People, State and Sovereignty in USA

Cite this


The concepts of self-determination and sovereignty have been widely dominant over the past decades. In fact, many celebrations have been witnessed during the United Declaration of Human Rights anniversaries. In these celebrations, both the concepts highlight the subsequent state covenants that are primarily meant to enforce legal norms and international principles that are specifically designed to ensure the protection of global human dignities. However, under the concept of sovereignty, the state’s inherent ability to govern itself is given more weight. The concept determines what an independent state should possess and use as it joins various universal legislations, treaties or even participate in the global political scene (Wiessner 2008, p.1142). In contrast, the principle of self-determination normally relates to the people but not necessarily the state. This implies that rather than being an individual right, self-determination persists as a collective concept.

While the state is seen to have the sole responsibility of protecting human rights, it is ironical that different states have habitually perpetrated the violation of human rights. Besides, some states have failed to identify mechanisms that should be used to address the violation of human rights. Thus, sovereign states that have ratified human rights conventions seem to acknowledge the duties of obeying the norms that are associated with self-determination. Despite this eminent fact, most sovereign states have justified and followed actions which conflict with norms of human rights by asserting that such actions are exercised on the grounds of the state’s sovereignty (Christie 2011, p.330).

Whereas it has been apparent that sovereign States tend to exercise actions that lead to unjustifiable and unwarranted human dignity deprivation, it might be imprudent to settle that the sovereignty of a State should be abridged to safeguard the fundamental human rights. This is well stipulated in the self-determination concept.

Therefore, this essay principally aims at examining the States sovereignty concept as it relates to the concept of self-determination or the practice of protecting issues to do with human rights as based on the international and domestic law. Differences between these two concepts will also be examined by revealing the existence of different kinds of sovereignties. That is, the sovereignty of the people and that of the state. Part one of this essay will critically examine the customary sovereignty principle which does not merely recognize the State’s interest, but similarly that of the nation. The concept of self-determination will be examined in part two of the essay. This part will further examine the relationship between self-determination and sovereignty of nations or peoples as well as the protection and recognition of the fundamental universal human rights.

The sovereignty concept as applicable in the international law

Even though the application of the sovereignty concept ensue in the earliest antiquities of the diplomatic exchanges and war, the works of scholars such as Puffendorf, de Vattel, Gentili amongst others have offered some insights concerning the concept of sovereignty as well as the power of this concept in specific institutions, person, or even group. Professor Brownlie Ian, in his recent revision of the treatise noted that the equality and sovereignty of the nations’ tends to represent the primary constitutional law doctrines of different states. Brownlie further asserted that there are three corollaries that contextualize this basic doctrine (Gould 2006, p.49). These include the dependence of obligations emerging from international law sources, the duty of not intervening other states exclusive jurisdiction and the jurisdictions that states exercise over permanent populations and territories.

From the perspective of Brownlie, it appears that sovereignty is a complicated poise amid other states exercising parallel authority or jurisdiction against those that are being exercised by a given State. This might in turn give rise to conflicts amongst or between such exercises. The United Nations Charter, Article 2, tries to bring some resolutions or order to most of these potential conflicts. This is realized from this article as it gives standing to the sovereign equality principle to each of its members. Brownlie also stated that the United Nations equal members revel in the earmarked Article 2.7 domain which guarantees them from the external intrusion in matters that are fundamentally within any State’s domestic jurisdiction. However, the guaranteed protection under Article 2.7 seems to be relative and might hardly protect the nation from the international law infraction including those that deal with the protection of the individuals’ fundamental rights as well as self-determination (King 2011, p.79).

To illustrate the last point, it was apparent that the Nuremberg Tribunal which is an International Military Tribunal in its work context had its German Third Reich officials defend their movements on ‘nulla poena sine lege’ maxims grounds. This implied that there was absolutely no ex-post facto law applied in this particular context given that the officials acted under the legitimate exercises and sovereign authority orders. Nevertheless, the International Military Tribunal finally came to a conclusion that the defenses were inappropriate or insufficient since their actions comprised of the violation of the available international laws which permitted the trials to continue (Kasymov 2011, p.227). Whereas fifty years have passed ever since the Nuremberg trials instigated while the humanoid perceptions have progressively become cognizant of any veto against the violation of the essential human rights, there are other prosecutions which justify the legal obligations as well as the dominant international law nature. For instance, the indictment of Milosevic Slobodan by ICTY offers an additional recap to justify that it is universally unlawful to harm among others, the blameless citizens.

