Territorial disputes: The Persian Gulf (Part 30) [Post 190]

The Persian Gulf: Partial Conclusions

The longstanding and still unresolved TERRITORIAL DISPUTES in the Persian Gulf have several dimensions. The current nomenclature in legal and political sciences used the term TERRITORIAL DISPUTE. Yet, the disputes in the Persian Gulf are a clear example of an ongoing differences that have to do with territory as well as population, government and law domestically, regionally and internationally.

This blog series TERRITORIAL DISPUTES originally aimed only to briefly introduce conceptual elements (first ten posts of the series) and thereafter present a succinct overview of relevant and current examples.

Before we covered the differences in the Persian Gulf, we had addressed Kashmir, the Malvinas/Falkland islands, Gibraltar, the Israel-Palestine case, and many others. The plan was to write and publish only ten posts (like with the rest of the case studies) for the Persian Gulf region. Thanks to the comments made by one of our readers, I decided to extend the assessment of this particular case study.

Because of the nature of this series and its platform (a blog), I have covered the basis in relation to the differences in the Persian Gulf and the application of the EGALITARIAN SHARED SOVEREIGNTY to evaluate a solution. However, there are questions that are more complex and more serious problems to address. 

I am addressing these questions with future dedicated research. To give an answer to these points deserve a more in-depth analysis that will have to include technicalities in terms of statistical information, methodology and content based on the disciplines of reference. In addition to this, I do my best to keep this blog series as accessible as possible for anybody (at least, most people) to be able to get a grasp and participate in the discussion.

Having said that, the last 29 posts have enabled us to:

  • Be familiar with a brief historical chronology.
  • Distinguish historical facts from religious account.
  • Understand some key domestic, regional and international reasons behind this difference.
  • Introduce the concept of “colourable claim” and explore three different grounds: historical entitlement, legal basis and moral standing. Its main outcome is that both Israelis and Palestinians ought to be part of any negotiation concerning the sovereignty (de jure and de facto) over the disputes territories.
  • Introduce the solutions presented in recent years by the United States, United Nations and Arab League.
  • Learn that all the aforementioned solutions suggest explicitly or implicitly partition and/or the interference of non-regional parties.
  • Evaluate by means of an abstract experiment how the EGALITARIAN SHARED SOVEREIGNTY may solve the difference and could materialize.

With all this in mind, three main partial conclusions leave the door open for future reflection and analysis:

  1. Sovereignty of the disputed territories should not be totally in the hands of only one of the claiming parties either Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, or the United Arab Emirates.
  2. If existing conditions in terms of sovereignty continue, they will only perpetuate a status quo and therefore, a legal and political limbo securing only one result: a volatile area in many ways.
  3. United Nations or any other party alien to the dispute (for example, United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Arab League) should not interfere.

There is nothing completely unresolvable if we look together for a solution. Indeed, if we choose not to solve the difference and we do not look for ways to move forward we are not going to find it. It is usually the case in this kind of differences that victory for one party means the other party has to suffer. 

When we shift the focus, and understand we are all human beings and we are all fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters doing our best to let our future generations live in a better world we may have a chance. It is not only up to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, or the United Arab Emirates. It is up to all of us.

For an interactive map of TERRITORIAL DISPUTES see
Link to the complete publication

For current information about TERRITORIAL DISPUTES see CIA’s The World Factbook at:
Link to the complete publication


This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (Routledge 2020).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.


Final recap.

Friday 12th February 2021
Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez
Twitter: @DrJorge_World

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