Proposed features/Mapping disputed boundaries

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Mapping disputed boundaries
Status: Proposals without post-vote cleanup
Proposed by: johnparis
Drafted on: 2018-11-27
RFC start: 2018-11-27
Vote start: 2019-01-27
Vote end: 2019-02-10


The purpose of this proposal is to advance the implementation of the Policy on Disputed Territories of the OSM Foundation, as implemented and enforced by its Data Working Group (referred to collectively in this proposal as the OSM Institutions), and in particular the policy's Summary Point 4, which states in part:

We recognise the importance of names, borders and descriptions to different national, ethnic, culture or language groups. We have and will continue to build mechanisms where alternatives can be recorded and easily used in maps.

Basic approach and scope

This proposal is intended principally to address disputed borders at the national level, meaning frontiers tagged with admin_level=2. In its simplest form, it considers the world as divided up into areas covered by boundary relations, each of which is normally controlled by zero or one country (or "claiming entity"). Rarely, a boundary relation area will be jointly controlled by the claiming entities.

This proposal covers certain boundary relations and their members. The scope expressly excludes historical and potential future claims, and includes only current, verifiable, official claims by a claiming entity. The goal is to establish boundary relations to enable producing alternative maps.

Possible extensions include boundaries at the subnational level (with admin_level=3 to admin_level=11) and third-party views of claims.


You can skip down to the section How to Map.

Tags and definitions


Claiming Entity: a member of the List of Claiming Entities. The term resolves the meaning of "country" as it applies to borders with admin_level=2. It supersedes the existing recommendation that "only political entities listed on the ISO 3166 standard are to be considered countries." Any time the term "country" or "national" is used in this proposal, it should be considered as shorthand for "claiming entity".

Country Code: a code representing a Claiming Entity. Use the two-letter code from ISO 3166 if it exists; otherwise use the four-letter code in the List of Claiming Entities.

Administrative boundary relation: a country's Administrative boundary relation is the one currently tagged boundary=administrative + admin_level=2.

boundary segment: a way that forms part of a boundary.

Master Claim: This proposal creates a new boundary relation at the country level, with type=boundary + boundary=master. This relation, the Master Claim, comprises the territory (land and maritime) claimed by the country; this is the country's view of itself. Note: if the country has no territorial claims outside its administrative boundary, and nobody has claims on the country's territory, do not create the (unnecessary) Master Claim.

Boundary Claim relation: This proposal creates a new boundary relation, with type=boundary + boundary=claim. Any territory disputed between two or more Claiming Entities is described either by an administrative boundary relation or by a Boundary Claim relation. Boundary Claim relations can also describe Terra nullius or any area controlled by more than one Claiming Entity jointly under mutual agreement (see Special Cases, below).

Conflict Area: This proposal creates a new boundary relation, with type=boundary + boundary=conflict_area. Such an area, comprising two more boundary relation areas, represents overlapping disputed (i.e., non-cooperative) claims of Claiming Entities. Conflict Area relations are optional.

Sustained Hostilities: This term refers to armed conflict along a defined front within territory that was previously under the exclusive control of a Claiming Entity. The conflict need not be with another Claiming Entity. If the Claiming Entity regains control of the territory within 30 days, then the conflict will not be considered as "sustained hostilities" for the purpose of this proposal. Acts of war (terrorism, sabotage, aerial bombardment, etc.) that do not involve a front are not "sustained hostilities", nor are border skirmishes. During sustained hostilities, the area is normally tagged controlled_by=nobody.

Resolution Period: 30 days after the end of sustained hostilities, a Resolution Period begins. This period can last up to two years from the end of sustained hostilities, but can be shorter depending on circumstances. If sustained hostilities take place during the Resolution Period, the clock is restarted. During the Resolution Period, the controlled_by=nobody tag normally remains unchanged. After the Resolution Period, the controlled_by=* tag can be changed.

The Master Claim

Members of the Master Claim will normally include:

  • role:admin_centre -- administrative centre(s)
  • role:undisputed, role:joint, role:de_facto, or role:claimed -- boundary relations claimed by the country
  • role:outer -- outer border segments
  • role:inner -- inner border segments (for enclaves)

Tags are generally copied from the corresponding administrative relation with some exceptions:

  • the value of the boundary=* tag on the relation is changed from administrative to master
  • the admin_level=* tag is removed
  • a country_code=* tag is added

Newly defined tags

See below for examples.

  • boundary=claim -- on a boundary claim segment that does not qualify as boundary=administrative
  • claimed_by=* (one or more country codes, or nobody) -- on a boundary relation
  • claim_level=* -- on a Boundary Claim relation where all claimants agree on the claim level
    • claim_level:claimant_country_code=* -- on a boundary relation where the claimants assign different claim levels. Note: this tag can apply to either an Administrative boundary relation or a Boundary Claim relation.
  • controlled_by=* (nobody, UN, or one or more country codes) -- on a boundary relation. Note: UN indicates that a United Nations mission is exclusively or jointly administering the area, such as a buffer area under the aegis of a UN peacekeeping mission.
  • boundary=conflict_area -- on an optional Conflict Area relation
  • country_code=* -- on a Master Claim to indicate the country code
  • boundary=master -- on a Master Claim
  • boundary=claim -- on a Boundary Claim relation

Newly defined roles with the Master Claim

  • undisputed -- for an undisputed boundary relation area. That is, the Claiming Entity claims this area, and nobody disputes it.
  • joint -- for a boundary relation that the Claiming Entity controls cooperatively with another Claiming Entity.
  • de_facto -- for a de facto but disputed boundary relation. For a Master Claim, the Claiming Entity controls this area, but it is also claimed by someone else. Note: this role is also used for Conflict Areas, which have no Claiming Entity, for a de facto but disputed boundary relation.
  • claimed -- for a boundary relation that the Claiming Entity claims but does not control. This area is under the control of a different claimant, or nobody.

New list

One new official OSM list is created, derived from the criteria in the proposal:

Existing tags

The proposal makes reference to these existing tags:

Details of proposal

Claiming entity

Claiming entities are those entities, usually national governments, that meet certain criteria to be eligible to register claimed borders. The criteria for the List of Claiming Entities are important to this proposal.

The proposal supports the Policy on Disputed Territories by specifying objective criteria to flesh out the current subjective standards. The following criteria for the list match the current application of the policy and are a part of this proposal:

  • Any full member of the United Nations General Assembly
  • Any entity that exercises control over territory AND that is recognised by at least 10 full members of the United Nations General Assembly.

The criteria are crucial to applying the policy. See the discussion page.

Changing the criteria

Anyone wishing to change the criteria for the List of Claiming Entities should follow the Proposal process. In addition to the rationale and other relevant sections of the process, these specific points should be included:

  • Change in criteria: The proposal should detail the new and old criteria.
  • Change in list: The proposal should specify which Claiming Entities will be added to the list, or removed from it. For any entity being added to the list, the proposal must provide a four-letter Country Code.

Administrative boundary relations

The administrative boundary is the one that conforms to the Policy's statement: "Currently, we record one set that, in OpenStreetMap contributor opinion, is most widely internationally recognised and best meets realities on the ground, generally meaning physical control." It is represented by the Administrative boundary relation, and should be tagged as is done currently:

type=boundary + boundary=administrative + admin_level=2

Segments should be tagged:

boundary=administrative + admin_level=2

Boundary claim relations

The members of a boundary claim relation are boundary segments, which must be tagged either boundary=administrative (if they are part of an administrative relationship) or boundary=claim (if they are not). They receive the standard outer or inner role within the relation.

The relation is tagged as follows:

type=boundary + boundary=claim

If the claimants agree on the claim_level, add a tag:

If they disagree, show the viewpoint of each claimant:

If all tags on two boundary claim relations are identical, they should normally be merged into a multipolygon.

The controlled_by tag

The controlled_by=* tag normally indicates exclusive and durable control of a territory. (Joint control by mutual consent is also possible; see the "cooperative jurisdiction" special case below.)

A simple test for "exclusive" control is this: who will use force to stop you if you enter the area without permission? If the answer is "it depends," then control is not exclusive. "Durable" control means that control has been well established over a period of time. This proposal defines an appropriate period of time depending on circumstances.

The shortest period of time to establish "durable" control involves a peaceful handover of control, such as the handover of Hong Kong on 1 July 1997. Before that date, it would have been tagged controlled_by=GB, on or after, controlled_by=CN.

