Personal and Real Unions. A real union is a union of two or more states, which share some state institutions in contrast to personal unions; however, they are not as unified as states in a political. It is a development from the personal union and has historically been limited to monarchies.
A personal union exists where two or more states, invariably monarchies, have the same physical person as their king or chief of state. The relationship is usually accidental in character, normally resulting from the fact that in virtue of the laws of succession in two or more states, the right to the Crown devolves in both countries upon the same person.
A personal union, therefore, is not, in the strict Juridical sense of the term, a real union of states. Still, as Jellinek remarks, it is rather a communis incident resulting from the operation of both com constitutional and international law.
But a personal union might also be established by treaty arrangement or by the election by one state of the reigning sovereign of another state to be its king, in which case the union Would terminate by his death unless the elation of his successor renewed it.
Where the union results from the operation of succession laws, it will be terminated where under the law of one of the states the crown devolves upon a person, for example, a woman, who under the rules of succession of the other state Would be ineligible to the throne in that country.
It is characteristic of personal unions, therefore that they are generally of temporary duration. Each of the associated states is entirely dependent on the other each has its own constitution and laws, its own distinct political organization, and its own citizenship and local institutions.
The acts of their common sovereign about one of the member states have no application within the other’s territories nor any force over its citizens. Indeed, the subjects of citizens of the one may be and usually are foreigners to the other. Though only one person, the sovereign possesses two distinct legal personalities and may enjoy widely different powers and attributes in the different states composing the union.
He may be an absolute ruler in one and a constitutional ruler in the other. In international and internal relations, each constitutes a distinct and-separate personality, so much so that one might make war upon the other without affecting the union or declare war against a third power without involving the belligerency of its associate. Such a union does not constitute a state or a person in international law distinct from the states which compose it.
Each member of the union retains its own international personality. Each ordinarily conducts its own foreign relations and maintains its own diplomatic service. Still, they may employ and sometimes have employed common diplomatic representatives, in which case the latter is the representatives not of the union but the member states individually.
Examples of Personal Unions:-
Examples of personal unions were the union between Spain and the old German Empire under Charles V, 1520-1556, between England and Scotland, 1603-1707, terminated by their merger in the United Kingdom of Great Britain, between Great Britain and Hanover from 1714 to 1837, terminated by the accession of Victoria as Queen of Great Britain, the laws of succession in Hanover not permitting females to succeed between Holland and Luxemburg, 1815-1893, terminated for the same reason as that between Great Britain and Hanover between Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark, 1776-1863 and finally, the general act of the Berlin Conference of 1885, followed by a Belgian law of the same year, which declared that the relation between the king of the Belgians and the Congo state should be exclusively personal in character.
The union was terminated in 1908 by the annexation of the Congo to Belgium. The Only existing personal union is that between Denmark and Iceland, which was formed in 1918 by enacting laws by the parliaments of both countries under which King Christian X of Denmark became King of Iceland.
In virtue of the arrangement, Denmark is charged with the conduct of Iceland’s foreign affairs, which latter state remains independent in other respects and is declared to be perpetually neutral. She employs her own merchant flag but has no naval Hag of her own.
Provision is made for a joint advisory committee of the two parliaments to deal with legislation affecting both countries and a court of arbitration to decide disputes between them. It was agreed that each country’s citizens should be accorded full rights of citizenship in the other.
A real union results from the joining together of two or more states, not merely through the existence of a common ruler, but the creation of common constitutional or international arrangements for the administration of certain common affairs. Such a union occurs, says Hall, when states are indissolubly combined under the same monarch, their identity being merged in that of a common state for external purposes. However, each may retain distinct internal laws and institutions.
It differs from a personal union in that the associat~ ed states of component members are organically united by constitutional bonds and have common government organs. Still, each retaining its own independence and sovereignty. It also possesses greater permanence elements, its existence being unaffected by the death of the common sovereign or the extinction of the reigning dynasty.
Some writers, among them Westlake, maintain that a so-called real union constitutes in itself a state I separate and distinct from the individual states which compose it, but Others, such as Oppenheim, De Louter, Fauchille, and Jellinek, adopt the contrary view and hold that it is merely a union of states constituting a single international personality. This view would seem to be sound. However, it is undoubtedly true that such a union does possess some of the characteristics of a true state, much more so than does a personal union.
The most notable example of a real union was that between Austria and Hungary, 1867-1919. The union between the kingdoms of Norway and Sweden from 1815 to 1905 was also an example. The former rested upon a compact, the terms of which were embodied in a pair of identical statutes adopted by the two states’ parliaments in 1867.
They had the same ruling sovereign (Who it may be observed, possessed different titles and dignities in the two states and was crowned separately in each), but also a common legislative body for limited purposes, a common army organized on the same basis. It commanded a common language, a common diplomatic service, a common Court of accounts, a common tariff and trade union, and common ministries of war, finance, and foreign affairs.
The two states bore the expense of the joint administration according to a proportion agreed upon by them. In international intercourse, the union constituted a single personality, though, for most internal administration purposes, each state retained its own independence. As a consequence of the World War and the treaties of peace which terminated it, the union between Austria and Hungary came to an end in 1919-1920.
The terms of the agreement by which Norway and Sweden were joined Were embodied in a treaty of August 6, 1815. According to the agreement, Norway recognized the king of Sweden as its sovereign and representative in international relations. However, Norway’s constitution expressly declared that Norway should remain a free, independent, and indivisible empire.
The treaty of union regulated the procedure to be, followed in both kingdoms for the election of their common sovereign’s successor. The two states maintained a common diplomatic and consular service, though, unlike the Austro Hungarian arrangement, their foreign relations were not conducted through a common Norwegian-Swedish ministry but through the Swedish foreign minister, who managed the external affairs of both states.
The two states had different commercial and naval flags and distinct internal administration systems, and each had its own army under the command and direction of the joint king. Unlike the Austro-Hungarian union, there was nothing like a common legislative assembly, nor were there any joint ministries of state.
Matters of common interest, which could not be regulated by the joint king, were dealt with by the concurrent action of the two kingdoms’ parliaments. The joint arrangements were so few and unimportant that some writers have treated the relationship simply as a personal union. However, this is incorrect since the union’s perpetuity did not depend upon any dynasty or law of succession.
The increasing dissatisfaction of Norway and its desire for a real joint ministry of foreign affairs and a separate consular system led to the disruption of the union in 1905 by the succession of Norway and the conclusion between the two states of a permanent separation treaty.
Therefore, there is no example of a real union in existence today unless that between Denmark and Iceland is so regarded. Real unions represent a transitory form of relationship; usually, they either become a federal or unitary state, or what is more likely, they disappear through dissolution.