What Is an International Dispute?

What Is an International Dispute?

According to Merill (2011) the Concept of Disputes in International Law is defined as a disagreements on a fact, law or policy where one party’s claim or assertion is denied or refused by another.

Dispute Settlement

From 1919 to 1928 disputes among members of the League of Nations were to submit the matter to the League Council as of the Covenant of the League of Nations (1919). Hereafter and until the 1945 disputes where to be settled under the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 under which it says that

(…) all disputes or conflicts (…) shall never be sought except by pacific means.

After 1945 disputes are settled under the Charter of the United Nations (UN Charter).

The Obligation

According to article 2(3) of the UN Charter

All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

and furthermore

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, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.

as of article 33(1) in the Charter. Following from the to operating clauses is the obligation of the members of the United Nations to resolve international disputes in a peaceful manner.

Means of International Dispute Settlement

If one look at the typology of International dispute settlement there are around three main models for the means. Firstly you can look at the settlement process from its degree of subjectiveness or objectiveness, where in one end you have the means with a high degree of subjectiveness, such as negotiation, good offices and mediation and on the other hand side, where the means are more objective you will use conciliation, arbitration and judicial settlement as means in the dispute settlement. Secondly one can divide the means into diplomatic means and legal means. The former can then again be divided into direct and indirect diplomatic means or in dynamic or static diplomatic means, where the division of the legal means will be similar for the two models, namely in ad hoc and permanent legal means. Finally the means can be divided into dynamic and static means, where the division look rather similar to the first model dividing the means after the degree of subjectiveness. (See Collier et al. (1999)) This section is merely to give an overview of the framework for settlement of international disputes. I will come back to the importance of this later on.

The Economic Crisis and The Crisis in Economics

Recently I was by a coincidence introduced to The Institute of New Economic Thinking (INET) and in connection to this the INET Center for Imperfect Knowledge Economics. In the following I’ve summed up some of my findings on the work of the institute, which is definitely worth looking further into.

Purpose of the INET

In the fall of 2009, 25 economists met at, what was later referred to as, the Bedford Summit, where the foundation for the INET was made. The primary conclusion from this was that there should be made changes in the economic paradigm, since the field of economics in many cases no longer reflects the real world.

The Crisis in Economics: Rethinking the assumptions

In the spring of 2010, 200 economists discussed “The Economic Crisis and the Crisis in Economics” at Cambridge University as the first plenary of the INET. As Keynes in his time went after the prevailing paradigm in economics the INET gathered at Kings College to go after the prevailing paradigm of our time. As Stiglitz said in his speech during the plenary “(…) among those who have to take blame for the crisis is the economics profession. There are several aspects of the behavioral economy that seem so patently inconsistent with any model of rationality (…) that it is tempting to construct a model predicating rationality that explains such behavior”. As for the problems with the market Soros is of the belief that “(…) the misconception was the belief that markets correct their own excesses.” Akerlof follows this path as he says “It is true that capitalism does work, but unfortunately capitalism sometimes works all too well, and then it also has to be curbed.”

The Economic Crisis: International Political Economy

One year later in the spring of 2011, 400 economists met for discussing “Crisis and Renewal: International Political Economy at the Crossroads” at the second plenary in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. One of the issues discussed here was the “Optimal Currency Areas and Governance: The Challenge of Europe”. The discussion was, as the title suggests, based on the theory of Optimal Currency Areas (OCA) as it was founded by Mundell in 1961 (see article). A majority of American economists have, according to Frankel, been concerned with the Eurozone’s ability to comply with the requirements necessary for a common currency to be optimal according to the OCA theory as of Mundell (1961). According to Thygesen the necessity of the OCA requirements to be met before introducing the common currency has become subjacent, since when a common currency first has been introduced, the requirements might be met afterwards (see article). Anyhow Frankel in his speech on the second plenary in Bretton Woods stated four problems with the Eurozone as a OCA. Firstly it was a mistake to admit Greece into the Euro in the first place. Secondly in his view it was a mistake for the ECB to accept Greek bonds as collateral and he elaborates that this might have been the reason why investors charged spreads for Greek debt that was almost zero. Hereby Greece could borrow at basically the same interest rate as Germany. Thirdly he believes that it was misguided not sending of Greece to the IMF already in the beginning of the 2010. Finally that it was a mistake not wanting to think about restructuring the debt earlier.

