The face of Statelessness–Canadian Style

Last week I asked if all the world’s residents have citizenship. We discovered that the answer is `no’ and that there are approximately 15 million  stateless persons worldwide.  On the way to work this morning, I was listening to the CBC program The Current, which reported on the peculiar story of a young girl living in Belgium, whose father is a Canadian citizen, but who is currently not a citizen of any country. She does not fulfill the requirements of Belgian citizenship (which does not have universal jus soli citizenship rules), and as of last year falls through a loophole in Canadian citizenship law as of changes in the law that were enacted last year.

From the program:

Citizens of Nowhere – Ian Goldring

Chloe Goldring is 15 months old. She lives in Brussels, Belgium. And she has no citizenship. She is officially stateless. She has ended up in this situation because of a change made to the Canadian Citizenship Act in April of 2009.

Since then Canadians who were born abroad, in this case her father, are no longer able to pass on Canadian citizenship to their children, unless those children are born in Canada. The change was brought in to target parents born outside Canada who come here, obtain citizenship, and then return to their country of origin and pass along Canadian citizenship to children who may never have any intention of coming to Canada.

You may remember this became an issue in the summer of 2006 when there was a public outcry over Canada’s move to rescue Lebanese Canadians during the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon that summer. Well that is the change that Chloe Goldring has been swept up in.

Chloe’s father Ian Goldring is a Canadian who lives in Brussels.

Does Africa Need a New Map?

In a recent article in Foreign Policy magazine, G. Pascal Zachary argues that it’s time to redraw Africa’s political borders, which are “unnatural” and a legacy of 19th and 20th-century colonialism. As is well-known the newly independent states that comprised the Organisation for African Unity met in 1964 and agreed that the extant international borders in Africa were sacrosanct, believing that this would best guarantee stability on the continent. It worked, to a degree. While there have certainly been very few international (i.e. inter-state) wars in Africa in the intervening 45 years, the continent has been ravaged by intra-state (i.e., internal, or “civil”) wars during the same period. What are the potential benefits of redrawing Africa’s borders to make them more coterminous with ethnic boundaries (as has been done recently in, amongst other places, the Balkans and the former Soviet Union)? Zachary’s claim:

Borders created through some combination of ignorance and malice are today one of the continent’s major barriers to building strong, competent states. No initiative would do more for happiness, stability, and economic growth in Africa today than an energetic and enlightened redrawing of these harmful lines.

How important is for for state strength and stability for ethnic and political border to be coterminous? The redrawing of borders–and it is obvious that the mechanism would be military force–would almost certainly lead to tremendous suffering and bloodshed, with competing campaigns of ethnic cleansing. But, as Zachary notes, since the start of the post-colonial era millions of Africans have died in internal conflicts, and:

Rethinking the borders could go far to quelling some of these conflicts. Countries could finally be framed around the de facto geography of ethnic groups. The new states could use their local languages rather than favoring another ethnicity’s or colonial power’s tongue. Rebel secessionist movements would all but disappear, and democracy could flourish more easily when based upon policies, rather than simple identity politics. On top of that, new states based on ethnic lines would by default be smaller, more compact, and more manageable for governments on a continent with a history of state weakness.

Assuming that the political will to achieve this goal were to evolve, what would be the best mechanism? What would Herbst’s argument be? Is this even feasible? Where would one draw the new boundaries? How would one define an ethnic group? Refer to these two maps to get a sense of the near impossibility of the task at hand. While there are about 50-odd states in Africa, there are literally hundreds of geographically-concentrated ethnic groups. In addition, there is a tremendous amount of inter-mingling of ethnic groups as well.


Failed States and the Fund for Peace’s Failed States Index 2010

On Thursday, September 23rd we will begin to analyse the exceptionally important concept–the state. It will become strikingly obvious that a strong state is a necessary–but not sufficient–condition for political stability, political and personal liberty, democracy, and economic well-being. Conversely, citizens living in weak, failing, or failed states face lives of economic destitution, personal insecurity (think of Hobbes’ state of nature, where life is nasty, brutish, and short), and lack of basic rights and freedoms. The Fund for Peace publishes an annual index of failed and failing states. A quick look at the results over the last decade or so finds that the same dozen or so states are continually at the top of the list of failed/failing states. Here is a map depicting the results of the most recent index:

Notice the geographical concentration of failed states (in red). Why are the vast majority of the world’s failed states found in central Africa and southwest Asia?

What are the characteristics of failed states that distinguish them from more stable states? Maybe this video of life in Somalia will provide some clues:

External Threat and State Capacity

We addressed the history of state-formation in continental Europe and learned that, as Charles Tilly has noted, war and state-making were interconnected.  The stronger the nascent state, the better it was able to wage war and vice versa.  War-making, of course, required strong coercive and extractive (in the form of taxes and other renumerations) of the state vis-a-vis its domicile population.  Mix in a little bit of nationalism and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a strong state.

