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Sovereignty as a constitutional or political science term is the outflow of state authority . The individual powers resulting from sovereignty are referred to as sovereign rights (e.g. the sovereignty of coins ).

Domestic dimension

In domestic politics, the concept of sovereignty describes the powers of a state to act vis-à-vis the citizen in a superior / subordinate relationship (subordination relationship between state and citizen, whereby today's state-citizen relationships are latent general legal relationships ). The opposite is the so-called fiscal activity , in which the state meets the citizen on the level of equality (e.g. contracts ).

Insofar as the authority to act sovereignly, regardless of nationality, extends to all those persons who are on the national territory , one speaks of territorial sovereignty . Accordingly, the concept of sovereign territory describes the spatial and geographical area in which sovereign state authority may be exercised. If, conversely, it extends to one's own nationals regardless of their place of residence, there is personal sovereignty ; it is not to be confused with the term of the same name from the area of local self-government . The sovereignty over religious and ideological communities in the state is called church sovereignty . The right of the state to regulate foreign exchange is known as foreign exchange sovereignty.

State authority is exercised in the form of sovereign acts , i.e. legislative acts, administrative acts and judicial decisions depending on the state authority acting. In the Federal Republic of Germany, sovereign action is also a prerequisite for state liability according to § 839 BGB , Art. 34 GG .

Foreign policy dimension

The sovereignty of a state also has an external effect on other states in that it excludes them from exercising sovereign powers on their own national territory.

In this context, u. a. also understand terms such as air sovereignty and sea ​​sovereignty , which designate the authority of the state to take military action in a certain airspace or sea area ( sovereign waters ).


In principle, sovereign rights can be revocably or irrevocably transferred to other bodies. In Germany, for example, Article 24 (1) of the Basic Law empowers the federal government to "transfer sovereign rights to intergovernmental institutions" by law, such as in relation to NATO "to maintain peace [in] a system of mutual collective security" ( Art 24 para. 2, 1st hand of the Basic Law) and in particular when sovereign tasks are transferred to the European Union ( Art. 23 para. 1 Basic Law). The federation "[consents] to the restrictions of its sovereign rights", with which "a peaceful and lasting order in Europe and between the peoples of the world" is to be ensured (Art. 24 para. 2, 2nd hand GG) .

However, “classification” in a “system” according to Art. 24 II […] does not necessarily mean the “transfer” of sovereign rights i. S. d. Art. 24 I. "

See also

Individual evidence

  1. See Hans Peter Bull / Veith Mehde, General Administrative Law with Administrative Doctrine , 8th edition 2009, p. 131 .
  2. Quoted from Dieter Deiseroth , in: Umbach / Clemens (ed.): Basic Law. Staff commentary and manual , Vol. I, Rn 248 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Highness  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations