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Academic Programme

Title: “International law without territory? – Governing spaces, resources and people beyond the confines of state territory”

In the traditional system of international law, the concept of territory serves as a fundamental principle for the determination of legitimate state authority. Yet this traditional system also struggles to come to terms with numerous problems that transcend the boundaries of individual states. Such problems that are “global” or “trans-boundary” by nature include the regulation of the Internet, the establishment of legal frameworks for marine areas, and the handling of challenges like anthropogenic climate change.  

In the 2019 course, the MACIL classes are going to question the importance of “territory” in the current framework of the international legal order. Seminars will look into the regulation of “spaces” (e.g. governance of the high seas), the regulation of “resources” and their use (e.g. the regulation of foreign investments), and the governance of “people” (e.g. in the context of refugee movements). The ongoing significance of the concept of territory will be discussed not only from a theoretical perspective, but also with a view to its practical implications in different areas of international law. Classes will also explore areas in which the territorial focus of international law is increasingly replaced by alternative (e.g. “transnational”) modes of governance. 


  • Regulating the cyberspace as a “ubiquitous” and non-territorial space? 
  • Refugees at sea: At the interface of the law of the sea, refugee law and international human rights law  
  • Governing extra-terrestrial areas: The resurgent interest in resources located on celestial bodies  
  • Addressing collective problems of mankind: Climate change as a challenge to international law
  • Investment law as a transnational legal regime?
  • Governing migration in an era of large-scale refugee movements 
  • Exclusive, dual and multiple citizenship(s): The diminished importance of citizenship as a fundamental determinant of state authority
  • The concept of “jurisdiction” as the governing principle for the legitimate exercise of public authority