THE CONCEPT OF SOVEREIGNTY IN JOHN AUSTIN: A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS

Author: Chukwuanih Joel Joseph
Department: Philosophy
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

Sovereignty is the supreme, absolute, and power by which any independent state is governed. It is the attribute of the state, characterizing the possession by it of all the possible powers of independent statehood, including constitutional and legislative supremacy, which entitle its government to make and implement its own decisions in domestic affairs and in the conduct of international relations, without the prior consent or permission of an outside power. Sovereignty has assumed many different guises. It has frequently changed its content, its laws and even its functions during the modern period. Sovereignty is regarded as the self- sufficient source of political power from which all specific political powers are derived, the international independence of a state, combined with the right and power of regulating its internal affairs without foreign dictation. According to John Austin, a state is sovereign when it has a body within it which effectively commands the rest of the society and which is not effectively commanded by any outside force. The concept of sovereignty as one of the essential characteristics of nation-states have been problematic as scholars have divergent views on sovereignty based on its elements-absolutism, indivisibility, permanency, inalienable, universalibility and exclusivity. The proponents of the sovereignty argue that it helps to ensure equality and non-interference in state affairs by any external influence. The critics observed that absolutism and indivisibility always lead to tyranny and undermines international relations. Hence, the inevitable questions; should the concept of sovereignty be discarded? Where is the location of sovereignty? Can sovereignty be delegated? The above questions beg for answers. However, in this study, the method of historical and philosophical analysis is used in order to ensure thorough investigation. Therefore, some of the findings show that sovereignty as an essential element of state re-enforce and sustain equality of states as global actors through mutual cooperation in international community and legal independence, which empower them not be under any form of legal subordination within or outside their territories.

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