protectorate, in international law, a relationship in which one state surrenders part of its sovereignty to another. The subordinate state is called a protectorate. The term covers a great variety of relations, but typically the protected state gives up all or part of its control over foreign affairs while retaining a large measure of independence in internal matters. The relation may originate when the dominant power threatens or uses force or when the subordinate sees advantages (usually military protection) in the arrangement. A protectorate is distinguishable from the relation of home country and colony, for the protected state retains its sovereignty (though often only nominally), its territory remains distinct from that of the protector, and its citizens do not become nationals of the protecting state. Initially, in most cases, the extent to which the dominant state may interfere in local affairs is governed by treaty; but since a protected state usually has no access to diplomatic channels, it is in a poor position to resist attempts at increased control. Protectorates in connection with large empires probably have existed from earliest times, and there are known instances in Greek and Roman history. In World War I, Great Britain made Egypt a protectorate. Before the abrogation (1934) of the Platt Amendment, Cuba was essentially a protectorate of the United States. Today no state formally has the status of a protectorate, but several quasi-protectorates do exist, including the Cook Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Niue. The former trust territories of the United Nations (see trusteeship, territorial) were distinguished from protectorates in that they were being prepared for ultimate independence and that the control of the dominant state was subject to scrutiny by the UN Trusteeship Council.

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