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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law [MPEPIL]

Uti possidetis Doctrine

Giuseppe Nesi

Subject(s):
Self-determination — Foreign relations law — Sovereignty — Settlement of disputes — Boundaries — Territory, acquisition and transfer

Published under the auspices of the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law under the direction of Rüdiger Wolfrum.

1 The expression uti possidetis originates in Roman law, where it indicated an interdict by the praetor aimed at prohibiting any interference with the possession of immovable property acquired nec vi, nec clam, nec praecario (not by force, nor stealth, nor license). The purpose of uti possidetis was to temporarily assign a favourable position in the ownership action to the individual who possessed that property. 2 In the context of the international law of war, uti possidetis initially (in the 17 th century) described the situation on the ground after an armed...
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