[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]he 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is a key document that defines the term ‘refugee’, outlines rights for refugees, and keeps States accountable for their actions. Important requirements to become a refugee include: facing a well-rounded fear of persecution, seeking asylum or refugee status in the first possible venue, and receiving a fair hearing from a person who is legally qualified (Lect, Nov.8).
States have to uphold the non-refoulement principle-the practice of not forcing refugees to return to a country where they face serious persecution (UNHCR, 2010). The 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees form the legal framework. Although the legal framework provides a consistent set of requirements in determining who is a refugee and holds states liable for protecting the rights of refugees, violations occur.
How effective is the legal framework (and its enforcement) for refugees in protecting their human rights? It seems that the enforcement turns increasingly ineffective and inappropriate in safeguarding refugees’ rights. Let’s examine it on a comparative example of countries such as Australia, Turkey, the Czech Republic, and China (to name but few) that repeatedly fail to uphold the principle of non-refoulement, commit human rights abuses, and find ways to refuse accepting refugees.
Down-under or upside-down
Despite being a signatory to the 1951 Convention, Australia defies the non-refoulement principle, which violates refugee law. For instance, the boat Tampa rescued Afghanistan asylum-seekers who were on board a sinking Indonesian fishing boat (Lect, Nov.8). Although the closest port of rescue was on Christmas Island in Australia, the Australian government refused to allow Tampa to land any of the asylum seekers (McKay, Thomas, Kneebone, 2011). Australian Prime Minister John Howard was determined to limit the uncontrollable number of illegal arrivals and unauthorized asylum seekers in the country (UN: Australia, 2001). Over half of Australia’s population viewed asylum seekers as a deviant social group coming for a better life rather than helpless people fleeing persecution. This is because refugees are seen as exploiters of Australia’s welfare system (McKay et.al., 2011). In the end, the passengers were taken to camps in Naura while others were sent back to Afghanistan, disregarding the risk of persecution if they are sent back (UNHCR, 2006). By initially refusing to accept refugees and sending them back to Afghanistan, Australia fails to uphold the non-refoulement principle. Non-refoulement states that no contracting state shall expel or return a refugee to a territory where his life is threatened (Note, 1977). Even though Australia has legal obligations under the UN Refugee Convention, the Tampa Affair demonstrates the weakness of the legal framework in failing to effectively enforce refugee law and punish countries when they commit violations.
In addition to violating the core principle of non-refoulement, Australian detention centers do not comply with human rights protection such as the right to access medical care and freedom from degrading treatment. Detention camps for refugees have horrible conditions that negatively impact mental and emotional health. At the Naura camp, more than 30 children report sexual assault, and 1200 refugees suffer severe abuse and inhumane treatment (Australia, 2016). They experience indoor temperatures over 113 degrees Fahrenheit, use filthy toilets, and are hampered by severe resource constraints (Holzer, 2012). Thus, the legal framework is functionally inefficient because it fails to guarantee basic human rights that refugees should have. The violations against both non-refoulement and human rights undermine the stronghold of the legal framework and its protections, which further impact the attitudes of other countries.
Near (the) East – Nearer the Trouble
Similar to Australia’s case, Turkey faces international criticism because several Syrian refugees have been forcibly deported back to Syria by Turkish authorities in violation of the non-refoulement principle, putting them at risk of human rights abuses. About 80 Syrian refugees held at a detention center in the Turkish city of Erzurum were expelled (Letsch, 2015). In addition, they were tortured, beaten, locked in rooms, and forced to sign documents that state they were leaving Turkey out of their own free will (Ibid). These actions go against Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture, which states that any act by which severe pain is intentionally inflicted on a person for purposes such as intimidating or coercing something from a third person, is illegal (Grans, 2015). Refugees do not have access to interpreters who can translate the Turkish language on the document, and police officers forcibly use refugees’ fingerprints as signatures without permission. However, refugees cannot challenge their detention or deportation because they have no legal representation, and Turkey does not grant refugees a fair hearing. By forcibly deporting refugees, Turkey violates the provision that repatriation must be voluntary (Lect, Nov.8). Thus, the legal framework is unsuccessful in even giving refugees an opportunity to seek long-term, legitimate refugee status under fair means.
