The confederation mainly refers to any link or binding of persons or bodies of people. The term in modern political usage is generally limited to a permanent union of sovereign states for certain common purposes.


What is a confederation?

It is the grouping of different states to make common agreements. It establishes a legal link between the confederation and the states that comprise it, without there being a legal relationship between the confederation and the citizens, but rather between member states and the confederation.


We can say that they are voluntary associations of independent states that, in order to guarantee a common purpose, agree to certain limitations on their freedom of action and institute a consultation or discussion team . Limitations on the freedom of action of member states can be as trivial as the recognition of their duty to consult with each other before taking any independent action or as important as the obligation to adhere to the decisions of the majority of member states.

  • What does it consist of
  • History
  • Confederation characteristics
  • Advantage
  • Disadvantages
  • Examples of confederation

What does it consist of

A confederation consists of the union of states to preserve their sovereignty . This is governed by certain common laws . Initially the term was used to refer to alliances and that is why it is used in institutions of society that are not state and also to describe organizations , such as sports confederations. However, the term is more important when used to refer to permanent alliances of states or associations .

In modern politics, it is a permanent union of sovereign states that have a series of goals of common action . It is usually born through written pacts , in order to later establish a series of specific norms or laws that regulate and govern this link. Confederations are generally formed to deal with situations of a greater nature , such as defense, migration policies, the creation of a common currency, the fight against poverty, social integration, etc.


The history of the confederation dates back to the secession , when the Republicans who were led by Abraham Lincoln wanted to restrict and eliminate slavery, however, there were many limitations of power by the Union regarding the property of slaves and the making important decisions . These were the two main causes that motivated the southern states to secede from the Union. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina was the first state to declare secession. After this, Jefferson Davies was elected as president who was one of the main promotersof the new form of state. On March 11, 1861, the first confederate constitution was approved, which was in force until 1865.

Confederation characteristics

The main characteristics of a confederation are the following:

  • Confederations arise from an agreement or a treaty and not from a constitution .
  • The various members are sovereign and independent .
  • The conference body does not have direct power over the inhabitants of a town.
  • States that are members of a certain confederation are subject to international law .
  • Members have the right of secession .
  • The states that comprise it can refuse to apply some decisions from the confederal body.
  • Their main objective is to propose common purposes without configuring political entities.
  • There is no legal order that is applicable to all Confederate states in general.
  • Unions confederations are formalized through treaties of nature international .


The advantages that confederations have are mentioned below:

  • States that participate in a confederation have greater protection from the government against conflict.
  • There is a double legitimation of policies.
  • There is a double system of governance .
  • The territorial policies are distinct.


Among the disadvantages of a confederation we can mention the following:

  • It is not a state .
  • They cannot establish legal obligations on citizens.
  • They have no legal order
  • It cannot exercise any direct power over a nation or its inhabitants.

Examples of confederation

Some examples of confederations are as follows:

  • Swiss Confederation: The Swiss word means Swiss . Switzerland is the Swiss confederation and consists of 23 states , which are called cantons , three of which are subdivided into semi-cantons for purely administrative reasons, all of them enjoying great autonomy . Its origin dates back to the end of the 13th century when the cantons of early Switzerland signed a mutual aid and protection pact .
  • Argentine Confederation : it  was a confederation of provinces in the years 1835 and 1852, which arose in the organization of the current Argentine Republic governed by Juan Manuel de Rosas . The provinces formed a confederation of sovereign states . It is one of the official names of the Argentine Republic according to article 35 of the Constitution, along with that of the Argentine Republic and United Provinces of Río de la Plata .

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