Vanshaj Ravi Jain (MSc 2018-2019) has written a new RSC Working Paper on the doctrine of uti possidetis, a rule of customary international law that is applied to delimit the borders of newly formed states.
The study of uti possidetis in international law thus far has proceeded without any detailed examination of its application to South Asian borders. Yet, the consequences of uti possidetis in the Indian subcontinent offer critical insight into the legal and functional critique levied against the doctrine. The South Asian experience provides evidence that uti possidetis cannot be considered a norm of regional customary international law, confined to Latin America and Africa. Simultaneously, it provides compelling proof of this doctrine’s ruinous impact on self-determination, pointing to its potential for identity-alteration and intra-state violence: consequences that have received scarce attention in legal scholarship. By undertaking a detailed study of the Radcliffe Line in Punjab, this paper makes a prudent attempt to commence filling this gap in the literature by re-centring South Asia in the debate on uti possidetis.
Read the working paper here: Frozen frontier: uti possidetis and the decolonization of South Asia (pdf 925 KB)