Date Thesis Awarded

4-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

International Relations

Advisor

Tunjen Cheng

Committee Member

Dennis Smith

Committee Member

Hiroshi Kitamura

Abstract

The importance of territory is undeniable, and so it is perhaps unsurprising that throughout history territorial disputes have been the principal source of conflict leading to war. However, while wars are often linked to territorial disputes, territorial disputes often pose little risk of war. The differences between the territorial disputes that lead to conflict and those that do not are essential, for within them is the key to identifying the causes of war, predicting sites of future conflict, and preventing conflict.

This research seeks to expand understanding of how violent or peaceful resolutions to territorial disputes are linked with bilateral trade and cultural and institutional differences and similarities. Through this research, the theories of economic interdependence, the clash of civilizations, and the democratic peace are examined as they apply to the decision-making processes of challengers in territorial disputes. Through a combination of a quantitative analysis and cases studies, the results revealed that the theories of economic interdependence and democratic peace were broadly supported in their application to territorial disputes, while the theory of the clash of civilizations was not. Thus, the continued proliferation of trade and democracy shows promise in increasing the likelihood of peaceful negotiated solutions to territorial disputes around the world.