Pluralism of pluralisms [Post 25]


By context this blog series means the physical space in which agents (individuals, communities and state) interact with each other. The nature of these interactions may me legal, political, factual or of any other kind. Spatially, there are three contexts: local or domestic, regional and international.

Depending on the agent, the contexts vary. In that sense, for individuals, their local or domestic context may be their neighborhood or the city where they live while they may perceive their state they are national of as integrated by different regions (different because of any characteristic such as climate, language or topography). In turn, for communities their domestic context may be defined by law as well as by any other feature such as common cultural and ethnic background. Example of a domestic context for a community that may be geographically dispersed is Israel for Jews in accordance to the Law of Return. These same communities may acknowledge regional counterparts by distinguishing them based on different criteria (for example, legally defined borders, religion and natural environmental occurrences). Finally, for states, their domestic sphere may be determined by law as well as by extra-legal factors such as geopolitics and political influence; the regional and international contexts may be of influence or not depending on, for example, their geographical location and legal and political system. Consider authoritarian close regimes and island states.

As the rest of this blog series about the pluralism of pluralisms present in both sovereignty and cosmopolitanism, we will refer to territorial disputes in order to illustrate what “contexts” mean, to characterize them and to comprehend their relevance.

Firstly, it is important to note that a territorial dispute may start, escalate into conflict, be in an ongoing status quo and result in a peaceful and permanent understanding because of the influence of any, some or all the contexts, whether local, regional and international one.[1] It may be the case, depending on each individual territorial dispute, that one context may be more relevant than the others. However, a thorough analysis of any difference should include all three contexts so as to have a more robust understanding about how different factors work together in negative synergy against peaceful and permanent solutions.

Secondly, there are several claims and issues at stake more relevant to each individual territorial dispute with more or less presence in different contexts. To that extent, broadly, there are pertinent elements in the domestic context (for example, prior unresolved disputes, prior loss of territory and the aftermath of decolonization), the regional context (for example, common past, geographical location, development and natural resources) and the international context (for example, balance of military forces, prior gain of territory, common alliance and previous settlement).

The Israel-Palestine difference, Crimea, the South China Sea, the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, Gibraltar, Northern Ireland and the several disputes related to islands in Africa (the Glorioso islands, Chagos islands, Banc du Geyser, and many others) are a few examples of how the dynamics between the domestic, regional and international contexts are entangled.

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Contexts and territorial disputes.

Author of:

Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020).

Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017).

Wednesday 26th May 2021

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World

[1] Huth refers only to the international and domestic contexts: Paul K. Huth, Standing Your Ground. Territorial Disputes and International Conflict. The author adds the regional context to the analysis which Huth omits.

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