Of course there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then. Nevertheless having the discussion as of how the economic theories where used or misused before the crisis especially within central banking, is certainly an interesting debate. On the 29-30th of January 2013 the Danish Institute for International Studies will be throwing a seminar on central banking at crossroads, which hopefully go more thoroughly into this.

US Presidential Election 2012

Tomorrow it is election day. The two candidates have been campaigning for more than six months now. Natural questions for me at this state are: Is Mitt Romney and Barack Obama really that different? What do they want and what have they done already? The Danish Instistute for International Studies held a seminar today (5th of November 2012), where they tried to answer these exact questions. Below I have summed up a few of the points made here.

Ideology and defense strategy

It is surprising that the conclusion in the public debate after the 3rd debate between the candidates was that the candidates had similar defense strategies, because there are differences. One of the major differences between the two presidential candidates is their interpretation of realism. When Romney look at the world he sees a world of states and presidents, whereas Obama sees the world as a network of social media. (Tjalve Schou, Vibeke, DIIS 5/10-12)

But where do the two candidates get their inspiration to these differences in defense strategies from? Obama has primarily found his inspiration in “The Irony of American History”, which was written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in 1952. The overall idea of the book is to beware of too positive a self-assessment and ideological overweening. According to Schou Tjalve Obama sees  all conflicts as a part of a larger net of global links. Therefore cooperation with Netanyahu was rejected due to its infringement with the possibility of flexibility and openness in future conflict resolutions. Obama links this pragmatism with a firm military strategy. Schou Tjalve argues that for Obama military power is a mean to resolutions of problems, not a goal in itself and definitely not something to boast about in the general public. For Romney on the other hand military buildup is important in order to appear powerful on the international scene (Schou Tjalve, Vibeke; September 2012; RÆSON).


War is expensive. Therefore non of the presidential candidates can afford to say that the US shall stay in Afghanistan any longer. In addition they have been constrained by the economic domestic situation. At the time being an ideological legitimization of warfare is not as popular among Americans as before the economic crisis. This constrains the opportunities for Romney to diverge from the strategies of Obama since he presumably will rely on the same advisors as Bush, who might be very focused on this very articulation.

At the 2008 election Obama used a very strong articulation in regards to nation building in Afghanistan. This lasted all the way to December 2009, where the narration changed focus to catching the responsible for 9/11. Obama cut back on everything related to nation building in his rhetoric and introduced the AfPak-strategy, while promising withdrawing from Afghanistan by 2014 (Obama, 1st December 2012). From 2010 an additional shift in the position of United States’ towards Taliban. Before the main focus was integration of those former Taliban foot soldiers, who had only participated in the war due to economic incentives. From 2010 focus on the necessity of dialog with Taliban enhanced. Since the narration on the ideological focus in the warfare had been changed, it was possible to  legitimate the negotiations and talks with Taliban. (Kanwal Sheikh, Mona, DIIS 5/11-12)

Geostrategic policies

The primary difference between the candidates lies in what Hans Mouritzen calls their stile (Mouritzen, Hans, DIIS 5/11-12). An example of the difference in stile is found in the 3. presidential debate, when Romney stated that there should be no such thing as an apology tour for the American President like the one he suggested that Obama had carried out when he started his presidency. (See the 3rd debate here)

The Work of Humanitarian Actors in Syria

Are we right now giving assistance in Syria that lives up to the 3 key elements of humanitarian aid? The humanitarian organizations are helping people in government controlled areas in Syria. This has been argued to be used by the incumbent government in arguing that if living, where they are in control, you are taken care of and thereby this is used in the competition of hearts and minds in Syria. Thereby the humanitarian organizations can be influencing and enhancing the very same conflict that they are trying to treat the consequences of. (Petersen, Kim Schultz Petersen, October 17 2012)


The major outline of this page is to discuss some of the problems and strategies for developing countries. With a BSc. in Economics, where my interests have always lied in the economic growth miracle in China, there might be some bias in my suggestions and solutions.


//Helene Regitze