Problematising the Beyond Territoriality Discourse: Aterritorialised Legal Thinking

The red thread running through literature is an assumption about international law’s stato-centricity and a concern about territoriality. Yet it is a particular concept of territoriality and it is this that produces the beyond territory discourse. This paper asks: what assumptions are made about territory that powers exercised beyond or between territories float free of the highly specific territorialised international legal order. It argues an uncritical reliance on an outdated spatiality which determines these narratives. Phenomena not conforming to this territoriality must be aterritorial. The exercise shows the prevalence of this thinking and its role in mediating international law’s operative concepts. Locked in this intellectual framework, discourse cannot explain contemporary spatial dynamics; it produces deterritorialization without reterritorialization. The hegemonic concept of territory ensures the territories of non-state actors are invisible to international legal thought.