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Uti possidetis juris is a principle of international law that states that newly formed sovereign states should have the same borders that they had before their independence.



Uti possidetis juris began as a Roman law governing the rightful possession of property. During the medieval period it evolved into a law governing international relations.


Uti possidetis juris has been applied to in modern history such regions as South America, Africa, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and numerous other regions of where centralized governments were broken up, or where imperial rulers were overthrown. It is often applied to prevent foreign intervention by eliminating any contested terra nullius, or no man's land, that foreign powers could claim.


The application of uti possidetis juris has had mixed success as it often ignores ethnic and political differences in and between regions. This has led to conflicts, and war crimes like those committed in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and elsewhere.

See also



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