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A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a
treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international organizations, but can sometimes include individuals, business entities, and other Leg ...

treaty
, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issues, such as defense, foreign relations, internal trade or currency, with the
central government A central government is the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists ...
being required to provide support for all its members. Confederalism represents a main form of
intergovernmentalism In international relations, intergovernmentalism treats states (and national governments in particular) as the primary actors in the integration process. Intergovernmentalist approaches claim to be able to explain both periods of radical change in ...
, which is defined as any form of interaction around states which takes place on the basis of sovereign independence or government. The nature of the relationship among the member states constituting a confederation varies considerably. Likewise, the relationship between the member states and the general government and the distribution of powers among them varies. Some looser confederations are similar to international organisations. Other confederations with stricter rules may resemble
federal system Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government norm ...
s. Since the member states of a confederation retain their sovereignty, they have an implicit right of
secession Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Some of the most famous and significant secessions have been: the former Soviet republics leavi ...

secession
. The political philosopher
Emmerich de Vattel Emer (Emmerich) de Vattel ( 25 April 171428 December 1767) was an international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nat ...
said: "Several sovereign and independent states may unite themselves together by a perpetual confederacy without each in particular ceasing to be a perfect state.... The deliberations in common will offer no violence to the sovereignty of each member". Under a confederation, unlike a
federal state A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government (federalism Federalism is a mixed or compou ...
, the central authority is relatively weak. Decisions made by the general government in a unicameral legislature, a council of the member states, require subsequent implementation by the member states to take effect; they are not laws acting directly upon the individual but have more the character of interstate agreements. Also, decision-making in the general government usually proceeds by consensus (unanimity), not by majority. Historically, those features limit the effectiveness of the union and so political pressure tends to build over time for the transition to a federal system of government, as happened in the American, Swiss and German cases of
regional integration 350px, Several non-overlapping large alliances. Softer colours indicate observer/associate or candidate countries. Regional Integration is a process in which neighboring countries enter into an agreement in order to upgrade cooperation throu ...
.


Confederated states

In terms of internal structure, every confederal state is composed of two or more
constituent states A constituent state is a state entity that constitutes a part Part, parts or PART may refer to: People *Armi Pärt Armi Pärt (born 18 June 1991) is an Estonian handballer, playing in French D2 for Massy Essonne Handball. He is also a me ...
, that are referred to as ''confederated states''. In regard to their
political systems In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of politics, political activities, political thoughts, political behavior, and asso ...
, confederated states can have
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature ...

republic
an or
monarchical A monarchy is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legisl ...
forms of government. Those that have republican form (confederated republics) are usually called ''states'' (like states of the American
Confederacy Confederacy may refer to: A confederation, an association of sovereign states or communities. Examples include: * Battle of the Trench, Confederate tribes * Confederate States of America, a confederation of secessionist American states that existed ...

Confederacy
, 1861-1865) or ''republics'' (like
republics A republic ( la, res publica ''Res publica'' (also spelt as ''rēs pūblica'' to indicate vowel length In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived length of a vowel sound: the corresponding physical measurement is length (phonetics), du ...
of
Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...

Serbia
and
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Црна Гора, Crna Gora, lit. "Black Mountain", ) is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is o ...

Montenegro
within the former
State Union of Serbia and Montenegro The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, known as FR Yugoslavia or simply Yugoslavia, was a country in the Balkans that existed from 1992 to 2003, following the Breakup of Yugoslavia, breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Fed ...
, 2003-2006). Those that have monarchical form of government (confederated monarchies) are defined by various hierarchical ranks (like kingdoms of
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country in ...

Iraq
and
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia. It is entirely a part of the Greater Middle East. It in ...

Jordan
within the
Hashemite Arab Union The Hashemite Arab Federation was a short-lived country that was formed in 1958 from the union of Iraq and Jordan. Although the name implies a federal structure, it was ''de facto'' a confederation. The Federation was formed on 14 February 1958, ...
in 1958).


Examples


Belgium

Many scholars have claimed that the
Kingdom of Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large ...
, a country with a complicated federal structure, has adopted some characteristics of a confederation under the pressure of separatist movements, especially in
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...

