Title to Territory and Jurisdiction in International Human Rights Law: Three Models for a Fraught Relationship

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Abstract

It is by now uncontroversial that states may owe human rights obligations to individuals outside their territory. The debate about extraterritoriality has, so far, focused on the concept and interpretation of jurisdiction. The role of territory in general, and title in particular, in the conceptual landscape has received less attention in comparison. This article aims to fill this gap by showing that (a) title to territory continues to shape interpretations of jurisdiction, and (b) that this should be avoided. To this end, the article first defines jurisdiction in international human rights law and title to territory. Jurisdiction is best understood as a threshold criterion that triggers human rights obligations of states towards particular individuals. Title to territory, on the other hand, is a set of claims to territory designed to uphold minimal stability. The article then introduces three models – the approximation model, the differentiation model, and the separation model – of the relationship between title to territory and jurisdiction in international human rights law and evaluates them in light of their fit with the relational nature of human rights. The result is that the approximation and differentiation models – that is, those that maintain title's influence on the interpretation of jurisdiction in various degrees – fail the success criterion, while the separation model satisfies it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-334
Number of pages20
JournalLeiden Journal of International Law
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Al-Skeini v. UK
  • Catan v. UK
  • EXTRATERRITORIALITY
  • European Convention on Human Rights
  • OBLIGATIONS
  • STATES
  • TREATIES
  • extraterritoriality
  • human rights

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