De facto border

De Facto Borders

A short term burden for a long lasting issue?


The extent of a country’s governance and jurisdiction is defined by its boundaries or borders. Borders help understand the geographical and political extent of a nation’s sovereignty and its laws over pieces or a vast landmasses on the earth.

Borders are naturally formed either by geographical characteristics of an area such as the Himalayas act as a border between north India and western china or by diplomatic and historical agreements between two or more particular nations.

But, there are some disputed areas on the earth where the claim on its governance is by two or more countries. These nations strongly believe that through various documents or agreements that certain are of land must and should fall under their jurisdiction. In other words, they believe that it is part of their country and must be recognized as so, by the international community.

These disputes can escalate from the diplomatic table-room to a battlefield when no concrete agreement is put to place. This not only results in unnecessary disruption of peace and business in that area but also results in a large amount of death and hostility between the governments.

So, in such a circumstance an international body, mostly the United Nations intervenes and a ‘De facto’ border is created as a temporary buffer zone until a concrete conclusion is met with regards to the borders.

What is a de facto border?

The term De facto can be understood as In law and government, it depicts practices that exist truly, despite the fact that they are not authoritatively perceived by laws. It is normally used to allude to what exactly occurs practically speaking, interestingly with de jure (“by law”), which alludes to things that occur as per law.

In simpler terms, In law and government, De facto describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with de jure (“by law”), which refers to things that happen according to law.

Now, a De facto border or boundary is The De facto boundaries of a country are defined by the area that its government is actually able to enforce its laws in, and to defend against encroachments by other countries that may also claim the same territory de jure.

A very popular example of a De facto border is that of Line of Control(LOC) which runs through the adjoining nations of India and Pakistan and its majority lies in the Indian UT of Kashmir.

Idea behind de facto border

Now the basic premise in having a De facto border in a certain area is the most plausible solution to bring a stop to the exchange of violence between the armies of the two areas.

The idea of a De facto object can be traced back to the age of the Sultans in the Middle east. The scenario was that After seizing power in 1526, Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi made his brother, Umar Din, the lawful (de jure) Sultan of Adal. Ahmad, however, was in practice (De facto) the actual Sultan, and his brother was a figurehead.

Another example is, between 1805 and 1914, the ruling dynasty of Egypt ruled as de jure viceroys of the Ottoman Empire but acted as De facto independent rulers who maintained a polite fiction of Ottoman suzerainty. However, from about 1882, the rulers had only de jure rule over Egypt, as it had by then become a British puppet state. Thus, Egypt was by Ottoman law de jure a province of the Ottoman Empire, but De facto was part of the British Empire.

Although looked upon in the international community as a measure that really does not bring any new change in the constitutional status of the area it does rightfully fulfill its objective of preventing the chances of a full fledged war between the two states.

It also indirectly acts as a pressure point for which the competing nations would have to reach for a unanimous agreement in a formal and diplomatic procedure mandated by the United Nations. To be precise the actions will take place as specified under Article 39 and article 40 of the UN Charter. These articles give the special right to the UN in taking provisional measures that help in the diplomatic talks and in preventing war.

Repurcussions of a de facto border

It is obvious that there are going to be major repercussions when a de facto border is set up in a particular area. It would deal a serious blow on the economic and the in many cases the tourism sector of that location.

Let us take an example of one of the most controversial and heavily armed de facto borders in the world. That is the Line Of Control(LOC) .

From a recent article taken by The Wire, it is said that Individuals living in fringe towns can wind up trapped in the immediate line of fire during wars, minor conflicts or other such occurrences. The towns and close by regions are additionally flung with landmines, making individuals defenseless. Mine mishaps can cause demise or extreme injury. Mobilized battling can likewise prompt the demolition of homes and properties.


The talk on their anguish, albeit secured widely by the media, frequently disregards the opposite side. The situation of occupants on either side is comparative. Fail to consider the effect of any activity on individuals on the opposite side of the outskirt doesn’t help assemble a case for harmony, however rather sustains war and aggression.

Other than death and obliteration, individuals living in fringe towns are frequently dependent upon separation and relocation, which physically affects individuals as well as mental. Regardless of what the size of antagonism and activity along the fringe might be, some level of uprooting happens. Rehashed disengagement is a token of the political and cartographic divisions, and frequently includes some type of physical and mental severity.

Being driven away from your house, being denied of land, and being denied training and human services can adversely affect networks.


Now, border conflicts and disputes are a commonplace now, especially between nations that were former colonies of the European powers. It is historically known that when these colonies gained independence their borders were haphazardly created by these powers and some have been made very improperly and is one that is bound to create disputes.

It is recommended that the governments should consider opening up new routes of cross-border movement. This would not only benefit the divided families, but also increase and encourage wider movement and interaction with different communities. Organizing socio-cultural events too could help boost interaction and cross-border movement.

To conclude it is very imperative that the more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.

Author: Tarun S,
IFIM law School

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