Walled Borders, Territoriality and Sovereignty: A Typology


  • Damiano Canale Bocconi University




state border, fences, migrations, state territory, state sovereignty, international law, philosophy of law


Legal scholarship has so far paid little attention to the concept of border, which is one of the reasons for the lack of clarity regarding the characteristics of public borders at the present time. This paper aims to contribute to fill this gap by looking at an apparently eccentric phenomenon regarding the contemporary transformation of state borders: the so-called border walls. At a first sight, border walls seem to reiterate the traditional functions of state borders. But their rising up as physical uncrossable barriers signifies a strong change in their function and institutional nature. In the light of this, a question arises: Does the proliferation of border walls simply indicate a revival of the territorial sovereignty of the states, or is it a phenomenon with quite different characteristics? To answer this question the paper proceeds by first considering the distinctive features of modern public borders from a historical and theoretical point of view, and then distinguishing different types of border walls on the basis of their functional characteristics. This will help clarify whether border walls are an eccentric phenomenon compared to traditional state borders, and whether the analysis of their features leads us to reframe the traditional concept of state border.




How to Cite

Canale, D. (2021). Walled Borders, Territoriality and Sovereignty: A Typology. Athena – Critical Inquiries in Law, Philosophy and Globalization, 1(1), 37–57. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2724-6299/12473