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A territorial dispute is a disagreement over the "possession/control of land between two or more "territorial entities or over the possession or control of land, usually between a new state and the occupying power. On July 12, 2016 an arbitral tribunal constitued under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea ruled that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights within nine-dash line on Southeast Sea.


Context and definitions[edit]

Territorial disputes are often related to the possession of "natural resources such as "rivers, fertile farmland, "mineral or "oil resources although the disputes can also be driven by "culture, "religion and "ethnic nationalism. Territorial disputes result often from vague and unclear language in a treaty that set up the original boundary.

Territorial disputes are a major cause of "wars and "terrorism as states often try to assert their "sovereignty over a territory through invasion, and non-state entities try to influence the actions of politicians through terrorism. International law does not support the use of force by one state to annex the territory of another state. The UN Charter says: "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

In some cases, where the boundary is not demarcated, such as the "Taiwan Strait, and "Kashmir, involved parties define a "line of control that serves as the "de facto" international border.

  1. In cases where a nation emerges when declaring independence from a larger state, its ultimate recognition may not always grant the new state control over the territory it proposed as part of the declaration. Those lands remain unredeemed territory in the eyes of nationalist movements from the state, but do not otherwise cause a problem between the governments on each side of the border.
  2. In cases where territory was achieved through historical conquests such as an Empire, traditionalists may view former colonies as unredeemed territory.

Basis in international law[edit]

Territorial disputes have significant meaning in the international society, both because it is related to the fundamental right of states, sovereignty, and also because it is important for international peace. International law has significant relations with territorial disputes because territorial disputes tackles the basis of international law; the state territory. International law is based on the 'persons' of international law, which requires a 'defined territory' as mentioned in the Montevideo convention of 1933.

Article 1 of "Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States declares that "a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with other States" [1]

Also, as mentioned in B. T. Sumner's article, "In international law and relations, ownership of territory is significant because sovereignty over land defines what constitutes a state." [2]

Therefore, the breach of a country's borders or territorial disputes pose a threat to a state's very sovereignty and the right as a person of international law. In addition, territorial disputes are sometimes brought upon the International Court of Justice, as was the case in Costa Rica and Nicaragua (2005).[3] Territorial disputes cannot be separated from international law, because its basis is on the law of state borders, and because its potential settlement also relies on the international law and court.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

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