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A annexation (from latin annectere , ',' bind 'build, as annexation hereinafter) is the forced (and unilateral) final inclusion of a hitherto under foreign territorial jurisdiction standing territory to another geopolitical entity. The annexation goes legally beyond the occupation ( occupation administration ), since on the (former) foreign territory the own territorial sovereignty is effectively exercised and with the acquisition of territorial sovereignty over an occupied area de jure the own national territoryis incorporated. The occupation usually precedes the annexation.

It was not until the 20th century that the annexation was expressly forbidden, although until 1945 non-warlike annexations were not eo ipso regarded as illegal under international law.

Definition under international law

In modern international law, legal scholars differentiate from annexation, which is characterized by the direct threat or implementation of military force (although it is disputed in the literature whether an annexation can only take place through the unilateral declaration of the annexing state) - and thus the illegal appropriation of an area that was previously a foreign one State owned - the international legal cession ( assignment ). In the case of the latter, the state that had sole control of the area has ceded it amicably in a formal contract; with it the new state authority takes the place of the old one. If this area then becomes a new, incorporated state ( member state ) of an existing state association (federation), one speaks of a consented , not unilateral secession .

Annexation in the broader sense

However, such contracts are often created under duress, which is why historians and some international law doctrine, for example, are inclined to apply the term annexation to certain assignments and thus to supplement the actual facts with a loss of territory based on the state's act of will. On May 10, 1871 , France ceded Alsace-Lorraine to Germany in an assignment , but under the pressure of the time, the process is usually referred to as annexation.

This linguistic usage also corresponds to the earlier, traditional definition of international lawyers. This is how the Dictionary of International Law (1960) defines :

"Annexation means the forcible acquisition of territory by one state at the expense of another."

- Dictionary of international law

In contrast to the narrow definition, the aspect of one-sidedness is not considered here. The core here is the violence exercised by the annexing state, which does not lead to the nullity of the state treaty .

Today, the term annexation is mainly used pejoratively in the German-speaking area . As a result, proponents do not speak of annexation, but of union, return, liberation or the like. In the case of long-term occupation, one also speaks of " de facto annexation".

In the 19th and early 20th centuries the terms "incorporation" and " incorporation " were used synonymously with "annexation" for the same international law process, since the free use of force between states was not subject to any international law restrictions and therefore not yet between consensual and violent Variant was distinguished.

Prohibition of annexations under international law

In classical international law, annexation was a legally effective acquisition title - a "legal method of acquiring territory" - and until the beginning of the 20th century allowed the winner of a military conflict to occupy and annex all or part of his opponent's territories. As an essential principle for drawing boundaries, the principle uti possidetis ( Latin as you have ) was of great importance; that is, that the parties to a military conflict are allowed to keep the territory and other possessions that they gained during the war and owned at the time of the peace agreement .

Article 10 of the statutes of the League of Nations forbade members in 1919 to carry out annexations to other members:

"The federal members undertake to respect the integrity of the area and the existing political independence of all federal members and to protect it against any external attack."

- Article 10 sentence 1 of the statutes of the League of Nations

Comparable regulations were laid down in the statutes of the Pan American Union in 1932 in the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine and in 1941 in the Atlantic Charter . Under international law, all of these treaties only bound the contracting parties.

According to Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter of June 26, 1945, “any threat or use of force directed against the territorial integrity […] of a state” is prohibited. From this follows the fundamental international law prohibition of occupation and annexation, hence a general prohibition of annexation.
According to Article 51, the Charter “in no way affects the natural right to individual or collective self-defense in the event of an armed attack against a member of the United Nations . [...] Measures taken by a member in exercising this right of self-defense must be reported to the Security Council immediately [...]. "

Right of self-determination and annexations

Urs Saxer sees the only possibility to legalize an illegal annexation following territorial rule in an approving referendum of the affected population. The principle volenti non fit iniuria comes into play here. In the relevant specialist literature, other paths are mentioned that are not based on self-determination but on a consensus of the sovereigns , such as the conclusion of an assignment contract , the voluntary waiver of the holder of territorial sovereignty or the prescription of an initially illegal acquisition of territory with effect ex nunc .

A secession desired by the population and the subsequent accession to another state fall back on the peoples' right to self-determination . Annexations against the will of the population conflict with this right. For example, Wolfgang Benedek comes to the conclusion that, because of the ban on force in the CSCE Final Act, Serbia is forbidden from annexing the Serbian-majority Republika Srpska , even if the population of this state wishes to do so in a referendum , similar to Croatia the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina should not be allowed to annex without the consent of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state.

Domestic regulation

The annexation requires legal implementation. Under international law, the three-element doctrine actually applies . In practice, recognition by the powers involved is helpful to secure rule. The annexation of the office of Reifenberg by Nassau took place on the basis of the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss .

Internally, the annexation is implemented through domestic laws . For example, the territories ceded by France were integrated as a direct imperial area on June 28, 1871 with the entry into force of the Imperial Law of June 9, 1871 on the unification of Alsace and Lorraine with the German Empire . This realm of Alsace-Lorraine was therefore neither a federal state of the German Empire nor part of a specific constitutional order . It was subordinated to the Federal Council , in which it was also represented from 1911.

In the past, people spoke of an occupation patent (an example is the Nassau occupancy patent for the office of Reifenberg).

