Economic Analysis of International Law
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Economic Analysis of International Law

Edited by Eugene Kontorovich and Francesco Parisi

Through original and incisive contributions from leading scholars, this book applies economics and other rational choice methods to understanding public international law. The chapters cover a range of topics, from the sources of international law to means of enforcement. The application of economic analysis to public international law is still in its early stages, and Economic Analysis of International Law provides a useful overview, as well as setting directions for new research.
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Chapter 3: Economic analysis of territorial sovereignty

Abraham Bell


International law remains one of the few areas of law where economic analysis has made few inroads. The potential of economics to contribute to analysis of international law is particularly noticeable regarding doctrines of territorial sovereignty. The laws of territorial sovereignty are among the earliest to have been developed in modern international law, and are among the most important. Given the centrality of sovereignty to post-Westphalian international law, the territorial scope of sovereignty is naturally of overriding importance. At the same time, territorial sovereignty is often contested, and the rules of territorial sovereignty are constantly changing. All this would seem to indicate the potential attractiveness of normative economic analyses of the laws of territorial sovereignty. Unfortunately, there is precious little scholarship on territorial sovereignty law that utilizes the insights of economic analysis. In part, this gap can be filled by examining related fields of law. Economic analysis of property would appear to be a natural source of inspiration for the economic analysis of territorial sovereignty law. The doctrines of territorial sovereignty bear a strong resemblance to the laws of property in municipal law. Territorial sovereignty, like property, contains rules of acquisition, transfer and abandonment. It uses chains of title to evaluate claims, and adopts standard property maxims such as nemo dat quod non habet (one cannot transfer what one does not have).Unfortunately, economic analysis of property law can only partially fill the gaps in analysis of territorial sovereignty.

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