The question of Territory has always been central to the international legal system. It constitutes the core of the definition of the State, and as such it is tied to the issue of jurisdiction and the extent of the power exercisable by the State. It is also central to the organisation of the international order, for a State-based world community requires rules by which to determine how Territory may be allocated to States and the sanctions that may be applied for violation of territorial integrity. Further, as States appear, disappear and re-emerge in a different guise, principles as to the determination of boundaries become critical.
This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on Territory. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's Classification scheme → Territory in general, Boundary questions, territorial questions, Colonies, dependencies, decolonization, International commons, common heritage of mankind, International waterways, Succession of States and subject heading (keyword) Territory are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.
- Anderson, E.W., International Boundaries: A Geopolitical Atlas, London, TSO, 2003.
- Prescott, V. and G.D. Triggs, International Frontiers and Boundaries: Law, Politics and Geography, Leiden, Martinus Nijhoff, 2008.
- Shaw, M.N. (ed.), Title to Territory, Aldershot, Ashgate/Dartmouth, 2005.
- Storey, D., Territories: the Claiming of Space, New York, NY, Routledge, 2012.
- Ahmed, D.M.A, Boundaries and Secession in Africa and International Law: Challenging Uti Possidetis, Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 2015.
- Doyle, C.M., Indigenous Peoples, Title to Territory, Rights and Resources: The Transformative Role of Free Prior and Informed Consent, London and New York, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.
- Oduntan, G., International Law and Boundary Disputes in Africa, London, New York, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2015.
- Petersen, J., European Territorial Governance: Methode europäischer Raumentwicklung, Hamburg, Verlag Dr. Kovač, 2016.
- Srebro, H. (Ed.), International Boundary Making, Copenhagen, International Federation of Surveyors, 2013.
- Treverton, G.F., Dividing Divided States, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.
- Baker, B., "Interlinkages in International Law: The Convention on Biological Diversity as a Model for Linking Territory, Environment, and Indigenous Rights in the Marine Arctic", Diplomacy on Ice : Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and Antarctic, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015, pp. 41-60.
- Brölmann, C.M., "Deterritorialization in International Law: Moving away from the Divide between National and International Law", New Perspectives on the Divide between National and International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 84-109.
- Hodgson-Johnston, I., The Laws of Territorial as Applied to Claims to Antarctic Territory: A Review of Legal Scholarship in: The Yearbook of Polar Law, 2015.
- Shaw, M.N., "Settling Territorial Disputes", Le procès international: liber amicorum Jean-Pierre Cot, Bruxelles, Bruylant, 2009, pp. 255-281.
- Taylor Favrel, M., "Territorial and Maritime Boundary Disputes in Asia", Oxford Handbook of the International Relations of Asia, New York, Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 524-546.
- Vasquez, J.A., "The Significance of Territory", Territory, War and Peace, London, Routledge, 2011, pp. 209-226.
- Schofield, R.N. and E. Evans (eds.), Arabian Boundaries: New Documents 1966-1975, Slough, Cambridge Archive Editions, 2009.
- Schofield, R.N. (ed.), Arabian Boundaries: Primary Documents 1853-1957, Farnham Common, Archive Editions, 1998-1993.
Periodicals, serial publications
Classification scheme → Territory
1. al-Muḥaddid al-māʼī ka-āliyya li-al-ṣirāʻ fī al-Mašriq al-ʻArabī
Keywords: Middle East, Jordan River, Drainage basins, Water rights, Water politics, Arab-Israeli conflict, International disputes, International watercourses, Water,
2. Water in Palestine
Keywords: Palestine, Jordan River, Water, Water rights, Water politics, Sewage, Arab-Israeli conflict, International watercourses,
3. Delimitación territorial y marítima entre Nicaragua y Colombia ante la Corte Internacional de Justicia
Keywords: Nicaragua, Colombia, International Court of Justice, Delimitation, Maritime boundaries, Case-law,
