Thu, Sep 3

POL 309-800, International Law
SUNY Oswego | Fall 2020
Dr. Craig Warkentin



  • Explain how states can gain title to territory
  • Explain how states can lose title to territory
  • Explain how territorial disputes get resolved
  • terra nullius (39)



P. 50

  1. What type of acts made the Dutch occupation of the Island of Palmas sufficient to demonstrate sovereignty?
  2. What does Arbitrator Huber mean by the critical date?
  3. What is meant by "intertemporal law"?
  4. Why was the U.S. claim not successful?
  5. In the Nicaragua v. Colombia case excerpt above, the ICJ distinguishes between acts that "are a normal continuation of prior acts and are not undertaken for the purpose of improving the legal position of the Party which relies on them." Can you think of recent examples of the latter type of acts? In the 1970s, the government of Argentina sent a pregnant woman to Antarctica to give birth there. It also paid for a number of families to settle there but, because of the very harsh climatic conditions, the community did not last long. Could this be regarded as a "normal continuation of prior acts"? Are there policy considerations underlying the Court's distinction? Note that Antarctica is governed by a special regime, discussed infra.

P. 55

  1. What persuaded the Court that in 1844 the island of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh belonged to the Sultanate of Johor (which ultimately became part of Malaysia?
  2. What persuaded the Court that the island now belongs to Singapore?
  3. If State A has good title to territory at a particular point in time, what is the least it must do to ensure the continuance of that good title into the future? What sort of information would you need to discover to answer this question?
  4. Note the Court's use of the word "prescription" in para. 123. What do you suppose that term means in this context?
  5. In para. 67, the Court states that "international law is satisfied with varying degrees in the display of State authority, depending on the specific circumstances of each case." What does this mean? What "specific circumstances" might be relevant?