GLR Forum

GLR News and Information => Geography, Economy & GLR Politics => Topic started by: Mogul on Wed, May 02, 2007, 00:15

Title: Souvereignty and International Recognition
Post by: Mogul on Wed, May 02, 2007, 00:15
It seems to me, the meaning of „sovereignty“ and „international recognition“ has to be clarified at this point.

Sovereignty means that an entity is independent from other entities when making any decicions on internal or external affairs. Since no state in this world is entirely independent in its decision-making from other entities (neither from the „natural law“, in some theories), the usual, most popular perception of souvereignty in the meaning of „absolute souvereignty“ is alltogether wrong and misleading. Thus, whenever we are talking of souvereignty, we actually are meaning the „relative souvereignty.“

There is no strict rules on what defines the „relative souvereignty“ of a state (or a state-like entity), but at least the following few points are usually regarded as important criterions by scholars of international law:

1. There is a kind of government body for the entity;
2. The government is willing and able to exercise effective control upon its citizens and/or territory, within the frames of its own legislation;
3. The laws and decisions of foreign governing bodies have no legal effects within the jurisdiction of the souvereign entity in question.

Points 1 and 2 simply reflect the ability to manage internal matters of the entity (such as maintaining public order, social security, law enforcement etc) -- what’s called „internal souvereignty“. Point 3 describes the „external souvereignty“ and implies the independence from other souvereign entities, which might be gradual -- Australia and Canada are most certainly souvereign states, despite their formal affiliation to the Britisch Crown.

Some countries experience problems in achieving some degree of external souvereignty, while others (mostly recognized „independent“ states) struggle hard to maintaine their internal souvereignty -- the state being contested by rebells, multinational corporations and even diverse criminal groups.

It is important to stress that souvereignty is a matter of facts and as such is a separate issue from „official recognition“ by other countries. Souvereignty is always relative and one can always discuss as to what degree some „souvereign“ country actually has accomplished internal and external souvereignty. The said „official recognition“ simply reflects the readiness of one government to enter into relationship with another government -- if or as long as there is no interest to entertain bilateral relationships to some particular country, the „recognition“ has little to no value at all. For example, the governments of Tuvalu and Belarus might as well deny the „official recognition“ to each other, and this circumstance could not matter less -- the prospects of these countries interfering into each other business are microscopic.

Independently from what opinions some foreign governments, law scholars or private citizens may hold on any given entity, the entity is souvereign as long a it is able to defend its souvereignty, or as long as other powers abstain from any steps suitable to disrupt the internal and external souvereignty of an entity. Any entity claiming souvereignty upon persons and territories must fight every day for maintaining this souvereignty status, which might be contested by other states, by criminals or even by simple citizens by means of civil disobedience.

We also must consider that souvereignty can be claimed upon persons and territories, and that these are separate issues as well. Any entity with no territorial claims will hardly be in need to violently resolve territorial conflicts, but it will have to invest some efforts to maintain its souvereignty upon the persons affiliated to it. For example, the souvereignty of Order of Malta is founding in its status as a supranational affiliation of individuals -- independently from any territorial posessions of this entity. Within the frames of its own jurisdiction, the souvereignty of Order of Malta is fully recognized by 94 states, among them Italy and Brazil. On the other side, two souvereign entities can mutually question the territorial souvereignty of eachother in parts or as a whole, without actually being „at war“ with eachother. Territorial disputes, missing recognition etc are only insofar of importance to any given souvereign entity as they factually do or do not affect its vital interests.

Beyound this, the „official recognition“ is not necessarily a guarantee for good political and economic relationship to other states. Bad diplomacy or simple insistence on one’s souvereignty might entail political and economic pressure from an ill-humoured neighbour, causing serious problems (see Cuba/USA). Alike, it has little practical consequences for a person whether one can not enter USA because of denied visum due to one’s belonging to a poor country, or because USA does not recognize your country as such. I even dare to claim that a pass-holder of Order of Malta has much better chances to get visum for Canada than a regular citizen of India or Nigeria -- although Canada does not entertain „diplomatic relashionship“ with the said non-territorial entity!

What is widely understood as „the international law“ is, in its essense, simply a customary law reflecting the history of souvereign entities interacting with each other. Wherever there is a conflict of interests between the entities, or a necessity to regulate certain issues, the entities usually stick to the instrument of bilateral or multilateral treaties -- provided, the application of force deems unpractical to them. Powerfull states might choose to ignore souvereign rights of a smaller state -- e.g. by crossing its territorial waters, abducting its citizens, arresting its property or otherwise violating its souvereignty. The smaller states are then free to indulge these tresspasses, to make them legal by voluntarily granting these privileges to the offender, or to defend their rights violently and bear the consequences.