Polish the Czech or C(z)heck the Polish ?
In addition to Turkey, refugees flee the Syrian civil war to the EU, and of course within, to the Czech Republic, Poland and other Visegrád countries. However, the Czech Republic for instance intentionally violates human rights to deter them from coming in the first place. The refugees prefer Germany, but they are in no freedom to seek refugee status at a place they desire (Ibid). They must seek it at the first possible venue, forcing them to enter the Czech Republic (Lect, Nov.8). Refugees experience strip-searching and their money is confiscated to pay for their detention; additionally, the Czech Republic holds refugees in detention from 40 to 90 days in degrading conditions (Calamur, 2015). The Czech Justice Minister also describes the Bìlá-Jezovqá detention center as worse than a prison (Ibid). This example demonstrates the use of systematic mistreatment towards refugees- to the extent of abusing their human rights but not to the point of death-to discourage them from trying to seek refugee status. The Czech strategy in intentionally failing to protect human rights causes the deterrence of refugees. In this case, the legal framework plays a role in granting refugees a chance to seek refugee status, but is still weak in protecting refugees’ freedom from degrading treatment once in the country.
In general, when refugees are placed in refugee or detention camps, they lack freedom of movement and do not have economic rights. Refugees are forced to stay in the camps because they have nowhere else to go, which restricts their freedom to move. A majority of the refugees cannot make future plans because they are not given a timeline of how long they need to remain at the camp (Training, 2001). This uncertainty restricts their ability to make economic progress, find a way to make a living, or find a permanent job. In fact, the protection of human rights for refugees is drastically inferior to that of trafficking. A Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Person (SRTIP) is appointed to focus on the human rights aspect of the victims of trafficking (Gallagher & Ezeilo, 2015). The SRTIP has the authority to monitor, advise, and publicly report on a human rights situation in a specific country. However, there is no appointed person to report human rights abuses for refugees. Although the legal framework allows refugees to seek haven in another country to avoid persecution, they are still subject to human rights abuses, just not to the extent of death. The legal framework, including the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, is inherently ineffective because it does not have monitoring bodies to reinforce the protection of refugees’ human rights and hold states accountable for violations.
Although Syrian refugees going to the Czech Republic are at least given the opportunity to seek refugee status, the status of North Korean refugees crossing into China is highly debated, which affects their treatment and the benefits they are entitled to. The Chinese government insists that North Korean refugees are economic migrants seeking economic opportunity (Lect, Nov.8). The famine in North Korea causes too many North Koreans to cross over to China, which poses an economic strain on undeveloped border regions and disrupts China’s demography (Cohen, 2007). The legal framework holds very little power in compelling China to prioritize accepting refugees over protecting their economy. China is able to find a loophole in the legal framework by stating that famine does not necessarily equal persecution; therefore, China is justified in not accepting people simply trying to take economic advantage. The legal framework fails to clearly delineate the forms of persecution, allowing China to label North Korea refugees as economic migrants and not accept them.
However, North Koreans leave their country at risk of arrest and death if they are forced to turn back, which should not be an issue in the first place since repatriation should be voluntary under the Convention and Protocol. When they are turned back, they are tortured and persecuted because defection is a crime of treachery against North Korea (Robertson, 2012). This goes against the 1951 Refugee Convention that states that no state shall expel a person to another state where there are substantial grounds that the person will face torture (UNHCR, 1977). Forcibly repatriating the North Koreans is the same as subjecting them to death. Along with the threat of death, North Koreans have no determination process to which China is legally liable for. In this sense, China fails to uphold its responsibility as a receiving country that gives refugees a fair hearing, proving the inadequacy of the legal framework to manage the country’s adherence to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol.
