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[image, unknown] New Internationalist Issue 277

The material that follows has been provided by New Internationalist

Facts - The state of nations

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This map is not about conflict, though it does indicate areas and peoples where national-identity struggles might have led to conflict.

  • It includes indigenous peoples' struggles for autonomy. Most of these do not necessarily want a state of their own, but many would like more autonomy across the borders of current nation-states.

  • [image, unknown] It does not cover religious nationalisms, e.g. Hindu communalism in India, Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, nor does it cover the many smaller groupings who want some kind of decentralization but are not asking for full independence yet - eg Catalonia and Brittany.

  • The struggles for post-colonial independence in Africa have largely been superseded by questions of ethnic identity. But these conflicts, being essentially about the élites of different ethnic groupings competing for power, are not in essence nationalistic and have therefore not been included.

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Conflicts today are more likely to be within states than between them.

  • Of the 82 armed conflicts between 1989 and 1992, only three were between states. Most were in the countries of the South. During 1993, 42 countries had 52 major conflicts and another 37 had political violence. Of these 79 countries, 65 were in the developing world.

  • [image, unknown] In 1993 half the existing conflicts had been going on for 10 years or more. Some 4 to 6 million lives had been lost.

  • In 1983 there were 9 countries from which more than 50,000 people had fled. By 1991 there were 31. 1

  • In 1993 some 100 million people were living outside their country of citizenship.2

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Dwarfing the Nation-State

Global institutions have taken over many of the powers of the nation-state.

  • Between 1980 and 1992 multinational corporations more than doubled their sales from $400 to nearly $1,000 per world inhabitant.

  • By 1994 there were 37,000 parent corporations with over 200,000 affiliates worldwide. TNCs now control over 33 per cent of the world's productive assets although they employ only 5 per cent of the workforce.

  • Economic unions are being created which will benefit the countries of the North rather than those in the South - Europe is moving increasingly towards some kind of federalization with open internal borders, a common currency and a common interest in keeping out outsiders. NAFTA has opened borders to trade in North America and Mexico.

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Outsiders Inside

The majority of nation-states are multi-ethnic but indigenous and ethnic groups are often treated as second-class citizens.

  • About 40% of the world's nation-states have more than
    five sizeable ethnic populations - one or more of which faces discrimination.

  • [image, unknown] Nomadic peoples are increasingly losing their traditional freedom to move between countries.

  • Indigenous peoples living within nation-states are in greater danger of violence than their fellow-citizens. In Canada, indigenous people are six times more likely to be murdered than other Canadians.

1 UNDP Human Development Report 1994
2 States of disarray - the social effects of globalization (UNRISD 1995)
Other information from UNDP Human Development Report 1995; World Directory of Minorities (Minority Rights Group/Longman 1989); The World Guide 1995/96.

©Copyright: New Internationalist 1996

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