After all, the souvereign entities are in a constant competition with each other anyway. Nothing would prevent a hostile state to declare war to a disliked souvereign entity, and destroy its souvereignty if victorious. Once again, souvereignty is always a matter of facts, not of „independence declarations“ and „official recognitions“.

Whether the entity in question has its operation basis on an artificial construction on sea, on a small parcell put exterritorial per contract, or on a violently obtained territory -- it's always up to diplomatic, military and economic abilities of the entity to effectively ensure its souvereignty.
Title: Re: Souvereignty and International Recognition
Post by: Athrael on Wed, May 02, 2007, 01:11
In essence we are looking as perspective. Not "physical" boundaries.

If one perceives themselves to be a cow they are a cow, if others perceive one to be a cow one is a cow?

Or if you prefer, if a nation perceives itself to be a nation it is a nation (to itself) - if other nations see a nation as a nation it is a nation. 

More of an agreed upon reality than a solid reality sort of thing... ?

Title: Re: Souvereignty and International Recognition
Post by: Mogul on Fri, May 04, 2007, 03:06
More of an agreed upon reality than a solid reality sort of thing... ?

Well, it's about how we ourselves do see us, and how others are influencing our perception. Somehow Gay folks are readily acknowledging the nations of Tuvalu (Population: 10.000) or San Marino (28.000) to be true, unique nations, while at the same time considering themeselves to be unable to form anything that would resemble a State and a Nation.

How comes that a people embracing at least 300 million individuals can't afford for ANYTHING resembling a government and structures to defend itself? If it comes from the belief that a piece of basalt rock covered by dirt is necessary for self-determination, we must destroy this erroneous belief. The state is an extended network, and if a sufficient number of Gays shall determine to install the Gay State, this State will come into existence -- territorial or [at first] not.

The point is, we must present an argumentative line to make our folks believe they are eligible for a self-rule, too.
Title: Re: Souvereignty and International Recognition
Post by: Jaix on Wed, Jan 23, 2008, 13:01
Really?  We need to destroy the idea that, a piece of land makes a nation? :N  Why not use it?  Victor, you saw first hand, the attraction a piece of land focuses for people.
A nebulous Gay State, no land, no focus, no power, no boundries is very hard for people to conceive of. ???  AND people are what we need!
I am not a fan of Dale the First and Last ;U, but he did have some very perceptive ideas.  He focused people on his idea, because when they asked, "where is this country" he could point to a map and say, "here it is, right here." This is its capital.  I am its "emperor" LOL  Trouble was when examined one could live on the island, or did live on it.
I believe that if people had lived on the island, if it could sustain a few hundred people, and that HE had lived there, we would be looking at a different scenario.  Perhaps WE would be extolling his virtues in a putative conflict with Australian military for control of the island.  :R THAT would focus both our attention and the world's.
But I am one that tries to stear clear of armed conflicts. :=SU  I think under any circumstances we would come out badly.
We need to find a suitable piece of land,  one that is not near and dear to some other nations heart. Then plot the logistics of occuping the land, digging in, hanging on and screaming
bloody murder to the world if anyone tries to pry us off. Not that anyone would come to our aid, but nations have images they want to project, and not all want to be seen as blood thirsty, and careless of minorities.
Some nations, all this wouldn't make a bit of difference to.  For instance, taking or trying to take an Iranian  >:)island would be suicide....for obvious reasons.  But occupation of a Norwegian
island, that is thousands of miles from Norway, may be a different story.  Especially if the world is taking note of it.
So on this point, dear friend, we diverge.

Title: Re: Souvereignty and International Recognition
Post by: Feral on Thu, Jan 24, 2008, 06:03
I do not think the two of you diverge by all that much. :)

This or that patch of dirt is required for the purposes of international law -- that is the way the game is played. A physical territory is required, but it is only one element of this game. Having this one element does not guarantee success. It doesn't guarantee you anything at all. A sovereign entity consists of a people as well, and a people that behaves as if it were sovereign. In order to achieve any recognition in the games of states on the international field, this people must, of course, have their very own patch of dirt. But that patch of dirt is not going to secure itself.