4. Eskaliert der Westsahara-Konflikt?
Keywords: Morocco, Western Sahara, Non-self-governing territories, Natural resources, Referendum, United Nations, Conflict prevention, Right of self-determination,
Classification scheme → Territory
Dröge, Ph.M.A., Moresnet: opkomst en ondergang van een vergeten buurlandje, Houten; Antwerpen, Spectrum, 2016.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
Van 1816 tot 1918 lag Moresnet aan de Nederlandse zuidgrens. Het landje had 300 inwoners, die zich in de loop van de tijd echt een volk begonnen te voelen. Ze hadden een eigen hoofdstad (het dorp Kelmis), een staatshoofd (de burgemeester) en een verdedigingsmacht (de veldwachter). De vrijheid en lage belastingen trokken duizenden avonturiers aan en Moresnet groeide uit tot een voorbeeld van hoe mensen zonder grote overheid gelukkig en welvarend konden worden. Sterker nog, de wereldvrede moest hier beginnen. Idealisten wilden er de ideale staat vestigen, met de Esperanto-naam Amikejo (Vriendschap). Philip Dröge onderzoekt het merkwaardige verhaal achter Moresnet: Hoe kon dit onwaarschijnlijke landje ontstaan? Wie woonden er? Hoe was het leven in dit staatsrechtelijke unicum? Dröge vertelt over dieven, gokkers, smokkelaars, mijnwerkers en een dromer die van Moresnet die ideale samenleving wilde maken – en daar bijna in slaagde. Philip Dröge is journalist, columnist en initiatiefnemer van het populair-wetenschappelijke persbureau FAQT. Hij schreef eerder De schaduw van Tambora dat lovend door de pers werd ontvangen, schrijft voor diverse tijdschriften en treedt geregeld op als gastspreker en commentator op radio en televisie.
Kohen, M.G., Territoriality and International Law, Cheltenham, UK : Northampton, MA, USA, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
The compilation of key articles and excerpts in this timely volume deals with the importance of territory for international law with regards to its relationship with power, state building and globalisation. The collection also analyses the evolution and scope of the law of acquisition of territory from colonial times to today, the emergence of new areas for the territorial expansion of states and the border delimitation rules. In addition, the selected papers investigate the impact of the human dimension, particularly the individual and collective human rights, on the way international law addresses territorial issues, including indigenous peoples and the right to self-determination.
Hébié, M., Souveraineté Territoriale par Traité: Une Etude des Accords Entre Puissances Coloniales et Entités Politiques Locales, [Geneva, Switzerland], Graduate Institute Publications, 2015.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
Sur plus de 700 pages finement travaillées, Mamadou Hébié décrit l'histoire des relations juridiques entre les puissances européennes et les entités politiques locales durant l'expansion coloniale. L'auteur a produit une contribution majeure à l'étude de l'établissement de la souveraineté territoriale, de l'histoire du droit international et du droit des traités. Si le sujet restait jusqu'alors obscur, les quelques travaux qui lui étaient consacrés laissaient transparaître des présupposés influencés par une conception ethnocentrique du droit et des relations internationales. Ce sont ces idées reçues sur le cadre juridique de la colonisation que ce livre amène à remettre en question.
Pour offrir ce voyage dans les coulisses de l'histoire, Mamadou Hébié a analysé des centaines de documents établis à partir du XVe siècle. Ce travail colossal dévoile l'importance des termes des accords conclus entre les représentants des puissances coloniales et les chefs locaux pour déterminer leurs effets juridiques et leur rôle dans le processus de l'expansion coloniale européenne. Évitant les jugements de valeur sur cette expansion, l'auteur démontre que les puissances coloniales reconnaissaient aux entités politiques locales la capacité de conclure des traités ainsi que leurs droits de souveraineté territoriale et de propriété. Ce faisant, il permet de sortir du slogan anticolonial facile et non étayé. En effet, on ne saurait parler de mauvaise foi des puissances coloniales, de non-respect de l'engagement pris, voire de la nullité ou de l'extinction des accords passés, sans avoir préalablement établi qu'il s'agissait d'accords régis par le droit international.
