Contentious Issues and World Politics: The Management of Territorial Claims in the Americas, 1816–1992



This article studies the management of territorial claims using an issue-based approach that reconceptualizes processes of interstate conflict and cooperation as reflecting contention over issues. Hypotheses on issue management techniques are tested using newly collected data from the Issue Correlates of War (ICOW) research project. Empirical analysis of territorial claims in the Western Hemisphere supports the general model, with issue salience and past issue interactions systematically affecting states' choices between peaceful and militarized techniques for managing or settling their contentious issues. In particular, action over territorial claims is most likely when more valuable territory is at stake, in the aftermath of militarized conflict, and when recent peaceful settlement attempts have failed. Third parties are more likely to become involved in nonbinding activities when the claim appears more threatening to regional or global stability, and submission of claims to binding third-party decisions is most likely between adversaries that have begun to build up a legacy of successful agreements. The article concludes with a discussion of directions for future research on territory and on other issues.