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The confederation of states (also under international law , partly - strictly only in the case of an "organized confederation" - also called confederation ) is an association of sovereign states ( member states , referred to as member states or federal members ) with their own organization at the federal level . It is a connection between states under international law ; the confederation of states is not a real state and has neither its own territory nor its own citizens .

Confederation vs. federal state

The difference between a confederation and a federal state is that in the federal state (as a constitutional association of states) the federation is the holder of sovereignty , while in the confederation the individual states are legally and economically autonomous , but form a common union . The confederation , which represents a common appearance in the form of an umbrella organization , but has no competence competence , must also be distinguished from this . The differences are fluid, however, and the terms are often used synonymously . As a result, breakaway areas of individual countries are not legally recognized. In this context, sovereignty primarily means the right to distribute competencies between the individual state and the federal government, the so-called competence competence.

The institutions of the confederation of states are usually a representative assembly, joint executive bodies for joint tasks and an arbitration system for the settlement of disputes among the connected states. In a confederation of states, laws of the federal legislative body cannot have any direct impact on citizens; they are only delegated to the national parliaments for adoption . In addition, there is usually a right of withdrawal for the member states.

Confederation of States vs. "Confederation of States"

As a derivative subject of international law, the European Union (EU) is not a confederation of states. It is in a class of its own that connects sovereign nations through treaties. These member nations can transfer certain parts of their regulatory powers to the EU level on a case-by-case basis. However, this does not change the status of the EU or its member nations under international law. In a 1993 judgment, the German Federal Constitutional Court described the European Union as an association of states , which has also met with approval beyond Germany's borders. The EU has a certain influence on its member states domestically, but this is not offset by a uniform common foreign policy, nor does the EU claim in its relevant treaties to be more than an association of states for itself. In addition, all EU states are represented in the United Nations as independent and autonomous (sovereign) members.




Web links

Wiktionary: Federation of states  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. ^ Theodor Schweisfurth , Völkerrecht , Mohr, Tübingen 2006, 1st chapter. § 8.II.1 ( p. 36 f. ); on the establishment of such an international intergovernmental organization, see in particular Chapter 10. Section 4 marginal numbers 17-19 .
  2. Heinrich Wilms , Staatsrecht I - State organization law taking into account the federalism reform , Stuttgart 2007, p. 81 marginal number 242: "In the confederation of states the individual member states are sovereign."
  3. See instead of all Georg Dahm / Jost Delbrück / Rüdiger Wolfrum , Völkerrecht , Vol. I / 2, 2nd edition, Berlin 2002, p. 200 .
  4. Wolfgang Graf Vitzthum (Ed.), Völkerrecht , 5th edition 2010, p. 208: “A confederation of states is a connection of states based on an international treaty . The members [!] Retain their subjectivity under international law ; their relationships are regulated by international law. "
  5. There may be exceptions: Art. 5 of the Vienna Final Act of 1820 described the German Confederation as an “indissoluble association”, which is why “no member of this association could leave this association”.