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The founding writers on international law continued to stress that the acquisition of territory by occupation, or discovery, applied only to land that was without an owner. The seventeenth century Dutch jurist, Hugo Grotius, wrote:

'Equally shameless is it to claim for oneself by right of discovery what is held by another, even though the occupant may be wicked, may hold wrong views about God, or may be dull of wit. For discovery applies to those things which belong to no one.'

But such a formulation left open the question of what amounts to possession or ownership.

Keywords: doctrine of tenure, Europe, International law, property, property law, terra nullius

Author: Nettheim, Garth