Flanders
. For example, C. E. Lagasse declared that Belgium was "near the political system of a Confederation" regarding the constitutional reform agreements between Belgian ''Regions'' and between ''Communities'', and the director of the ''Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques'' (CRISP)
Vincent de CoorebyterVincent de Coorebyter (born 18 November 1960) is a Belgium, Belgian political science, political scientist. He is director-general of the Belgium-based ''Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques'' (CRISP or "Centre for Socio-Political Re ...
called Belgium "undoubtedly a federation...
ith The Ith () is a ridge in Germany's Central Uplands which is up to 439 m high. It lies about 40 km southwest of Hanover Hanover (; german: Hannover ; nds, Hannober) is the capital and largest city of the German States of Germany, st ...
some aspects of a confederation" in ''
Le Soir ''Le Soir'' (, "The Evening") is a French-language Belgian daily newspaper. Founded in 1887 by Emile Rossel, it was intended as a politically independent source of news. It is one of the most popular Francophone newspapers in Belgium, competing wi ...
''. Also in ''Le Soir'', Professor Michel Quévit of the Catholic University of Leuven wrote that the "Belgian political system is already in dynamics of a Confederation". Nevertheless, the Belgian regions and the linguistic communities do not have the necessary autonomy to leave the Belgian state. As such, federal aspects still dominate. Also, for fiscal policy and public finances, the federal state dominates the other levels of government. The increasingly-confederal aspects of the Belgian Federal State appear to be a political reflection of the profound cultural, sociological and economic differences between the ''Flemish'' (Belgians who speak Dutch or Dutch dialects) and the ''Walloons'' (Belgians who speak French or French dialects). For example, in the last several decades, over 95% of Belgians have voted for political parties that represent voters from only one community, the separatist
N-VA The New Flemish Alliance ( nl, Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, N-VA) is a Flemish Movement, Flemish nationalist, Conservatism, conservative Political parties in Belgium, political party in Belgium. The party was founded in 2001 by the right-leaning fact ...
being the party with the most voter support among the Flemish population. Parties that strongly advocate Belgian unity and appeal to voters of both communities play usually only a marginal role in nationwide general elections. The system in Belgium is known as
consociationalism Consociationalism ( ) is a form of power sharing in a democracy. Political scientists define a consociational state as one which has major internal divisions along ethnic, religious, or linguistic lines, with none of the divisions large enough ...
. That makes Belgium fundamentally different from federal countries like
Switzerland ,german: Schweizer(in),french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under a multi-party assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_t ...

Switzerland
,
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocea ...

Canada
,
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , demonym = Germans, German , government_ ...

Germany
and
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, smal ...

Australia
. In those countries, national parties regularly receive over 90% of voter support. The only geographical areas comparable with Belgium within Europe are
Catalonia Catalonia (; ca, Catalunya ; Aranese, Aranese Occitan: ''Catalonha'' ; es, Cataluña ) is an Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Spain, designated as a ''nationalities and regions of Spain, nationality'' by its Statute o ...
, the
Basque Country Image:Euskal Herriaren terminologia.png, Map showing the geographical and political divisions of the Basque Country Basque Country may refer to: *Basque Country (autonomous community) (''Euskal Autonomia Erkidegoa'' in Basque; ''Comunidad Autónoma ...
(both part of
Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_ ...

Spain
),
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label= Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usa ...

Northern Ireland
and
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a 96-mile (154 km) Anglo-Scottish bo ...

Scotland
(both part of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shortha ...

United Kingdom
) and parts of
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern Italy, continental part, delimited by the Alps, a Italian Peninsula, peninsula and List of islands of Italy, se ...

Italy
, where a massive voter turnout for regional (and often separatist) political parties has become the rule in the last decades, and nationwide parties advocating national unity draw around half or sometimes less of the votes.


Benelux

The
Benelux The Benelux Union ( nl, Benelux Unie; french: Union Benelux; lb, Benelux-Unioun), also known as simply Benelux, is a politico- economic union and formal international intergovernmental cooperation of three neighbouring states in western Europe ...

