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Modes of losing territory

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HomeBrud.gifInternational LawBrud.gifModes of losing territory

There are several modes / ways of losing state territories. This is a topic under International Law.


  • Process in which a state loses a part of its territory which is not acquired by another state
  • Losing part, after severance, will gain a new and a separate international personality
  • Peaceful secession: Lativia, Lithuania, Estonia etc. became independent from USSR
  • Secession by revolt: Bangladesh separated from Pakistan in 1971


Subjugation is the process in which one group of people dominates another group by taking away their freedom. Some times, it involves defeating the other by using force.

Operation of Nature


Acquisition of sovereignty over a territory through continuous and undisputed exercise of sovereignty over it during such a period as is necessary to create under the influence of historical development the general conviction that the present condition of things is in conformity with international order. State of Arkansas v. State of Tennessee, Ark. & Tenn., 60 S.Ct. 1026, 1030, 310 U.S. 563, 84 L.Ed. 1362


The taking possession of a newly discovered or conquered country with the intention of holding and ruling it.

Dereliction / Abandonment / Relinquishment

  • An owner relinquishes / frees a territory and releases the sovereign rights over it.
  • Two essential events
    • First: Abandonment of a territory
    • Second: Intention of giving up sovereignty over it
  • Examples: Islands of Santa Lucia, Delagoa Bay


Granting of independence

  • This is generally done to a colony by the imperialist / metropolitan state
  • A state loses territory without acquisition by another state
  • Colonies generally acquire new and separate international personality after severance




Plebiscite is the vote of the entire people, (that is, the aggregate of the enfranchised individuals composing a state or nation,) expressing their choice to join or merge with another territory.


Vanishment / Disappearance

  • Natural calamities such as earthquakes and volcanoes might result in the loss of territories, particularly those of islands.
  • A 25 km radius island called Ghormara Island near West Bengal, India was lost due to soil erosion


  • Colonies like India, USA became independent from Great Britain by way of an agreement

See Also