Addressing one of the sovereignty disputes between China and Japan


In the Financial Times the Professor of Conflict Resolution and International Relations at George Mason University, Arlington, VA, US, Dennis J.D. Sandole, presents an option  to conventional arbitration procedures which could address the dispute between China and Japan over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands

He cites the novel approach developed by John W. Burton, (left) formerly permanent head of Australia’s Department of External Affairs, and his colleagues at the Centre for the Analysis of Conflict, Faculty of Laws, University College London, who died in 2010.

Professor Sandole notes that they applied their conflict resolution strategy to a territorial dispute between two countries in south-east Asia, with some measure of success.

Dr Burton’s methodology, which has been used in conflicts since the 1960s, is a relationship-focused, third-party approach to problem-solving that privileges the parties. Instead of entering into arbitration, which takes decision-making power out of the hands of the parties and so undermines prospects for agreement with decisions handed down, they “own” the process.

Dennis Sandole suggests that some of John Burton’s former colleagues and the younger generation trained by them in the US and Britain be called upon to help to set up:

“(A) facilitated problem-solving exercise to assist China and Japan in ensuring that the unthinkable does not accidentally occur in the East (or South) China Sea, with significant implications for regional and global security”.


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