By contrast, the existence of sustained hostilities indicates that a Claiming Entity no longer has exclusive control of the territory in question. Until the situation is resolved, the area should therefore be tagged controlled_by=nobody.

When armed conflict has ceased for 30 days, a Resolution Period begins, retroactive to the cessation of fighting. During the Resolution Period, tags remain unchanged. The length of the Resolution Period depends on the nature of the end of hostilities.

  • Mutual agreement. If the two sides formally state that one of them has control of the area, the Resolution Period ends, and the controlled_by=* tag is set to indicate which one has control. A formal peace treaty indicates that both sides agree. A fairly common indication that both sides agree is when one files a formal complaint against the other, generally including an accusation that the other side gained control of the territory illegally, while the other formally acknowledges control, such as by beginning an annexation procedure.
  • Cease-fire. If the two sides agree to a cease-fire, the Resolution Period ends six months later. If, however, the cease-fire does not hold for six months, and sustained hostilities resume, then the Resolution Period is cancelled and the clock restarts.
  • Frozen conflict. If there are no sustained hostilities during a two-year period, the Resolution Period ends.

After the Resolution Period ends, control of the territory is considered durable, and the controlled_by=* tag should be changed as necessary. Note: If United Nations peacekeepers are deployed to an area, it can immediately be tagged controlled_by=UN, with no waiting period required, as this is considered durable.

Boundary relation tags

The following tags apply to all Boundary Claim relations and Administrative boundary relations.

claimed_by=* (either one or more country codes, or nobody)

controlled_by=* (one or more country codes and/or UN, or nobody)


  • For the claimed_by tag, use as many country codes as there are claimants, separated by semicolons. It is probably best to put the country codes in alphabetical order. If there are no claimants, use the keyword nobody.
  • For the controlled_by tag, the keyword UN can be used as a "country code", and the keyword nobody can be used instead of the list of country codes.
  • Use claim_level=2 if the claimant considers the area integral to its country (i.e., the claimant would draw its national border to include the boundary relation but would not draw an internal border to demarcate it). Use higher numbers if the claimant considers the area to be integral but at a less important point in the government hierarchy (typically 3 or 4 for a province or region).


  • claimed_by=KOSO;SR -- boundary relation's area is claimed by Kosovo and Serbia
  • claim_level:SR=4 -- Serbia considers this boundary relation's area to be at level 4 (province)
  • claim_level:KOSO=2 -- Kosovo considers this boundary relation's area to be at level 2 (country)
  • claimed_by=RU;UA -- area is claimed by Russia and Ukraine
  • claim_level=4 -- All claimants consider this boundary relation's area to be at level 4 (province)

Conflict areas

Conflict Area relations are optional under this proposal. They can be especially useful if the area is prominent, like Western Sahara, because otherwise there would be no relation with well-defined tags on OSM to describe the conflict. They should be tagged as follows:

type=boundary + boundary=conflict_area

The administrative or boundary claim relations comprising the Conflict Area should be added as members with the role de_facto.

The boundary segments defining the area should be added as members with the appropriate role: outer (normal) or inner (for enclaves).

Special case: Uncontrolled territory

There will on occasion be a area where no claiming entity exercises continuous exclusive control. A typical example of this would be an uninhabited disputed island, such as Parsley Island in the Mediterranean Sea. This island is claimed by both Spain and Morocco. After a military skirmish between the two, they agreed that neither would occupy the island. The tagging is:

type=boundary + boundary=claim + claimed_by=ES;MA + controlled_by=nobody

A determination about which claiming entity, if any, exercises control over a particular territory can be made by the Data Working Group if consensus cannot be reached.

Special case: Cooperative jurisdictions

In contrast to unclaimed territory, there are some boundary relations where the claiming entities jointly exercise effective control by mutual agreement. Nothing in this proposal prohibits such overlaps.

An example of this is the Germany-Luxembourg condominium. The tagging for the boundary relation is:

type=boundary + boundary=administrative + claimed_by=DE;LU + controlled_by=DE;LU

Special case: Terra nullius

There are a few parts of the world claimed by nobody. Most of these are islet outcroppings. There are two significant areas of such terra nullius: most of Antarctica, and Bir Tawil.