There is the urge at this point to account for the actuality of the States sovereignty which is often being executed by the administrators whose activities comprise of those that the State endorses. In reality, it is true that irrespective of whether a given State is a totalitarian regime, democratically instituted or anything that falls amid these two political antipodes, the universal laws respect and acknowledge the States sovereignty. This is because international law allows sovereign States to implement some actions which other international organizations and States like the non-governmental organizations or the United Nations might not challenge (Graham & Wiessner 2011, p.405). But still, even if this principle is recognized, it is very obvious that those people who are duty bound to exercise the State’s sovereignty are not permissible by law to carry out their obligations with impunity. This implies that, any State that can hardly guard itself with the sovereign community’s defense in case the matter in hand is not within the discretionary area that the international laws designate as self-governing or sovereign, may have the responsibility enforced on it.

Besides, in the United Nations Charter, Article 2.7, there is the protection afforded under the reserved domain. However, the reserved domain protection in this claused article is apparently not meant for the insulation of States from their due responsibilities of safeguarding the established human rights as provided in the Charter. The reference to the United Nations Charter rights is provided in Article 1.3 beneath the detailed purpose of encouraging and promoting human rights respect. There is also the provision for the fundamental freedom for each and every human being devoid of distinctions such as religion, language, sex or even race. The human rights as initially stated, were expounded in the ICESCR, ICCPR and the UDHR (Christie 2011, p.334). Various States which are parties’ to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention have supplementary human rights responsibilities and are accountable for the protected people’s treatment as the agents accorded. This takes place regardless of the person’s obligation that might be suffered or incurred.

While accommodating the international law limitations that are imposed on the sovereignty of the State, it becomes imperative to assess if the sovereignty limitations might put certain restrictions on nations or the people as distinctive from the States. Basically, the initial response to this statement is absolutely yes. Yet this response ought to encompass the comprehension of the fact that the people or the nation and the State are not essentially similar things (Pentassuglia 2002, p.315). To examine and identify the limits which might be sited on the sovereignty of the State, it becomes important to comprehend the existing divisions amid the peoples sovereignty and the States sovereignty to which the subjects or members are the people. The latter variation emerges from a clear comprehension of the constitutional law of the State as it currently exists universally.

An inclusive continuum of the state constitutions shows that sovereignty is a property of the people and should be owned by the people or the inhabitants of the States territorial. In actual sense, most of the countrywide constitutions depict that whereas the government or the State possesses the sovereign powers, it is ideally the citizenry or the people as a communal grouping that exercises and possesses the definitive sovereignty. Most of such similar state constitutions demonstrate or make connections to certain associations amid human dignity protection or the protection of the collective human rights together with its interrelated values and the people’s sovereignty (Gould 2006, p.49). Hardly any of such constitutions particularly relate their human rights textual discussions to the ICESCR, the ICCPR, the UDHR and various other treaties which seem to address the human rights protection and recognition. That is, the rights which are widely recognized and well defined by the varied cultures.

Having this statement in cognizance, an imperative issue materializes. The issue is, as acknowledged by the ICESCR, the ICCPR and the UDHR, what correlations exist amid the protection and recognition of the central human rights and the people’s sovereignty? An answer to the question may originate from and in the analysis of the self-determination concept of the people. This essay contends that the people’s self-determination creates the linkages which mutually bring the basic human rights and the popular sovereignty in an inseparable bond (Joffe 2010, p.376). At this discussion stage, it is my suggestion that as recognized by other central transnational legal texts and the United Nations Charter, it is basically self-determination which always serves as the fundamental human rights guarantor. This implies that, the fundamental human rights constitute most of the international protection and interest subjects.

It is in the field of international or universal law, where it is believed that the self-determination concept derives some of the preferred status benefits. The conception tends to mutually bring the individuals interests and correlate them to the group’s interests. Both the group and the individual’s interests focus on the knack to apply their respective selections as regards to how these categories desire to have the freedom from the imposition and interference of others, and to live their private subsists. Prof. Brownlie quickly noted the overlapping interests amidst the identifiable groups and the individuals. A comparable theme materialized in the United Nations Charter purposes as was acknowledged when the U.N. founders settled that such an association was meant to inspire friendly and responsive dealings among states (Graham & Wiessner 2011, p.405). This was to be anchored on the respect for the people’s self-determination and the equal rights principles.

