Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

Article Title

The Right to Stay

First Page



People often fight for their homes. Once established, homes are vital centers of life, and their threatened loss generates predictable resistance. This Article shows how the human desire not to be moved is protected by the law. Such protection can be found in both U.S. domestic and international law, although the two systems of law vary widely in their approach. Since World War II, international scholars and lawmakers have been deeply concerned with promoting the legal rights of people to leave and return to their own countries. This Article emphasizes a different, but equally important right: the right of people, if they wish, to stay exactly where they are.

This Article examines how states protect individuals who wish to preserve an established home. First, the author summarizes the approach of U.S. law. In particular, he examines how property law and constitutional provisions provide a continued right to possess property. Second, the author examines international legal protections, focusing on the rules of war, the rights of indigenous peoples and aliens, and relevant norms from international human rights instruments. Finally, the Article compares the advantages and disadvantages of the international and U.S. approaches.