Terra nullius areas are tagged as follows:

type=boundary + boundary=administrative + claimed_by=nobody + controlled_by=* (country code(s) and/or UN, or nobody)

Even though the land is unclaimed, it is possible to be controlled by a Claiming Entity. For instance, Bir Tawil, though not claimed by Egypt, is effectively controlled by it.

Special case: Administered territory

Sometimes an entity controls territory but does not claim it, such as a buffer strip controlled by a UN peacekeeping force. For the case where nobody claims it, see Terra nullius, above. If the territory is claimed, tag it:

type=boundary + boundary=claim + claimed_by=* (one or more country codes) + controlled_by=* (country code(s) and/or UN)

Administered territories are added to the Master Claim of any country that claims the territory (role: claimed), but not to the Master Claim of any administrator.

Step by step

As an example, consider the dispute between Morocco (MA) and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) over Western Sahara. MA controls those parts of Western Sahara that are north and west of the Berm. SADR controls those parts of Western Sahara south and east of the Berm.

The overlap of the claims of MA and SADR exactly matches the boundary of Western Sahara, a Conflict Area. The Berm divides Western Sahara into five areas. One is controlled by MA and becomes a boundary claim relation; the rest are controlled by SADR and are merged into one multipolygon boundary claim relation. Each boundary relation gets an appropriate tag:

  • controlled_by=* (either MA or SADR in this case)
  • claimed_by=MA;SADR
  • claim_level=2

The administrative boundary for MA remains the same. It is contiguous with its boundary claim relation in Western Sahara plus its administrative boundary relation to the north. The administrative boundary for SADR also remains the same. It is equal to its boundary claim in Western Sahara.

The Master Claim for MA includes all of Western Sahara, as well as its claims to the north. The Master Claim for SADR includes all of Western Sahara.

Tags for some real-world disputes

  • China: mainland China would be an administrative boundary, controlled_by=CN + claimed_by=CN;TW. Taiwan would be another administrative boundary, controlled_by=TW + claimed_by=CN;TW.
  • Crimea: To conform to the currently approved de facto borders, the administrative boundary relation, which comprises all of Crimea, would be tagged type=boundary + boundary=administrative + admin_level=2 + claimed_by=RU;UA + controlled_by=RU;UA + claim_level=4.
  • Israel-Palestine: To conform to the currently approved de facto borders, there would these boundary relations:
    • West Bank, claimed_by=PS + controlled_by=PS.
    • Gaza, claimed_by=PS + controlled_by=PS.
    • Israel, claimed_by=IL + controlled_by=IL.
    • East Jerusalem, claimed_by=IL;PS + controlled_by=IL.
  • Israel-Syria: The Golan Heights would be an administrative boundary relation, claimed_by=IL;SY + controlled_by=IL.
  • Israel-Lebanon: Shebaa Farms would be an administrative boundary relation, claimed_by=IL;LB;SY + controlled_by=IL.
  • Kashmir: There are three administrative boundary relation areas in dispute, with different pairs of claimants. (No area is claimed by all three.)
    • Jammu and Kashmir, controlled_by=IN + claimed_by=IN;PK.
    • Northern Areas, controlled_by=PK + claimed_by=IN;PK.
    • Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract, controlled_by=CN + claimed_by=CN;IN.
  • Kosovo: One administrative boundary relation encompasses all of Kosovo; it would be tagged type=boundary + boundary=administrative + admin_level=2 + claimed_by=KOSO;RS + controlled_by=KOSO + claim_level:RS=4 + claim_level:KOSO=2.
  • Transnistria: Under the proposal's criteria, Transnistria is not in the List of Claiming Entities, so Moldova would be considered an undisputed administrative boundary relation (with no competing claim, because Transnistria would not be a Claiming Entity). In such a case, there is no need to create a Master Claim for Moldova, and no need for a boundary claim relation. This matches the current mapping in OSM. Transnistria would appear (as now) as a province with an appropriate admin_level (3 or 4). The Transnitria leaders' claim would not gain credence as a boundary claim. At some future date, if Transnistria is included in the List of Claiming Entities, then Transnistria with respect to Moldova would be treated the same as Kosovo with respect to Serbia.
  • Rebel groups, Islamic State, micronations: Like Transnistria, their claims would not be mapped as boundary claim relations, because they are not on the List of Claiming Entities. (This would not prevent mappers from creating other types of relations under the notion of Any Tags You Like, but they would not qualify for use of the boundary claim relation.) The Description or Note tag can be used as needed to describe the situation.

