty - lack of other authority over state 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.
Famous quotes containing the word sovereignty:
“If Thou be more than hate or atmosphere
Step forth in splendor, mortify our wolves.
Or we assume a sovereignty ourselves.”
—Gwendolyn Brooks (b. 1917)
“A family on the throne is an interesting idea.... It brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life.”
—Walter Bagehot (18261877)
“What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
That beetles oer his base into the sea,
And there assume some other horrible form
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason,
And draw you into madness?”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)