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The right of conquest is a
right Rights are legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is desc ...

right
of ownership to land after immediate possession via
force In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion (physics), motion of an Physical object, object. A force can cause an object with mass to change its velocity (e.g. moving from a Newton's first law, state of rest), i.e., to acce ...
of arms. It was recognized as a principle of
international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of anal ...
that gradually deteriorated in significance until its proscription in the aftermath of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
following the concept of
crimes against peace A crime against peace, in international law, is "planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of War of aggression, wars of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan o ...
introduced in the Nuremberg Principles. The interdiction of territorial conquests was confirmed and broadened by the
UN Charter The Charter of the United Nations (also known as the UN Charter) is the foundational treaty of the United Nations, an intergovernmental organization. It establishes the purposes, governing structure, and overall framework of the United Nations S ...
, which provides in article 2, paragraph 4, that "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the
territorial integrity Territorial integrity is the principle under international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes ...
or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
." Although civil wars continued, wars between established states have been rare since 1945. Nations that have resorted to the use of force since the Charter came into effect have typically invoked self-defense or the right of
collective defense Collective security can be understood as a security treaty, arrangement, political, regional, or global, in which each state in the system accepts that the security of one is the concern of all, and therefore commits to a collective response to ...
.


History and arguments

Proponents state that the right of conquest acknowledges the
status quo is a Latin phrase meaning the existing state of affairs (sociology), state of affairs, particularly with regard to social, political, religious or military issues. In the Sociology, sociological sense, the ''status quo'' refers to the current st ...
, and that denial of the right is meaningless unless one is able and willing to use military force to deny it. Further, the right was traditionally accepted because the conquering force, being by definition stronger than any lawfully entitled governance which it may have replaced, was, therefore, more likely to secure peace and stability for the people, and so the right of conquest legitimizes the conqueror towards that end. The completion of colonial conquest of much of the world (see the
Scramble for Africa The Scramble for Africa, also called the Partition of Africa, or the Conquest of Africa, was the invasion, occupation, division, and colonisation of Africa, colonization of most of Africa by seven Western Europe, Western European powers during a ...
), the devastation of
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
and
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, and the alignment of both the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
and the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
with the principle of
self-determination The right of a people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an ...
led to the abandonment of the right of conquest in formal international law. The 1928
Kellogg–Briand Pact The Kellogg–Briand Pact or Pact of Paris – officially the General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy – is a 1928 international agreement on peace in which signatory states promised not to use war to ...
, the post-1945
Nuremberg Nuremberg ( ; german: link=no, Nürnberg ; in the local East Franconian dialect: ''Nämberch'' ) is the second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants ...
and Tokyo Trials, the
UN Charter The Charter of the United Nations (also known as the UN Charter) is the foundational treaty of the United Nations, an intergovernmental organization. It establishes the purposes, governing structure, and overall framework of the United Nations S ...
, and the
UN
UN
role in
decolonization Decolonization (American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States ( ...
saw the progressive dismantling of this principle. Simultaneously, the UN Charter's guarantee of the "
territorial integrity Territorial integrity is the principle under international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes ...
" of member states.


Conquest and military occupation

Until 1945, the disposition of territory acquired under the principle of conquest had to be conducted according to the existing
laws of war The law of war is the component of international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between nation A nation is a com ...
. This meant that there had to be
military occupation Military or belligerent occupation, often simply occupation, is provisional control by a ruling power over a territory A territory is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subd ...
followed by a peace settlement, and there was no reasonable chance of the defeated sovereign regaining the land. While a formal
peace treaty A peace treaty is an agreement Agreement may refer to: Agreements between people and organizations * Gentlemen's agreement, not enforceable by law * Trade agreement, between countries * Consensus, a decision-making process * Contract, enforceab ...
"makes good any defects in title", it was not required. Recognition by the losing party was not a requirement: "the right of acquisition vested by conquest did not depend on the consent of the dispossessed state". However, the alternative was
annexation Annexation (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, ...
(part or in whole) which if protested as unlawful, a peace treaty was the only means to legitimize conquest in a time of war. Essentially, conquest itself was a legal act of extinguishing the legal rights of other states without their consent. Under this new framework, it is notable that conquest and subsequent occupation outside of war were illegal. In the post-World War II era, not all wars involving territorial acquisitions ended in a
peace treaty A peace treaty is an agreement Agreement may refer to: Agreements between people and organizations * Gentlemen's agreement, not enforceable by law * Trade agreement, between countries * Consensus, a decision-making process * Contract, enforceab ...
. For example, the fighting in the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...

Korean War
paused with an
armistice An armistice is a formal agreement Agreement or concord (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates. It is an instance of inflection, and usually involves makin ...

armistice
, without any peace treaty covering it. North Korea is still technically at war with South Korea and the United States as of 2021.


See also


References


Works cited

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Right Of Conquest Law of war legal terminology Property law Political theories
Political terminology Technical terminology of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The ...
International law Sovereignty Property law legal terminology International law legal terminology