Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty
International Law and Politics
Chapter Six: Territorial disputes in the Americas
This chapter introduces and explores controversial cases in the Americas. From ongoing situations like the Falkland/Malvinas Islands to those that are now resolved in law but still present controversy such as the Mexico-United States border and the San Andres and Providencia, the Americas include territorial issues deeply rooted in people’s perceptions, needs and the past. This chapter demonstrates why these territorial disputes seem to continue endlessly, trapped in a legal and political limbo.
The analysis shows how territorial disputes have a multi-faceted and multi-layered nature that includes law, politics, nationalism, national identity, natural resources, prestige, and many other elements and issues in one or more of the domestic, regional and international dimensions. The chapter explores an often-overlooked component is central to the Americas and several territorial disputes across the continent: the right of indigenous peoples versus the European “right-peopling” that still generates debates relevant to the ongoing nature of some of these differences.
The differences between Peru and Ecuador, Colombia and Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Mexico and United States, and some other disputes demonstrate that most of the territorial disputes in the Americas date back to colonial times and the way in which the former colonial powers divided territory that was once sociologically integrated. These differences show, too, that although the claiming parties achieve a settlement, domestic, regional and international issues may still turn the situation volatile and regional guarantors are key in maintaining the peace.
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Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez
 The author uses terms like “America”, “Americas”, “Americans”, and “Americans” to refer to the American continents and their populations and not to the United States of America as a single state or its population. For the latter, the author applies expressions such as “United States” or “the people of the United States.”
 Oded Haklai and Nephytos Loizides, “Settlers and Conflict Over Contested Territories,” in Oded Haklai and Neophytos Loizides, Settlers in Contested Lands. Territorial Disputes and Ethnic Conflicts (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2015), 1-16.