10 September 2018

UNAI Quiz: Sovereign equality
















The United Nations Academic Impact is informed by a commitment to support and advance ten basic principles, out of which the tenth is A commitment to the principles inherent in the United Nations Charter.

Principle number 1 in the United Nations Charter reads: The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.

Test your knowledge about this UN principle of the with the UNAI Quiz!!

Scroll down to the bottom of this article to find the answers.


1. Does this principle denies the existence of differences between Members of the UN?

a) No, but only means that there are no judicial differences

b) Yes, it does

c) Yes, as long as they remain in good standing as such

2. Any actual application of this principle in the main organs of the UN?

a) In the General Assembly

b) In the Secretariat

c) In the International Court of Justice

3. Does this principle imply that Members of the UN have rights but no duties?

a) Yes

b) No

c) Depends of which State

4. The rights of the Members of the UN relate to their actual capacities?

a) No at all

b) No, as long as their capacities are not relevant

c) Yes

5. In this an absolute principle in international law?

a) Yes

b) Not at all

c) No, it can be modified in certain forms of international law






1.a) Says the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States adopted by the UN General Assembly that while "States are judicially equal" it is understood that there are indeed "differences of an economic, social, political or other nature" between them.

2.a) Within the General Assembly, which is the most representative of the intergovernmental bodies of the UN, each Member State as defined in the article 18 of the UN Charter, "shall have one vote". This is reaffirmed in rule 82 of the Rules of Procedure, in these terms: "Each member of the General Assembly shall have one vote".

3.b) According to the Yearbook of the International Law Commission (1973, volume II), "States establish themselves as equal members of the international community as soon as they achieve an independent and sovereign existence. If it is the prerogative of sovereignty to be able to assert its rights, the counterpart of that prerogative is the duty to discharge its obligations. The principle that no State which by its conduct has committed a breach of an international obligation can escape the consequence, namely, to be regarded as having committed an internationally wrongful act which entails its responsibility, is the corollary of the principle of the sovereign equality of States".

4.a) Two decades before the adoption of the UN Charter, the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of the States signed in 1933 and widely considered as one of the pillars of contemporary international law, expressed that: "States are juridically equal, enjoy the same rights, and have equal capacity in their exercise. The rights of each one do not depend upon the power which it possesses to assure its exercise, but upon the simple fact of its existence as a person under international law".

5.c) Certain forms of international law do admit a redifinition of this principle, like for instance, international environmental law. A very concrete example of this is the notion of common but differentiated responsibilities that is seen in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in which article 3,1 reads as follows: "The Parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Accordingly, the developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof".