Contested Territory

Contested Territory

Rev. 29 June 2016

Sara Mitchell (2016) notes some salient points about historic and contemporary territorial disputes:

Types of Territorial Conflicts

The Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK) is an independent and interdisciplinary registered association located at the Department of Political Science at the University of Heidelberg. Since 1991, the HIIK has collected, analyzed and distributed information on the emergence, course, and settlement of interstate and intrastate political conflicts.

The institute publishes an annual Conflict Barometer analyzing conflicts around the world and describing the recent history of the conflict, parties involved, the issues being disputed, and the intensity of any violence involved.

Conflict Issues are material or immaterial goods pursued by conflict actors via conflict measures. Due to the character of conflict measures, conflict issues attain relevance for the society as a whole - either for the coexistence within a given state or between states. Conflict issues are classified on the basis of ten items representing common goals of conflict actors:

Other Sources of Conflict Data

Armed conflict is a matter of great interest and serious concern to people and states, and is therefore an area of significant research by a wide variety of organizationa.

The following are projects that systematically track, organize and disseminate data on armed conflicts around the world. All conflicts occur in specific places and almost all have some territorial dimension to them.

Other Classifications of Territorial Conflicts

Gibler (2015) has categorized armed territorial conflicts into seven general groups:

Dzurek (2005) created a classification of five factors that control the intensity of boundary disputes:

Jennings (1963) provides five modes by which sovereignty over territory can be acquired:

Burghardt (1973) asserts that claims to territory can be placed in one or more of the following categories:

Jackson and Morelli (2009) assert that there are two prerequisites for war between rational actors:

They then go on to assert five causes for bargaining failure:

Countries That Don't Exist

The focus on interstate and intrastate conflicts presumes the existence of states as clear, fixed and universally accepted. There are territories that exist almost in a parallel world of independent "nations" with their own populations and governments.

David Robson's 2015 article for the BBC, The Countries That Don't Exist reviews Nick Middleton's An Atlas of Countries that Don’t Exist (Macmillan, 2015) in noting a handful of the 50 "countries" that Middleton profiles: