Border Conflicts and Solutions – Points to ponder and dialogue upon

There are many reasons why nations dispute over land. Perhaps the greatest reason why nations dispute land is due to natural resources. What makes land very valuable is what is on or under the land. For example, is there is gas, gold, oil, or any number of other commodities, then that land is very desirable.

There are debating the deposit of natural gases in the disputed area. Another reason of dispute is access to water, which make the land more fertile. In short, there is usually something about the land that both nations want.

Often boundary disputes result from differences between distinct cultures, ethnic groups, or political systems. Boundary disputes resulting from religious differences and ethnic differences are also important.

Another possible cause is the lack of clear borders. Sometimes, land is a surrogate for a desire on each side to have power.

Rather than looking at how border disputes can be resolved, the governments should be looking to how they can prevent cross-border tension. The answer, it appears, may lie with education.

Whether such education focuses on cross-culture acceptance due to the multicultural nature of the region, or looks to the implementation of more efficient economic practice in the region – particularly in agriculture, given the importance of water and poor irrigation practices – education can have a significant impact on lessening tension in the region. However, these governments will need to work together, ensuring all groups are included on an equal footing.

Territorial disputes are traditionally regarded as the most common sources of war. Yet, research focusing on the question why territorial disputes arise has been rare, and has usually relied on power-political assumptions. Typically, the emergence of territorial disputes has been explained in terms of rational strategic and economic interests and changing power relations. Many of today’s territorial disputes can be better explained from a normative perspective, by referring to subjective conceptions of justice and international norms.

As an emotive issue, territory is loaded with a number of emotional and normative elements which today are likely to surpass its `rational’ economic or strategic value. Therefore attempts to resolve territorial disputes which do not take into account the normative dimension underlying such disputes are likely to fail.

In this view, the root of national identity rests on a claim of historical affinity to land. Because people’s sense of identity and belonging are grounded in particular territories, symbolic attachments matter more than territory’s intrinsic value.


Attachment to territory is primordial, an element in the formation of group identities forged through a historic process of territorial socialization that imbues land with historical, mythical, or religious meaning.

A prevalent approach in the literature on territory and conflict focuses on the association between nationalism and territorial affinity. If territory is fundamental to one’s national identity, she may object to its division irrespective of the cost of continued control.

In this view, humans, like other animals, are biologically programmed to keep and protect a territory they perceive as theirs, and are thus more likely to go to war over territorial disputes than other issues.

A different strand highlights ideology and identity, arguing that the roots of collective identity are grounded in particular homelands

Territorial disputes occur when official representatives of one country make explicit statements claiming sovereignty over a specific piece of territory that is claimed or administered by another country. Territorial disputes lead to militarized conflict more frequently than other types of diplomatic disputes involving maritime, river, identity, economic, cultural, or other issues. A majority of interstate wars have been fought between countries embroiled in one or more territorial disputes. Countries who share contiguous borders are more likely to fight wars with each other than non-contiguous states, especially if they have disagreements over specific pieces of territory. Territory that is more valuable because of natural resources, religious sites, or historical homeland claims generates more violence. Wars also spread or diffuse across geographic boundaries. Territorial disputes can be resolved successfully with peaceful conflict management tools such as arbitration and adjudication through international courts. The successful settlement of border disputes promotes democratization and helps secure the stability of shared borders in the long run. State borders have also become more difficult to violate in recent decades because of the emergence of a norm of territorial integrity. The general decline in territorial conquest stems in part from increasing economic interdependence among countries in the world. While disputes over traditional land borders have decreased over time, other types of territorial disputes have become more prevalent, such as competition over maritime resources in areas around islands or homeland areas.

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