Furthermore, the politics of North Koreans’ refugee status overshadows the importance of abiding by the legal framework. The Chinese are motivated to avoid displeasing North Korea. China holds extreme power because it is the only country that has ties with North Korea and can address international concerns such as North Korea’s possession over nuclear weapons (Lect, Nov.8). Therefore, China has a strong motive to maintain its connection with North Korea. Thus, although China is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees and has the obligation to not forcibly repatriate refugees, China cooperates with North Korea to find defectors. China justifies turning in defectors by claiming that defectors are not legally considered refugees (Lee, 2016). Chinese citizens are even paid for turning defectors in (Ibid). Overall, defectors lack access to schooling, health care, and citizenship. Women defectors are also vulnerable to abuse and sex trafficking. They are often forced into marriages and sold to Chinese men (Yun, 2016). These human rights abuses demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the legal framework in functioning to hold states accountable for protecting refugees’ rights. In China’s case, the lack of clarity for “persecution” allows China to justify this mistreatment because defectors are not refugees, and China has no legal obligation to protect defectors’ rights. Thus, the legal framework is inadequate in its specificity.
Criminalize indifference and enforce acceptance
“Faced with aging domestic populations and following the logics of corporate expansion, the Western markets need migrants, but the ordinary citizenry does not want them. What changed in the meantime is the societal capacity to absorb those immigrants – and closely related to that – the psychological state of domestic populations. Therefore, many European political parties extended their agendas with more restrictive immigration policies.” – noted professor Anis H. Bajrektarevic in his inspiring work ‘JHA Diplomacy’ nearly ten years ago. “Shortsighted and opportunistic as it might be – it ignores the golden rule of migration: Once you cut off legal means, would-be immigrants just turn to smugglers.” – professor explained the phenomenon and predicted our currents nearly ten years ago.
In conclusion, the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, both of which form the legal framework for refugees, are ineffective in enforcing the acceptance of refugees with the option of voluntary repatriation and protecting their rights. Although Australia is generally accepting of refugees, the extreme influx of authorized asylum seekers has overwhelmed the country, causing Australians to view them as exploiters of Australia’s welfare system. Australia has violated the non-refoulement principle and subjected refugees to terrible conditions, which are violations of the legal framework. The bigger implication is that disobedience has a cascading effect – Turkey, the Czech Republic and Poland, and China have also violated the non-refoulement principle and committed human rights abuses. While all three countries subject refugees to degrading treatment, Turkey forcibly deports refugees, the Czech Republic deliberately mistreats refugees to deter them from coming, and China outright rejects North Koreans as refugees. These examples indicate the weakness of the legal framework in granting refugee status in the long-term and protecting their rights. When looking at the bigger picture, installing monitoring bodies and regulatory agencies to supervise the adherence to the legal framework for refugees can strengthen the effectiveness of the legal framework.
Why states undermined their sovereignty by signing NPT?
Nuclear weapons are known as brawny and cataclysmic weapons. The source of the energy of such weapons is fission and fusion of atoms. Such weapons release huge amount of radiation which can cause “radiation sickness”. Nuclear weapons were used once in a history in 1945. 80000 people were killed in Hiroshima and 70000 in Nagasaki. Due to the evidence of catastrophic impact, they have not been used in any war till today. The proliferation of nuclear weapons is a subject of concern in the international system. There are nine states which possess nuclear weapons: United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France and china. Proliferation is a spread of nuclear weapons both horizontally and vertically. In order to deal with the proliferation, NPT was introduced and still working globally.
NPT is known as “treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”. It thwarts the states from acquiring nuclear weapons’ technology or developing fissile material for nuclear weapons. The NPT is a multilateral treaty which was opened for signature on July 1st 1968 and entered into effect on March 5th 1970. Its signatory parties are 186 which joined it either by ratification or accession. Russia, UK and US are its depositaries. According to this treaty the states which have manufactured nuclear explosives prior to January 1st 1967 are legal nuclear states which include US, UK, Russia, France and china also known as de-jure states whereas Pakistan, India, North Korea and Israel are de-facto nuclear states. There three main pillar of NPT:
- “Prevention of spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear technology.