The legal status of the self-determination principle never appeared to be in doubts as an exercise for human rights and freedom in the closing years of 1990s. Therefore, developing a comprehensive understanding of the concept of self-determination seems to be rather useful. According to the assertions made by Prof. Brownlie, the self-determination concept can be defined from the human rights examination (King 2011, p.79). For Brownlie, the cohesive national people or groups have the right to select for themselves their associations to various other groupings and the type of political organization they yearn to have.

Several States have offered different conceptual frameworks to the notion of self-determination in the realm of constitutions. For instance, the 1990 Croatian Constitution talks about the commonly acknowledged modern world principles as well as the in-expendable, nontransferable, indivisible and inalienable Croatian nation rights to state sovereignty and self-determination which include the inviolable association and succession rights (Christie 2011, p.336). On the other hand, the 1958 constitution of France talks about the government for the people, by the people and of the people. The people of Germany declared in their Constitution of 1949 that they had accomplished Germany freedom and unity in the open self-determination.

Whereas several nations including groups of individuals or people seemed to have made the self-determination claim, what could be meaning of the self-determination phrase? Basically, the International Justice Court in the fiscal 1975 shed certain insights in the consultative view as regard to the Western Sahara region. While stating the probable claim of Article 1.2 of the United Nations Charter, this court recognized that the Resolution 1514 (XV) of the GA articulated the self-determination principle as the people’s rights. This right was applied purposely to bring each and every expatriate condition to an abrupt conclusion (Iorns n.d., p.61). In fact, in its General Assembly and Charter resolutions interpretation, the courtyard stated that the self-determination rights necessitate a candid and free expression of the concerned people’s will or the free expressions of the people’s wishes.

Numerous lawful sources provide some obliging contexts that may assist in better comprehension of the nature of the people’s wishes or wills which are craved to be articulated by the persons as they correlate to the protection and exercise of the basic human rights. The General Assembly of the 14th December 1960 resolutions for instance, had to acknowledge that colonization inhibited the economic, cultural and social development of people who are deemed to be dependent. Besides, there was an acknowledgement in the side of the General Assembly that extraterrestrial suppression slows down the indisputable people’s rights to total national territory integrity, sovereignty exercise as well as their complete freedom (Kasymov 2011, p.227). These inalienable rights consist of the knack to pursue the political statuses without restrictions and to equally pursue both the cultural and economic developments without any obstructions.

The General Assembly in 1986, reiterated once more over most of these major points in its Right to Development declaration. While it recalled the people’s rights self-determination, which included the right to define and pursue their respective cultural, social and economic developments in addition to freely determining the statuses of their politics, the General Assembly claimed that each and every State must have resolute steps aimed at defending human rights (Gould 2006, p.49). This implied that, the legal steps assumed by these States should aim at eliminating the fragrant and massive violations of human beings and people’s rights who are significantly impacted on by the various circumstances. For example, those that accrues from aggression, occupation, foreign domination, colonialism, racial discrimination and any other king of racism. The violent situations may further incorporate war threats, territorial integrity, national unity, threats against state sovereignty alongside the repudiation to acknowledge basic people’s rights to self-determination.

As time pass by, the General Assembly restated in 1997 resolution, the 1986 position so as to re-address the reverence for non-interference with the State’s internal affairs and national sovereignty principles as regards to the democratic procedures. This surely sustained countless efforts of different States in reinforcing the universal self-determination legal principles. Nevertheless, the affiliations of self-determination concept to the popular sovereignty and human rights have fortified and intensified the claims concerning the critical responsibility that is being played by the popular sovereignty in enhancing and protecting the basic universal human rights (Graham & Wiessner 2011, p.405). Thus, it is clear that the United Nations Charter addresses the self-determination concept of the people of any given State.

In the most recent years, the UDHR was promulgated and adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The UDHR has two most prominent progenies namely the ICESCR and the ICCPR. In essence, these two universal lawful instruments note at the inception of their respective mutual Article one that, each personality has an equal self-determination right. That is to say, by virtue of such approved rights, people have the sole right to liberally pursue their cultural, social and economic development as well as define their corresponding political statuses (Gould 2006, p.50). Thus, the common United Nations Article one harmoniously brings together the concepts of self-determination, human rights and popular sovereignty in a notable legitimate synthesis.