A recent article in the Journal of Peace Research [subscription only] by David Lektzian and Brandon Pine, demonstrates the empirical validity of the state-making/war-making nexus.  The argue that the larger the perception of “external threat” the more latitiude do leaders have in increasing the capacity of the state.  Here is the abstract to the paper:

Taming the Leviathan: Examining the Impact of External Threat on State Capacity

This article argues that the systemic security environment influences the structure of domestic political and economic institutions. If states have been primarily created to protect one group from predation by another, then the state may visibly change as external threats rise and fall. The authors argue that political elites respond to threatening environments by enhancing the ability of the state to extract resources from society in order to protect itself. Using data from the Armed Conflict Dataset, Banks’s Cross National Data Archive, and COW data from 1975 to 1995, the authors find evidence that supports the conjectured relationship between threat and state strength. As a response to a more threatening environment, the authors find that states significantly increase their capacity in terms of revenue, government spending, and military spending, but they do not easily relinquish these gains. The authors also observe that nation-state security is heavily influenced by regional regime-type patterns. State capacity increases as the regional neighborhood becomes increasingly autocratic. This suggests political elites not only regard violent conflict in the region as a serious concern to national security, but also appear to consider political change a threat as well.

Citizenship, Jus Soli, and “Anchor Babies”

As we learned in Chapter 3 of O’Neil, there are two (main) types of citizenship (remember that citizenship describes the nature of one’s relationship to the state): jus sanguinis and jus soli.  Like many states, the United States of America grants citizenship to individuals on the basis of both (and also on the basis of naturalization).  The principle of jus soli gives persons citizenship status on the basis of being born on territory that the state formally controls.  

The legitimacy, efficacy of jus soli has increasingly become questioned in some political circles in the United States (and in other countries that grant citizenship on that basis.  Watch the clip below on the “anchor baby” phenomenon between U.S. Representative Virgil Goode (R-VA) and his challenger:

The State and Democratization

The Polity IV data set code book, has a section entitled Indicators of Democracy and Autocracy (Composite Indicators), the authors write about the development of the state and the evolution of political participation as a corollary.  If you read it in tandem with this post on Max Weber’s view of the state and state legitimacy, you’ll begin to understand the nature of the state and why it has become the dominant contemporary form of political organization.

Three broad processes have reshaped the global landscape of state structures during the last two centuries One is an extraordinary expansion in the absolute and relative power of the state, a process that began i Europe. The new states created by the American and French revolutions marked the threshold between political world dominated by monarchies, whose claims to absolutism were belied by the fact that most social and economic life was autonomous from state control or extraction, and a political world in which state power was based on ever-widening control and mobilization of human and material resources exchange for broadened rights of popular participation. An integral part of this process was the development of bureaucracies with high capacities to regulate, tax, and mobilize people in the service of state policy. 

The second process was the transformation of the structures of political participation and legitimation. This transformation followed one of two paths, toward plural democracy or mass-party autocracy. The popular side of the bargain by which most West European rulers built state power in the nineteenth century was to acknowledge the right of widespread participation in policy making.  That right was given institutional expression in elected assemblies which could review, and sometimes initiate, public policy; in elections direct or indirect, of chief ministers; and in recognition of citizens’ rights to voice and act on political opinions. The concept of bargain is a metaphor for sequences of political crises and reforms in which these rulers granted rights for participation, however limited, to all significant social classes and groups, while simultaneously extending the state’s right and capacity to regulate, tax, and mobilize the human and material bases of state power. 

The process of political democratization had its own logic and dynamic which, in most of Western Europe, eroded all but a few symbolic vestiges of traditional autocracy (see for example Bendix 1978). Nonetheless, pressures to extend democratization have always contended with the self-interested desire of rulers to preserve and enhance their autonomy from political constraints. Theempires of Central and Eastern Europe–Germany, Russia, Austro-Hungary–implemented thetrappings but not the substance of effective democratic participation in the late nineteenth and early

Samuel Huntington of “Clash of Civilizations” fame, Interviewed

Charlie Rose interviews Huntington on the ideas in his oft-cited and even more criticized “Clash of Civilizations” thesis. Rose calls the clash thesis “provocative.”  What do you think about the logic of the clash thesis.  Given that you’ve read Amartya Sen’s response to Huntington, what kinds of questions would you have asked Huntington that Rose failed to?  (The Huntington interview runs from 1:55 until about 21:00.  No, Professor Huntington is not a dead-ringer for John Cleese.  That is, in fact, John Cleese, who is interviewed in the middle segment; hence, the screen shot of Cleese.)

More Trouble in East Timor–President shot in coup attempt

In a previous post, I used the current political situation in the relatively new state of East Timor as an illustration of the importance of having a strong state to facilitate political and economic development.  The situation in that country has become even more dire as we hear that East Timor’s President, Jose Ramos-Horta–a former winner of the Nobel Peace Prize–has been shot in an attempted assassination attempt.  From the BBC:

East Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta is in a critical condition and has been put into an induced coma, after being shot by rebel soldiers.

Mr Ramos-Horta was shot in a pre-dawn attack on his Dili home, and later airlifted to Australia for treatment.

Later Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao declared a 48-hour state of emergency, including a night-time curfew.

Mr Gusmao, who was targeted in a separate incident but was unharmed, described the events as a coup attempt.

Rebel leader Alfredo Reinado and another rebel died in the attack on Mr Ramos-Horta.

Australian PM Kevin Rudd pledged to send more peacekeepers to East Timor.

He said the “attempt to assassinate the democratically elected leadership of a close friend and neighbour of Australia’s is a deeply disturbing development”.

Here’s more from the New York Times, and according to this report from Australia’s ABC, UN police failed to help the injured President:

East Timor’s Government says United Nations forces failed to help President Jose Ramos Horta after he was shot in an assassination attempt in Dili this morning.

He was shot in the arm and stomach after fugitive rebel leader Alfredo Reinado launched a pre-dawn raid on his home.

Mr Ramos Horta is now in a serious but stable condition in Royal Darwin Hospital after being evacuated on a Careflight plane this afternoon.

He was sedated on the flight from Dili to Darwin and the hospital says he is suffering three gunshot wounds – two to the upper chest and one to the abdomen.

East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who was also attacked but escaped unharmed, has confirmed that Reinado was shot dead during the raid.

The country’s Foreign Ministry has issued a statement which said that UN police stayed about 300 metres away from where Mr Ramos Horta was shot.

Condoleeza Rice, International Relations Theory and the Bush Administration

In class today, I tried to convince you that understanding IR from a theoretical perspective was not simply some abstract, pedantic pursuit, but that the theoretical lens through which we view international relations does have real-world implications, many of which are dramatic.

I noted the role of Condoleeza Rice as the chief National Security Advisor to President Bush during his first term and also noted that Rice has long held a realist view of international relations. As you must know by now (I think I’ve mentioned it about 503 times since the beginning of the semester), realists view the state as the only prominent actor in international affairs. This was Rice’s view upon assuming her new position and this was manifested in the security objectives of the incoming administration, which did not believe, initially, that a non-state actor like Al Qaeda was a grave threat to the security of the United States.

Here are excerpts from Rice’s article in Foreign Affairs magazine in the midst of the 2000 presidential election campaign:

Summary: With no Soviet threat, America has found it exceedingly difficult to define its “national interest.” Foreign policy in a Republican administration should refocus the country on key priorities: building a military ready to ensure American power, coping with rogue regimes, and managing Beijing and Moscow. Above all, the next president must be comfortable with America’s special role as the world’s leader…

Continue reading “Condoleeza Rice, International Relations Theory and the Bush Administration”

US Intelligence Director Assesses Al Qaeda Threat

A new article in the New York Times analyzes Mike McConell’s Tuesday testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.  How successful has the war on terror been in destroying th threat capability of that terrorist network?  According to McConell’s testimony, not too successful, unfortunately:

Al Qaeda is gaining in strength from its refuge in Pakistan and is steadily improving its ability to recruit, train and position operatives capable of carrying out attacks inside the United States, the director of national intelligence told a Senate panel on Tuesday.

The director, Mike McConnell, told lawmakers that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, remained in control of the terrorist group and had promoted a new generation of lieutenants. He said Al Qaeda was also improving what he called “the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S.” — producing militants, including new Western recruits, capable of blending into American society and attacking domestic targets.

A senior intelligence official said Tuesday evening that the testimony was based in part on new evidence that Qaeda operatives in Pakistan were training Westerners, most likely including American citizens, to carry out attacks. The official said there was no indication as yet that Al Qaeda had succeeded in getting operatives into the United States.

One point merits comment: The ability of a non-territorially-based network to threaten powerful states like the US is severely diminished without protection from states, like Pakistan.  Why Pakistan is an ideal refuge for Al Qaeda is a complicated story, but it goes back to the initial founding of the state in the 1940s, and the fact that the Pakistani state has never truly controlled–ie., asserted the monopoly of political violence in the parts of Pakistan in which members of Al Qaeda are currently taking refuge.  A more forceful response from the Pakistani government could have truly powerful destabilizing effects on Pakistan, and on the region as a whole.

See this slide show at the following link, for a fascinating look at Peshawar, a Pakistani city right at the heart of the battle:

peshawar.jpg