Eradicating the exceptional: The role of territory in structuring international legal thought

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper examines the idea of the sui generis in international law and explores how these exceptions structure international legal thought. Exceptions are useful to international law theorising because they create easy manageable narratives which explain situations not fitting traditional paradigms, yet as a category in their own right – specifically how they are structured and how they operate –, they are often undertheorized. The two examples explored in this article are sui generis actors and the concept of extraterritorial jurisdiction. I demonstrate the foundational role played by (state-)territorialized thinking in the creation of oppositional categories: state and non-state and the non-exceptional and exceptional exercise of jurisdiction. The category of exceptions has significantly expanded from the likes of the Holy See and irregular exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction to a broad array of actors, such as international organizations and transnational corporations, playing growing and varied roles in contemporary law-making and governance and the regular exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction by states. Rather than continuing with this overextended category, the article argues it is instead possible, by rethinking international law’s spatial imaginary, to first, better understand the spaces of non-state actors and regularized exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction and second, eradicate the now overstretched legal category of ‘sui generis’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalLeiden Journal of International Law
Early online date14 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Dec 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • sui generis
  • exceptions
  • legal geography
  • international legal theory
  • territory
  • jurisdiction


Dive into the research topics of 'Eradicating the exceptional: The role of territory in structuring international legal thought'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this