Considered as the contextual normative which produce the lawful responsibilities for over one hundred and forty State parties, both the ICESCR and ICCPR have acted as a foundation for the continuing acknowledgement for the self-determination within the political science and universal law realms. The contents of these articles make it imperative to note that the State is duty bound to guarantee, accomplish, ensure and respect the specified rights as applied in the territorial treaty and human rights covenant. Even though it is well acknowledged that certain limitations might exist during the protection of the fundamental human rights, particularly in public emergency events, some rights namely: the freedom of conscience, religion and thought; freedom from imprisonment for debt, slavery, torture and right to life persist to be non-derogable (Iorns n.d. p.72). Furthermore, the concepts of sovereignty and self-determination as articulated under the ICESCR clearly stipulates no person, group or State is endowed with rights of engaging in activities and perform actions that are objectively aimed at destructing the freedoms or rights that ICESCR recognizes. Similar provisions are echoed by ICCPR.

Sovereignty, people and state

New states are gaining independence resulting from juridical and political development among the international community. The main reason for independence is to have stabilized conditions, gain statehood and govern their sovereignty (Graham & Wiessner 2011, p.423). Recently, Southern Sudan became a new sovereign state. South Sudan like any other fully fledged nations has an interest in the nature, extent and value of its sovereignty. The country identity, security, safety, basic values and aspirations are all derived from its sovereign independence (Graham & Wiessner 2011, p.423). The country strives to get the practical meaning of all aspects of territorial sovereignty with an effort to define precisely its borders, titles as well as ensuring that its security and territorial integrity are given protection by the international law (Kasymov 2011, p.223).

Even though the idea of sovereignty is somehow stale to the intellectuals, its practicality and its values are still apparent in the applicability by the national independence and security. To the intellectuals, the term sovereignty penetrates all disciplines. It is found in almost every language, law and politics. In as much as it is widely used, it is also rarely understood by scholars, journalist, jurists and politicians as well as in foreign relations (Kasymov 2011, p.223). In other words, the term implies different things to most people. In addition, sovereignty may also mean different things to different cultures or subcultures during different times (Christie 2011, p.229). In fact, there are diverse meanings of sovereignty akin to the diverse people, cultures, disciplines as well as professions.

In essence, the most significant meaning that is associated with the concept of sovereignty is one that identifies it with the final and effective political power (Pentassuglia 2002, p.314). Sovereignty has also been identified with the nature of law. In law, power is related to political culture. This is in reference to the legal culture or the jurisprudence. The implication of this reference is that the authority is an essential element of operative sovereign power (Pentassuglia 2002, p.314).

Generally, sovereignty in law and politics has differences and similarities. The similarities exist in their broad context with the power problems. Moreover, the definition of politics should also be included in the definition of law. The reason is that it is quite certain that law is politics; however, not all politics are law (Graham & Wiessner 2011, p.423). Sovereignty is found in both, though in quite different perspectives but they are merged by authority and jurisprudence.

The practical differences in the meaning of sovereignty are evident since its meaning is largely perceived as Eurocentric. Nevertheless, today, its liveliness is enthusiastically affirmed by all people and states. The term always has a traditional origin where the state emerged as a reaction to the claims of imperial supremacy (King 2011, p.80). Tensions that are historic between claims of dominion as well as sovereign independence have continuously been lingering on the usefulness and the extent at which the application of the concept of sovereignty is understood (Kasymov 2011, p.223). This historical and imperial claim of sovereignty has led to the collapse of the modern concepts of sovereignty.

The imperialists assertion of the claims to sovereignty from the view of the emperors and consequently change the general populace into that claim. From the populace perspective, subjects pay tribute to the empire so as to maintain the imperial masses that are alien to the territory far from their culture, homes as well as traditions. These masses are perceived to be protecting expedient, preserving their own sovereignty or autonomy (Graham & Wiessner 2011, p.423).

The workings and meanings of sovereignty are normally based on principles, terms and concepts that are understood better when the circumstance in which they are being used is enlightened in a prejudiced manner (Gould 2006, p.54). In other words, the phrases are understood better within their appropriate context. That is, the multiple meanings become logical when the different perspective within which they are used is respected (Pentassuglia 2002, p.314). The greatest challenge that many scholars face is how to communicate, how sovereignty works and the way it might transform or change under novel conditions.