The world according to country XX

Building a map of the world according to country XX requires a database indicating which claims are accepted by country XX. (To include such a database in the OSM tags, see the possible extensions). In the following algorithms, "boundary relations" refers to relations tagged type=boundary + claimed_by=*.

For each country ZZ, its land area according to country XX is equal to:

 Boundary relations where claimed_by contains ZZ and the database shows that XX sides with ZZ for that area 
 + boundary relations where claimed_by contains ZZ and controlled_by contains ZZ and XX is neutral for that area

The administrative relation for country ZZ is equal to:

 Boundary relations where claimed_by contains ZZ and controlled_by contains ZZ 

The Master Claim for country ZZ is equal to:

 Boundary relations where claimed_by contains ZZ 

Conflict Areas affecting country ZZ and XX can be found as follows:

Boundary relations where claimed_by contains ZZ and claimed_by contains XX

Backward compatibility and transition

See the discussion page.

How to map

Changes in boundary relations and their members can be highly contentious. When in doubt, seek consensus on the appropriate mailing lists. Always follow the criteria established in the Policy on Disputed Territories. Default boundaries should not be changed without a good reason, which should be stated at the time of the change (using the comment feature of the changeset).

Create Boundary Claim relations

Boundary Claim relations should have a solid basis, preferably based on claims from a country's constitution or laws, from an official government agency, or from a reputable source that has summarised the situation. The basis (including links and/or contact information) should be included in the changeset comment.

Tag the boundary relation's claim_level(s). Examples:

Add a tag controlled_by=country_code.

See above for other appropriate tags for boundary relations.

Add the boundary relations to the Master Claim as appropriate, with the role undisputed,joint, de_facto, or claimed.

The existence of a new boundary can affect each Claiming Entity's admin_level=2 boundaries. In addition to any other tags, the boundary between each Claiming Entity and the new boundary should now be tagged boundary=claim if the boundary was not previously tagged as administrative, or boundary=administrative + admin_level=2 if it was. The segments are added to the Boundary Claim relation with the role outer. (As usual, any enclaves would get the role inner.)

Rendering possibilities and live examples

Western Sahara

See the possible renderings page for Western Sahara examples.

  • Morocco administrative relation: its area includes all the territory Morocco controls; it is the same as the current administrative relation.
  • Morocco Master Claim: its area includes all Moroccan claims (Western Sahara, Melilla, Ceuta, Parsley Island, etc.) as well as those parts of the country unclaimed by anyone else.
  • Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic administrative relation: its area includes all the territory SADR controls; it is the same as the current administrative relation.
  • Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Master Claim: its area includes all SADR claims; in other words, it is contiguous with Western Sahara.

Live example

Examples on the development server

Possible extensions

This discussion page on possible extensions offers a scratch pad for thoughts on this topic, such as:

  • Subnational claims
  • Names and descriptions "according to"
  • Viewpoints of third parties on claims

See also

Comments and changelog

Please see the discussion page.

External discussions

Main threads on OSM lists

RFC for this proposal on the Tagging list

RFC for this proposal on the Talk list

Related threads

Add some tag to identify disputed borders

OSMF silently sides with Russia?

OSMF makes a political decision where should be a technical solution?

