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A CONFEDERATION (also known as a CONFEDERACY or LEAGUE) is a union of sovereign states, united for purposes of common action often in relation to other states. Usually created by a treaty , confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issues, such as defence, foreign relations, internal trade or currency, with the general government being required to provide support for all its members. Confederalism represents a main form of inter-governmentalism, this being defined as ‘any form of interaction between states which takes place on the basis of sovereign independence.

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 is highly variable. Some looser confederations are similar to international organisations . Other confederations with stricter rules may resemble federal systems .

Since the member states of a confederation retain their sovereignty, they have an implicit right of secession . Political philosopher Emmerich Vattel observed: ‘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 confederal arrangement, in contrast with a federal one, 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 therefore not laws acting directly upon the individual, but instead have more the character of inter-state agreements. Also, decision-making in the general government usually proceeds by consensus (unanimity) and not by majority, which makes for a slow and inefficient government. These problematic features, limiting the effectiveness of the union, mean that political pressure tends to build over time for the transition to a federal system of government , as happened in the American, Swiss, German and European cases of regional integration.

CONTENTS

* 1 Examples

* 1.1 Belgium
Belgium
* 1.2 Canada
Canada
* 1.3 European Union
European Union
* 1.4 Iroquois
Iroquois
League * 1.5 Serbia and Montenegro
Serbia and Montenegro
* 1.6 Switzerland
Switzerland

* 2 Historical confederations

* 2.1 List

* 3 See also * 4 References * 5 External links

EXAMPLES

BELGIUM

Many scholars have claimed that the Kingdom of Belgium
Belgium
, a country with a complicated federal structure, has adopted some characteristics of a confederation under the pressure of separatist movements, especially in Flanders
Flanders
. For example, C. E. Lagasse declared that Belgium
Belgium
was "near the political system of a Confederation" regarding the constitutional reform agreements between Belgian REGIONS (federated states with well-defined geographical borders: Flanders, Wallonia and Greater Brussels) and COMMUNITIES (statelike authorities based on the mother tongue, not geography), while the director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) Vincent de Coorebyter called Belgium
Belgium
"undoubtedly a federation... some aspects of a confederation" in Le Soir . 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 linguistic communities) lack 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 FLEMINGS (Belgians who speak Dutch or Dutch dialects) and WALLOONS (Belgians who speak French or French dialects). As an 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 being the party with the biggest 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.

This makes Belgium
Belgium
fundamentally different from federal countries like Switzerland
Switzerland
, Canada
Canada
, Germany
Germany
and Australia
Australia
. In those countries, national parties regularly receive over 90% of voter support. The only geographical areas comparable with Belgium
Belgium
within Europe are Catalonia
Catalonia
, the Basque Country (both part of Spain), Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and Scotland
Scotland
(both part of the United Kingdom) and parts of Italy
Italy
, where a massive voter turnout for regional (and often separatist) political parties has become the rule in the last decades, while nationwide parties advocating national unity draw less (frequently much less) than half of the votes.

CANADA

In Canada
Canada
, the word confederation has an additional, unrelated meaning. " Confederation
Confederation
" refers to the process of (or the event of) establishing or joining the Canadian federal state.

