Settlement of International Disputes

What happens when any dispute occurs between two countries?

Whenever a dispute occurs between two individuals or parties, they go to the courts to solve the issue. Similarly when any disputes occurs between two countries, there is a prescribed procedure at international level to resolve the issue.
The international disputes can be solved by Pacific and Coercive means.
The main purpose and objective of United Nations Organisation (UNO) is to maintain peace and develop friendly relations among nations based on the principle of equal right. It is common that generally disputes are arising among the nations. It is the object of UNO to settle disputes of the states by peaceful method.


What is International Dispute -

An International or territorial dispute is a disagreement over the rights of two or more states with regard to control of given piece of land. International disputes find their roots in a number of issues including nature resources, ethnic or religious demography and even ambiguous treaties.

Settlement of International Disputes-

There ways two ways:
1. Pacific Means
2. Coercive Means

Pacific Means includes:

Extra Judicial:
  • Negotiation
  • Mediation
  • Conciliation
  • Good Office
  • United Nations
  • Arbitration
  • International Court Of Justice
Coercive Means:
  • Retortion
  • Reprisal
  • Embargo
  • Pacific Blocade
  • Intervention

Pacific means of settlement-

UN Charter Article 2(3) Pacific settlement of Disputes-
All members shall settle their International Disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that International peace and security and justice are not endangered.


It is first and simplest method of peaceful settlement of disputes among the nations. When dispute states settle their disputes themselves by discussions or by adjusting their differences, is called negotiation. In this method, problem is solved by mutual consent of the states. Generally negotiation is conducted by the head of the States or by representative of the State.
Cases - India & Sri lanka settled their boundary dispute through Negotiation in 1974.
India and Pakistan settled their outstanding problem by negotiation method in Shimla Conference 1972.

Mediation -

Case- India and Pakistan in 1965-66 in Tashkant Agreement.
Mediation is a method for the peaceful settlement of International disputes involving the participation of a third party with the aim of helping the parties to the dispute agree to a solution. As a diplomatic method, the party's consent is necessary. The mediating state may become involved at the request of the parties to the dispute or on its own initiative. In its role as mediator the intervening state will take part in the discussion between the other states and may propose possible solutions.


The UN Charter has mentioned conciliation as a method of political settlement of disputes. It is process of formal proposals of settlement after an investment of the facts. In Conciliation parties are not bound to accept conciliation.
Conciliation sometimes used interchangeably with mediation however Conciliation is more structured than mediation.

Good office -

When the parties refuse to negotiate or when the they fail to negotiate, they may take assistance of a third party. Third party may be appointed by the parties themselves or by security council. By good office, meant the assistance of a state or International body in establishing contact or begining direct negotiations between the disputing parties, with the aim of peaceful settlement of conflict. The decisions of the parties are not binding and violation of them does not cause any breach of law.
Example: The P.M. of U.K, Mr. Wilosn provided his good office to reach an agreement to refer Kutch issue to an Arbitral Tribunal.

Arbitration -

When dispute of two nations is referred to an arbitrator, whom they appoint with their mutual consent is Arbitration. It is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It is a way to resolve disputes outside the courts. Arbitration is binding between the parties to which the arbitration proceedings apply.

Inquiry -

The process to ascertain the facts of dispute by commission of imperial investigators is said as inquiry. This mean is intended to find out the questions of law and mixed questions of law and fact involved in a dispute. The only function of the commission is to bring in light those facts, which are the root cause for the alleged dispute, and to investigate the question of law and mixed questions of law and fact.

Judicial Settlement-

The process of settling a dispute; by the International Tribunal according to the provisions of International law, is said to be juidicial settlement. For Judicial Settlement, there is a Judicial organ in International law, known as International Court of Justice. The expression international tribunal is relevant. A tribunal may acquire international character because its organisation and jurisdiction. At present, the Internation Court of Justice is the most important International tribunal.

Security Council-

A dispute may be settled by a principal organ of the United Nations, known as Security Council. The council consists of 15 members. Five members are permanent while the remaining ten members are non-permanent members. Wide powers have been entrusted to council for the settlement of disputes, which tend to endanger world peace and security. There are number of measures to be taken by council for settlement of International dispute.

General Assembly -

General assembly is another principal organ of United Nations. The Assembly has no specific means to settle the dispute, rather it has general powers to settle the international dispute. It has the power to discuss and to suggest better means for the peaceful settlement of disputes.


International law intends to overcome the chances of war & violence, & tries to solve the dispute on the merits of political, diplomatic & judicial bases. Int law also recognises certain coercive or compulsive means to settle the disputes in extra-ordinary caseswhere the International peace & security has been endangered.

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