Indigenous Nations and Modern States: The Political Emergence of Nations Challenging State Power

By Rudolph C. Rÿser | Go to book overview

10
A WORLD OF NATIONS
AND STATES

The political environment in the early part of the 21st century has made room for consideration of an overview of the current international climate from the Fourth World perspective. Fourth World nations, on their own initiative, have taken advantage of political openings in the international arena resulting from collapsing states, the end of the Cold War, more rapidly developing social, economic and cultural globalization, the coming into existence of a global communications network in the Internet that is freely available and relatively inexpensive, and the weakness of international institutions resulting from a diffusion of political power centers. These remarkable changes give me the opportunity to engage in the time-honored practice of international analysis where “conviction precedes the evidence,” when I offer a discussion of what I consider appropriate modes of conduct for relations between nations and states I also suggest an institutional framework for a new collaboration between nations and states to mediate or resolve disputes. One example discussed is the use of Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions, which provides for procedures and rules for the conduct of conflict resolution between states and internal, non-state parties. I provide substantive support for the argument that new international institutions are needed to address conflicts between nations and states. In particular I describe efforts I participated in to establish a Congress of Nations and States (with the cooperation of the governments of Russia, Germany and 10 indigenous nations), the diplomatic failure and the prospects for a renewed effort.

Exercising governmental power for the modern state evolved (since the 1648 Peace of Westphalia) into a generally accepted system predicated on the principles of legal universality and of individual rights. While the actual arrangements for implementing these principles in each state vary the principles remain generally accepted, thus defining features of the state. Despite political scientists’ certainty that human freedom, liberty and equality are best served by the universalist/individualist formulation, historical and contemporary evidence suggests that such confidence is not well founded. Indeed, imposing such certainty may prevent the realization of evolving principles that may better serve human societies.

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