To overcome this challenge one must first appreciate the different four meanings of sovereignty. First, according to the traditional international law sovereignty is derived from the state that has control over its territorial base with determinable boundaries. Second, the populace within the territorial boundaries is connected by loyalty, solidarity as well as the notions of primary group identity and affiliation (Christie 2011, p.229). Third, is the internal governance related aspects that necessitate the internal power control and competencies. Finally, these competencies should be organized to have the capabilities of representing the territorial organized body or state body politics within the international environment.

The responsibility of the State

The major objective of the state is to deliver the political commodities that are sometimes bundled together as social and economic amenities (Graham & Wiessner 2011, p.423). These political goods comprise of health and education, security, economic opportunities, law and order, good governance and the basic infrastructure requirements such as communication and transport. Any state that fails to meet all these functions is deemed as a failed State. Though the term failed state is normally reserved for the total collapse of a state due to civil war or anarchy, failed state can also be understood to constitute lack of capacity by the state to meet its obligations (Christie 2011, p.229).

The most important responsibility of the state is to protect its territorial sovereignty (Pentassuglia 2002, p.314). The territorial sovereignty comprises of all the political goods and services that the state can offer to its people. In other words, failure by the state to protect its territorial sovereignty could be considered as a failed state. However, failure by the state should be defined considering the wider spectrum of specific conditions that ranges from weak to failed state to collapse states. Therefore a successful state is one that meets all these sets of conditions and not that which meet only one of the set criteria (Pentassuglia 2002, p.314).

In essence, the state can be classified as not protecting its sovereign integrity depending on the extent to which it deteriorates. Hence a state can be defined as weak, failed or collapsed in accordance with the set criteria. The reason is that the international community can be able to determine which states are not capable of meeting their sovereign obligations hence in need of intervention or support (Kasymov 2011, p.223).

Nevertheless, the question that poses challenge to the international community is whether the sovereignty is a right or responsibility? Traditionally, sovereignty is considered to be a right. This view hold that the internal affairs of the country are its own, therefore, no state can intervene unless that state is threatened or there is a breach of international treaty (Graham & Wiessner 2011, p.423). However, the sovereignty of the state is a responsibility that requires the states to provide the appropriate standards of political goods or services that would ensure the well being and protection of the citizens (Kasymov 2011, p.223). In case there is resistance, the responsibility of the internal community is to react. Thus, a dual characteristic of the sovereignty is produced. The dual sovereignty comprises of the internal component that connects the state and its relationship to the people and an external component that manages the relationships between the states (Graham & Wiessner 2011, p.424).

Within these two extremes there are several concepts of sovereignty. There is the concept of positive and negative quasi states. Quasi states are those states that have no capacity to self-support and therefore need external assistance (Graham & Wiessner 2011, p.424). Sometimes these states are being considered within the international order but are recognized legally through their membership to the international bodies such as the United Nations. Therefore, the Westphalia models of sovereignty that are founded on the principles of territorial autonomy are inaccurate description of many entities since these entities are continuously breaching the principles of the model because they are no longer controlled.

In this context, the responsibility concept of the sovereign states is to deliver to their citizens the variety of political goods and services. One of the most important functions of the state is to provide security (Christie 2011, p.229). The meaning is that the state should be capable of creating safe and secure environment through the development of security institutions that are effective and legitimate. In particular, the security of the state is perceived as being able to prevent cross border invasions as well as the loss of territory (King 2011, p.80). Moreover, the state should be able to eliminate the internal threats as well as the attacks on the national order, prevention of crime and provide a better environment where citizens can easily resolve disputes between themselves and the state (Graham & Wiessner 2011, p.424).

The other important state responsibility of the State to its citizens is the creation of sound, legitimate, effective administrative and political institutions and encouraging inclusiveness to all government activities (Gould 2006, p.54). In addition, the state should encourage participation of citizens in the governance processes. The state should provide its citizens with fiscal and institutional contexts where citizens are capable of pursuing their entrepreneurial objectives and the means through which sharing of environmental commons are regulated.

