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ISSN 1710-4947

International Female Migration
Natalie Ward

The Welfare State and Globalization
Michelle Arevalo-Carpenter

Knocking the NPT: India’s Nuclear Weapons Program
Michelle Langlois

Ch ang ing Faces of So vereignty in Venezuela
Kanika Bhattacharya

Liberal Dem ocracy: Dead End or C ross-Roads?
Mirela Catuneau

Cricket in England and the West Indies
Mark Lyons

Disease Diplomacy: Globalization and AIDS
Laura Roberts

Hum anitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect
Lana MacLellan

Iden tity and Contro l Am ong Mu slims in Diaspo ra
Margaret Hoyt

Volume 1 Atlantic International Studies Organization
Spring 2004 Mount Allison Un iversity
Editor Contributing Authors
Munir Squires Michelle Arevalo-Carpenter
Kanika Bhattacharya
Editorial Board Mirela Catuneaunu
Michelle Langlois Margaret Hoyt
Matthew Grant Michelle Langlois
Margaret Leighton Mark Lyons
Graham Ireland Lana MacLellan
Karla Pooley Laura Roberts
Natalie Ward
Faculty Advisors
Dr. Thomas Legler, International Relations
Dr. Owen Griffiths, History

A Special Thank You goes out to the ATLIS Committee, the peer-reviewers, the copy-
editors, the paper discussants, and everyone who has helped us along the way.

This Journal was made possible by,
The Rights and Democracy Youth Network
Leadership Mount Allison
The Pottle Fund

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The Atlantic International Studies Journal is a student-run journal whose overarching
purpose is to foster undergraduate scholarship in the Atlantic region under the broad rubric of
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papers from a range of internationally focused studies, such as international relations, political
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in the public domain.
Table of Contents
Volume 1, Spring 2004

International Female Migration: Gender, Wage Labour,
and Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Natalie Ward

The Welfare State and Globalization: Market-Driven State or
State Policy Choice? . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . 10
Michelle Arevalo-Carpenter

Knocking the NPT: India’s Nuclear Weapons Program and Problems
With the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Michelle Langlois

The Changing Practices and Meanings of Sovereignty in Venezuela . . . . . . . . . . 31
Kanika Bhattacharya

Liberal Democracy: Dead End or Cross-Roads? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Mirela Catuneau

More Than Just a Game: Cricket in England and the West Indies . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Mark Lyons

Disease Diplomacy: The Inherent Paradox of Globalization and AIDS . . . . . . . . 73
Laura Roberts

Humanitarian Intervention: A Look at Rwanda, Srebrenica,
and the Responsibility to Protect . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . 89
Lana MacLellan

Identity and Control Among Muslims in Diaspora . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
Margaret Hoyt
International Female Migration: Gender, Wage
Labour, and Development
Natalie Ward

In this paper I examine the engendering of migration and the problems of applying male
models of migration to the female experience. I also address the current issues regarding
female labour migration to Canada. This includes a discussion of why women are migrating,
what types of jobs are available to them and the importance of migrant labour to the
employment sector. Problematic to the situation of the female migrant are the personal
problems incurred with their leaving their traditional role in the sending country. I conclude
by suggesting that migration is a strategy employed by women to improve their situation,
and that of their families. By migrating, these women are given the opportunity to step away
from their prescribed role at home. During this liminal stage, while away from home and not
yet fully integrated into the host society, migrant women are given the rare opportunity to
define themselves on their own terms.

eople have always migrated. From the first great migration out of Africa to the migration

P of modern refugees, people have consistently crossed political borders. The movement
of populations has always involved the participation of women, although it was trivialized
in the scholarly literature until the 1970s. Female migration has become an important topic in
the economic and political ties between countries. Worldwide, the proportion of women in the
migrant labour force has risen gradually from roughly 15 percent in the 1970s to over 65
percent in 1996.1 In 2002, women accounted for 116,000 of the total 229,000 migrants to enter
Canada.2This paper addresses the current issues regarding female labour migration to Canada:
why women migrate, what type of jobs are available and why, as well as the consequences of
extended stays in Canada upon return to the homeland.

The engendering of migration
The traditional belief regarding migration has been that women Natalie Ward is a
migrate to form or join families, while men migrate to support fourth year
families. Recent work on female migrants has suggested that these Anthropology
assumptions may not be valid. In several developing societies, Honours student at
women increasingly migrate alone. Since women perform different Mount Allison
roles from men in society, the reasons for their migration may also University.

Michele Ruth Gamburd, “Nurture for Sale: Sri Lankan Housem aids a nd th e W ork of Mo thering”, Home and
Hegemony: Domestic S ervice and Identity P olitics in South and Southea st Asia, edited by Kathleen M. Adams and
Sara Dickey, (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2000), p. 35
2 Stats Canada, 2003 viewed 19/12/03
be different.3 It is thus very problematic to simply apply women’s experiences to traditional male
models of migration.4 Monica Gordon argues that the shift in perception to women as ‘migrant
women’ from ‘migrant wives’ represents more than a change in terminology. It reflects a
rejection of the assumption that migrants are men and dependents are women. This change in
perception can be credited to the women’s movement and the internationalization of women’s
discontent with their social, political, and legal statuses.5
Although research advances have been made by including women as subjects, and more
people are recognizing that gender plays a role in migration, there has been no Canadian or
American immigration policy specific to the sex of potential migrants.6 This limitation of
understanding is also reflected in most of the economic and sociological/anthropological
literature concerning migration, which places migration decisions within the framework of push
and pulls factors. According to these arguments, potential migrants living in marginal conditions
seek better economic opportunity to improve their own, and their family’s, well being. This
position considers the migrant to be an altruistic member of family, households and
communities.7 Other studies have indicated factors that push-pull factors seem to negate the
minor factors such as: marital discord, social freedom for women, or other personal
dissatisfaction that are not economically based.8 Such data indicates that push-pull is not
necessarily an adequate theory upon which to base studies, as it tends to each explanatory
power at the individual level.
We have noted that the extent of women’s involvement in international migration has
generally been overlooked mainly because women have been viewed as dependents.9
However, as we have seen, women are and have historically been migrating in significant
numbers. In Canada, women have been outnumbering men since 1975. In 1975 women
accounted for 95,000 of the 188,000 legal migrants to Canada. In 2001 and 2002, their
numbers had increase to a respective 127,000 and 116,000 outnumbering male migration by
almost 4000 each year.10 Lillian Trager argues that the migration of women takes place in

Jennifer Lauby and O ded Stark, “Individual Migration as a Fa mily Strategy: Y oun g W om en in the P hilippines,”
Popu lation Studies, 42 (1988): p. 473.
Rhacel Salazar ParreÁas, Servants of Globalization: Wome n, Migration and D ome stic Work, (California: S tanfo rd
University Press, 2001), p. 78.
Monica H. Gordon, Dependents or independent workers?: The status of Caribbean migrant women in the United
States, In S earch of a Better Life: Perspectives on migration from the Caribbean, edited by Ransford W . Palm er,
(New York: Praeger, 1990), p. 117.

Monica H. Gordon, p. 116.
Lisa Cliggett, “Social Com pon ents of M igration : Exp erienc es from Sou thern Province,” Zambia. Hum an
Organization, 59 (2000): p. 126.
Arnold M . Rose, Migrants in Europe: Problems of acceptance and adjustment, (Minneapolis: The University of
Minnesota Press, 1969), p. 8.
Hania Zlotnik, p. 229.
Canad ian Im migration and Citizen ship, 2 003.,
particular social structural and cultural contexts.11 For a rural household unable to fully support
themselves through subsistence activities, the migration of a family member can be essential to
the support of the entire family.12 Trager also notes however, that we should not view female
migration and their movement into informal sector occupations solely as strategies used by poor
urban households. Rather, a family strategy that leads to female migration across rural-urban
geographical boundaries and often involves families at varying socioeconomic levels.13 Thus,
it is reasonable to suggest that in this context, despite what economic class the migrant is from,
the individual is expected to assist her parents as well as other family members by sending home
substantial portions of her income as remittances. Because daughters in particular are viewed
as more willing and faithful than sons in sharing their savings with the family, they are often sent
in place of a male relative.14

Labour migration
Modern studies have brought about the acknowledgement of the increasing importance of
migrant labour in advanced countries and the role migrants play in these societies. These studies
question the definition of migrant workers as a supplement to the domestic labour force. Studies
in United States and in Western Europe conclude that the role of immigration is not to augment
the supply of labour, but to augment the supply of low wage labour. This labour can be used
to fill the bottom rungs of the occupational structure, and simultaneously to combat the
organizational efforts of the domestic working costs.15 Research by Kritz, Keely and Tomasi has
also demonstrated that labour migration tends to exercise a downward pressure on working-
class wages and on the security and job conditions of domestic workers. Migration is promoted
by employers, even in the presence of the domestic labour surplus as lower wages paid to
migrants adds to the company’s profits. Labour migration tends to upgrade the health and work
fitness of industrial labour forces, as migrants are selected among the younger and healthier in
the sending country population.16
Research on combined capitalist and non-capitalist production draws heavily on the
anthropology of women which has revealed the economic significance of non-salaried women’s
labour, which nevertheless produces value that enters into capitalist circulation. Women’s work
is critical to capitalism because they are producers of food and services consumed in the
domestic sphere and because they are the bearers of children who become full or part-time
workers.17 According to Eviota, capitalism profits from the subordination of women in the
labour market in three ways. First, it profits from their unpaid housework, and second, from the

Lilian T rager, “Family strateg ies an d the migration of wom en: M igrants to D agu pan City, Philippines,”
International Migration Review, 18 (1984): p. 1273.
Lilian Trager, p. 1275.
Lilian Trager, p. 1275.
Lilian Trager, p. 1274.
Mary M. Kritz with Charles B. Keely and S ilvano M . Tom asi, Global Trends in Migration: Theory an d Research
on In ternational P opu lation M ovements, (New York: Center for Migration Studies: 1981), p. 281.
Michael Kearney, “From invisible hand to visible feet: Anthropological studies of migration and
developm ent,” Annual Review of Anthropology, 15 (1986): p. 348.
labour of taking care of family members who participate in the labour market. Many of those
women also work on family farms producing resources at very little capitalist cost. Finally,
women’s work outside the home is considered only a secondary responsibility.18 While the
reproduction of labour power is necessary for capitalism, the value of the work goes
unacknowledged because capitalism can only survive as long as reproducing labour power can
be made to cost less than what labour power could produce.19
With regard to female labour migrants, economic restructuring has changed the pattern
of global and national economic processes and the organization of production and social
reproduction. While women continue to be primarily responsible for social reproductive labour,
restructuring has pushed more of it into the market and led to changes among employers,
employees, and the structure of domestic work.
The interaction of norms related to gender roles and the form of women’s labour is
relevant to studies of the close relationship between women’s domestic role within the
household and the specific kinds of work that are open for women in the labour market. Central
to discussions regarding the sexual division of labour and women’s subordination is the
distinction between production and reproduction. Women’s systematic assignment to low
paying, low skill, and low status jobs can be directly associated with women’s identification with
the reproductive side of the production/reproduction dichotomy.20 The restructuring of the
economy has also led to an unprecedented feminization of the waged labour force.21
The increase in duel income families has created a need for affordable childcare in industrialized
countries. The demand for domestic workers has augmented as more women enter the wage
economy. Few native women hold an interest in low wage, low class jobs such as that of
domestic worker and as a result, foreign-born women have always dominated the occupation
because native-born women simply refused to do it .22
The domestic’s labour power is produced at the expense of the sending country and
extracted in the receiving country in the form of childcare, housework, and cooking.23 Paid
housework is characterized by a significant social distance, usually involving not only class but
also ethnic/racial differences, between the worker and those consuming her services.24 As a new
individuals enter the family unit to take on the labour generally considered the wife’s domain,
new inequalities are formed with the domestic worker at the very bottom of the family

