In his research project, Dr Christian Methfessel from the Department of History at the University of Erfurt explores the history of international borders during the Cold War. Since 2018, he pursues the project with support of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and in cooperation with colleagues from the Department of History and Heritage Management at Mekelle University (Ethiopia).
International borders were surprisingly stable during the Cold War. Even where, in the wake of decolonization, territorial conflicts did emerge, only few attempted annexations and secessions succeeded, and of those hardly any were recognized by the international community. Broadly speaking, the territorial integrity norm, enshrined in Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter, proved to be remarkably strong. This project seeks to analyze the reasons for that stability by examining selected territorial conflicts in Africa and South Asia as well as the responses to them within the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity. In doing so, it also aims to contribute to the discussion on how the interplay between the Cold War, decolonization, and the rise of new international organizations shaped the global order in the second half of the twentieth century.