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 (many) more. The link below (Wikipedia) shows a list of 100+ current international territorial disputes.
For a more evident illustration, the two images below highlight the countries that are part of current international territorial disputes worldwide.
Image from “HuffPost” [LINK] accessed 22/02/2018. This page includes a very brief account of a few territorial disputes.
Image from “Brilliant Maps” [LINK] accessed 22/02/2018. 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 centred on natural resources. Some of them are centred 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.
NEXT POST: State, sovereignty and territory
Jorge Emilio Nunez
23rd February 2018