- Promotion of co-operation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
- Achievement of nuclear as well as general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”.
Since the formation of these contraptions, a lot of gloomy predictions were made like in 21st century 20 states would acquire nuclear weapons but only nine states have been observed as nuclear weapon states till today. However, 65 years ago almost 39 states were engaged in nuclear program but sooner or later they gave up their ambition. From the second half of the 1980, the states which were indulge in the nuclear activities were relatively low. This is because of the 186states have signed NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state and condemned proliferation. The question arises here is what motivate states to not acquire nuclear weapons. There are many theories from the past decade to answer this question are grouped into four overarching groups:
- International norms and perception
- Domestic political context
These are elaborated below:
The capability of any state regarding formation of nuclear weapons comprises on:
- Technological capability
- Economic capability
Development of nuclear weapon is not facile. Production of facile material is the most challenging and expensive, scientifically and technologically both. The transformation of that material into a deliveryweapon and development of the delivery system require technological and financial capabilities and which has become an effective obstacle for the less developed countries. As those countries don’t have advanced scientific and technological infrastructure and are not financially strong to afford the investment needed to start its own nuclear program. So, capabilities became a stumbling block for less developed states due to which they sign NPT as a non-nuclear state. But this is not only the decisive factor in taking decision whether to forgo nuclear weapons or not. Political willingness also play a crucial role in it because it devote a considerable share of states’ resources to military sector or public sector e.g. Pakistan and north Korea are poor states with less capabilities but they have developed nuclear weapons. So, it also depends upon the psychology of the leaders too. This point is concluded by saying:
“More highly developed countries proliferate more readily, less highly developed counters do so less readily”.
Security is the dominant theory to explain both questions: why states go nuclear and why not? Security is very appealing factor for the states to acquire nuclear weapons but acquiring nuclear weapons is not always the best way to ensure security. As this world is anarchic and states are rational unitary actor, so for the security, states go for self-help. But sometimes, acquiring nuclear weapons poses a greater threat than to forgo them because it may cause more distrust and tension among the adversaries. Due to the distrust one state may attempt pre-emptive strikewhich can cause nuclear war and end of the both states. So, to avoid this situation, state opted to go non-nuclear because in this condition it has not that’s much adversaries and can focuses on the other public sectors. According to the “prudential realism: “nations under certaincircumstances mayprudently forgo military capabilities that is threatening because states and security-conscious entities”. States which are involve in low intensity conflict would likely to go non-nuclear by signing NPT. Alliances also play an important role in security according to neo-liberalism. States are likely to go in alliance with any nuclear state in order to avoid the risk, cost and difficulties of nuclear weapon programs e.g. NATO countries are in alliance with US. But that nuclear state must give a guarantee of “positive and negative assurance security” so those states chose to sign NPT as a non-nuclear states.
International norms and perceptions also assist states in deciding whether to sign NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state or not. The norms of international system highly influence the perceptions of the states especially norms in the international treaties like NPT. States have a lust of prestige and status in international system. On the basis of non-proliferation norms, states perceive that their status and prestige would be increased by forgoing nuclear weapons. According to Jacques Hymans: “ most states think of themselves as, and want to be seen as , good international citizens and good international citizens don’t build nuclear arsenals”. Due to this reason, majority of thestates don’t acquire nuclear weapons. Constructivism is the basis of international norms and perceptions which have made normative situation for the states in general. NPT have changed the normative environment and situation got changed due to which many states forgo nuclear weapons. Cost-benefit analysis got changed by the non-proliferation norms. It has made nuclear weapon program technically, financially and politically expensive. It has also change the assumption of appropriate state behavior. So to maintain the good self-image in international system states have signed NPT as a non-nuclear weapon states.
