Legal Researchers In Bangladesh

Amicable bi-lateral treaties should be framed for preventing boarder killings


Boarders define geographic boundaries of political entities or legal jurisdictions[1] and other sub national entities. Some borders are open and completely unguarded. Other borders are partially or fully controlled, and can be crossed legally at checkpoints. Some borders may even foster the setting up of buffer  zones[2]. Conflicts and killings in the boarder areas are generally high due to the fact that people many a times try to cross the boarder lines illegally with various motives. The relation between the countries sharing a common boarder is vital to the tolerance the boarder securing forces show towards these kinds of people. However, boarder conflicts reach far beyond this and include the bloody killings and massacres that take place in the boarders. The permanent residents living along the boarder lines are the worst sufferers. From ancient times these conflicts are going on and many treaties were formed in the process to stop these. However, many of the treaties were also breached by the countries involved. Even then amicable bilateral treaties can be a solution to these problems if it is adhered strictly by the participating countries. This research concentrates on the historical conflicts between countries and the treaties that were formed to solve those and also the potential treaties that can be framed to prevent the current conflicts between countries along their boarders for a better and safer life of the people of that region.

Historical conflicts and treaties made to solve them

There is a prolonged history of countries involved in boarder conflicts. Many of them have actively sought to solve the problems by framing boarder treaties. Examples of few major and infamous conflicts are discussed here. In most of the cases the treaties formed could not eradicate the problem from the root but at least enhanced peace temporarily if not permanently.


Before coming into being in 1923, Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire. The Persian Empire was formed in the sixth century[3].Two main areas formed the basis of the territorial disputes between the States. The first was the river called Shatt al-Arab[4] and the second was the lands north of the Shatt al-Arab which separates the two countries[5].Many treaties were formed in the future between the two nations so as to reduce the tension and skirmishes. The first formal treaty of Zohab of 1639, laid down a general border between the Persian plateau and the Mesopotamian plain. The next Treaty of Kurda in 1746 reaffirmed the borders laid out in the Treaty of Zohab. The next treaty was treaty of Erzerum in 1823 affirming the end of the war between the nations. It also added two new aspects to the border relationship[6]. The second treaty of Ezerum also set out to establish more clearly the northern part of the Ottoman-Persian border. The Tehran Protocol in 1911 and the Constantinople Protocol in 1913 helped to clarify the territorial limits. Then happened the world war 1 and Iraq came into being. The next treaty between the nations was formed in 1937[7]. The outbreak of the Second World War quickly changed the outlook of the two countries and the treaty was violated by both in an order to gain advantage over each other. Iran and Iraq managed to re-establish diplomatic ties in 1973 for the purpose of settling again their previous dispute over the boundary between the two states. The two sides reached the famous Algiers Agreement on March 6, 1975[8] which is a very noteworthy agreement. In February 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran[9] and new tensions became inevitable and the fear of many finally turned to reality. Finally, on September 4, 1980, Iranian troops began bombings over several villages located in Iraqi territory and this saw the very commencement of the infamous Iran-Iraq war. Then Iraq also was not sitting idle and also launched a full scale massive attack. The Iraq-Iran War[10] lasted for eight long years and no peace agreement has been reached again.

Indo-Pakistan relations and treaties

India and Pakistan (east Pakistan and west Pakistan) came into being in 1947 following the partition that separated British India. Pakistan and India has since having disputes over lands like Siachen Glacier, Kori Creek, Junagadh and specially Kashmir. Kashmir as a province remains separated between the two countries by the Line of Control (LoC). India and Pakistan went through two major wars, one undeclared war and frequent armed skirmishes and military show of power with Kashmir dispute as the main focal-point[11]. In 1949, India recorded close to 1 million Hindu refugees, who flooded into West Bengal and East Pakistan owing to communal hostility, coercion and domination from authority. This outraged Indian nationalists. Not ruling out war, Prime Minister Nehru and Sardar Patel invited Liaquat Ali Khan of Pakistan for bilateral talks in Delhi and ultimately signed a trade agreement, and committed to resolving bilateral disputes through peaceful means and not restoring to forceful or harsh means. Then took place, the war of 1971. In July 1972, Indian Prime Minister and Pakistani President signed the Simla Agreement[12].In December 1988, Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi signed a pact not to attack each other’s nuclear facilities. In 1997, high-level Indo-Pakistan talks resumed after a three-year pause and a reached notably good endings. But, this did not go for long and they turned sour again. Their relation has also been strained[13] by several terrorist attacks in India allegedly by Pakistan trained militants. As a result, many of the treaties between the two nations could not be successfully carried out.

