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Occupation and Sovereignty - Still a Useful Distinction?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on one traditional concept, namely belligerent occupation, and outlines the stakes for different actors for the blurring of the boundary between that notion and that of its apparent obverse, territorial sovereignty. Despite the important role that the law of occupation plays in the corpus of international humanitarian law, there have not been many cases in the decades since World War II where it would have been applied as a result of a declaration to that effect by a belligerent party. Apart from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the early stages of the occupation of Iraq by the US-led coalition in 2003-2004, there are no cases of formally declared occupation - and even those two are far from school examples. The distinction sovereignty/ occupation translate the all-important distinction between 'peace' and 'war' into the language of territorial authority.

Keywords: belligerent occupation; international humanitarian law; Israeli occupation; peace; sovereignty; war; World War II



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