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Westphalian sovereignty, or state sovereignty, is a principle in
international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptual framework to guide ...
that each
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, United States * ''Our Sta ...
has exclusive
sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate authority over other people in order to establish a law or change an existing law. In polit ...
over its territory. The principle underlies the modern international system of
sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined territory, one government ...
s and is enshrined in the
United Nations Charter The Charter of the United Nations (also known as the UN Charter) is the foundational treaty of the United Nations, an intergovernmental organization. It establishes the purposes, governing structure, and overall framework of the UN system, inclu ...
, which states that "nothing ... shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state". According to the idea, every state, no matter how large or small, has an equal right to sovereignty. Political scientists have traced the concept to the
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück and Münster. They ended the Thirty Years War and brought peace to the Holy Rom ...
(1648), which ended the
Thirty Years' War The Thirty Years' War (, ) was a conflict fought primarily in modern Germany and Central Europe. It was one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European history. Estimates of total military and civilian deaths range from 4.5 to ...
. The principle of non-interference was further developed in the 18th century. The Westphalian system reached its peak in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it has faced recent challenges from advocates of
humanitarian intervention Humanitarian intervention has been defined as a state's use of military force against another state, with publicly stating its goal is to end human rights violations in that state.Marjanovic, Marko (2011-04-04Is Humanitarian War the Exception? Mi ...
.


Principles and criticism

A series of treaties make up the
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück and Münster. They ended the Thirty Years War and brought peace to the Holy Rom ...
, which is considered by political scientists to be the beginning of the modern international system, Here: p. 251. in which external powers should avoid interfering in another country's domestic affairs. The backdrop of this was the previously held idea that Europe was supposed to be under the umbrella of a single Christian protectorate or empire; governed spiritually by the Pope, and temporally by one rightful emperor, such as that of the Holy Roman Empire. The then-emerging
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in 16th-century Europe that posed a religious and political challenge to the Catholic Church and in p ...
had undermined this as Protestant-controlled states were less willing to respect the "supra authority" of both the Catholic Church and the Catholic-Habsburg led Emperor. Recent scholarship has argued that the Westphalian treaties actually had little to do with the principles with which they are often associated: sovereignty, non-intervention, and the legal equality of states. For example,
Andreas Osiander Andreas Osiander (; 19 December 1498 – 17 October 1552) was a German Lutheran theologian and Protestant reformer. Career Born at Gunzenhausen, Ansbach, in the region of Franconia, Osiander studied at the University of Ingolstadt before bei ...
writes that "the treaties confirm neither rance's or Sweden's'sovereignty' nor anybody else's; least of all do they contain anything about sovereignty as a principle." Others, such as Christoph Kampann and Johannes Paulmann, argue that the 1648 treaties, in fact, limited the sovereignty of numerous states within the Holy Roman Empire and that the Westphalian treaties did not present a coherent new state-system, although they were part of an ongoing change. Yet others, often post-colonialist scholars, point out the limited relevance of the 1648 system to the histories and state systems in the non-Western world. Nonetheless, "Westphalian sovereignty" continues to be used as a shorthand for the basic legal principles underlying the modern state system. The applicability and relevance of these principles have been questioned since the mid-20th century onward from a variety of viewpoints. Much of the debate has turned on the ideas of internationalism and
globalization Globalization, or globalisation (Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is the process of interaction and integration among people, companies, and governments worldwide. Globalization has accelerated since the 18th century due to adva ...
, which some say conflict with Westphalian sovereignty.


History

The origins of Westphalian sovereignty have been traced in the scholarly literature to the
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück and Münster. They ended the Thirty Years War and brought peace to the Holy Rom ...
(1648). The peace treaties put an end to the
Thirty Years' War The Thirty Years' War (, ) was a conflict fought primarily in modern Germany and Central Europe. It was one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European history. Estimates of total military and civilian deaths range from 4.5 to ...
, a war of religion that devastated Germany and killed 30% of its population. Since neither the Catholics nor the Protestants had won a clear victory, the peace settlement established a ''status quo'' order in which states would refrain from interfering in each other's religious practices.
Henry Kissinger Henry Alfred Kissinger (; ; born Heinz Alfred Kissinger; May 27, 1923) is an American politician, diplomat, and geopolitical consultant who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under the presidential adminis ...