Indian–Bangladeshi relation, border conflict and treaties

During the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, India extended their hand of help for the exiled government of Bangladesh and the Mukti Bahini guerrilla force. Later on in 1972, the Indo-Bangladeshi Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Peace[14], a 25-year treaty with 12 provisions,[15](from wikipedia) was signed on March 19, 1972 forming close bilateral relations between the two nations. The Partition of Bengal in 1947 left a poorly demarcated international border between India and Bangladesh[16]. This led to the 2001 Indian–Bangladeshi border conflict which was a short armed conflict over the border. This conflict claimed the lives of 89 Indians and 3 Bangladeshis. Later on India started construction of a fence in the border which is continuing till date. Bangladesh protested[17] that construction of the fence within 150 yards of the border was a gross violation of the 1974 treaty.

Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace & Friendship

An example of a successful mutual treaty is the Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace & Friendship. The treaty was signed on July 31, 1950 by the then-Prime Minister of Nepal and Indian ambassador to Nepal[18]. The free movement of goods and people   between Nepal & India .The treaty allows a close affiliation and collaboration on matters of defence and foreign factors. This at least proved to be successful as there were no border killings which show that the treaty was very effective in stopping border killings.

Current problems that can be solved by amicable bilateral treaties

If the nations maintain the UN charter[19] and try to amicably solve problems in the boarders, then bilateral treaties can be a useful tool to solve the problems.

Israeli–Palestinian conflict

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the long ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Several treaties were formed earlier to solve the problems. Few examples are Camp David Summit, Taba Summit and Arab Peace Initiative. These treaties reduced problems but were not permanent. The remaining key issues are: mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement and legalities concerning refugees. This horrendous conflict has claimed lives of around 14,500 between 1948-2009. Amicable treaties are really necessary to be formed to control the situation. Such initiatives have been taken and this improved the situation[20].

Mexican–American border relations

USA and Mexico went through an armed conflict from 1846 to 1848 due to the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas[21]. USA won the war and then Mexico had to accept their new boarders with USA. The boarder still sees killings today most of which are of people allegedly trespassing the boarders. The number of incidents in which Mexicans were killed or wounded by border patrol has increased drastically in the past three years[22]. The ever increasing number of border patrol killings and killings of general people and minors[23] make it very evident that an open and thorough investigation is a must by the Unite States. The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials[24] should be strictly adhered. Amicable bilateral treaties can come to the rescue here as it successfully has in case of the India and Nepal example.

Current Bangladesh-India boarder problems and the Tipaimukh dam

The boarder conflict between BSF of India and the BDR of Bangladesh has never escalated to the margin it did in the 2001 incidence but the conflict has led to a lot of Bangladeshi residents being killed by the BSF within the Bangladeshi territory. A New York-based human-rights group reported in December 2010 that BSF soldiers are responsible for serious human rights abuses[25]. Penetration, trafficking, and smuggling are the major things that the BDR and BSF are ordered to control. Many people move in and out of the border everyday to visit relatives, buy supplies, and look for jobs as well as for both insignificant and serious crime[26]. The BSF seem to have orders to shoot any suspect which ignores the basic rule of law, “the presumption of innocence.” The BSF justifies the killings by claiming that the killed were trying to escape or attack them. But that assumption and notion of a crime or the escaping of arrest cannot alone give good reason for the use of lethal force as the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms[27] say.