Benelux
is a politico-economic union of the states of
Belgium Belgium, ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. G ...
, the
Netherlands The Netherlands ( nl, Nederland ), informally referred to as Holland, is a country primarily located in Western Europe and partly in the Dutch Caribbean, Caribbean. It is the largest of four Kingdom of the Netherlands#Constituent countries, cons ...

Netherlands
and
Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=no, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg ; german: link=no, Großherzogtum Luxemburg is a landlocked ...

Luxembourg
bound through treaties and based on consensus between the representatives of the member states. They partially share a common foreign policy, especially in regards to their navies through the BeNeSam. The Dutch Defence minister (2010-2012) Hans Hillen even said on Belgian radio that it is not impossible that the three armed forces of the member-states could be integrated into "Benelux Armed Forces" one day. Because of this the Benelux is sometimes labeled as a "kind of confederation" by, for example; Belgian
Minister of State Minister of State is a title borne by politicians or officials in certain countries governed under a parliamentary system A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democracy, democratic government, governance of a ...
Mark Eyskens.


Canada

In
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocea ...

Canada
, the word ''confederation'' has an additional unrelated meaning. Eugene A. Forsey,
How Canadians Govern Themselves
', 9th ed. (Ottawa: , Catalogue No. X9‑11/2016E, 2016‑03), , pp. 7, 29. French version published as ''Le
Canadiens et leur système de gouvernement
', no de catalogue X9‑11/2016F, . First edition published in 1980.
"
Confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in i ...
" refers to the process of (or the event of) establishing or joining the Canadian federal state. In modern terminology, Canada is a federation, not a confederation. However, to contemporaries of the ''
Constitution Act, 1867 The ''Constitution Act, 1867'The Constitution Act, 1867'', 30 & 31 Victoria (U.K.), c. 3, http://canlii.ca/t/ldsw retrieved on 2019-03-14. (french: Loi constitutionnelle de 1867, originally enacted as ''The British North America Act, 1867' ...
'', ''confederation'' did not have the same connotation of a weakly-centralized federation. Canadian Confederation generally refers to the ''Constitution Act, 1867'', which formed the
Dominion of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of ...

Dominion of Canada
from three of the colonies of
British North America British North America comprised the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or adminis ...
, and to the subsequent incorporation of other colonies and territories. Therefore, on 1 July 1867, Canada became a self-governing
dominion The word Dominion was used from 1907 to 1948 to refer to one of several self-governing colonies of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was formally accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland ...
of the British Empire with a federal structure under the leadership of Sir
John A. Macdonald Sir John Alexander Macdonald (10 or 11 January 1815 – 6 June 1891) was the first prime minister of Canada The prime minister of Canada (french: premier ministre du Canada, link=no) is the First minister, first minister of the minist ...

John A. Macdonald
. The provinces involved were the
Province of Canada The Province of Canada (or the United Province of Canada or the United Canadas) was a British North America, British colony in North America from 1841 to 1867. Its formation reflected recommendations made by John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, ...
(comprising Canada West, now
Ontario , Label_map = yes , image_map = Ontario in Canada 2.svg , map_alt = Map showing Ontario's location east/central of Canada. , coordinates = , capital = Toronto , larges ...

Ontario
, formerly
Upper Canada The Province of Upper Canada (french: link=no, province du Haut-Canada) was a Province, part of The Canadas, British Canada established in 1791 by the Kingdom of Great Britain, to govern the central third of the lands in British North America ...
; and Canada East, now
Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...

Quebec
, formerly
Lower Canada The Province of Lower Canada (french: province du Bas-Canada) was a British colony on the lower Saint Lawrence River The Saint Lawrence River is a large river in the middle latitudes of North America. The Saint Lawrence River flows in a rough ...
),
Nova Scotia ) , image_map = Nova Scotia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English (''de facto'') , RegionalLang = French, Scots Gaelic , capital ...

Nova Scotia
, and
New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , capital = Fredericton Fredericton (; ) is the capital of the Provinces and territor ...

