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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: February 2021

3 - A Theory of Border Settlement

from Part I - The Settlement of Borders


Chapter 3 theorizes border settlement as a bargaining process. Information and commitment problems as the most common obstacles to concluding border delimitation negotiations. Information exchange is facilitated by numerous mechanisms; commitment problems are driven by the value of the territory. Two broad categories of border territory are identified. Territory that contains a power endowment, defined as characteristics of the border capable of affecting state power, and territory that does not. The presence of these power endowments may trigger a commitment problem, making border settlement less likely. We identify alternative explanations for failed border settlement based on information problems. We also integrate expectations from theories of conflict management, with a focus on bilateral negotiations, third party mediation and legal methods. Bilateral negotiations help surmount the challenge of incomplete information, but cannot easily allay the fears underlying commitment problems. Third parties help with either challenge but, when addressing commitment problems, legal methods are more effective than mediation.

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