digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















"Delimitation" redirects here. For a form of punctuation in computer languages, which breaks data, see delimiter.

Boundary delimitation (or simply delimitation) is the drawing of boundaries, particularly of electoral precincts, states, counties or other municipalities.[1] In the context of elections, it can be called redistribution and is used to prevent unbalance of population across districts.[1] Unbalanced or discriminatory delimitation is called "gerrymandering."[2] Though there are no internationally agreed processes that guarantee fair delimitation, several organizations, such as the Commonwealth Secretariat, the European Union and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems have proposed guidelines for effective delimitation.

In international law, the related national delimitation is the process of legally establishing the outer limits ("borders") of a state within which full territorial or functional sovereignty is exercised.[3] Occasionally this is used when referring to the maritime boundaries as well, in this case called maritime delimitation.

Democratic delimitation[edit]


Countries delimit electoral districts in different ways.[1] Sometimes these are drawn based on traditional boundaries, sometimes based on the physical characteristics of the region and, often, the lines are drawn based on the social, political and cultural contexts of the area.[1] This may need to be done in any form of electoral system even though it is primarily done for plurality or majority electoral system.[1]

These processes of boundary delimitation can have a variety of legal justifications. Often, because of the powerful effects this process can have on constituencies, the legal framework for delimitation is specified in the constitution of a country.[4] The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) recommends the following pieces of information be included in this legal framework:[4]

  • The frequency of such determination;
  • The criteria for such determination;
  • The degree of public participation in the process;
  • The respective roles of the legislature, judiciary and executive in the process;and
  • The ultimate authority for the final determination of the electoral units.

Established democracies[edit]

Delimitation is regularly used in the United States and Commonwealth countries. This is called redistricting or redistribution respectively. In these countries non-partisan commissions draw new districts based on the distribution of population according to a census.

International Standards[edit]

A number of international organizations including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the European Commission for Democracy Through Law (the Venice Commission), the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) have established standards which their members are encouraged to prescribe to.[2] Among these standards the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) lists the most common as being Impartiality, Equality, Representativeness, Non-Discrimination and Transparency.[2]

Venice Commission[edit]

As part of its report, European Commission for Democracy Through Law: Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters, Guidelines and Explanatory Reports adopted October 2002, the Venice Commission proposed the following guidelines:[2]

2.2 Equal voting power: seats must be evenly distributed between the constituencies.
i. This must at least apply to elections to lower houses of parliament and regional and local elections:
ii. It entails a clear and balanced distribution of seats among constituencies on the basis of one of the following allocation criteria: population, number of resident nationals (including minors), number of registered voters, and possibly the number of people actually voting. An appropriate combination of these criteria may be envisaged.
iii. The geographical criterion and administrative, or possibly even historical,boundaries may be taken into consideration.
iv. The permissible departure from the norm should not be more than 10%, and should certainly not exceed 15% except in special circumstances (protection of a concentrated minority, sparsely populated administrative entity).
v. In order to guarantee equal voting power, the distribution of seats must be reviewed at least every ten years, preferably outside election periods.
vi. With multimember constituencies, seats should preferably be redistributed without redefining constituency boundaries, which should, where possible, coincide with administrative boundaries.
vii. When constituency boundaries are redefined—which they must be in a single-member system—it must be done:
- impartially;
- without detriment to national minorities;
- taking account of the opinion of a committee, the majority of whose members are independent; this committee should preferably include a geographer, a sociologist, and a balanced representation of the parties and, if necessary, representatives of national minorities.

Commonwealth Secretariat[edit]

In the publication Good Commonwealth Electoral Practices: A Working Document, June 1997, the Commonwealth Secretariat identifies the following practices as necessary for proper delimitation:[2]

20. The delimitation of constituency boundaries is a function occasionally performed by an election commission or otherwise by an independent boundaries commission, and in some cases after a population census.
21. General principles guiding the drawing of constituency boundaries include community of interest, convenience, natural boundaries, existing administrative boundaries and population distribution, including minority groups. There should be no scope for any “gerrymandering”, and each vote should, to the extent possible, be afforded equal value or weight, in recognition of the democratic principle that all those of voting age participate equally in the ballot.
22. It is important that the general public play a part in the whole process and that the political parties also have an opportunity to respond to proposals before they are finalized. Where the size of a particular constituency is markedly out of line with the target “quota” of voters per seat, the reasons should be capable of being readily understood by both the parties and the general public.


In her study sponsored by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Dr. Lisa Handley recommends the following considerations:[2]

  1. population density
  2. ease of transportation and communication
  3. geographic features
  4. existing patterns of human settlement
  5. financial viability and administrative capacity of electoral area
  6. financial and administrative consequences of boundary determination
  7. existing boundaries
  8. community of interest

Also, she suggests that the process should:[2]

  • be managed by an independent and impartial body that is representative of society, comprising persons with the appropriate skills;
  • be conducted on the basis of clearly identified criteria such as population, distribution, community of interest, convenience, geographical features and other natural or administrative boundaries;
  • be made accessible to the public through a consultation process;
  • be devoid of manipulation of electoral boundaries to favour political groups or political interests;
  • be conducted by one body;
  • include all spheres of government, both national and local.

