HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs and Philosophy


The author’s 2012 book On Global Justice gives pride of place to the idea that humanity collectively owns the earth. Independently of this approach there has been a flourishing literature on the justification of rights to territory. Central to this discussion are a Kantian approach and a Lockean approach to territory. This paper recapitulates the author’s approach to humanity’s collective ownership of the earth and argues that, properly understood, both the Kantian and the Lockean approach should integrate the global standpoint constituted thereby. But the goal here is not to amend the Kantian and Lockean approach to territory, but to refute them. The paper also argues that both approaches endorse an unacceptably strong view of the justifiability of states and should therefore be rejected. The author’s standpoint in On Global Justice emerges vindicated, according to which territorial rights, the justification of states and immigration all need to be theorized together, and need to be theorized from a genuinely global standpoint.


Risse, Mathias. "Taking up Space on Earth: Theorizing Territorial Rights, the Justification of States and Immigration from a Global Standpoint." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP14-008, February 2014.