Tagged with "Order of Malta"
The Acquisition of Sovereignty by Quasi-States: The case of the Order of Malta Tags: state sovereignty Order of Malta international law non-state entities

Noel Cox

Auckland University of Technology - Faculty of Business

Mountbatten Journal of Legal Studies, Forthcoming

The Sovereign Military Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, also known as the Order of Malta, the Order of St John of Jerusalem, or simply the Hospitallers, is a unique international confraternity. It is the only organization currently recognized, albeit by a minority of states, as quasi-sovereign. In view of the claims which have been made from time to time by other orders of chivalry - or even pretended orders - to such status, it is worthwhile looking more closely at the claims made by or on behalf of the Order of Malta. In so doing we may help to locate the origin and nature of this so-called sovereignty, and answer the question of which orders of chivalry are likewise 'sovereign', or, indeed, whether the Order of Malta itself is truly sovereign.

The article begins with a brief look at the concepts of sovereignty and statehood as traditionally understood. A survey is then made of the origins of what might be called anomalous entities - bodies which have some status at international law, but which are not traditional states. The special position of the Holy See is covered. The case of the Order of Malta is then examined in its historical context, and the basis for its claimed sovereignty assessed. The position of branches of the Order, and of other ancient religious orders is looked at. The lessons from the example of the Order of Malta for the relationship of territory and statehood are evaluated.


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