The Entanglement of Sovereignty and Property in International Law: From German Southwest Africa to the Great Land Grab?

21 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2018

See all articles by Matthias Goldmann

Matthias Goldmann

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law; Goethe University Frankfurt - Research Center SAFE; Goethe University Frankfurt - Cluster of Excellence Normative Orders; Goethe University Frankfurt

Date Written: October 28, 2018

Abstract

This article argues that an intricate entanglement existed between sovereignty and property in German Southwest Africa. Germany’s control over Southwest Africa depended considerably on European settlements, which received logistical, financial, and military support by Germany. The result was a symbiotic relationship between the government and private economic actors, a form of state capitalism under which private settlements contributed to the establishment of territorial control, a prerequisite of sovereign power. Contractual relationships suggesting formally equal relationships, and during and after the genocide, a mix of arguments drawing on tort law and an idea of formal legality, provided crucial justification for the assumption of territorial control. This description contradicts standard accounts of sovereignty, which tend to turn a blind eye on private property. The article discusses the implications of these findings for today’s international law, including for state responsibility for transnational corporations and the so-called Great Land Grab, the acquisition of vast lands in Africa by foreign public and private agents.

Keywords: Sovereignty, Property, Colonialism, German Southwest Africa, Namibia, Land Grab, Transnational Corporations

Suggested Citation

Goldmann, Matthias, The Entanglement of Sovereignty and Property in International Law: From German Southwest Africa to the Great Land Grab? (October 28, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3274198 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3274198

Matthias Goldmann (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law ( email )

Im Neuenheimer Feld 535
69120 Heidelberg, 69120
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.mpil.de/ww/en/pub/organization/scientific_staff/mgoldman.cfm

Goethe University Frankfurt - Research Center SAFE

House of Finance
Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 3
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.safe-frankfurt.de

Goethe University Frankfurt - Cluster of Excellence Normative Orders ( email )

Germany

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 3
HoF H4
Frankfurt, 60629
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.jura.uni-frankfurt.de/62222403/Goldmann

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