2020 SAIL


Prof. Keun-Gwan Lee

Professor, Seoul National University

Keun-Gwan Lee is a Professor of Law at the School of Law, Seoul National University, Korea. He received his LL.B. from Seoul National University, LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. His doctoral thesis titled “The Law of State Succession in the Post-Decolonization Period with Special Reference to Germany and the former Soviet Union” revisited the law of state succession from a historical and critical perspective. He taught international law at various institutions including the Republic of Korea Naval Academy, Konkuk University (Seoul, Korea) and Kyushu University (Fukuoka, Japan) before joining the School of Law, Seoul National University in 2004. His research interests include, among others, the history and theory of international law (in particular, the ‘reception’ of modern international law in East Asia), the law of state succession (with particular reference to the relations between South and North Korea), the law of the sea and the international protection of cultural heritage. He served as director of studies (English-speaking section) at the Hague Academy of International Law in 2010. He has worked closely with UNESCO in the protection of cultural property, serving as, among others, chairperson of the Inter-Governmental Committee Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin in the 2012-2014 period. He gave a lecture on the subject of the return of cultural objects to their countries of origin at the Hague Academy of International Law in 2018.

Peaceful Settlement of Territorial and Boundary Disputes

Territory is one of the constituent elements of state. The central importance of territory in international law is also demonstrated by the fact that territory is often combined with the foundational concept of international law, sovereignty, thus producing the familiar term ‘territorial sovereignty.’ One of the key functions of territory is to serve as the space within which a given state is entitled to exercise its imperium. It is for this reason that a clearly delineated boundary regime is indispensable for the maintenance of international peace and security.

In this course, we will first conduct introductory discussions on the subject by looking at, among others, the definitions of territory and boundary, the concept of title (titre), the traditional modes of territorial acquisition, the principle of uti possidetis juris, inter-temporal law and the concept of critical date. We will go on to deepen and broaden our knowledge on the subject by analyzing the international case law on territorial and boundary disputes. Leading cases such as the Island of Palmas, the Eastern Greenland, the Minquiers and Ecrehos, Western Sahara, the Pulau Ligitan and Sipadan and Pedra Branca will be investigated.

Since the course takes place in East Asia, we will also look into some of the territorial and boundary questions in the region. In particular, the questions of Dokdo, Senkaku/Diaoyudao and Spratlys will be discussed.