Territory and Justice: a research network

You have reached the home page of the Territory and Justice Network, a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) and the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences. The network is led by Professor Christopher Bertram (University of Bristol) and Dr Cara Nine (University College, Cork) as principal investigators, with the collaboration of Professor Leif Wenar (King's College, London) and Dr Graham Finlay (University College, Dublin).

Territory is at the center of the most important contemporary issues - war, poverty, climate change, immigration, human rights, secession, and border disputes. Territory determines citizenship, opportunities, rights, obligations, political power, and resource privilege. And yet there are very few philosophical investigations of territorial rights. The omission of theories of territory from current philosophical, political, and legal theoretical discourse is unfortuante, especially given the topic's immense importance to local and global events. We propose to develop a bi-lateral network of Irish and UK researchers on the topic, "Theories of Territory: Resource Rights, Global Justice, and Self-Determination". Our objective is to establish Ireland and the UK as the global centre of excellence in research on this substantial and timely topic. Through initial networking opportunities for philosophers, including political, legal and social theorists, we aim to establish an innovative, state-of-the-art research program on theories of territory.

Themes on Territory, Justice, and Rivers: a collection

  1. Foreword by Cara Nine
  2. Papers delivered by participants at the ‘Themes on Territory, Justice, and Rivers’ Workshop (4-5 June 2015, UCC)

  3. Collection of Cara Nine’s work

  4. Annotated Bibliography, Timothy Mawe

Territorial Rights and Rivers: A Philosophical Exploration

logo 'Territorial Rights and Rivers: A Philosophical Exploration' is an Irish Research Council funded research project which is aiming to lay the groundwork for constructive research on a new area of inquiry - territorial rights and rivers. There is an urgent need to articulate just ways of sharing natural resources, especially in the context of resource conflict and pressing human need. Our most important natural resource, fresh water, is often the object of international conflict because of misuse and confusion. In spite of their importance, philosophical investigations of territorial rights over rivers are thin. It is assumed that rights over rivers derive from rights over geostationary lands, despite the fact that river resources are not geostationary. No theory asks if it is justified for a state to claim territorial rights over a trans-boundary river, if states should jointly share rights over trans-boundary rivers, or if rivers, as a unique object, might require a distinct understanding of territorial rights.

This research project aims to remedy such shortcomings. Led by Dr Cara Nine and guided by a steering committee of international experts, the research project proposes to study the philosophical foundations of territorial rights over river resources, the proper distribution of these rights, and the challenge of balancing multiple claims to the same resource.

Logo Design by Melissa Allen

Territory and Justice Symposia 4: Sovereignty and Resources

A territorial right is typically understood as a tripartite bundle of rights. It includes claims to territorial jurisdiction, resource rights, and the right to control borders and to regulate the movement of people and goods across the territory. This symposium considers two papers which make considerable contributions to our understanding of resource rights and their application in international law.

In international law resource rights are closely correlated with territorial jurisdiction. A number of instruments of international law support the view that natural resources are at the 'disposal' of the nation-states 'in' or 'under' which they exist.

Endorsing the doctrine of 'permanent sovereignty' over natural resources, Wenar notes that the natural resources of a country belong to the people of that country. His paper asks then why 'tyrants and insurgents are allowed to sell off a country's resources while crushing popular resistance, and to use the proceeds in ways that make the people worse off' (p.9).

Chris Armstrong questions the basis of permanent sovereignty over resources. Armstrong writes that 'despite its huge significance in world politics, permanent sovereignty is not often explicitly justified in either international law or political philosophy' (p.2). He examines the most prominent arguments in favour of permanent sovereignty and finds that they are insufficient to justify permanent sovereignty.

Commenting on Wenar's arguments, Shmuel Nili's paper highlights the minimalist approach adopted by Wenar in relation to the property rights that tainted trade violates. He also questions Wenar's exclusive focus on the very worst dictatorships violating property rights. En lieu of Wenar's 'practical sense,' Nili proposes that other less awful regimes be subjected to the same scrutiny as the worst of the worst.

In her commentary, Alexa Zellentin considers the implications of Armstrong's refutation of the principle of permanent sovereignty over resources for Wenar's argument. Although mindful of Armstrong's 'powerful critique,' Zellentin doubts that the idea that national communities are especially entitled to benefit from the resources found in their territory can easily be given up.

The Symposium on Sovereignty and Resources exemplifies once more the commitment of the Territory and Justice Network to encourage discussion of break-through research on topics related to territorial rights. Its production has been made possible by the assistance of Leif Wenar and Chris Armstrong and by the enthusiasm and expertise of Shmuel Nili and Alexa Zellentin.