Historical examples up to the area changes in the wake of the Second World War (full and partial annexions)

Current examples

Annexations after the decline of European colonial rule, formation of independent nation states

Transition from colonial areas of European states to other states as a result of their decolonization :

Annexations and Arab nationalism

Annexations and Chinese nationalism

Annexations in the Middle East conflict

Web links

Wiktionary: Annexation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. See the narrower and broader definition.
  2. Georg Dahm , Jost Delbrück , Rüdiger Wolfrum : Völkerrecht. Volume I / 1, 2nd edition, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1989, ISBN 3-11-005809-X , p. 355 ff .; Knut Ipsen , Völkerrecht - Ein Studienbuch , 4th edition, Munich 1999, p. 260, marginal number 36.
  3. So Oliver Dörr, The incorporation as a fact of state succession , Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-428-08552-3 , p. 67 .
  4. See Oliver Dörr, The incorporation as a fact of state succession , 1995, p. 53 with further references
  5. ^ Klaus Schubert / Martina Klein: Das Politiklexikon. 4th, updated Ed., Dietz, Bonn 2006.
  6. Dahm / Delbrück / Wolfrum, Völkerrecht , Volume I / 1, 2nd edition 1989, p. 162.
  7. Hans-Jürgen Schlochauer / Herbert Krüger / Hermann Mosler / Ulrich Scheuner : Dictionary des Völkerrechts , Vol. 1, 2nd edition, Berlin 1960, ISBN 978-3-11-001030-5 , keyword “Annexation”, p. 68 ff . (citing S. 68).
  8. Cf. Wolfgang Benz , Typology of Rule Forms in the Areas Under German Influence , in: ders. U. A. (Ed.), The Bureaucracy of the Occupation. Structures of rule and administration in occupied Europe. Berlin 1998, pp. 11-25, here p. 15.
  9. Oliver Dörr: The incorporation as a fact of state succession , 1995, p. 51 f.
  10. Heiko Krüger: The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. A legal analysis , Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg 2009, p. 49, note 292 with additional references
  11. See generally Rudolf L. Bindschedler, Annexation , in: Strupp / Schlochauer (Ed.): Dictionary des Völkerrechts , Vol. 1, 2nd ed. 1960, pp. 68 f .; for "martial annexation" esp. Achim Tobler , conquest , Dictionary I , pp 438/439.
  12. See Hermann Mosler, End of War , in: Dictionary des Völkerrechts , Vol. 2, 2nd edition, Berlin 1961, p. 333 ff.
  13. League of Nations statutes of June 28, 1919
  14. Section 30 of the 1924 Pan-American Union International Laws
  15. The so-called Stimson Doctrine of January 7, 1932 on the invasion of Japan into Chinese Manchuria (see Manchukuo ), according to which, in particular, the forcible acquisition of national territory is not recognized, is today a principle of the mandatory rules of international law, according to Karl Doehring , International Law , 2nd edition 2004, marginal number 112 . It asserted itself in state practice from 1932 onwards (Heiko Krüger: Der Nagorno-Karabach conflict , Heidelberg 2009, p. 99, note 17 with further references).
  16. Oliver Dörr, The incorporation as a fact of state succession , 1995, p. 67 .
  17. Urs Saxer: The international control of self-determination and the emergence of the state. Self-determination, conflict management, recognition and state succession in recent international law practice , Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg 2010, ISBN 978-3-642-10270-7 , p. 402 .
  18. See Oliver Dörr, Die Inkorporation als TatStock der Staatensukzession , 1995, p. 110 f.
  19. Wolfgang Benedek, article “Self-determination” in: Adolf Reifferscheid et al .: Supplementary Lexicon of Law , 4/910, 2001, p. 1 ff.
  20. Daniel-Erasmus Khan : The German State Borders , Mohr Siebeck, 2004, Part II, Chap. II section d, p. 66 ff.
  21. Gottlieb Schnapper-Arndt: Five village communities on the Hohe Taunus: a social statistical study of small-scale farming, domestic industry and folk life , Leipzig 1883 , p. IV ff.
  22. However, this was not legally correct at the time of incorporation, cf. in this context in particular Raschhofer / Kimminich, Die Sudetenfrage , p. 275: “According to its international legal nature, the transition of territorial sovereignty [with regard to the Sudetenland, note] from of Czechoslovakia on Germany in September 1938 not annexation, but an adjudication by decisions of great powers based on the declaration of readiness for cession of Czechoslovakia on September 21, 1938 [...]. "
  23. Johannes Frackowiak (ed.): Nationalist politics and resentment. Germans and Poles from 1871 to the present (= reports and studies no. 64), V&R Unipress, Göttingen 2013, section The German People's List as an Instrument of the National Socialist Germanization Policy in the annexed areas of Poland 1939–1945 .
  24. Matthias von Hellfeld: The Genesis of Europe III , Section 6. The “Cold War” - Post-War Order.
  25. ^ Public administration . Zeitschrift für Verwaltungsrecht und Verwaltungspolitik , Volume 24 (1975), p. 369 .
  26. ^ Berhard Kempen : The German-Polish border after the peace settlement of the two-plus-four treaty , Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1997, ISBN 3-631-31975-4 , p. 261 .
  27. Manfred Overesch : The founding of the Federal Republic of Germany: Years of Decision 1945–1949 , Lower Saxony State Center for Political Education , 1989, p. 22 .
  28. Bulletin of the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government, Deutscher Bundes-Verlag, 1960, p. 2008 .
  29. Klaus Rehbein: The West German Oder / Neisse debate. Background, trial and the end of the Bonn taboo. Lit Verlag, Berlin 2006 (= Politics and History 6; also Diss. Univ. Hannover, 2005), ISBN 3-8258-9340-5 , p. 93 .
  30. Wolfgang Gieler (Ed.): Handbook of foreigners and immigration policy. From Afghanistan to Cyprus (= politics: research and science; Vol. 6), Lit Verlag, Münster 2003, p. 220 .
  31. ^ Margret Johannsen : The Middle East Conflict , 2nd, updated edition, VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2009, p. 136.