[OSM-talk] Board decision on Crimea complaint

Markus selfishseahorse at gmail.com
Fri Dec 14 13:16:57 UTC 2018

As long as state borders need to fulfil ground truth and broad
international recognition, which are in conflict with each other, this
inevitably requires arbitrary decisions.

It seems to me that the solution that agrees the most with our
principle of ground truth is to abandon the broad international
recognition criterion and to set up independent and verifiable
criteria for states (or rather admin:level=2 boundaries).

I'd suggest to adopt the first three criteria of Article 1 of the
Montevideo Convention [1] (also known as the declarative theory of
statehood [2]), which are

  1. a permanent population,
  2. a defined territory,
  3. a government.

(I'd leave out the fourth criterion – capacity to enter into relations
with the other states – because it leaves too much room for

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montevideo_Convention
[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_state#Declarative_theory


On Tue, 11 Dec 2018 at 13:43, Vladimir Agafonkin <agafonkin at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Dec 11, 2018 at 12:52 PM Guillaume Rischard <openstreetmap at stereo.lu> wrote:
>> The on-the-ground rule has served us well on disputed borders: there is no other reasonable and possible alternative. Creating an exception in Crimea, without any justification, opens Pandora’s box.
> All of these statements are misleading. If Crimea is an exception, how is the ground-truth rule applied in South Osetia and Abkhazia, both of which are included in the Georgia boundary which has absolutely no control over those territories (de-facto controlled by Russia)? Why is Transnistria included in the boundaries of Moldova? Why does the Cyprus boundary include a large area fully controlled by Turkey? What police and tax authority is there in large areas of Iran and Iraq controlled by ISIS, and why are these areas still included in the respective countries?
> The only major difference in those cases compared to Crimea is that applying the ground-truth rule there would require mapping respective areas as independent countries. But — big surprise! — OSM community by convention limits the list of countries to those recognized by the UN, because, as it turns out, a country is a political entity after all. How ironic is that?
> In practice, OSM never fully adhered to the ground truth rule when it comes to country boundaries, but at least the policy was vague enough to make arbitrary decisions, with either "ground truth" or "widely internationally recognized" bit taking precedence depending on how the DWG members feel about the world on a particular day. Pretending OSM is out of politics when solving an inherently political issue does not help, because then you take a political side implicitly (becoming a welcome tool of Russian regime propaganda in this case).
> There are reasonable and possible alternatives, such as this in-progress disputed boundaries proposal, but due to the complexity and emotional charge of the issue, fleshing them out to a practical consensus will take a considerable time. Until such a common ground is found, the most practical thing you can do is to revert to a balance point that prevents never-ending edit wars and worked well in practice for the last 5 years. It's unfortunate that this issue wasn't taken seriously in that period, but hopefully this crisis, however damaging, will facilitate coming to a universal solution soon.

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