(Tintri's short enough on space right now that I am finding it harder to park myself somewhere both unused and convenient to people I want to work with. But fortunately politics are at a minimum.)
But the combination of this thought and reading news articles about disputed rocks in the South China Sea and environs sparked an idea. Most of these arguments are really over rights to the surrounding ocean, due to economic interests, correct? (There might be a broader national interest of some sort but when only a handful of people, or zero, live there it is hard not to see nationalism as the ploy rather than the cause.) And at least in the cases where the two disputants are rich countries (like South Korea and Japan) why not resolve this through market means? Admit that the ownership is in dispute, bid on what it's worth to your country, and exchange some money based on the result.
The alternatives seem to be: act belligerent and beef up your nearby presence (i.e., spend money), take it to arbitration by a neutral third party (who?), or arrive at a negotiated solution in which both parties give up something (i.e., spend money or swap rocks.) Just cut to the chase and have a standard auction mechanism instead!
Alternate solution: raise the sea level until the rocks in question are inundated.