At HistoricalIndex, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Annexation is an activity in which two things are joined together, usually with a subordinate or lesser thing being attached to a larger thing. In strict legal terms, annexation simply involves a consolidation or joining, but many people use the term specifically to discuss the annexation of territories by nations which feel that they have a claim on them. A number of nations expanded their political power through annexation historically, although the United Nations no longer recognizes annexation as a legitimate political tool.
In a legal sense, when something is annexed, it is appended or added to something else. For example, someone might annex a will by adding a codicil which changes the terms, or annex personal property by attaching it legally to a piece of real estate. Annexation in the legal community does not carry the same implications that others forms of annexation do.
Within a nation, incorporated entities can choose to annex neighboring land. This decision is usually made when a settled area wants to expand, or when it is already offering services to people outside its boundaries, and it wants to create a more formal arrangement. Usually, annexation is only allowed if the residents of the land being annexed vote to support it on a ballot, and annexation is sometimes opposed because people fear higher tax rates and other issues which may crop up when land is annexed by a larger neighboring city.
In the international community, annexation involves a nation laying claim to a territory and declaring that the territory is now part of the annexing nation. For example, the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898 with the goal of expanding control in the Pacific. These types of annexations often take the form of a takeover, in which a larger and more powerful state exerts control over a smaller territory or nation, effectively forcing it to join. Some people refer to this activity as a grab for land or power, as it is usually done with the goal of benefiting the nation doing the annexing.
After the Second World War, the United Nations passed a resolution condemning annexing, and stating that future annexations of territory would not be recognized by the international community, thereby invalidating them. This was done in part as a reaction to the annexations utilized by Germany to gain control over continental Europe during the war. A handful of annexations have occurred since this period, usually in a legal gray area which makes it difficult to categorically determine that they should be classified as annexations.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is annexation in the context of international law?
Annexation in international law refers to the forcible acquisition of one state's territory by another state, typically without the consent of the former. It is generally considered illegal under modern international law, as it violates the principle of territorial integrity and self-determination of peoples. The United Nations Charter specifically prohibits the acquisition of territory by war, making annexations resulting from aggression illegitimate in the eyes of the international community.
How does annexation differ from cession and occupation?
Annexation differs from cession and occupation in terms of legality and process. Cession is the transfer of territory through a legal agreement, often after a war or as part of a treaty, where the ceding country voluntarily gives up the land. Occupation, on the other hand, involves the military control of a territory without formal annexation. While occupation may be temporary and often occurs during wartime, annexation is a permanent claim and change of sovereignty.
Can annexation be considered legal under any circumstances?
Annexation can be considered legal if it is done with the full consent of the affected state and its people, typically through a treaty or a plebiscite. For example, the reunification of Germany in 1990 was a form of annexation that was widely recognized as legal because it was conducted with the agreement of both East and West Germany and the approval of the international community.
What are some historical examples of annexation?
Historical examples of annexation include the incorporation of the Republic of Texas into the United States in 1845, the annexation of the Kingdom of Hawaii by the United States in 1898, and the annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union in 1940. More recent examples include the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, which has been widely condemned by the international community and remains a subject of ongoing dispute.
What are the potential consequences of annexation for the global community?
The consequences of annexation for the global community can be significant, leading to international condemnation, economic sanctions, and a breakdown in diplomatic relations. It can also result in regional instability and conflict, as it often involves the violation of international law and the rights of the people within the annexed territory. The annexation of Crimea by Russia, for instance, led to sanctions by the United States and the European Union, as well as a persistent state of tension in Eastern Europe.