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The prohibition of the seizure and use of public property in occupied territory

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Chapter Summary

With respect to the seizure and use of enemy property, the law of belligerent occupation gives primacy to private over public property. In this chapter, the appraisal focuses on the seizure and use of only public property. With respect to immovable state property of civilian character found in occupied territory, Article 55 of the Hague Regulations recognises the occupying power only as administrator and usufructuary of such property, and not as its owner. Article 56(1) of the Hague Regulations fictitiously classifies the property of municipalities, and that of institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences, even when pertaining to the property of enemy state, as private property. With regard to the exploitation of natural resources, the underlying rationale of the usufructuary rules embodied in the Hague Regulations is bolstered by the principle of self-determination of peoples, which is geared towards maintaining natural resources in occupied territories.

Keywords: Hague regulations; natural resources; occupied territory; private property; public property; seizure; state property



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