National delimitation[edit]

The negotiations surrounding the modification of a states borders is called National delimitation. This event often takes place as part of the negotiations seeking to end a conflict over resource control, popular loyalties, or political interests.

Maritime delimitation[edit]

Main article: Territorial Waters

The term Maritime delimitation is a form of national delimitation that can be applied to the disputes between nations over maritime claims. An example is found at Maritime Boundary Delimitation in the Gulf of Tonkin. In international politics, the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, United Nations Secretariat is responsible for the collection of all claims to territorial waters.[5]

See also[edit]

For further examples of legislative delimitation:

For further elaboration of this concept of national delimitaiton see

For further examples of the concept maritime delimitation:


  1. ^ a b c d e Overview of Boundary Delimitation ACE: The Electoral Knowledge Center. Accessed July 09, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Challenging the Norms and Standards of Election Administration Boundary Delimitation. IFES, 2007. Accessed July 09, 2009.
  3. ^ G.J. Tanja, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands, comment in I.F. Dekker, H.H.G. Post, and T.M.C. Asser, The Gulf War of 1980-1988: The Iran-Iraq War in International Legal Perspective, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (1992), pp.44-45.
  4. ^ a b Boundary delimitation, districting ordefining boundaries of electoral units a chapter from International Electoral Standards: Guidelines for reviewing the legal framework of elections. Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Accessed July 21, 2009
  5. ^ "Maritime Space: Maritime Zones and Maritime Delimitation". UN. Retrieved Nov 15, 2009. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundary_delimitation — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
121 videos foundNext > 

IBRU Workshop - Maritime Boundary Delimitation 2013

Between 25 - 27 September 2013 IBRU held a workshop entitled 'Maritime Boundary Delimitation' at the Centre for International Law at the National University ...

Business Files, April 22nd, 2010 - Grenada Trinidad Boundary Delimitation Signing

Delimitation Teaser #1: What Is Delimitation

Short video clip to explain what is constituency boundary delimitation means. By TindakMalaysia.org.

Delimitation Teaser: Delimitation, Malapportionment and Gerrymandering

LINK: http://bit.ly/DelimitationScrutineerRegistration (for registration as delimitation scrutineer) Tindak Malaysia's short clip to introduce constituency b...

Equity at Sea by Prof. Jay L. Batongbacal

Benjamin Gozon Professorial Chair Lecture on Natural Resources "Equity at Sea: The State of Play in International Maritime Boundary Delimitation Law" by Prof...

Contemporary territorial claims, boundaries, jurisdictional and resource disputes in Gulf waters

On 27 February 2014 Menas Associates hosted our eleventh event with Clyde & Co entitled "Contemporary territorial claims, boundaries, jurisdictional and reso...

Indonesia, philippines settle sea dispute peacefully

What is the significance to the Philippines of the PH-RI EEZ Boundary? The Agreement on the EEZ Boundary has achieved the vision of President Aquino when, du...

18JUL10 THAILAND ;Part 2; PM Abhisit Meets Thais on TV ; นายกฯ อภิสิทธิ์ ; Boundary Delimitation with the Watersheds

Kandara politicians join hands to oppose IEBC proposal

http://www.ntv.co.ke Politicians in Kandara set momentarily set aside their political differences and vowed to reject ant attempts to move some wards in Kand...

Maritime Limits and Boundaries

Maritime limits and boundaries pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982.

121 videos foundNext > 

7 news items

Belarus Digest
Thu, 18 Sep 2014 01:42:44 -0700

Other borders had existed only as administrative markers and required boundary delimitation and demarcation once the Soviet Union collapsed. First came borders with the Baltic states. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia needed these borders more than ...

The Daily Star

The Daily Star
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:04:40 -0700

WHEN the Board of Investment (BoI) invited me to a dialogue on the State of the Economy, it used a trump card of a huge sell-point we have acquired by virtue of a sizeable success through the recent maritime boundary delimitation along the Bay. It was ...
The Straits Times
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 15:57:12 -0700

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said his country's signing of a maritime boundary delimitation agreement with Singapore was an important signal amid concern over recent global developments. "In a world marked by tension and disputes, ...


Thu, 04 Sep 2014 23:45:00 -0700

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said his country's signing of a maritime boundary delimitation agreement with Singapore was an important signal amid concern over recent global developments. "In a world marked by tension and disputes, ...
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 14:11:15 -0700

The settlement of a maritime boundary delimitation dispute with India and Myanmar has awarded Bangladesh a territorial sea covering 118,000 square kilometres and an exclusive economic zone extending out to 200 nautical miles. The country was awarded ...
Andina - Agencia Peruana de Noticias
Wed, 20 Aug 2014 09:59:50 -0700

This land boundary delimitation remains unchangeable, in accordance with the 1929 Treaty of Lima, its Addition Protocol and the work carried out by the 1929-1930 Limits Demarcation Joint Commission. The document was signed by Peru's President Ollanta ...


Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:04:48 -0700

“If Itu Aba were to be seen as capable of generating a 200 nautical mile EEZ and continental shelf, the whole area which is subject of the case requires a [maritime boundary] delimitation before anything could be decided, and that will take the case ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!