Henry Kissinger
wrote: The principle of non-interference in other countries' domestic affairs was laid out in the mid-18th century by Swiss jurist
Emer de Vattel Emer (Emmerich) de Vattel ( 25 April 171428 December 1767) was an international lawyer. He was born in Couvet in the Principality of Neuchâtel (now a canton part of Switzerland) in 1714 and died in 1767. He was largely influenced by Dutch jurist H ...
. States became the primary institutional agents in an interstate system of relations. The Peace of Westphalia is said to have ended attempts to impose supranational authority on European states. The "Westphalian" doctrine of states as independent agents was bolstered by the rise in 19th-century thoughts of
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation (as in a group of people),Smith, Anthony. ''Nationalism: Theory, Ideology, History''. Polity, 2010. pp. 9, 25–30; especially with the aim of gaining and ...
, under which legitimate
states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, United States * ''Our Sta ...
were assumed to correspond to ''
nations A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly political than an ethnic group; it has been described as "a fully ...
''—groups of people united by language and culture. The Westphalian system reached its peak in the late 19th century. Although practical considerations still led powerful states to seek to influence the affairs of others, forcible intervention by one country in the domestic affairs of another was less frequent between 1850 and 1900 than in most previous and subsequent periods. After the end of the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies, the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc, after World War II. Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but the per ...
, the United States and Western Europe began talking of a post-Westphalian order in which countries could intervene against
human rights Human rights are moral principles or normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyHuman Rights Retrieved 14 August 2014 for certain standards of human ...
abuses in other countries. Critics have pointed out such intervention would be (and has been) used to continue processes similar to standard Euro-American colonialism, and that the colonial powers always used ideas similar to "humanitarian intervention" to justify colonialism, slavery, and similar practices. China and Russia have thus used their
United Nations Security Council veto power The United Nations Security Council "Veto power" refers to the power of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) to veto any "substantive" resolution. However, a per ...
to block what they see as American actions to violate the sovereignty of other nations while engaging in their own imperialistic and nationalistic expansionism.


Challenges to Westphalia

The end of the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies, the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc, after World War II. Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but the per ...
saw increased international integration and, arguably, the erosion of Westphalian sovereignty. Much of the literature was primarily concerned with criticizing realist models of international politics in which the notion of the state as a unitary agent is taken as
axiomatic An axiom, postulate or assumption is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments. The word comes from the Greek ''axíōma'' () 'that which is thought worthy or fit' or 'that ...

axiomatic
. In 1998, at a Symposium on the Continuing Political Relevance of the Peace of Westphalia,
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. The ...
Secretary-General
Javier Solana Francisco Javier Solana de Madariaga (; born 14 July 1942) is a Spanish physicist and Socialist politician. After serving in the Spanish government as Foreign Affairs Minister under Felipe González (1992–1995) and as the Secretary General of ...
said that "humanity and democracy eretwo principles essentially irrelevant to the original Westphalian order" and levied a criticism that "the Westphalian system had its limits. For one, the principle of sovereignty it relied on also produced the basis for rivalry, not community of states; exclusion, not integration." In 1999, British Prime Minister
Tony Blair Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. On his resignation he was appointed Special Envoy o ...

Tony Blair
gave a speech in
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive maps of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivisio ...

Chicago
where he "set out a new, post-Westphalian, 'doctrine of the international community. Blair argued that
globalization Globalization, or globalisation (Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is the process of interaction and integration among people, companies, and governments worldwide. Globalization has accelerated since the 18th century due to adva ...
had made the Westphalian approach anachronistic. Blair was later referred to by ''
The Daily Telegraph ''The Daily Telegraph'', known online and elsewhere as ''The Telegraph'' (), is a national British daily broadsheet newspaper published in London by Telegraph Media Group and distributed across the United Kingdom and internationally. It was fo ...
'' as "the man who ushered in the post-Westphalian era". Others have also asserted that globalization has superseded the Westphalian system. In 2000, Germany's
Foreign Minister A foreign affairs minister or minister of foreign affairs (less commonly minister for foreign affairs) is generally a cabinet minister in charge of a state's foreign policy and relations. Difference in titles In some nations, such as India, the ...
Joschka Fischer Joseph Martin "Joschka" Fischer (born 12 April 1948) is a German politician of the Alliance 90/The Greens. He served as Foreign Minister and as Vice Chancellor of Germany in the cabinet of Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005. Fischer has been a l ...