Timothy Mawe Editor.

(Click on name to access the article)

Leif Wenar(King's College London) "Property Rights and the Resource Curse"

Chris Armstrong (University of Southampton) "Against 'permanent sovereignty' over resources"
With Commentaries by

Shmuel Nili (Yale University)
Alexa Zellentin (University College, Dublin)

Please note: in downloading any of the articles linked above you affirm that they are for your own personal use. For any other purpose, you must obtain permission from the publisher (in the case of target articles) or the author (in the case of JTS commentaries and replies).
How to cite these commentaries:
Author Last Name, Author First Name, "Title of Commentary", Territory and Justice Symposia (Edition), Cara Nine (ed.), URL .

Territory and Justice Symposia 3: Kantian Theories of Territorial Rights

Theories of territorial rights provide a basis for the claims that groups make to control territory. They attempt to determine why territorial rights are to be allocated and understood in one way rather than another. In their recent work, Anna Stliz and Lea Ypi have advanced Kantian theories of territorial rights.

In "Nations, States, and Territory", Stilz develops the legitimate state theory as an alternative to nationalist based claims. Introducing the legitimate state theory, Stilz argues that 'the reason why states are the proper possessors of territorial jurisdiction, in my view, is that they are necessary to provide a unitary and public interpretation of the rights of individuals and to enforce these rights in a way that is consistent with those individuals' continued freedom and independence from one another' (p.580).

Ypi proposes a permissive theory of territorial rights, arguing 'that the citizens of each state are entitled to the particular territory they collectively occupy if an only if they are also politically committed to the establishment of a global political authority realising just reciprocal relations' (p.1).

As a locus for discussion and debate, the Territory and Justice network presents this symposium with the aims of advancing engagement with this recent and thought-provoking research and of preparing the ground for future enquiry.
In their commentaries, Alice Pinheiro Walla and Clara Sandelind examine the leading themes and ideas presented by Stilz and Ypi, and identify areas where further analysis is required.

Pinheiro Walla suggests that both Stilz's legitimate state theory and Ypi's permissive theory fail to adequately account for limitations on territorial rights. She argues that 'Ypi's permissive theory allows too much arbitrariness in regard to provisional acquisition [and] Stilz's account lacks a more unified approach to occupancy rights' (p.6).

Sandelind explores the problems that particularity poses for the two theories. She contends that these Kantian theories of territorial rights struggle to tell us 'how boundaries ought to be drawn, or why particular states have rights over particular territories' (p.3). Her analysis plants the seeds for her own alternative theory of territorial rights which she may develop further elsewhere.

I wish to acknowledge the generous support of Anna Stilz and Lea Ypi. I also put on record my appreciation for the endeavour and expertise offered by Alice Pinheiro Walla and Clara Sandelind.

Timothy Mawe (Managing Editor).

(Click on name to access the article)
Anna Stilz (Princeton University) "Nations, States, and Territory"
Lea Ypi (London School of Economics and Political Science) "A Permissive Theory of Territorial Rights"
With Commentaries by

Alice Pinheiro Walla (University College Cork)
Clara Sandelind (University of Sheffield)

Please note: in downloading any of the articles linked above you affirm that they are for your own personal use. For any other purpose, you must obtain permission from the publisher (in the case of target articles) or the author (in the case of JTS commentaries and replies).
How to cite these commentaries:
Author Last Name, Author First Name, "Title of Commentary", Territory and Justice Symposia (Edition), Cara Nine (ed.), URL .

Territory and Justice Symposia: 2

July 2012 Edition on Miller's 'Territorial Rights'

(Click on name to access the article)
David Miller (University of Oxford) "Territorial Rights: Concept and Justification"
With commentaries by
(Click on name to download commentaries and replies)
Kim Angell (University of Oslo)
Colleen Murphy (University of Illinois and Urbana-Champaign)

Pdf files of the individual commentaries and replies can be downloaded by following the links to the names above.
Please note: in downloading any of the articles linked above you affirm that they are for your own personal use. For any other purpose, you must obtain permission from the publisher (in the case of target articles) or the author (in the case of JTS commentaries and replies).

How to cite these commentaries:
Author Last Name, Author First Name, "Title of Commentary", Territory and Justice Symposia (Edition), Cara Nine (ed.), URL .