Elizab eth U . Eviota , “The a rticulation of gend er an d class in the Ph ilippine s,” In Wom en’s work:
Developm ent and the division of labor by gender, edited by Eleanor Lea cock, Helen I. Safa and Co ntributors,
(Massachusetts: Bergin & Garvey Publishers, Inc, 1986), p. 195.
Sed ef Arat-Koc a nd W eno na G iles, Maid in the market: Women’s paid domestic labour, (Halifax: Fernwood
Publishing, 1994), p. 7-8.
Grete Brochman, The Middle East Avenue: Female Migration from Sri Lanka, (Oslo: Institute for Social
Research, 1990), p. 37-38.
Lilian Trager, p. 1265.
Ma ria de la Lu z Ibarra , “Mexican migrant women and the new domestic labor,” Human Organization, 59
(2000): p. 454.
Audrey Macklin, p.17.
Sedef Arat-Koc and Wenona Giles, p. 7.
hierarchy.25 This explains why domestics are sometimes referred to as ‘a member of the family’.
This label serves to obscure the fact that these domestics are themselves wives and mothers,
whose own families have been disrupted and altered by the pressures of third world poverty
and restrictive immigration laws.26

Breaking from the norm
For women, labour migration questions gender prescriptions in society. As ideological constructs
of feminine identity are modeled from mothering and caring roles, the independent migration
of women constitutes a direct liberation from traditional duties and roles.27 One could even
suggest that through migration and performing their traditional roles for someone abroad,
women are obtaining their freedom from culturally bounded roles at home.28 By migrating, a
woman violates the culturally bounded idyllic role for a wife and mother.29 A woman working
for wages outside the home upsets family power structures and throws ideal gender roles into
flux, affecting the personal identities of both women and men.30 Reflected in women’s
acquiescence to this statement is the tension that many women experience between their roles
as wage earners and as mothers.31
In most societies where a division of labour is strictly followed it is unusual for fathers to
nurture and care for their children, however, because some migrant women have no one else
to fall back upon, some men have no choice but to give in to the restructuring of household
labour.32 This is not the case in western society however where employed middle and upper
class women have the option to escape the double day syndrome by hiring domestics to
perform housework and child care. According to Mary Romero, some feminists regard domestic
service as progressive because traditional women’s work moved into the labour market and
became paid work. However, dealing with domestics rather than requiring men to participate
demonstrates the inescapable fact that when women hire other women at low wages to do
housework, both employee and employer remain women. Thus although the employer is not
doing the housework, she continues to be responsible for the housework through supervision
of those who actually perform the labour. As women hire domestics to free themselves, they
oppress the domestic into the bottom position in the family hierarchy.33

Pierrette Ho nda gneu-So telo, Dom estica: Migrant Workers Clean ing and C aring in the Shadow s of Affluence,
(Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2001), p. 23.
Audrey Macklin, p. 33.
Rhacel Sala zar ParreÁas, p. 63.
Michele Ruth G am burd , The Kitchen Spoon’s Handle: Transnationalism and Sri Lanka’s Migrant
Housemaids, (London: Cornell University, 2000), p. 186.
Ibid, p. 194.
Ibid, p. 240.
Patricia R Pessar, “Dominican international m igration: The role of hou seholds and social networks,” In
search of a better life: Perspectives on migration from the Caribbean, edited by Ransford W. Palmer, (New
York: Praeger, 1990), p. 103.
Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, p. 77.
Ma ry Romero, Maid in the USA: 10 th Anniversary Edition, (New York: Routledge, 2002), p. 128.
Because wage work has brought migrant women many personal gains, including greater
household authority and self-esteem, they are motivated to prolong their stay abroad. Despite
original intentions to return home quickly, many women come to realize that if they return from
abroad, they may well end up cloistered in the home once again.34 Return migration is a
complicating factor for migrants. The desire to return home often surfaces during vacation trips
home. Most frequently mentioned are the desire to be with one’s own kin and friends.35 In some
cases the decision to return is influenced by negative or push factors in the host country. This
might include racial prejudice and discrimination. Overall however, the attractions of the home
society the pull factors have more influence in return migration decisions than factors inherent
in the host societies.36
Data on return migration indicates that many migrants are ill prepared for their return.
Overseas work alters the experiences of women: mother spend more time away from their
children and away from husbands, lovers and families. Others do not marry or have children
at all.37 Frequently, migrants do not realize how such they and their communities have changed
in their absence. Those returning from highly urban industrialized nations to the Third World
no longer share many of the basic notions that underlie their traditional culture. They may no
longer share the same interest with friends and relatives.38
Unlike those they left behind in the sending country who "are principally aware of one
culture, one setting, one home," overseas workers are aware of at least two. This awareness
forces the migrants to interchange their roles as they alternate between these two spaces.39 The
renegotiation of their identity is not related necessarily to their reintroduction to the area but
more a function of the expectations held by the migrants. Their memories of home are nostalgic
ones, with positive experiences standing out while negative aspects have receded from memory.
Vacation trips home did little to correct this idealistic image since they were usually made during
the summer when the weather was good and the atmosphere festive. Letters from home also
contributed to disillusionment. In hopes of encouraging the migrant to return, relatives
exaggerated the benefits of life at home while underplaying unemployment and inflation.
Together these raised the returnee’s expectations higher than the reality of life in the homeland
could satisfy.40

Sarup argues that identities are not free-floating, but limited by borders and boundaries.41 When
migrants cross that boundary, they are reconstituting the traditional gender division of labour

Patricia R Pessar, p. 101.
George G melch, “Re turn Migration,” Annual Review of Anthropology 9 (1980): p. 139.
Ibid, p. 140.
Nicole Con stable, “At Hom e but not at Ho me: Filipina narratives of ambivalent returns,” Cultural
Anthropology, 14 (1999): p. 225.
George Gmelch, p. 143.
Nicole Constable, p. 226.
George Gmelch, p. 145.
Ma dan Saru p, Identity, Cu lture and the Postm odern World , (Athens: The University of G eorgia Press, 19 96),
p. 3.
in the family as they take on the role of income provider. Because independent migration frees
working women of household constraints, migration is not just a family strategy but a covert
strategy to relieve women of burdens in the family.42 Women are allowing themselves the
opportunity to step away from their prescribed role at home and reinvent themselves on their
own terms. What they choose to accept and reject from their former self and simultaneously,
what they choose to accept from their new society is entirely for them to decide. It is in this
liminal state, while away from home, yet not fully integrated into the host society, that migrant
women are given the rare opportunity to define themselves on their own terms. It can thus be
argued that migration creates the opportunity for women to explore themselves, and to decide
what image they will to portray and how they want to be viewed in their new territory.


Arat-Koc, Sedef and Wenona Giles. 1994. Introduction. In Maid in the market: Women’s
paid domestic labour. Ed. Giles, Wenona, and Sedef Arat-Koc Fernwood Publishing:

Bakan, Abigail B and Daiva Stasiulis. 1997. Introduction. In Not one of the Family: Foreign
domestic workers in Canada. Ed. Abigail B Bakan and Daiva Stasiulis. Toronto:
University of Toronto Press.

Brochman, Grete. 1990. The Middle East Avenue: Female Migration from Sri Lanka.
Institute for Social Research: Oslo.

Canadian Immigration and Citizenship. 2003.

Cliggett, Lisa. 2000. Social Components of Migration: Experiences from Southern Province,
Zambia. Human Organization 59(1): 125-135.

Constable, Nicole. 1999 At Home but not at Home: Filipina narratives of ambivalent
returns. Cultural Anthropology. 14(2): 203-228.

Eviota, Elizabeth U. 1986. The articulation of gender and class in the Philippines. In
Women’s work: Development and the division of labor by gender. Ed. Eleanor
Leacock, Helen I. Safa and Contributors. Bergin & Garvey Publishers, Inc:

Rhacel Sala zar ParreÁas, p. 64.
Gamburd, Michele Ruth. 2000a. The Kitchen Spoon’s Handle: Transnationalism and Sri
Lanka’s Migrant Housemaids. London: Cornell University.

2000b. Nurture for Sale: Sri Lankan Housemaids and the Work of Mothering. In Home and
Hegemony: domestic Service and Identity Politics in South and Southeast Asia.
Kathleen M. Adams and Sara Dickey, Eds. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan

Gmelch, George. 1980. Return Migration. Annual Review of Anthropology 9: 135-159.

Gordon, Monica H. 1990. Dependents or independent workers?: The status of Caribbean
migrant women in the United States. In, In Search of a Better Life: Perspectives on
migration from the Caribbean. Ed. Ransford W. Palmer. Praeger: New York.

Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette. 2001. Domestica: Migrant Workers Cleaning and Caring in
the Shadows of Affluence. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Houstoun, Marion F. with Roger G. Kramer and Joan Mackin Barrett. 1984. Female
Predominance in Immigration to the United States since 1930: A First Look.
International Migration Review. Special Issue: Women in Migration 18(4): 908-963.

Ibarra, Maria de la Luz. 2000. Mexican migrant women and the new domestic labor.
Human Organization 59( 4): 452-465.

Kearney, Michael. 1986. From invisible hand to visible feet: Anthropological studies of
migration and development. Annual Review of Anthropology 15: 331-361.

Kritz, Mary M. with Charles B. Keely and Silvano M. Tomasi. 1981. Global Trends in
Migration: Theory and Research on International Population Movements. New York:
Center for Migration Studies.

Lauby, Jennifer and Oded Stark 1988. Individual Migration as a Family Strategy: Young
Women in the Philippines. Population Studies 42(3): 473-486.

Macklin, Audrey. 1994. On the inside looking in: Foreign domestic workers in Canada. In
Maid in the market: Women’s paid domestic labour. Ed. Giles, Wenona, and Sedef
Arat-Koc Fernwood Publishing: Halifax.

ParreÁas, Rhacel Salazar. 2001. Servants of Globalization: Women, Migration and Domestic
Work. California: Stanford University Press.
Paz Cruz, Victoria and Anthony Paganoni. 1989. Filipinas in Migration: Big Bills and Small
Change. Scalabrini Migration Center: Manila.

Pedraza, Silvia. 1991. Women and Migration: The Social Consequences of Gender. Annual
Review of Sociology 17: 303-325.

Pessar, Patricia R.1990. Dominican international migration: The role of households and
social networks. In In search of a better life: Perspectives on migration from the
Caribbean. Edited by Ransford W. Palmer. Praeger: New York.

Romero, Mary. 2002. Maid in the USA. 10th Anniversary Edition. Routledge: New York.

Rose, Arnold M. 1969. Migrants in Europe: Problems of acceptance and adjustment. The
University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis.

Sarup, Madan. 1996. Identity, Culture and the Postmodern World. Athens: The University
of Georgia Press.

Trager, Lilian. 1984. Family strategies and the migration of women: Migrants to Dagupan
City, Philippines. International Migration Review 18(4): 1264-1277.

Zlotnik, Hania. 1995. The south-to-north migration of women. International Migration
Review 29(1) Special issue: Diversity and Comparability: International Migrants in
Host Countries on Four Continents: 229-254.
The Welfare State and Globalization:
Market-Driven State or State Policy Choice?
Michelle Arevalo-Carpenter

In light of rhetoric about globalization being an overpowering force that will render the welfare
state extinct, this paper seeks to clarify what leading scholars on this matter have revealed
through their empirical studies in developed countries. The findings determine that hypotheses
about an imminent erosion of the state’s autonomy are rather narrow and that good economic
performance is positively related to increased public spending. The paper then examines the conditions
under which the welfare state and globalization have been successfully coupled, proposing a model
which combines institutional capabilities of labor market organizations and political will within
governments. The paper concludes that the welfare state does not necessarily have to be in tension with
economic globalization. Under certain conditions, a generous welfare state can perform well
economically. This indicates that states, as political entities, remain the ultimate authority to choose
which economic policies to enact. This choice is more limited for the global south – particularly where
democratic institutions are lacking.

he purpose of this research paper is to analyze the different perspectives regarding the relationship

T between the welfare state and globalization in developed states, and determine what this
relationship entails. Common knowledge of this relationship maintains that globalization and the
welfare state are in tension. Most of the literature putting this premise forward has adopted a purely
economic explanation for this tension. Meanwhile, some authors, such as Dani Rodrik and John G.
Ruggie, have incorporated a more societal approach, but have failed to account for the power of the
choice of states. This lack of choice, purport the authors, renders globalization ultimately inevitable. In
contrast to these views, authors like Geoffrey Garrett, Debrah Mitchell, Cynthia Kite and Nita Rudra
have proven that the relationship between the welfare state and globalization does not necessarily have
to be conflictive - that possibilities exist for their peaceful coexistence. The number of options a country
has, however, is subjected to its democratic and institutional capabilities.
By encompassing a broader perspective of globalization and defining it in political terms, Garrett
and the others have generated a series of answers to the questions of globalization and the amount of
choice the state has over its own policy. Considering the different perspectives, the welfare state and
globalization do not necessarily need to be in tension. Under certain conditions, a generous welfare state
can perform well economically.

Globalization Defined
In order to understand the relationship between welfare and
globalization, one must first come to an accurate definition of Michelle Arevalo-
globalization. Competing perspectives of globalization exist, and their Carpenter is a fourth
examination is crucial to understanding its effects. Globalization, as year Political Science
used in everyday talk and in the media, is a complex combination of and Human Rights
advances in telecommunication technology and increased Major at Saint-Thomas
interdependence between peoples. It is understood as a process University.
through which the world is becoming smaller due to an intensified
interaction between markets, cultures, businesses and governments. Globalization described like this,
however, is not a new phenomenon.1 Authors wrote on interdependence and transnationalism as long
ago as 1912. Norman Angell wrote in The Great Illusion about “a financial interdependence of the
capitals of the world, so complex that disturbances in New York involve financial and commercial
disturbances in London, and, if sufficiently grave, compels financiers of London to cooperate with those
of New York to put an end to the crises, not as a matter of altruism, but as a matter of commercial self-
Even though the trend Angell wrote about has increased, the assumptions made about the
increase in interdependence are disputable.3 If it is not clear that current interdependence is relatively
new, then what is the innovative, defining factor of globalization? There are many perspectives that
answer this question. Due to their relevance to this paper, I will present two perspectives, which Woods
describes as state-centered and market-centered perspectives.4 Helleiner, who also examines
globalization in a framework of two perspectives, accounts for what he calls ‘technology-driven’
globalization. He expands on human policy choice as another way of looking at what globalization

The Market-Centered, Technology Driven Globalization
Globalization is most often described as an advanced interdependence that makes the world
a smaller place due to the increase in speed of international transportation and
telecommunication. Advancements in technology and information processing have resulted in
a global financial market that operates twenty-four hours a day. Even though access to
information technology has not reached most of the developing world with such intensity, there
is a wider sense of interdependence for most of the population. This is a growing trend, which
Helleiner describes as a “new, technology driven globalization” and is the “new reality to which
we all are trying to adapt. And there is truly no escape from it.”6
Under this definition of globalization, many assumptions have been made about its
consequences on the state and the future of the international order. The market-centered
perspective emphasizes the increase in global transactions, the power of the markets, and the
pressures to maximize efficiency to attract capital. As a result, authors like Thomas Friedman
follow this perspective when referring to the “golden straitjacket” states must fit into if they wish
to attract capital in order to survive in a globalized world run by market forces.7 This idea often
leads to the presumption that this price mechanism, in which capital will go where efficiency is

Ngaire W oods. “Globalization: Definitions, Debates and Implications.” Oxford Development Studies. 26, no.1
(Feb ruary 1998).
Norman Angell, 1912, p. 50 in Woods, 1998
Rob ert W ade , “Globa lization and its Lim its: Rep orts of th e Death of the National Eco nom y are Greatly
Exaggerated.” Ed. By Berger, Suzanne in National Diversity and Global Cap italism. New Y ork: C orne ll
University Press: 1996
Woods (1998)
Gerald K Helleiner. “Market, Politics, and Globalization: Can the Global Economy be
Civilized?” Global Go vernance. 7 (2001) : 243-263.
Helleiner, (2001),243
Freidman, T hom as. The Lexus and the Olive Tree. 1999 New York: Anchor Books, 2000.
highest, will benefit investors, producers and consumers, since it guarantees the efficiency of the
markets in the long term.
In theory, this globalized system would give states new roles as sustainers of the global
economic order, enforcing mechanisms of international standards for efficiency and, most
importantly, would ensure its comparative advantage is introduced into the global market. 8
Friedman summarizes this perspective in his work The Lexus and the Olive Tree: “Globalization
isn’t a choice. It’s a reality. There is just one global market today, and the only way you can
grow at the speed your people want to grow is by tapping into the global stock and bond
markets, by seeking out multinationals to invest in your country and by selling into the global
trading system what your factories produce.”9
This market-centered hypothesis holds a rather narrow view of globalization, which
assumes that states will continue to lose autonomy to market forces and become subject to
market trends. This perspective fails to recognize that state policies must initiate economic
integration. Various kinds of integration must be in place for market coadunation to occur.
Woods comments that “once global communications and networks are put in place, they will
not be used solely for economic exchange. Political and social movements will also use this new
technology: and not necessarily to facilitate the smooth functioning of the market.”10 Even
though markets do imply some domestic constrains, this does not mean that policies are wholly
dictated by the markets. Rejecting a narrow, market-based perspective of globalization,
Helleiner concludes that “while globalization in the first [technology driven] meaning is a fact,
and may constrain some choices, it does not totally foreclose them in the way that many

Globalization as human policy choice
The market-centered, technology-driven definition accounts for much of what is commonly
understood as globalization. Helleiner points out, however, that there is another side to
globalization; one that incorporates the choices of individuals, firms, governments and NGO’s
regarding the degree to which they submit to technology-driven globalization.12 This different
face of globalization emphasizes the role of government policies and choices with regards to the
extent to which the state is open to the impact of technology and market forces. This approach
is far more complex, since it involves the careful study of the social, political and economic
circumstances of each country in order to assess how much the global markets affect it and the
amount of choice that country has regarding its national economic policies on openness.
In contrast to the market-centered hypothesis of an erosion of the state, a more state-
centered approach suggests first that in many instances globalization will in fact reinforce the
role of the state;13 second, that increased global interaction has been driven by state policies and

Helleiner (2001); Woods, (1998)
Friedman (1 999), 112.
Wood s (19 98), 7
Helleiner, (2001), 244
Helleiner, (2001)
Wade (1996), 1996
choices; and third, that the amount of choice and influence states have vary with their different
degrees of political and economic development.
In different ways, it could be argued that globalization is in fact reinforcing the role of the
state. Ruggie14 demonstrates how increased openness affects the vulnerable inefficient sectors
of the country; which puts increased pressure on governments for compensation. If a
government wants to keep its open market policies, it will have to compensate the affected
sectors of society in order to avert political reaction. This results in an enhanced role of the state
as responding to society’s demands. Furthermore, Woods mentions that globalization of
markets will necessarily require institutions to enforce global rules and regulations – even if these
rules and regulations are enforced by one powerful state (the United States being an example)15.
Others will react by trying to limit or influence the rule-making state. These interactions still
happen between states, and market forces have little to do with their outcome. Moreover,
increased global interaction has resulted in new channels for illegal immigration, transnational
crime, global terrorism, environmental degradation and the loss of natural resources. These
global problems have also put the state in the spotlight, with demands for global, inter-state
Additionally, one must not forget that increased interaction in globalization has been
driven by state policies and choices. The increased interaction of global finance which took
place during the 1970s happened after states chose to liberalize their markets and remove the
controls on capital movements.15 Even interactions due to technology and telecommunications
have their roots in state policies that facilitated and encouraged technological advancement. In
this sense, states have a much more important role as the driving force of globalization. It is true
that technology has its own driving force in the present, but it does not necessarily overwhelm
the role of the state.
Finally, even though globalization is not eroding the state to the degree many are
proposing, it must be recognized that globalization offers states a wide range of possibilities for
cultural, social and economic interaction and interdependence. This raises the issue of which
states have the power to choose how, when, and in what way they enter into the global system.
For some states, entering globalization can become a slippery slope in which globalizing some
sectors of their economy will result in the increased strengthening of markets, having
consequences on their society and culture. In most developing countries, this has been the case.
There are other states which are stronger in that they can choose how, and to what degree they
want their markets to be open. Among these states or regions are not only the United States,
Western Europe, Japan and the Nordic countries, but also Malaysia and Singapore, which have
made use of protectionist and isolationist policies to protect their national economy.16
Globalization as state policy choice is a more comprehensive view of the current global
system which complements the much more recognized view of a globalization driven by
technology and global markets. The challenge for most of the literature on this subject has been
to decipher the relation between these two faces of globalization and establish the circumstances
John G. Ruggie, “The North-South Dimension” in The An tinomies of Interdependen ce, 1983
Helleiner(1994) in Woods (1998)
Woods (1998)
needed for a peaceful coexistence between market forces and state autonomy. The relation
between the welfare state and market-driven globalization is an excellent case in which the
differing views of globalization have been applied. The nature of this relationship could help to
understand globalization and its effects more accurately.

