This is an extract of our Territory And Sovereignty document, which we sell as part of our International Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Monash University students.
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Territory and sovereignty Sovereignty involves the legitimate exercise over power over something. This includes power exercised over territory. A state may exercise jurisdiction within its territory and over all those found in that territory.
Sovereignty of states Every state is sovereign and politically independent; states cannot interfere with one another. Art 2(1) of the UN Charter shows that the UN is based on the sovereign equality of all its members.
1. States cannot be compelled to do anything unless they have consented to be bound by a rule a. Consenting to be bound involves giving up some part of sovereignty b. by becoming part of the United Nations states become bound by the UN Charter c. however, new states are generally said to be bound by international law at the time they came into being
2. States are in theory all equal; however in reality more powerful states may exert influence on smaller states.
Does the territory in question belong to the entity/state claiming it?
The entity claiming must be a state Only states may acquire territory. [Consider criteria for statehood]
To hold title to particular territory, the state must have acquired sovereignty over it. This may be done in a number of ways.
Traditional methods [all still applicable except conquest]
Occupation Occupation is a method of acquiring territorial sovereignty by establishing a settlement. Discovery of territory is not sufficient. There needs to be actual possession (eg settlement/administration, coupled with the right to exclude others by force).
1. In the Island of Palmas case it was found that the Netherlands had better title to the Island than the US (who purported to have been ceded it by Spain), as the Dutch had taxed the local citizens and distributed flags on the island, while there was no trace of Spanish activity
[though this was very slight evidence].
The PCIJ in the Eastern Greenland case nominated two essential elements of territorial sovereignty (the 'Huber test'): 1) the intent and will to act as sovereign and a. If the intent to occupy is subjective, it depends for evidence on objective manifestations of state authority.
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