The Tipaimukh dam is another area of conflict between the two nations. Its construction started without the approval of Bangladesh. By doing this, India has violated the “no harm” principle that was mentioned in the treaty of Ganges. According to article 38 of statute of international court of justice, bilateral or multi lateral treaties are primary expressions of international law.  According to the treaty the erection of any structure on the water body requires proper permission of both the nations. Bangladesh and India can hopefully reach an amicable treaty for the benefit of both the nations.


The research tries to illustrate the fact that amicable bilateral treaties should be framed for preventing such acts in the boarders that leads to loss of life. By the help of different examples in the recent history and also of history long back, it is evident that bilateral treaties are an effective means to curb down loss of life in the boarder areas. Boarder killings in several major and long lasting conflicts like the India-Pakistan and Iran-Iraq wars could be kept under control due to the formation of bilateral treaties. The examples of India-Bangladesh, USA-Mexico etc. also made it very evident that the primary reasons for such long standing and successful armed conflict minimization was the ability of the countries to reach agreements in the form of treaties[28]. This further shows that that if the treaties could be lived for a much longer period, then loss of lives would be much lesser. The true intent, however, of the involved countries to reduce killings is actually the main basis that can lead to successful treaties. Furthermore, the language of the treaties formed should be very lucid and specific so as not to create any confusion and not to allow any party to find loopholes in it. Finally, no country should put their gains or demonstration of power ahead of humanity and should take full advantage of law to create a peaceful boarder.



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[1] governments, sovereign states, federated states

[2] buffer zone is any zonal area that serves the purpose of keeping two or more other areas (often, but not necessarily, countries) distant from one another, for whatever reason.

[3] Before the Ottoman Empire came into the Middle East region nearly 2000 years later, Persia had fought many battles trying to both expand its power and to defend itself and always maintained a national identity with its own language, traditions, and culture. When the Ottoman Empire established itself as the major power in the area, tensions between the two States immediately began to rise. The two Empires adopted opposing branches of the Islamic faith, while continually engaging in frequent but relatively mild skirmishes along an undefined border

[4] This area has always been extremely valuable to Iraq, Iran, and their predecessors.

[5] This area is largely inhabited by Kurds, who have long been opposed to Iraqi control

[6] First, the Treaty established border zones instead of the past frontier lines. Second, the Treaty referred to the Treaty of Kurda’s principles of reconciliation and normalization of the unstable state between the Ottoman Empire and Persia. At the same time, the Treaty of Erzerum, laid down the foundations for the Second Treaty of Erzerum of 1847

[7] The 1937 Treaty, by recognizing the 1913 Protocol, recognized Iraq’s claim of sovereignty to almost the entire Shatt al-Arab

[8] This treaty went on smoothly between the nations until the revolution in Iran along with the rise to power in Iraq of Sad-dam Hussein marked the start of a rapid deterioration in relations between the two States

[9] Khomeini had lived in Iraq until 1978 when he was expelled from the country as Iraq and Iran improved relations

[10] In the Iran-Iraq war estimated one million people have died.

[11] with the exception of the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, which formed the country Bangladesh

[12] The agreement made India and Pakistan come to deal that India would return all Pakistani personnel (over 90,000) and captured territory in the west, and that they would settle their problems by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations.

[13] The dispute over the status of Kashmir, an issue since Independence, remains the major stumbling block in their relations. In September 1997, the talks broke down over the issues of Kashmir, and peace and security.