Territory and Justice Symposia: 1

These symposia highlight important contemporary additions on the topics of territorial rights, resource rights, self-determination, immigration and justice. Through the circulation of pre-publication articles and commentaries on these articles, we hope to provide a forum for new and established voices, bringing innovative ideas to bear on these issues.

January 2012 Edition on Resource Rights

(Click on name to access the article)
Avery Kolers (University of Louisville) "Justice, Territory, and Natural Resources"
Margaret Moore (Queen's University, Ontario) "Natural Resources, Territorial Right, and Global Distributive Justice"

With commentaries by
(Click on name to download commentaries and replies)
Chris Armstrong (University of Southampton)
John Simmons (University of Virginia)

Pdf files of the individual commentaries and replies can be downloaded by following the links to the names above.

Please note: in downloading any of the articles linked above you affirm that they are for your own personal use. For any other purpose, you must obtain permission from the publisher (in the case of target articles) or the author (in the case of JTS commentaries and replies).

How to cite these commentaries:

Author Last Name, Author First Name, "Title of Commentary", Territory and Justice Symposia (Edition), Cara Nine (ed.), URL .

Territory and Justice Conference - Dublin 2010

A selection of papers for the conference can be downloaded from our pre-publication repository


Venue: Newman House, St. Stephen's Green

MONDAY July 12

9.00-10.45 Attachment to Land: Property, Territory and Secession

10.45-11.00 break

11.00-12.45 Territorial Rights and a Global Order

12.45-2.00 Lunch

2-3.45 Nationalism, Self-Determination and Territorial Rights

3.45-5.30 Resource Rights and Global Justice

5.30 Wine Reception

7.00 Dinner

TUESDAY July 13

9.00-10.45 Sovereignty and Resource Rights

10.45-11.00 break

11.00-12.45 Territory and Citizenship

12.45-2.00 Lunch

2-3.45 Immigration and Justice

3.45-5.30 Immigration, Emigration, and the Space Between

Workshop of Justice, Territory and Migration: Novi Vinodolski City Hall, Croatia (October 2009)

A selection of papers for the conference can be downloaded from our pre-publication repository


Thursday, October 8

7.30 pm Dinner and Presentation

Friday, October 9

10-11 Nenad Miscevic (CEU) "Territory, Proximity, and Culture"
11.-11.20 break
11.20-12.20 Cara Nine (Cork) "Resource Rights and Global Distributive Justice"
12.20-2.00 lunch

2-3 Leif Wenar (King's College London) "Popular Sovereignty and Territorial Rights"
3-4 Daniel Kofman (Ottawa) "Territorial Justice"
4-4.30 break
4.30-5.30 Frank Dietrich (Bielefeld) "Plebiscites and the justification of territorial claims"

Saturday, October 10

10-11 Chris Bertram (Bristol) "A Natural Right to Migration"
11-11.20 break
11.20-12.20 Sune Laegaard (Copenhagen) "Types of Theories of Territory and the Right to Exclude Immigrants"
12.20-2.00 lunch
2-3 Eszter Kollar (Louvain) "Justice in International Health-Worker Migration"
3-3.30 break
3.30-5.00 Arash Abizadeh (McGill) "Border Coercion and Democratic Legitimacy: Freedom of Association, Territorial Dominion, and Self-Defence"

Workshop on Territory and Justice: London (February 2009)

A selection of papers for the conference can be downloaded from our pre-publication repository


Saturday, Feb 21
10.45 Welcome and Coffee

11.00-1.00 Panel On Theories of territory and group rights:
David Miller (Oxford)
Adina Preda (UCDublin)
Anna Stilz (Princeton)
Bas van der Vossen (Arizona)

1.00-2.00 Lunch

2.00-4.00 Panel On Resource Rights:
Cara Nine (UCCork)
Paul Segal (Oxford)
Leif Wenar (Kings College London)

4.00-4.30 Coffee

4.30-6.30 Keynote Speaker: Jeremy Waldron (NYU Law)
Respondent: Nenad Miscevic (Central European University)
Respondent: Tamar Meisels (Tel Aviv)

6.30 Wine Reception

Sunday, Feb. 22

9.00-11.00 Panel On Justice and Territory:
Frank Dietrich (University of Bielefeld)
Bart Edgerton (Tufts)
Loren King (Wilfrid Laurier University)
Margaret Moore (Queen's, CA)

11.00-1.00 Panel On Immigration:
Sune Laegaard (Copenhagen)
Gianfranco Pellegrino (Luiss Guido Carli University of Rome)
Jonathan Seglow (U London)