The factors of domestic political context have many dimensions. In this cluster, types of governmental systemplay a crucial role for the states to sign NPT as a non-nuclear states. According to some researchers, democracies are less likely to engage in conflicts than autocracies. Democracies obey international laws at greater level to become a good citizen of internal system due to which the chances of democracies to become nuclear states are less. From the lens of political-ideology if a system aims for the economic growth that it would not go for nuclear weapons. According to Solingen “the nuclear programs are less likely to emerge in countries where the political culture is in general sympathetic to economic openness, trade liberalization, foreign investments, and international economic integration” e.g. Saudi Arabia. Psychology of domestic actor also play a crucial role in influencing the decision regarding nuclear weapons and societal groups too. In short, it depends upon the national political circumstances and dynamics that effect the decision of perusing or forgoing nuclear weapons.
Nuclear free zone or weapons of mass destruction free zone is a great disincentive for the states if combined with the credible pledges by the US and other nuclear states to provide positive and negative assurance security to the non-nuclear weapon states. Like in Middle East only Israel has acquired nuclear weapons which can be equalized by the security given by US or other nuclear state in order to make Middle East nuclear-free zone. As NPT is known as bargaining treaty which offer economic incentives to the states and compel other states to sign NPT. All the above factors showed the reasons of the will of states but some states sign NPTbecause of the fear of the sanction because none of the state survive if it becomes isolated from the whole world e.g. economic sanctions upon Iran. Many under developed countries are unable to resist the pressure of the developed stays and for their survival, they need their support. So, in return, they obey the orders of developed states and don’t go for nuclear weapons. Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus dismantle their nuclear arsenals because of the incentive of the positive assured security. Whereas, the nuclear programs of Brazil and Argentina were dissuaded by the regional security arrangement. South Africa gave its nuclear weapons for the sake of its development. Under developed countries focus on the development of health, education sectors etc. due to which they dismantle their nuclear weapons and got economic assistance. In a nutshell, NPT played a crucial role in resisting nuclear proliferation but at the same time it is monopolizing the power of nuclear states.
Why Did States Sign NPT Treaty As Non-Nuclear Weapon States
Following the inception of the “Treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons NPT” in 1967, about 186 states signed NPT as non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) which are obliged to refrain from acquiring or manufacturing nuclear weapons nor these states are allowed to seek or receive assistance from nuclear weapon states in this regard, and have to comply with the prerequisites defined by IAEA. The reasons due to which these states decided to give up their sovereign right of acquiring nuclear weapons (despite the fact that some of these states are actually capable to develop nuclear weapons) are driven by motivations that vary according to the states’ regional and domestic security dynamics, combined with the international normative values. Hence, in order to identify and understand the relevant reasons, case studies and an analysis have been presented.
UKRAINE: After exploring the official statements related to the nuclear policy, issued by Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), following reasons were observed due to which Ukraine signed NPT: international pressure, technical incapability, unstable economic affairs, incentive given by NPT in terms of civil nuclear technology (membership of MCTR “Missile Technology Control Regime” saved the space industry of Ukraine), pursuit for the stability of the newly established state in the region etc. At first, Ukraine tried to hold the rights over a nuclear arsenal (that it inherited after the disintegration of USSR). However, it seemed unable to handle international pressure. Moreover, MFA of Ukraine acknoweldged that Ukrain didn’t want to offend the IAEA prerequisites as doing so would result in unstable economic relations with other states, especially Russia; the halted supply of nuclear fuel from Russia would cause the Ukranian nuclear power plants to shut down which might have result in energy crisis.
EGYPT:Previously interested in the procurement of nuclear weapons (due to perceived threat from “nuclear activity of Israel”), Egypt signed NPT in 1981 as it perceived (constructivism) that the benefits of signing NPT were impeccable in terms of diplomatic ties with US and aid of approximately two billion dollars provided by US every year. Moreover, Egypt had the chance to be “good international citizen” as per the international norms and to criticize the Israel’s ambigous nuclear aims.
BRAZIL AND ARGENTINA: Brazil and Argentina faced security dilemma due to the “long-standing rivalry” between them. Later on, due to the adoption of the “democratic regimes”, their rivalry was mitigated. Later on, Argentina and Brazil states became party to the NPT as NNWS in the years 1995 and 1998 respectively. Hence, the security dilemma was over and these states, being democratic states and as per the international normative values, had no reason to stay out of NPT. So the “low security threat” is the main reason due to which these states signed NPT as NNWS.
