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lesson Note
Subject: Government
Topic: Sovereignty
Lesson Objectives: by the end of the Lesson, the learners should be able to:

  1. Define the term Sovereignty;
  2. Mention and explain the types of Sovereignty;
  3. State the limitations of sovereignty.

Lesson Summary / Discussion

Sovereignty, according to Jean Bodin, a French philosopher refers to the
Supreme and legal authority above and beyond which no further legal power exists. Sovereignty is also used to incant the supreme and absolute power of the state over her subjects and territory.

1. Legal Sovereignty: Legal sovereignty refers to the power of the state to make rules and regulations that will be used to moderate the behaviour of people in the society.

2. Political Sovereignty: This is the supreme power of the people of the state to form government that will control their affairs. It is the internal and external power to organize a stable government that controls the affairs of people.
This is exercised through organizing and conducting periodic free and fair
3. De facto Sovereignty: This sovereignty is acquired through the use of force. In this type of sovereignty, the people that wield power may not be the rightful leaders, e.g. under military rule

4. De Jure Sovereignty: De jure sovereignty is acquired through constitutional provisions, like under democratic rule for instance.
5. Internal Sovereignty: This refers to the supreme power of the state to control the affairs of people and things within her territory.

6. External Sovereignty: This refers to freedom from domination, suppression and subservient by external or foreign powers.


1. Membership of International Organizations: The supreme power of a state is limited by the existence of international organizations such as AU, ECOWAS, UNO, OPEC which expect all their members to comply with their directives and policies which may limit the extent to which member states can exercise their sovereignty or autonomy.
2. Inter-dependence of States: The fact that no state is an Island demands for co-operation in agriculture, commerce, technology and military to mention but a few. This interdependence limits the exercise of sovereignty of countries.
3. International Law: The enforcement of international law limits the exercise of sovereignty of independent states. For example, agreements, decisions and judicial declarations of International Court of Justice (ICJ) are meant to be binding on member states of the United Nations. This hinders the exercise of their sovereignty.
4. Organized groups and associations: These groups influence government decisions in many ways which limit the extent at which government can exercise their political power and authority. Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) are few examples of this numerous pressure groups.
5. Public opinion: Government gives recognition to the majority of views about issues and policies. The respect of popular view can limit the sovereignty of government.
6. Influence of powerful nations: The world super powers like USA, Russia, Britain e.t.c can directly or indirectly limit sovereignty of a state.
7. War: Civil and military unrest either within or outside the state can limit the Sovereignty of a state. The rising of armed oppositions like rebels, Insurrectionists and Secessionists movements can also limit the sovereignty of a state.
Done studying? See previous lessons in Government.

Lesson Evaluation / Test

  1. What is Sovereignty?
  2. Mention and explain the types of Sovereignty.
  3. What are the factors that can limit or hinder sovereignty of a state?

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