New Brunswick
. Later participants were
Manitoba , image_map = Manitoba in Canada 2.svg , map_alt = Map showing Manitoba's location in the centre of Southern Canada , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , capital = Winni ...

Manitoba
,
British Columbia ( en, Splendour without diminishment) , image_map = British Columbia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = None , Slogan = Beautiful British Co ...
,
Prince Edward Island (''The small protected by the great'') , image_map = Prince Edward Island in Canada (special marker) 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English language, English (''de ...

Prince Edward Island
,
Alberta ("Strong and free") , image_map = Alberta in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English , capital = Edmonton Edmonton () is the capital ci ...
and
Saskatchewan ("From Many Peoples Strength") , image_map = Saskatchewan in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English language, English , capital = Regina, Sa ...
(the latter two created as provinces from the
Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories (commonly abbreviated as NT or NWT; french: Territoires du Nord-Ouest) is a federal provinces and territories of Canada, territory of Canada. At a land area of approximately and a 2016 census population of 41,790, it ...

Northwest Territories
in 1905), and finally Newfoundland (now
Newfoundland and Labrador Newfoundland and Labrador (; sometimes abbreviated as NL) is the easternmost province of Canada The Province of Canada (or the United Province of Canada or the United Canadas) was a British North America, British colony in North America f ...
) in 1949. Canada is an unusually-decentralized
federal state A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government (federalism Federalism is a mixed or compou ...
, not a confederate association of sovereign states, the usual meaning of ''confederation'' in modern terms. A Canadian law, the ''
Clarity Act The ''Clarity Act'' (french: Loi sur la clarté référendaire) (known as Bill C-20 before it became law) (the ''Act'') is legislation passed by the Parliament of Canada The Parliament of Canada (french: Parlement du Canada) is the Canadian f ...
'', and a court ruling, '' Reference Re Secession of Quebec'', set forth the conditions for negotiations to allow the
Canadian provinces The provinces and territories of Canada are sub-national divisions within the geographical areas of Canada under the jurisdiction of the Constitution of Canada, Canadian Constitution. In the 1867 Canadian Confederation, three provinces of Britis ...
(though not
territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state. In most country, countries, a ''territory'' is an organized division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally d ...
) to leave the Canadian federal state but since that would require a constitutional amendment, there is no current "constitutional" method for withdrawal.


European Union

Its unique nature and the political sensitivities surrounding it cause there to be no common or legal classification for the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million ...

European Union
(EU). However, it bears some resemblance to both a confederation (or a "new" type of confederation) and a federation. The term
supranational union A supranational union is a type of multinational political union where negotiated power is delegated to an authority by governments of member states. The term is sometimes used to describe the European Union The European Union (EU) ...
has also been applied. The EU operates common economic policies with hundreds of common laws, which enable a , a common customs territory, (mainly) open internal borders, and a among most member-states. However, unlike a federation, the EU does not have exclusive powers over foreign affairs, defence, and taxation. Furthermore, most EU laws, which have been developed by consensus between relevant national government ministers and then scrutinised and approved or rejected by the
European Parliament The European Parliament (EP) is one of three Legislature, legislative branches of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union, it adopts European legis ...

European Parliament
, must be
transposed In linear algebra, the transpose of a Matrix (mathematics), matrix is an operator which flips a matrix over its diagonal; that is, it switches the row and column indices of the matrix by producing another matrix, often denoted by (among other ...
into national law by national parliaments. Most collective decisions by member states are taken by weighted majorities and blocking minorities, rather than unanimity. Treaties or amendments to them require ratification by every member state before they can come into force. However, some academic observers more usually discuss the EU in the terms of it being a federation. As the international law professor
Joseph H. H. Weiler Joseph Halevi Horowitz Weiler (born 2 September 1951) is a South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 59 million people, it is ...
(of the Hague Academy and
New York University New York University (NYU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nea ...
) wrote, "Europe has charted its own brand of constitutional federalism". Jean-Michel Josselin and Alain Marciano see the
European Court of Justice The European Court of Justice (ECJ, french: Cour de Justice européenne), formally just the Court of Justice, is the supreme court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government i ...