SOUTH KOREA:Despite having the advanced nuclear reactors manufacturing industry, South Korea chose to sign NPT as NNWS, partly because of its capitalist approach and international norms, and partly because of nuclear umbrella sought by South Korea from USA (though the influence of extended nuclear deterrence remains debatable between scholars).Moreover,according to some scholars, a few states are able to develop and manufacture the final product (nuclear weapons) but have not done it yet, either due to diplomatic reasons or simply because they do not have the reason to rush towards the development of nuclear weapons as they can manufacture nukes any time by withdrawing from NPT in case they perceived potential threat. However, the personal opinion is that it is highly unlikely of South Korea to withdraw from NPT.
JAPAN:Japan signed NPT as NNWS due to the international condemnation it faced which resulted from its aggressive historical background, and due to article 9 (renounced its right to keep armed forces except for defensive purposes) in its constitution. Moreover, like South Korea it has nuclear umbrella from US. However, scholars debate over the future of Japan (Whether it would remain non-nuclear state or not).
Although, multiple scholars gave multiple sets of “proliferation motives” yet an attempt has been made in this article to identify the most relevant motives and reasons due to which states signed NPT as NNWS, after studying the cases of the few states ( elaborated above).
First of all, The expense of the enrichment of fissile material (uranium or plutonium) and the development of stable nuclear arsenals, could be a disincentive for developing states to procure nuclear weapons. Therefore, such states might have signed NPT in order to be benefited by prohibitive international laws (for the use of force) in terms of security.
Second reason is theRegional Security Dynamics; whether a state is facing security dilemma with its adversary or not. If a state is not facing any security dilemma then there is no reason for the state to stay out of NPT. Otherwise, procurement of nuclear weapons would pose potential threat to the security of the state as compared to the disarmament. The initiative for the development of nuclear weapons taken by a state would insecure its adversary and may lead to arms race in the region that would ultimately, contribute to the instability of that region. Another reason could be drived from the perceived “Nuclear Umbrella”; state such as South Korea and Japan may not develop nuclear weapons as in case of conflict, they would seek help, in the form of the deployment of nuclear weapons, from the USA; a phenomeon known as extended deterrence.
Thirdly, International Normative values based contructivism could also be considered a reason due to which states signed NPT as NNWS. The term nuclear taboo became the part of the scholarly text which emphasized the constructivist perception that the making and the use of nuclear weapons is immoral and the (perceived) legitimate initiatives related to he non-proliferation and disarmament would increase their prestige (which might also be beneficial for inter-state relations of a state with others and for the trade). This norm has been institutionalized in Non-proliferation Treaty. In other words, “states prefer to be good international citizens; the ones which do not develop nuclear weapons” (Jacques Hymans). Hence, the states overwhelmed (international pressure) by the international norms signed NPT as non-nuclear weapon states. Many states (which possessed the capability of developing nuclear weapons) started nuclear programs before NPT entered into force. Later on, these states terminated their nuclear programs and signed NPT due to the altered norms of cost and benefit analysis; favorable trade agreements and the changed definition of appropriate state behavior. Another factor that contributes to this topic is the history of the states (e.g Japan’ case).
Fourthly,the behavior of the states influenced by intra-state political and economic affairs could also be a reason; political structure and type of government along with the state’s priorities (military security prioritized over economic security and vice versa). Democratic states tend to be the protagonist of NPT and prefer to obey the international laws (However, this opinion remains debatable). Moreover, the “willingness” of the state leaders to prefer the economic growth (through international trade and cooperation; a liberal perspective) could also be a “non-proliferation motive”, since doing otherwise (prefering to develop nuclear weapons) would result in economic sanctions and disintergration.
Fifth reason is the most common and widely understood reason that is the incentive (bargain) offered by NPT to the non-nuclear weapons states; the providence of civil nuclear technology for the peaceful purposes (e.g generating electricity or for medical purposes etc.).
