- Sovereignty is a characteristic of a state that gives the state supreme authority to create and implement laws, as well as take sensible decisions for the welfare of the people of that state or country.
- An aspect of sovereignty is also territoriality, which encompasses the concepts of geographical borders. Thus, sovereignty for a country or state is supreme authority, but within the geographical boundaries of that state.
- When a state or country is sovereign, no third-party is allowed to interfere in state decisions, and the responsibilities of governing rests only on the upper authority.
- Sovereignty of all states are recognized equally in the UN Charter.
- In light of the modern international laws, all states and countries are bound together by their duties and responsibilities towards humans in general, and to protect human rights. In this case, sovereignty is not an absolute authority. Any kind of actions that may violate human rights (genocide, crimes against humanity) are thereby prohibited.
- Sovereignty allows states/countries to take advantage of certain benefits and rights including –
- The right to self-defence
- The right to form international relationships
- The right to formulate policies for social, economical and political systems
- The right to utilise their natural resources
- The right to participate in international conferences
- The right to form international treaties
- The right of legation
- Although generally, other international states cannot intervene in state affairs of a sovereign state, they, as well as the UN can intervene under certain circumstances. This right of intervention is entrusted upon the UN Security Council. The UN may intervene in the affairs of a sovereign state only when the state’s actions or laws can be considered as a threat to international peace and security.
Extract from Legal Studies Stage 6 Syllabus. © 2009 Board of Studies NSW.