So I am in a sci-fi world where I am trying to figure out a system of super-national and multi-national organizations that would retain the independence of nations while also defining how colonization, trade, international relations and war can be performed and also how it can have the power to enforce its rules while still allowing the nations to be independent. Basically what I want these organizations to do is to control the common resources shared by men of all nations: the air, the ocean, space and colonizable worlds, this organization is totally committed to the preservation and exploitation of these resources and attempts to prevent the tragedy of the commons from taking place with common resources, they also ensure that nations trade, perform diplomacy and other such things according to certain guidelines, and the most important thing is that they have the power to enforce their rules.

So there are many bodies with this inherent structure within the solar system, the ones that govern worlds are planetary governates, the ones that govern planetary systems are orbital councils and the one that governs the colonization of the solar system as a whole is the orbital council, these nations are multi-national in origin but most of them are super-national in practice, so let me explain what that means.

Multi-national organizations are organizations that are created by multiple nations to facilitate co-operation between nations to achieve certain, agreed upon, goals.

Super-national organizations are organizations that may be created by multiple nations but it has the property that it doesn't require the co-operation of nations to enforce its goals, it attempts to achieve certain goals that it decides independently from the nations and forces them to comply and it has the power of force to do so.

Now I want these governates to be super-national organizations that can tell nations what they can and cannot do to a certain extent, but I still want total national sovereignty to exist, ie. the right to declare war, the right to colonize other worlds, the right to claim territory, the right to independently exploit resources and so on.

To simplify

The organizations must be able to make rules independently from nations and they must be able to enforce those rules against un-co-operative nations using military force, however a nation must retain almost all of its rights including how it governs its citizens and the management of exclusive resources (exclusive resources are resources that can be exploited by one group without affecting the ability of another group to exploit their own) as-well as the right to declare war. The organizations won't always be as benevolent as they should be and sometimes they will become less independent then they are designed to be but what's important is that they are able to do the things I want them to do (manage and preserve common resources and controlling trade, war and diplomacy as far as it relates to the management of common resources) while also not having to infringe upon the independence of nations.

Edit: Governates are a term used inside the story, do not edit it out.

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    $\begingroup$ European Union. It is a super-national organization which looks a bit like sort of a country from the outside -- it has a flag, a Parliament, a small army of bureaucrats, it occasionally makes laws but usually it just gives directives, it has a common market, free movement of people and capital -- but it is really a loose confederation of independent member states, which don't always see eye to eye. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Sep 3, 2018 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ "a small army of bureaucrats". LOL! $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Sep 3, 2018 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ From a certain point of view, you can't. One aspect of the U.S. Civil War was literally proving that what you want can't/won't happen. The E.U. is building on that idea in an effort to show it's possible, but they're having the same problems (just not for the same reasons) with the same potential outcome (Brexit). Simply put: either the umbrella government has authority over the dependent governments, or it isn't an actual government (just an administrative bureaucracy). $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Sep 3, 2018 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ Your "independent nations" sound very not-independent. The instant the use of military force is authorized against member states, "independent" is a term that just flies out the window. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Sep 4, 2018 at 4:19
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    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn A very small army of bureaucrats. The EU, population 500 million, employs fewer people than Kent County Council, population 1.5 million. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Scott
    Sep 7, 2018 at 6:31

4 Answers 4


What you're describing is a more complex, multi-tiered version of a federation.

Federations are effectively a collective of states that hand over some of their powers to a central body for the collective good. In Australia for instance, states can't raise a military as that is seen as the responsibility of the Federal government, but the Federal Government has its powers over the state limited to a set number of areas as defined in the Australian Constitution.

In the USA, the states seem to have more power than they do in Australia but in essence the same rule applies; states give over some of their power to a central authority that is there to provide for the common good of the states.

In your model, there are a number of other entity types, which sit between the states and federal authority whereas in Australia (and the USA) the third tier of government sits below the state at the local government or municipal level. That said, studying up on various federal government designs across the world would be where I would start my research into this.

As a special note on the EU; the EU may one day become a federal government for many European 'states' but at present that is not strictly the case. The recent political discussions over there about not being reliant on the USA for defence and building their own collective military capabilities / organisation is however a reasonable starting place for it one day becoming a federal government in its own right, however. Time will one day tell.

Another case you might want to look at is the UK, where you have England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all under a single rule, but with each 'nation' still having a some measure of their own self-determination.

Ultimately, what you suggest is entirely possible, and really only requires you shifting the dial of power within a federation back towards the states for this model to become a reality.


super-national organizations that can tell nations what they can and cannot do to a certain extent, but I still want total national sovereignty to exist.

I'm afraid that it's blatant self-contradicton. Full-blown national sovereignty means that a nation in any moment can say "F*ck you all, I'll do what I want". Even if it means breaking international laws/agreements or performing acts of genocide.

The best that you can get, while keeping national sovereighty intact, is some form of gentlemen agreement between all states involved. "I promise that I will try my best to follow the rules of our multinational organisation, but such behaviour will be completely voluntary". And of course, membership will be voluntary too. But such "gentlemen club" is anything but the world government, even if all countries in the world are its members.


I think your best option would be to have a semi-feudal system, kind of like what the Earth Kingdom does in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Make it so that the federal government controls things like the operation of the military and allocation of resources, but the states or whatever this universe's version of states are control everything else. For example, the federal government controls what to DO with troops, but each state is responsible for raising its own army that is subordinate to the federal government. I'm not suggesting you recycle this point-for-point, but incorporating elements of it could prove useful in your scenario. If you're still confused, check out this video on the topic. The guy explains it very well and I highly recommend it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-FNPuIM9jg

  • $\begingroup$ That system wasn't invented by A:TLA. It's the system armies were organized throughout the middle ages. When a king wanted to wage war, he told the lesser nobles to raise armies. It's called feudalism. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Sep 4, 2018 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Philipp I never said they INVENTED it, I was just using it as an example. $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2018 at 12:06

I think it would be better to make tiers of government, not nations, more like in the way that the US works. You have a federal government, multiple tiers of councils, and then the local governments. That way you make it clear that if any country secedes, the full weight of the nation will come crashing down upon it.

That also makes governing easier- all local governments (nations) can make their own rules, but anything anyone higher up says becomes law. Then you have less levels of redundant laws. Instead of everyone having laws about pollution, they have a page that says "See your local orbital council for other regulations imposed by the state" or they have a law that says "Regulations for pollution imposed by this country are x times as harsh as the statements outlined in orbital council rule 134432b. This rule allows local government rules to be equal to or harsher than this rule".

Wow, I meant this as a comment but I passed the length limit by 301 characters.


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