Joschka Fischer
referred to the Peace of Westphalia in his Humboldt Speech, which argued that the system of European politics set up by Westphalia was obsolete: "The core of the concept of Europe after 1945 was and still is a rejection of the European balance-of-power principle and the hegemonic ambitions of individual states that had emerged following the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, a rejection which took the form of closer meshing of vital interests and the transfer of nation-state sovereign rights to supranational European institutions." The
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has developed an internal s ...
's concept of shared sovereignty is also somewhat contrary to historical views of Westphalian sovereignty, as it provides for external agents to influence and interfere in the internal affairs of its member countries. In a 2008 article Phil Williams links the rise of
terrorism Terrorism is, in the broadest sense, the use of intentional violence to achieve political aims. It is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime or in the context of war against non-combatants (mostly civilians and neu ...
and violent non-state actors ( VNSAs), which pose a threat to the Westphalian sovereignty of the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, United States * ''Our Sta ...
, to
globalization Globalization, or globalisation (Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is the process of interaction and integration among people, companies, and governments worldwide. Globalization has accelerated since the 18th century due to adva ...
.


Military intervention

Interventions such as in
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to the northwest, ...
by
Vietnam , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Hanoi , coordinates = , largest_city = Ho Chi Minh City , languages_type = National language , languages ...
(the
Cambodian–Vietnamese War The Cambodian–Vietnamese War ( km, សង្គ្រាមកម្ពុជា-វៀតណាម, vi, Chiến tranh Campuchia–Việt Nam), known in Vietnam as the Counter-offensive on the Southwestern border ( vi, Chiến dịch Phản cô ...
) or in
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the eighth-most populous country in the world, with a population exceeding 163 million people, in an area of , ma ...
(then a part of
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's fifth-most populous country with a population exceeding 212.2 million, and has the wor ...
) by
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the second-most populous country, the seventh-largest country by land area, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Oce ...

India
(the
Bangladesh Liberation War The Bangladesh Liberation War ( bn, মুক্তিযুদ্ধ, ), also known as the Bangladesh War of Independence, or simply the Liberation War in Bangladesh, was a revolution and armed conflict sparked by the rise of the Bengali nat ...
and the
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971#REDIRECT Indo-Pakistani War of 1971#REDIRECT Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
) were seen by some as examples of humanitarian intervention, although their basis in international law is debatable. Other more recent interventions, and their attendant infringements of state sovereignty, also have prompted debates about their legality and motivations. A new notion of contingent sovereignty seems to be emerging, but it has not yet reached the point of international legitimacy.
Neoconservatism Neoconservatism is a political movement born in the United States during the 1960s among liberal hawks who became disenchanted with the increasingly pacifist foreign policy of the Democratic Party and with the growing New Left and countercultu ...
in particular has developed this line of thinking further, asserting that a lack of democracy may foreshadow future humanitarian crises, or that democracy itself constitutes a human right, and therefore states not respecting democratic principles open themselves up to
just war Just war theory (Latin: ''jus bellum justum'') is a doctrine, also referred to as a tradition, of military ethics studied by military leaders, theologians, ethicists and policy makers. The purpose of the doctrine is to ensure war is morally justif ...
by other countries. However, proponents of this theory have been accused of being concerned about democracy, human rights and humanitarian crises only in countries where American global dominance is challenged, while hypocritically ignoring the same issues in other countries friendlier to the United States. Further criticism of Westphalian sovereignty arises regarding allegedly
failed state A failed state is a political body that has disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government no longer function properly (see also fragile state and state collapse). A state can also fail if the gover ...
s, of which
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south; Iran to the west ...
(before the 2001 US-led invasion) is often considered an example.Robert I. Rotberg. "The new nature of nation‐state failure". ''The Washington Quarterly'', Volume 25, Issue 3, 2002 In this case, it is argued that no sovereignty exists and that international intervention is justified on humanitarian grounds and by the threats posed by failed states to neighboring countries and the world as a whole. Political scientist Hall Gardner has challenged elements of the Westphalian sovereignty. Reviewer Sarang Shidore summarizes Gardner's argument:


Defenders of Westphalia

Although the Westphalian system developed in
early modern Europe#REDIRECT Early modern Europe#REDIRECT Early modern Europe {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
, its staunchest defenders can now be found in the non-Western world. The presidents of China and Russia issued a joint statement in 2001 vowing to "counter attempts to undermine the fundamental norms of the international law with the help of concepts such as 'humanitarian intervention' and 'limited sovereignty. China and Russia have used their
United Nations Security Council veto power The United Nations Security Council "Veto power" refers to the power of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) to veto any "substantive" resolution. However, a per ...
to block what they see as American violations of state sovereignty in Syria. Russia was left out of the original Westphalian system in 1648, but post-Soviet Russia has seen Westphalian sovereignty as a means to balance American power by encouraging a multipolar world order. Some in the West also speak favorably of the Westphalian state. American political scientist
Stephen Walt Stephen Martin Walt (born July 2, 1955) is an American professor of international affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He belongs to the realist school of international relations. He made important contributions to t ...
urged U.S. President
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American media personality and businessman who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021. Born and raised in Queens, New York City, Trump attended Fordham University ...
to return to Westphalian principles, calling it a "sensible course" for American foreign policy. American political commentator
Pat Buchanan Patrick Joseph Buchanan (; born November 2, 1938) is an American paleoconservative political commentator, columnist, politician and broadcaster. Buchanan was an assistant and special consultant to U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and ...

Pat Buchanan
has also spoken in favor of the traditional nation-state.


See also

*
International relations#REDIRECT International relations#REDIRECT International relations {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
*
Civic nationalism Civic nationalism, also known as liberal nationalism, is a form of nationalism identified by political philosophers who believe in an inclusive form of nationalism that adheres to traditional liberal values of freedom, tolerance, equality, and i ...
*
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück and Münster. They ended the Thirty Years War and brought peace to the Holy Rom ...
*
Monopoly on violence The monopoly on violence or the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force is a core concept of modern public law, which goes back to French jurist and political philosopher Jean Bodin's 1576 work ''Les Six livres de la République'' and En ...
*
Non-state actorNon-state actors include organizations and individuals that are not affiliated with, directed by, or funded through the government. The interests, structure, and influence of NSAs vary widely. For example, among NSAs are corporations, media organiza ...
* Westfailure


Further reading

* John Agnew, ''Globalization and Sovereignty'' (2009) * T. Biersteker and C. Weber (eds.), ''State Sovereignty as Social Construct'' (1996) * Wendy Brown, ''Walled States, Waning Sovereignty'' (2010) *
Hedley Bull Hedley Norman Bull, FBA (10 June 1932 – 18 May 1985) was Professor of International Relations at the Australian National University, the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford until his death from cancer in 1985. He was Mon ...
, ''The Anarchical Society'' (1977) * Joseph Camilleri and Jim Falk, ''The End of Sovereignty?: The Politics of a Shrinking and Fragmenting World'', Edward Elgar, Aldershot (1992) * Derek Croxton, "The Peace of Westphalia of 1648 and the Origins of Sovereignty," ''The International History Review'' vol. 21 (1999) * A. Claire Cutler, "Critical Reflections on the Westphalian Assumptions of International Law and Organization," ''Review of International Studies'' vol. 27 (2001) * M. Fowler and J. Bunck, ''Law, Power, and the Sovereign State'' (1995) * S. H. Hashmi (ed.), ''State Sovereignty: Change and Persistence in International Relations'' (1997) * F. H. Hinsley, ''Sovereignty'' (1986) * K. J. Holsti, ''Taming the Sovereigns'' (2004) * Robert Jackson, ''The Global Covenant'' (2000) *
Henry Kissinger Henry Alfred Kissinger (; ; born Heinz Alfred Kissinger; May 27, 1923) is an American politician, diplomat, and geopolitical consultant who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under the presidential adminis ...

Henry Kissinger
, '' World Order'' (2014) * Stephen Krasner, ''Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy'' (1999) * Stephen Krasner (ed.), ''Problematic Sovereignty'' (2001) * J.H. Leurdijk, ''Intervention in International Politics'', Eisma BV, Leeuwarden, Netherlands (1986) * Andreas Osiander, "Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth," ''International Organization'' vol. 55 (2001) * Daniel Philpott, ''Revolutions in Sovereignty'' (2001) * Cormac Shine
'Treaties and Turning Points: The Thirty Years' War'
''History Today'' (2016) * Hendrik Spruyt, ''The Sovereign State and Its Competitors'' (1994) * Phil Williams
Non-State Actors and National and International Security''
ISN, 2008 * Wael Hallaq, "The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity's Moral Predicament" (2012)


References

{{reflist, 30em 1648 in international relations Political terminology Sovereignty Early Modern history of Germany Legal history of the Dutch Republic 1648 in Europe History of diplomacy