An international zone is a type of extraterritoriality governed by international law, or similar treaty between two or more nations. The term can also refer to the areas of international airports outside customs and immigration controls. These areas often contain duty-free shopping, but they are not extraterritorial. In areas of conflict there may be international zones called green zones that form protective enclaves to keep diplomats safe. Countries in conflict may also have international zones separating each other.
Iraq has its international zone around the Republican Palace in central Baghdad in a crook of the Tigris River. This area was and still is the heavily fortified headquarters for the coalition and Iraqi Reconstruction Ministries. The official name started as the "Green Zone" but was later changed to the "International Zone" in June 2004 with the return of sovereignty to the Iraqi people.
The international zone in an international airport is the area where arriving international passengers have not formally entered the country by clearing arrival customs and immigration controls, and departing passengers have formally exited the country by clearing exit immigration control. Transit passengers can take connecting international flights in the international zone without clearing customs and immigration controls, and in most cases do not require a visa. Some countries, however, require passengers of certain nationalities to hold a direct airside transit visa even when they would not need to pass through border controls. A major exception is the United States, where all passengers arriving on international flights are subject to customs and immigration inspections. Hence, transiting at a U.S. airport require at least a C-1 transit visa, or a travel authorization for Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers. A common feature of the international zone is duty-free shopping for departing and transit passengers. International zones in airports are fully under the jurisdiction of the country where they are located and local laws apply. Persons caught committing an unlawful act (e.g. possession of contraband such as illegal drugs) in the international zone are liable for prosecution.
United Nations Headquarters street view from First Avenue in Manhattan, New York City
The United Kingdom and France established "international zones" or "control zones" at both ends of the Channel Tunnel, which crosses underneath the English Channel. British authorities exercise authority within the control zone on the French side, and French authorities exercise authority within the control zone on the UK side. Violations in the control zone are treated as if they occurred within the territory of the adjoining state within that zone, and extradition is not required to remove a violator to the operating state for prosecution. Officers of the adjoining state may carry firearms within the control zone.
The Tangier International Zone was formally a protectorate exercised by several countries in the Moroccan city of Tangier and its environs between 1923 and 1956. It was an area of international control, that is to say, whose government and administration was in the hands of an international commission composed of a number of countries.
Princess Margriet of the Netherlands was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, as the family had been living in there since June 1940 after the occupation of the Netherlands by Germany. The maternity ward of Ottawa Civic Hospital in which Princess Margriet was born was temporarily declared to be extraterritorial by the Canadian government. Making the maternity ward outside of the Canadian domain caused it to be unaffiliated with any jurisdiction and technically international territory. This was done to ensure that the newborn Princess would derive her citizenship from her mother only, thus making her solely Dutch and still viable for the Dutch line of succession to the throne. A similar case occurred in 1945 when suite 212 of the Claridge's hotel in the British city of London was temporarily ceded to Yugoslavia for Alexander, the Crown Prince of Yugoslavia and part of the exiled royal family, to be born in the territory of his country.
Under the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, the city of Jerusalem was supposed to become an International Zone. This was never implemented, the city becoming the scene of fierce fighting in 1948 which culminated with its partition between Israel and Jordan. Nineteen years later in 1967 the Jordanian occupied part was captured and unilaterally annexed by Israel. However, the idea of an international zone in Jerusalem, embracing at least the highly sensitive Old City of Jerusalem, continues to be floated by various would-be mediators.
^"The Struggle For Iraq; Frustration Unites Sunni And Shiite In Opposition To Baghdad Wall". New York Times. April 24, 2007. A man who had waited in line for more than two hours to get into the fortified International Zone, formerly known as the Green Zone, on Monday said no one explained the reason for the delay to the nearly 200 people standing there. Why, why? What did I do? he said to no one in particular, as a soldier who had briefly appeared near the front of the line walked away.|access-date= requires |url= (help)
^"Former Colleague Aided U.S. In Trapping Ex-C.I.A. Agent". New York Times. June 16, 1982. After his arrival in the early evening, he met with Mr. Keiser, a lawyer from Geneva and several other associates, never leaving the international zone of the Zurich airport. Swiss Officials Alerted. The Swiss authorities, alerted about his travel plans by the United States, did not interfere with his movements. Several United States marshals shadowed Mr. Wilson on his 24-hour stopover at the airport.|access-date= requires |url= (help)
^"Fugitive Former Spy; Lured Out Of Libya, Arrested At Kennedy". New York Times. August 26, 1981. Presumably confident, Mr. Wilson left Tripoli several days ago on his way to the Dominican Republic, with brief stops in Switzerland and Madrid. Law-enforcement officials said that Mr. Wilson, traveling under an assumed name on the Irish passport, never left the international zone of the two European airports. He made several calls to bankers while in Switzerland, they said.|access-date= requires |url= (help)
^"Team Of Ex-Green Berets Trained Terrorists For Libyan Government". New York Times. June 27, 1982. In Washington, on July 25, Mr. Thompson and three former Green Berets were given travel documents, $1,000 in cash, airplane tickets to Zurich via New York, and a description of a man who would meet them at the Zurich airport. We were told to stay in the international zone and not to go through customs in Zurich, Mr. Thompson said.|access-date= requires |url= (help)