Globalization and Welfare State in Tension?
The claim that the welfare state will become extinct as a result of globalization has been a myth
perpetuated under the efficiency hypothesis. Many authors, journalists and scholars have
proposed what is known as the efficiency hypothesis as the explanation for the diminishing of
the welfare state. Underlying this position is the belief that the globalization of markets has
substantially decreased the autonomy of the nation-state. Proponents of this popular claim
predict that governments competing for mobile economic resources will race to dismantle their
welfare states.”17 Others, like Ruggie and Rodrik, have provided a more political, in-depth
analysis of this relationship based on the ‘compensation hypothesis’ and have concluded that
even though this tension did not exist in previous years, it will become inevitable in the future.
At first glance, these claims seem generally accurate and plausible; however, they fail to
account for the flexibility of state policy choice in developed countries and the internal dynamics
of governments and advocacy groups. The efficiency and compensation hypotheses that
present globalization and the welfare state in tension will be presented in the following sections
and then examined in light of a more complete understanding of the variables present in state
policy choice.

Geoffrey Garret, “Shrinking States? Globalization and National Autonomy in the OEC D” Ox ford
Development Studies, Feb 1998, Vol. 26 Issue I , p.72
The Efficiency Hypothesis
Considering that the globalization of markets results in a much more competitive world,
efficiency of production has become an important indicator in the global system. According to
this ‘efficiency’ perspective, increasing competitiveness pressures in markets have made welfare
retrenchment inevitable.18 In this context, three different facets of globalization of markets could
be considered as constraining to national state autonomy. First, the provision of public and
welfare services by the state is seen as an artificial meddling with the market. This puts
constraints on government spending in states which seek efficiency, resulting in the ‘race to the
bottom’ of public spending. Second, the multi-nationalization of production provides multi
national corporations (MNCs) with the power of exit threats in order to maintain low taxation
rates. Finally, the international integration of financial capital makes it possible for markets to
threaten states with massive capital flights in the face of any distortion of the free market.19 An
appropriate example of this view can be found in Thomas Friedman’s Lexus and the Olive Tree
, where the author explains in plain terms how states will have to adopt a ‘golden straitjacket’
in order to survive in a world of globalized markets. The golden straitjacket is depicted as a set
of strict rules and structural adjustment programs that every state must go through in order to
fit into the economic globalization system. Friedman explains optimistically that these policies
of austerity will ultimately result in greater development if combined with adequate
technological support. If this perspective is accurate, governments will have more difficulty in
protecting vulnerable citizens from the consequences of market efficiency and inequalities.
The efficiency hypothesis is supported by basic economic rationale. First, according to the
efficiency hypothesis concerning trade, the welfare state is commonly regarded as
uncompetitive. The argument is that if a welfare state wants to establish a policy on trade
openness, it will have to roll back the public economy sector because it interferes with the
efficiency of the market. For a state to provide welfare, it needs high taxation rates and
occasional short-term borrowing. High taxation rates will harm business by adding to its cost.
Short-term borrowing results in higher inflation and higher interest rates. This increases the real
exchange rate, which makes national business even less competitive in an increasingly open
world economy. Moreover, competition from low wage economies has been an important part
of this argument. Therefore, the assumption is that governments will necessarily have to reduce
their taxation, spending and welfare policies to procure a competitive market environment in
order to enhance its participation in trade.20
Second, the multi-nationalization of production may constrain policy choices under the
assumption that MNCs will shift locations of production to the places where they will get the
highest returns. In this sense, the markets would punish producers and countries operating
under generous welfare regimes, thus fleeing higher tax burdens, more regulatory impediment,

Geoffrey G arrett and D eborah M itchell. “Glo baliza tion, G overnm ent sp end ing and ta xation in the OE CD .”
Europ ean Journ al of Political Research, 2001: 39, p.145
Garrett, 1998b, 792
Garrett, 1998 feb
labour market rigidities, and more active labor movements.21 The welfare states affected would
most likely be developed countries, where taxation is more likely to be high, and labour
regulations are more strict. Under the same assumption, production would relocate in countries
that have comparative advantage in low-wage labour. A classic example illustrates how the
common public perceives this phenomena: if Levis can produce jeans in Malaysia at
comparable quality to those in Illinois, but at one-tenth the cost, jobs in Illinois will be lost unless
state-provided wages and benefits are cut. Some authors have gone as far as proposing
competing pension options, foreign run pension programs and mutual funds as an alternative
to the seemingly detrimental evil of state-provided benefits and wages.
Finally, the effects of international financial market integration at the domestic level are
seen as determinants of government policy under the efficiency hypothesis. The common fear
is that financial markets, operating twenty-four hours a day and moving great amounts of capital
across locations to maximize profits, will trample a country’s economy if its markets are distorted
by government policies. Welfare policies are widely seen as a distortion of the market, because
they necessitate the incurrence of large debts, which discourage external investment. Friedman,
for instance, explains that countries that deviate too much from the core rules, including the
maintenance of a stable, distortion-free financial market, “will see their investors stampede
away, interest rates rise and stock market valuations fall.”22 For many commentators, the global
trend of privatization has become so pervasive that governments’ autonomy on economic
policy making is determined mainly by the fear of massive capital flights.
The conventional belief that MNCs are undermining sovereignty and eroding the welfare
state is sustained by a rather narrow perspective of MNCs and capital behavior. The assumption
is that capital will go where the lowest production cost is. Garret challenges this argument by
introducing alternative factors that influence MNC behavior in addition to low cost production.
He notes that, when choosing a location, MNCs observe the metric of cost controls for
productivity, the location’s accessibility to new technology, the presence of distribution channels,
and the maintenance of local stability.23 Countries with successful welfare programs and large
public economies can offer this environment by reducing the social risks accompanying
economic inequalities, because governments are better equipped than private markets to
provide collective goods such as human capital accumulation, infrastructure, research and
A nations’ fear of massive capital flights follows the same rationale with weak
assumptions: deficits will always lead to fiscal recklessness and consequently be punished by the
imposition of high interest rates, resulting in decreased investment. Garrett also points out,
however, that with globalization, a larger pool of lenders are willing to fund government
spending and that there is little evidence credits to industrial democracies will be reduced in the

Burgoon, Brian. “G loba lization and Welfare State Compen sation : Disentan gling th e Ties that
Bind.” International Organization. 55, no. 3 (Summer 2001) : 509-551
Friedman (2000), pg. 106
Garrett (1998a)
Garrett and Mitchell (2001)
near future.25 This means that large public economies do not necessarily incur fiscal imbalances
and that welfare states are much more stable financially than is commonly thought. Capital also
tends to flow more to locations that can ensure stability rather than high returns.
Conventional assumptions about the power of efficiency pressures on national autonomy
are theoretically weak. The three mechanisms of globalization that may be in tension with the
welfare state do not constrain policy choice as is commonly perceived. However, there are
stronger theoretical arguments that take into account the importance of societal pressure on the
state and the state’s consequent responses.

Compensation Hypothesis
The efficiency view focuses solely on one aspect of the global redistribution debate – the
economic costs of large and progressive welfare economies. This view neglects the assertion
made by Polanyi that there are also clear political incentives to expand welfare efforts in
response to the internationalization of the markets.26 Among these political considerations,
Ruggie and Rodrik have put forward the compensation hypothesis. Following Polanyi’s
theoretical framework, Ruggie stresses the tension between the market forces and society, which
demands protection for the sectors most vulnerable to market forces. Rodrik27 conducted an
extensive empirical study in which to test this hypothesis and expand on Ruggie’s thesis. These
two authors have concluded that societies’ pressure on states to be compensated for market
faults are becoming stronger and eliciting an active responses in states’ policies. However, both
authors agree that dramatic increase in exit threats by foreign investors may overwhelm states’
political will to become more assertive in enacting welfare program economic policies.
Ruggie is influenced by Polanyi when explaining the terms of the compromise of
embedded liberalism. The terms follow what Polanyi distinguished as the embedded economic
order28; an order where regimes would balance internal and external stability in a compromise,
instead of sacrificing one for the sake to the other.29 Ruggie explains that embedded liberalism
involves multilateral compromise, in which “governments ask their publics to embrace the
change and dislocation that comes with liberalization in return for the promise of help in
containing and socializing the adjustment costs”30. However, in his later publications, Ruggie
foresees an ominous future for embedded liberalism. He explains that the main threat to the
idea of embeddedness is the deterioration of social safety nets in the capitalist world due the
declining domestic productivity and increased competition from low-labor-cost countries.31
Expanding the compensation hypothesis further, Rodrik contributed an extensive
empirical study and analysis of the relationship between openness and public expenditure in
Garrett (1998a)
Garret & Mitchell (2001), pg. 151
Rodrik (1997)
Pola nyi, The Great Transformation (Boston :Beaco n Pre ss, 19 44) in Ru ggie, The Antinomies of
Interdepend ence, (New Y ork: C olum bia U Press, 1983)
Ruggie (1983)
Ruggie, John Ge rard. “Trade, Protectionism and the Future of W elfare Capitalism.” Journal of
International Affairs. 48, no. 1 ( Sum mer 19 94) : 1-p.3
Ruggie (1 994), 6
twenty-three OECD countries. The numbers show the positive relation between these two
variables, contrary to efficiency hypothesis presumptions. Rodrik concludes that “societies that
expose themselves to greater amounts of external risk demand (and receive) a larger
government role as shelter from the vicissitudes of global markets.”32 Rodrik believes this
compensation points to a tension between the consequences of globalization and the
requirements of maintaining social legitimacy of free trade.
The assumption that heavy taxation on capital to fund government programs will scare
away mobile firms makes it more difficult for governments to tax capital. Rodrik contends that
with globalization governments are responding to exit threats by shifting the tax burden from
mobile to immobile asset holders, in other words, from international and transnational asset
holders to domestic ones.33 If this trend continues, the burden for the funding of large public
spending programs will shift to labour and consumption taxation. According to this thesis,
welfare spending would not suffer in the short term, since the funding will still be there, just the
sources of this funding would change. However, if the state proceeds in shifting its tax load to
immobile asset holders as a way to appease market pressures, then state autonomy would be
largely undermined. Rodrik states that this system of welfare-funding is not sustainable once
governments lose their autonomy in generating tax revenues and shaping social policies;34
therefore, this system would degenerate the welfare state in the long term.
Empirical evidence may prove Rodrik’s contention wrong. Garrett and Mitchell’s study35
on a sample from OECD countries proves that there is a trend to shift towards capital taxation
– a mobile asset. The results of this empirical study show that foreign direct investment was
positively associated with higher rates of capital taxation. Moreover, capital mobility was not
related to lower rates of capital taxation, nor with lower ratios of capital to labour and
consumption taxation.36 Moreover, this study revealed that there is no evidence that trade with
low-wage economies is particularly damaging to the developed welfare state.37 Therefore, in
OECD countries globalization of markets is not wholly dictating government policies on taxation
and funding for welfare programs.
The arguments presented by Ruggie and Rodrik are superior to those based solely on
market efficiency. These authors put into perspective the role of the state, society’s demands for
compensation and national policy choice. Both predict, however, that market efficiency will
ultimately erode the state’s autonomy in economic policy-making. This is a pessimist forecast
for the role of the developed state in globalization and has the underlying assumption that the
state will have to sacrifice its autonomy on taxation policies if welfare is to be sustained in the
short term. Garrett and Mitchell embrace the claim that greater openness creates insecurities that

Rod rik, Da ni. Has G lobalization G one Too Far? Washington: Institute for In terna tional
Economics, 1997, 53
Rodrik (1997)
Rodrik, (1997), 67
Ga rrett and M itchell (2 001)
Ibid., 147.
result in demands for welfare compensation;38 however, they contest the predictions of market-
driven taxation policies by testing them with different empirical formulations. Assuming this
contestation is accurate, Garrett and his collaborators’ contribution narrows down the debate
to the question of which variables actually influence the persistence of the welfare state in the
face of globalization.