Oduntan, G., International Law and Boundary Disputes in Africa, London; New York, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2015.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
Africa has experienced a number of territorial disputes over land and maritime boundaries, due in part to its colonial and post-colonial history. This book explores the legal, political, and historical nature of disputes over territory in the African continent, and critiques the content and application of contemporary International law to the resolution of African territorial and border disputes. Drawing on central concepts of public international law such as sovereignty and jurisdiction, and socio-political concepts such as colonialism, ethnicity, nationality and self-determination, this book interrogates the intimate connection that peoples and nations have to territory and the severe disputes these may lead to. Gbenga Oduntan identifies the major principles of law at play in relation to territorial, and boundary disputes, and argues that the predominant use of foreign based adjudicatory mechanisms in attempting to deal with African boundary disputes alienates those institutions and mechanisms from African people and can contribute to the recurrence of conflicts and disputes in and among African territories. He suggests that the understanding and application of multidisciplinary dispute resolution mechanisms and strategies can allow for a more holistic and effective treatment of boundary disputes.
Doyle, C.M., Indigenous Peoples, Title to Territory, Rights and Resources: The Transformative Role of Free Prior and Informed Consent, London and New York, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2015.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
The right of indigenous peoples under international human rights law to give or withhold their Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to natural resource extraction in their territories is increasingly recognized by intergovernmental organizations, international bodies, and industry actors, as well as in the domestic law of some States. This book offers a comprehensive overview of the historical basis and status of the requirement for indigenous peoples’ consent under international law, examining its relationship with debates and practice pertaining to the acquisition of title to territory throughout the colonial era.
Treverton, G.F., Dividing Divided States, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
When nations divide, whether peacefully or through violence, there are many issues beyond politics to negotiate in the aftermath. Understanding the concerns that are likely to confront separated states is vital in establishing stability in new states. Examining case studies in Africa, Europe, and Asia, international security expert Gregory Treverton provides a detailed guide to recent national divisions that range from the partition of India to the secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia.
Dividing Divided States offers an overview of the ways different states have handled such contentious issues as security and citizenship, oil and water resources, assets and liabilities, and the rights of pastoralist groups. In each case, Treverton considers how the root causes of secession—such as long-simmering conflicts, nationalist politics, and changed geopolitical circumstances—impact the effectiveness of policies that form new nations. Dividing Divided States serves as both a source of ideas for future secession policies and a reminder that, while the motivations and outcomes of secessions may differ widely, separating states face similar challenges in dividing populations, natural resources, and state resources.
Branch, J., The Cartographic State: Maps, Territory and the Origins of Sovereign, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2014.View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
Why is today's world map filled with uniform states separated by linear boundaries? The answer to this question is central to our understanding of international politics, but the question is at the same time much more complex – and more revealing – than we might first think. This book examines the important but overlooked role played by cartography itself in the development of modern states. Drawing upon evidence from the history of cartography, peace treaties and political practices, the book reveals that early modern mapping dramatically altered key ideas and practices among both rulers and subjects, leading to the implementation of linear boundaries between states and centralized territorial rule within them. In his analysis of early modern innovations in the creation, distribution and use of maps, Branch explains how the relationship between mapping and the development of modern territories shapes our understanding of international politics today.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Territory, Abandonment, by Marcelo G. Kohen.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Territory, Discovery, by Marcelo G. Kohen and Mamadou Hébié.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Territory, Lease, by Yaël Ronen.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Territorial Integrity and Political Independence, by Samuel K.N. Blay.
Classification scheme → Territory
Essequibo, the Territorial Dispute between Venezuela and Guyana
The Essequibo (in Spanish, Esequibo), is an undeveloped, sparsely populated but resource-rich jungle territory region, nearly sixty percent of modern Guyana, consisting of all its territory west of the Essequibo River (see map). Venezuela’s deeply rooted belief is that the Essequibo region was unjustly taken from them by meddling foreign powers. It is a matter of national integrity, made more alluring by the possible wealth of natural resources there. Guyana’s position is that they are trying to defend the land that has been part of their country for almost 200 years, land they need to help develop their country economically.Read more
Interview: Dr. Christian Noack
This month, our first time guest editor and colleague, Ms. Anna Duszczyk, invited Dr. Christian Noack from the University of Amsterdam, for an in-depth interview on the current crisis in Ukraine. Dr. Noack is an expert on Eastern European History, Media Studies and Slavonic Studies. In this interview, he will discuss his views on the current political situation in Ukraine and the role of Russia and the European Union in the crisis.Read more
A Justification for Russia’s Intervention?