[14] The treaty was also known as the Indira-Mujib Treaty, named after the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi and the then Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

[15] The twelve Articles incorporated in the treaty were:

(i) The contracting parties solemnly declare that there shall be lasting peace and friendship between the two countries and each side shall respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the other and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of the other side.(ii) The contracting parties condemn colonialism and racialism of all forms, and reaffirm their determination to strive for their final and complete elimination;(iii) The contracting parties reaffirm their faith in the policy of non-alignment and peaceful co-existence as important factors for easing tension in the world, maintaining international peace and security and strengthening national sovereignty and independence;(iv) The contracting parties shall maintain regular contacts and exchange views with each other on major international problems affecting the interest of both the states;(v) The contracting parties shall continue to strengthen and widen their mutually advantageous and all round cooperation in the economic, scientific and technical fields, and shall develop mutual cooperation in the fields of trade, transport and communication on the basis of the principles of equality and mutual benefit;(vi) The contracting parties agree to make joint studies and take joint action in the field of flood control, river basin development and development of hydro-electric power and irrigation;(vii) Both the parties shall promote relations in the field of arts, literature, education, culture, sports and health;(viii) In accordance with the ties of friendship existing between the two countries, each of the contracting parties solemnly declare that it shall not enter into or participate in any military alliance directed against the other party. Each of the parties shall refrain from any aggression against the other party and shall not allow the use of its territory for committing any act that may cause military damage to or continue to threat to the security of the other contracting parties;(ix) Each of the contracting parties shall refrain from giving any assistance to any third party taking part in an armed conflict against the other party. In case if either party is attacked or threatened to attack, the contracting parties shall immediately enter into mutual consultations in order to take necessary measures to eliminate the threat and thus ensure the peace and security of their countries;(x) Each of the parties solemnly declare that it shall not undertake any commitment, secret or open, towards one or more states which may be incompatible with the present treaty;(xi) The present treaty is signed for a term of twenty-five years, and shall be renewed by mutual agreement;(xii) Any differences interpreting any Article of the treaty shall be settled on a bilateral basis by peaceful means in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding.(source-wikipedia)

[16] Ownership of several villages on both sides of the de facto border were disputed and claimed by both countries. The dispute over the demarcation of the Indo-Bangladeshi border worsened due to the existence of over 190 enclaves.

[17] they also protested frequent Border Security Force (BSF) incursions inside Bangladesh, and shootings which resulted in deaths of many Bangladeshi citizens inside Bangladeshi territory.

[18] Prime minister-Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana.Ambassador-Chadreshwar Narayan Singh

[19] All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

[20] . Israeli military has removed over 120 check points in 2010 and they have plans to remove forces from large Palestinian areas[20]. Terrorist activity in the West Bank decreased by 97% compared to violence in 2002 as a result of some of the treaties.

[21] Mexico considered it part of its territory despite the 1836 Texas Revolution.

[22] According to reports,  Five Mexicans were killed or wounded in 2008 by the border patrol, the Mexican government said in a June 8 news release. The total in 2009 was 12, and there have been 17 incidents already in 2010.

[23] Border control agents shot and killed Adrian Hernandez, 15, on the evening of June 7, 2010, at a railroad bridge connecting Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, with El Paso, Texas, after rock-throwing migrants confronted agents during an arrest.

[24] The principles say that authorities shall, as far as possible, apply non violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms. If the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, then the authorities must use restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence. Lethal force may be used only when strictly unavoidable to protect life.

[25] they found numerous cases of indiscriminate use of force, arbitrary detention, torture and killings

[26] In many of the cases investigated by Human Rights Watch, the victims were cattle rustlers –farmers or labourers hoping to supplement their meagre livelihood as couriers in the lucrative but illegal cattle trade

[27]Officials shall apply non violent means before they can really apply force and firearms. If the lawful use of force and firearms can not be avoided, then the authorities must have patience and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence. Lethal and harsh force may be used only when it is very necessary like saving lives.

[28] The word treaty is defined by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties [hereinafter Law of Treaties] as “an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation.” Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, opened for signature May 23, 1969, art. 2(a), 8 I.L.M. 679, 681. The phrase “whatever particular designation” is used to cover all other terms that carry the same meaning in international law as the word ‘treaty’ such as, “conventions, protocols, pacts, acts, statutes, charters, covenants, concordats, declarations, agreements, and modi vivend.


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