Uncertain borders: Today's little-known territorial disputes

Territorial disputes vary in intensity, from the militarised to the dormant and those under legal review. Many go unheard of for years before they are thrust back into the limelight. Here is a look at the border melees that get the least attention.


Violent border conflicts in Chechnya, Kashmir and the West Bank regularly make headlines around the world. Scores of unresolved territorial disputes remain across the globe today. They vary greatly in their intensity, their nature and in their potential for resolution. Many are considered dormant or "managed", and rarely get any attention.

Some latent disputes, such as the sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, for which Argentina went to war with Great Britain in 1982, resurface when the territory produces valuable natural resources, like oil.

Islands are frequently at the centre of territorial clashes, as are disagreements involving maritime boundaries, since shipping channels and fishing zones can bring significant revenue.

Other international boundary disagreements are a matter of national pride or identity. In October, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to the Russian-controlled Southern Kuril Islands soured relations with Japan.

Tokyo claims the southernmost islands as Japanese territory, and while there is no open violence over the territories, the disagreement has kept the two countries from formally ending World War Two hostilities.

Other disputes go unnoticed as they crawl their way through bilateral negotiations and the meanders of the International Court of Justice. Three cases are pending at the ICJ, the latest was jointly instituted by Burkina Faso and the Republic of Niger.

Here is a look at some of the most unique or significant territorial disputes you have probably never heard of.

SLIDESHOW: Uncertain borders


Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning