Nowadays, people often hear the word “sovereignty” when applied to independent states, but they rarely know what the word means. Sovereignty is an exclusive right of state’s authority to govern the state and implement the laws. Sovereignty means the supremacy of state’s authority over the state and its citizens. States are sovereign when their authorities have the highest power over the state and are independent of other states. The authority of the state has to be legitimate. It means that officials have to be elected or chosen according to the laws within the country, and major amount of the population has to recognize the officials as the legal leaders. Another thing, which is necessary for sovereignty to function effectively, is the fact that it is supreme. It means that the sovereign is the highest authority within the country, and there is no institution or an individual that possess more authority. The third element, which is required for the sovereignty, is the presence of a certain territory where the sovereign’s authority is spread. Without these elements, it would be impossible to have sovereignty in states.
At the present moment, there are many discussions concerning sovereignty and its relations to conflicting events in the world. Sovereignty practically means the supremacy of state’s authority over everything within the state. It means that the country’s officials are the ones determining political directions within the country, economical approaches and the overall political system within the country. Although people should be the ones determining authorities within their countries, thanks to sovereignty concept, the politicians are the ones who lead the country. Hence, sometimes, their actions outrage international community, but sovereignty principle makes it almost impossible for other countries to change anything.
Nevertheless, recent events showed that sovereignty concept could be overlooked in certain situations. One may use an example of American war against Iraq. This war was definitely against Iraqi sovereignty because in the legal sense, the United States violated Iraqi sovereignty and its authorities’ rights to lead the country according to their own standards. Iraq was an independent and sovereign state, which was intruded by the United States. The US found many excuses and justifications for its intrusions. It spoke of recent terrorist attacks, as well as the necessity to protect the country. Nevertheless, there was no direct threat from Iraq, and that country did not attack the US before. Hence, it can be said that American government violated Iraqi sovereignty acting against international principles of sovereignty and taking inappropriate political actions. Conclusions of that war proved that the reasons American government used for intrusion were mere justifications for its actions, which held no real basis. For example, there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq although American officials spoke of them as one of the main reasons for intruding Iraq. The same applies to another reason of turning Iraq into a democratic state where human rights would be respected and where officials would not pose threats to the rest of the world. At the present moment, Iraq is still struggling, and the country is having difficulties returning to the normal state. Hence, it can be said that American intrusion proved to be an act against Iraqi sovereignty, which changed the country dramatically. With the war against Iraq, American officials disregarded Iraqi officials as supreme authorities in the state and imposed their own power on the country.
With this example, one can see the importance of sovereignty concept in the modern world. Countries exist due to the fact that their officials are the supreme authorities, and this supremacy allows them to lead the country independently from other states. Nevertheless, there are some pitfalls to this concept. Sovereignty of the state means that the supreme authority has the greatest power in the country and that it can impose various sanctions on the citizens depending on the laws, which exist in the country. The authorities are the ones who can create, implement and use the laws, so it makes rights of states more important than the rights of individuals. However, one can also speak about the concept of popular sovereignty when people are the ones who choose their authorities and give them the rights to rule. In democratic countries, sovereignty is strongly connected to honest elections because people express their attitudes toward sovereignty and authorities through honest voting system. There is no concentration of supreme power in one hands that is why there is balance of powers within the country. Democratic countries use the principle that the authorities are sovereign, but the individual within the country is the main and the most precious thing for the state. Hence, in democratic countries individuals have a direct influence over authorities and sovereignty through voting and protests in case of their disagreements or disappointment with the actions of officials.
Still, in non-democratic countries, the state is more important than an individual is, and the principle of sovereignty allows the country’s leaders to determine and develop any political system they want within the country. That may lead to many negative consequences. For example, country’s leaders who are protected from other countries’ intrusions by sovereignty concept can turn their states into authoritarian countries where human rights are violated, and where people have little or no influence on the country’s officials. Such actions of the leaders may lead to a lot of criticism of other countries, but it is rather difficult to impose any real actions against such countries and their leaders. The United Nations have certain rules when they can intrude and intervene some countries, but the sovereignty concept makes it rather difficult and regulates relations between countries and world organizations.
It can be said that sovereignty concept has shaped international relations greatly. It created the world where internal affairs where the main things countries had to pay attention to and the main tool to influence international politics was through diplomatic relations, international organizations and internal economic development. It could be said that sovereignty led to balance between different countries because it forbids various governments to intrude other countries and influence their politics. In some ways, it left people in authoritarian or tyrannical countries unprotected because they could not expect the international community to help them and change their government systems, but it made people in the world understand that it was up to citizens of their respective countries to deal with the consequences of having certain authorities. Sovereignty concept allowed countries to maintain political freedom. It also gave economic growth a huge importance because it determined economic indicators as the main principles, which affected relations between various countries. It proves that without the supremacy of the state sovereignty, international system would be very different because the countries would be acting according to different standards. Without the supremacy of the state sovereignty, it would be difficult to speak of free countries that could lead independent political course because they would always fear intrusions and direct influence of other countries. Thanks to supremacy of state sovereignty, countries are legally protected from such intrusions, and there are international organizations that have to watch, control, and regulate any actions, which may or go against the sovereignty principle. Thanks to that, authorities are able to lead their states independently. It does not mean that the international community lets leaders of various countries do whatever they want because authorities still have to require international standards otherwise the United Nations may issue permissions to intrude such countries. Nevertheless, the overall sovereignty concept leads to the fact that the state is independent, and its authorities are the only people who have supreme power, so no other country can directly or indirectly command the state and influence its affairs.
