AskDefine | Define annexation

Dictionary Definition



1 incorporation by joining or uniting [syn: appropriation]
2 the formal act of acquiring something (especially territory) by conquest or occupation; "the French annexation of Madagascar as a colony in 1896"; "a protectorate has frequently been a first step to annexation"

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. the act of annexing, or territories that have been annexed
  2. the legal merging of a territory into another body


Extensive Definition

Annexation (Latin ad, to, and nexus, joining) is the legal incorporation of some territory into another geo-political entity (either adjacent or non-contiguous). Usually, it is implied that the territory and population being annexed is the smaller, less peripheral or weaker of the two merging entities. It can also imply a certain measure of coercion, expansionism or unilateralism on the part of the stronger of the merging entities. Because of this, more positive terms like political union or reunification are sometimes preferred.
Annexation differs from cession and amalgamation, because unlike cession where territory is given or sold through treaty, or amalgamation where both sides are asked if they agree with the merge, annexation is an unilateral act where territory is seized and held by one state and made legitimate by the recognition of the international community.
During World War II the use of annexation deprived whole populations of the safeguards provided by international laws governing military occupations. Changes were introduced to international law through the Fourth Geneva Convention that makes it much more difficult for a state to bypass international law through the use of annexation.

Annexation and international law after 1948

The Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) of 1949, emphasised an important international law. Protocol I (1977): "Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts" has additional articles which cover military occupation, but many countries including the United States are not signatory to this additional protocol.

Examples of annexation after 1948


In 1954, former British Ogaden (a Somali Region) was annexed by Abyssinia. Somali nationalists have waged wars of liberation since 1954. Currently, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) leads this nationalist effort and is engaged in a fierce military confrontation with Ethiopia.


On 18 September 1955 at precisely 10:16 am, in what would be the final territorial expansion of the British Empire, Rockall was officially annexed by the United Kingdom when Lieutenant-Commander Desmond Scott RN, Sergeant Brian Peel RM, Corporal AA Fraser RM, and James Fisher (a civilian naturalist and former Royal Marine), were deposited on the island by a Royal Navy helicopter from HMS Vidal (coincidentally named after the man who first charted the island). The team cemented in a brass plaque on Hall's Ledge and hoisted the Union Flag to stake the UK's claim.


Tibetan nationalists have argued that Tibet was occupied and annexed by People's Republic of China in the 1950s. This position is disputed by the PRC government and Chinese nationalists who argue that China has exercised sovereignty over Tibet since at least the 18th century, and that this sovereignty had been internationally recognized since at least the 20th century. Hence they would argue that the action in 1959 was an internationally acceptable example of a central government reasserting control over an internal region.


In 1961 the former Portuguese colony of Goa was annexed by India.

East Timor

Following an Indonesian invasion in 1975, East Timor was annexed by Indonesia and was known as Timor Timur. It was regarded by Indonesia as the country's 27th province, but this was never recognised by the United Nations or Portugal. The people of East Timor resisted Indonesian forces in a prolonged guerilla campaign. (See: Indonesian rule in East Timor). Following a referendum held in 1999, under a UN sponsored agreement between Indonesia and Portugal, in which its people rejected the offer of autonomy within Indonesia, East Timor achieved independence in 2002 and is now officially known as Timor-Leste.

West Papua

Western Sahara

In 1975, and following the Madrid Accords between Morocco, Mauritania and Spain, the latter withdrew from the territory and ceded the administration to Morocco and Mauritania. This was challenged by an independentist movement, the Polisario Front that waged a guerilla war against both Morocco and Mauritania. In 1979, and after a military putsch, Mauritania withdrew from the territory which left it controlled by Morocco. A United Nations peace process was initiated in 1991, but it has been stalled, and as of mid-2007, the UN is holding direct negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario front to reach a solution to the conflict.


In the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, in which Israel had captured East Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria (popularly referred to as the West Bank), Gaza and the Golan Heights, Israel declared East and West Jerusalem one united city, incorporating the eastern part into one municipality and awarding its residents with citizenship, but soon after declaring to the UN that its measures were annexation. In 1980 Israel passed the Jerusalem Law, which redeclared the unity of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but did not declare its borders. Some consider the latter act annexation, but without explicit declaration of sovereignty this is in doubt. Most countries choose not to notice the change.


In 1981, Israel extended its "laws, jurisdiction and administration" to the Golan Heights (including the Shebaa Farms/Har Dov), which it captured from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War. This not entirely clear "annexation" declaration was declared "null and void and without international legal effect" by United Nations Security Council Resolution 497. As of today, the only state to accept the validity of this annexation is Micronesia.


After being allied with Iraq during the Iran – Iraq War (largely due to desiring Iraqi protection from Iran), Kuwait was invaded and annexed by Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) in August 1990. Hussein's primary justifications included a charge that Kuwaiti territory was in fact an Iraqi province, and that annexation was retaliation for "economic warfare" Kuwait had waged through slant drilling into Iraq's oil supplies. The monarchy was deposed after annexation, and an Iraqi governor installed.
United States President George H. W. Bush ultimately condemned Iraq's actions, and moved to drive out Iraqi forces. Authorized by the UN Security Council, an American-led coalition of 34 nations fought the Gulf War to reinstate the Kuwaiti Emir. Iraq's invasion (and annexation) was deemed illegal and Kuwait remains an independent nation today.

Subnational Annexation

Within countries that are subdivided noncontiguously, annexation can also take place whereby a lower-tier subdivision can annex territory under the jurisdiction of a higher-tier subdivision. An example of this is in the United states, where incorporated cities and towns often expand their boundaries by annexing unincorporated land adjacent to them. Municipalities can also annex or be annexed by other municipalities, though this is less common. There are exceptions to this in the United States, as laws governing the ability and the extent cities can expand in this fashion are defined by the individual states' constitutions.


Further reading

annexation in Arabic: ضم عسكري
annexation in Azerbaijani: Anneksiya
annexation in Bosnian: Aneksija
annexation in Bulgarian: Анексия
annexation in Czech: Anexe
annexation in German: Annexion
annexation in Estonian: Anneksioon
annexation in Spanish: Anexión
annexation in Esperanto: Anekso
annexation in Latvian: Aneksija
annexation in Lithuanian: Aneksija
annexation in Hungarian: Annexió
annexation in Dutch: Annexatie
annexation in Japanese: 併合
annexation in Norwegian: Anneksjon
annexation in Norwegian Nynorsk: Anneksjon
annexation in Polish: Aneksja
annexation in Portuguese: Anexação
annexation in Russian: Аннексия
annexation in Simple English: Annexation
annexation in Slovak: Anexia
annexation in Serbian: Анексија
annexation in Finnish: Alueliitos
annexation in Swedish: Annektering
annexation in Ukrainian: Анексія

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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