Global Policy Forum

States and Their Future

General Analysis

Picture Credit: UN Photo/Joao Araujo Pinto

Today the state is the dominant mega-form of political association. The nation-state has taken hold around most of the world and its future has become the focus of a heated debate. The disintegration of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia gave birth to many new nation-states. Continuing ethnic violence around the world will likely precipitate the failure and recreation of more states around the world. On the other hand, the ever-closer integration of the expanding European Union signals a movement away from the nation-state. A whole set of global and domestic players challenge the authority of the state - from its economic and military power to its ability to provide social services and education. The boom in information and biological technologies further impedes the state's ability to control its population. Even if in the near future the state remains the only form of political organization, it will certainly undergo transformations. Early 20th century perceptions of state-sovereignty, citizenship, nation, and inter-state relations will have to change and adapt to these new forces. 


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Arab Region's Current Dangerous Developments - ANND Statement (July 30, 2013)

The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) has published a statement concerning the current developments in the Arab region. The network states that following the Arab Spring movement, many of the countries in which popular revolutions took place have failed to address the reasons behind the uprisings. Especially social justice, public freedoms and establishing security remain problematic. ANND’s statement takes a look at the developments in some central countries of the region and stresses key issues that should be tackled. (ANND)

The Suffering of Cyprus Shows Power is Draining from Cyprus (March 18, 2013)

The efforts to resolve Cyprus’ recent economic crisis have been met with severe criticism from observers and citizens across Europe. Much of the immediate concern revolves around the potential erosion of confidence in European banks. A Cypriot deposit levy - even one restricted to large depositors - may cause others to withdraw their funds in favor of more secure options. Additionally, the inability of European authorities to manage this crisis in a minor peripheral European state is raising questions about how much longer core states, particularly Germany, will be able to manage the eurozone. The Cypriot crisis marked the most significant instance of Russian involvement in the eurozone crisis, another indication that Europe’s internal crisis-management capacities may nearly be exhausted. (Independent)

Savers Across Europe will Look on in Horror at the Troika's Raid on Cyprus (March 17, 2013)

A proposed levy on bank deposits in Cyprus as a part of the country’s bailout program is being heavily criticized by observers and political figures in Cyprus and throughout Europe.  As with the other recent bailout packages in Europe, the proposed measures in Cyprus are ostensibly in the interest of preserving economic stability. However, Michael Burke argues that the proposed deposit levy indicates that the true threat to stability in Europe’s indebted states is emanating from core-European states and financial authorities. There is widespread concern that this novel debt-management strategy will not only impose a burden on vulnerable populations, but also undermine investor confidence throughout the region. (Guardian)

The Euro has been Saved, at the People's Expense (March 12, 2013)

The European Union’s recent efforts to preserve its common currency have been successful in bringing the eurozone back from the precipice of collapse. However, in order to achieve the goal of preserving the monetary union, governments have had to adopt unpopular policies and abandon the political platforms on which they were elected. Consequently, there is popular dissatisfaction between European states and toward the EU as an institution. Creditor states like Germany are home to polities that are frustrated with minimal growth and regard debtor states as an unacceptable burden. Conversely, debtor states are faced with widespread protest and civil unrest which targets not only the domestic government, but also the role of core European governments in the imposition of severe austerity. Ultimately, the EU is faced with a crisis of confidence, and there is little to suggest that simply preserving a common currency will provide a solution. (El Pais)

Hungary's New Power-Grab Should Make the EU Rethink its Role (March 11, 2013)

Hungarian President Viktor Orban’s proposed changes to his country’s constitution have prompted warnings from European Union authorities that they represent an erosion of Hungarian democracy. This article argues that these recent developments demonstrate the limited capacity of the EU to effectively preserve democratic institutions within member states. There has been a proposal to establish an EU institution solely tasked with monitoring democracy within member states, and this article goes further by arguing for the establishment of an expulsion mechanism. This proposal is likely to raise serious concerns about the eroding sovereignty of member states. However, since EU authorities are already exerting increasing influence over member states’ economies despite popular opposition, a reinvigorated commitment to European democracy may be beneficial. (Guardian)

The Falklands: A Vote With No Purpose (March 10, 2013)

The longstanding dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Malvinas/Falkland Islands is attracting attention once again. British residents of the disputed territory have arranged a referendum, widely regarded as a politically motivated effort to formalize their already well-known desire to remain a UK territory. Argentina has predictably dismissed the referendum as illegitimate, and it is unlikely to placate Argentina and its supporters. While the Falklands/Malvinas are indisputably home to an ancestrally British population, there is disagreement as to whether this population should decide a territorial dispute. The position of the UK is that their claim to the territory is legitimized by the approval of its inhabitants, while the Argentineans argue that territorial concerns relating to military installments and resource wealth must be prioritized. (Guardian)

Tunisia's Revolution Annexed (March, 2013)

While the Egyptian revolution received far more media attention, the so-called Arab Spring began in Tunisia. Since the revolution, Tunisian politics have been in flux, with secular leftists vying for political control against the popular Islamist party An-Nahda. There are fears that the Tunisian revolution will follow a familiar pattern in which revolutionary fervor is co-opted by populist conservative forces, and the election of the An-Nahda party seemed to validate these concerns. The recent assassination of a prominent secular politician has escalated the tensions in the country, with competing protests by secular leftists and supporters of the current government. This article provides an analysis of Tunisia current political conjuncture and weighs the competing forces that are attempting to shape the country’s future. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

Greece: "A Promise from the Army has been Obtained to not Intervene Against a Civil Uprising" (February 24, 2013)

A former Greek diplomat is warning that the social unrest in his country could worsen as European administered austerity measures continue to take their toll. Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos points to recent instances of political violence, as well as pending tax bills that many people will struggle to pay, as the source of his concern. There is growing skepticism within Europe regarding the sustainability of austerity measures that Greece has endured for years. The Belgian Prime Minister has argued that European authorities should continue the austerity measures for six more months, and change course if no improvements are noticed. Interestingly, Chrysanthopoulos claims that the Greek government has purchased the services of private security firms because they are uncomfortable relying on police services that will also be impacted by austerity. One security firm, Academi, denies these claims. (New Statesmen)

Commemorating the United Arab Republic (February 22, 2013)

This article provides a retrospective appraisal of the short-lived United Arab Republic, which represents one of the most notable achievements of the Pan-Arab movement during the Cold War era. The article presents a generally positive account of the UAR and its enduring symbolic value, but makes note of the authoritarian tendencies that would eventually become more widespread and entrenched in the region. Egypt and Syria have both attracted a great deal of attention in recent years due to the Arab Spring, and many social problems persist despite the “success” of Egypt’s revolution. However, although the region is currently embroiled in conflict and unrest, there is a history of unity and cooperation which can provide some basis for optimism. (Al Jazeera)

