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 systematic classification scheme → Territory in general 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.
- Foucher, M., Le retour des frontières, Paris, CNRS Editions, 2016.
- 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.
- Thirlway, H., "Territorial Disputes and Their Resolution in the Recent Jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice", Leiden Journal of International Law, 31 (2018), No. 1. pp. 117-146.
- 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
Systematic classification → Territory
Rossi, C.R., Sovereignty and Territorial Temptation: the Grotian Tendency, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017.View this title in our discovery service
This powerful book stands on its head the most venerated tradition in international law and discusses the challenges of scarcity, sovereignty, and territorial temptation. Newly emergent resources, accessible through global climate change, discovery, or technological advancement, highlight time-tested problems of sovereignty and challenge liberal internationalism's promise of beneficial or shared solutions. From the High Arctic to the hyper-arid reaches of the Atacama Desert, from the South China Sea to the history of the law of the sea, from doctrinal and scholarly treatments to institutional forms of global governance, the historically recurring problem of territorial temptation in the ageless age of scarcity calls into question the future of the global commons, and illuminates the tendency among states to share resources, but only when necessary.
Gasparini, A. (ed.), The Walls between Conflict and Peace, Leiden; Boston, Brill, 2017.View this title in our discovery service
The Walls between Conflict and Peace discusses how walls are not merely static entities, but are in constant flux, subject to the movement of time. Walls often begin life as a line marking a radical division, but then become an area, that is to say a border, within which function civil and political societies, national and supranational societies. Such changes occur because over time cooperation between populations produces an active quest for peace, which is therefore a peace in constant movement. These are the concepts and lines of political development analysed in the book. The first part of the book deals with political walls and how they evolve into borders, or even disappear. The second part discusses possible and actual walls between empires, and also walls which may take shape within present-day empires. The third part analyses various ways of being of walls between and within states: Berlin, the Vatican State and Italy, Cyprus, Israel and Palestine, Belfast, Northern European Countries, Gorizia and Nova Gorica, the USA and Mexico. In addition, discussion centres on a possible new Iron Curtain between the two Mediterranean shores and new and different walls within the EU. The last part of the book looks at how walls and borders change as a result of cooperation between the communities on either side of them. The book takes on particular relevance in the present circumstances of the proliferation of walls between empires and states and within single states, but it also analyses processes of conflict and peace which come about as a result of walls.
- 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.
Fifty Years Legal Argument over the Chagos Archipelago
Since the creation of the British Indian Ocean Territory, a remnant of the British Empire has been subject of international legal dispute. The two most prominent are the request for an advisory opinion – currently under deliberation of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – and secondly the arbitral proceedings under the Law of the Sea Convention. These issues and certain domestic proceedings in the United Kingdom relating to the legal status of the Chagossian people, have been the subject of legal academic research and subsequent publications. A recent addition is titled: “Fifty years of the British Indian Ocean territory: legal perspectives.” This book, produced in response to the 50th anniversary of the British Indian Ocean Territory’s founding, also assesses the impact of the decisions taken in respect of the Territory against a wider background of decolonization while addressing important questions about the lawfulness of maintaining Overseas Territories in the post-colonial era.Read more
Macedonia: Disputing Alexander's Heritage
Last week, a solution to the dispute between the Republic of Macedonia, formally known as the ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ (FYROM) and Greece has reached a new landmark. For decades the name dispute has dominated the region, especially since the Socialist Republic of Macedonia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Macedonia is currently the name of a region in northern Greece, roughly the area of the former kingdom of Macedon, which is most famous for bringing forth Alexander the Great and the Hellenization of the Ancient World. The Republic of Macedonia is a predominantly Slavic country, that shares a portion of its southern territory with the territory of the ancient kingdom of Macedon.Read more
Jerusalem and International Law: A Bibliographic Overview
US President Donald Trump’s pledge to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has caused considerable controversy across the world. If the United States moved the embassy to Jerusalem, it would mean that the US effectively recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That would overturn 70 years of international consensus, and, many argue, would effectively signal the end of moves to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians. We have created a bibliographic overview on this topic intended as a starting point for research.Read more
Catalonia’s Referendum for Independence
June 9, 2017, Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, announced an independence referendum will be held on 1 October. Voters would be asked: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent country in the form of a republic?” Spain’s central government continues to say it will block the referendum using all the legal and political means at its disposal. Although the Catalonia regional government has insisted the unilateral poll will go ahead on Sunday, the Spanish government has vowed to stop the vote, which it says is a clear violation of the constitution. Spain’s constitutional court has suspended the legislation underpinning the referendum while it rules on its legality.Read more
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
- Air and Space Law
- Cultural Heritage
- Food and Health
- Law of the Sea
- Polar Regions