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Public International Law 1 (LAW510) Territorial Sovereignty

Sandra Watson
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Universiti Teknologi MARA

Public International Law 1 (LAW510)

Law 510 – Territorial Sovereignty
The extent of a state’s sovereignty or jurisdiction will be limited to the extent of its territory.
Territorial sovereignty was explained in the Island of Palma Arbitration as being the right to exercise
the functions of a state to the exclusion of other states and this signifies indipendence in terms of
portion on the globe.
Modes of acquisition :
1. Occupation
2. Cession
3. Prescription
Occupation is acquisition by a state of sovereignty over a territory which is at that time not under
the sovereignty of another state. The territory is called terra nullius. There are two requirements of
occupation : 1. The territory must be terra nullius
2. There must be an effective occupation
The explanation on terra nullius can be seen in the Western Sahara Case. Terra nullius is a land
belonging to no one and there’s no political activities at the time of occupation. The territory could
be either not belong to anyone or abandoned by the previous sovereign. However, in this case, the
tribes who inhabit the area was a socially and politically organised in tribes and there’s a chief
competent to represent them. For this reason, the territory is not terra nullius.



Public International Law 1 (LAW510) Territorial Sovereignty

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