However, these state responsibilities should be perceived within the context of broader global norms to human rights. The international charter on political and moral code, call for the states to promote increased standards of living, social and economic conditions that promote progress as well as respect to the fundamental freedoms and human rights (Pentassuglia 2002, p.315). The respect for human rights and freedoms summarize the international accord and expresses the international best-practices and behavior. All states are expected to adhere to the universal human rights declarations that articulate the human rights norms and put justice, freedom, and peace within the inherent dignity, equality and inalienable rights to all individuals.

The implications of state responsibility to state sovereignty

From the ongoing discussion it can be deduced that evaluating the success or failure of a state is based on the state responsibility. Therefore the evaluation of the state sovereignty must also be based on the state responsibility. What is required is the theoretical framework connecting state sovereignty and responsibility to that which is consistent with the empirical and historical analysis through measurable indicators (King 2011, p.81). The sovereign state model of Westphalia based on autonomy, mutual recognition and territory and control principles forms the basic notions for the major hypothetical advances in international relations. The model also offers the bench mark through which the variations in sovereignty can be analyzed.

Sovereignty is one of the characteristics of states that is embedded on the affairs of the world and offers an arrangement that upholds certain values that are perceived as vital. These values include membership, the international order between the states, and participation within the state societies, political systems co-existence, political freedom, and legal equality among the states, pluralism and societal diversity (Christie 2011, p.331). To attain sovereignty, the state must be in a position to show its internal supremacy as well as its external independence.

Summary of the self-determination and sovereignty concepts

The United Nations Charter describes the principle of self-determination as the right of the people to determine their own social, economic, and political development. A powerful concept it is and when state members are denied by the authorities, it causes armed divergences. He further asserts that, it is a course and not a result. This means that self-determination is continuous and involves allowing the state members partake in such decision making processes like election of leaders, constitution matters, running of the state and making of laws. It is linked to self-respect, autonomy, supremacy and distinctiveness. So necessary is self-determination even to the colonized states (Kreuter n.d, p.365). The author further asserts that one of the sovereignty principles is the right to self-determination; even colonized states have a right to choose their future without the colonizers meddling.

On the other hand, the United Nations Charter defines sovereignty as territorial independence. It does not protect human security, and does not recognize local people’s rights. History has it that, sovereignty is superior to self-determination. This means that every nation protects its territorial integrity at the expense of people’s satisfaction with the running of the nation. Some nations go as far as violating individual rights and freedom. In relation to what Christie (2011, p.330) claimed, self-determination should not be viewed as a necessity. However, self-determination is required to make a state but once the nation is made, self-determination looses its worth. Sovereignty proposes singular unison and not sum of fractions, countries conducting foreign policy on their own while answering to global demands and does not extend their borders. Self-determination on the other hand, challenges this exclusiveness and brings in the concept of incongruity between the privileges of the nations and those of the minors, thus bringing multiplicity.

Sovereignty denies the local people self-determination in fear of secession and this may lead to loss of confidence in the state. Once people feel that the state does not acknowledge their views, or does not respect their cultural identity, they may want to withdraw and form their own state; a state free from the laws of the society and one that will allow them to exercise their opinions. Self-determination puts across the need of people to be autonomous, choose their future and live out of their states. Sovereignty on the hand, organizes people and communities into states. While sovereignty promotes intactness, self-determination on the other hand, promotes separation. As stated by Gould (2006, p.49), self-determination is decent and has a moral basis. On the other hand sovereignty is based on political and realistic constructs. One may tend to think that sovereignty is unethical and does not uphold the human rights. This is wrong, sovereignty promotes what is possible. Whereas the principle of self-determination proposes democracy and freedom, the principle of sovereignty proposes maintenance of peace and security within the state and protection of its internal dealings.

In line with the United Nations Charter, the two; sovereignty and self-determination are somewhat linked together. Self-determination, takes in the right to an autonomous state, thus sovereignty. A state that is allowed to exercise its freedom is considered sovereign. Hence, self-determination promotes peaceful relations among the state members. This leads to peaceful co-existence and relations among the populations, and promotes security in the state. Self-determination thus promotes sovereignty. If properly practiced, self-determination leads to sovereignty. The two concepts consider the support the relevance of culture. A nation’s population may want to pull out if the state does not recognize its culture, thus self-determination. The state on the other hand promotes the people’s culture to protect territorial integrity. The two are processes. Whilst, self-determination is the process of satisfying human needs in terms of food, shelter and individual’s safety (Gould 2006, p.49), sovereignty is the process of promoting national cohesion and protection of territorial integrity.

