- See also: War on Sovereignty
Sovereignty refers to the independent legal authority of a population in a particular territory, based on the recognized right to self-determination. Among the powers exercised by every sovereign nation is the right to control its own borders, including trade, tariffs, emigration, and immigration.
By sovereignty, in its largest sense is meant supreme, absolute, uncontrollable power, the absolute right to govern. For example, God has sovereignty over all creation. "He Who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords" (1 Timothy 6:15). In Islamic teaching, Allah alone is sovereign ("alone without partner", meaning a denial of the divine nature of the Trinity) and does not delegate power to Jesus or any civil government.
From the 1400s to around 1960, most lands were classified as either sovereign nations or colonies. Sovereign nations were free standing and practiced self-government. (Each nation's separate government was a democracy, a dictatorship, a monarchy, or something else.) Colonies were governed and controlled by a separate nation. Since 1960, most colonies have been granted independence, with rare exceptions where a lack of resources prevent the colony from surviving as a viable independent nation.
Globalism has caused the individual nations of the world to lose some of their sovereignty ("popular sovereignty"). Many liberals support the eventual unification of all humanity under a one-world government.
Rule of law
A simple example of a sovereign entity is basically defined by its willingness to hold murderers accountable. For example, if a foreign tourist is murdered by a citizen of the country they travel to. In the case of Palestine, murderers are often lionized and held up as public heroes. A sovereign entity must not only have the willingness to uphold justice and the rule of law for all persons - citizens and non-citizens alike - within the area under its control, but the ability to enforce law.
American Union and European Union contrasted
A major issue in the American Civil War was the question of whether each state had sovereignty or whether the United States ("Union") government exercised sovereignty over the individual states. Rebellious states and some new states entering the Union claimed "popular sovereignty", i.e. the right of a majority of citizens to impose tyrannical rule over abolitionists and slaves ("tyranny of the majority"). As the European Union has grown, similar debates arise over the rights of the member nations in that union. The fact the European Union cannot defend itself and relies on the United States and NATO for defense, coupled with the fact the EU is incapable or unwilling to enforce its own laws to protect citizens from illegal migration, nullifies any pretense of the European Union as a sovereign entity.
- Almond, Gabriel A. Comparative Politics Today: A World View. New York: Pearson, 2004.
- Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 1396.
- In the case of various regime change theories in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine, it was held by outside powers that local governments were incapable or unwilling to control various terrorist entities occupying territory supposedly under the local regime's sovereign control. The fact that a government does not control the territory it claims sovereignty over forfeits that regime's pretended sovereignty.
- Passage of the Affordable Care Act is a recent example of tyranny of the majority rule.