Review of International Studies

Research Article

What constitutes the sovereign state?

Michael Ross Fowler and Julie Marie Bunck

One might try to determine just what constitutes a sovereign state empirically, by examining the characteristics of states whose sovereignty is indisputable. All sovereign states, it might be observed, have territory, people, and a government. Curiously, however, cogent standards do not seem to exist either in law or in practice for the dimensions, number of people, or form of government that might be required of a sovereign state. Indeed, a United Nations General Assembly Resolution declared that neither small size, nor remote geographical location, nor limited resources constitutes a valid objection to sovereign statehood.

Michael Ross Fowler is Visiting Assistant Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Louisville and is the co-author (with Julie Bunck) of Law, Power, and the Sovereign State: The Evolution and Application of the Concept of Sovereignty (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995).

Julie Marie Bunck is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville and is the co-author (with Michael Fowler) of Law, Power, and the Sovereign State: The Evolution and Application of the Concept of Sovereignty (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995).