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GENERAL RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF STATES
§ 30. Existence The most comprehensive right of a state is the right to exist as a sovereign political unity. From this comprehensive right flow the general rights of independence, equality, jurisdiction, property, and intercourse and the obligations which the exercise of these rights imply. There are many classifications of the general rights of states. During the eighteenth century a classification into perfect and imperfect rights was common. A classification based on the essential nature of the state as a sovereign political unity, having (1) a right to existence and (2) from the point of view of international law, having relations to other states, has been widely followed. The rights based on the comprehensive right to existence were variously named as essential, fundamental, primitive, innate, absolute,
permanent, etc., while the rights derived from the practice of states in their mutual relations were called accidental, derived, secondary, acquired, relative, contingent, etc. The view now most generally recognized is that from the single comprehensive right of states to exist, all other rights flow, and all other rights are therefore related, if not directly, at least by virtue of their common source.
§ 31. Independence Independence from the point of view of international law is freedom from external political control. While all states possessing freedom from external political control may not be admitted to the family of states, yet in order that a state may be admitted, it is regarded as essential that it be independent. The recognition of a state carries with it the recognition of independence. However, from the fact that there are states in the world having equal rights to independence, it follows that the field of action of each state is limited by the necessity of respect for the right of independence belonging to other states.
The recognition of a state presupposes autonomy as an essential for the existence of a sovereign political unity, and autonomy implies the right to determine and pursue such lines of action as may be in accord with its policy.
§ 32. Equality All states, the existence of which has been recog. nized by the family of states, are regarded as possessed
of equal rights in political affairs, so far as legal competence is concerned.
This does not imply an equality of territorial area, population, wealth, rank, and influence, etc., or that a given state may not voluntarily limit the exercise of its powers.
§ 33. Jurisdiction The right of jurisdiction is the right to exercise state authority. The right of jurisdiction is in general coextensive with the dominion of the state. It may be “ laid down as a general proposition that all persons and property within the territorial jurisdiction of a sovereign are amenable to the jurisdiction of himself or his courts ; and that the exceptions to this rule are such only as by common usage and public policy have been allowed, in order to preserve the peace and harmony of nations, and to regulate their intercourse in a manner best suited to their dignity and rights.”1
§ 34. Property In international law, as against other states, a given state has the right of property or domain in the territory and fixtures within its limits. This right of property is not the right in the old feudal sense, for in the public law of the state the title of ownership may vest in the state only in a limited sense as over territory to which none of its subjects have title, and over such other forms it has ownership in corporate capacity, as public buildings, forts, arsenals, vessels,
1 Story, “Santissima Trinidad,” 7 Wheat. 354.