European Court of Justice
in Luxembourg City as being a primary force behind the building of a federal legal order for the EU, with Josselin stating that a "complete shift from a confederation to a federation would have required to straight-forwardly replace the principality of the member states vis-à-vis the Union by that of the European citizens. As a consequence, both confederate and federate features coexist in the judicial landscape".
Rutgers Rutgers University (RU; ), officially known as Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a Public university, public land-grant research university based in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Chartered in 1766, Rutgers was originally called Queen' ...
political science professor R. Daniel Kelemen said: "Those uncomfortable using the 'F' word in the EU context should feel free to refer to it as a quasi-federal or federal-like system. Nevertheless, the EU has the necessary attributes of a federal system. It is striking that while many scholars of the EU continue to resist analyzing it as a federation, most contemporary students of federalism view the EU as a federal system". Thomas Risse and Tanja A. Börzel claim that the "EU only lacks two significant features of a federation. First, the Member States remain the 'masters' of the treaties, i.e., they have the exclusive power to amend or change the constitutive treaties of the EU. Second, the EU lacks a real 'tax and spend' capacity, in other words, there is no fiscal federalism".
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing Valéry René Marie Georges Giscard d'Estaing (, , ; 2 February 19262 December 2020), also known as Giscard or VGE, was a French politician who served as President of France The president of France, officially the president of the French R ...
, the chairman of the body of experts commissioned to elaborate a constitutional charter for the European Union, was confronted with strong opposition from the United Kingdom towards including the words 'federal' or 'federation' in the unratified
European Constitution The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE; commonly referred to as the European Constitution or as the Constitutional Treaty) was an unratified international treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement betw ...
and the word was replaced with either 'Community' or 'Union'.


Indigenous confederations in North America

In the context of the history of the
indigenous peoples of the Americas The Indigenous peoples of the Americas, also known as Amerindians or Indians, are the inhabitants of the Americas before the arrival of the European colonization of the Americas, European settlers in the 15th century, and the ethnic groups who no ...
, a confederacy may refer to a semi-permanent political and military alliance consisting of multiple nations (or "tribes", "bands", or "villages"), which maintained their separate leadership. One of the most well-known is the
Haudenosaunee The Iroquois ( or ) or Haudenosaunee (; "People of the Longhouse") are an Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous Confederation#Indigenous confederations in North America, confederacy in northeast North America. They were known during t ...
(or Iroquois), but there were many others during different eras and locations across
North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to ...

