1. Definition of International Dispute : 

           There is no universally acceptable' precise and perfect definition of International Dispute. In a wide sense, International dispute means a "disagreement on a point of law or fact a conflict of  legal views or of interest between the States." This disagreement between the parties may arise either on legal(justifiable) or political grounds (non-justifiable).

Legal Differences:  According to Prof. Oppenheim, legal differences are those in which the parties to the dispute base their respective claims and contentions on grounds recognized by International Law

Political Differences: All other differences are usually referred to as political disputes or as conflicts of Interests.
               Political or legal differences depends more or less upon the attitude of the States.it is, therefore, difficult to distinguish the dispute from legal to political.

2. Settlement of International Dispute

      As above mentioned the Dispute may be political (non-justifiable) or legal (justifiable). There are various modes of settlement of the political and legal differences between the nations. Such differences may be resolved either by amicable means or by Compulsive means short of war.

A) Amicable or Peaceful Means:

      The various amicable means of settling disputes may be enumerated as follows :

(1) Negotiation (2)Good Offices (3) Mediation (4) International Commission of Inquiry (5) Conciliation (6) Arbitration (7) Machinery of the United Nations Organization - i) General Assembly ii) Security Council.  (8) Judicial Settlement through International Court of Justice (ICJ)

(1) Negotiation :  

               When disputant States settle their disputes themselves by discussion or by adjusting their differences, the procedure is called Negotiation. Negotiation may be carried on by their Heads of the States or by their accredited representatives or by diplomatic agents. It is the simplest form of settlement of disputes. It helps the disputant State Parties to bring about necessary change by mutual consent.  The success of negotiation depends largely upon the degree of acceptability of claims of one party by other and the spirit of accommodation which the negotiations are conducted. Negotiations has certain weakness also, On many occasions it becomes difficult for the disputant State to ascertain the precise facts of the dispute.Moreover, when the parties are unequal it is likely that the small power may be subjected to the will of big power.

Examples :

Here are some examples of Negotiation

      a) India and Pakistan Settled their outstanding differences in the Shimla Conference (1976).
      b) India and Bangladesh Settled Farraka Barrage (gunfire) Issue through Negotiation.  (1977)
      c) Inda and Sri-Lanka Settled their Boundry dispute through Negotiation. (1974)
      d) Australia and Newsland Settled their disputes by Neotiation (1965)

(2) Good Offices : 

              When the Parties refuse to negotiate, or when they fail to Negotiation, they may take the assistance of a third party. The third party may be appointed by the parties themselves or by the security council. The third party may be a State or an Individual. To settle the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan the Security Council had appointed McNaughton in 1949, Mr. Dixon in the year 1950, Graham in the year 1951 and Jarring in the year 1957 as representative of United Nations.
               The term "Good Offices" connotes the bringing about the conflicting parties together and the counseling of advice or the suggesting of a settlement without participating in the negotiation. Such suggestions or advices may be disregarded by a party to a dispute without any compunction or breach of the law.
Example : 

        The Prime Minister of United Kingdom, Mr. Wilson provided his good offices to India and Pakistan which resulted in the parties to reach an agreement to refer Kutch issue to an Arbitral Tribunal.
       In the year 1949, the Security Council rendered good offices in the dispute between the Netherland Government and Republic Indonesia.
(3) Mediation :

       Mediation is the conducting of negotiation between the disputing States through the agency of the third party. In simple words, when the third party participates in the discussion along with the disputant States and also gives its own proposals or suggestions in resolving the dispute, it is called as Mediation. The Mediation presupposes the active participation of the third State in Negotiations, but the mediator's suggestions have no binding force and the parties are free to accept or reject or modify them.

Article 34 and 35 of the Charter also provide for collective mediation on the part of United Nations whenever there is a situation which might lead to international friction.


      Soviet Union President Kosygin mediated in the Dispute between India and Pakistan which resulted in the conclusion of Tashkant agreement in 1966.

(See..... Distinction between Good Offices and Mediation )    

(4) International Commission of Inquiry:

                An inquiry is also a method which is often resorted to for the settlement of disputes. It may be noted that it is not an independent method and is often applied along-with other methods. The main objective of the inquiry is to make an investigation of the relevant matters so as to establish facts which may hold the ultimate solution of the problem. For example, often inquiry Commissions are appointed in relation to the settlement of border disputes. The commission clarifies the facts after making inquiry into the relevant facts.
               The first convention of the Hague Conference of 1899 suggested the establishment of the international commission of inquiry for the international disputes involving neither honor nor vital interests and relating to points of fact with a view to elucidating the facts and dispelling ignorance that ultimately leads to hostilities. The conference provided that such Commission might be constituted by special agreement between the parties, the members of such Commissions being appointed in accordance with the scheme laid down in Article 32 of the Convention for the appointment of the members of Arbitral Tribunals.

Examples : 

     The North Sea Incident Inquiry, the Tavignano, Camouna Gaulois Inquiry and the Tubantia are instances of such Commissions of Enquiry

(5) Conciliation:

          When a dispute is referred to a Commission of persons to investigate the basis of dispute and to make a report containing proposals for settlement after finding out the facts, this process is known as conciliation. Such proposals have no binding force on the parties to the dispute.
      According to Hudson, "Conciliation is a process of formulating proposals of settlement after an investigation of the facts and an effort to Reconcile opposing contentions, the parties to the dispute being left free to accept or reject the proposals formulated."
       The term implies various methods adopted by the third party to amicably settle the dispute between two or more States. It involves the formulation of proposals for settlement after an investigation of the facts. The dispute may be referred to a Commission for the favor of proposals to the parties for the settlement.

(6) Arbitration :

           Arbitration is the most important method of settling International difference (disputes) by amicable means. According to Lawrence, " Its value resides in its judicial or quasi-judicial character. It signifies the reference of the dispute to an individual, or small groups of individuals, to whom the parties state their respective cases, and whose decision they are in honour bound to obey, and in fact have always obeyed, the only instance to the contrary being due to the fact that the arbitrator had exceeded his powers... When a dispute is submitted to arbitration, the matter takes on the semblance of a trial before a Court ". States are however under no obligation to submit their dispute to arbitration unless they have bound themselves beforehand by a Treaty. But once they have referred the matter to arbitration, they disregard to the award means a breach of promise and the award is final, unless it is vitiated by fraud, collusion and the like, or the arbitrator, as pointed out above, has exceeded his powers.


           The settlement of the dispute by arbitration in Alabama of Claims between the United States and Great Britain went a long way in emphasizing the importance of arbitration as a means of settlement of the dispute.

(7) Machinery of the United Nations Organization - 

          According to Article 2 para, 3 of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council have been empowered to discharge certain functions in this regard.
     i) General Assembly: General assembly may make a recommendation after the discussion to the disputant parties under Article 14 of The United Nations Charter. Thus the assembly has a general power for the peaceful settlement of the dispute. The general assembly has been insisting from time to time, to the disputant parties to settle their disputes peacefully.    
    ii) Security Council: Under Article 24 para 1 of the United Nations Charter, maintenance of International Peace and Security is the responsibility of Security Council. Charter provides various modes by which the council settles the dispute which is likely to endanger international peace and security. Security Council can take the following Action to settle disputes.

(a) Investigation of the Disputes

(b) recommendation for appropriate procedure or methods of adjustment

(c) recommendation for the terms of the settlement


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