Other reasons have also been assumed after observing the state of world affairs, for example: the monopoly of P5, that is, not to let other states acquire nuclear weapons could also be the reason; the small weak states or the states that are newly established may have signed NPT after being pressurized by these countries on political and economical level. Moreover,some states might have signed NPT to simply support the cause of this treaty. For example, New Zealand signed NPT because it is a great protagonist of the non-proliferation and disarmament cause. In addition to that, these states, at the time of signing the treaty, expected P5 to disarm as per the treaty’s articles. The matter that the P5 haven’t done it yet, has been raised at NPT meetings many times, by NNWS.
Since there are 186 states party to the NPT as Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS), the reasons for them signing as NNWS are numerous. However these reasons could be narrowed down to the few major reasons; security dynamics of the regions where these states are situated, their intra-state matters, the prevailing norms in the international system, cost and beneft analysis over the incentives offered by NPT etc. However, the effect of NPT is uncertain since the states that have signed NPT do not have immediate security threats. In case, they face threats from adversary, the decisive role of NPT over such potential security issues remains debatable.
How nations states are limited
After the World War II, the establishment of the United Nations and the beginning of cooperation between the states was considered by many governments as a positive step. It was a useful step for all governments to start cooperating with European states that had been at war with each other for many years and failed in European history, and for other states to join this process and maintain positive political and diplomatic relations. However, after the recent two world wars, the desire of states to sit at the table of peace has made them forget something. These were the influences of the global government (UN) that would affect the sovereignty of states. Therefore, as liberal relations and the process of globalization develop in international relations, nation-states have begun to move away from the status of individual states to the management of global power. Today, global governance has become a reality. When national states decide on an act in international politics, they are forced to act and implement acts not only in the national interests of the state, but also in the opinion of international organizations. Today, it is not as easy as in the past to seriously change the geopolitical situation and violate international law without the opinion of international political organizations. Because today in the system of international relations there is a control and power through global governance, which will influence the sovereign decisions of states. Therefore, today I will share my views on how global governance, which is a reality today, has brought nation-states closer to decline.
Although the emergence and functioning of international organizations dates back to the 19th century, the formation of global governance is largely thought of as the history of the United Nations and some of the political organizations that have emerged since then. As I said, the emergence of global governance is associated with the end of World War II in 1945 and the establishment of the United Nations. As we know, after the Second World War, the world began to move on different realities. With the establishment of the United Nations, a mechanism of global governance has already begun to emerge. However, due to the geopolitical consequences of World War II and the transfer of Eastern Europe to the USSR, global governance through the UN could not cover the whole world, but simply led to the emergence of international organizations with its roots and the division of the world into two poles. As we know, the signing of the North Atlantic Pact in 1949, the emergence of NATO and the formation of the Western bloc, and later the signing of the Warsaw Pact and the establishment of the Eastern bloc in the same year divided the world into two poles. On the one hand, there was the capitalist West in global governance. On the other hand, there was the communist-ruled USSR. This continued until the 1990s.
Then, in 1991, with the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War, global governance began to take over the world and the world came to global power, and liberal relations began to take over the world. Even Fukuyama, when he said the end of history, in fact meant that global governance would cover the world and that the world’s states would operate in the process of globalization based on a liberal tradition. All of this was a small history of how global governance came into being and when it covered the whole world. After the end of the Cold War in 1991, the Eastern European states that had already seceded from the USSR began to integrate into the West. In short, they have joined global governance. Later, some countries in the region, such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Ukraine, which gained independence from the USSR, entered the global system of governance, maintaining ties with the West. However, states such as Russia and Iran, in order to further protect their sovereignty, did not allow the influence of this administration to influence them and began to sever ties with the West over time.
However, the process of globalization did not move much with its positive aspects. Not only did global governance influence the decisions of states to control them, but it also had to create hierarchical control over them by creating global hegemony. The ideal option for this was the hegemonic equator. In this hegemonic equator, states are legally and formally equal, but over time they have become economically, politically and militarily unequal. Thus, after a while, this unequal situation began to form a hierarchy of power between states. States with weaker economic resources and militaries are already under constant pressure from powerful states and under the influence of powerful states.
