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The study of uti possidetis in international law 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.



Working paper


Refugee Studies Centre

Publication Date



RSC Working Paper Series 130

Total pages