The Balfour Declaration’s Territorial Landscape: Between Protection and Self-Determination

Abstract: Famously declaring British support for the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine, the Balfour declaration (November 1917) is commonly understood as the first international instrument recognizing the right to self-determination for the Jewish people in Palestine. But the territorial framework that the drafters of the declaration envisioned drew on nineteenth-century practices of imperial protection that sustained both rule and expansion in multi-national empires. Reframing the Balfour declaration as an instrument of protection, the article contributes to the study of the colonial context of international norms such as self-determination, and illuminates the international law context of Palestinian dispossession that the declaration instigated.

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