human association

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Definition of the key words:

State is a form of human association distinguished from other social groups by its purpose, the establishment of order and security; its methods, the laws and their enforcements; its territory, the area of jurisdiction or geographic boundaries; and finally by its sovereignty. The state consists most broadly off the agreement of the individuals on the means whereby disputes are settled in the form of laws.

Sovereignty entails in its internal dimension, designates the supreme authority over some polity: in its external dimension, it entails the external recognition by the other sovereign states.

It is important to understand the origins, changes of meaning and transformation of the these concepts because in the new world order established after WWII (with the UN and the emergence of many global organization), with the growth of the technology (web, information and communication) and the laws in which individuals and states actors are subject we understand that the government and its politics represents the corner stone which influence the global process of decision making.

Indeed, each state have its own national policy that influence its global process of decision making abroad. In order to be a strategic competitive actor at the global level, it is normal to understand the other actors present on the board. The unique way to understand it is to understand how their government was built through its territory and how its sovereignty is built. Even if the global organization are created in order to defend the global challenges (security, peace, poverty…) politics regulate the entire decisions.
Central Concepts of State, Sovereignty and Territoriality

The central concepts of state, sovereignty and territoriality has had different meaning over the years. The states that existed in the eighteenth century are not entirely similar to the states existing in today’s world. states have undergone a transformation over the years to gain a different meaning and purpose. For instance, while the states of the eighteenth century and centuries before then were basically police states, the states have transformed into welfare states where they primarily exist to provide for their citizens. The concept of state, sovereignty and territory have been redefined over time.

Hinsley (1986) states that sovereignty and state are closely related. A state is a territory with its own government and boarders. A state, therefore, can be described as a country. However, in the United States, a state is a territory with its own government and boarders within a larger country, for example, the state of Georgia. This shows the difference in meaning of state. Sovereignty, on the other hand, refers to the authority of a state to govern itself. By combining state and sovereignty, we get sovereign state which means the ability of a state to have autonomy and control over itself and make decisions on its behalf.

It is important to understand the origins, changes of meaning and transformations of state, sovereignty and territoriality in IR due to the following reasons. Understanding the origin of state helps in respecting the sovereignty of the state and its territories. Over the last two centuries, basically every war has involved some form of territorial disputes. In February 2019, India and Pakistan were involved in aerial conflict due to territorial dispute along the Kashmir border (BBC News, 2019). This conflict has existed since 1947.


BBC News. (2019, February 27). India Pakistan: Kashmir fighting sees Indian aircraft downed. Retrieved from BBC News:

Biersteker, T. J. (2002). State, sovereignty and territory. Handbook of international relations, 157-176.

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