Sovereignty (Fr.: souveraineté, Rom.: suveranitate, Gr.: κυριαρχία, Alb.: sovranitet(i)) [See also: state jurisdiction, branches of government, supremacy, principle of conferral] = the main feature of any state, which has the capacity to govern itself without encroachments and to decide freely in internal and foreign affairs. A sovereign state can also make laws, execute and apply them; which represent the three branches of government: the legislative, the executive and the judiciary.

The most important characteristics of sovereignty are its absoluteness and its exclusivity. Absolute sovereignty exists when there are no restrictions from the predecessing powers and no external involvement. The factors that limit sovereignty are policies and actions of neighbouring states, International law or European law, for example, the supremacy of European Union law in some areas, according to the Treaties. The exclusive element implies the monopoly on specific domains, in which the decisions made can`t be contradicted.

In a federal system of government, sovereignty refers to the independent power of a national government in comparison to a constituent state or republic. In a confederation, any state has the right to withdraw from the national body, but in a federation this is not allowed.


Useful links

Legislation - The Treaty on European Union, Article 5 [English] - Constitution of the United States, Article 1, Section 8 [English] -The Constitution of Romania, Title I, Romania [Romanian] - The Constitution of France, Article 3, France [French]

Online publications - Anghel I. M., 2010, European Union`s Member States Sovereignty, Analele Universităţii “Constantin Brâncuşi” din Târgu Jiu, Seria Ştiinţe Juridice, Nr. 2/2010 [Romanian,  English] – Robert Araujo, 2000, Sovereignty, Human rights, and self-determination: the meaning of international law, Fordham International Law Journal [English] - Robert Cryer, 2006, International Criminal Law vs State Sovereignty: Another Round ?, The European Journal of International Law [English] - David Epstein and Sharyn O`Halloran, 2007, Sovereignty and Delegation in International Organisations [English] – Henry T. King Jr., 1996, Nuremberg and Sovereignty, Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law[English] - Josef Joffe, 1999, Rethinking the nation-state: the many meanings of sovereignty, Foreign Affairs [English] - Emmanuelle Jouannet, De la personnalité et la souveraineté de l’Etat dans la Constitution de 1958 (Théorie française de l’Etat et intégration européenne), Université Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) [French]   - Stephen D. Krasner, 2001, Sovereignty Is Just About Dead, Foreign Policy [English] - Hideaki Shinoda, 2000, Re-Examining Sovereignty: From classical theory to the global age, Macmillan [English] - Helen M. Stacy, 2009, Human rights for the 21st Century: Sovereignty, Civil Society, Culture, Stanford University [English] - Sovereignty and Nation States, Academy of European Law online [English]


Branch J., 2013, The cartographic state: Maps, territory, and the origins of sovereignty, Cambridge University Press [English]

Iancu G., 2014, Drept constitutional si instituții politice, C.H.Beck [Romanian]

Kalmo H., Skinner Q., 2014, Sovereignty in Fragments, Cambridge University Press [English]

MacCormick N., 2001, Questioning sovereignty: law, state, and nation in the European commonwealth, Oxford, Oxford University Press [English]

Manitakis A., 2004, The 'Constitution' of Europe against national sovereignty, Athens, Papazisis [Greek]

Safta, M., 2014, Drept constituțional si instituții politice, Vol. I. Teoria generală a dreptului constituțional. Drepturi si libertati, Bucharest, Hamangiu Publishing House [Romanian]

Selejan-Guțan B., 2008, Drept constituțional si institutii politice, Hamangiu Publishing House [Romanian]Walker N., 2003, Sovereignty in transition, Oxford; Portland, Hart Publishing [English] 

Zaum D., 2007, The sovereignty paradox: the norms and politics of international statebuilding, Oxford; New York, Oxford University Press [English]


By Mădălina Enea