The Concept and Content of Sovereignty
University of European Studies in Moldova, Masters in Law, email@example.com
Abstract: Sovereignty is the quali ty of state power, on the basis of which it is empowered to adopt any
political, legal, military a nd economic decision in all home and foreign affairs, without the interf erence
of another power. The concept of sovereignty was defined in many ways, put in different context by
philosophers and legal experts, yet the b asic idea remains always the same, and namely – s tate
sovereignty includes 2 inseparable elements : state supremacy within the state and state independence in
relation to other powers.
As social phenomenon, sovereignty appeared together with the state; it develops simultaneously with
the state and determines state peculiarities. That is why, the origin and history of the concept of state are
strongly related to the nature, origin and history of state. In the historical evolution of society, the
doctrine on the content of sovereignty was interpreted through various theories and positions.
There are 2 general theories that have confronted each other for centuries as each of them supported a
different idea of sovereignty: the theocratic theories or concepts and the democratic doctrine.
Theocratic concepts built upon the idea that the Creator of the world who has all power in his hands
appoints and empowers a sovereignty holder represented by the king and the democratic theories target
popular sovereignty and national sovereignty.
In the modern constitutional concept, sovereignty is a complex and crucial issue both for international
and constitutional law.
Sovereignty is the quality of state power, on the basis of which it is empowered to adopt any political,
legal, military and economic decision in all home and foreign affairs, without the interference of
In theory2, sovereignty being compared with independence, means supreme power and the quality of
being sovereign, being the master of one’s own fate. At the same time, a difference should be made
between national sovereignty, which is identified with the independence of a state in relation to other
states and state sovereignty meaning supremacy of state power within the country and its independence
in relation to the power of other countries.
The concept of sovereignty was defined in many ways, put in different context by philosophers and
legal experts, yet the basic idea remains always the same, and namely – state sovereignty includes 2
inseparable elements: state supremacy within the state and state independence in relation to other
As a particular trait of sovereignty, supremacy of power refers to the internal aspect, meaning territorial
integrity and inviolability of state borders, as well as the fact that state power, constitutionally
established, is above any other power. Also, supremacy of state power expresses its quality of being the
only authority that has the right to act on state territory and population, to set the system and rule of law
within state borders, as well as the directions and ways of achieving domestic and foreign policy
according to the aspirations and interests of its people.
Independence, as an element of sovereignty, refers to the external aspect, by which the state carries out
a foreign policy, which it establishes independently from another state or another international power.
1 Ion Deleanu, Drept constituţional şi instituţii politice, p. 54
2 DEX, Academia Română, Institutul de lingvistică “Iorgu Iordan”, Ediţia II-a, Univers enciclopedic, Bucureşti, 1998, p. 1049