The Persistence of the 'Cyprus Problem' (February 22, 2013)

The European economic crisis has been particularly devastating for the continent’s Mediterranean states, with Cyprus emerging as the latest country to negotiate a so-called bailout. Cyprus has, for decades, been partitioned between its Greek controlled north and Turkish south.  The United Nations has managed the partition since the end of the country’s civil war in the 1970s, and efforts to establish a course of reconciliation and unification resulted in the border between North and South being opened in 2003. However, the country’s recent economic difficulties have impeded any momentum toward further reconciliation, and Cyprus must now manage an economic crisis along with efforts to repair a seemingly intractable division. (Atlantic)

Let Tunisia Build a Democracy Free From French Interference (February 17, 2013)

The recent assassination of a popular Tunisian politician has cast renewed attention on the country in which the so-called Arab Spring began. Protesters in Tunis have taken to the streets expressing frustration with what they perceive as French interference in Tunisian affairs. Critics argue that the French government has favored secular political actors since the overthrow of the country’s dictator, despite the democratic success of religious parties. This article argues that, no matter how desirable a secular-modernist Tunisia may be, the democratic expressions of the Tunisian people should not be suppressed through postcolonial paternalism. Instead, Tunisia must be given an opportunity to recover from years of dictatorship and develop in accordance with the wishes of its population. (Guardian)

Greece is Facing a Humanitarian Crisis (February 11, 2013)

Greece’s economic crisis and subsequent austerity measures have received a great deal of media attention, but the human cost of this crisis is becoming clear. As poverty has increased, access to healthcare, utilities, housing, and even nutrition has become increasingly precarious for many Greeks, causing some to label the situation a humanitarian crisis. Europe is one of the most economically developed regions of the world, and makes significant contributions to disaster-relief efforts in the global south. For the first time since the establishment of the EU, a member state appears to be grappling with a humanitarian emergency of its own. However, Germany and its EU allies continue to demand austerity from Greece, indicating that EU membership provides no assurance of economic relief for beleaguered member states. (Guardian)

Europe's Austerity Hawks are Celebrating a Triumph Over Peanuts (February 10, 2013)

The European Union has approved a fiscal plan that includes budget cuts after intense negotiations between member states. Governments championing austerity, including Germany and the UK, negotiated with those arguing for growth-centered strategies, led by France. While the new EU budget marks a victory for states advocating a continuation of severe austerity measures, the material impact of the budget cut is expected to be minimal. The largely symbolic victory will be celebrated by some and lamented by others, but the EU continues to avoid addressing the macroeconomic imbalances that are the deep structural fault lines of European integration. (Guardian)

Marginalising Europe (February 8, 2013)

Europe’s economic crisis has precipitated the bankruptcy and sale of numerous private and public companies, especially in the continent’s south. Firms in some post-colonial states in the global south have capitalized on these economic circumstances by purchasing devalued assets in former colonial states including Spain and Portugal. While this can be interpreted as a welcomed reversal of the traditional colonial and neo-colonial relationship, Professor Michael Marder cautions against post-colonial triumphalism. The deterioration of Europe’s economy has created opportunities for firms throughout the global south, but there is no assurance that this shift to the south will actually improve social justice on a global scale. (Al Jazeera)

The Drug Trade and the Increasing Militarization of the Caribbean (February 8, 2013)

The US government’s use of drones in the so called “War on Terror” has been a source of recent controversy. While the use of drones in the Middle-East has attracted most of the media’s attention, drones are also being used in the “War on Drugs” in the Americas. The Caribbean is an often overlooked region, but it is regarded as the United States’ “third border” and US security officials have expressed an interest in increasing security operations in the region in order to manage migration and drug-trafficking. While anti-drug operations are common in the Caribbean, observers are concerned that, through the use of drones, the “War on Drugs” is beginning to take on some of the most troubling features of the “War on Terror.” (NACLA)

European Authorities Still Punishing Greece - Can They Be Stopped? (February 2, 2013)

Greece is enduring an exceptionally long recession superintended by foreign actors, through the troika of the European Central Bank, European Commission, and International Monetary Fund. Official sources and independent observers rarely provide optimistic predictions about the Greek economy. Although European powers have desperately tried to preserve the integrity of their monetary union, there is some reason to believe that removing itself from the eurozone could be Greece’s best option. While the country’s seemingly intractable economic problems can provide a semblance of legitimacy to international technocrats sent to solve them, it may be that their “solutions” have been part of the problem. (Al Jazeera

Forget Europe - The Markets Hold the Real Unaccountable Power (Januray 24, 2013)

Europe’s economic crisis has given rise to growing dissatisfaction with the European Union. This increase in anti-EU sentiment was most recently demonstrated by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has promised to hold a referendum on the continuation of his country’s involvement in the EU should he be re-elected. However, Mark Serwotka of the Public and Commercial Services Union argues that much of this frustration is misplaced. Instead, the grievances throughout Europe can be traced to the rise of neoliberal policies which have increased the power of markets. While many in Britain feel that participation in the EU has surrendered sovereign power to Brussels, Serwotka argues that power has more importantly been surrendered to the market. (Guardian)

The West's Crisis is One of Democracy as Much as Finance (January 16, 2013)

As Europe’s economic crisis unfolds, there is an apparent clash between the general populations of the worst affected countries, who have mobilized in protest, and a technocratic political class backed by national elites. Slavoj Zizek argues that popular discontent over the economic crisis has brought about an effort to curtail and usurp democracy itself. While democracy was once heralded as a fundamental component of a prosperous modern society, political elites seem to feel that democracy, and by extension sovereignty, can be an intolerable threat to economic prosperity. Zizek points to arguments that troubled or underdeveloped economies may need to be superintended undemocratically, so as to prevent disruptive populist politics from emerging. However, technocrats and political elites have revealed their own incapacity to effectively manage the eurozone crisis. Consequently, Zizek concludes that “in Europe today, the blind are leading the blind.” (Guardian

2013: A Brighter Year Ahead for the Caribbean? (January 10, 2013)

The Caribbean faces a great deal of political and economic uncertainty in the coming year. Observers and governments are particularly concerned about the economic difficulties that continue to afflict the region. Jamaica in particular continues to struggle with onerous debts that undermine its economy and exacerbate other social problems such as the drug trade. Essentially, the region is faced with a choice between the continuation of failed neoliberal development policies and a “reorientation” away from the influence of the US and international financial institutions. The region continues to face immense challenges, but this article concludes that the current conjuncture provides an opportunity for the region’s political authorities to address the needs of their own populations, even if this contradicts the dictates of foreign powers. (NACLA


Germany's Austerity Plans will Beggar Europe (December 25, 2012)