In modern terminology, Canada
Canada
is a federation and not a confederation. However, at the time of the Constitution Act, 1867 , confederation was the normal British and Canadian term for a single sovereign state of federating provinces. Canadian Confederation generally refers to the Constitution Act, 1867 which formed the Dominion
Dominion
of Canada
Canada
from three of the colonies of British North America , and to the subsequent incorporation of other colonies and territories. Therefore, on July 1, 1867, Canada
Canada
became a self-governing dominion of the British Empire
Empire
with a federal structure under the leadership of Sir John A. Macdonald
John A. Macdonald
. The provinces involved were the Province of Canada
Canada
(comprising Canada
Canada
West, now Ontario
Ontario
, formerly Upper Canada
Canada
; and Canada
Canada
East now Quebec
Quebec
, formerly Lower Canada
Canada
), Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
, and New Brunswick
New Brunswick
. Later participants were Manitoba
Manitoba
, British Columbia
British Columbia
, Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
, Alberta
Alberta
and Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
(the latter two created as provinces from the Northwest Territories in 1905), and finally Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and Labrador ) in 1949. Canada
Canada
is an unusually decentralized federal state and not a confederate association of sovereign states (the usual meaning of confederation in modern terms). A Canadian law, the Clarity Act , and a court ruling, Reference Re Secession
Secession
of Quebec
Quebec
, set forth the conditions for negotiations to allow Canadian provinces (though not territories ) to leave the Canadian federal state; however, as this would require a constitutional amendment, there is no current "constitutional" method for withdrawal.

EUROPEAN UNION

Due to its unique nature, and the political sensitivities surrounding it, there is no common or legal classification for the European Union (EU). However, it does bear some resemblance to both a confederation (or a "new" type of confederation) and a federation. The EU operates common economic policies with hundreds of common laws, which enable a single economic market, open internal borders, a common currency among most member-states and allow for numerous other areas where powers have been transferred and directly applicable laws are made. However, unlike a federation, the EU does not have exclusive powers over foreign affairs, defence and taxation. Furthermore, laws sometimes must be transcribed into national law by national parliaments; decisions by member states are taken by special majorities with blocking minorities accounted for; and treaty amendment requires ratification by every member state before it can come into force.

However, academic observers more usually discuss the EU in the terms of it being a federation. As international law professor Joseph H. H. Weiler (of the Hague Academy and New York University
New York University
) wrote, "Europe has charted its own brand of constitutional federalism". Jean-Michel Josselin and Alain Marciano see the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg City as being a primary force behind building a federal legal order in the Union 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 political science professor R. Daniel Kelemen observed: "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 , 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 European Constitution , and hence replaced the word with either 'Community' or 'Union'.

IROQUOIS LEAGUE

In the context of the history of the indigenous peoples of the Americas , 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 Iroquois
Iroquois
, but there were many others during different eras and locations across North America
North America
; these include the Wabanaki Confederacy , Western Confederacy , Powhatan
Powhatan
, Seven Nations of Canada
Canada
, Pontiac\'s Confederacy , Illinois Confederation
Confederation
, Tecumseh\'s Confederacy , Great Sioux Nation , Blackfoot Confederacy , Iron Confederacy and Council of Three Fires .

The Iroquois
Iroquois
League, historically the Iroquois
Iroquois
Confederacy, is a group of Native Americans (in what is now the United States) and First Nations (in what is now Canada) that consists of six nations: the Mohawk , the Oneida , the Onondaga , the Cayuga , the Seneca and the Tuscarora . The Iroquois
Iroquois
have a representative government known as the Grand Council. The Grand Council is the oldest governmental institution still maintaining its original form in North America. The League has been functioning since prior to major European contact. Each tribe sends chiefs to act as representatives and make decisions for the whole nation.

SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO

Serbia and Montenegro
Serbia and Montenegro
(2003–06) was a confederation that was formed by the two remaining republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFR Yugoslavia): Montenegro and neighboring Serbia were sole legal successors to FR Yugoslavia , which consequently ceased to exist. The country was reconstituted as a very loose political union called the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. It was established on February 4, 2003.

As a confederation, Serbia and Montenegro
Serbia and Montenegro
were united only in very few realms, such as defense, foreign affairs and a very weak common president of the confederation. The two constituent republics functioned separately throughout the period of its short existence, and continued to operate under separate economic policies, as well as using separate currencies (the euro was and still is the only legal tender in Montenegro, while the dinar was still the legal tender in Serbia). On May 21, 2006, the Montenegrin independence referendum was held. Final official results indicated on May 31 that 55.5% of voters voted in favor of independence. The state union effectively came to an end after Montenegro's formal declaration of independence on June 3, 2006, and Serbia's formal declaration of independence on June 5.