North America
, such as the
Wabanaki Confederacy The Wabanaki Confederacy (''Wabenaki, Wobanaki'', translated to "People of the Dawn" or "Easterner") is a North American First Nations and Native American confederation of four principal Eastern Algonquian nations: the Miꞌkmaq The Miꞌkm ...
,
Western Confederacy The Northwestern Confederacy, or Northwestern Indian Confederacy, was a loose confederacy of Native Americans in the Great Lakes region The Great Lakes region of North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northe ...
,
Powhatan in a longhouse at Werowocomoco (detail of John Smith map, 1612) The Powhatan people (; also spelled Powatan) may refer to any of the indigenous Algonquian peoples, Algonquian people that are traditionally from eastern Native American tribes i ...
,
Seven Nations of Canada The Seven Nations of Canada (called Tsiata Nihononhwentsiá:ke in the Mohawk language) was a historic confederation of First Nations living in and around the Saint Lawrence River valley beginning in the eighteenth century. They were allied to New ...
, ,
Illinois Confederation The Illinois Confederation, also referred to as the Illiniwek or Illini, were made up of 12 to 13 tribes who lived in the Mississippi River Valley. Eventually member tribes occupied an area reaching from Lake Michicigao (Michigan) to Iowa, Illinoi ...
, Tecumseh's Confederacy,
Great Sioux Nation The Great Sioux Nation is the traditional political structure of the Sioux in North America. The peoples who speak the Sioux language Sioux is a Siouan language spoken by over 30,000 Sioux in the United States and Canada, making it the fifth mo ...
,
Blackfoot Confederacy The Blackfoot Confederacy, ''Niitsitapi'' or ''Siksikaitsitapi'' (ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ, meaning "the people" or " Blackfoot-speaking real people"), is a historic collective name for linguistically related groups that make up the Blackfoot or Black ...
,
Iron Confederacy The Iron Confederacy (or "Confederation", also called in cr, script=Latn, Nehiyaw-Pwat or in English Cree-Assiniboine) was a political and military alliance of Plains Indians of what is now Western Canada and the northern United States. This C ...
and
Council of Three Fires The Council of Three Fires (in oj, label= Anishinaabe, Niswi-mishkodewinan, also known as the People of the Three Fires; the Three Fires Confederacy; or the United Nations of Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi Indians) is a long-standing Anishin ...
. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy, historically known as the Iroquois League or the League of Five (later Six) Nations, is the country of
Native Americans Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
(in what is now the United States) and
First Nations The First Nations (french: Premières Nations ) are groups of indigenous peoples in Canada, Canadian indigenous peoples, who are classified as distinct from the Inuit and Métis. Traditionally, the First Nations were peoples who lived south of ...
(in what is now Canada) that consists of six nations: the
MohawkMohawk may refer to: Related to Native Americans *Mohawk people, an indigenous people of North America (Canada and New York) *Mohawk language, the language spoken by the Mohawk people *Mohawk hairstyle, from a hairstyle once thought to have been tr ...
, the
Oneida Oneida may refer to: Native American/First Nations * Oneida people, a Native American/First Nations people and one of the five founding nations of the Iroquois Confederacy * Oneida language * Oneida Indian Nation, based in New York * Oneida Nat ...
, the Onondaga, the
CayugaCayuga often refers to: * Cayuga people, a native tribe to North America, part of the Iroquois Confederacy * Cayuga language, the language of the Cayuga Cayuga may also refer to: Places Canada *Cayuga, Ontario United States *Cayuga, Illinois *Ca ...
, the
Seneca Seneca may refer to: People and language *Seneca (name), a list of people with either the given name or surname *Seneca the Elder, a Roman rhetorician, writer and father of the stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger *Seneca the Younger, a Roman Stoi ...
and the Tuscarora. The Six Nations have a representative government known as the Grand Council which is the oldest governmental institution still maintaining its original form in North America. Each clan from the five nations sends chiefs to act as representatives and make decisions for the whole confederation. It has been operating since its foundation in 1142 despite limited international recognition today.


Serbia and Montenegro

In 2003,
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, commonly referred to as FR Yugoslavia or simply Yugoslavia, was a country in the Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe i ...
was transformed into the
State Union of Serbia and Montenegro The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, known as FR Yugoslavia or simply Yugoslavia, was a country in the Balkans that existed from 1992 to 2003, following the Breakup of Yugoslavia, breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Fed ...
, a confederation of the
Republic of Montenegro A republic ( la, res publica, links=yes, meaning "public affair") is a List of forms of government, form of government in which "power is held by the people and their elected representatives". In republics, the country is considered a "public m ...
and the
Republic of Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *german: Serbien *french: Serbie * uk, Сербія * hu, Szerbia * bg, Сърбия * sq, Serbia * bs, Srbija * officially the Republic of Serbia,, ...
. The state was constituted as a loose
political union A political union is a type of political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social re ...
, but formally functioned as a sovereign subject of international law, and member of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for har ...

United Nations
. As a confederation, the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro had very few shared functions, such as defense, foreign affairs and a weak common president, ministerial council and
parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws and overseeing the g ...
. The two constituent republics functioned separately throughout the period of its short existence, and they continued to operate under separate economic policies and to use separate currencies (the
euro The euro (currency symbol, symbol: euro sign, €; ISO 4217, code: EUR) is the official currency of 19 of the Member state of the European Union, member states of the European Union. This group of states is known as the eurozone or euro area ...

euro
was and still is the only legal tender in Montenegro, and the
dinar The dinar () is the principal currency unit in several countries near the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on t ...
was and still is the legal tender in Serbia). On 21 May 2006, the Montenegrin independence referendum was held. The final official results indicated on 31 May that 55.5% of voters voted in favor of independence. The confederation effectively came to an end after Montenegro's formal declaration of independence on 3 June 2006 and Serbia's formal declaration of independence on 5 June.