People like to imagine national borders as permanent, obvious things. Often enough, they consist of rivers and coastlines. Still, neither the Mississippi or the Rhine have been national borders for a very long time. The coasts of the Mediterranean were hardly sufficient to keep France on it's side of that permanent, obvious line. It is people who give national borders their reality. Without the will of people, all these borders dissolve into the imaginary phantasms that they really are. Yes, in a national sense, you really do need to point to some patch of dirt and say "this is where we are; this is what we own." I should think, however, that it is manifestly obvious that it is also necessary for some people (ours, for example) to say "this is who we are."

I have encountered two dominant lines of thinking on this point in recent years. The most common one is a simple rejection of that statement. We cannot say "this is who we are" because it is not true -- we are, so it is said, no different than anyone else. We are not entitled to govern ourselves on any patch of dirt because, quite simply, we do not exist. The second line of reasoning is somewhat less common: do do not dare say "this is who we are." On the contrary, we must intone that we are all one. We have potent enemies, you see -- enemies that would immediately move against us were we to say something so audacious as "this is who we are." Apparently, the only hope for the Gay people is to persuade the straight people that there are no Gay people. The straight people, it is imagined, would not destroy their own. There is no basis in reality for either of these propositions. I am left speculating that they are delusions arising out of some widespread neurosis.

The foundation of the state is its people, not its dirt. I might argue that the existence of the state does not extend beyond its people. Still, the world is a physical place and one can always make some attempt at defining the territory of a people -- it is, after all, where they are. More to the point, it's where their government is. Sovereignty is not, in the end, some present that foreign governments bestow upon you; it's the way a people behaves.

The opinions of others -- other peoples, other governments -- are not without weight. History has demonstrated fairly conclusively that this or that patch of basalt covered with dirt is diagnostic of a sovereign state. It is a prerequisite for the game. This is an arguable point -- certainly China and Japan have been arguing over just what constitutes "real" land in recent years. It seems that deliberately growing coral reefs to the point that they constitute islands and not reefs does not qualify as acquiring new territory -- or so argue the Chinese. The Japanese have a different view of the matter. In the end, it will be people playing word games that decides the point, not the physical reality of the islands in question. The world is defined by others' perceptions just as much as it is by our own.

Yes, indeed... so far as international law is concerned, we really do need some patch of dirt to call our very own. The effect of that patch of dirt on the psyches of our own people will probably surprise some -- for myself, I think it would hardly be possible to overestimate the impact of such an event. One can, to be sure, sail off and find some patch of dirt and declare it to be one's very own. One can then attempt to form some semblance of a people around that territorial entity. This was the basis of the plan for Alpine County. It was the basis of the plan for Heaven as well. "If you build it, they will come." An example from the straight experience of such things would be the island of Minerva... an example that ended with guys with guns and diplomats with papers. Or one can do it the other way around -- build up a people... then claim whatever territory their shadow happens to fall on. Act sovereign, be sovereign, rather than simply claiming to be.
Title: Re: Souvereignty and International Recognition
Post by: Mogul on Sun, Jan 27, 2008, 16:31
This or that patch of dirt is required for the purposes of international law -- that is the way the game is played.

Yes - as a general rule. To this general rule, there are 2 very important exceptions -- the Holy See and the Order of Malta. Both of these entities are souvereign, despite of their lack of a souvereign territory, whereby the Order of Malta is coming very close to what Gays could establish as well: an extended network. I see the Order of Malta as a legal precedence case which enables the (currently theoretical) Gay state to achieve recognition by other political acteurs within very short time.

Clearly, people are in need of living and working space, and they need some ressources to maintain a stable economy. Theoretically, the people and their government could live on some mother ship or a swimming island (and care nothing about the international treaties we didn't endorse). Practically, a piece of solid rock would be much safer place to live on, and it would come cheaper to purchase. Yes, we need some territory - but there are different approaches on how to get it. 

My suggestion is to start with the souvereign non-territorial entity first. Such a thing depends on our own will only, and offers us the possibility to request an exterritorial area in some friendly country. The legal construction is (in my view) very simple and requires no risky adventures speculating on the military or logistic inferiority of other  nations.

There are many ways to territorial souvereignty. Squatting or purchasing an abandoned island is as legitimate a strategy as any other, and with a little bit of luck it can succeed. However, it is always smart to avoid unnecessary armed confrontations.
Title: Re: Souvereignty and International Recognition
Post by: Jaix on Mon, Jan 28, 2008, 09:09
I should have read your post first, Mogul !(are we supposed to use pseudonyms here?) Then I would have written my somewhat lengthy reply to your e mail here! :Y