Slack discussion

On OSM US #borders channel


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  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Valerietheblonde (talk) 18:56, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Johnparis (talk) 07:38, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. OSM should stick with the tried and true "on the ground rule". Getting consensus on these things is hard, but sidestepping the issue by allowing everybodies opinion doesn't solve anything, it creates more problems. Taking "claims" into account sets a dangerous precedent. --Joto (talk) 08:07, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. I vote no simply on the grounds that the 'list of approved entities' requires political decisions. This should simply be the ISO country code list over which we have no control. --Lsces (talk) 10:26, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. I appreciate the work put into this but like Jochen i think claims of sovereignty - in other words opinions on how reality should look like as opposed to verifiable observations how reality does look like - do not belong in OSM. --Imagico (talk) 16:55, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. As much as I would like to stick to the "on the ground rule", recent events have shown that does not work and we need a way of expressing different views in our data. This proposal appears to be a well designed way of doing so. --Lyx (talk) 17:06, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --smz (talk) 18:24, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Dr Centerline (talk) 21:36, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I abstain from voting but have comments I have comments but abstain from voting on this proposal. It's not obvious from the proposal how to handle renamings and region re-partioning that one side of conflict performed that were not accepted by other. Crimea is "Autonomous Republic of Crimea" in UA or "Republic of Crimea" in RU. South Korea believes place names in North Korea are different from what North Korea believes up to lawfully forbidding the use of North Korean versions (someone can elaborate). Otherwise I believe this proposal is a good step towards representing the complexity of the world. --Komяpa (talk) 08:09, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
The city of Derry in Northern Ireland is called 2 different things in English, Derry or Londonderry depending on which country you're in, or ethnicity. (OSM node: node 267762522). We use name:en_IE=Derry and name:en_GB=Londonderry to record both, as if it's a dialect difference. Perhaps that could work for North/South Korea? Rorym (talk) 09:59, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
Referring to reliable sourcestm is wikipedia verifiability, not OSM verifiability. --Imagico (talk) 12:11, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. For multiple reasons
    • there is a substantial amount of policy interwoven with the technical bits of tagging, examples: definition of valid claiming entities, 30 days period in the sustained hostilities and resolution period definitions. Any such policy needs to be in a separate document and clearly separated from this.
    • in practical terms it just moves the debate from the current borders to who gets listed in the controlled_by tag (as this is what most likely data consumers and renderers are going to use by default). Example: Crimea, not even the UK Ukrainian ambassador denies that RU controls Crimea so obviously controlled_by=RU would be the correct tagging, however that is exactly what started off this whole discussion in the first place.
    • boundaries are already fairly complex to edit and tend to break a lot, the proposal makes things at least an order of magnitude more complex, and I somehow doubt that it will be possible to ever get a complete set of (technically) non-broken boundary polygons after this scheme is approved (but maybe that is the actual plan :-)).

--SimonPoole (talk) 17:03, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. It is interesting proposal and plenty of work went into it, but I think that "The world according to country XX" should be outside of scope of OSM, like mapping no longer existing objects is. I see no reason to suspend "on the ground rule" for borders. --Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 18:26, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. First, this proposal does not solve the current issue of administrative boundaries mapping, hiding behind the vague formula from the OSMF. I thought the point of the discussion was to fix that. Instead, it introduces three more relations, which will be pain to support (I agree with Simon on that). But these relations might help data consumers build applications that show borders differently for different sides on a conflict, so why not. --Zverik (talk) 13:08, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --darkonus (talk) 15:01, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. -- I think these new relations will help users who are using OSM maps. While I think disagreement will continue regarding default rendering, that conversation can continue separately. Kathleenlu (talk) 23:05, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. -- this is not perfect, but it tries to solve a real problem faced by data consumers. Moreover, it fits with the spirit of OSM - we allow mappers to document what they observe, including political positions of all countries - thus increasing OSM value. --Yurik (talk) 03:02, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
Honestly, I think the proposal exactly doesn't allow mappers to document what they observe. There's a proposed list of valid claiming entities, which in fact means that on-the-ground-truth is ignored in favour of a politically charged, pre-selected list. By requiring 10 UN member states to recognize a claiming entity, for almost every separatist conflict this proposal favours the original mother country, regardless of on-the-ground truth. This includes separatist regions which exist as de-facto states for decades, such as Abkhazia or Nothern Cyprus. Even Taiwan will probably soon cease to be a valid claiming entity. (Taiwan is now recognized by only 17 UN member states, down from 22 in 2016.) This proposal is heavily politically loaded. --Maturion (talk) 17:34, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. -- I think this is the best we can get for now without taking sides in any political dispute, particularly with Crimea. It is my belief that OpenStreetMap is not NationStates, and thus not a battleground for border disputes. Furthermore, I recommend that the standard tile layer improves their neutrality by reintroducing dotted lines for disputed borders. --Ika-chan! (talk) 15:28, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
What exactly should controlled_by be for Crimea then? SimonPoole (talk) 16:21, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
I firmly refuse to pick a side in that dispute. That is beyond my control, particularly with my extremely poor mental health. --Ika-chan! (talk) 18:20, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. I appreciate the effort that went into this proposal, but I am going to have to oppose:
    • I am deeply troubled by the timing of this vote while the OSM Foundation Board has still not made a full statement on their Crimea decision late last year that kicked off the whole saga. The statement has been repeatedly delayed - most recently promised for sometime after January 27th in . What is the point of voting on tagging policy if we don't know what made the OSM Foundation Board overturn the previous tagging policy?
    • The selection of entities eligible for "controlled_by" seems lacking to me. To give one example: Transnistria has had people with guns that would stop you on what they claim is their border for decades, yet it'll not be shown in OSM data. This looks like tagging that is correct from a political point of view, but it's not useful for actually determining where a border (a control line guarded by an entity) exists.
    • I have asked for clarification on the currently proposed controlled_by=RU;UA (Talk:Proposed_features/Mapping_disputed_boundaries#controlled_by.3DRU.3BUA) on 27 January and have not heard back anything.