The eurozone crisis has gradually declined in intensity, but some policymakers and observers feel that important obstacles to economic recovery remain. Economist Costas Lapavitsas argues against those who contend that a fiscal union represents a realistic solution. Instead, he argues that Germany’s economic status has been sustained through wage repression and a reliance on export surpluses supported by debt-based consumption from the peripheral states of the EU. Austerity exacerbates rather than solves the contradictions of this development model. As a result, Lapavitsas concludes that the crisis will continue through 2013, with negative consequences for the regional economy. (Guardian)

Greece: A Debt Colony, Shackled to Its Lenders (December 19, 2012)

Greece is set to comply with another austerity measure dictated by the eurozone members, this time lowering its debt in return for bailout funds. The Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras described this as a “landmark for the country's rebirth" although similar measures have recently been imposed undemocratically by bypassing parliamentary control. In a country where about 30 percent of the population now lives below poverty, “austerity is shredding the social fabric.”According to Matthaios Tsimitakis, Greece has become a “debt colony” and these “calls for ‘national unity’ are nothing but dust in the eyes of a dazed and confused people.” This ultimately raises concern about the capacity of supra-national bodies like the European Union to genuinely address the national struggles of their members. (Al Jazeera)

'Another World Is Possible': Nationhood and Global Justice (December 11, 2012 )

When the Cold War ended, many observers of international relations foresaw a new “globalized era” in which social movements and struggles for justice would be led at the supranational level, at the expense of the nation-state’s classic power channels. While recent geopolitical events have in part been shaped by new global social media, the so-called globalized power is still deeply centralized and nation-states remain the most democratic forums to effect change. In this article, Jamie Mackay argues that “the desire to declare the nation ‘dead’ is premature”: the so-called globalized system remains highly centralized and “continues to depend on key state institutions and their relationship with national communities.” (Open Democracy)

Europe's Hard Borders (December 2012)

The European Union has developed a reputation for political openness and integration, even as the economic crisis has drawn the future of the European Monetary Union into question. However, the EU’s much publicized internal openness has been coupled with a militant commitment to impede immigration from neighboring non-EU states. While the EU has employed the rhetoric of human rights since its inception, the immigration policies and procedures of its member states have been criticized for numerous instances of mistreatment. Some EU states have detained migrants for extended periods in harsh conditions and have returned migrants to countries with poor human rights records. Some politicians have cited social concerns as a justification for anti-immigrant procedures, but such arguments fail to conceal the apparent gap in the EU’s stated values, its internal policies, and the enforcement of its external borders. (Red Pepper)

De Facto Loss of Sovereignty: Cyprus Makes Big Concessions for Bailout (December 10, 2012) 

Cyprus has agreed to the terms of a bailout agreement that, once given final approval, will allow it to receive emergency financial aid in exchange for severe austerity measures. New restrictions placed on the travel budgets of bureaucrats and political leaders are likely to attract media attention. However, the more consequential concerns relate to the imposition of higher taxes on the general public, potential cuts to healthcare and other social services, as well as new regulations governing working schedules in the public sector. Critics argue that Cyprus has effectively agreed to surrender its sovereignty to a major state dominated “troika” of the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund. (Der Spiegel)

The Battle for Sovereignty in Egypt (December 10, 2012)

After becoming President of Egypt in June 2012, Mohamed Morsi had to face the difficult tasks of appointing a new representative government, extricate the military from governing structures and stimulate the economy. Above all, he had to “forge a new polity – to cultivate, alongside Egyptians, a new relationship between the people and the political realm.” Drafting a new transformative Constitution was supposed to incarnate Egypt’s democratic aspirations and popular participation. Yet, the process remained opaque and “there was no sustained effort to engage Egyptians about what they wanted in their constitution.” Considering the vast array of conflicting interests and grievances within the opposition, a genuine political decentralization will be the only way to reach what could one day be described as an Egyptian sovereign nation. (CounterPunch)

The Emerging Global Crisis of Investment Agreements (December 4, 2012)

State authorities are traditionally responsible for regulating the businesses operating in their territory. However, some are concerned about the emergence of a completely opposite trend in which businesses are exercising their legal power to regulate the actions of states. Trade agreements often have provisions that allow commercial actors to take legal action against states when policy-changes undermine profitability. Trade agreements are typically promoted as a means of eliminating bureaucracy and increasing efficiency, but these agreements can also undermine state sovereignty. Some countries are dissatisfied with these arrangements, along with the secretive procedures in place to resolve disputes between states and investors, and are now refusing to participate in trade agreements that disproportionately privilege investors while constraining state authorities. (IPS)

Separatism: The Idea That Won’t Die (November 30, 2012)

Despite globalization and supranational unions, borders are still multiplying as separatist movements remain an inevitable reality of international relations today. Countries from the Global South are not the only ones affected. Since 2008, “the global economic crisis has sapped feelings of national unity among richer regions” such as Spain (Catalonia and Basque countries), Belgium (Flanders), Canada (Quebec) or Great Britain (Scotland). In this article, Fyodor Lukyanov explains that these movements are in part “catalysed by the existence of such political institutions as a local parliament, a local government and clear borders between autonomies [which] allow nationalists to transform the dreams of ordinary people into political action.” (RIA Novosti)

Is There an Egyptian Nation? (December 4, 2012)

Many observers analyze the current protests against Egyptian President Morsi as a popular upheaval against what they fear might gradually become a new centralized authoritarian regime. Yet, Shadi Hamid explains that this is symptomatic of a more profound divide between “Islamists” and “non-Islamists” in a nation that is looking for a unifying “imagined community” after decades of dictatorship. The opposition to Morsi remains “an odd assortment of liberals, socialists, old regime nostalgists, and ordinary, angry Egyptians, each whom have their own disparate grievances and objectives.” Even though a “manufactured consensus” can be reached today, in this early stage of Egypt's democratic transition, a genuine Egyptian national consensus “may not actually exist.” (Foreign Policy)

Egypt's State Constitutes Itself (November 19, 2012)

Since the fall of Husni Mubarak, attention has focused on the drafting of Egypt’s constitution as the central guarantee of a viable process of “state-building.” Yet, Nathan J. Brown sheds light on the essential “bargaining among various structures of the Egyptian state” that all want to secure their autonomy from external oversight.  Different state bodies such as the Egyptian Ministry of Defense, military judges and members of the State Cases Authority, the Supreme Constitutional Court or the so-called Judges Club want to “be able to govern their own affairs, make their own judgments, appoint their own members, select their own leaders, and spend their budgets freed of the heavy hand of presidential control that weighed so much on them in the past.” However, too much autonomy for these political authorities might represent a threat to the future viability of the Egyptian state. (Foreign Policy)

Guinea: Ethnicity, Democracy and Opposition (October 23, 2012)

