At the basis of modern natural law theories, the concept of the suum, i.e. what belongs to the person (in Latin, his, her, its, their own), has received little scholarly attention despite its importance both in explaining and justifying not only the genealogy of property, but also that of morality and war. In this essay I focus on Grotius’s account of the suum and examine what it is, what things it includes, what rights it gives rise to, and how it is extended in the transition from the state of nature to civil society. I then briefly suggest that reviving this concept could help to illuminate the current discussion on the foundations of basic human rights, and to re-evaluate cases where these seem to clash with property rights.
Global pressure over Antarctic resources will mount in the course of the coming decades. Three factors are likely to motivate states to claim jurisdictional rights or rights to natural resources in Antarctica: climate change, dwindling natural resources in the rest of the world, and the fact that – by virtue of Article IV of the Antarctic Treaty – the question of sovereignty remains unresolved. It is high time to think about the moral dimensions that should shape Antarctic claims in the future. Is there any state or group of states more entitled than others to make such claims? What does sound management of natural resources require? How should environmental concerns factor into decisions about jurisdictional control and appropriation of natural resources?
With these broad questions in the background, in this article I examine four principles of justice that figure prominently in current theories of territorial rights and rights over natural resources in political philosophy: connection, capacity, fair distribution, and need. I show how these principles have been used by states, alone or in tandem, to justify claims to jurisdiction and claims to natural resources in Antarctica. After pointing to their main strengths and weaknesses, I suggest that they may be necessary, but insufficient to build a just framework for jurisdiction and appropriation of resources in the White Continent.