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland
Switzerland
, officially known as the Swiss Confederation, is an example of a modern country that traditionally refers to itself as a confederation. This is due to the fact that the official (and traditional) name of Switzerland
Switzerland
in German (the majority language of the Swiss) is Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (literally "Swiss Comradeship by Oath"), an expression which was translated into the Latin Confoederatio Helvetica (Helvetic Confederation).

After the Sonderbund War of 1847, when some of the Catholic cantons of Switzerland
Switzerland
tried to set up a separate union (Sonderbund in German) against the Protestant majority, the resulting political system established by the victorious Protestant cantons acquired all the characteristics of a federation . It had been a confederacy since its inception in 1291 as the Old Swiss Confederacy
Old Swiss Confederacy
, originally created as an alliance among the valley communities of the central Alps, and retains nowadays the name of Confederacy for reasons of historical tradition. The confederacy facilitated management of common interests (e.g. freedom from external domination, especially by the Austrian Habsburg, development of republican institutions in a Europe composed of monarchies, free trade, etc.) and ensured peace between the different cultural entities in the central alpine area.

HISTORICAL CONFEDERATIONS

The monarchs of the member states of the German Confederation meet in Frankfurt
Frankfurt
in 1863.

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

NAME PERIOD NOTES

United Monarchy of Israel 1050 BCE–930 BCE Empire
Empire
also preceded by a loose confederation between Tribes of Israel

Toltec Empire
Empire
496–1122 Existed as a confederation between the Toltecs and the Chichimeca
Chichimeca
, simultaneously as an empire exerting control over places like Cholula .

League of Mayapan 987–1461

Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
13th–17th centuries

Old Swiss Confederacy
Old Swiss Confederacy
1291–1848 Officially, the "Swiss Confederation".

Kara Koyunlu 1375–1468 A tribal confederaton

Aq Qoyunlu
Aq Qoyunlu
1379–1501 A tribal confederaton

Kalmar Union
Kalmar Union
a 1397–1523 Denmark
Denmark
, Sweden
Sweden
, Norway
Norway
.

Aztec Empire
Empire
1428–1521 Consisted of the city-states of Tenochtitlan
Tenochtitlan
, Texcoco and Tlacopan .

Livonian Confederation
Confederation
1435–1561

Pre- Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Poland and Lithuania a 1447–1492 1501–1569 Shared a monarch (Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland ), parliament (Sejm ) and currency.

Denmark– Norway
Norway
a 1536–1814

Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands 1581–1795

Wampanoag Confederacy

Powhatan
Powhatan
Confederacy

Illinois Confederation

Confederate Ireland 1641–1649

New England Confederation 1643–1684

Aro Confederacy 1690–1902 Parts of present-day Nigeria
Nigeria
, Cameroon
Cameroon
and Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea
.

Maratha Empire
Empire

The U.S. under the Articles of Confederation 1781–1789

Western Confederacy 1785–1795

Confederation of the Rhine
Confederation of the Rhine
1806–1813 Had no head of state nor government.

German Confederation
German Confederation
1815–1866

United Provinces of New Granada 1810–1816 Now part of present-day Colombia
Colombia
.

Sweden– Norway
Norway
a 1814–1905

Confederation of the Equator 1824 Located in northeast Brazil
Brazil
.

Argentine Confederation
Argentine Confederation
1832–1860

Peru–Bolivian Confederation 1836–1839

Confederation
Confederation
of Central America 1842–1844 Present-day El Salvador
El Salvador
, Guatemala
Guatemala
, Honduras
Honduras
and Nicaragua
Nicaragua
.

Granadine Confederation 1858–1863

Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
1861–1865 Southern US secessionist states during the American Civil War
American Civil War
.