For example, we can see an example of this in our country today. We are all equal in the South Caucasus region. Although Georgia, Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan are formally equal, there is a hierarchy in terms of global hegemony. For example, Russia comes first in this hierarchy. Because Russia is much luckier than others in military, economic and geopolitical terms. The second is Iran. Because the possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear weapon results in its military superiority over other countries in the region. The third is Azerbaijan. Because Azerbaijan’s oil economy, such as oil and gas, makes it more economically viable and stronger than Armenia. Therefore, such differences created by global governance and the limits imposed on sovereign decisions by states have formed a critique of globalization over time, leading to criticism and debate by various academics. This criticism has long focused on the question of whether globalization can lead to the decline of nation-states.
As we know, the long-term impact of the globalization process on states has led to serious criticism about whether globalization has transformed states. While some academics believe that global governance destroys and degrades nation-states, others argue that globalization serves the national interests of nations.
The first critical approach is that the process of globalization is very powerful in a globalized world. In this case, we have already moved to a system of non-sovereign states. Today, states are no longer able to make independent political decisions in the long run for their national interests and to act accordingly. This process also weakens the power of states in the world and in international relations, and transnational companies gain a dominant position.
However, in the second critical approach, academics think differently and contradict the first criticism. Academics believe that although globalization affects the independent acts of states, the superpowers of their regions are still the most important entities in global politics. Because both international organizations and economic transnational organizations, which are the concepts of the globalization process, were created by these countries themselves. Therefore, globalization does not harm these countries, but serves their national interests. They can violate international law and the rules of global governance at any time, and even the geopolitical situation can change despite global governance. (For example, the US invasion of Iraq, Russia’s imperialist act against Georgia and Ukraine)
In addition, there is a third and final critical approach, which is the approach of global governance to other forms of power, interests, goals and acts of states. As globalization is now considered a world reality, states are forced to choose between two options. Either Iran, like North Korea, will remain closed and protect its national sovereignty outside of global governance, or, like other countries in the world, will join the process of globalization and cooperate with each other. Since there is an economic reality created by global governance in the world, global governance can keep states under its influence by changing the interests, goals and acts of states.
However, the decline of the state today is not only due to the process of globalization and global governance. In addition, there are institutions such as the global economy, business, large companies, non-governmental organizations and international organizations, which pose a serious threat to the sovereignty of states. Today we live in a world of more international, economic companies and organizations than national states. 49% of these companies and organizations belong to the states and 51% to the international economy. The economic power of some of these companies (Exxon Mobil, General Motors) is already greater than in many Eastern European and African countries. From this we can conclude that the second concept that leads to the decline of nation-states, along with international organizations, is the international economic companies.
As a result, I can say that today the globalized world and international organizations have become a system that borders states and limits their national decisions. If in the 20th century it was so easy to make a decision to start a world war, to use any type of weapon, it has become almost impossible to do so in a globalized world. But in addition, globalization and international organizations can sometimes help strengthen states. For example, today, because states play an important role in international organizations, decisions made through international organizations
sometimes depend on states. For example, the UN Security Council, the Consulate General of the European Union, is a process that depends on states in the decision-making process. The decisions of the member states are considered very serious and decisive in the decision-making process. In this case, too, we can see that international organizations do not act as a tool for the decline of nation-states, but as a concept that strengthens them. Therefore, I do not think it is right to assess globalization today as a system that leads to the decline of nation-states.
- Andrew Heywood. (2013, fourth edition). Politics s.18
- Robert Jackson & Georg Sorensen: Introduction to İR, s. 4
- Mazarr, M. (1999). Global trends 2005: An owner’s manual for the next decade. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
- Zygmunt BAUMAN, Küreselleşme-Toplumsal Sonuçları, Çev: Abdullah Yılmaz, Arıntı Yayınları, İstanbul, 2010, s.83
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