In this book, I analyzed relevant problems of international law and diplomacy concerning the possession and control of some islands in the world.
Chapter I considers the dispute of the Abu Musa Island between UAE and Iran. The interpretation and application of the Memorandum of Understanding between Iran and Sharjah in November 1971 is very important when we consider this dispute from the point of international law. The Abu Musa Island is situated in the Persian Gulf (Arabian Gulf) and near the Strait of Hormuz, which is the most important water area in the world. This geopolitical factor shows that the influence of this dispute is beyond the bilateral relations between UAE and Iran.
Chapter II deals with purchase and sale of islands. Purchase is one of the modes of territorial title but the cases are rare. In 1916, USA purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark. In late 1930s, Chile, in order to overcome the economic crisis, proposed to sell the Easter Island (Isla de Pasqua, Rapa Nui) to USA, UK, Japan and Germany.
In Chapter III, the crisis of the Perejil Island (Isla de Perejil, Parsley Island, Laila) in July 2002 between Spain and Morocco is analyzed. The Perejil Island is situated very near Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in Morocco. On 11 July 2002 Morocco suddenly occupied the Island. Spain, on 17 July, Spain recaptured the Island and Morocco withdrew.Collin Powell, US Secretary of State, acted as the mediator and Spain also withdrew from the Island.
Chapters IV and V are related to the South China Arbitration (Philippines v. China) and the continuing construction of artificial islands by China in the South China Sea even after the arbitral award in 2016. Ex injuria non oritur jus,a basic principle of international law, should be confirmed. On Chapter IV, the English version is included in Japan Review, Vol.1, No.2 and available at
Chapters VI and VII deal with condominium. As examples of Condominium islands, we can cite not only New Hebrides (UK and France, 1906-1980) and Conton and Enderbury Islands (UK and US, 1939-1979), but also L’ile de la Conference (L’ile des Faisant, Phesant Island, Isla de los Faisanes, Konpantzia) between France and Spain. Situated at the Bisssoa River, L’ile de la Conference was a retreat for royal families of France and Spain and is famous for the signing place for the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. In 1856, L’ile de la Conference became condominium. Starting from 1902, it has become alternate condominium. Namely, France acts as sovereign from 12 August to 11 February while Spain exercises sovereignty from 12 February to 11 August every year. It is the only alternate condominium in the world. In order for a condominium to be successful, there must be a political, economic and cultural similarity between the two States which constitute the condominium.
On VIII, see Kokka niyoru Ippouteki Ishihyomei to Kokusaihou (Unilateral Expressions of Intentions by States and International Law) featured on this UTokyo BiblioPlaza. Relevant English articles of mine are available at https://www.cas.go.jp/jp/ryodo_eg/kenkyu/senkaku/chapter01_column_01.html (The Senkaku Islands, Takeshima and International Adjudication [Homepage of the Cabinet Secretariat] ), https://www.cas.go.jp/jp/ryodo_eg/kenkyu/senkaku/chapter01_column_01_sup1.html (The Northern Territories from the Perspective of International Law [Homepage of the Cabinet Secretariat]) and https://japan-forward.com/bookmark-japans-three-territorial-problems-viewed-under-the-glare-of-international-law/ (Japan’s Three Territorial Problems Viewed Under the Glare of International Law [JAPAN Forward (16 January 2021)].
Chapters I, II, III, V, VI and VIII first appeared at The SPF Journal of Island Studies, published by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. I act as an editorial board member of the Journal.
(Written by NAKATANI Kazuhiro, Professor, Graduate Schools for Law and Politics / 2023)
Table of Contents
II Purchase and Sale of Islands between States and International Law
III On the Crisis of the Perejil Island in 2002
IV The South China Sea Arbitration Award (Philippines v. China) and the Rule of Law at Sea
V Legal Consequences of the China’s Illegal Construction of Artificial Islands in the South China
VI L’ile de la Conference (L’ile des Faisant) as the Only Alternate Condominium in the World
VII International law and Diplomacy concerning Condominium
VIII Japan’s Territorial Problems and International Adjudication