Border Disputes and Micro-Conflicts in South and Southeast Asia

10th November 2020
Author: William Avis

This rapid literature review presents the key literature on border disputes and micro-conflicts in South and Southeast Asia. The focus is on recent ideas that are prevalent in literature from post-2010. The literature review draws on both academic and grey literature. The report finds that conflicts have become more complex and protracted often linked to global challenges from climate change to human trafficking. Such challenges often intersect with complex socio-cultural, economic, and political dimensions that operate through power networks which transcend conventional conceptual boundaries, e.g. public vs. private or local vs. national. The list of disputes presented in this report should be considered illustrative rather than exhaustive, selected to provide an insight into the multifaceted drivers of dispute and conflict. They are selected to highlight how relatively localised disputes can become global in scope as they intersect with contestations over political or economic power, are inflamed by political actors keen to exploit local grievances or exacerbated by resource scarcity. Many of the disputes examined can be traced to the process of decolonisation and the various regional and domestic struggles that ensued. Despite the regional and global transformations that followed, these disputes continue to play an important role in relations between countries. Indeed historical contestations continue to be inscribed with new meaning as circumstances evolve.

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Suggested Citation

Avis, W. (2020). Border disputes and micro-conflicts in South and Southeast Asia. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.


10th November 2020


Continent: Asia

Country: Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Thailand