More then 3 decades ago dictator from country A attacked a ship from a country of dictator B. Dictator B invaded and annexed 1000 square kilometers of coastal strip to teach A a lesson, and kept the territory as a collateral until A apologizes and pays for both and ships and the cost of invasion.

It has been an almost a decade since A is toppled and country A disintegrated into a civil war with warring tribes killing each other without anybody to unify them in sight, think something far worse than Libya and Somalia.

Since the strip is more trouble than it's for B, is there a legal way to give it to the UN? Or maybe USA, there is no oil, but there is free port and naval base.

The country B, can't just leave and be gone since warlords would take over, and slaughter the minorities that took refuge on the outskirts of the area. Plus the humanitarian organizations are using it as the only functional port to deliver aid to the war-torn population. It would be PR disaster for B if another catastrophe happens.

So country B needs someone to police the area to wash their hands.

  • $\begingroup$ Hello monixo, and welcome to Worldbuilding! Please take our tour and visit our help center to learn more about how this site works. $\endgroup$ – Gryphon May 11 '18 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ Are they handing it over permanently, or will they be expecting to regain control when and if the conflict ends? $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy May 11 '18 at 12:47
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    $\begingroup$ The U. N. is a place where ambassadors meet and talk. It is not a sovereign power and cannot "take over" anything. What the U. N. can do is to arrange for a peacekeeping military and police force to be deployed to the territory in question, provided one or more countries volunteer to pay for said force. As to the U.S.A. or Russia or China, of course it's possible. The U. N. charter absolutely does not forbid voluntary transfers of territories from one power to another. The question is what would the U.S.A. or Russia or China gain from taking over the territory and the inhabitants. $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 11 '18 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ "Or maybe USA, there is no oil, but there is free port and naval base." - USA is only interested in steal territories from countries that has oil. $\endgroup$ – Victor Stafusa May 11 '18 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ The U.N. has a Trusteeship Council (currently suspended) that could conceivably take on such a role for all of A (not just the strip)...if the Security Council approved the rather broad reading of a Trusteeship. However, historically the Security Council has been unwilling to do so, preferring that member nations go through the ugly process of fixing their own problems themselves. $\endgroup$ – user535733 May 11 '18 at 17:32

If the United Nations chose to intervene, they would likely attempt a peacekeeping mission - something that of course has been done many times in the past in various contexts. Peacekeepers have a number of responsibilities depending on the specific mandate of the operation, and these responsibilities can range from state-building to ensuring that basic human needs are met in a region. The UN Security Council would be the body to authorize such a mission.

The legal basis for UN peacekeeping comes from Chapters VI-VIII of the UN charter (Articles 33-54). I'd like to mention some relevant passages:

  • Article 39:

    The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

  • Article 42:

    Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

  • Article 52:

    Nothing in the present Charter precludes the existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action provided that such arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations.

  • Article 53:

    The Security Council shall, where appropriate, utilize such regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority.

These three chapters, including these articles, are the usual ones invoked for peacekeeping, especially Chapter VI. They require that member states take action and provide the service of their military forces - and in this case, I would expect that the Security Council would require Country A to contribute, as simply walking away would likely be considered irresponsible (unless Country A was for some reason not a member of the UN, or if its initial occupation was deemed illegal). The UN mandate for each peacekeeping mission may extend beyond the use of military force, however, and can include, as the UN puts it,

  • Security sector reform and other rule of law-related activities

  • Support for the restoration and extension of State authority

  • Promotion of social and economic recovery and development

You could argue that regional occupation by Peacekeepers would be based on those principles. In a case of lawlessness or unclear governmental administration, UN occupation might be necessary for the promotion of state-building. The following Peacekeeper missions are examples of similar measures taken:

These could be interpreted to establish something of a precedent for the action you're talking about . . . but I'm not an expert in international law.

I'm looking at some official peacekeeping principles and guidelines, and some key concepts pop out. First, the parties affected by the mission must consent to the deployment and activities, which could pose a problem if whoever is in charge of Country A doesn't like the use of Peacekeepers. That said, from what you're describing, it appears that warlords are in control there, if anyone is at all, which would probably provide a loophole and allow acting without consulting them.

It's also noted that if regional authorities are weak, it may be necessary for Peacekeepers to take over parts of local administration for the purposes of a successful mission, and in the case of rampant chaos or civil war, this could be true. Of course, the behavior of Peacekeepers and the power structure of the mission as a whole need to win over the locals for it to be remotely a success, so there's going to have to be some sort of input from or at least dialogue with the community. Remember, Peacekeepers engage in state-building and restorative action, not merely custodianship.

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  • $\begingroup$ Note that the Security Council can only approve missions if the US, China, Russia, Britain and France all agree. $\endgroup$ – Davislor May 11 '18 at 18:15

Since A has collapsed and has no legal government and "the strip" is the only part of A with anything resembling rule of law, you can simply establish a local government on the strip, recognize it as the legal government of A, and transfer the strip to them in exchange for that apology. Then just run for the border.

If you pick the local government with a democratic election and allow international observers, the resulting government can then request legal recognition as the (or a) legal government of A and possibly request assistance from the UN, the US, or even call in the boy scouts. Not your problem

If you want to make A stable, it will be still your problem, and you will need to do some prep work before transferring power as well as negotiate some sort of an alliance with the locals before transferring the power. But that is beyond this question.

But getting the UN and any international powers interested involved in the process as early as possible is common sense and seems to be sufficient for this question. Some observers, support for the police, security, military, that sort of thing. Maybe a financial and humanitarian aid package.