Guinea was in 1958 the first West African French colony to gain its independence. After decades of political instability, authoritarian regimes, and deep social tensions, observers were expecting the 2010 election to bring stability to the country. However, President Alpha Condé did not included the opposition despite promises of multiparty politics. Kamissa Camara writes that such instability can also be explained by looking at the historical “deep fractions” between rival ethnic groups fighting for control and political legitimacy. This certainly reflects colonial practices of tribal division that engendered political patronage based on ethnic identity rather than central state policies. However, ethnic tension is not the only driver of vulnerability. Other factors such as external pressure by interested powers and the central role of oil must be part of any serious explanation of the instability of the country. (Think Africa Press)

Afghanistan's Fiscal Cliff (October 17, 2012)

Critics of international development aid often point out how it engenders dependency dynamics between major funders and the global south. This is particularly true for Afghanistan, which economy relies in great part on international spending. As Western powers are on the verge of leaving a country that will regain its independence after 13 years of foreign presence, their financial involvement will drastically decline, leading Afghanistan “off a fiscal cliff.” For Matthieu Aikins, the connection between funding and the country’s stability as a state is indeed crucial. After the so-called “reconstruction” of Afghanistan, local politicians will have to drastically reorganize the country’s economy. Until now, “international spending has forged a bought peace in Kabul, but many of the political settlements that keep violence at bay could be upended by the transition.” (Foreign Policy)

European Economic Woes Spur Separatists in Pockets of Prosperity (October 17, 2012)

Can states of the “Old Continent” survive the economic crisis? Separatist movements across Europe have gained popularity during the last few months. The separatist New Flemish Alliance dominated Belgium’s Dutch-speaking Flanders in the last elections; protests are held for the independence of Venice and South Tyrol in Italy; separatists remain strong in the Basque region of Spain; and respective referendums will decide the future of Catalonia and Scotland. Regions demanding autonomy are not the most affected by the crisis. On the contrary, in times of economic instability, “the separatist trend has been strongest in prosperous regions of Europe, where there is growing resentment at having to pay for the less well-off.” (New York Times)

Post-Election Georgia: Turning the Dream of Peace Into Reality? (October 12, 2012)

Since Georgia’s independence from the USSR in 1989, autonomy movements in two regions - Abkhazia and South Ossetia - have threatened to break up the new country. After more than two decades of political upheaval, violent conflicts and stunted economic growth, Georgia’s recent parliamentary elections have been described as the country’s first peaceful transition of power. The oppositional “Georgian Dream Coalition” led by billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili’s won the majority of seats. In addition to economic stimulus, the coalition will focus on finding political solutions to the enduring regional conflicts. Will the newly elected government be able to “translate positive noises into action”? (Open Democracy)

Uganda Turns 50 with Politics Still Dodgy (October 9, 2012)

The Republic of Uganda recently celebrated 50 years of political independence from British colonial rule. After decades of poor governance marked by insecurity and civil war, Yoweri Museveni became President in 1986 and seemed to embody stability and economic growth. Yet an ongoing civil war that led to repression against the northern-based opposition. Museveni has been involved in conflicts in resource-rich neighboors, mainly Sudan and DR Congo, as Western allies have generally turned a blind eye.  Today, after 26 years of reign, Museveni, who abolished presidential term limits, still runs the country with a firm grip. Not only do international observers describe elections as being “commercialized,” but demonstrations against unpopular policies remain strictly restricted and sanctioned. Hence, Malcom Webb argues that “for political opposition and those who chose to criticize the current regime, the freedom they desire is still a distant dream.” (Al Jazeera)

Afghanistan: The Long, Hard Road to the 2014 Transition (October 8, 2012)

Western governments justified NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan by promising security, autonomy and democracy to the country. Yet, after eleven years of foreign interference, a recent report of the International Crisis Group(ICG) suggests that the country is “plagued by factionalism and corruption [and] far from ready to assume responsibility for security when U.S. and NATO forces withdraw in 2014.” Afghanistan will certainly experience another fraudulent election in 2014 since President "Karzai's top priority is maintaining control, either directly or via a trusted proxy." As for security, local armed groups still represent a threat to the government and the Afghan army and police are “overwhelmed and underprepared for the transition."  (International Crisis Group)

Libyans Lament Their Missing Army (October 1, 2012)

Establishing an army has always been imperative for a State’s viability and the creation of a sense of national unity. Considering Libya’s security vacuum - which resulted in the uncontrolled propagation and impunity of armed militias, - the National Transitional Council has made security sector reform its top priority. “Nationalizing” militias and integrating militiamen into the army and the police forces should not only bring back security but also help fostering unity among a heavily divided country. Yet, this will take time and distrust remains embedded since “many Libyans believe that politicians have funnelled money to whichever militias served their private interests.” (Al Jazeera)

Colombia: Peace at Last? (September 25, 2012)

Since 1964, Colombia’s different conservative and oligarchic governments have been threatened by the violent struggle of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Recognizing that the country’s intense counter-insurgency military strategy to defeat these guerillas has failed to put an end to the conflict, Bogota’s government now seems more open to political discussions. Formal peace talks will therefore be held in Oslo this month. Not only does the government enjoy more popular support, but the security forces of the country, and especially violent paramilitaries, are now better controlled by the central government. Yet, the International Crisis Grouprecalls that “a deal would not eliminate violence” and argues that, in order to reconsolidate Columbia’s statehood, “only strong social and political ownership of that deal can guarantee that it leads to the lasting peace.” But will this possible in the near future? (International Crisis Group)

Somalia's Fleeting Opportunity for Hopeful Change? (September 18, 2012)

On September 10, 2012, Somalis elected Hassan Sheikh as their new President, hoping he will “break the prevailing corrupt and tribalistic political order.” International observers welcomed the change of leadership with applauds, hastily describing it as the first step towards the end of the “failed state” paradigm. In this article, Professor Abdi Ismail Samatar is skeptical that such “fraudulent and illegitimate process that accidently propelled a decent man to the top post” will really serve the Somali people. And beyond Mogadishu’s domestic politics, he stresses the role of the UN and the West that, after having promoted such change, now have to prove they have the “decency to change their attitude and genuinely assist the new leadership serve the Somali people”. (Al Jazeera)

Lebanon: a Fate Beyond its Control? (September 14, 2012)

The history of Lebanon has been characterized by external interference in its domestic affairs, including French and British interventions in the 19th Century, US military interventions in 1958 and 1982, Syrian occupation from 1976 to 2005, and Israel’s several intrusions to fight the PLO and the Hezbollah. More recently, the Syrian civil war is currently spilling over through the country’s borders with violent confrontations in Lebanon’s second-largest city, Tripoli. These repeated breaches to Beyrouth’s sovereignty have often led observers to conclude that Lebanon’s own fate was in fact “out of its control.” Yet, this article argues that Lebanon is rather “a state that is fragile and weak by design from within”. Hence, it stresses that one should consider the historical responsibility and “active choices of Lebanese political groupings” and elites that called for external intervention and caused such a domestic vulnerability. (Open Democracy)