North German Confederation
German Confederation
1867–1871

Carlist States 1872–1876 Spanish states.

USSR
USSR
b 1922–1936 Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic , Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
and Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic
Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic

Arab Federation
Federation
b 1958 Iraq
Iraq
and Jordan
Jordan
.

United Arab Republic b and the United Arab States b 1958–1961 Egypt
Egypt
and Syria
Syria
, joined by North Yemen
North Yemen
.

Union of African States 1961–1963 Mali
Mali
, Ghana
Ghana
and Guinea
Guinea
.

Federation
Federation
of Arab Republics b 1972 Egypt
Egypt
, Syria
Syria
and Libya
Libya
.

Arab Islamic Republic b 1974 Libya
Libya
and Tunisia
Tunisia
.

Senegambia 1982–1989 Senegal
Senegal
and Gambia
Gambia
.

Serbia and Montenegro
Serbia and Montenegro
2003–2006

-------------------------

* a Confederated personal union. * b De facto confederation.

SEE ALSO

* Articles of Confederation * Associated state * Commonwealth
Commonwealth
* Federalism
Federalism
* Federation
Federation
* List of confederations

REFERENCES

* ^ Oxford English Dictionary * ^ Vattel, Emmerich (1758) The Law of Nations, cited in Wood, Gordon (1969) The Creation of the American Republic 1776 - 1787, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, p.355. * ^ McCormick, John (2002) Understanding the European Union: a Concise Introduction, Palgrave, Basingstoke, p. 6. * ^ This was the key feature that distinguished the first American union, under the Articles of Confederation of 1781, from the second, under the US Constitution of 1789. Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 15, called the absence of directly-effective law in the Articles a 'defect' and the ‘great and radical vice’ in the initial system. Madison, James, Hamilton, Alexander and Jay, John (1987) The Federalist Papers, Penguin, Harmondsworth, p. 147. * ^ French Le confédéralisme n'est pas loin Charles-Etienne Lagasse, Les nouvelles institutions politiques de la Belgique et de l'Europe, Erasme, Namur 2003, p. 405 ISBN 2-87127-783-4 * ^ Belgian research center whose activities are devoted to the study of decision-making in Belgium
Belgium
and in Europe Archived February 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine
. * ^ French: "La Belgique est (...) incontestablement, une fédération : il n’y a aucun doute (...) Cela étant, la fédération belge possède d’ores et déjà des traits confédéraux qui en font un pays atypique, et qui encouragent apparemment certains responsables à réfléchir à des accommodements supplémentaires dans un cadre qui resterait, vaille que vaille, national." Vincent de Coorebyter "La Belgique (con)fédérale" in Le Soir 24 June 2008 * ^ French: "Le système institutionnel belge est déjà inscrit dans une dynamique de type cs, Le Soir , 19 September 2008 * ^ Robert Deschamps, Michel Quévit, Robert Tollet, "Vers une réforme de type confédéral de l'État belge dans le cadre du maintien de l'union monétaire," in Wallonie 84, n°2, pp. 95-111 * ^ Le petit Larousse 2013 p1247 * ^ A B "How Canadian Govern Themselves, First Edition, 1980 by Eugene Forsey, Ch. on A Federal State p.1". .parl.gc.ca. Retrieved 2011-02-19. * ^ P.W. Hogg, Constitutional Law of Canada
Canada
(5th ed. supplemented), para. 5.1(b). * ^ How Canadians Govern Themselves, 7th ed * ^ Kiljunen, Kimmo (2004). The European Constitution in the Making. Centre for European Policy Studies. pp. 21–26. ISBN 978-92-9079-493-6 . * ^ Burgess, Michael (2000). Federalism
Federalism
and European union: The building of Europe, 1950–2000. Routledge. p. 49. ISBN 0-415-22647-3 . "Our theoretical analysis suggests that the EC/EU is neither a federation nor a confederation in the classical sense. But it does claim that the European political and econo