Elements of a State by Shikha at LexCliq

Salmond defines a state as a society of men founded for the purpose of maintaining order and justice within a particular territory. According to Kantarowicz, a state is a juristic person endowed with the right to impose its will on the population of a specific territory, a right that it cannot be removed of by law without its permission. Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention establishes the most widely accepted international criteria for statehood. The state to be qualified as a state in the international sphere it must possess the following elements:

  • population
  • territory
  • government and
  • sovereignty


A state is a group of people. It’s a human-made political structure. There can be no state without people residing in it. The population can be more or lower, but it must exist. The presence of a permanent population is essential, and there is no requirement for a minimum population size. As stated in the Western Sahara Case, the populace must be socially and politically organized. The citizens of the state are the individuals who live there. As citizens, they have rights and freedoms, as well as duties towards the state. All residents of the state’s territory, both citizens and non-citizens, are required to follow the state’s laws and policies. Through its administration, the State wields absolute power over its people.


The second most important component of a state is its territory. A state is a legal entity that governs a specific area and its one of the most important component is defined territory. A State’s territory can be either large or small but must be definite. However, in certain exceptional cases the requirement for well defined limits is ignored. Albania, for example, was recognized as an autonomous state by numerous countries prior to World War I, despite its disputed borders. Similarly, despite its unresolved borders and engagement in hostilities with its Arab neighbours, Israel has been recognized as a viable state by the majority of nations, as well as the United Nations.

The state’s entire area is under the state’s sovereignty or supreme power. The State has sovereign control over all people, organizations, associations, institutions, and areas within its borders. In addition, the state’s territory includes not only land but also rivers, lakes, canals, inland seas (if any), a piece of the coastal sea—territorial waters or maritime belt, continental shelf, mountains, hills, and all other land features, as well as the air space above the territory.


The  Government is the organization, agency, or magistracy of the state which  is responsible for enacting, enforcing, and adjudicating its laws. The third component of the state is government. The state’s sovereign power is exercised through its government. There exist distinction between the government and the state. Governance is only one aspect of the state.  A government is the State’s representative or working agency. Sovereignty belongs to the state, and the government only acts on its behalf.

Each government is composed of three organs:

(1) the legislature, which formulates the state’s will (law-making functions);

(2) the executive, which enforces and implements the laws (law-application functions); and

(3) the judiciary, which applies the laws to specific cases and resolves disputes (adjudication functions).

Each of the government’s three organs performs its designated functions. The judiciary’s independence is likewise a well-established rule. The relationship between the Legislature and the Executive is governed by legislation and is based on the system of government ie Parliamentary or Presidential system.


The most exclusive aspect of the state is sovereignty. Sovereignty belongs solely to the state. No state can exist without sovereignty. The state has the sole right and authority to exert supreme power over all of its citizens and territory. Indeed, sovereignty is the foundation upon which the state governs all aspects of the lives of those who live within its borders.

Sovereignty refers to the state’s ability to direct and govern the activities of all people, groups, and institutions operating within its borders. It entails the state’s complete independence from external control. It also implies the state’s complete freedom to participate in the activities of the international community. Each state has the sovereign authority to formulate and implement its own foreign policy.



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