Somalia: The End of a Failed State? (September 11, 2012)

When speaking of war-torn “failed states”, Somalia is often mentioned as the archetype. Indeed, Somalia has not had a functioning central government since 1991 and it is ranked today 222th worldwide in terms of GDP per capita. Yet, on September 10th, Somalia held its first presidential elections in 40 years. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the new President, is seen as incarnating a drive for change, promoting reform and readjustment after decades of war and poverty. However, the country’s stability is still threatened by resource-driven conflicts, arms smuggling and foreign interventions, all of these worsen by a lack of viable institutions. Will these elections really be a first step on the path towards recovery? (The Africa Report)

Honduras to Build New City with its Own Laws and Tax System to Attract Investors (September 6, 2012)

Honduras’ economy is one of the weakest on the planet, ranking respectively 155th and 159th worldwide in terms of inflation rate and GDP per capita. Yet, inspired by Singapore, Dubai, and Hong Kong’s economic success, the country seems on its way to “host one of the world's most radical neo-liberal economic experiments”. Indeed, Honduran president Porfirio Lobo revealed its plan to create the first Latin American “charter city” to attract international investor. Built from scratch, this business-friendly enclave would be ruled according to its own laws, tax system, judiciary and police. This “state within a state” model not only represents a threat to Honduras’ own struggle for economic awakening as a whole nation, but it would also create double standards among its citizens, especially at the expense of indigenous people’s rights. Ultimately, the potential multiplication of such micro-states on a global scale challenges the status of sovereign states as we know it today. (The Guardian)

The Separatist Map of Africa (September 6, 2012)

When looking at a map of Africa from less than a century ago, one can only be struck by the multiplication of States on the continent. And as they are the fruit of decolonization movements, borders are still highly disputed by various nationalist rebel groups. Indeed, South Sudan, the youngest Member State of the United Nations, only gained its independence after years of brutal war with the North. More recently, the MNLA, a Tuareg separatist group, proclaimed the independence of Azawad in North Mali but did not obtain the same international recognition. In fact, most of separatist movements in Africa do not result in secessions. This interactive Guardian map sheds light on 24 ongoing separatist movements that constitute a direct threat to the existence of African Nation-States as they exist today. (The Guardian)

What Went Wrong in Mali? (August 30, 2012)

Since the end of General Traoré’s 23-year reign in 1991, Mali has often been presented as the prime example of democratic governance in West Africa. Yet, on March 21, 2012, observers were caught by surprise when military mutineers took power in what has been described as an “accidental coup.” According to Bruce Whitehouse, this was in fact not surprising considering the country’s “long-standing anti-democratic practices,” and notably President Touré’s poor democratic record of so-called “rule by consensus” (2002-2012). This explains how “the putschists capitalized on the popular disappointment with bogus democracy and weak government.” Ultimately, the Malian case re-opens the debate about whether elections are sufficient to secure a State’s stability. According to Whitehouse, “Western powers are discovering that in Africa, as in Afghanistan, there are limits to their ability to impose or even reform state systems. It may be that the way to help these societies sort out their conflicts is to let them do it on their own.” (London Review of Books)

How Not to Reconstruct Iraq, Afghanistan - or the US (August 28, 2012)

The US government largely justified its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as “liberating” missions aimed at building a more viable future for these two states. Peter Van Buren, a career US Foreign Service Officer who served in Iraq, offers an interesting insider perspective on the poor track-record of American “state-building”. Van Buren asks: “Why has the United States spent so much money and time so disastrously trying to rebuild occupied nations abroad, while allowing its own infrastructure to crumble untended?”While other observers have questioned whether the US was “really trying” to rebuild these two countries – or doing the opposite – Van Buren’s insight ultimately brings a more fundamental query to the table: can a State really “build” another one? (Al Jazeera)

Colonized by Corporations (May 14, 2012)

Leaders of failing regimes often hang on to their status half-heartedly, not believing their own rhetoric, and not trusting their military to carry out their own orders. In this article, Chris Hedges places the Occupy Wall Street movement into historical context and examines its revolutionary potential. Lasting change, Hedges argues, does not come from the oppressed poor, who must spend most personal energy on survival. It comes from a middle class population, the “déclassé intellectuals,” who feel they have been denied what they deserve. Hedges urges this population to divert their efforts away from the upcoming elections and to focus it on the streets, where the fight against corporate influence in politics is taking place. (Common Dreams)

Taking Refuge in Hell Camp (April 21, 2012)

Thousands of Pakistanis in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have been uprooted by their government’s military campaign against the Taliban. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has registered 46,331 displaced families who are caught between the warring sides. The displaced population is vulnerable to food-borne ailments, especially respiratory and stomach-related illnesses, and they lack access to schools, markets, and hospitals. This IPS article points out that both the Pakistani army and the Taliban are enemies of displaced people, who have lost their jobs and livelihoods. (IPS Terraviva)

State Crime and Street Crime: Two Sides of One Coin? (April 24, 2012)

This article argues that Egypt’s revolutionary process is an uprising against “structural crime” made legal by corrupted political elites. Egypt’s police, secret police, and state security protect ruling class interests by enforcing laws without judicial liability. The rise of street crimes, such as robberies and thefts, are a result of state crimes, such as bad taxation policies, and a judicial system that accepts bribes from those who can afford to pay them. The new Value Added Tax (VAT) targets consumption rather than salary. The poor majority, who mostly work a series of part-time jobs, pays most. If the state continues to work in favor of ruling elites, street crimes will continue to rise as they become the only way for a politically marginalized population to make a living. (al Jazeera)

Human Rights in Bahrain, a Casualty of Obama’s Double-Standard (April 13, 2012)

Protests and human rights violations never stopped in Bahrain; the media just stopped covering them, and the Bahraini government has hid them from criticism with the help of several US public relations firms. The US and its allies have worked with Bahraini authorities to downplay the civil unrest in Bahrain for US military and economic interests in the area. This article argues that the US is to Bahrain what Russia is to Syria. (Huffington Post)

Tunisia: Democracy after Securalism (April 11, 2012)

President Bourguiba of Tunisia pursued an aggressive “securalization” program after the nation gained its independence. To many Tunisians, the state-imposed political project marginalized Tunisian history and traditions. They associate the concept of “securalism” as an attempt by their state to undermine local conceptions of community and authority in support of outside interests. US media has created an artificial divide between Islam and democracy, referring back to the US’ experience in separating Christianity from domestic politics. This al Jazeera article argues that the so-called “Arab Spring” has scrambled the securalist-Islamist divide, and that movements are creating new realms for democratic participation. (al Jazeera)

Libya is a Lure for Migrants, where Exploitation Waits (April 8, 2012)

