3 Introduction The concept of sovereignty became the main idea of modern political science. The word sovereignty is derived from the Latin word superanus which means supremacy or superior power. Sovereignty is in essence about the power to make laws and the ability to rule effectively. It is one of the most written about political concepts and has been discussed, debated and questioned throughout the history.
4 Origin of the Term Although the term “sovereignty” is modern, the idea goes back to Aristotle, who spoke of the “supreme power” of the state. The Roman jurists and the civilians throughout the Middle Ages likewise had the idea, for they frequently employed the terms summa potestas and plenitudo potestatis by which to designate the supreme power of the state. The modern terms “sovereign” and “sovereignty” (souverain, souverainete) were first used by the French jurists in the fifteenth century.
5 Origin of the Term Jean Bodin ( ) in the sixteenth century was the first writer to discus at length in his “Six Books on the Republic” the nature and characteristics of sovereignty. Originally conceived as a personal attribute of the monarch, sovereignty came in the hands of Bodin to be regarded as a constituent element of the state. Niccolo Machiaveli ( ), Thomas Hobbes ( ), John Locke ( ),and Montesquieu ( ) are also key figures in unfolding the concept of sovereignty.
6 Definitions Jean Bodin Hugo Grotious Jellinek Jean Bodin the first writer to employ the term, defined it as “the supreme power of the state over citizens and subjects, unrestrained by law”. Hugo Grotious who wrote half a century later, defined it as “the supreme political power vested in him whose acts are not subject to any other and whose will cannot be overridden”. Jellinek defined it as “that characteristic of the state by virtue of which it cannot be legally bound except by its own will, or limited by any other power than itself”.
7 Definitions Duguit Burgess Duguit says that sovereignty according to the dominant theory in France is the “commanding power of the state; it is the will of the nation organized in the state; it is the right to give unconditional orders to all individuals in the territory of the state”. Burgess characterizes it as “original, absolute, ultimate power over the individual subject and all associations of objects. Again he calls it the “underived and independent power to command and compel obedience”.
8 Characteristics Permanence Permanence is the chief characteristics of sovereignty. Sovereignty lasts as long as an independent state lasts. The death of the king, the overthrow of the government does not affect sovereignty. Dr. Garner has beautifully summed up this idea- “sovereignty does not cease with the death or temporary disposition of a particular bearer, or the reorganization of the state, but shifts immediately to a new bearer, as the centre of gravity shifts from one part of physical body to another when it undergoes external change”.
9 Characteristics Universality The state is all comprehensive and the sovereign power is universally applicable. No association or group of individuals, however rich or powerful it may be, can resist or disobey the sovereign authority. Every individual and every association of individual is subject to the sovereignty of the state. Sovereignty makes no exception and grants no exemption to anyone. It grants exemptions only in the case of foreign embassies and diplomatic representatives of foreign countries on the reciprocal basis.
10 Characteristics Exclusiveness By exclusiveness is meant that there can not be two sovereigns in one independent state and if two sovereigns exist in a state, the unity of that state will be destroyed. There can not exist another sovereign state within the existing sovereign state.Inalienability By inalienability we mean that the state cannot part with its sovereignty. Sovereignty is the life and soul of the state and it can not be alienated without destroying the state itself.
11 Characteristics Indivisibility Sovereignty can not be divided. The exercise of its powers may be distributed among various governmental organs, but sovereignty is a unit, just as the state is a unit.Unity Unity is very spirit of sovereignty. The sovereign state is united just as we are united.
12 Characteristics Absoluteness Sovereignty is absolute and unlimited. There can be no legal power within the state superior to it, and there can be no legal limit to the supreme law making power of the state. The sovereign is entitled to do whatsoever he likes.Originality By originality we mean that the sovereign wields power by virtue of his own right and not by virtue of anybody’s mercy.
13 Kinds of Sovereignty Internal sovereignty Sovereignty is normally understood as possessing two distinct aspects: internal and external. Sovereignty within the national sphere is known as internal sovereignty. A state which possesses internal sovereignty is one which has the authority and ability to exercise command over its society. In this situation there are no alternative sites of authority within the nation.
14 Kinds of Sovereignty External sovereignty External sovereignty concerns the relationship between a sovereign power and other states. The term external sovereignty is employed by some writers to mean nothing more than the freedom of the state from subjugation to or control by a foreign state; that is supremacy of the state as against all foreign wills, whether of persons or state.
15 Kinds of Sovereignty Nominal & Real Sovereignty real sovereignty In ancient times many states had monarchies and their rulers were monarchs. They wielded absolute power and their senates were quite powerless. At that time they exercised real sovereignty and regarded as real sovereign. For example, Kings were sovereigns and hence were all powerful in England before fifteenth century, in USSR before the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and in France before 1789.
16 Kinds of Sovereignty Nominal & Real Sovereignty Now the parts are almost reversed. King is consulted but the ministers decide. The king has now ceased to exercise any real authority; it is titular. By titular sovereignty we mean sovereignty by the title only. In theory, he may still possess all the sovereign powers which were once enjoyed by him, but in actual practice there is some other person or body of persons who act on behalf of the sovereign and exercise supreme authority.
17 Kinds of Sovereignty Legal Sovereignty Legal sovereignty is the conception of sovereignty in terms of law; that is, sovereignty as the supreme law-making authority. The legal sovereign, therefore, is that determinate authority which is able to express in legal form the highest commands of the state-that power which can override the prescriptions of the divine law, the principles of morality, the mandates of public opinion etc. For instance, the parliament is the legal authority to exercise legal sovereignty.
