MODES OF ACQUISITION OF TERRITORY

INTRODUCTION

A state’s sovereignty is limited to a specific area of territory that is subject to the state’s sole authority and is safeguarded by international law against infringement by other nations. The existence of a core region under the effective authority of the state’s authorities is inextricably linked to statehood. The designated area of the world under a state’s authority is known as state territory.

The term “globe” is used because state territory comprises not just land but also national or internal waterways, archipelagic waters, and airspace under that state’s control.All persons and property inside a state’s territory are under its dominion and control, according to the maxim quidquid est in territorio est etiam de territorio, while foreign individuals and property fall under the territorial authority of a state when they cross its borders.

 

SUCCESSION OF STATE

A succession of states, according to Article 11 of the Convention on State Succession, has no bearing on a treaty-established border, or treaty-established responsibilities and rights pertaining to the regime of a boundary. The law clearly says that a treaty border cannot be brought into question simply because of state succession or a change in circumstances since the treaty was signed; nevertheless, it is not true to argue that treaty boundaries cannot be questioned at all.

 

MODES OF ACQUISITION 

Cession, occupation, accretion, subjugation, and prescription are the five means of obtaining territory that have historically been differentiated.

Cession

The transfer of sovereignty over state territory by the owning state to another state is known as cession of state territory. Its foundation is the parties’ purpose to transfer sovereignty over the area in issue, and it is based on the premise that a State’s power to transfer its territory is a basic attribute of its sovereignty. The cession may cover a portion of the ceding State’s territory or the entire area of the ceding State.

Occupation

Occupation is a state’s deliberate claim of authority over land that the international community considers to be terra nullius, or territory that belongs to no one. According to Jennings, it is “the appropriation by a state of a region that is not under the authority of any other state at the time.” “Territory is deemed occupied when it is placed under the control of the opposing army,” according to Article 42 of The Hague Regulations of 1907. Only the region where such power has been created and may be exercised is included in the occupation.”

Accretion

The geographical process of accretion refers to the physical extension of an existing region. It is the word given to the expansion of land owing to new formations. For example, when an island rises within a river (not expanding the territory, only the land) or when an island appears in the marine belt, such development may constitute a modification of the current state territory.

Enlargement of territory by new formations occurs ipso facto via accretion, without the state involved taking any specific steps for the aim of extending its sovereignty, according to international law. As a result, accretion is a direct method of acquiring land.

Subjugation

Conquest and annexation are the two steps in the process of subjugation. This method of direct acquisition is known as title by conquest. Because war was not unlawful in those days, it was regarded as a sovereign right to wage war. Between cession and subjection, there is a narrow line to be drawn. Conquest followed by annexation, like forcible cession, would compel the surrender of land, but unlike cession, there was no agreement between the parties involved. The victorious parties in most wars imposed a cession treaty.

Simple subjugation titles are uncommon. The League of Nations Covenant declared it illegal to engage in war for the aim of gaining territory (Article 10)The acquisition of territory by force is also prohibited under the United Nations Charter, which requires member states to refrain from using force against a state’s territorial integrity or political independence.

Prescription

A prescription is defined as “the acquisition of sovereignty over a territory through a continuous and uninterrupted exercise of sovereignty over it for such a period as is necessary to create, under the influence of historical development, the general conviction that the current state of things is in accordance with the international order.”

 

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