Is unified Germany a normal state?

Essay, 2016
6 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Definition of a state and classification

3. Germany’s characteristics of a normal state

4. Conclusion

5. References

1. Introduction

In the twentieth century Germany played a key role in Europe. A lot was going on inside Germany such as radical systemic changes (Kaiserreich, The Weimar Republic, Third Reich) but also on an international level like the expansionist wars and systematic mass murder of millions of people. Later on, during the Cold War, Germany was divided into an East and West part and was the frontline between two competing ideological systems. In 1990, both parts were unified. Unification was a chance for Germany to be internationally recognized as a ‘normal’ state.

The question ‘Is unified Germany is a normal state?’ depends naturally on the definition of a ‘normal’ state. My first idea to address this question is to find out characteristics of a state and compare them to Germany. The first part of this paper will provide an overview of the meaning of statehood, explain various functions a state has to fulfil and give a first classification of states into categories. In the main part I will compare if Germany meets these characteristics. Finally, I will conclude why Germany is a ‘normal’ state.

2. Definition of a state and classification

According to Georg Jellinek (1914, pp. 394-434) who became known for his three-element doctrine a state needs to fulfill three criteria for being recognized as a state: Firstly, a defined territory meaning the space in which the authority has power to govern. Secondly, a permanent population referring to all humans belonging to the state. They form as a whole the population of this state. Thirdly, a state authority having sovereignty and governing its population.

Ulrich Schneckener (2004, pp. 9-16) expands Jellinek’s definition of a de-facto-statehood by the de- jure-statehood. The latter requires a state also to be internationally accepted. De facto states do not necessarily need to be internationally accepted, like Taiwan. Furthermore, not all internationally accepted states exists de facto, such as Somalia. Moreover, Schneckener explains in detail functions a state has to fulfill including security - the task to provide armed forces and police or controlling the state’s territory; welfare - government’s activity in areas of economy, education, health and environment; and not least legitimacy and constitutional state - meaning political participation and stable institutions and the quality of justice and administration.

The above mentioned functions of a state allow Schneckener to classify countries in four different types of statehood: Consolidated or consolidating states are those that fulfill the three functions over a longer period of time. Principally OECD[1] countries are considered to be consolidated states. Weak states do in general satisfy the obligation of establishing security but feature deficits in welfare and legitimacy, examples are Peru or Venezuela. Failing states comply with the function of welfare and legitimacy up to a certain degree but they lose control over large sections of territory or boarders, as it is the case in Columbia and Indonesia. Failed states do not meet any of a state’s obligations any longer. Their statehood has collapsed.

Based on this classification, I will assume that a ‘normal’ state is meant to be a state fulfilling all functions over a longer period of time, as it is the case for consolidated states.

3. Germany’s characteristics of a normal state

On the one hand, I will outline how unified Germany fulfills Georg Jellinek definition’s requirements to be recognized as a state.

First of all, unified Germany has a defined territory since the Day of the Germany Unity. On the 3rd of October 1990 the five states formerly belonging to East Germany merged with the Federal Republic as well as divided Berlin became one city again.[2]

Hence, all people having lived in East and West Germany will make up the permanent population of unified Germany.

Furthermore, unified Germany does have full sovereignty since the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany was signed on 12th of September 1990. The Four Powers (United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Soviet Union) resigned from all rights they gained after the end of World War Two in 1945.[3]

On the other hand, united Germany also meets the additional characteristics of Ulrich Schneckener.

The Federal Republic of Germany qualifies as a de-jure statehood since it was internationally accepted by the United States of America, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the French Republic as well as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the Treaty on the Final settlement with respect to Germany.[4]

Following this further, unified Germany does also fulfil the three functions a state has to fulfil according to Schneckener.

Firstly, security is provided as described on the webpage of the German Federal Ministry of Defense: “The primary goal of Germany’s security policy is to ensure the safety and protection of its citizens”.[5]

Secondly, there are a lot of examples where unified Germany provides welfare. The government is active in areas of education[6] or concerning environmental issues Germany set goals for 2020 such as reducing carbon dioxide emissions or its active usage and support of solar energy and wind power.[7]

Thirdly, regarding legitimacy and constitutional state unified Germany can be seen as a ‘normal’ state since the basic law of the Federal Republic applies to both the Eastern and Western German Lander (states) in the same way after reunification.[8]

4. Conclusion

In this review we have seen main characteristics of a state: a functioning government, a permanent population and a defined territory as well as the provision of security, welfare and legitimacy and constitutional state. Based on these aspects (unified) Germany does qualify as a consolidated state and hence, it can be characterized as ‘normal’.

However, ‘normal’ is an imprecise and ambivalent word and one may come to different results depending on the author’s interpretation of ‘normal’.

5. References

Bundestministerium fur Verteidigung (2015) Federal Ministry of Defense. Retrieved from:!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP3I5EyrpH K9pNyydL3izOSM1KKM1MyS4oL8nMySzGz9cJCWnHT9yNQ8_YLcXEcAGmfo9g!!/ abgerufen (2014) Retrieved from: great-goal abgerufen

Jellinek, G. (1914) Allgemeine Staatslehre. Retrieved from Internet Archive:

OECD (2014) Retrieved from: .pdf abgerufen

Schneckener, U. (2004) States at Risk - Fragile Staaten als Sicherheits- und Entwicklungsproblem. Berlin: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik: Deutsches Institut fur Internationale Politik und Sicherheit.

US Embassy (1990) Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany. Retrieved from: abgerufen


[1] Abbreviation for: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

[2] Article 1

[3], Article 7

[4], Article 9

[5]!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP3I5EyrpHK9pNyydL3izOSM1KKM1MyS4oL8n MySzGz9gmxHRQDTl3MX/

[6] EN.pdf, p.8


[8] law-data.pdf, p 13

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Is unified Germany a normal state?
Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences
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Milena Luke (Author), 2016, Is unified Germany a normal state?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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