Historical and Conceptual Approaches of Sovereignty



The definitions of the word sovereignty had various concepts during time depending on historical moments, ideology, schools of thought, national interest or interests of international organizations. As an essential attribute of the state power, state sovereignty appeared the same time the state did, but the views and ideas of sovereignty arise much later, in the late Middle Ages. During this period, the great authors of international law such as Alberico Gentile, Francesco Suarez, Francesco de Vittoria emphasize the different theories about "extended sovereignty" and the independence of states. The first to use the term sovereignty as an absolute, indivisible and inalienable power of a republic, was Jean Bodin. He, who is also one of the founders of the of the natural law theory, supports the idea that the power and force of law is the sovereignty, where the law is the one to limit the absolute power of the monarch. Later, this principle will constitute the base of modern conception of sovereignty in Europe. Among the most contemporary approaches of sovereignty is that of Stephen Krasner, a professor at Stanford University, who talks about a systematization of previous understandings and specifies four conceptions of sovereignty in international relations: internal sovereignty, external (or international) sovereignty, westphalian sovereignty and interdependence sovereignty. As for the study on the notion of sovereignty made by Professor Quentin Skinner, it starts with the analysis of the origin of state concept. The author highlights the various interpretations given to the concept of state, considering the fact that is rather difficult to determine its essence and limits. Skinner (2010, p.28, 287) refers to Jean Bodin’s conception on the state, seen as a union of individuals placed under the same sovereignty of the government, and though he accepts the fact that sovereign power can be held by people, he prefers, however, monarchy, where people swear faithful allegiance to one monarch as head of state (which Skinners defines as the ‘absolutist theory’).

How to cite: Stoian-Musteaţă, M. (2017). Historical and Conceptual Approaches of Sovereignty. Logos Universality Mentality Education Novelty, Section: Political Sciences and European Studies, IV(1), 27-43. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18662/lumenpses.2017.0401.02


sovereignty, state sovereignty, internal sovereignty external

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