Era of Borderless World Challenges South Africa

By John Battersby, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 19, 1994 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Era of Borderless World Challenges South Africa

John Battersby, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor

IN his speech to the joint US Congress Oct. 7, elder statesman Nelson Mandela proclaimed that the concept of a global village had become a reality that no nation-state could ignore.

This new reality, he said, had to become the cornerstone of a new world order in which poverty and injustice could be replaced by democracy, peace, and prosperity.

"The world is one stage and the action of all inhabitants part of the same drama," President Mandela said.

"Does it not then follow that each one of us as nations, including yourselves, should begin to define the national interest to include the genuine happiness of others, however distant in time and space their domicile might be?"

Congress applauded the speech as a landmark statement on the growing economic and political interdependence of nations. "It was the best, most eloquent and effective definition of the new world order ever heard," said Rep. Richard Gephardt (D) of Missouri.

But the message resonated differently back in South Africa, where a flood of black immigrants was entering from neighboring countries in search of a better life.

Mandela's more vocal constituents are demanding tighter controls at the border, illustrating the dilemma his ideal faces across the globe: how to reconcile the noble ideals of universal democracy and human rights with the more specific interests of nation-states and broader trends sometimes driven more by the need for efficiency than justice.

In the new world order that Mandela envisages, the national interest is coming into ever more frequent conflict with social and economic factors operating across frontiers. International borders are increasingly challenged by the rise of ethnicity, transnational financial markets and trade blocs, and new information technology. South Africa wrestles with human rights and immigration

These developments in the ordering of international affairs beg the question: Why should human rights remain in the straightjacket of national boundaries?

Mandela's comments were directed at the United States in his quest for foreign aid and investment in a continent largely left behind by the industrialized world. His vision was all the more remarkable for having emerged from a country where apartheid and its legacy have kept South Africa trapped in a time-warp, isolated from global trends toward democratization and human rights.

The dilemma he faces is that he has taken his concept of human rights and economic justice way beyond that of his constituency. In South Africa, intolerance toward black immigrants is growing, as is the militancy of a black trade-union elite and the residual culture of resistance that complicates the reversal of apartheid-era rent and service boycotts and advocates mass protest.

The problem was highlighted at an Oct. 7 conference of the South Africa Political Studies Association near Johannesburg. What was remarkable about the conference was that the academics divided more or less along racial lines when it came to the issue of how to deal with immigrants from black-ruled states.

White political academics took the liberal line that South Africa cannot deny rights to black immigrants merely because they fall within different national boundaries of an interconnected region. Immigrants, the argument went, like South African citizens, have a right to life, and contribute to the national welfare through their involvement in the informal economy, doing jobs that black South Africans are not prepared to do.

The black political scientists at the conference disagreed sharply. As long as some 50 percent of black South Africans have no formal jobs, the country cannot afford to allow black immigrants to take coveted employment opportunities away from them.

Their solution was tougher immigration policies, tighter policing of the borders, and repatriation of illegal immmigrants already inside the country.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Era of Borderless World Challenges South Africa


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?