From this perspective, American intrusion into countries torn by civil war violates American principles such as position on sovereignty. American officials cannot simply command American army to intrude other countries only because they feel that the governments there oppose American principles. American government has to have more important reasons than that. If it wants to intrude other countries, it has to wait for the United Nations’ resolution; it may also act whenever there were hostile acts done by another country. This way, actions of the United States’ officials would be legally justified. In other cases, such an intrusion would be hypocritical toward American own principles because it would go against respecting sovereignty of states. As it was mentioned before, when America intruded Iraq, officials tried to present some justifications, which would explain their actions to the international community. Nevertheless, these justifications were still not enough taking into consideration that the United States intruded an independent country that did not harm the US previously and had no intentions to do so.
It is true that pragmatism in this case played a very important role. American officials changed their political views greatly after the attacks on Twin Towers on September, 11th. Instead of withdrawing from international actions, officials decided that it was essential for American government to protect its citizens from any possible threats. That was why they decided to attack first in order to strengthen their international positions as well as present the intrusion as an answer to international terrorism. Pragmatism was the reason to end the intrusion, too. American officials realized how tiresome and difficult it was for the American economy to deal and finance the war in Iraq. People’s disappointment and poor results of the war also affected American government significantly making it change its direction and withdrawing its forces from Iraq.
Nevertheless, pragmatism cannot be regarded more important than political principles recognized in the world. One cannot direct the country based on pragmatism only because this way, it would be impossible to speak of balance in international relations. If every country was using pragmatism as its main principle, it would be impossible to speak of international dialogue because every state would be acting based on its own selfish goals without paying attention to international rules and regulations.
Hence, it is essential to act according to political principles, which are established throughout the world. The country has to stick to its positions and should not violate them. If one was granted the power to influence American politics and advise the current president, one would advise President Obama not to change or adjust American positions depending on the situation because it is hypocritical and is against American principles. One would advise Obama to pay more attention to internal affairs without wasting American resources and people on conflicts. Hence, one would tell the President not to participate and support any international conflicts. The only exception can be done when the UN creates a resolution about threats to the world peace. This way, the President could take action, but he would still have to understand the main priorities of his politics, which include developing the United States and ensuring the citizens safety. Thus, Americans have to feel safe in their country knowing that their leaders will not lead the state into a useless conflict, which may cause deaths to many Americans.
Nevertheless, at the present moment, the concept of sovereignty is being questioned quite often. The debates over that concept were focused on actions of states’ authorities who were violating human rights, and the international community was questioning whether it could or could not intrude in order to put a stop to such actions. UN Charter allows UN Council to determine the possible threats to the international community and permit actions depending on the seriousness of the threat. For example, the UN can allow peacekeeping forces to intrude into the country in order to end human sufferings. An example of such actions can be found in Somalia’s case when the UN decided it was their duty to deal with the humanitarian crisis in the country. The US tried to use the same justifications during the war against Iraq. There is Article VII of the UN Charter, which was used as a tool to justify American actions.
At the present moment, the UN can intrude other countries when there is no legitimate government or the authority/domestic institution with supreme jurisdiction. UN can also intrude when they view the situation in a certain country as such that may unbalance the world and lead to military conflicts in the world threatening peace and security. The UN needed to examine Iraqi compliance in order to see whether there were weapons of mass destruction, and only if there was proof that the country had such weapons posing threats to international peace, it would be permissible to intrude Iraq. Since there was no such inspection, the United States used it as an explanation to intrude the country. Nevertheless, they violated the UN principles with such actions, too. They did not have the UN resolution, which would allow them to use military force on behalf of the UN, and the United States were not attacked by Iraq previously. Although the United States tried to use UN principles to justify their actions, one can state that American officials still violated Iraqi sovereignty and acted against international principles. Hence, although Bush administration tried to present American actions in a favorable light to the international community, its arguments did not succeed. Even in America, there were many debates concerning the actions of the American government of that time. At the present moment, American and foreign lawmakers state that American officials exceeded their power and acted against the UN principles during Iraq War.
Hence, one can see that the war against Iraq was a modern threat to Iraqi sovereignty imposed by the American government. It showed that even in the modern world, countries cannot be absolutely assured that other states would not intrude or interfere with them. The war also showed the hypocrisy behind important political decisions and international organizations, which were unable to regulate and control the situation ending the war in Iraq and putting international sanctions on the United States that started the conflict. It is true that American government was acting because of the difficult situation in the country due to terroristic attacks. Nevertheless, it had no right to attack an independent sovereign country, which had nothing to do with the current situation in the United States. Iraq War was unsuccessful for the United States because it caused deaths of many Americans as well as wasted a lot of resources. It also led to many negative consequences for Iraq bringing damage to the country not to mention imbalance in the world. One can say that such events as Iraq War should be prevented in the future so state’s sovereignty will be respected and there will be no conflicting situations between the countries.
The article was composed and submitted by professional writer Lola Nickson, she specializes in international relations and political science, more her papers you can read at https://papers-land.com/
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