The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Territorial dispute

A territorial dispute is a disagreement over the possession/control of land between two or more states, or over the possession/control of land by one state after it has conquered it from a former state no longer currently recognized by the occupying power.

These disputes are often related to the possession of natural resources such as rivers, fertile farmland, mineral or oil resources, although the disputes can also be driven by culture, religion and ethnic nationalism. In many cases territorial disputes result from vague and unclear language in a treaty that set up the original boundary.

Territorial disputes are a major cause of wars and terrorism, as states often try to assert their real, or imagined, sovereignty over a territory through invasion, and non-state entities try to influence the actions of politicians through terrorism. International law does not support the use force by one state to annex the territory of another state. The UN Charter says: "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

In some causes such as the Aksai Chin, the Taiwan straits, and Kashmir, both sides will define a line of control that serves as a de-facto international border. Although these lines are often clearly demarcated, they do not have the legitimacy of an agreed international boundary.

The term occupied territories in general refers to regions distinct from the recognized territory of a sovereign state but which it controls, especially with military forces. Since the latter part of the 20th century, the unqualified term "occupied territories" has come to refer specifically to the West Bank and Gaza strip, whose status is hotly disputed (see occupied Palestinian territories).


Current territorial disputes

Disputes between states that recognize each other

Disputes in which both parties have some territory under control

Disputes between a state and a secessionist group that has territorial control

Disputes between a state and a secessionist group with no territorial control

Disputes between a state and a group claiming prior statehood

See also

Last updated: 05-06-2005 14:53:57