POLITICS AND THE CONTINUED EXISTENCE OF A STATE
WHAT IS A STATE?
The state has been defined by a number of political thinkers who tried their best to lead us know what the state actually men’s or stands for. Some of these definitions are as follows:
Aristotle defined a state as “a union of families and villages having for its end a perfect and self-sufficing life which we mean a happy and honorable life”.
Holland defines a state as “a numerous assemblage of human beings generally occupying a territory amongst whom the will of the majority or class are made to prevail against any of their number who oppose it.
In international law, a sovereign state is a nonphysical juridical entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined territory, one government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood that a sovereign state is neither dependent on nor subjected to any other power or state.
THE CONTNUED EXISTENCE OF A STATE
The existence or disappearance of a state is a question of fact. While according to the declarative theory of statehood, 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.
EMERGENCE OF THE STATES
States came into existence as people “gradually transferred their allegiance from an individual sovereign (king, duke, prince) to an intangible but territorial political entity, of the state”. States are but one of several political orders that emerged from feudal Europe, others being city states, leagues, and empires with universalist claims to authority.
Westphalian sovereignty is the concept of nation-state sovereignty based on territoriality and the absence of a role for external agents in domestic structures. It is an international system of states, multinational corporations, and organizations that began with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
Sovereignty is a term that is frequently misused. Up until the 19th century, the radicalized concept of a “standard of civilization” was routinely deployed to determine that certain peoples in the world were “uncivilized”, and lacking organized societies. That position was reflected and constituted in the notion that their “sovereignty” was either completely lacking, or at least of an inferior character when compared to that of “civilized” people.” Lassa Oppenheim said “There exists perhaps no conception the meaning of which is more controversial than that of sovereignty. It is an indisputable fact that this conception, from the moment when it was introduced into political science until the present day, has never had a meaning which was universally agreed upon.” In the opinion of H. V. Evatt of the High Court of Australia, “sovereignty is neither a question of fact, nor a question of law, but a question that does not arise at all.”
Sovereignty has taken on a different meaning with the development of the principle of self-determination and the prohibition against the threat or use of force as jus cogens norms of modern international law. The United Nations Charter, the Draft Declaration on Rights and Duties of States, and the charters of regional international organizations express the view that all states are juridically equal and enjoy the same rights and duties based upon the mere fact of their existence as persons under international law. The right of nations to determine their own political status and exercise permanent sovereignty within the limits of their territorial jurisdictions is widely recognized.
In political science, sovereignty is usually defined as the most essential attribute of the state in the form of its complete self-sufficiency in the frames of a certain territory that is its supremacy in the domestic policy and independence in the foreign one.
Named after the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, the Westphalian System of state sovereignty, which according to Bryan Turner is “made a more or less clear separation between religion and state, and recognized the right of princes ‘to confessionalize’ the state, that is, to determine the religious affiliation of their kingdoms on the pragmatic principle of cuius regio eius religio.”
The Westphalian model of state sovereignty has increasingly come under fire from the “non-west” as a system imposed solely by Western Colonialism. What this model did was make religion a subordinate to politics, a problem that has caused some issues in the Islamic world. This system does not fit in the Islamic world because concepts such as “separation of church and state” and “individual conscience” are not recognized in the Islamic religion as social systems.
In casual usage, the terms “country”, “nation”, and “state” are often used as if they were synonymous; but in stricter usage they can be distinguished:
Country denotes a region of land defined by geographical features or political boundaries.
Nation denotes a people who are believed to or deemed to share common customs, religion, language, origins, ancestry or history. However, the adjectives national and international are frequently used to 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. Sovereign states are legal persons.
State recognition signifies the decision of a sovereign state to treat another entity as also being a sovereign state. Recognition can be either expressed or implied and is usually retroactive in its effects. It does not necessarily signify a desire to establish or maintain diplomatic relations.
There is no definition that is binding on all the members of the community of nations on the criteria for statehood. In actual practice, the criteria are mainly political, not legal. L.C. Green cited the recognition of the unborn Polish and Czechoslovak states in World War I and explained that “since 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 of an established government.”
THEORIES OF WHEN A STATE SHOULD BE RECOGNIZED AS SOVEREIGN
The constitutive theory of statehood defines a state as a person of international law if, and only if, it is recognised as sovereign by other states. This theory of recognition was developed in the 19th century. Under it, a state was sovereign if another sovereign state recognised it as such.
By contrast, the declarative theory of statehood defines a state as a person in international law if it meets the following criteria: 1) a defined territory; 2) a permanent population; 3) a government and 4) a capacity to enter into relations with other states. According to declarative theory, an entity’s statehood is independent of its recognition by other states.
State practice relating to the recognition of states typically falls somewhere between the declaratory and constitutive approaches. International law does not require a state to recognise 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, a state may be recognised only as a de jure state, in that it is recognised as being the legitimate government of a territory over which it has no actual control.
Glassner, Martin Ira; Fahrer, Chuck (2004). Political Geography (3rd ed.). Hoboken: Wiley. p. 14. ISBN 0-471-35266-7.
Spruyt, H. (1994). The Sovereign State and its Competitors: An Analysis of Systems Change. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-03356-0.
Krasner, Stephen D. (1999). Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00711-X.
Núñez, Jorge Emilio. “About the Impossibility of Absolute State Sovereignty”. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law
Table of Contents