The concept of state sovereignty dates back to the Peace of Westphalia that forms the foundation of modern international relations as well as international law. In international law, sovereignty means that a government possesses and exercises full control over affairs within its territory, which also includes sovereignty over its energy resources which can be considered as an extension of the principle of territoriality. The determination of state sovereignty is often subject to diplomatic disputes and the Charter of the United Nations requires a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council for the recognition of statehood. With regard to energy sovereignty, at least de facto territorial sovereignty is an obvious precondition. Article 18 of the Energy Charter Treaty is based on the principle of state sovereignty and reaffirms that energy sovereignty must be exercised in accordance with and subject to the rules of international law.
Peter Vajda, Varvara Aleksić and Tina Hunter
The sustainability of energy systems is one of the elements of the so-called energy trilemma, together with energy security and energy equity. The International Energy Charter signed in May 2015 makes particular reference to this by recognising the global challenge posed by the energy trilemma and calls for efforts by all countries to achieve sustainable development. Proper assessment of the environmental impacts of energy projects, an increased uptake in energy generated from renewable sources and increased energy efficiency throughout the entire supply and consumption system can lead to an increased uptake of the sustainability dimension in the energy trilemma. Article 19 is the cornerstone of the Energy Charter Treaty in this particular dimension.