Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights

Living Edition
| Editors: Kevin W. Gray

Territorial Rights and Uti Possidetis Juris

Living reference work entry



Body Politic: a politically organized group of people with a central government authority. Self-determination: a country’s right to determine its own affairs of State. Terra Nullius: land belonging to no one. Territorial integrity: the territory of an independent State and the basis for the sovereignty of states. Uti possidetis, ita possidetis: “as you possess, so may you possess”; used to maintain the boundary lines that exist before a country gains independence from a colonial power. Westphalian: the international law principle of State sovereignty based on the Treaty of Westphalia.


A nation’s unity and territorial integrity are of paramount importance and primary concern for the body politic and the governing authorities. State sovereignty is a cardinal rule of self-determination in international law. The very nature of...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


Publisher’s note:

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


  1. Bell A, Kontorovich E (2016) Palestine, utipossidetis juris and the border of Israel. Ariz Law Rev 58:633Google Scholar
  2. Brownlie I (1990) Principles of public international law, 8th edn. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  3. Castellino J, Allen S (2000) The doctrine of utipossidetis: crystellization of modern post-colonial identity. Ger Yearb Int Law 43:205Google Scholar
  4. Craven (1995) The European Community Arbitration Commission on Yugoslavia. Br Yearb Int Law 66:333–413Google Scholar
  5. DeDominicis B (2016) Conceptualizing causes and consequences of application of utipossidetis juris in Europe. Int J Interdiscip Soc Sci Annu Rev 11(1):27–48Google Scholar
  6. Dugard J (1993) Secession: is the case of Yugoslavia a precedent for Africa? Afr J Int Comp Law 5:163Google Scholar
  7. Grovogui S (2009) Regimes of sovereignty: international morality and the African condition. Eur J Int Rel 8(3):315–338Google Scholar
  8. Jackson R (1986) Negative sovereignty in sub-Saharan Africa. Rev Int Stud 12(4):247–264Google Scholar
  9. Kohen M (2006) Secession: international law perspectives. Cambridge University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lumumba PLO, Franceschi L (2014) The constitution of Kenya 2010: an introductory commentary. Strathmore University Press, NairobiGoogle Scholar
  11. Mazrui A (1994) The bondage of boundaries. IBRU Bound Secur Bull 2:60Google Scholar
  12. Mnyongani F (2008) Between a rock and a hard place: the right to self-determination versus utipossidetis in Africa. Comp Int Law J South Afr 41(3):463–479Google Scholar
  13. Rossi C (2017) The Migingo Island dispute between Kenya and Uganda. Brook J Int Law 42:659Google Scholar
  14. Sarvarian A (2015) Utipossidetis juris in the twenty-first century: consensual or customary? Int J Minor Group Rights 22(4):511–532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Shaw M (1997a) The heritage of states: the principle of utipossidetis juris today. Br Yearb Int Law 67:75–156Google Scholar
  16. Shaw M (1997b) Peoples, territorialism, and boundaries. Eur J Int Law 8(3):478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Shaw M (2014) International law. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Worster W (2017) The influence of the map on utipossidetis juris and territorial integrity. The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The HagueGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Strathmore University (SLS)NairobiKenya

Section editors and affiliations

  • Nick C. Sagos
    • 1
  1. 1.Humanities / Liberal ArtsSeneca CollegeTorontoCanada