The Essentials of International Public Law and Organization

By Amos S. Hershey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
A STATE'S TERRITORY, BOUNDARIES, AND STATE SERVITUDES

159. The Nature of Territorial Sovereignty. -- A State's territory is that definite portion of the earth's surface which is subject to its sovereignty or imperium. According to the old maxim, Quidquid est in territorio, est etiam de territorio.1 This territorial supremacy should be distinguished from the non-territorial or property rights which a State enjoys over its public and private domain.2 Nor should it be confused with the right of eminent domain by virtue of which a State may expropriate private property for public purposes, though it should be noted that this right of eminent domain3 is essentially an exercise of territorial sovereignty, and may be exercised for international as well as national purposes. It cannot, however, be said that an international right of eminent domain has as yet been developed.

The jurisdiction of a State extends, with certain exceptions to be noted hereafter,4 over all persons and things found on its territory, and may also be employed for international as well as national purposes. Territorial sovereignty is of the nature of imperium rather than dominium,5 i.e. it is an imperial rather than a property right. With certain exceptions,6 this imperium or territorial supremacy is exclusive in character, and cannot be exercised by more than one sovereign State over a given territory.

____________________
1
Or in respect to persons, qui in territorio meo est, etiam meus subditus est.
2
See supra, Nos. 129-30.
3
On the right of Eminent Domain, see especially: Beach, Public Corporations in the United States ( 1893), §§ 653-688; Cooley, Constitutional Limitations ( 7th ed., 1903), 752; 20 Corpus Juris, 501-1237; * Elliot, Municipal Corporations ( 1910, 2d ed.), ch. 10, §§ 83-98; Lewis, The Law of Eminent Domain ( 3d ed., 1909).
4
See infra, Nos. 209, 211, 270 ff., 289-91.
5
The saying of the great French jurist Portalis is frequently cited in this connection: "Property belongs to the citizen, empire to the sovereign."

Some publicists still speak of territorial sovereignty as a property right. This is doubtless a mediæval survival of the terminology introduced into public law by the feudal confusion of rights based upon the exercise of sovereignty and those derived from the ownership of land.

6
See 1 Oppenheim, § 171, for these exceptions.

-268-

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