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Flashcards in The State Deck (62)
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what do states have?

states have sovereignty, it is the defining characteristic of a state

sovereignty means that states have absolute and ultimate power and authority over their citizens

the state is a territorially-based political unit, defined as having four key features....
• stable population
• effective government
• legally defined territory
• the ability to enter into relations with other states, which requires recognition by other states


Treaty of Westphalia (1648)

the legal basis for the modern state was established by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648

brought a conclusion to the brutal Thirty Years War in Europe and is seen as the starting point of both modern international law and international politics

established three key principles...
• the principle of sovereignty of states
• the principle of legal equality between states
• the principle of non-intervention by one state in the internal affairs of another state

established the belief that nations have a right to rule themselves, as well as a right to independence and democratic rule

the ‘Westphalian system’ is used to describe a state centric view of the world, which sees states as central to international relations — this view is closely aligned with realism


define nation state

an autonomous political community bound together by shared citizenship and nationality

based upon a recognisable culture, which is manifested through elements such as a common ancestry and language


5 characteristics of a nation

self identifying community that does not necessarily have sovereignty

not necessarily recognised by the international community

not necessarily possessing a state, like the Kurds

defined territory is not needed

nations can live in more than one state


5 characteristics of a state

political entity with sovereignty

recognised by the international community

can contain more than one nation or community — most states are culturally and ethnically diverse, so do not represent a single nation (e.g. Iraq is so diverse that it can be seen as a state without a nation, and the UK contains several nations)

requires defined territory

cannot cross the boundaries into other states


what is a nation?

a group of people who self identify as belonging to the same group or community, with a strong sense of unity

a cultural entity, whereas a state is a political entity


what do individuals in a nation have in common?

the individuals in a nation may have certain characteristics in common

these may include...
• territory
• language
• ethnicity
• history
• customs and traditions
• religion

although none of these characteristics are absolutely essential — for a group to be considered a nation they only need to share some of these characteristics

for example, members of a nation may not share the same religion or even the same language but they still may see themselves as belonging to the same nation


a nation can have shared or common....

• territory
• political ideas and values
• customs and traditions
• ethnicity
• language
• folklore
• religion
• culture


how are nations easy to identify?

in some respects, nations are easy to identify

it’s easy to point to the French, the Germans to the Italians as single nations as they meet some of the criteria needed to be a nation

they all have a certain territory, have a common language, share a history, have the same traditions and so on

however, there are Bretons in France, Bavarians in Germany and South Tyroleans in Italy, who all claim to be a nation in their own right and could convincingly make a claim using the same criteria


how recent is the concept of a nation?

the concept of a nation is a fairly recent one

for centuries, people’s loyalties were local — e.g. to their city, church or local prince — rather than being tied to any larger community

however, for the last 2 centuries, the idea of loyalty to and identification with a nation has grown in significance and by the 20th century it was widespread


why is nationhood important?

nationhood is important as it is the idea behind one of the most powerful forces in global politics: nationalism

nationalism is a strong belief in one’s own country

it has been the force behind some of the greatest changes and conflicts in recent world history

it can be a force for good, uniting people and leading them to freedom from the tyranny of others

it can also be a force for bad, leading countries and people to war and conflict

nationalism supports the idea that the proper basis for the state is the nation — this is best expressed through the ideal of national self-determination (to each nation, a state)


what is a state?

a specific form of political entity that meets 4 criteria....

• a functioning and effective government
• a defined territory
• recognition by other nation states
• a permanent population

a state must have all of these in order to be considered a state, unlike a nation which only needs some of its characteristics


process and development of states throughout history

the process of national self determination has happened in two stages....

• 19th century — the transformation of Europe into nation states (e.g. the Unification of Germany in 1871 as well as Italy in 1870)

• 20th century — the collapse of the British Empire in Africa and the Ottoman Empire in Asia after WW1, and the collapse of the USSR in 1991, to be replaced by nationstates

this has led to most modern states being seen as nation states, which have authority and legitimacy as they embody and represent the nation


a defined territory

a state can only have sovereignty or absolute and unlimited power over somewhere

much of the political conflict in the world is based on disagreements between states as to who owns which territory

examples of conflict based on disagreements between states and competing claims to territory....

• dispute between the UK and Argentina over the Falkland Islands, which led to a war under Margaret Thatcher

• the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan which has been going on since 1947

• the disagreements and rising tensions between China and its neighbours over islands and sea rights in the South China Sea

this criterion raises questions over the future of low lying Pacific island states, such as Vanuatu, if they succumb to rising sea levels — but as it stands, physical land is essential for statehood


a permanent population

for a state to exist, it must have people permanently living in that territory

so if there are no people, then there is no state

for example, Antarctica does not have a permanent population so does not meet the criterion for statehood and cannot be considered a state


a functioning and effective government

some territories that meet the other criteria needed to be considered a state are not in a position to enforce the law or exercise their sovereignty over the territory and its population

these territories are more accurately described as failed states

an example of a failed state is Syria, which has been engulfed in civil war since 2011

President Bashar al-Assad’s government has lost control over much of Syria to rebel groups as well as Daesh (ISIS)

where it does not control the territory, it cannot be said to be sovereign and is not an effective state, perhaps lacking the criteria needed for statehood


recognition by other nation states

this is perhaps the most significant criterion for a state

because while a state-like entity may have a territory, permanent population and functioning administration, unless it is seen by other states as also being a state, it cannot effectively enter into relations with them or exercise its sovereignty in the international system (e.g. through UN membership or having an embassy)

Kosovo is a state like entity that is recognised by many of the world’s state, but it is not sufficiently recognised to be a member of the UN

Palestine is also not formally recognised by the UN as its own state, but there is growing international pressure for it to be recognised as a state in its own right and gain UN membership

the most recent state to be recognised as such is South Sudan, which joined the UN in 2011


what is a nation state?

the prime political entity of the modern era and the Westphalian system

it is essentially a nation with its own state, bringing together the political entity of the state and the cultural entity of a nation

but this can be further developed, the nation state is also...

• a state that represents the political wishes of a nation, and thus gains authority and legitimacy

• a self-governing state

• a state that is based on the principles of self-determination

the nation state is now the dominant model and the UN recognises 193 states in the world which are best described as nation states


x3 issues with nationhood and statehood

nations without a state

national claims that cross borders

states not recognised by other states


nations without a state: SCOTLAND

(example of a nation exercising their right to decide whether to become an independent state)

there are ongoing claims for nations that do not have their own state

Scotland held an independence referendum in 2014 where the people of Scotland exercised their right to decide whether they wanted to secede from the UK and become an independent state in their own right

on this occasion, they voted to remain in the UK

but the event still made it clear that the Scots have a right to determine their own future and any vote by the Scottish people to leave the UK would be considered legitimate


nations without a state: BASQUE COUNTRY + CATALONIA

(example of how independence for some nations is complicated and difficult to achieve)

the issue of independence is not so clear for the Basque people and the Catalonians of Spain

whereas the UK government gave its blessing to a Scottish independence referendum and would honour the alternative outcome, the Spanish government has not recognised the right of the Basque or Catalonian people to determine their own future outside of Spain

the secessionist movements of these parts of Spain play on the nationalist sentiment of their people, drawing on the shared and distinct history, traditions, language and folklore of these areas to try to convince the people to push for an independent and sovereign nation of Catalonia and the Basque Country

these kind of secessionist movements have at times turned to violence — notably with the ETA group in the Basque Country of northern Spain “fighting for their freedom”, which is a stance that many others might call terrorism


nations without a state: THE KURDS

(example of the largest nation without a state of its own)

the largest nation in the world that is acknowledged as not having its own state is the Kurdish people of Syria, Turkey and Iraq

there are around 30 million Kurds, mostly Sunni Muslims, who share a unique language and live in an area that spans Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria, making them the world’s largest stateless nation

in the early 20th century, many Kurds began to consider the creation of a homeland referred to as Kurdistan — after WW1 and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, victorious Western allies made provisions for a Kurdish state in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres

however, in 1923 the Treaty of Lausanne set the boundaries of modern Turkey but made no provision for a Kurdish state and left the Kurds with minority status in their respective countries

over the next 80 years, any move by the Kurds to set up an independent state was brutally quashed

