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International Boundaries Research Unit

Workshop themes

IBRU delivers workshops on a number of boundary-related themes.

Below are descriptions of the topics covered in some of our most popular workshops.

Gulf of Guinea


Maritime boundary delimitation

Governments across the world agree that clearly-defined maritime boundaries are essential for good international relations and effective ocean management, yet few coastal states have agreed all their maritime boundaries with their neighbours. Part of the reason for this is that boundary delimitation requires a range of specialist legal and technical skills which are not always available to the governments in question. Combining lectures with practical exercises, IBRU’s maritime boundary workshops provide world class training in the principles and practice of maritime boundary delimitation.

  • The legal regimes of maritime space
  • Identifying an equitable solution
  • The effect of islands on maritime boundaries
  • Thechnical tasks in maritime boundary delimitation
  • Defining the outer limits of the continental shelf
  • Managing transboundary ocean resources
Ecuador-Peru demarcation


Boundary negotiation and dispute resolution

Few things - if any - are more important to a State than its territory and sovereign rights. It is therefore vital for governments involved in boundary negotiations or third-party adjudication to be as well prepared as possible. IBRU’s workshops on negotiation and dispute resolution are designed to equip participants with the knowledge and skills required to conclude a successful boundary settlement. Led by some of the world's most experienced boundary negotiators and legal counsel, these courses include innovative practical exercises in which participants work in teams to resolve boundary disputes based on real-world scenarios.

  • Legal principles in territorial dispute settlement
  • Negotiation strategy and tactics
  • Drafting a boundary agreement
  • Preparing for third-party adjudication
  • The use of evidence in boundary dispute resolution
  • Mediation, conciliation and Track II diplomacy
Eritrea-Ethiopia LandSat


Geographic information in boundary-making

Geographic information has always been central to the process of creating and managing international boundaries. Whether you are negotiating a boundary treaty, demarcating a boundary on the ground or managing transboundary resources, an understanding of the physical and human geography of the boundary landscape is of critical importance. Although access to accurate geographic information does not guarantee that a boundary will be problem-free, boundaries created on the basis of poor geographical information invariably generate tension between neighbouring states. IBRU’s workshops help decision-makers to make the best use of geographic information at their disposal, emphasising the value of both traditional data sources and new technology.

  • Sources of geographic information
  • The use of maps, aerial photography and satellite imagery in boundary analysis and recovery
  • Geographic information in boundary demarcation, maintenance and management
  • GIS tools for boundary-making and dispute resolution
  • Geographic information in boundary litigation and arbitration
Border guards


Strategies and tools for effective border management

Managing borders in the 21st century is a complex and challenging task. It is widely agreed that in a globalising world borders need to be as open as possible. However, in the post-9/11 world governments are understandably more anxious than ever to ensure that their frontiers are secured against external threats. These innovative workshops help policymakers and practitioners develop border management strategies that strike the best possible balance between these apparently conflicting goals. The courses provide practical guidance on a range of topics that are often overlooked elsewhere, emphasising the importance of management strategies that facilitate borderland development as well short-term security goals. 

  • Principles of border management
  • Border monitoring and control
  • Managing border crossings
  • International boundary commissions
  • Managing maritime borders
  • Managing border agency cooperation
Archive documents


Archive research for boundary dispute resolution

Most countries’ archives contain a wealth of material relating to international boundaries, much of which can be crucial to the understanding of boundary and territorial disputes. Indeed, the effective use of archival evidence is often the key to success in boundary negotiations and third-party adjudication. However, the size and complexity of many archives means that finding relevant material and compiling an accurate picture of the key issues is rarely a straightforward task. IBRU’s workshops on archive research help participants to understand the relevance of archival material to boundary-making and dispute resolution. Visits to the United Kingdom National Archives, the British Library and the Royal Geographical Society offer first-hand experience of the research process.

  • The role of evidence in demonstrating title to territory
  • Practical aspects of working in archives
  • Coordinating research
  • Assembling and assessing evidence 
  • Map research
  • Boundary tales from the archives 

Several of these workshops have included visits to the United Kingdom National Archives and the British Library, which have given first-hand experience into the complex process of researching archival material.

Iran-Iraq LandSat


River boundaries: practicalities and solutions

Many of the world’s international boundaries follow rivers for at least part of their course. While the reasons for choosing rivers as boundaries are easily understood, river boundaries generate a multitude of legal, technical and managerial challenges – for which no instruction manual has yet been written. These unique courses are designed to help boundary-makers and managers develop effective strategies for turning river boundaries into assets rather than sources of friction between the riparian states.

  • River systems and their complexity
  • Legal principles associated with river boundaries
  • Interpreting terms used in river boundary definition
  • Boundaries in seasonal and shifting river channels
  • Managing river boundaries