Sovereignty is a key concept in traditional political theory. It constitutes one of the four elements of the state without which statehood remains incomplete. Derived from the Latin term Superanus, which means supreme, sovereignty denotes the supreme power of the state to exact obedience from the people who inhabit it.
It means that the power of the state is unquestionable and the state has a right to demand allegiance from its citizens. It also means that the violation of the command of the state would invite penalties or other punishment. This is also called ‘internal sovereignty’. Internally, the state is supreme to any individual or organizations, living or functioning within its boundaries, and they have to function under the laws and command of the state. None can claim superiority over or immunity to the state.
The power of the state over them is original, total, unlimited and all comprehensive. Sovereignty also has an external connotation, which means that in the comity of state, every state is supreme and is free to cast its destiny. No other state or any international organization can claim superiority to a state.
The state may be subjected to certain treaties or other obligations, but they are self-imposed obligations on the part of the state. None can compel or enforce any obligation on the state, which it is not willing to accept. Thus, the state is equipped with internal and external sovereignty that gives it over-riding powers over individuals, groups and organisations and make it absolute.