As one of the core elements of statehood, territory is inextricably linked to sovereignty. For this reason, jurisdiction is primarily territorial. In principle, the sphere of power of the sovereign state—including its competence to exercise legislative, judicial, and executive authority—applies within the confines of its own territory. Otherwise, the state risks interfering with the sovereignty of other states and thereby breaking one of the fundamental principles of Public International Law (PIL), that of sovereign equality. The principle of sovereign equality dictates that all assertions of jurisdiction have to be balanced with the sovereign rights of other states. This is why “a State’s competence to exercise jurisdiction over its own nationals abroad is subordinate to that State’s and other States’ territorial competence.” By placing the emphasis on sovereignty, classic PIL treats the question of jurisdiction in a fairly straightforward manner.
Vassilis P. Tzevelekos,
Reconstructing the Effective Control Criterion in Extraterritorial Human Rights Breaches: Direct Attribution of Wrongfulness, Due Diligence, and Concurrent Responsibility,
Mich. J. Int'l L.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjil/vol36/iss1/3