Pluralism of pluralisms [Post 9]

Types of agents and sub-categories

We established that sovereignty and cosmopolitanism have to do with several agents such as individuals, communities and states. The Israel-Palestine difference clearly shows how a territorial dispute does not concern only sovereign states but it includes different agents. Unquestionably, sovereign states have traditionally had the starring law in issues pertaining public international law. Increasingly clear, individuals and communities are making moves towards being acknowledged (in particular in cases in which sovereign states may not represent their interests or, in fact, may override them).

To illustrate the level of intricacy, in principle, these agents may share the same interests and legal status within (e.g. all individuals, members of the same community, may want the same solution for a territorial dispute). But this is not a truism or a necessary condition. The Israel-Palestine difference distinctly a variety of subcategories of individuals: diaspora, refugees and settlers. Independently of including them in any negotiation about sovereignty over the contested territories or not, any agreement should acknowledge the relevance of diaspora, refugees and settlers if it aims to offer a permanent and peaceful understanding. In brief:

Diaspora refers to the Jewish people living in different parts of the world outside Israel, or the various places outside Israel in which they live.[1]

Refugee[2] means a person who has escaped from their own country for political, religious, or economic reasons or because of a war. Palestinian refugees make up 42.8% of the Palestinian population in Palestine: 27.1% of them in the West Bank and 67.3% in Gaza Strip. The current population density is a serious concern in Gaza Strip reaching more than 4500 inhabitants per one square kilometer.[3]

Settlers, instead, implies a political action involving the organized movement of a population belonging to one national group into another territory in order to create a permanent presence and influence patterns of sovereignty in the settled territory.[4] Therefore, the settlers purposely move to the territory under the sovereignty of another nation to “right-peopling” that territory. Regardless of the unified vision or the lack of a common policy, Jewish Israeli settlers in the West Bank constitute one of multiple actors.

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Individuals, communities and states.

Author of:

Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020).

Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017).

Thursday 22nd April 2021

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World

[1] Ancient Jewish History: The Diaspora available at and Jewish World Population per Country available at accessed 22/04/2021.

[2] Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Refugee Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees says that a “refugee” is a person who: owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside his country of nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or, who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence…is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

[3] UNFPA (Palestine) available at and Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics available at both accessed 22/04/2021.

[4] Oded Haklai and Neophytos Loizides, Settlers in Contested Lands: Territorial Disputes and Ethnic Conflicts, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2015.

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