In geography meets abstract art, there is a painting of a solid color background with a contrasting colored circle somewhere in the middle of that background. The circle is an enclave, the territory of its home nation, and the background is the territory of the host nation in which it is situated. This describes the true enclave, the clearest explanation of this territorial anomaly.
The complete picture is slightly more complicated. There are exclaves; an enclave in a host nation is also the exclave of its home nation. An exclave is often but not necessarily an enclave. Variations on the types of enclaves depend on whether an enclave is completely within a single host’s territory or touches another nation’s borders. Or, whether the enclave is partially bordered by water, or is an actual island in international waters. Enclaves are found at all levels of jurisdiction; think of a tract of unincorporated county land within a host city. There are ethnic enclaves, such as the many Chinatowns, or a Little Name-your-foreign-City. And, there are enclaves by type of use; an industrial zone within a residential area, a housing tract within farmland; steel country, cattle country, coal country. To complicate matters more yet, there are orders of enclaves within enclaves. For our purposes, however, the true enclave serves to best illustrate the phenomenon.
The enclave represents a particularly interesting form of Settlement, one with its own set of characteristics and challenges. The specific nature of any one enclave will be unique to it, in its borders, geography, history, politics, and how Conflict and Convention shaped its status at a given stage. In the context of the Principle, an enclave is as much a puzzle of history as it appears a puzzle on the map. The question is not so much how it got there, as it readily proclaims Settlement with de facto or established Rights as an obvious first explanation, or it would not have endured to be represented on a map, but what permutations of Conflict and Convention enabled its existence? Where one would expect unbroken territorial sovereignty it somehow suggests either unfinished business or the triumph of a superior Narrative over greater numbers, depending on which side of the border you stand.
Of all the issues deserving of inquiry–sovereignty and citizenship, cross border travel, trade and movement of goods, basic services, and matters of security–the one most likely to have the greatest effect concerns relations between the two countries. Just how well do these two nations get along? Because the circumstances that result in enclaves vary, from footnotes of scholarly interest to violent national, ethnic, and sectarian conflict. The Principle states that if and when new Rights are established, resolution will have been the result of Conflict and Convention. The exact nature of Conflict and Convention, and whether formal rights were established or the parties remain in a stalemate, are unique to each example.
Conflict and Convention involving enclaves can resolve as Rights in different ways depending how the parties are able and willing to reach a mutually acceptable agreement that is sustainable. The result may not always be ideal or entirely desirable, but one which nonetheless clarifies issues of boundaries and jurisdictions, and importantly puts an endpoint on a period of open hostilities. Enclaves can continue to peacefully co-exist with the cooperation of the host state. Home and host states can agree to land swaps, absorbing the enclaves into the host states. Or, de facto enclaves and exclaves can persist despite no formal recognition, but with tacit Convention and understood Rights that halts hostilities without definitively resolving the situation. Each of these possibilities finds examples in the following, respectively: the Baarle enclaves of Belgium and Holland; the India-Bangladesh enclaves; and the enclave and exclaves, Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhchivan, of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
These enclaves show up as curious figures on a map, presenting topics of study for diplomats and social scientists, and matters of pretext or concern for defense planners, but it should not be forgotten that they are also home to their inhabitants whose own primary interests likely turn to living their lives in peace and security. In the case of the Baarle enclaves, especially after the creation of the E.U., the borders between enclave and host had long posed no greater obstacle to free movement than the thickness of a paint line running through not just streets, but homes and businesses. The archipelago of enclaves of India and Bangladesh had been more neglected rather than persecuted, but finally resolved with the application of a bit of political will. Azerbaijan’s exclave, Nakhchivan does have recognized status. However, as the 2020 Second Nagorno-Karabakh War demonstrated, for that enclave the Principle is still actively at work.
Enclaves by their very nature suggest an irreconcilable situation, in some cases so contentious that mention of the contesting parties in the same sentence is sufficient to ignite argument. Perhaps it would be useful to take a different approach, and to focus on concepts not politics, with the modest goal of offering possibilities rather than proposing any grand solutions.
A shared jurisdictions model for enclaves offers the opportunity to bring the enclave and host together to address concrete, practical problems, to achieve a shared objective, aligned, if not exactly allied. Besides the jurisdictions of home and host, enclave and surrounding region, there are what are commonly called in the United States special districts. Created to provide services often more effectively managed over a geography crossing boundaries and encompassing different cities, counties, and sometimes states, a special district may provide electric power, communication services, water, education, health services, or agricultural and environmental support. In other words, a utility, but in two senses. The first, an actual service for a fee; in the second, a political utility, that of means to more normal relations between enclave and host.
The two most contentious issues of territorial sovereignty and citizenship deserve an attempt at resolution, and it is just that, an attempt by way of laying potential solutions on the table. It is proposed that the territory of the enclave be ceded to the host nation. A major concession by the home nation, but it offers them reduced administrative costs while offering greater security to the host nation. Citizens of the enclave would retain their home citizenship, with the option of obtaining citizenship in the host nation, possibly retaining dual citizenship, to be decided by treaty. In any case, they would vote in national elections by citizenship, but also be eligible to vote in local elections for their town and enclave.
A shared jurisdictions model may be implemented whole or with any combination of its individual features. The issue of territory and citizenship may remain untouched, but a special district established to acquire water from a distant source, or to build and maintain a distribution system for the water. There may be no love lost between those inside and outside the enclave, but they all require a safe and reliable supply of potable water. If all within the district equally rely on the effective management of the utility to deliver their promised share of the resource, those who would damage the system or disrupt its operations would become the shared enemy of those who might otherwise be at odds with each other.
The shared jurisdiction model works through confidence building measures, with hands-on, day-to-day interactions resulting in a tangible, necessary good. Members of the special district, that is the inhabitants within its area on both sides of the enclave boundary, would vote on district issues, serve on its board, work as district employees, and receive its services. If the scale of an electric or water utility with all its facilities and infrastructure is beyond what local cooperation will support, then perhaps an objection with a more limited scope and duration, such as mobile vaccination clinics or an agricultural pest abatement service. Convention leading to de facto and, to meaningful if incomplete, established Rights.