Diplomatic means of Resolving Border Disputes

Introduction Diplomacy is defined as the art of dealing with people in a tactful manner. The profession or activity of managing international relations are generally done by a country's foreign representatives known as diplomats. We live in a world that has a history of innumerable wars, disputes, conspiracies etc regarding territorial discrepancies. If anything these wars have taught us what should not be done, in order to prevent them from happening ever again. Still, disputes have arisen from time to time, however, what appears to have changed is the method of dealing with such disputes. It is through mutual agreements and has several times proven to be a method for maintaining peace both internally and globally. Importance of Diplomatic Talks :- Diplomatic talks lie at the very center of International Peace, Stability in terms of Social, Economic and Political. With each passing day, every country is becoming stronger and more efficient in its defence systems in all arenas including Military, Navy and Air Force. Not only is it improving soldiers’ individual war skills but it is also acquiring new weapons, artillery, warheads etc piling up its military stock. Currently there are total 9 world countries having Nuclear Weapons in its custody. The total active nuclear warheads sum up to 3,750. This number does not seem to decrease anytime in near future rather each country is focused of increasing its Nuclear Efficiency. According to a recent study the current number of nuclear weapons in the world is capable enough to destroy the entire globe around 7 times over. If not these many times, a single Nuclear War could send the world back to Stone Age. No country during this age nuclear instability can afford any kind of war or let any dispute situation escalate into a war. The countries, their governments, world leaders as well as the common people are very much aware of this fact and this awareness has what has kept the countries away from direct face offs to crossing the line. In such a world, peaceful talks remain always a Safe option to resolve their disputes. As in this situation countries peacefully sit across the table to discuss and solve their problems. Types of Borders :- The reason for categorization is that rules are very different for each kinds of borders. Now, there are 2 types of Borders. First is the Land Borders while second is the Sea Borders. Land Borders - It is the most common type. In this case every State has a territory within which it excercises it's Territorial Sovereignty. On the edge of the territory is the border of another state and the borders of both the states lie completely on land. There could be however, small and narrow water body/bodies like lakes and/or rivers. The jurisdiction of the sovereign state ends at the very border. And the other state cannot interfere directly or indirectly with the Governmental affairs of the former state. These borders are very specifically lined and cannot under simple circumstances.The respective states are free to carry out any or all types of practice or exercises of any kind peacefully, within the jurisdiction of its border if it doesn't cause any apparent harm or threat to the neighboring states. Sea Borders - As is clear by the name, these borders lie on the edge of the sea. As soon as the territory ends, state's jurisdiction does not necessarily end at the same point. The United Nations has made International laws for the regulation and determination of boundaries in case of sea Borders. This has been coded in the United Nations Convention on the Law of Seas (UNCLOS). As per Article 3 of this convention, "Every State has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 Nautical Miles, measured from the baseline determined in accordance with this convention''. The State can exercise it's sovereignty over the territorial sea but has to have certain restrictions, as specified in this convention. At the edge of territorial sea, starts the EEZ, i.e., Exclusive Economic Zone. Article 57 of the United Nations Convention on Law of Seas states, "The Exclusive Economic Zone shall not exceed beyond 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which territorial sea is measured". The sovereign state shall have the full freedom to explore it's continental shelf and exploit the natural resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone. A median line shall be called as the delimitation line, in case there is an overlap between the territorial seas of 2 states , or else can be mutually decided by the states. The delimitation is affected by the agreement on basis of international law, as per Article 38 of Statute of International Court of Justice, when the overlap is of Exclusive Economic Zones or the Continental Shelf. How do disputes arise ? Border disputes can arise from any number of reasons. The cause may even be internal political affairs of one state leading to a dispute on borders. Or as in most cases the cause maybe completely external. Here are some of the causes leading to border dispute - ● State A has entered and occupied some area within the territory of State B, and refuses to leave ● An armed conflict regarding any reason between two states ● State A has transferred some area to State B by a treaty but has now come to doubt the validity of the same ● A State altering it's official map to include parts of neighboring territory, can also lead to dispute ● A state carrying out restricted activities in its territorial waters or EEZ. These are few causes as to how border disputes arise. The Disputes as earlier mentioned could also be internal disturbance specially in the border areas of any state. Transfer of an area of territory from one state to another :- In order for a state to acquire and run its territorial sovereignty over an area, it must occupy it and shall effectively control it. There are 2 modes of acquiring an area - 1. The first one is where a state transfers an area currently under its jurisdiction to another state and allows the other state to run it under its territorial sovereignty. These types of transfers are usually done by treaties. Acquiring of territories through use of force shall also fall under this category but such acquisitions are unlawful under today's International Law as it was determined by Security Council in 1991. 2. The second way is to occupy a terra nullis , i.e., a no man's land and is not under control of any State. The State must first occupy a land and then must exercise continuous and peaceful display of authority over it. This conduct is called an act a titre de souverain and this requirement is called “effective control” Elements of proof that support the effective control over the land in question are referred to as “effective.” Resolution of Border Disputes :- If two or more states claim their area on the same land a case of territorial dispute arises. The aspects that are determined in such a dispute are - 1. The change in occupying forces over the territory in question. That is which state had a prior authority 2. Which occupying state currently exercises its power over the territory 3. Or, If the territory was considered terra nullis , i.e, No state had a claim over that land and that the area was a barren land 4. The total population of the territory, if any. These aspects are necessary to consider and probably the first things that are considered before solving a Dispute. The most basic rule of Solving a dispute is that any or all kind of disputes shall be solved in accordance with the international law. Today the use of force or the threat of force to solve international disputes is outlawed except in cases where UN Security Council resolutions so authorize. Territorial disputes must be resolved peacefully Article 33 of the UN Charter provides that, “the parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, Judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.” Whichever of the methods used to solve a dispute shall be done in the light on International Law. In case of a dispute, a state, party to the dispute may declare a status quo, meaning it denies the existence of any dispute so as to immune it from any kind of discussion and gains advantage by exercising it's authority over the occupied land. A border dispute, hence, can only be resolved when both the states are willing and determined to solve it. This determination comes if the dispute is a question of national importance and poses a threat to citizens of any or both sides of the border. Important Rules of Negotiation :- Some rules that must be followed while negotiating in a border Disputes are - 1. To foster mutual confidence among the political leaders of both states and strengthen the bond between both states. 2. The Negotiations must be done in secret fashion and the number of participants should be limited to minimum, if contents are revealed the negotiation process stalls immediately. 4.Cautiously planning and proceeding in the negotiation stage. 5. Maintaining Legal consistency throughout the process, so as to leave no scope of any error or doubt. Conclusion :- This was overview of the border dispute. The process of diplomacy is a gradual and cautious process because the stakes are high here. The diplomats very carefully plan to put their demands while simultaneously also considering the needs and demands of the other state, to ultimately reach a conclusion with MUTUAL negotiations.





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