--Jarek Piórkowski (talk) 16:16, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

I think mapping disputed/claimed borders is different from the OSMF board's Crimea/DWG decision, since that applies to the mapping of regular country borders. I can see why one might want to wait, but IMO that's not required. Rorym (talk) 08:19, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
IMHO, the criteria on who is even eligible for controlled_by (List of Claiming Entities) is going to be controversial the next time a breakaway region gets partial recognition. It's not hard to think of examples: Western-backed Xinjiang or Tibet? Russian-backed Donetsk? Yemen? I expect at least some people in affected countries will complain to OSMF. They already have the template, and the fine example of fiction of Crimea controlled_by=RU;UA. --Jarek Piórkowski (talk) 14:19, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

-Mateusz Konieczny

  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. As Yurik said "this is not perfect, but it tries to solve a real problem faced by data consumers". I prefer to use the OSM data set to represent the map as required by a government than use NaturalEarth data to detect the conflict boundaries in OSM... and end up with regular expressions to display OSM features as required. Note: around the Mont-Blanc/Monte Bianco OSM has a no-man-land due to different treaties. No treaty says there is a no-man-land, one says "this is French", the other says "this is Italian". Both treaties are accepted by both countries. France and Italy agree to disagree. I also like to see on international maps that there is a conflict. Even on national, BTW. --Nospam2005 (talk) 19:41, 4 February 2019 (UTC)-
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. Politics vs ground truth. Why not vote against ground truth first? --JB (talk) 20:14, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. This proposal makes an important contribution to the issue of how to map disputed boundaries in OSM, because it helps to represent territories with different claims. In my experience, the fact that a territory is disputed, usually has repercussions on the ground and thus merits to be reflected in OSM. Thanks thus for the work that has been put into this! I would, however, suggest that the proposal be further defined to better represent the level of hostilities and the state of conflict in a disputed territory. Let's compare for example Crimea and Kosovo. Under the current proposal, I would qualify both territories as "frozen conflict" under solidified control by either Russia or Kosovo, and with claims by Ukraine or Serbia respectively. However, while there are no armed disputes, the Crimea conflict remains more active than the Kosovo conflict and the Ukrainian claim to Crimea is being more actively pushed than the Serbian claim to Kosovo. This is reflected on the ground by the fact that travelling to Crimea through Russia is considered illegal entry into Ukrainian territory and prosecuted as a criminal act there ( This is not the case in Serbia for travellers who have been to Kosovo. You can even travel from Kosovo to Serbia, although you will not get an entry stamp into your passport, which is punishable under Serbian law if you don't have a previous valid entry stamp from another Serbian border crossing, or be refrained from entry altogether, but travelling to Kosovo is apparently not considered illegal per se by Serbia ( --Grimpeur78 (talk) 23:33, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --@themis (talk) 19:20, 6 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. The territorial claims are also part of a map, and this proposal would solve important legal problems about using OSM in many countries (in which showing a map without a claimed territory is illegal). --DaveFX (talk) 10:12, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Jordi MF (talk) 15:15, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. This proposal has multiple issues.
(1) This proposal contradicts itself. It proposes admin_level=2 + claimed_by=RU;UA + controlled_by=RU;UA + claim_level=4 for Crimea. How does this help Ukrainian data consumers to see the area as exclusively Ukrainian territory and Russian data consumers as exclusively Russian territory (this is simplified to ease understanding)? If this is caused by the decision of the OSMF board that the area belongs to both Russia and Ukraine, this proposal does not bring any benefit either. In addition, admin_level=2 does look odd to me. Crimea is controlled by Russia and treated as a federal subject, therefore admin_level=4 would be right?
(2) boundary=conflict_area and boundary=claim introduce duplication. The claim of a country is the area under its control plus claimed areas controlled by others minus areas under its control claimed by others. Therefore, a boundary=conflict_area plus some tags who recognizes that claim, who disagrees and who is neutral should be sufficient.
(3) This proposal tries to solve all potential cases in one go. This proposal shows where such attempts lead to. It is overly complex and difficult to understand, even more complex and more difficult than the current public transport tagging. History has shown that complex proposals have huge difficulties to be adopted by both mappers and data consumers. It will take multiple years until it is adopted. The complexity is caused because it does not focus on admin level 2 only but also tries to model the claimed admin level of entities in disputed areas.
(4) I think that we do not need a special tagging for areas under joint control. They are just the intersection of two countries. If we want to keep that, we should do it correct and also be able to model the Tägermoos.
(5) I think that difficult proposals like this should come with a implementation to ease usage by data consumers. Whoever invents complex mapping schemas involving relations, should do that. Writing the code using the data will enable you to understand the issues of data consumers.
(6) The proposal moves the dispute on the only "truth" to a dispute whether a country is allowed to be on a claiming entity. By doing so, we leave the On The Ground Rule behind, a rule which protects us easily from disputes on the "truth". National boundaries of control are boundaries which are not easy to verify in field but it is achievable, especially if their are questioned (disputed boundaries often have a front line between both parties). However, claimed boundaries beyond the area under control are not verifiable on the ground.

