Of all the issues in international relations, disputes over
territory are the most salient and most likely to lead to armed
conflict. Understanding their endurance is of paramount importance.
Although many states have settled their disagreements over
territory, seventy-one disputes involving nearly 40 percent of all
sovereign states remain unresolved.
In this study, Krista E. Wiegand examines why some states are
willing and able to settle territorial disputes while others are
not. She argues that states may purposely maintain disputes over
territory in order to use them as bargaining leverage in
negotiations over other important unresolved issues. This dual
strategy of issue linkage and coercive diplomacy allows the
challenger state to benefit from its territorial claim. Under such
conditions, it has strong incentive to pursue diplomatic and
militarized threats and very little incentive to settle the dispute
Wiegand tests her theory in four case studies, three
representing the major types of territorial disputes: uninhabited
islands and territorial waters, as seen in tensions between China
and Japan over the Senkaku and Diaoyu Islands; inhabited tracts of
territory, such as the North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla
affecting Morocco and Spain; and border areas, like the Shebaa
Farms dispute between Lebanon and Israel. A fourth case study of a
dispute between China and Russia represents a combination of all
three types; settled in 2008, it serves as a negative example. All
these disputes involve areas that have key strategic and economic
importance both regionally and globally.
Subjects: Political Science, History
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