Globalization and welfare state in harmony
In contrast to the views expressed above, abundant literature based on Garrett’s works has
proposed that peaceful coexistence between an active government and international markets
can still exist, even in the face of globalization. This section will examine the arguments of three
authors who propose that the welfare state and globalization can live in harmony under certain
conditions and, furthermore, that states have a greater choice over their welfare policies than
is initially thought. Kite and Garrett39 argue that states do not necessarily have to sacrifice good
economic performance in order to keep a big public economy. Moreover, Rudra and Garrett40
claim that the determinants of a state’s policy on welfare are not found in the international
markets; rather, it depends largely on the internal politics and actors of each country.
The purpose of examining political institutions and showing that the welfare state and
globalization can harmoniously coexist is to prove that conventional knowledge on the subject
is not mandatory and that there is actual choice for states to enact policies of their own. The
question here is what are the conditions under which the welfare state and globalization can
coexist in harmony? What follows will provide one example of a model of conditions which
could maintain this harmony.
Kite and Garrett agree in their claims about the condition of the welfare state. Garret
concludes that under certain institutional circumstances, both public welfare generosity and
good economic performance are entirely compatible with globalization.41 Kite also mentions that
“there is reason to believe that choice still exists and that particular national-level characteristics
might make it possible for states to choose generous public welfare schemes without sacrificing
good macroeconomic performance.”42
The institutional conditions these authors refer to are measured in the model Garret
presents in Partisan Politics in the Global Economy, which shows that social spending under
globalization depends on liberal democratic organizations and their derivative institutions.43 His
model of interest links economic performance to the coherence of a national political economy;
this coherence depends on two key variables: the organization of labour and the strength of
right and left parties. Thus, a coherent political economy will be present if the country has a
Ga rrett, Partisan Politics in the Global Economy ( New York: Cambridge U Press, 1998). In Burgoon (2002)
, pg. 514
Garrett (1998 book) (1998a) (1998b), Garret and Mitchell (2001) and Kite (2002)
Garrett (1998a, 1998b, 2001) and Rudra, Nita. “Globalization and the D ecline of the Welfare State in Less
Develope d Cou ntries.” International Organization. 56 : 2 ( Spring 2002) : 411-445.
Garrett (1998) in Kite, (2002) pg. 309
Kite, C ynth ia. , “Th e G loba lized, G ene rous Welfare State.” Euro pean Jou rna l of Political
Research. 41(2002) : 308
Garrett (1998) in Rudra (2002)
combination of a strong inclination to the political right with a weak organization of labour or
a left-inclined government with an encompassing organization of labour.44 Upon examining this
model, Kite recognizes that the partisan identity of the government is an important factor in
determining its social spending; “however, what is decisive at the national level is the
organizational strength of labour. It determines whether or not generous spending is compatible
with low unemployment and inflation and good economic growth.”45 Kite’s study tests this
model by using empirical information to place different OECD countries in the matrix that these
two variables form and comparing Garrett’s model to studies based on other models. The
author finds Garrett’s model is more accurate and encompassing in determining the likelihood
of generous social spending than other existent models.46 Thus, under certain conditions (a left
inclined government and strength in labour organization), the welfare state can live in
harmonious coexistence with good economic performance. In accordance, Garrett concludes
that “the coupling of openness with domestic compensation remains a robust and desirable
solution to the problem of reaping the efficiency benefits of capitalism while mitigating costs in
terms of social dislocations and inequality.”47
Since labour market institutions are more likely to have greater bargaining power under
liberal democratic conditions, Garret focuses on OECD countries in his study. His examination
of the conditions in these countries reveals that “interventionist economic policies are better
suited to countries where socio-economic institutions facilitate the coordination of economic
activity among business, labor, and government…these political economies are based on the
notion that cooperation in managing market forces will benefit all segments of society.”48 In a
sample taken from OECD countries, Garrett shows that increased trade openness will not
necessarily undermine the social and political forces that keep the welfare state in place.49
In contrast, this is not the case in the rest of the world. Embracing Garrett’s model, Rudra asserts
that there are political factors such as strong labour power and democratic development that
can positively affect welfare spending in this era of globalization. “By recognizing that politics
do matter [she demonstrates] that welfare state retrenchment is a consequence of the failure of
politics to intervene in the economy .”50 Rudra points out that if the success of the welfare state
depends on a well-organized labour movement, then the nature of labour organiztions in less-
developed countries (LDCs) will have to be assessed in order to understand this relation.
Rudra claims that workers in the more developed countries are politically more strong
minded than their counterparts in LDCs. The author makes this comparison by contrasting the
differences between the two sets of countries through adopting Garrett’s globalization-welfare
model for OECD nations and substituting the PLP [Potential Labour Power] variable for his

Garrett (1998) in Kite (2002), pg 310
Kite, (2002), pg 313
See Iversen (19 99) in Kite (2002)
Garrett (1998b) pg 824
Ga rrett (19 98a)
Garrett (1998b)
Rudra (2 002) , pg 436
labor variable.51 The author suggests that the organizational problems of labor in LDCs have
their roots in the combination of large surplus labor populations and ratio of low-skilled workers
to skilled workers. “Large numbers of surplus workers alter the cost-benefit ratio of organizing
and … reduce the incentives for low-skilled labor to mobilize.”52 Moreover, in LDCs, the sectors
of society that are marginalized by globalization do not have access to the democratic
negotiation process by which they could demand compensation.
Garrett and Rudra focus their analyses on the power of individual and social choices in
the face of the power of globalized markets. The two authors use similar variables, concentrating
on the centrality of the labor market institutions in the countries. Their studies, however, unveil
that individuals and societies may have different ranges of choices when it comes to submitting
themselves to market forces. While OECD countries found their options regarding welfare
policies broadened through democratic institutions and cooperation between the sectors, LDCs
found their choices diminished due to the high rates of unskilled labour, unemployment and
weak institutional capabilities. Therefore, there is a contrast between the ability of workers’ to
protect their welfare in LDC and OECD countries.53

Through this comparison, I have examined the different perspectives regarding the
relationship between globalization and the welfare state. I recognized perspectives concerning
two possible relationships: the welfare state and globalization could be in tension or could
coexist in harmony.
The proposition that the welfare state and globalization are in tension is advanced by two
hypotheses: one based on the assumption that states are driven by the efficiency sought by
markets, and the other that claims states will be able to compensate for dislocations through
welfare only in the short run. First, the conventional ‘efficiency’ understanding of the
relationship between social spending and globalization, advanced by authors like Friedman, was
too narrow since it did not consider globalization as a state policy choice. Furthermore, rebuttals
from several authors prove that it may even be desirable for the productivity and stability of a
country to have a large public economy. Second, the ‘compensation’ analysis, proposed by
Ruggie and Rodrik, suggests that, even though globalization may put pressure on governments
to compensate its citizens through welfare, market efficiency will overwhelm state policies. This
understanding of the relationship in question did take policy choice into account, but suggested
a pessimist future for state autonomy, especially in taxation policies. Empirical studies that test
these assertions, however, show that in fact the trend is the reassertion of state autonomy over
welfare and taxation policies.
Scholars like Garret, Kite and Rudra advance the possibility of the welfare state and
globalization coexisting in harmony with good economic performance. The first scholar to
expand on this possibility was Garrett, who linked economic performance to the coherence of
a country’s political economy. The model proposed to measure this relationship used two
Rudra, (2002) , pg 433
Rudra, (2002), pg 19
Rudra (2002) pg 435
variables: left/right party strength and the organizational power of labour. In assessing the
veracity of this and alternative models, Kite affirms that Garrett’s model is accurate and that left
wing party strength, combined with encompassing labour institutions will result in a welfare state
that performs well economically. In addition, Rudra brings LDCs into perspective and evaluates
developing countries in terms of Garrett’s model. The results show that labour market
institutions in LDCs do not have the strength to pressure governments for welfare. Combining
the contributions of Kite and Rudra on Garrett’s model, one can come to three deductions: first,
that developed states continue to have the autonomous choice to have welfare policies in the
face of capital globalization, and second, that under certain circumstances, the welfare state
signifies good economic performance. Finally, in the case of LDCs, the degree of choice a state
has may vary depending on its political and institutional development.
It is important to note that these three authors accounted for the domestic actors that
may influence the welfare state in a globalized world. One cannot forget, however, that the
international markets do influence domestic policy to a certain extent and have done so
throughout history. In the present global system, it is especially important that the influence of
markets over states is not exaggerated or regarded as omnipotent. Rather, international markets
must be looked at as an influential factor among many others. One could reply that most
countries in the world have to make decisions on policies recommended by the international
financial institutions like the IMF, which follow the efficiency hypothesis. Regardless,
governments decide their own policies and these decisions depend mainly on political and
social factors, not merely economic ones. Ultimately, the welfare state and globalization are not
necessarily incompatible. With sufficient political and institutional will to force their coupling,
they are capable of coexisting harmoniously and providing good economic and social


Burgoon, Brian. 2001. Globalization and Welfare State Compensation: Disentangling the
Ties that Bind. International Organization. 55, no. 3: 509-551.

Friedman, Thomas. 2000. The Lexus and the Olive Tree. New York: Anchor Books.

Garrett, Geoffrey. 1998. Shrinking States? Globalization and National Autonomy in the
OECD. Oxford Development Studies. 26, no. 1: 71-98.

Garrett, Geoffrey. 1998. Global Markets and National Politics: Collision Course or Virtuous
Circle? International Organization. 52, no. 4: 787-824.

Garrett, G. and Mitchell, D. 2001. Globalization, Government Spending and Taxation in the
OECD. European Journal of Political Research. 39: 147- 177.

Helleiner, Gerald K. 2001. Market, Politics, and Globalization: Can the Global Economy be
Civilized? Global Governance. 7: 243-263.

Kite, Cynthia. 2002. The Globalized, Generous Welfare State. European Journal of Political
Research. 41: 307-343.

Rodrik, Dani. 1997. Has Globalization Gone Too Far? Washington: Institute for

Rudra, Nita. 2002. Globalization and the Decline of the Welfare State in Less Developed
Countries. International Organization. 56 : 2 : 411-445.

Ruggie, John Gerald. 1983. The Antinomies of Interdependence. New York: Columbia
University Press.

Ruggie, John Gerald. 1994. Trade, Protectionism and the Future of Welfare Capitalism.
Journal of International Affairs. 48, no. 1:1-11.

Wade, Robert. 1996. Globalization and its Limits: Reports of the Death of the National
Economy are Greatly Exaggerated. Ed. By Berger, Suzanne in National Diversity and
Global Capitalism. New York: Cornell University Press.

Woods, Ngaire. 1998. Globalization: Definitions, Debates and Implications. Oxford
Development Studies. 26, no.1.
Knocking the NPT: India’s Nuclear Weapons Program and
Problems with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Michelle Langlois

This paper examines the weaknesses of the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation
regime: the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Using India as a case study of one state that
has not found it in their best interests to become a signatory member, while simultaneously
becoming a nuclear power, three main weaknesses are identified. Firstly, the inability of the
NPT to address the prestige concerns of states without nuclear weapons; second, its inability to
address the security concerns of these same states; third, the difficulties in enforcing and policing
its demands.

n the years following the detonation of the first atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,

I the issue of the proliferation and possible use of nuclear weapons became hugely important,
especially as bilateral and multilateral treaties intended to slow the spread of nuclear arms
were negotiated. Among the most comprehensive and important of these was the Nuclear Non-
Proliferation Treaty (NPT), put into effect in 1970, and today forming the main pillar of the
international community’s non-proliferation regime. Most of the world’s United Nations
recognized countries are now signatories to the treaty; with the only notable exceptions being
Israel, Pakistan, and India. These countries, however, represent important exceptions that point
to significant flaws in the NPT. India in particular, though always a staunch supporter of
counter-proliferation measures and nuclear disarmament, has protested against the NPT since
the beginning, refusing to become a signatory member, and even proceeding to test its nuclear
capability several times since the treaty was ratified.1 India’s nuclear testing led, in turn, to testing
by Pakistan. It is therefore logical to argue that the NPT has not been wholly effective, given its
stated purpose and this undermining horizontal proliferation of nuclear arms to South Asia.
Of course, there is no doubt that the NPT has had, and continues to have, palpable
positive effects with regard to halting the spread of nuclear arms. Whereas once over two dozen
states were expected to have nuclear weapon capabilities by now, only a handful actually do;
this is due to the international non-proliferation regime in
general and the NPT in particular. However, the treaty’s flaws Michelle Langlois is a
cannot be ignored, and the question becomes, in light of this, fourth year Political
where its weaknesses lie. The issue is that though the NPT has Science Honours
been a positive force in the quest for collective nuclear security, student at Mount Allison
it fails to take into account the problematic impact of three University.
interrelated factors: first, its inherent inequality of treatment of
nuclear ‘have’ and ‘have-not’ states, second, the basic

The first in 1974 w ith the so-called Peaceful Nuclear Explosion at Pokhran, and then again in 1998 w ith five
tests conducted at Rajasthan.
importance of the security dilemma, and third, the difficulty of enforcing and policing its
demands. As many theorists have pointed out, fundamentally the problem is a realist one:
where national interests are best served by acquiring nuclear weapon technology, international
counter-measures such as the NPT are restricted in scope at best, and powerless at worst. 2
In the following pages, I intend to address the issue of NPT flaws, mainly with reference
to India and the surrounding South Asian region, though strong case studies pointing to NPT
flaws could have easily been drawn from the equally troubling situations in North Korea, Israel,
or Iraq.3 This decision is not wholly arbitrary. India’s justifications for nuclear development,
which it has framed in terms of its national prestige and security, as well as the ways in which
it went about building its program and acquiring materials, effectively highlight the main
problems with the treaty itself. Furthermore, India’s case is even more interesting since the
country has always maintained that it seeks complete global nuclear disarmament. Why it
should then choose to pursue a nuclear weapons program is, I would argue, at least partially
a result of the fact that the NPT failed from the beginning to create an international environment
conducive to disarmament goals.
From the outset, India’s primary – and strongest – argument against the NPT has been
that the treaty unfairly privileges nuclear weapon states (NWS) at the expense of non-nuclear
weapon states (NNWS), and thus sets up what has been called nuclear apartheid.4 Because the
NPT has as its main goal the prevention of the transfer of nuclear weapon technology from
NWS to NNWS (otherwise known as horizontal proliferation), it says very little about the need
to stop the increasing sophistication and expansion of the nuclear arsenals of already existing
NWS (i.e., vertical proliferation). Indeed, the majority of the treaty sets out guidelines against
the transfer of nuclear technology to NNWS, except in the case of peaceful nuclear use, and
specifies verification procedures for NNWS. Only Article VI of the treaty calls specifically for
further restrictions on already nuclear states in the form of suggested agreements among the
NWS for total nuclear disarmament. And, as of yet, no such treaty has been concluded. This
situation is unacceptable to India, a country that has always been a strong proponent of solving
both vertical and horizontal proliferation simultaneously5.
India, along with many other non-nuclear-weapon states, has felt that the NPT is merely
“an attempt to castrate the impotent,” and cement the place of the five legitimate nuclear states
(China, England, France, Russia, and the United States) within a discriminatory world order

Bra dley A. Th ayer, “T he Ca use s of N uclear Proliferation and the U tility of the No n-P roliferation Regim e,” in
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime, ed. Raju C. G. Thomas (London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1998), 87, 93;
Sharif M. Shuja, “India and n uclear weap ons,” American Asian Review 19, no. 3 (2001),
Criticism of the NPT is based on more than the particular cases of India and Pakistan. Situations involving
clandestine nuclear weapons programmes in Iraq and North Korea – both signatory states in good standing of
the NPT – also cast doubt on the effectiveness of the treaty as a pillar of the non-proliferation regime.
Vernon He witt, “C onta ining S hiva? Ind ia, non-pro liferation , and the C om preh ensive Test B an T reaty,”
Contemporary South Asia 9, no. 1 (2000),
Peter R. Lavoy, “Nuclear Arms Control in South Asia,” in Arms Control Towards the 21 st Century, ed. Jeffrey
A. Larsen and Gregory J. Rattray (Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc., 1996), 274.
based on possession of the bomb.6 As long as the nuclear weapon states are unwilling to rid
themselves of their nuclear arsenals, the question remains of why NNWS should restrain from
developing nuclear capabilities. Indeed, the vast majority of Indian thinkers, as well as the
Indian public, adhere to the view that nuclear capability is the best way for India to remain a
safe and vital player on the world stage. It must nevertheless be noted that there is a group of
thinkers who argue that India’s national interests are best served by not becoming a nuclear
power, and that signing the NPT would actually be beneficial.7 This belief in the economic,
political, and social benefits to be gained from the existing status quo has driven most NNWS
to join the treaty, despite its potential frailties. Still, there is a compelling argument to be made
that while the national interests of the NWS are obviously served by adhering to the NPT, it is
less clear that the interests of the NNWS are as well, especially if greater prestige and military
or political power can be gained by ‘going nuclear.’
That the problem of nuclear inequality is one of both national prestige and national
security is widely accepted, though opinion is divided over which should take precedence in an
analysis of India’s motivations for developing a nuclear program. It has been argued that “the
Indian bomb is best seen as a weapon only in the country’s political and symbolic arsenal.”8
Insofar as this might be the case, the argument is that India developed a nuclear weapons
program solely to challenge what it saw as the discriminatory world order of nuclear monopoly,
and to try to gain access to the NPT-endorsed nuclear club of great world leaders, a club which
Indian leaders have long believed their country is powerful and important enough to belong to.9
This would imply that the Pokhran test of 1974 was not meant to threaten, but to impress – to
re-assert national sovereignty over the choice to go nuclear. This interpretation is supported by
the fact that India restrained from any further nuclear testing or weapon development for close
to a quarter of a century afterwards. Moreover, the national prestige argument is compelling
enough to have been taken by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in power
during the latest round of NPT negotiations. According to one BJP spokesman, “an Indian will
talk straight and walk straight when [India] has the bomb”; the BJP sees nuclear capacity mainly
as a political tool – on both the domestic and international stages.10
There is a powerful symbolic significance in the acquisition of nuclear weapons that the
NPT fails to take into account. However, these considerations of national prestige cannot be
fully divorced from other considerations of national security. There are those who argue that
security interests are the only considerations that matter and that prestige is merely an incidental
cause of nuclear proliferation, mainly because ‘great power’ status is based on much more than
Glenn T . Sea borg & B enja min S. Loeb, Stemm ing the Tide: Arms C ontrol in the Johnson Years (Toronto:
Lexington Books, 1987), 356.
See, for example: Raju C. G. Thomas, “Should India sign the NPT/CTBT?,” in The Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Regime, ed. Raju C. G. Thomas (London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1998), 304-307.
Peter R. Lavoy, “South Asia’s Nuclear Revolution: Has it Occurred Yet?,” in The Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Regime, ed. Raju C. G. Thomas (London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1998), 268. See also: George Perkovich,
“Nuclear Proliferation,” Foreign Policy 112 (1998),
T.V. Paul, “The NPT and Power Transitions in the International System,” in The Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Regime, ed. Raju C. G. Thomas (London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1998), 67.
simple possession of nuclear weapons.11 Seen through this conceptual lens, Pokhran was more
about deterring China from using its nuclear capabilities against the Indian state, and less about
impressing the NWS.12 By the same token, the 1998 nuclear tests at Rajasthan would have been
aimed at asserting military power over Pakistan. This is nuclear inequality as national security
problem. Unfortunately, just as the NPT fails to address the prestige concerns of NNWS, it fails
even more so to address their security concerns. The lack of safeguards preventing NNWS from
being threatened with nuclear force by NWS has been one of the main bones of contention
during NPT review conferences. At the 1990 NPT Review Conference, Nigeria went so far as
to propose a separate protocol addition to the NPT that would provide legally binding security
assurances to NNWS.13
Security issues are especially important to India, which has long-standing rivalries with
both a legitimate NWS, China, and another NPT non-signatory, Pakistan. The memory of
India’s defeat during the Sino-Indian Kashmir border-war of 1962, combined with the
development of a Chinese nuclear bomb around 1964, led to fears that China would hold too
great a power over the Indian state. These fears were, no doubt, a driving force behind the
decision to go nuclear. Similarly, India has legitimate fears concerning Pakistan, with whom it
is now locked into a non-weaponized cycle of nuclear deterrence. The close politico-military ties
of Pakistan and China, which have only grown since Pakistan signed a bilateral nuclear
cooperation agreement with China in 1986, are hugely troublesome to India. Thus, India,
Pakistan, and China – along with the rest of South Asia, and especially, most recently, North
Korea – operate in a realist environment of anarchy and security dilemma, and have been
forced into increasing nuclearization through a chain reaction of insecurity and suspicion.
Indeed, in 1998, New Delhi cited increased tensions in the region as a main factor in deciding
to test nuclear weapons.14
This sort of nuclear domino effect gave Pakistan very little choice about becoming
nuclear after India detonated nuclear devices in 1974; India itself, though responding to implied
or perceived Chinese threats, must take much of the blame for sparking the South Asian nuclear
arms race, even if its original intent was simply to create a condition of minimum deterrence in
the region.15 However, faced with a hostile NWS being rewarded by the United States with
nuclear reactors and fissile material (even though China also refused to sign the NPT until
1992), a NNWS rival being fed nuclear secrets by the aforementioned NWS, and a lack of
safeguards regarding nuclear weapon use by NWS, it can be argued that India made the only
decision it could according to the realist paradigm. This situation illustrates the fact that the NPT

