Governing (in) Kirkuk: Resolving the status of a disputed territory in post-American Iraq

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23 Citations (Scopus)


This article focuses on the dynamics of the process of settling the status of Kirkuk, principally within the framework of the current Iraqi constitution of 2005 and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq proposals of 2009, taking into consideration the broader local, national, regional and international context in which such a settlement has to be achieved. The article proceeds in four steps. Beginning with a conceptual clarification of the stakes and remedies associated with territorial disputes, it gives a broad overview of the three principal forms in which such disputes occur and illustrates this with pertinent examples of past disputes and their settlement, using this as an empirical basis for discussing the general dimensions of territorial dispute settlements and the factors that determine their precise nature in different cases. This is the background against which the following section contextualizes the situation in Kirkuk. Based on personal interactions with key interlocutors from all of Kirkuk's communities and key Iraqi and external players and analysts, the article examines the three (im-) balances of grievances, demands and power in and around Kirkuk that are essential for understanding the dynamic underlying any efforts to resolve the dispute in and over the province. Taking as a baseline the options currently available under the 2005 constitution of Iraq and the recommendations of the 2009 UN Report on Disputed Territories, it offers some observations on areas of possible compromise centred on power sharing in Kirkuk and status of Kirkuk vis-à-vis Baghdad and Erbil. © 2010 The Author(s). International Affairs © 2010 The Royal Institute of International Affairs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1361-79
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010


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