Westphalian sovereignty  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

State sovereignty, or Westphalian sovereignty, is the principle of international law that each nation-state has sovereignty over its territory and domestic affairs, to the exclusion of all external powers, on the principle of non-interference in another country's domestic affairs, and that each state (no matter how large or small) is equal in international law. After European influence spread across the globe, these principles became ideals central to international law.

The principle of sovereignty thus underlies the modern international system of states. The origins of this system are often traced in scholarly and popular literature to the Peace of Westphalia, signed in 1648, which ended the Thirty Years' War.

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