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The Concept of the State in International RelationsPhilosophy, Sovereignty and Cosmopolitanism$
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Robert Schuett and Peter M. R. Stirk

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748693627

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748693627.001.0001

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Sovereignty and the Personality of the State

Sovereignty and the Personality of the State

(p.81) 3 Sovereignty and the Personality of the State
The Concept of the State in International Relations

Jens Bartelson

Edinburgh University Press

In international law, states are assumed to be persons by virtue of being bearers of rights and obligations. This chapter provides a brief genealogy of the person of the state. It shows how the concept of sovereignty — first understood as supreme and indivisible authority within a given polity — helped early modern authors to account for the temporal continuity of states, and also allowed them to attribute rights and obligations to such fictitious entities. It then shows how this conception of sovereignty was instrumental when attributing a capacity for autonomous action to the natural person of sovereign, and how the subsequent redefinition of sovereignty in terms of external independence helped to relocate that capacity to the state as a whole. Finally, it describes how this view of the state as an independent entity came to constitute the baseline for the theory of recognition, according to which states take on their personality as a consequence of being recognized as persons by other states.

Keywords:   states, international relations, international law, state personality, sovereignty

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