importance of sovereignty

Essay by sammy2930 October 2012

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Importance Of Sovereignty

Although much criticized, the concept of sovereignty is still central to most thinking about international relations and particularly international law. The concept is condemned in context of a nation-state's "right" to monopolize certain exercises of power with respect to its territory and citizens but it is still prized by those who maintain certain "realist" views or who otherwise wish to prevent (sometimes with justification) foreign or international powers and authorities from interfering in a national government's decisions and activities. It cannot be ignored that sovereignty is an essential ingredient of the State as it makes the State supreme in both internal and external matters. A State can only be independent if it enjoys sovereignty. Furthermore, when one begins to analyse and disaggregate the concept of sovereignty, it quickly becomes apparent that it has many dimensions and several important functions. For example, the concept is central to the idea of "equality of nations". The concept of equality of nations is linked to sovereignty concepts because sovereignty has fostered the idea that there is no higher power than the nation-state, so it is "sovereignty" that negates the idea that there is a higher power, whether foreign or international (unless consented to by the nation-state).

Sovereignty also plays a role in defining the status and rights of nation-states and their officials. Thus, we recognize "sovereign immunity" and the consequential immunity for various purposes of the officials of a nation-state.

Similarly, "sovereignty" implies a right against interference or intervention by any foreign (or international) power. Therefore, one can easily see the logical connection between the sovereignty concepts and the very foundations and sources of international law. If sovereignty implies that there is "no higher power" than the nation-state, then it is argued that no international law norm is valid unless...