Thayer, 77.
Thayer, 93; Peter van Ha m, Managing Non-Proliferation Regimes in the 1990s: Power, Politics and Policies
(London: Pinter Publishers, 1993), 64.
van Ham, 77.
He witt.
Krishnasw am i Sundarji, “Proliferation of W eapons o f Mass De struction and the Security D imension s in
South Asia: An Indian View,” in Weapons of Mass Destruction: New Perspectives on Counterproliferation, ed.
William H. L ewis and Stua rt E. Johnson (W ashington: National Defense U niversity Press Publications, 1 995),
cannot offer appropriate security guarantees to all states, especially those in regions of conflict.
Bradley Thayer, a proponent of the security dilemma interpretation of India’s decision to ‘go
nuclear’, writes: “[the NPT] cannot stop nuclear proliferation for states that are determined to
acquire nuclear weapons […] because the cause of nuclear proliferation is the insecurity of
states and the regime does nothing to address this insecurity.”16
The insecurity problem is only exacerbated by the fact that the NPT is also unable to
police and enforce its proscriptions effectively; this is the last major flaw of the treaty. There is
an inherent paradox between articles I and II of the NPT, which focus on supply-side measures
(i.e., preventing the spread of technology from NWS to NNWS), and articles V and VI, which
safeguard a state’s right to develop peaceful nuclear technology (i.e. for nuclear energy). The
problem is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to always distinguish peaceful and military
programs.17 Moreover, peaceful programs can easily be converted into military programs: states
that acquire nuclear fissile material and reactors under the guise of developing nuclear energy
can then convert their new equipment to fill a defense purpose. Being a member of the NPT
might actually be beneficial to a state wishing to obtain nuclear weapons: it certainly makes it
easier to acquire materials. Of course, there are provisions within the NPT that attempt to
prevent this dual use of nuclear technology, but the International Atomic Energy Association
(the main verification body for the NPT) has failed time and again, in North Korea particularly,
to uncover covert nuclear weapons programs early enough to stop them completely.
India, even as a non-signatory of the NPT, has been almost completely dependent on
the West – and especially Canada – for its nuclear technology. The Canadian-Indian Reactor
Uranium System research reactor (CIRUS), built in the 1950s with technical and financial aid
from Canada, was developed with the understanding that it would only be used for peaceful
purposes. However, it was subsequently used to produce the enriched plutonium exploded in
1974 at Pokhran. Canadian officials, eager to make a deal with India and enter the lucrative
nuclear trading business, had failed to properly safeguard the CIRUS output.18 Additionally,
there are other problems with NPT verification and enforcement: even if the IAEA uncovers an
illegitimate nuclear weapons program, it cannot actually enforce sanctions – its role is simply to
detect and inform the UN Security Council of any violations. Sanctions are thus rarely put into
effect in any significant way. In India’s case, while economic sanctions were imposed by the
United States after the 1998 detonations, they were quickly lifted when it became obvious that
the measures cut into American corporate profit.19
It seems clear, from the above examination of India’s nuclear weapons program, that
both prestige considerations and national security concerns prompted the development of the
Indian bomb. It seems equally clear that these considerations and concerns were in turn
prompted by the failure of the NPT to adequately address the types of problems that can arise

Thayer, 76.
Raju C. G. Thomas, “The New NPT: Old Wine in New Bottles?,” in The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime,
ed. R aju C . G. T hom as (Lond on: M acm illan Press Ltd, 19 98), 6; Itty A brah am , The Making of the Indian
Atomic Bo mb: Scien ce, S ecrecy and the Postco lonial State (London: Zed Books, 1998), 49.
Abraham, 121.
Shu ja; H ewitt.
in a world divided between nuclear ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’ The flaws of the Nuclear Non-
Proliferation Treaty lay in the fact that it fails to recognize first, that ideologically speaking, under
a realist paradigm, states will be more prone to safeguarding national prestige and security
interests than international regimes, and second, that practically speaking, enforcement must
be made easier through clearly defined distinctions between peaceful and military nuclear use,
effective sanctions, and a more powerful policing agent. Only if these weaknesses are rectified
can the NPT become a completely effective part of the international nuclear non-proliferation
Even then, the NPT alone is not enough. Nuclear weapon states must be prepared to
begin the process of disarmament as a sign of good faith to the non-nuclear-weapon states that
have shown restraint. An end to vertical proliferation would also help solve the first two
problems of the NPT: without an inequality of NWS and NNWS, national prestige and security
concerns based on possession of the bomb are virtually groundless. India’s call for complete
nuclear disarmament is therefore a goal well worth fighting for, and it is a shame that the state’s
focus has shifted from it in recent years due to the ineffective treaties already in place. It is
equally troubling that in the current international climate, an end to vertical proliferation is
becoming more and more unlikely, especially with United States President George W. Bush’s
decision to go ahead with a missile defense system. The instabilities such a system will create
can only lead to a further reinforcement of the Cold War nuclear order, and a refusal to consider
the proposals for complete global nuclear disarmament that have been advanced by India and
other concerned nations.


Abraham, Itty. The Making of the Indian Atomic Bomb: Science, Secrecy and the
Postcolonial State. London: Zed Books, 1998.

Hewitt, Vernon. “Containing Shiva? India, non-proliferation, and the Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty.” Contemporary South Asia 9, no. 1 (March

Lavoy, Peter R. “Nuclear Arms Control in South Asia.” In Arms Control Towards the 21st
Century, ed. Jeffrey A. Larsen and Gregory J. Rattray. Colorado: Lynne Rienner
Publishers Inc., 1996.

—. “South Asia’s Nuclear Revolution: Has it Occurred Yet?” In The Nuclear Non-
Proliferation Regime, ed. Raju C. G. Thomas. London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1998.

Paul, T.V. “The NPT and Power Transitions in the International System.” In The Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Regime, ed. Raju C. G. Thomas. London: Macmillan Press Ltd,
Perkovich, George. “Nuclear Proliferation.” Foreign Policy 112 (Fall 1998),

Seaborg, Glenn T. with Benjamin S. Loeb. Stemming the Tide: Arms Control in the
Johnson Years.Toronto: Lexington Books, 1987.

Shuja, Sharif M. “India and nuclear weapons.” American Asian Review 19, no. 3 (Fall

Thayer, Bradley A. “The Causes of Nuclear Proliferation and the Utility of the Non-
Proliferation Regime.”In The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime, ed. Raju C. G.
Thomas. London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1998.

Sundarji, Krishnaswami. “Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Security
Dimensions in South Asia: An Indian View.” In Weapons of Mass Destruction: New
Perspectives on Counterproliferation, ed. William H. Lewis and Stuart E. Johnson.
Washington: National Defense University Press Publications, 1995.

Thomas, Raju C. G. “Should India sign the NPT/CTBT?” in The Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Regime, ed. Raju C. G. Thomas. London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1998.

—. “The New NPT: Old Wine in New Bottles?” In The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime,
ed. Raju C.G. Thomas. London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1998.

van Ham, Peter. Managing Non-Proliferation Regimes in the 1990s: Power, Politics and
Policies. London: Pinter Publishers, 1993.
The Changing Practices and Meaning of Sovereignty in Venezuela
Kanika Bhattacharya

The multi-pronged response to the political turmoil in Venezuela that culminated in the coup
of 2002 solidified trends of energetic and issue-based interventionism that are increasingly
becoming the norm in Latin America. They reveal the region’s staunch commitment to
representative democracy, and more importantly, as this paper investigates, a dramatic and
probably irreversible shift in the meaning and practices associated with the central principle that
governs interstate relations: sovereignty and its corollary, non-interventionism.

he spate of political turmoil in Venezuela that culminated in the coup of 2002 may have

T been perceived to be yet another incident that gave strength to the stereotype about
political instability in Latin America. The immediate, collective and multi-pronged
response to this upheaval, however, solidified other more positive trends. The trends were of
energetic and issue-based interventionism. They revealed not only the region’s staunch
commitment to representative democracy, but, more importantly for the purposes of this paper,
a dramatic and probably irreversible1 shift in the meaning and practices associated with the
central principle that governs interstate relations: sovereignty and its corollary, non-
Sovereignty has traditionally been understood as having an Kanika Bhattacharya
internal and external dimension. At the internal level, it has been is a fourth year
taken to mean exclusive authority of the state over a particular International Relations
territorial space. Externally, it requires mutual recognition and non- Honours student at
intervention in the internal affairs of other sovereigns.2 This Mount Allison
definition, however, has been understood to embody an ideal that University.
has never quite existed in practice.3 At the onset, the separation of