Libya has the highest per capita GDP in Africa due to profits from its oil industry. The nation’s relative wealth in the region attracts migrants from Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan, and Mali. But migrants have no status in Libya, and national turmoil allows detention centers to hold migrants and exploit them as forced labor. Detention centers are not under state control and often deal with organized crime syndicates who run human trafficking operations. The going rate for a migrant in Libya is between 210 and 645 US dollars. The UN has pushed for the issuance of temporary documentation to migrants in order to legally protect them. (NY Times)

The Lynchpin of Asia (March 31, 2012)

Myanmar’s location between India, China, and Thailand has shaped its history and politics. In 1885, Lord Randolph Churchill annexed Myanmar to the British Raj in India, an event that historian Thant Myint-U likened to “throwing Myanmar off a cliff.” Myanmar gained independence in 1947, but the assassination of Myanmar’s revolutionary leader destabilized the country and paved the way for military takeover and international shunning. China took advantage of this shunning through economic investments, securing Chinese strategic interests. India, too, invested in Myanmar, and often found itself in direct competition with China. Myanmar’s recent democratic movement hopes to establish the nation as more than a crossroad between its neighbors. (al Jazeera)

The Malian Political Crisis: Taking Grievances Seriously (March 27, 2012)

The recent military coup in Mali, unseating President Amadou Toumani Touré, one of the World Bank’s favored African leaders, brings the recent turmoil in the Sahelian nation into focus.  While the international press has portrayed the coup as a triumph of tyranny over democracy, significant societal and economic causes, both domestic and external, have been glossed over. This African Arguments article expands on these causes, including the aftermath of the Libyan War, protracted civil conflict in Mali’s Tuareg north, and a profound subsistence crisis, and urges caution and nuance in our analysis of this ongoing situation.  (African Arguments)

What’s next for Yemen? (March 18, 2012)

Yemen’s centralized state is fragile, a condition that concerns the international community. The US wants a strong centralized state in Yemen that can crush insurgents and exert control over the nation. Ironically, the insurgency has grown with increased US intervention. Fear-driven US interest in a centralized Yemen goes against the Yemeni people’s interest in a representative democratic government. Large parts of Yemen are already under local rule. This al-Jazeera article argues that Yemen needs to be unified and inclusive, not highly centralized. (al-Jazeera)

Offshore Everywhere: How Drones, Special Operations Forces, and the U.S. Navy Plan to End National Sovereignty As We Know It (February 5, 2012)

The US military has positioned many drone bases “offshore,” making it easier for drones to cross nation-state boundaries. It has also increased its CIA backed special operations force, which often uses drones. The merge of special operations forces with drone technology has hidden US military operations from public scrutiny. Allowing US drones to cross boundaries is a step towards establishing a free reigning and literally dehumanized US military empire. (TomDispatch)


Searching for Accountability in EU Migration-Management Practices (October 19, 2011)

The recent uprisings in North Africa have led to a substantial increase in migrants trying to enter the EU, and drawn attention to the EU’s “migration management” policy. The EU, its individual member states (IMS) and non-member partner states (NMS) such as Tunisia and Libya, have worked together to keep migrants from coming to Europe’s borders, often by unlawful arrests and incarceration in non-EU countries. In this article, Polly Pallister-Wilkins of University of London analyses how the construction of migration as a “destabilizing force” enabled the EU to make it a matter of “security,” a policy-status that could withstand requests for disclosure and tests of accountability. Now that migration-management has been exposed, Pallister-Wilkins argues, the EU can no longer place “security” before internationally agreed humanitarian obligations. (openDemocracy)

A New Experiment in Open-Source Citizenship (October 6, 2011)

On an expedition in the Arctic seas in 2004, artist Alex Hartley “discovered” a tiny island made of frozen rock that had only shortly beforehand broken off from a glacier. As a “cultural response to climate change”, Hartley dragged a portion of the island into international waters and declared it the independent microstate of “nowhereisland.” The project is an experiment in open-source citizenship: anyone can become a (virtual) citizen, and all citizens are fully equal. Nowhereisland provides an opportunity to rethink citizenship, but also underlines the fact that countries are an invention and that invented limits must be overcome in order to respond to global problems such as climate change. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

The False Promise of the Nation-State (September 29, 2011)

Under what conditions is the nation-state a viable political vehicle for justice and liberation? Emerging nation-states like Libya and Palestine are constrained by local elites’ integration into global socio-economic networks. A local political and economic class benefits from relations with foreign powers and global elites, Western or otherwise, to the neglect of the ordinary people who brought them to power. Thus, seizure of state power cannot be the end goal. Contemporary liberation politics must reach out beyond the borders of the nation-state to those in other societies also struggling to survive under the capitalist system. Only a just global order can sustain lasting freedom and equality at home. (Al Jazeera)

African Protest Fever: Which Country is Next? (September 7, 2011)

The term “Arab Spring” misrepresents the extent of civil unrest that is occurring across the whole African continent. Protests and riots have taken place in countries such as Malawi and Burkina Faso since the end of 2010. Yet global media attention has been scare and understanding of the issue limited, says Tendai Marima, a PhD student at the University of London.  The lack of recognition of the history of these countries contributes to the dearth of reporting on the riots and their conflation with the Arab uprising. (Al Jazeera)

A New American Reality (September 5, 2011)

After a decade of military operations throughout the world, the US “conflict mentality” is giving way to pressing domestic, economic concerns. The alarmist fear of terrorism, present in the US since 9/11, is beginning to disappear.  Andrew Stroehlein, Communications Director at International Crisis Group, claims that this exhaustion of fear tactics, coupled with a shift in political attention toward the economy, has pushed people to refocus their concerns on taxes and the economic crisis. However, the trademarks of 9/11 – the Patriot Act, hyper security and curtailed civil liberties – still remain. (Open Democracy)

Sentences for Rioters Disregards Judicial Proportionality (August 17, 2011)

A worrying trend has emerged from England where individuals, charged with minor criminal offences during the riots, are receiving harsh sentences and long imprisonment terms. The judiciary is currently disregarding sentencing guidelines leading to enormous inconsistencies in punishments. Individuals are being given five to six month sentences for minor offenses, such as stealing a bottle of water or wearing stolen shorts. These examples cast a shadow over the legitimacy and proportionality of these sentences. This level of extreme punishment, set to deter future offenses, will only serve to further alienate those already overlooked by their government. (The Daily Beast)

The Death of Western Democracy? (August 15, 2011)

Though the supremacy of Western democracies was once held to be the cornerstone of world order, they are now becoming increasingly threatened by their own failures. These failures were recently highlighted by the riots in England, the self-interested political maneuvering in the US, and the concerning growth in xenophobic movements within governments and society. Over the past decade, these many affronts to democracy have continually eroded public faith in government in both the US and Europe. Consequently, today’s levels of confidence in Western democratic national governments have hit an all time low, leading the author to question if democracy is on the way out. (Alternet)

