Annexation (Latin ad, to, and nexus, joining) is the political transition of land from the control of one entity to another. It is also the incorporation of unclaimed land into a state's sovereignty, which is in most cases legitimate. In international law it is the forcible transition of one state's territory by another state or the legal process by which a city acquires land. Usually, it is implied that the territory and population being annexed is the smaller, more peripheral, and weaker of the two merging entities, barring physical size. It can also imply a certain measure of coercion, expansionism or unilateralism on the part of the stronger of the merging entities. Because of this, more positive euphemisms like political union/unification or reunification are sometimes seen in discourse. Annexation differs from cession and amalgamation, because unlike cession where territory is given or sold through treaty, or amalgamation (where the authorities of both sides are asked if they agree with the merge), annexation is a unilateral act where territory is seized and held by one state and legitimized via general recognition by the other international bodies (i.e. countries and intergovernmental organisations).
During World War II, the use of annexation deprived whole populations of the safeguards provided by international laws governing military occupations. The authors of the Fourth Geneva Convention made a point of "giving these rules an absolute character", thus making it much more difficult for a state to bypass international law through the use of annexation.
The Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) of 1949 amplified the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 with respect to the question of the protection of civilians. GCIV also emphasised the United Nations Charter: the United Nations Charter (June 26, 1945) had prohibited war of aggression (See articles 1.1, 2.3, 2.4) and GCIV Article 47, the first paragraph in Section III: Occupied territories, restricted the effects of annexation on the rights of persons within those territories:
Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced, as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.
Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. ... The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.
Protocol I (1977): "Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts" has additional articles which cover military occupation, but many countries including the United States are not party to this additional protocol.
On 18 September 1955 at precisely 10:16 am, in what would be the final territorial expansion of the British Empire, Rockall was declared officially annexed by the British Crown when Lieutenant-Commander Desmond Scott RN, Sergeant Brian Peel RM, Corporal AA Fraser RM, and James Fisher (a civilian naturalist and former Royal Marine), were deposited on the island by a Royal Navy helicopter from HMS Vidal (coincidentally named after the man who first charted the island). The team cemented in a brass plaque on Hall's Ledge and hoisted the Union Flag to stake the UK's claim. However, any effect of this annexation on valuable maritime rights claims under UNCLOS in the waters beyond 12 nautical miles from Rockall are neither claimed by Britain nor recognised by Denmark (for the Faroe Islands), the Republic of Ireland or Iceland.
One example of a claimed annexation after World War II is the Kingdom of Norway's southward expansion of the dependent territory Queen Maud Land. On most maps there had been an unclaimed area between Queen Maud Land's borders of 1939 and the South Pole until June 12, 2015 when Norway formally claimed to have annexed that area. The Antarctic Treaty, however, states: "The treaty does not recognize, dispute, nor establish territorial sovereignty claims; no new claims shall be asserted while the treaty is in force".citation needed
Within countries that are subdivided noncontiguously, annexation can also take place whereby a lower-tier subdivision can annex territory under the jurisdiction of a higher-tier subdivision. An example of this is in the United States, where incorporated cities and towns often expand their boundaries by annexing unincorporated land adjacent to them. Municipalities can also annex or be annexed by other municipalities, though this is less common in the United States. Laws governing the ability and the extent cities can expand in this fashion are defined by the individual states' constitutions.
Annexation of neighbouring communities occurs in Canada. The city of Calgary, for example, has in the past annexed the communities of Bridgeland, Riverside, Sunnyside, Hillhurst, Hunter, Hubalta, Ogden, Forest Lawn, Midnapore, Shepard, Montgomery, and Bowness.
- Hofmann, Rainer (February 2013). "Annexation". Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law. Oxford University Press.
- Rabin, Jack (2003). Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy: A-J. CRC Press. pp. 47–. ISBN 9780824709464. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Annexation". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- "Annexation". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
- Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.Commentary on Part III : Status and treatment of protected persons #Section III : Occupied territories Art. 47 by the ICRC
- "Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949. Commentary - Art. 47. Part III : Status and treatment of protected persons #Section III : Occupied territories". ICRC. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
it was obvious that they were in fact always subservient to the will of the Occupying Power. Such practices were incompatible with the traditional concept of occupation (as defined in Article 43 of the Hague Regulations of 1907)
- Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.Commentary on Part III : Status and treatment of protected persons #Section III : Occupied territories Art. 49 by the ICRC
- BBC staff. "On this day: 21 September 1955: Britain claims Rockall". BBC. Retrieved March 2012. Check date values in:
- Rapp, Ole Magnus. "Norge utvider Dronning Maud Land helt frem til Sydpolen - Aftenposten". Aftenposten.no. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
- "Annexation Policies and Urban Growth Management in Calgary." Tim Creelman. Accessed December 17, 2009. Archived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- History of Annexation. City of Calgary. Accessed December 17, 2009.
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- Adam Roberts. Transformative military occupation: applying the laws of war and human rights, 100 The American Journal of International Law. vol 100 pp. 580–622 (2006)