Friendly and Hostile Deals in the Market for Sovereign Control: A Response to Professors Blocher and Gulati
13 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2017 Last revised: 8 Feb 2017
Date Written: January 6, 2017
In their wide-ranging and thought-provoking article, A Market for Sovereign Control, Joseph Blocher and Mitu Gulati argue that territorial sovereignty is a commodity that can and should be subject to market forces. In this Response, I first identify the two different types of deals — friendly and hostile — that can occur within a market for sovereign control. I then discuss some of the obstacles that may impede the successful conclusion of each type of deal.
In friendly deals, all of the affected parties consent to the transfer of territory from one sovereign to another. The most significant barriers to friendly deals are not legal. They are political. In the modern era, there are few (if any) incentives for national political leaders on the seller side to participate in such a market. Until these incentives change, I argue, it is unlikely that a robust market for sovereign control will develop with respect to friendly deals.
In hostile deals, one sovereign refuses to consent to the annexation of one of its regions by another sovereign. In these situations, Blocher and Gulati argue that the rules of international law should be rewritten to permit the annexation over the objections of the objecting country provided certain conditions are met. I argue that the nations of the world are unlikely to consent to the rewriting of these rules. I argue further that there is no obvious means — short of the use of force — by which these new rules could be enforced against nations that refuse to obey them. Until these rule-making and rule-enforcing obstacles are overcome, I argue, it is also unlikely that a robust market for sovereign control will develop with respect to hostile deals.
Keywords: Market for Sovereign Control; Friendly Deals; Hostile Deals; International Law; Remedial Secession; Crimea; Louisiana Purchase
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