Columbia journal of transnational law, Vol. 53, no. 3, 2015, p. 584-637
In recent years, the international legality of economic activity in occupied territories has emerged as matter of significant debate, largely focused on Israeli-controlled territories. Some European officials, supported by prominent scholars and a wide range of NGOs, claim that international law requires limiting or prohibiting economic relations involving the Israeli-controlled West Bank and Golan Heights. The question of the lawfulness of such activity has even greater salience and urgency with Russia’s annexation of Crimea and belligerent occupation of Eastern Ukraine. Discussions of these legal issues have proceeded largely along theoretical lines, ignoring the rich trove of relevant state practice from other occupied territories such as Western Sahara, Northern Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Abkhazia. The European Union, the United States, and other states have adopted a variety of formal positions regarding activities in these territories. Moreover, recent years have seen a proliferation of state practice and, for the first time, judicial decisions, involving these very questions. This article conducts a comprehensive survey of the relevant current state practice and judicial precedent regarding occupied territories, aside from the well-examined case of Israel. It finds that state practice and decisions of important national courts support a fully permissive approach to economic dealings by third-party states or nationals in territories under prolonged occupation or illegal annexation.