18 Kinds of Sovereignty Political Sovereignty Behind the sovereign which the lawyer recognizes, there is another sovereignty to which the legal sovereign must bow. This sovereign is called political sovereignty. In a narrower sense the electorate constitutes the political sovereign, yet in a wider sense it may be said to be the whole mass of population, including every person who contributes to molding of public opinion whether he is a voter or not.
19 Kinds of Sovereignty Popular Sovereignty Popular sovereignty roughly means the power of the masses as contrasted with the power of the individual ruler of the class. It implies manhood, suffrage with each individual having only one vote and the control of the legislature by the representatives of the people. In popular sovereignty public is regarded as supreme. In the ancient times many writers on Political Science used popular sovereignty as a weapon to refuse absolutism of the monarchs.
20 Kinds of Sovereignty De jure Sovereignty De jure sovereignty is the legal sovereignty and it has foundation in law. Its attribute is the right to govern and command obedience. As a matter of fact it may not be actual sovereign, for it may be expelled from its rightful place or may have temporarily disappeared through disorganization or disintegration; but, however, this may be, it has legal right on its side and is lawfully entitled to command and exact obedience.
21 Kinds of Sovereignty De facto Sovereignty De facto (or actual) sovereignty is the sovereignty which is actually able to make its will prevail, though it may be without legal basis. That person or body of persons who actually exercises power, and who, for the time being, is able to enforce obedience, or to whose commands voluntary obedience is given by the bulk of the people, is called the de facto sovereign. The criterion of sovereignty is actual obedience to commands.
22 Theories of Sovereignty Monistic Theory John Austin ( ) in his famous book, ‘Lectures on Jurisprudence’, published in 1832, explained monistic theory of sovereignty. He defined sovereignty as, ‘if a determinate human superior, not in the habit of obedience to a like superior, receives habitual obedience from the bulk of a given society, that determinate human superior is the sovereign in that society, and the society (including the superior) is a society political and independent.”
23 Monistic Theory Few major points about this sovereignty is: The power of the determinate human superior is sovereignty. The determinate human has no rival of equal status in the state and nor does he obey the order of anyone. The determinate human superior is the only law maker. His commands are laws and without him the state can have no laws. The bulk of the people obey sovereign’s command as a matter of habit. A society without sovereignty can not be called a state.
24 Monistic Theory: Criticism Austin’s theory has been criticized on many grounds, which are as follows: This theory is inconsistent with the present-day popular sovereignty-a doctrine which lies at the basis of modern democratic state. It ignores the power of public opinion and political sovereignty. It ignores the great body of customary law which has grown up through usages and interpretation, and which never had its source in the will of determinate superior. Force is not only sanction behind laws. This theory makes the sovereign completely absolute.
25 Pluralistic Theory Duguit Harold J. Laski J. N. Figgs, Earnest Barker, Maclver are the exponents of pluralism. According to the pluralists, sovereignty resides not with the state but it resides with many other institutions. Sovereignty is possessed by many associations. It is not individual unit; the state is not supreme or unlimited. Pluralists argue that state is not only the supreme institution and no single source of authority. Sovereignty is not indivisible and exclusive they also argued.
26 Pluralistic Theory: Criticism The state is needed to control various types of institutions existing in society. It is the sovereign state that brings about unity and regulates all the associations existing in society. If sovereignty is divided among the various associations existing in society, this division will lead to the destruction of sovereignty. It is mere an illusion and not a reality that other associations are equal in status to the state. State is needed for protecting people from the excess of associations.
27 Challenges against the Idea The idea that nation-states are able to be sovereign has been the subject of serious challenge in recent years. Globalization continues to have an increasingly negative impact on the sovereign rights of individual nation states. There are situations in which states have already accepted some constraints upon their freedom to conduct themselves as they please within their territories.
28 Challenges against the Idea International Monetary Fund. There exists a range of global institutions which appear to promote a particular international economic orthodoxy and therefore allegedly force governments to pursue particular patterns of policy. The capacity of national governments to manage their economies autonomously has been undermined by the evolution of world economy and the appearance of authoritative global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.
29 Challenges against the Idea Nation states have become more interdependent than ever before and are constantly developing their relationships with each other by means of treaties. In the period from 1945 to 21 May 1996 the United Nations, to which all treaties should be notified, had registered no less than treaties. Every such instrument affects, to a greater or lesser extent, the freedom of the parties to the treaty. This is how national sovereignty is compromised by international agreements.
30 Challenges against the Idea Sovereignty is also challenged at the doctrine level by powerful and persuasive ideas such as universal human rights. Declarations such as the Council of Europe's Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Council of Europe1950) are premised on the view that human rights transcend national boundaries and that appropriate definitions of rights and freedoms are not the business of national authorities. The European Convention opens up the possibility that citizens can take their own governments to the European Court of Human Rights.
31 Conclusion Nation states still matter. They are the sources of power with which most people readily identify. Power becomes meaningful only in reference to sovereignty. Moreover, terms like community obligation legitimacy, authority, state government and constitution...all are integrated and made coherent by the concept of sovereignty. It is a unifying theory, not a simple description. It is a doctrine which deals with facts of political life, and not fantasies.
32 Required Readings Principles of Political Science Kapur, A.C.(2000), Principles of Political Science, New Delhi: Chand & Company Ltd. Political Science and Government Garner James Wilford (1951),Political Science and Government, Calcutta: The World Press Private Ltd.