State Boundaries

State Boundaries


lines defining the limits of a state’s territory. Land and water state boundaries are established by agreement between the appropriate states. The procedure for establishing boundaries has two stages: an agreed definition of the direction and location of the boundary (delimitation) and the establishment of the boundary in the locality (demarcation). Maritime boundaries, which separate the territorial waters of a coastal state from the open seas, are established, as a rule, by legislation of the coastal state within the limits of the generally accepted extent of territorial waters (from 3 to 12 miles). The vertical surface that passes through land and water boundaries is the boundary of the state’s air space and underground space.

A state boundary that is designated in a locality by border signs is inviolable. To ensure the inviolability of state boundaries, contiguous states establish certain boundary procedures that set the rules for maintaining boundary lines in the proper order, as well as the rules for crossing it. For the purpose of guarding state boundaries, special border procedures are established in border regions that are regulated by internal legislation and by agreements between the contiguous states.

Under the Statute on Guarding the State Boundary of the USSR, ratified by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of Aug. 5, 1960 (Vedomosti Ver-khovnogo Soveta SSSR, 1960, no. 34, p. 324), state boundaries in the locality are designated by visible border signs (border posts, pyramids, mounds, small heaps of stones, buoys, and directional signs). The line of the outer limit of territorial waters that is the state boundary for the USSR at sea may be designated in certain places for orientation by buoys and boundary marks. On navigable border rivers the state boundary is established along the middle of the main channel or thalweg of the river; on nonnavigable rivers, along the middle of the river or its main arm; and on border lakes, along the middle of the lake or along a straight line connecting the outlets of the land boundary with the shores of the lake, if some other order is not established by an agreement.

In certain cases the Soviet government creates border zones and border strips on the land and water territory of the USSR, where border procedures are also introduced. Territorial waters are usually included in border zones, while border rivers and lakes (together with islands) are under the exclusive control of border troops.

The prompt and careful settlement of border conflicts on the basis of mutual agreement is of great importance. In the practice of international relations such conflicts are settled by border commissioners, whose task includes the investigation and resolution of border violations (with the exception of questions that require solution on a diplomatic basis).


Kurs mezhdunarodnogo prava, vol. 3. Moscow, 1967, pp. 136–45.


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