8 characteristics of a state that make it internationally recognized
There are numerous definitions of a state. The most common one is a centralized political organization that creates, imposes, and enforces a rule over a population within a clearly defined territory. From the political science point of view, therefore, a state must have political power, a definite territory, and a community of people. In addition to the political science definition, there are several other characteristics of a state that make it internationally recognized.
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Since time immemorial, numerous decisions have been made based on the definitions of a state. Countless wars have been fought between nations, trade agreements made by countries, and the stand of communities made known by their representative states.
What are the 8 characteristics of a state?
What are the characteristics of a state that make it stand out and get recognition from other states? Here is a look.
For a community of people to be described as a state, it must occupy a clearly defined territory. A state can only exist within territorial borders. These borders determine the size of the state, the area it can govern, and the areas where its neighboring countries begin. Besides dry land, a country's territory also includes its airspace and maritime territory.
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A government is a machinery of people that enforces rules and regulations through the common law of the land. This body is typically made up of people with elective and appointive positions who work together to deliver the citizens' needs.
A state's government is supposed to make and implement public policies, often guided by a written document known as a constitution. Typically, every government has three types of power: judicial, legislative, and executive.
What are the different types of governments?
Here is a look at the three most common forms of government across the world.
- Authoritarian government: An authoritarian government is characterized by a powerful, often unelected individual. However, some democratically elected leaders can also turn authoritarian down the road. One of the best-known examples of an authoritarian government is a monarchy.
- Oligarchic government: An oligarchy is a type of government that sees a small group of the society's elite wield power. These individuals are often defined by their royal families, wealth, military, or religious affiliations. Unlike an authoritarian government, an oligarchy does not necessarily have a single powerful ruler but a group of them. A theocracy is a prime example of an oligarchic government. What is a theocracy? It is essentially a government under the control of a church or country-sponsored religion.
- Democratic government: This is the world's most common type of government. It is defined by a structure in which power is determined, held, and exercised through majority rule. A common saying in democracies is that 'the majority have their way and the minority have their say.'
3. Laws and structures
A state must have a set of laws that govern the population. In most countries, this set of laws is outlined in a document known as the constitution. The laws determine acceptable behavioural norms and are obligatory for every citizen. The rules and laws are sanctioned by the government and enforced through various law enforcement agencies.
Besides the laws, a state must also have defined structures. These include the government headquarters in the economic or administrative capital.
4. Legal entity
A federal state is viewed as an independent legal entity in the eyes of international law. This implies that it can own property, sue other legal entities, and be sued.
A territory defining itself as a state must be recognized by the existing international bodies as well as other countries. This recognition is crucial in the prevention of attacks, wars, and any other form of violation. In addition, legitimacy ensures that no other entity can interfere with the state's 'life' without backlash from other bodies.
A state must be permanent. This means that regardless of the government or rules of the land, the state will remain. Permanence is also the prime factor that helps the entity develop independently.
A state cannot exist without a settled population. In other words, to be recognized, it must be inhabited by human beings. This implies that an uninhabited portion of the earth, by itself, is not a state but can be part of one. Moreover, the said population must be largely settled on a permanent basis and not a nomadic one.
This is arguably one of the most crucial features of a state. It is the authority to make its own decisions, policies, reforms, public affairs, and external affairs with little or no interference from other entities.
An entity is sovereign in the sense that it owes no other nation allegiance. Besides domestic sovereignty, the state possesses external sovereignty. This implies that it has the exclusive right to determine its relations with other states.
What is a theocracy?
It is essentially a government under the control of a church or country-sponsored religion.
What is an oligarchic government?
An oligarchy is a type of government that sees a small group of the society's elite wield power. These individuals are often defined by their royal families, wealth, military, or religious affiliations.
What is sovereignty?
It is the authority of a state to make its own decisions, policies, reforms, public affairs, and external affairs with little or no interference from other entities.
What is the most important characteristic of the state?
The most crucial feature is sovereignty. This is because no other organization, entity, or institution can claim sovereignty.
There are eight characteristics of a state that make it internationally recognized by other bodies such as nations. These characteristics vary in importance but are all essential for the aforementioned recognition.
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