The Moral Decay of the British Elite (August 11, 2011)

Following the recent riots throughout England, the British public is taking a hard look at the causes of the widespread looting and destruction. The voices peddling arguments of a feral, uneducated underclass are common place. Yet this viewpoint fails to comprehend the enormity of the unrest, ignoring the culpability of the corrupt, greedy and out-of-touch elite who govern the country. This opinion piece from the Telegraph, whilst still relying on these stereotypes to describe the disaffected youth, also looks at a different aspect of British society. It places the spotlight directly on the misbehavior of the British upper classes and asks: Whose behavior is really more reprehensible? (Telegraph)

The Political Aspect of the English Riots (August 9, 2011)

Images emerging from the English riots have surprised the world in the past few days. Many British politicians attribute the violence to senseless crime. Prime Minister, David Cameron, has labeled it as “criminality, pure and simple”. But the reasons behind these riots are complex, multiple and undoubtedly linked to politics. Rising unemployment and cuts in public services, coupled with official corruption and malfeasance have undermined the legitimacy of the British state and paved the way for popular anger and protest. (Al Jazeera English)

Using History to Mold Ideas on the Right (May 4, 2011

David Barton, a self-taught conservative historian, argues that the Supreme Court (in the 1879 decision of Reynolds v. United States and the 1947 decision of Everson v. Board of Education), misconstrued Thomas Jefferson’s statement that the First Amendment of the US constitution erected a "wall of separation between church and state." The way in which secular states construe the relationship between religion and government has been hotly contested, most recently in relation to the French ban on wearing Islamic veils in public. (New York Times)

The Scottish Spring (May 6, 2011)

The Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scottish elections last week won 45.4% of the constituency vote to Labour’s 31.7%.  The SNP campaigns for Scottish independence from the UK.  A move to Scottish independence would have many unintended consequences, change the nature of the UK, and be an international event.  Questions have arisen as to Scotland’s future as a political community, society and nation. Nonetheless, with the SNP now constituting more than 70% of the Scottish parliament, there is a sense that the Scottish people have, for now, voted for a move to a more local system of governance that is removed from London. (Open Democracy)

Language at Risk of Dying Out- The Last Two Speakers Aren’t Talking (April 13, 2011)

The Ayapaneco language in Mexico is near extinction: only two fluent speakers remain. Yet despite the urgent need to preserve their native language, these two refuse to speak to one another. Although efforts are being made by Indiana University to formally record the language and breathe new life into Ayapaneco, these attempts at revitalization are being stifled by personal animosity. (Guardian)

Bahrain Security Forces Accused of Deliberately Recruiting Foreign Nationals (february 17, 2011)

The Kingdom of Bahrain is demographically divided between the ruling Sunni minority and the majority Shia population. However, the Al Khalifa regime is attempting to equalize the balance by recruiting Sunni Muslims from abroad into Bahrain's security forces, despite criticism from the public who claim that the swift naturalization of Sunnis is politically motivated against the Shia. This article draws attention to the divided identity of Bahraini citizens, whose national and religious allegiances can be at odds. (Guardian)

The Resurrection of Pan-Arabism (February 11, 2011)

The uprisings spreading throughout the Middle East after the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions have developed a distinctly Pan-Arab character. Contrary to the Pan-Arabism of the 1950s and 60s, this new non-national identity is not a reaction to western imperialism in the Middle East, nor is it antagonism towards Israel. This article argues that Pan-Arabism has re-emerged to give a voice to Middle Eastern societies, which are demanding democracy and the equitable distribution of wealth from their governments. (Al Jazeera)

Understanding the Importance of a Shared History (February 7, 2011)

A common history often functions as a key facet of nationalism. Members of a community share a distinct historical legacy which unites citizens and legitimizes the nation-state. However, when two antagonistic nations share aspects of a common history, such as Turkey and Armenia, does this weaken national sentiment or provide a source of potential affinity? This article argues that acceptance of the common Anatolian history on a grassroots level can result in improved Turkish-Armenian relations. (Open Democracy)


A New Power Broker Rises in Italy (September 10, 2010)

Italy's Northern League (Lega Nord) is pressuring Prime Minister Berlusconi into granting "fiscal federalism" in the North of Italy. Fiscal federalism would allow a greater proportion of tax revenue to remain in the prosperous North, circumventing what the League describes as the South's "corruption and historic misuse of state resources."  Berlusconi, who is well-aware of the political power of the ever-more popular Northern League, must decide between sating the regionalized interests of what is at heart an anti-immigration party and losing support by continuing with the nationwide fiscal system. (New York Times)


Return of the State (October 28, 2008)

To avoid future financial crises, national leaders should put into practice the ideas of the late economist John Maynard Keynes, regarding government intervention in the economy. Governments must regulate banks and financial speculation and pursue fiscal policies that strengthen the role of the nation-state in the global economy. (Frontline)

The Myth of the Nation-State (September 2, 2008)

Transnational challenges such as pollution, terrorism and climate change undermine nation-states' status as principal actors in international relations. But this article argues that many university professors still base their curricula on the myth of the nation-state. By focusing on the nation-state, they not only overlook global solutions, they further assume that the nation-state is a coherent and homogenous entity. The author calls for a stronger role for non-state actors, human rights, and ethics in the study of international relations. (Policy Innovations)

Tibet, Palestine and the Politics of Failure (May 9, 2008)

In this openDemocracy article, the author argues that the existence of nations is not a question of fate but the result of power-politics, accidents or wars. For example, the article describes Tibet and Palestine as victims of "post-colonial sequestration." Amid the retreat of imperial or hegemonic powers, bad timing or bad leadership prevented them from gaining independence at a decisive moment in history.

Tibet, China and the West: Empires of the Mind (April 1, 2008)

In this OpenDemocracy article, the author puts the China-Tibet issue in a historic perspective, considering their respective notions of sovereignty. During the first half of the 20th century, Tibet was de facto independent as China did not seek absolute control. But as China grew wary of Western Empires, the country's nationalistic ideas increased. To create one strong bloc against US, European and Japanese Empires, China fully integrated Tibet. This way, nationalism became a means of legitimizing full sovereignty over Tibet.

Eye of the Storm: Ethnic Identities and "Contested Sovereignties" in the Niger Delta (March 26, 2008)

Large oil companies, Western governments and ethnic minority groups all challenge Nigeria's sovereignty over the oil-rich Niger Delta. This paper explores how these actors' quest for oil wealth, land, water and self-determination have "redefined" state sovereignty. The Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is fighting the government and large oil companies to gain control over the delta, claiming their right to self-determination. Meanwhile, the US, through its Africa Command (AFRICOM), seeks to undermine the state's sovereignty, by securing its own control over the oil fields. (International Studies Association)

The Farce of Iraqi Sovereignty (March 2008)

This Guernica article argues that, since the US occupation, Iraq has lost its sovereignty. Both the US and Iraqi government try to present the appearance of autonomy for the country. However, several US policy decisions, such as the building of a wall around Sunni districts, show that the US undermines Iraq's independent decision-making. Pointing out that a country's constitution is a key symbol of its sovereignty; the author criticizes the US controlled drafting of Iraq's constitution in 2005. He concludes that only complete withdrawal of occupation troops will give Iraq its independence back.