Though Sovereignty and Self-determination are in a row, the latter seems to receive high regard in international law (Kreuter n.d, p.367). He further asserts that there are international credentials that prove territorial integrity is as important as self-determination. Gould (2006, p.49) argues that self-determination by people of the nation is a threat to the unity of a state as nationalities view the concept as thirst for their own state. It undermines territorial integrity.

The two concepts, self-determination and sovereignty claim responsibilities. It is the responsibility of those in the government (in charge of sovereignty) to treat people fairly and ensure human rights are upheld by involving its population in the national development as well as decision making. On the other hand, those claiming self-determination should be willing to respect the rule of law as well as human rights. Self-determination claimants should also solve all the matters arising from their exercises. In relation to King (2011, p.79), allowing the nation to determine the political status to be in and who to associate or amalgamate with are the best ways to carry out self-determination.


In conclusion therefore, it emerges that most of the current global States have eminently become parties to the ICESCR as well as ICCPR. As result, such States are duty bound to honestly respect the basic human rights precepts which are categorically well-defined by the social and political procedures that are protected and enhanced by the people’s popular sovereignty along with the exercise of the self-determination of the people. Provided this materializes to be the case, any agency or organ that originates from outside will definitely be outlawed from imposing its own views or outlook on the people of given sovereign states. However, these people ought to have given their rights details to these two essential conventions as they define in their personal sovereignty exercise and via their respective but private self-determination principles.

Irrespective of the permissible prevalence of the concepts of sovereignty and self-determination, external groups to the States have taken decisive steps to ensure that they constrain or slow down the people’s fundamental human rights. Most of these rights are however founded on the legitimate self-determination and popular sovereignty exercises. These concepts according to Prof. Crawford are ongoing or continuous. In fact, if people are supposed to be obliged to account for their contribution to human rights, it would be theoretically right to ascertain what each person is entitled to while they share a sense of belonging. This is because in every State, there are fundamental human rights. These rights are not just mere elements; they are indeed constitutive human existence elements that are meant to frame the correlations which might mutually group people together.


Christie, G 2011, “Indigeneity and sovereignty in Canada’s Far North: The Arctic and Inuit sovereignty”, South Atlantic Quarterly, vol.110 no.2, pp.329-346.

Gould, CC 2006, “Self-determination beyond sovereignty: relating transnational democracy to local autonomy”, Journal of Social Philosophy, vol.37 no.1, pp.44-60.

Graham, LM & Wiessner, S 2011, “Indigenous sovereignty, culture, and international human rights law”, South Atlantic Quarterly, vol.110 no.2, pp.403-427.

Iorns, CJ n.d., “Indigenous peoples and self-determination: Challenging state sovereignty”, Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, vol. 24 no.2, pp.49-199.

Joffe, G 2010, “Sovereignty and the Western Sahara”, Journal of North African Studies, vol. 15 no.3, pp.375-384.

Kasymov, S 2011, “The right of communities to self-determination”, Peace Review, vol. 23 no.2, pp.221-227.

King, L 2011, “Speaking sovereignty and communicating change: Rhetorical sovereignty and the inaugural exhibits at the NMAI”, American Indian Quarterly, vol.35 no.1, pp.75-103.

Kreuter, A n.d, Self-determination, sovereignty and the failure of State: Somaliland and the case for justified secession, Web.

Pentassuglia, G 2002, “State sovereignty, minorities and self-determination: a comprehensive legal view”, International Journal on Minority & Group Rights, vol. 9 no. 4, pp.303-324.

Wiessner, S 2008, “Indigenous Sovereignty: A reassessment in light of the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples”, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, vol. 41 no.4, pp.1141-1176.

Cite this paper

Select style


Premium Papers. (2022, December 28). People, State and Sovereignty in USA. Retrieved from


Premium Papers. (2022, December 28). People, State and Sovereignty in USA.

Work Cited

"People, State and Sovereignty in USA." Premium Papers, 28 Dec. 2022,


Premium Papers. (2022) 'People, State and Sovereignty in USA'. 28 December.


Premium Papers. 2022. "People, State and Sovereignty in USA." December 28, 2022.

1. Premium Papers. "People, State and Sovereignty in USA." December 28, 2022.


Premium Papers. "People, State and Sovereignty in USA." December 28, 2022.