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Sovereignty And Its Concepts

Sovereignty is a key concept in political theory. Derived from the Latin term Superanus, which means supreme, sovereignty denotes the supreme power of the state to extract obedience from the people who inhabit it. . It means that the power of the state is unquestionable and the state has a right to demand allegiance from its citizens. The state is equipped with internal and external sovereignty that gives it over-riding powers over individuals, groups and organisations and makes it absolute.

Legal And Political Sovereignty

Legal sovereignty represents sovereignty as the supreme law making power; that is, to issue the highest orders. It is bound neither by moral nor by natural laws. Laws made by the sovereign are to be obeyed by all compulsorily. The legal sovereignty does not reside with the legislature that legal sovereignty presents merely a legal viewpoint of sovereignty. In every society, there is an unseen power behind legal sovereignty.

This unseen power is known as political sovereignty, which is expressed in many forms like public meetings, processions and demonstrations. Thus, political sovereignty is unseen and a bigger command. It is the revolutionary power of the alert and conscious people. sovereignty is the essence of the state, implies external and internal independence from other states and involves legal supremacy over persons, the question of its exact location still remains. To this, various solutions have been offered, which we would now be looking into.

Sovereignty of the People

Sovereignty of the states is not based either on God or on naked power, but only on the people's will. The principle of popular sovereignty is merely a fiction, as it does not fit into the realities of modern-day political life. The elitist theory of democracy has proved that popular sovereignty is a bogus principle even in modern democracies. People's sovereignty is not expressed in elections, but it finds an expression in the people's revolutionary struggles and mass movements.

Constitution Making Power

The supreme law in a state is its constitution. Sovereignty is located in that body of person/persons who make the constitution of the state or who, once the constitution is made, possess the legal power to amend it. The government is limited in its power by the constitution. The constitution making body, therefore, is not sovereign. It is merely a part of the government, possessing the legal power to exercise the limited, though important, function of redistributing the total exercise of sovereign power among the various other organs of government.

Law Making Power

Sovereignty resides in the state, but through the laws made and administered by its government can sovereignty be manifested. Moral Limitations

Limitations On Sovereignty

Sovereignty is the supreme power of the state with no legal limitations.

Moral Limitations

Hobbes pointed out that limited sovereignty is a contradiction in terms. But Hobbes very clearly put one limitation on sovereignty. The sovereign cannot command any individual to kill, wound or maim himself. He also made it clear that sovereignty is also limited by the purpose for which it was created. Hobbes also conceded the right to resist the sovereign in case the life of an individual is endangered.

Morality and international law also do not constitute any limitation on sovereignty. Hegel was followed by Austin who nevertheless freed the state and sovereignty from all the mysticism projected by Hegel. He advocated a legal view of sovereignty in which sovereignty was absolute, unlimited, inalienable and indivisible. The pluralists later on challenged Austin's views. We will discuss both the legal and pluralist perspectives in details. But first let us understand the meaning of sovereignty.

Constitutional Limitations

Sovereignty is limited by the constitution of the state. The sovereignty of the state is not limited by the constitution, since the state may legally amend its constitution whenever it desires. What is limited by the constitution is not the state or its sovereignty, but the government of the state.

International Limitations

Sovereignty of a state is limited by the rules of international law and by the treaties and conventions into which it enters with other states. Restrictions are not legally binding. They are voluntary limitations, self-imposed, which a state may legally repudiate, and no legal authority exists to enforce them.

Austin's Theory of Sovereignty

John Austin (1790�1859) was born in the United Kingdom. He was the founder and father of the Analytical school of law. He is known for his theory of sovereignty and legal positivism mentioned in his book "Province of Jurisprudence". In his initial career, he has served in the army for 5 years and also in the chancery bar of the UK. In 1826, he was appointed as the professor of jurisprudence at the University of London.

The definition of law according to Austin was, "Law is a command of the sovereign backed by a sanction." Breaking this definition into its fundamentals Command, of Sovereign, which if not followed attracts Sanction.

Sovereignty is necessary for the state. Sovereignty is one of the four elements of the state. There cannot be a state without sovereignty. If state is the body, sovereignty is its spirit. The state cannot alienate itself from the power of sovereignty. The end of sovereignty means the end of state.

Sovereignty has to be determinate .It resides in a person or a body of persons. To Austin, State is a legal order in which the sovereignty can be located very clearly.

Sovereign is the supreme power in the state. He is the source of all authority in the state. His authority is unlimited and absolute.

The Sovereign receives habitual obedience from the people. Thus, the authority of the sovereign is not casual. It is continuous, regular, undisturbed and uninterrupted. If a significant part of the population refuses to accept him and renders disobedience, then he is no longer a sovereign.

Sovereignty and Global Economy

The internalisation of production has been made possible through the organisation of multinational corporations. The Multinational Corporation's plan and execute their production, marketing and distribution, with the world economy firmly . Though these MNCs have a national base, the nation from where they originate, their interest is always global, as is their strategy.

The financial organisations such as banks are becoming global progressively, no matter from where they function. The possibility of a national economic policy has, accordingly, reduced so as to suit itself to the claims of international financial and fiscal system.

Sovereignty is the supreme power of the state by which the state exerts its authority. The state essentially functions on the basis of this doctrine only. But it is also a fact that state sovereignty has always been subjected to limitations and in practical terms, the power of sovereignty has never been supreme.

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