Saturday, June 19, 2010

Elements of the State

A state as defined by political authority, is a community of persons, more or less numerous, permanently occupying a fixed territory, and possessed of an independent government organized for political ends to which the great body of inhabitants render habitual obedience.

For someone unfamiliar with the legal jargon, such sentence may seem confusing due to its length and the words within the sentence itself.  However, if we break it down, understanding the State would boil down to the elements that compose it. 

So lets tackle the sentence above piece by piece,

1. is a community of persons, more or less numerous, - this means that in a state, there has to be that certain number of inhabitants, or people that will be capable of prolonging themselves, and will be capable of keeping and maintaining the important socio-political activities up-and running. 

2. permanently occupying a fixed territory - obviously, this means that the inhabitants that we were talking about in the previous number would have to have some place to inhabit.  and this has to be in a fixed and generally continuous territory.  Therefore, even if you have the right number of people to make up a state, but they are inhabiting a ship, then they could never be considered as a state.

3. possessed of an independent government - this clause means that in order to be pronounced a state, its government must not be under the rule of another government. This is what we call sovereignty.

4. an independent government organized for political ends to which the great body of inhabitants render habitual obedience. - this looks tricky but it ain't.  It simply refers to the government. The government is a political body composed of the elected or appointed leaders of the people in order to run the affairs of the state, keep its inhabitants protected, and to carry out the will of the people. 

So in summary, the elements of the State are : 1.) People 2.) Territory 3.) Sovereignty 4.) Government

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