Do self-determining states have a conditional right to exclude would-be immigrants?

Date01 April 2022
Published date01 April 2022
Subject MatterReview Articles
Review Article EJPT
Do self-determining
states have a conditional
right to exclude would-be
Jinyu Sun
School of Political Science and Public Administration, China University of Political Science and
Law, China
Why should (or should not) we have a system of different states that each claim both
internal and external sovereignty? How can the state gain its legitimate authority to
rule? What is the problem with the ideal of the ‘global citizen’? How should states
respond to different groups’ secession claims? To what extent should states have the
right to control their borders? If one finds such questions intriguing, one should read
Anna Stilz’s book Territorial Sovereignty: A Philosophical Exploration. Stilz argues that a
system of territorial states serves to protect important values – occupancy, basic justice
and collective self-determination – which are key to living an autonomous life. I focus
on the theory’s implication for the debates on border control. I contend that Stilz’s
arguments still have difficulties grounding the state’s right to exclude would-be immi-
grants. That said, the book has done a great job in providing a liberal theoretical
framework for us to reflect upon citizenship, immigration, succession claims, cosmo-
politan ideals, the colonial legacy and disputes over borders and resources.
Corresponding author:
Jinyu Sun, School of Government, China University of Political Science and Law, No. 27 Xuefu Road,
Changping, Beijing, China.
European Journal of Political Theory
!The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/1474885121992033
2022, Vol. 21(2) 412–420
2019; 304 pp.: ISBN 97801988335636, £26.49 (hbk)
Basic justice, immigration, occupancy rights, political autonomy, self-determination,
sovereignty rights
Anna Stilz, Oxford University Press: Oxford,
Territorial Sovereignty: A Philosophical Exploration,,

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