Politics in Minutes (2016)


The legitimate authority to rule within a territory that a government or ruler has is sometimes referred to as sovereignty: the right to govern. In the ancient world, an emperor was acknowledged as the absolute ruler, or sovereign power, and this concept was later transferred to the authority granted by a people to its government. But the notion of sovereignty has wider implications in international affairs. An agreement reached by European leaders in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 established an important principle of sovereign government: that it should be allowed to have authority over its own territory and people without interference from outside. A sovereign government should be free to make and enforce laws within its own territories, and no outsider should attempt to disrupt a sovereign government, nor attempt to enter or cross any of its sovereign territory without permission. Opinions of what constitutes legitimate authority differ widely, however, as do justifications for interference in the internal affairs of other states.