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Underground Warfare$
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Daphné Richemond-Barak

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190457242

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190457242.001.0001

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Sovereignty over the Underground

Sovereignty over the Underground

(p.55) 3 Sovereignty over the Underground
Underground Warfare

Daphné Richemond-Barak

Oxford University Press

Tunnel-digging, or tunneling, hardly features in international legal instruments. Unlike land, space, and sea, the underground remains largely unregulated. In trying to decipher international law’s take on the underground, this chapter searches for answers in general international law. Does international law recognize state sovereignty over the underground as it does for air, land, and space, or does sovereignty over the underground fall into an unregulated loophole? A close analysis reveals that states have sovereignty over underground resources located in areas under their control or jurisdiction, provided these rights have not been transferred to private entities. This chapter argues that the same principles governing sovereignty over land, air, and water—sovereignty, development, shared resources, cooperation, and peace and security—should apply to state sovereignty over the underground. The implications for the legality of tunnel-digging under international law are far-reaching.

Keywords:   militarization, air law, space law, aquifers, seabed, tunneling, sovereignty, land, shared responsibility, natural resources

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