In the last week Russian military forces have occupied Crimea, the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula where the majority of the population is ethnic Russian and the Russian Black Sea Fleet is deployed in the city of Sevastopol. In the Russian constitution a few articles describe circumstances where a primacy of Russian constitutional law above international law may occur. How does Russia legally justify its intervention? Guest Blog by Anna K. Duszczyk.Read more
Arctic Sovereignty: Icy Roads to the North Pole
Canada, the US, Norway, Russia, and Denmark have been gathering scientific evidence for more than a decade in an effort to increase their continental shelf claims in the Arctic Ocean Region.The potential delimitation dispute between Canada, Russia and Denmark seems to focus on the Lomonosov Ridge. The North Pole is located about 400 nautical miles from the northernmost island of Canada, Denmark, Norway and the Russian Federation. Under international law coastal state rights over the water columns are limited to the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone, using the state’s territorial sea baselines as starting point.Read more
Unresolved Territorial Disputes: The Tunbs and Abu Musa in the Gulf
Last week, the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, renewed his country’s demand for the restoration of sovereignty over three islands in the Persian Gulf region. Responding to the statement by the UAE, Iran’s representative reiterated his country’s full sovereignty over the islands and categorically rejected any claims to the contrary. The legal dispute about ownership and sovereignty of the three islands is based on rival historical claims by both sides.Read more
Bolivia’s Centenarian Maritime Claim before the International Court of Justice
Despite losing its maritime coast, the so-called Littoral Department, after the War of the Pacific, Bolivia has historically maintained, as a state policy, a maritime claim to Chile. The claim asks for sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean and its maritime space. The Political Constitution of 2009 established that Bolivia declares its right to access to the sea, and that its objective is to solve the problem peacefully. Therefore, on 24 April 2013, Bolivia instituted proceedings against Chile before the International Court of Justice. A guest blog by Elizabeth Santalla Vargas.Read more
Falkland Islands: 'Desire the Right' of Self-Autonomy
Monday 12 March 2013 was marked as the final day of a two-day referendum on the disputed Falkland Islands. The question to the voters was: “Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?” The Residents of the Falkland Islands voted overwhelmingly to remain a British Overseas Territory. More than 99% of voters said yes, just three people voted no. Turnout was 92%. The referendum was held in an effort to fend off aggressive Argentinian claims over the South Atlantic islands.Read more
Senkaku or Diaoyu(tai) Islands?
The Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute has been close to the boil for months. The Japanese prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, took the decision to buy the islands to head off a more destabilising but popular proposal not only to acquire them but also to begin their active development.Read more
Hans Island : Crisis in the Arctic?
Compared with other regions on the planet, the Arctic is warming faster. More of the Arctic is free of ice for longer periods. The possibilities for exploitation of natural resources and for control over Northern shipping lanes have prompted countries’ renewed interest in their competing claims to the region. Recently, Denmark (for Greenland) and Canada have clashed over their claims to a small, barren rock known as Hans Island.Read more
Is Sudan set for a divorce?
Sudan has a history of protracted conflict between the predominately Muslim north and the largely Christian south. On 9-15 January 2011, the citizens of Southern Sudan took part in a referendum to determine if they wish to become an independent state. Although South Sudan has been an autonomous region since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) […]Read more
What Future for Western Sahara ?
There is no prospect of resolving the decades-old conflict between Morocco and the Sahrawi independence movement Polisario on the future of Western Sahara. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, came to this conclusion in a gloomy report, dated 6 April 2010, to the Security Council. Ban Ki-moon reported that “it is clear […]Read more
International Court of Justice sets date for public hearings on Kosovo independence
The Hague, 29 July 2009. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced that it will hold public hearings starting on 1 December 2009 on the question of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence early last year. The United Nations and individual Member States will be able to present oral statements and comments at the ICJ’s headquarters […]Read more
Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v. Ukraine)
On Tuesday 3 February 2009 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rendered its Judgment in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v. Ukraine). A public sitting took place at 10 a.m. at the Peace Palace in The Hague, during which the President of the Court, Judge Rosalyn Higgins, read the Court’s Judgment.Read more
More Research guides on Special Topics
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