Switzerland

Switzerland ,german: Schweizer(in),french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under a multi-party assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_t ...

Switzerland
, officially known as the ''Swiss Confederation'', is an example of a modern country that traditionally refers to itself as a confederation because the official (and traditional) name of Switzerland in German ( the majority language of the Swiss) is ' (literally "Swiss Comradeship by Oath"), an expression which was translated into the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
' (Helvetic Confederation). It had been a confederacy since its inception in
1291 Year 1291 ( MCCXCI) was a common year starting on MondayA common year starting on Monday is any non-leap year A leap year (also known as an intercalary year or bissextile year) is a calendar year that contains an additional day (or, in the cas ...

1291
as the
Old Swiss Confederacy The Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy (Modern German New High German (NHG) is the term used for the most recent period in the history of the German language, starting in the 17th century. It is a translation of the German (). The mo ...
, which was originally created as an alliance among the valley communities of the central
Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, stretching approximately across eight Alpine countries (from west to east): France, Switzerl ...

Alps
, until it became a federation in 1848 but it retains the name of Confederacy for reasons of historical tradition. The confederacy facilitated management of common interests (such as freedom from external domination especially from the
Habsburg Empire Habsburg Monarchy (german: Habsburgermonarchie), or Danubian Monarchy (german: Donaumonarchie), or Habsburg Empire is a modern umbrella term In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the ana ...
, the development of republican institutions in a Europe dominated by monarchies and free trade), and it ensured peace between the different cultural entities of the area. After the
Sonderbund War The Sonderbund War (german: Sonderbundskrieg, fr , Guerre du Sonderbund) of November 1847 was a civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same state or country ...
of
1847 Events January–March * January 4 – Samuel Colt sells his first revolver pistol to the U.S government. * January 13 – The Treaty of Cahuenga ends fighting in the Mexican–American War in California. * January 16 – John C. Frémont i ...
, when some of the Catholic cantons of Switzerland attempted to set up a separate union (' in German) against the Protestant majority, a vote was held and the majority of the cantons approved the new Federal Constitution which changed the political system to one of a
federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...

federation
.


Union State of Russia and Belarus

In 1999,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the world, covering over , and encom ...

Russia
and
Belarus , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Minsk , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = , languages2_type = Recognized minority language , ...
signed a treaty to form a confederation, which came into force on 26 January 2000. Although it was given the name ''Union State'', and has some characteristics of a federation, it remains a confederation of two sovereign states. Its existence has been seen as an indication of Russia’s political and economic support for the
Belarusian government The politics of Belarus takes place in a framework of a presidential system, presidential republic with a bicameralism, bicameral parliament. The President of Belarus is the head of state. Executive power is exercised by the Government of Belarus ...
. The confederation was created with the objective of co-ordinating common action on economic integration and foreign affairs. However, many of the treaty’s provisions have not yet been implemented. Consequently, ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its si ...
'', in 2020, described it as “a mostly unimplemented confederation”.


Historical confederations

Historical confederations (especially those predating the 20th century) may not fit the current definition of a confederation, may be proclaimed as a federation but be confederal (or the reverse), and may not show any qualities that 21st-century political scientists might classify as those of a confederation.


List

Some have more the characteristics of a
personal union A personal union is the combination of two or more State (polity), states that have the same monarch while their boundaries, laws, and interests remain distinct. A real union, by contrast, would involve the constituent states being to some ex ...

personal union
, but appear here because of their self-styling as a "confederation":


See also

*
Associated state An associated state is the minor partner in a formal, free relationship between a political territory with a degree of statehood and a (usually larger) nation, for which no other specific term, such as protectorate, is adopted. The details of suc ...
*
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...

Commonwealth
*
Federalism Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government nor ...
*
Federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...

Federation
* List of confederations


References


Sources

*


External links

* P.-J. Proudhon
The Principle of Federation
1863.





at worldstatesmen.org.
United Confederation of Taino People
{{Authority control Constitutional state types Federalism Political systems