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Sovereignty is the dominant power or authority in a state.

Sovereignty means a state has absolute power to decide its own domestic and foreign policies on its territory .

The term 'sovereignty' was first used by French philosopher, Jean Bodin in his book 1576 book called "six books of the commonwealth".

In the book, he defined sovereignty as "the source of the state's authority over its people and territory".

Numerous authors have defined sovereignty in different ways, in addition to Jean Bodin's definition.

Let's take a look at a few of them.

Hugo Grotius defined sovereignty as " the supreme political power entrusted to a person who is not under anyone else and whose will cannot be violated"

To Willoughby, sovereignty is the supreme power of the state.

According to John Williams Burgess, sovereignty is the original, absolute and unlimited power overall association of subjects.

To Blackstone, sovereignty is the power to make law.

Harold Laski also defined sovereignty as "the ultimate power of the state to exercise powers over individuals and groups within the state"

Characteristics Of Sovereignty

1. Absoluteness: Sovereignty is absolute, and not limited by the authority of other people or states.

The sovereign is free to do whatever he wants, and his authority has no higher limit.

2.  Exclusivity: Two sovereigns cannot exist in a state, otherwise, there would be war and chaos.

Hence, sovereignty is exclusive because a state can only have one sovereign.

3. Permanent: Since the state is permanent, sovereignty is also permanent and sovereignty lasts for as long as the state exists.

4. Not tied to any government: Sovereignty is independent of any government.

This is because sovereignty remains even when there is a change in government.

5. Inalienable: inalienable means incapable of being alternated, surrendered or transferred to another person.

Sovereignty is inalienable because the state cannot surrendered its sovereignty to another state without destroying itself.

6. Indivisibility: As earlier noted, two sovereigns cannot co-exist in a state, otherwise, the state would be divided.

And, whenever, there are divisions, the original state automatically loses its sovereignty

7. Universal: By this, we mean the sovereignty does not exclude anyone, it applies to every citizen in a state and the sovereign can exercise his authority over anybody living in the state.

The only exception to this is foreign embassies.

Under international law, embassies are shielded from the sovereignty of the host country and the universality of the sovereign may not apply to foreign embassies.

However, while the sovereignty of the host state is seemingly restricted by foreign embassies, the host state can still revoke or shut down foreign embassies if it deem necessary.

Types Of Sovereignty

1. Legal sovereignty: This is the ultimate power of the state to make laws and enforce them.

These laws are usually created to guide and regulate relationships and behaviours within the state. 

These laws are usually made by the legal sovereign or the body charged with the responsibility of making laws in a state.

Every state has their legal sovereign. Nigeria's national assembly, for example, is the legal sovereign of the country, just as the British parliament is for the United Kingdom.

2. Political sovereignty: This is the less-obvious type of sovereignty.

The power of political sovereignty exists with the electorates, who have the power to choose and elect their representatives in the legal sovereignty.

As such, the legal sovereigns carries out the will of the political sovereigns while in office and these political sovereign exercise their authority through periodic elections where they can either renew their choices of representatives or change their choices of representative.

Just to be clear, political sovereignty is also known as popular sovereignty

3. De-facto sovereignty: This usually occurs as a result of a forceful takeover of government leading to an illegal imposition of sovereignty by usurpers.

Most de facto sovereigns use force to compel obedience and most military governments are de-facto sovereigns.

One problem associated with de-facto sovereign is that foreign states may refuse to recognize them because of their illegitimate takeover of power

4. De-jure sovereignty: This is the direct opposite of de facto sovereignty.

So, while de facto sovereignty may acquire power illegally, de-jure sovereignty acquire power legitimately.

Legitimacy is the acceptance of the authority of a government, as a result of the widespread acceptance of the process through which it came to be.

De jure sovereigns are usually recognized by foreign states as having the legitimate power to rule, control and run the affairs of their state.

5. Internal sovereignty: This is simply the power of the state to exercise power and authority over every individual, group, institution and organization within its territory.

It is this internal sovereignty that allows states to make laws and regulations that must be obeyed by every resident of the country

6. External sovereignty: This is the political independence of a state from any form of external control.

It is this external sovereignty that makes states equal to another state in the international community of states.

Indeed, any political entity that is controlled by another state is not considered a state.

Limitations Of Sovereignty

In modern political systems, the belief in the unlimited power of the sovereign to issue commands and receive absolute obedience is no longer deemed approximate.

The following are some of the limitations of sovereignty.

1. The constitution: The principle of rule of law ensures that everyone is equal before the law.

Even though the sovereign is granted certain immunity while in office, he is nonetheless subject to the law when he is no longer in office.

This serves as a check on the power of the government and a limitation to sovereignty

2. Fundamental human rights: These are those rights that are essential for the development of humans.

Because of this, fundamental human rights are inviolable. 

In effect, the government's sovereign power is limited by the existence of fundamental human rights as the government has no right whatsoever to infringe on the rights of its citizens.

3. Membership of international organizations: States usually join international organisations like ECOWAS, EU, and UNO for one reason or the other.

However, joining this organization place a limitation on its sovereignty. This is because the state has to abide by the rules and regulations of international organizations.

4. Interdependence: No country exists in isolation. Every country has to depend on another country for some form of assistance.

This, however, limits its sovereignty as the donor country can influence or dictate the economic policies of the state.

5. International laws: As previously noted, no country is an island unto itself.

Hence, every country must interact with other countries.

However, certain rules and obligations govern state-to-state interactions, and these laws are collectively known as international laws.

These laws also limit the sovereignty of a state as all states have to abide and comply with these laws.

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Sovereignty is the concept we've just learned about. To review, we defined sovereignty as "a state's supreme power."

I also list seven attributes of sovereignty: absoluteness, exclusivity, permanence, independence from any government, inalienability, indivisibility, and universality.

I also mentioned that there are six different kinds of sovereignty: legal, political, de-jure, de-facto, internal, and external.

Lastly, we looked at five limitations of sovereignty.

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