--Nakaner (talk) 15:25, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. Politics vs ground truth. And much too complex - even for me. (wambacher) 16:55, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. I appreciate the considerable effort in bringing more structure to a complex scenario. But it adds unavoidably much labor on almost all borders (even the Lake of Constance has at least 3 border versions) and suppose this schema to be error-prone. Furthermore it often shifts problems from questional borders to questional claiming countries.

--Seichter (talk) 19:52, 8 February 2019 (UTC)


  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. I strongly opppose. We have our "on the ground rule" and it worked fine for years. While many of this proposal's ideas are good, I am especially critical of a potential List of claiming entities. This is a politically charged list to decide which territorial claim is valid and which isn't and often ignores the situation on the ground. The list's current criteria disqualifies almost every factually existing separatist entity in the world as a valid claiming entity, hence has zero use for some of the most controversial conflicts on OSM. Places like Abkhazia, Transnistria or Nagorno-Karabakh, which exist for 25+ years and have de-facto full control over their territory cannot be compared to ISIS (which basically has no territory anymore, anyway). OSM should only abide to facts on the ground. This proposal contradicts itself by the way. Why does it list Kosovo as controlled by Kosovo only, but Crimea as controlled_by=RU;UA ? --Maturion (talk) 11:04, 9 February 2019 (UTC)


  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. While I do agree with several concepts of this proposal such as area relations with claimed_by next to the respective other tags, I oppose the limiting to a "curated/allowed" list of "legitimate" claimants. Also I think the mentioned time limits for changing will on the one hand be ignored by some people, switching directly to the long term proposed solution and in other cases be outdated, lacking interested (or paid [which would be another can of worms in that field]) editors. One accepted solution should be enough at first, we do not need to overly complicate that by arbitrary time limitations. --Helmchen42 (talk) 14:53, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. --Whb (talk) 18:49, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. --4rch (talk) 18:59, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. I agree with Maturion's rejection because the criteria for claiming entities are too strict. Nevertheless, I think the proposal makes sense and the way to change the criteria is shown. --Maxbe (talk) 08:46, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Lutz (talk) 12:03, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal.It looks quite comprehensive. --LeifRasmussen (talk) 16:45, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
The voting period for this proposal was scheduled to end on 10 February. I will change its status to Post-Vote. --Jarek Piórkowski (talk) 17:09, 14 February 2019 (UTC)