Concept of Sovereignty: Characteristics and Types of Sovereignty

Glide to success with Doorsteptutor material for UGC : Get detailed illustrated notes covering entire syllabus: point-by-point for high retention.

  • It is primarily a legal concept

  • The basic idea of Sovereignty is to be able to declare law, issue commands and take political decisions

  • Sovereignty grants States Authority in both Internal and External Spheres

  • Sovereignty is absolute, unlimited and perpetual power

Characteristics of Sovereignty


  • The will of the Sovereign reigns supreme in the State

  • The most important characteristic as Sovereignty is not limited


  • Sovereignty belongs to State not to a government

  • Permanence of Sovereignty is the corollary of its absoluteness


  • Sovereignty is a universal, all-pervasive and all-comprehensive

  • Organisation within the territory of states are subject to its Sovereign


Sovereignty cannot be transferred without destroying the state itself


  • Sovereignty cannot be divided

  • The principle of Federalism is exceptional characteristic of Sovereignty

Types of Sovereignty

  • De Jure And De Jure Sovereignty

  • Titular Sovereignty

  • Legal Sovereignty

  • Political Sovereignty

Chief Exponents of Theory of Sovereignty

Jean Bodin

  • Sovereignty as absolute and perpetual power

  • Sovereign above Law and Source of Law

Imposed two restrictions on Sovereign:

  • Not abrogate fundamental laws

  • Not Tax private property

Hugo Grotius

  • States Sovereignty in international sphere

  • Introduced the idea of external sovereignty

Thomas Hobbes

  • Sovereignty is the attribute of the State

  • Authority of Sovereign beyond challenge

  • Added legitimacy to Authority of Sovereign

John Locke

  • Did not uphold absolute sovereignty

  • Supreme Power is with the people

Jean Jacques Rousseau

  • Added doctrine of popular sovereignty

  • Sovereignty is represented in the form of General Will

  • Sovereignty is absolute and unlimited because General Will is accepted unconditionally

  • Man can be forced to be free

John Austin

  • Contributed to the legal notion of Sovereignty

  • Will of Sovereign not bound by any other law

  • Defined law as the command of Sovereign

  • The subjects could have no legal rights against the state

  • Exponent of Absolute and Unlimited sovereignty from legal point of view

  • Sovereignty is an essential element of State

  • Sovereignty denotes Authority of State

  • Existence of State depends on Sovereignty

  • International recognition is not a condition for existence of State it is Sovereignty that is must for the same.