State jurisdiction (Ro.: jurisdicția statelor, Fr.: juridiction des états, De.: staatlichen Gerichtsbarkeit, Gr.: κρατική αρμοδιότητα) (See also: state authority, state sovereignty, universal jurisdiction) = a concept derived from the rules of international law, constituting the central and dynamic feature of State sovereignty. State jurisdiction refers to the capacity of a State to prescribe rules of law, enforce them, as well as adjudicate. 

These rules of law are applicable to persons, property and events, generally within the territory of the State - land, the State’s airspace, as well as internal and territorial water.  Regarding the application of the State jurisdiction, two essential principles where established by the Lotus Case of the International Court of Justice. Firstly, a State cannot exercise any form of jurisdiction outside of its territory, unless allowed by an international treaty or by customary law. Secondly, a State can exercise its jurisdiction in any form within its territory, even if not specifically prescribed by international law.


Useful resources

Case Law - France v. Turkey (SS Lotus Case), 1927 Permanent Court of International Justice (ser. A) No. 10 [English]

Online publications – Lenhoff, Arthur, 1964, International Law and Rules on International Jurisdiction, Cornell Law Review, Volume 50, Issue 1. [English] - Mills, Alex, 2014, Rethinking Jurisdiction in International Law, The British Yearbook of International Law. [English] - Nußberger, Angelika, 2012, The Concept of ‘Jurisdiction’ in the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, Current Legal Problems. [English[ - Ryngaert, Cedric, 2014, The Concept of Jurisdiction in International Law. [English]


Baumgartner, S. P., 2003, The proposed Hague Convention on jurisdiction and foreign judgments: trans-atlantic lawmaking for transnational litigation, Tubingen, Mohr Siebeck [English]

Jessup P., 1927, The law of territorial waters and maritime jurisdiction, New York, Jennings [English]

Kreijen G., 2002, State, sovereignty, and international governance, Oxford, Oxford Universty Press [English]

Marten, Bevan, 2014, Port State Jurisdiction and the Regulation of International Merchant Shipping, Springer International Publishing.

Orakhelashvili, Alexander (Editor), 2015, Research Handbook on Jurisdiction and Immunities in International Law, Research Handbooks in International Law series, Elgar.

Ryngaert, Cedric, 2008, Jurisdiction in International Law, Oxford University Press, 1st edition.


By Georgiana Caramihai