A dispute is a disagreement. A territorial dispute, in simple terms, is a disagreement about “who owns a territory.” In international relations, this means in principle there is a disagreement between at least two parties in relation to whom the sovereign is over a piece of land.
We regularly see on the news examples of territorial disputes. The most notorious are Jerusalem, Kashmir, Gibraltar, Catalonia, Falkland/Malvinas islands. Yet, there are many more territorial disputes. The links below show 100+ current international territorial disputes.
CIA’s World Factbook
For a more evident illustration, the two images below highlight the countries that are part of current international territorial disputes worldwide.
This page includes a very brief account of a few territorial disputes.
This page includes references to many territorial disputes.
The usual reasons most governments use to support these territorial disputes have to do with human rights. In reality, most of these disputes are centered on natural resources. Some of them are center on religious, cultural and/or ethnic elements. The following posts will address territorial disputes individually and their respective reasons in each case for more detail.
In order to better understand what a territorial dispute is we have to be familiar with basic vocabulary used in law, politics and international relations. Two key words must be introduced: STATE and SOVEREIGNTY. That is because in all territorial disputes we will have at least one STATE claiming exclusive SOVEREIGNTY over a territory.
NOTE: This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty: International Law and Politics,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020 (forthcoming)
Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.
NEXT POST tomorrow: State, sovereignty and territory
Monday 16th September 2019
Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez