A crisis in aerial sovereignty? Considering the implications of recent military violations of national airspace

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Abstract

The implementation of policies of pre-emption and securitisation by a number of states has led to an increase in the number of aerial incursions by one state's air force into another state's territory in recent years, often occurring before and, indeed, instead of ground incursions. This paper argues that it is vital that we conceptualise territory as a three-dimensional volume, rather than simply a flat area, in order to enable an analysis of how these events impact state sovereignty. The central contention of the paper is to extend recent work on territorial integrity and contingent sovereignty into this aerial dimension. A number of brief case studies are provided to illustrate how different incursion practices actively violate territorial integrity or render state sovereignty contingent. The conclusion seeks to answer the question of whether these incidents imply a crisis in aerial sovereignty or whether they confirm the chronic decline of this norm of international law.

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