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Administrative procedures relating to border crossings whether they fall within the competence of States or result from international agreements, such as visas or health and customs formalities, should be adapted, so far as possible, so as to facilitate to the maximum freedom of travel and widespread access to international tourism; agreements between groups of countries to harmonize and simplify these procedures should be encouraged; specific taxes and levies penalizing the tourism industry and undermining its competitiveness should be gradually phased out or corrected; (Source)

Would you tell me what the competence of States mean here? Does it equal National rules?

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  • Dear editors, I checked dictionaries before posting this and did not manage to understand the right meaning of the phrase. The fact is that sth might be absolutely clear for you as natives and very vague for non-natives like me. I always consult known dictionaries like Cambrige and Oxford and ... before posting a Q. Thx.
    – Juya
    Jan 27, 2015 at 22:16

2 Answers 2

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From Wiktionary:

competence : 4 (countable) In law, the legal authority to deal with a matter.
That question is out [with]1 the competence of this court and must be taken to a higher court.

Your sentence is not talking about things where the nation has the legal authority but about things where the constituent states have the legal authority.


1 I suspect this is a typo in Wiktionary and they meant out of the competence

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  • The source is a United Nations document, not a United States document. Therefore I assume that "State" refers to a fully sovereign state (such as the United States or Mexico), not a subdivision thereof (such as Texas or Chihuahua).
    – Jasper
    Jan 27, 2015 at 0:18
  • @Jasper, after looking at the site, I think that might be incorrect. For example it says, in paragraph 1, "Tourists and visitors should benefit, in compliance with international law and national legislation, from the liberty to move within their countries and from one State to another, in accordance with Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." This seems to indicate travel within the country and between states within that country.
    – Jim
    Jan 27, 2015 at 2:57
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    "from one State to another" is being contrasted with "within their countries". In other words, "one State" = "one country".
    – Jasper
    Jan 27, 2015 at 3:42
  • OK. You are correct. But I don't understand why they switch between country and state. They could have said, "the liberty to move within their states and from one state to another" And in the OP, "agreements between groups of States" but they didn't. What distinction are they making?
    – Jim
    Jan 27, 2015 at 4:04
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The source is a United Nations document, not a United States document. Therefore I assume that "State" refers to a fully sovereign state (such as the United States or Mexico), not a subdivision thereof (such as Texas or Chihuahua).

Furthermore, I expect that "the competence of States" means the sphere of activities that are commonly performed by nation-states, as opposed to being left to individuals, the Church, or other supra-national organizations. This concept is related to "Natural Law". The theory of "Natural Law" suggests that some things can be expected to be subject to national law (in other words, these things are the "competence of States"), whereas other things are not.

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  • I am with you. Natural Law or National Law? ...* This concept is related to "natural Law"*
    – Juya
    Jan 27, 2015 at 0:59

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