Factual State Sovereignty: An Omnipresence that is Allegedly Absent

  • Ersun N. Kurtulus


If the controversy as regards juridical state sovereignty is about what kind of entities are as a matter of law endowed with this type of sovereignty, the dispute concerning factual sovereignty is entirely of a different sort. Here, the main discussion is not about which type of territorial entities display those characteristics that are normally associated with factual state sovereignty, but about the precise nature of these characteristics, that is to say, about the specific features of a more general quality that usually applies equally to all states. Thus, in the contemporary literature, the issue is often raised as to whether factual state sovereignty—as such—is limited, compromised, shared, pooled, outdated, transferred, or transcended. In this terminological affluence, however, it is possible to distinguish the contours of three principal arguments: that factual sovereignty has gradually fallen into insignificance or irrelevance owing to factors restricting the independence and autonomy of states; that this is in some cases the result of institutionalized supranational integration or its mirror image, formalized infra-national disintegration; and, finally, that this is due to a lack of territorial control on the part of states and similar entities. As it shall be seen in this chapter, none of these skeptical arguments are empirically tenable. Factual state sovereignty continues to be a pivotal feature of world politics and cases where states have lost this type of sovereignty are few and exist in the margins of international relations.


Member State Security Council National Court State Sovereignty Authority Structure 
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© Ersun N. Kurtulus 2005

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