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Short version : B will opt for "Part of A : the Buffer Zone". And sod the UN and everyone else. No one else will do anything.

No country would want this annexed strip of land, anymore than you would like to grab a red hot poker by the wrong end. If it's more trouble than it's worth for country B, then it's more trouble than that for any other country.

Any political activity by the UN and other super-governmental organizations to try and resolve the situation would consider the civil war regions a priority, not the essentially stable part of country A than B stole (annexed is such a long word for stole, don't you think ?).

So country B needs someone to police the area to wash their hands.

Country B has in fact four approaches :

  • Treat the part of A they now own (with a valuable port !) as part of their own territory and fully integrate it with B. This is unlikely to be contested any more than it already is (it's been a fact for decades). Gone "forever" is "part of A" and we'd like to introduce you all to "(happy) new part of B".

  • Bail. It can completely withdraw from "part of A" and return to it's original border boundaries and try and ignore what's happening next door. You can do this clean or messy. Clean means setting up a local government to handle the transition (possibly with e.g. UN assistance) and hoping they can sort something out that's moderately stable and not utterly hostile to B. Messy means just driving your tanks out one morning and hoping "part of A" doesn't become an even bigger problem full of people who hate B and will be a constant problem for decades to come.

  • Steal some more stuff. Country B has a dictator and they typically aren't modest retiring people who are happy with what they have. We stole ("annexed") stuff before and it worked fine, and that bit near it looks up for grabs, let's do that. Somewhere to put the new work camps and bury people who oppose us, if nothing else. Dictators are not going to be shy of a little bloodshed as long as it's not their blood, so this option is quite likely and it will keep B's army (and generals) from getting ideas into their heads about running country B themselves. Keep the army busy, trained, blooded and loyal.

  • The Buffer Zone. There's a civil war just over that-a-ways and country B wants no part of it. Fine, we have this bit of dirt called "part of A" which we can use to keep any insurgents and trouble makers away from country B proper. This amounts to not withdrawing from part of A and just keeping the place ticking over. But not treating it as either a new country and not protecting it as if it was a full part of country B. It's OK with country B if part of A gets some trouble as long as it keeps the big trouble away from B.

The UN (and everyone else) is just there (from country Bs dictators point of view) to run to help from if B itself is threatened by all this civil war stuff happening to people Herr Dictator couldn't care less about.

Note that the UN and B's regional neighbors don't have to wait for anything or even consult B. If a regional group of countries decides to take over, B's not doing much to get in the way unless they actually threaten B itself. The UN would be unlikely to go in just on B's request and is an organization full of pragmatic egomaniacs and their representatives. A civil war in former A is fine as long as it doesn't have a major impact outside that. Peacekeeping is an option if and only if there's a political will to do it ignoring country B.

Country B is unlikely to want a powerful military presence it can't control on it's borders. Dictators don't generally encourage that and it's more likely that a dictator would be perfectly fine with a bunch of weak warlords in a civil war who can be played off one another next door and a buffer zone "just in case".

So I think B will opt for "Part of A : the Buffer Zone". And sod the UN and everyone else.

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Unless I am misreading, it seems like country B gained territory through military means. After the land becomes uncontested (by the original owner dissolving), Country B decides to sell the land to the United States. If that is the case, there is historical precedent for this, like France conquering territory then selling it to the USA with the Louisiana Purchase.

Actually, the Louisiana Purchase is a great parallel for the situation your describing, sinse France was desperate to sell to pay for its war debts and thought the territories was more trouble than they were worth. So, your country B could sell the coastal strip to the US for a pittance so its no longer B's problem.

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    $\begingroup$ I would agree with this, but I find it a bit unlikely that another country (call it C) would want to buy the strip unless there's some strategic value to it for them (e.g. natural resources, potential for a military base, etc.). It's stuck between a dictatorship and chaos, and the factions active on Country A could quite easily attack any troops from Country C in the strip - and who knows if the international community would support Country C. Plus, C would have to create local government and a new administration, which would be . . . headache-y. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 May 11 '18 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, that is a good point. The United States is currently sitting on a couple territories that it doesn't want to declare as states for pretty-much those exact reasons. They would just be buying for the potential military base, I guess. If B wanted to sell, they might actually have to sell at a loss or toss in some other property to sweeten the deal. $\endgroup$ – Pinion Minion May 11 '18 at 15:04

Yes and No: it depends on whether the land is considered Terra Nullius or not

Terra Nullius is a latin phrase that describes land that is not clearly claimed by a sovereign nation. You've described a condition that could lead to a declaration of terra nullius for the purpose of re-establishing control (and, theoretically, peace) in the region.

If A and B were both somewhat stable, the land would not be terra nullius as the land has a legitimate claim from A and an illegitimate take-over by B. But, you've described A as falling into chaos. It's that chaos that would need a legal team to determine if the region is terra nullius. If determined to be so (B no longer makes claim and A doesn't exist to assert claim), then, theoretically, a nation could step in and simply lay claim to the territory. However, that tends not to happen. Who wants territory that's (a) unstable and (b) a long way from home and therefore difficult to control?

If it isn't terra nullis, then the UN is the best bet

Now, to be frank, what you've described is a perfect example of why UN peacekeepers exist. The theoretical purpose of the peacekeepers is to NOT get involved with the politics, but to stabilize the region so the politics can be diplomatically reasserted. The peacekeepers (among other things) were created to avoid the trouble when one sovereign nation steps in to solve another sovereign nation's problems — because that tends to look a lot like a military takeover. The peacekeepers are meant to be neutral.

Which one is best for you?

That depends on your story, of course. What do you want to have happen to A? How much diplomatic shennanigans to you want to take place? etc.

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