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Home> Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Fourth World - Nations without a State  > Cold Comfort in World Order

THE FOURTH WORLD - NATIONS WITHOUT A STATE

Cold Comfort in World Order

Ana Parajasingham, The West Australian Newspaper 
-   Tuesday  May 6, 1997 

Most of today’s wars are civil wars.  Most of the casualties are civilians sometimes   "caught in the cross fire",  but most often  victims of governments’ efforts to suppress the rebellions through the use of unbridled terror. According to the Oslo -based International Peace Research Institute, between 1990 and 1995 there have been 97 such wars. Many are still continuing because the issues which gave rise to these wars remain unaddressed.

The International Peace Research Institute  estimates the numbers killed to be five and a half million and the numbers displaced to be well over forty million.  Inevitably there is the collapse of economies as Governments spend exponentially to maintain military supremacy over the rebels. The overwhelming number of these "internal wars" are fought in pursuit of  self-determination by  smaller nations within states dominated by larger nations.

Examples include the war of independence waged by the Chechniyans against Russia, the Tamil uprising against the Sri Lankan Government, the Kurdish offensive against the Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish regimes, and closer home,  the war by the Bougunvillians against the PNG Government, and the ongoing Timorese struggle against the Indonesian regime.

It is the collapse of artificial ideologies which held together diverse nations and often  dominated by larger nations, which  has led to many of these wars. The end of Communism gave rise to an explosion of several new states, some through peaceful means, many  through wars of secessions.  Examples include the dismantling of the Soviet Union dominated by  the Russian nation and the  end of  the Yugoslavian state dominated by the Serbian nation.

Similarly, the end of colonial rule gave rise to many states whose borders had been drawn by colonial rulers for their own administrative convenience with little regard to the  differing ethnicity of the population.

As a result, some of the "States" which came into being encompassed more than a single nation each, where the numerically larger nation dominated  the others. Consequently, those who replaced the colonial power were invariably  from the dominant nation.

Unfortunately, many of these politicians were inclined to consolidate their own positions through advocating chauvinistic ideologies, brute force  and the blatant  exploitation of  the principle of majoratarian rule. Not surprisingly, this  gave rise to secessionist wars as the smaller nations encompassed within these states began to assert their right to nationhood.

Sri Lanka is a classic example.  It is an Island of  two nations - (comprising a numerically larger Sinhala nation and a smaller Tamil nation) which has today  become embroiled in a bloody civil war because of the decision of the departing British to grant independence to the Island under a constitution which blatantly favoured the "majority" nation the Singhalese.

The wars fought by these "stateless nations" to transform their homelands into fully-fledged states have  proved to be  very  nasty  business indeed. This is because of  the nationalistic sentiments which underpin these struggles.

To the dominant nation the prize is dominance itself, while to  the dominated  the struggle means their very survival as a distinct people. These struggles therefore are not just about economic prosperity or access to employment. They are essentially  about group identity and the group’s place in the scheme of things.

There are several reasons for the failure of the International Community to address these conflicts.

Firstly, because they are still treated as internal matters.

Secondly, because the International Community has generally acted in such a way as to preserve the status quo by tacitly or otherwise supporting the dominant nations.

Thirdly, because many  regard these conflicts to be resolution resistant.

However, there is a growing school of thought which regards these conflicts and the turmoil to be the birth pangs of a new world order, an order no longer dominated by large nation-states,  but composed mainly of regional associations of smaller countries.

The solution to these conflicts therefore lies in promoting  such a world order. This could  be realised  only by persuading the dominant nations to re-define their relationships with smaller nations encompassed within the  existing state.

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