Under Pressure: States in the Global Era (September 2007)

In this report, Laura Tedesco, Associate Fellow at FRIDE, Peace, Security and Human Rights programme, points out that state formation is a long and dynamic process influenced by many national and international factors. States are constantly evolving and since the Cold War, globalization has accelerated the process of change. “Fragile states� often have difficulties adapting to the new global order and have come to rely on international aid. But the report warns that international donors should be careful not to undermine domestic policies by imposing a Western conception of the state.



When the State Means Business (January 25, 2006)

Though richer than it was six years ago, the Russian state has sacrificed political freedom and economic justice through the concentration of power and wealth. According to Andrei Illarionov, former economic adviser to President Vladimir Putin, the "corporatization" of the Russian state has reinforced the power of wealthy "insiders" while marginalizing citizens and alienating Russia's neighbors. As with other corporate states, such as Libya, Angola, Chad, Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, Russian citizens can only restore civil, political and economic freedoms by challenging the state from the bottom up. (International Herald Tribune)



"We the Peoples", Not the States (September 2005)

The UN system was founded on state sovereignty and protection from foreign intervention. From human rights to the provision of peace, sovereign states provide most social services. Whether weak or strong, some states either cannot or do not perform these functions. In their place, NGOs represent popular sovereignty by conveying the will of "we the peoples" as set out in the UN Charter. (Le Monde diplomatique)




A Pseudostate is Born (June 27, 2004)

As the US grants nominal independence to Iraq, Adam Hochschild takes a look at the phenomenon of countries "where most real power is in the hands of someone else." Examples of these "pseudostates" include the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa, the Soviet Socialist Republics under the Soviet Union, and present-day Afghanistan, Palestine, Bosnia and Congo. (TomDispatch)

Why the White House is Pushing Cyprus Solution (January 30, 2004)

US pressure for resolution of "the Cyprus problem" appears less motivated by political goodwill than the possibility of using Cypriot reunification as a template for Iraq's reconstruction, and for mending diplomatic bridges with Europe. (Christian Science Monitor)


Sovereignty and Plurinational Democracy. Problems in Political Science (2003)

Political scientists often argue that globalization and multilateral institutions are undermining the importance of national sovereignty. But in this chapter from Sovereignty in Transition, author Michael Keating argues that these analysts fail to recognize that the sovereignty concept is changing and taking on new meanings. For example, many minority groups reaffirm the sovereignty concept to gain more autonomy - rather than full independence. Keating advocates a "plurinational democracy" to accommodate the increasingly integrated world. (Hart Publishing)


Greece, Turkey to Be Given a UN Plan for Cyprus (November 9, 2002)

The UN will present to Greeks and Turks the most comprehensive peace proposal in more than 10 years. The Greeks seek a two-zone federation linked by a central government and the Turkish Cypriots want a confederation of two independent states. (Reuters)

Return of the Nation-State and the Leviathan (November, 2002)

The Bush administration's unabashed unilateralism reveals its imperial desire to sweep away civil society participation, citizen diplomacy, and multidimensional forms of conflict prevention. This article warns, "we are entering into an imperial world order maintained by a Leviathan nation in search of monsters to slay." (Interhemispheric Resource Center)

This Marks the Death of Deterrence (October 9, 2002)

The new US doctrine of "pre-emptive action" kills the principle of state sovereignty. "Regime change as an aim of military intervention is a direct challenge to the international system established by the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia." (Guardian)

Think Again: Nation Building (Sept/Oct 2002)

Looking at recent case studies, Foreign Policy recommends that "the international community set more modest goals for nation building and then tailor those goals to each country's reality" to avoid a quagmire.

States of Discord (March/April 2002)

Will globalization ultimately strengthen or destroy the nation state? Will it lead to more democracies or more revolutions? A Foreign Policy debate attempts to answer these complex questions.

Conditional Legitimacy, Reinterpreted Monopolies (March 2002)

Anna Leander of the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute argues that the international society of states and private actors have challenged the nation-state's monopoly on legitimate violence as well as the definition of legitimacy.



Preparing the Way for International Protection (December 19, 2001)

A new report,"The Responsibility to Protect," supports the view that an international duty to save civilians at risk trumps the sovereign rights of states. (The Globe and Mail)

The Future of the Nation State (November 14, 2001)

Sociologist Anthony Giddens argues that three different types of nation states exist and that globalization transforms each one in a different way. He concludes that the nation-state has come closer to a universal form but with a different kind of sovereignty and administrative control of political power. (London School of Economics)

UN Report on Globalization and the State (November 2, 2001)

The impact of globalization compels to redefine the nature and the role of the state to take account of the emerging political, economical, and cultural changes.

First, Do Not Harm (October 26, 2001)

Globalization has weakened nation-states like Afghanistan. The debate on Afghanistan's political future is now whether foreign intervention promote human rights and democracy or is tainted with self-interested imperialism. (In These Times)

Jack Straw: There Is Nothing Inevitable in the Failure of States (October 22, 2001)

"The state not only makes war possible: it also makes peace possible." The latest geo-political developments demonstrates that conflicts often arise when the state fails and when there is lack of international cooperation. (Foreign & Commonwealth Office)

The Rise of the Brand State (September/October 2001)

Peter van Ham argues that the production and export of goods has created brand-name countries. He argues that the attachment to brands supplants nationalist feelings although it lacks the deep-rooted and often antagonistic sense of national identity and uniqueness that can accompany nationalism. (Foreign Affairs)

Ways of the Patriots (July 3, 2001)

E. J. Dionne resolves the paradox of sovereignty: States need international organizations in order to protect their sovereignty. Conversely, only those international organizations that are subject to democratic control can succeed. (Washington Post)

Globalization and the Nation State (April 7, 2001)

Jayantha Dhanapala, UN's Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, argues that the nation-state should remain relevant but more adaptable to the forces of globalization. He adds that NGOs should not reduce the role of the state but use its apparatus to achieve their goals.

Self-determination and the Future of Democracy (January 25, 2001)

Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein argues that the further democratization of democracy and the extension of the right to self-determination are the most reliable strategies to ensure future international stability in anarchy. (International Institute for Strategic Studies)


Travelling Salesmen of Diplomacy (August 2000)

In this article from Le Monde diplomatique, George Ross laments the passing of traditional interstate politics. Globalization has reduced everything to trade issues, he claims, and presents his opinion on the state of the world.


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