the Kurds feel that they are a persecuted minority and some have taken up violence against the Turkish state to push for Kurdish self-determination

in Syria, the Kurds have been fighting against Daesh (ISIS) and have achieved some sort of autonomy in the country

in Iraq, they have had similar autonomy for a number of years and have effectively or de facto had their own country or state

however, the Kurds face big problems in trying to achieve an independent, sovereign Kurdistan because the territory they claim as their own already belongs to sovereign states that are highly unlikely to give it up

furthermore, other states are unwilling to allow a precedent whereby parts of countries can be broken away from sovereign states without their permission


national claims that cross borders

a further difficulty is that the territorial claims of a nation do not always coincide with the borders of states

many states are in dispute with the neighbours over the sovereignty or ownership of territory

which is only complicated further by competing historical and traditional claims of the people who live in that territory

one of the ideas behind the nation is attachment to territory or land so conflicts often arise when two or more nations claim the same land


national claims that cross borders: NORTHERN IRELAND

(example of nations claiming the same territory in the UK)

the UK has its own example of this problem of more than one nation claiming the same territory

two opposing communities or nations claim the territory of Northern Ireland as their own

the Unionist community wants Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK while the Nationalist community believes Northern Ireland should be part of the Republic of Ireland

both sides have valid historical claims to the land, both can claim a certain legitimacy and both believe they are right

this has led to significant conflict throughout the 20th century known as The Troubles, which carried on until the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 to establish peace between the two communities

although even with this agreement in place, there is still significant tension in the region and a delicate balance between the opposing sides


national claims that cross borders: PALESTINE + ISRAEL

(example of nations claiming the same territory in the Middle East)

but it is not just the Nationalists and Unionists of Northern Ireland who have competing claims to the same territory

this type of dispute can be seen in the Middle East with Israeli and Palestinian claims to the same territory resulting in decades of conflict that has shown no significant signs of slowing down


national claims that cross borders: UKRAINE AND RUSSIA

(example of recent conflict involving nations claiming the same territory)

the recent conflict in Ukraine is founded on the same problem

ethnic Russians who identify with the Russian nation and state are living in the internationally recognised state of Ukraine

the Russian separatists want closer ties with Russia but the Ukrainians believe their state should be sovereign and independent of Russia


states not recognised by other states

there are several examples of state-like entities that are not recognised by other states, so find it difficult to operate in the international system

pressing examples of states not recognised by other states are Kosovo, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria

the idea of a world of nation states, where states represent the nation, is perhaps more fiction and fact as many nations are struggling to gain recognition as nation states


states not recognised by other states: MICRONATIONS

micronations are tiny areas of land that claim they are independent and sovereign states but are not recognised as such

this means that things such as their issuing of passports and currency has no legal or practical value

for example, Sealand is a micronation off the coast of Essex in England

it claims to be a state in its own right but in all practical terms it does not exist


states not recognised by other states: TRNC

the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)

Turkey invaded and occupied the northern half of the island of Cyprus in 1974, with the authorities there declaring it to be the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1975

the TRNC exists in the sense that you can live and go on holiday there, but in the international system it does not exist

the TRNC declared independence in 1983 but the only country in the world to recognise it as an independent sovereign state is Turkey

a United Nations proposal to unify the two Cypriot states was accepted by the TRNC but rejected in a referendum by the Greek Cypriot community, further attempts at reunification have thus far been unsuccessful

the fact that others states do not recognise it has numerous ramifications....

• no country will allow travel into its territory on a TRNC passport
• no country will recognise the government of TRNC
• the TRNC is not a member of the UN or any other international body
• there are no international flights to the TRNC
• international telephone calls cannot be made to the TRNC, except via Turkey
• the TRNC does not have its own internet domain letters like .uk or .de
• the TRNC cannot participate in the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup


states not recognised by other states: TRANSNISTRIA

Transnistria is part of Moldova and since 1990, it is a self declared and more less functioning independent state

however, it is not internationally recognised by any other sovereign state

it has a majority Slavic population, as opposed to the majority Moldovan that Moldova has, making it distinct from Moldova

it is essentially a de facto state as it has its own police, army and currency as well as functions outside of the jurisdiction of Moldova

but there is no sign of it becoming an internationally recognised country anytime soon