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Conflict Management in Land, River, and Maritime Claims

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2017


Why do disputants favor some conflict management strategies when managing certain territorial claim types—land, river, or maritime—but not others? We propose that state interests—defined via claim characteristics and interdependence—and transaction costs (i.e., the challenges associated with aggregating state preferences over outcomes) differ across claim types. These differences then incentivize states to cede varying levels of control over claim management, ultimately encouraging them to prioritize and institutionalize certain conflict management strategies when managing particular types of territorial claims. More specifically, we theorize and find that states pursue distinct management strategies when addressing their land (informal; bilateral negotiations and arbitration), river (more formal; third-party non-binding), and maritime claims (most formal; multilateral negotiations and legal processes).

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© The European Political Science Association 2017 

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Andrew P. Owsiak, Associate Professor, Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia, Third Floor, Candler Hall, Athens, GA 30606 ( Sara McLaughlin Mitchell, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Iowa, 341 Schaeffer Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242 University of Iowa ( The authors thank Mark Axelrod, Brian Phillips, Brandon Prins, and conference participants at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Peace Science Society International for their feedback on earlier drafts of this work. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit


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