This stateme nt is similar to remarks made by Kathryn Sikkink in her article titled “Reconceptua lizing So vereignty in
the Am ericas: H istorical Prec ursors and Current Practices” (Pg. 705), Houston Journal of International Law, 199 6.
Christopher Clapham, “Sovereignty and the Third World State.”; Alan James, “The Practice of Sovereign
Statehoo d in C onte mpora ry Intern ational So ciety.”; J am es M aya ll, “Sov ereign ty, Na tionalism a nd S elf-
Determ ination.”; W illiam Wallace, “The S haring of Sovereignty: The Eu rope an P arad ox.”; D aniel Philpott,
“Westphalia, Authority and International Society.” in Political Studies XLVII Special Issue, (1999): 522-537;
457-473; 474-502; 503-521; 566-589. Also Alan Ja mes, Sovereign Statehood, the Basis of International
Society (London: Alan and Unwin, 1986); and Janice E. Thomson, “State Sovereignty in International
Relations: Bridging the Gap be tween Th eory and E mp irical Research.” Interna tional Studies Q uarterly 39, No.
2: 528-565.
Stephen D Krasner, “Compromising Westphalia.” International Security 20, No.3 (Winter 1995-96): 115-
151; Thomas Biersteker, “State, Sovereignty and Territory” In Handbook of International Relations. Eds Walter
Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse and Beth E. Simm ons. (London, Sage Publications, 2000): 157-176; Thomas
Biersteker and Cynthia Weber, “Introduction” and “Conclusion” and Alexander B. Murphy, “The Sovereign
State system as political-territorial ideal: historical and contemporary considerations.” In State Sovereignty as
Social C onstruct (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996): 81-120, 1-22, 278-287.
the internal and external dimensions of sovereignty, while being analytically convenient, may
not reflect political reality. Hard demarcation of boundaries dividing the state from the larger
international community and substate from superstate interests belie actual fluid reality. In
Venezuela itself, internal groups participated with outside forces to collectively negotiate terms
with the government in power.
Sovereignty has in fact always been in a state of flux. Realists and Liberals recognize that
sovereignty has historically taken the shape of state manipulations.4 At the same time,
Institutionalists and Post-Structuralists point out that sovereignty, as a social status of states in
the international community, is embedded within a larger cultural framework that must vary
with time and place.5 The dominant response to the shifts in practices of sovereignty is a debate
about whether sovereignty is ‘dead’6 or has ‘a lot of life still left’7. Both sides of the debate
concentrate on how much sovereignty has eroded and whether, given its eroded state, it can
still be called sovereignty at all. This debate however, in its emphasis of macro trends, ignores
both the small surges that are actually shaping sovereignty, and the reversible trajectory that it
takes. Regional political practices in Latin America have been the composite of the various
facets of the Inter American System – comprising the states as also the Organization of American
States (OAS), Rio Treaty and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), civil society groups and
‘transnational issue networks’.8 Policy regarding sovereignty has oscillated between the rigid
non-interventionism of the Calvo, Drago and Estrada doctrines and interventionist Pan-
Americanism as first espoused by Vicuña and Alberdi.9 In the last two decades however, issue
based collective action and interventionism have been becoming the dominant mode, as
evidenced most dramatically in the strengthening interventionist dynamic of OAS actions,

Most notably Stephen D Krasner, “Compromising Westphalia.” International Security 20, No.3 (Winter 1995-
96): 115-151 and Kenne th W altz, Theo ry of Interna tional Politics (R ead ing, M ass.: A ddiso n W esley, 1979).
Meyer 1980 and Young 1986 in David Strang, “Contested Sovereignty: The Social Construction of Colonial
Imperialism,” in State Sovereignty a s Social C onstruct. E ds. Thom as B iersteke r and Cynthia Weber.
(Cambridge : Cambridge Un iversity Press, 1996.
Christopher Clapham, “Sovereignty and the Third World State.”; Paul Taylor, “The United Nations in the
1990s, Proactive Cosmopolitanism and the Issue of Sovereignty.”; William Wallace, “The Sharing of
Sovere ignty: The European Paradox.”; D aniel Philpott, “Westp halia, A uthority and International Society .” in
Political Studies XLVII Special Issue, (1999): 522-537; 538-565; 503-521; 566-589.
Robert Jackson, “Sovereignty in World Politics: A Glance at the Conceptual and Historical Landscape.”; Alan
Jam es, “T he P ractice of So vereign Sta teho od in Contem pora ry Intern ational So ciety.”; J am es M aya ll,
“Sovereignty, Nationalism and Self-Determination.” Political Studies XLVII Special Issue, (1999): 428; 431-
456; 474-502. A lso A lan Jam es, Sovereign Stateho od, the B asis of Internation al Society (London: Alan and
Unwin, 1986); and Janice E. Thomson, “State Sovereignty in International Relations: Bridging the Gap
between T heory and E mp irical Research.” Interna tional Studies Q uarterly 39, No. 2: 528-565 and Thomas
Biersteker and Cynthia Weber, “Introduction,” in State Sove reignty as S ocial Construct (Cambridge:
Ca mbridge Un iversity Press, 1996): 4-8.
Pope G. Atkins. “The Inter-American System,” in Latin America in the International Political System. (San
Francisco: Westview Press, 1995) and Kathryn Sikkink. “Human Rights, Principled Issue Networks, and
Sovereignty in Latin Am erica.” International Organization 47, 3 (Summer 1993): 411-441.
Pope G. Atkins. “The Inter-American System,” in Latin America in the International Political System. (San
Francisco: Westview Press, 1995): 220-223.
including those in Nicaragua, Haiti, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Ecuador and
In their emphasis on outcomes, the two sides of the debate fail to take note of the
manner in which sovereignty has been changing.10 Constructivism attempts to bridge this
conceptual gap. Constructivists have emphasized norms and meanings as shaping political
reality. In consonance with this larger philosophy, they see sovereignty as a set of inter-
subjective understandings, expressed in practices.11 At first glance this definition may appear
simple, but in fact it opens up conceptual space for a dynamic and contextual understanding
of sovereignty. If sovereignty is not a fixed establishment but rather a set of practices, then it is
open to negotiation and renegotiation. Precise ‘issues of contestation’ become determinants of
the nature and direction of such negotiation, as do the historic, geographic, cultural, economic
and political environment of that time and place.12 The negotiations could be at the initiative
of myriad agents 13 and organized around issue lines leading occasionally to the emergence of
some strange bedfellows. Visualizing practice, structure and agency in a mutually impacting
relationship builds a more comprehensive cause and effect understanding of the forces that
shape sovereignty. However, the comprehensiveness and ideational nature of this
conceptualization makes sovereignty hard to define in any exactitude, a limitation
acknowledged by the Constructivist school.
Using aspects of the constructivist analytical template described later, this paper attempts
to draw out the changes in the practices and underlying meanings of sovereignty before and
after the coup in Venezuela. This paper finds that in the last two decades, the meaning and
practices of sovereignty in Latin America have changed in three important ways: first, there is
Thomas Biersteker, “State, Sovereignty and Territory” In Handbook of International Relations. Eds Walter
Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse and Beth E. Simm ons. (London, Sage Publications, 2000): 157-176; Thomas
Biersteker and Cyn thia Webe r, “Introduction” and “Conclusion” State Sovereignty as Social Construct
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996): 1-22, 278-287.
Kathryn Sikkin k. “H um an R ights, P rincipled Issu e Networks, a nd S overeignty in Latin America.”
International Organization 47, 3 (Su mmer 19 93): 411-441; Kathryn Sikkink. “Reconceptua lizing So vereignty
in the Am ericas: Historical Precursors and Cu rrent Practices,” Houston Journal of International Law 19, 3
(spring 1997): 705-729; Thomas Biersteker and Cynthia Weber, “Introduction” and “Conclusion”, Alexander
B. M urph y, “The S overeign S tate sy stem as political-territorial idea l: historica l and con tem pora ry
considerations.” In State Sove reignty as S ocial Construct (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996): 81-
120, 1-22, 278-287; Thomas Biersteker, “State, Sovereignty and Territory” In Handbook of International
Relations. Eds Walter C arlsnaes, Thom as Risse and B eth E . Sim mons. (Lon don , Sage Pu blications, 2 000):
157-176; Alexan der W end t, “An arch y is W hat S tates M ake of It: Th e So cial C onstruction of Po wer Politics,”
International O rganization 46, 2 (spring 1992): 391-425.
Thomas Biersteker, “State, Sovereignty and Territory” In Handbook of International Relations. Eds Walter
Ca rlsnaes, Thom as Risse and B eth E . Sim mons. (Lon don , Sage Pu blications, 2 000): 157-176.
Kathryn Sikkin k. “H um an R ights, P rincipled Issu e Networks, a nd S overeignty in Latin America.”
International Organization 47, 3 (Summer 1993): 411-441 and Kathryn Sikkink. “Reconceptualizing
Sovereignty in the Am ericas: Historical Precursors and Cu rrent Practices,” Houston Journal of International
Law 19, 3 (spring 1997): 705-729. Also Thomas Biersteker and Cynthia Weber, “Introduction” and
“Conclusion”, Alexander B. Murphy, “The Sovereign State system as political-territorial ideal: historical and
contemporary considerations.” In State Sove reignty as S ocial Construct (Cambridge : Cambridge Un iversity
Press, 1996): 1-22, 278-287.
growing conviction that popular sovereignty, as facilitated by representative democracy, is the
only legitimate form of sovereignty. Second, regional interventionism, whether supportive or
punitive, is no longer shirked when it is in defense of democracy and the sovereignty of the
people. The structure shaping sovereignty practices is flexible and multilayered. It is developing
new extents of cross border communication and multi-pronged efficiency around specific issues.
Third, the growing importance accorded to civil society groups by multilateral organizations and
international pressure groups may usher in the benefits of sovereignty on a sub state level.
Venezuela is the most recent demonstration of these broad trends that have been revolutionizing
interstate relations in the hemisphere. A remarkable feature of the multilateral response to the
coup and subsequent political crisis in Venezuela is the direct link forged between the OAS,
Carter Center and other international NGOs, and the domestic civil society. This link appears
at times to have even circumvented the government, and may illustrate a more inclusive and
dynamic direction for sovereignty practices in the hemisphere.
Before detailing the pre and post coup shift in practices of sovereignty, I will attempt to
contextualize them. First, I will give a brief overview of the broad trends that have shaped
sovereignty and intervention for democracy in Latin America. Then, I will provide a similar
overview of the meanings that sovereignty and defense of democracy have taken in Venezuela.
This will form the ‘Before Coup’ picture for sovereignty practices in Venezuela. It is with this
background that I will approach the dynamic trends that have emerged for sovereignty practices
after the coup.

The Context: The Shifting Shape of Sovereignty in Latin America

Global Trends
Certain dramatic trends in international relations have become apparent in the decades
following World War II. The first is the development of multilateral efforts to secure self-
determination not for all states, but rather for all peoples. The second is the proliferation of
international issue-based networks and an increasingly well-informed international media that
augments pressure on states to ensure that their democratic institutions are maintained. Thomas
Franck’s three building blocs of democracy – self determination, free political expression and
participatory electoral processes14 – have strengthened from being unclearly defined moral urges
in the 1960s, to legal imperatives in the 1980s and 90s. Even more remarkable has been the
almost world wide shift away from state centred approaches for understanding democracy.
States are increasingly being perceived as only a part of the foundation for democracy to thrive
in a country, and efforts to defend democracy are becoming concerned more with people than
with governments. The UN Doctrine regarding self-determinism, for instance, has changed
emphasis from state and territory in 1960 to become a fundamental and universal right of all
peoples and binding on all governments in 1991. The Annex to Resolution 1541 established
at the 15th General Assembly meeting in December 1960 laid down the right of colony
inhabitants to determine their political rights. In proceeding legislation the right of self-
Thom as M. Franc k, “The Em erging Right to democratic Go vernance,” The American Journal of International
Law 86, 1 (Ja nua ry 19 92): 46-91.
determinism expanded progressively until established as a basic right of all peoples under Article
1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.2
The growing commitment to democracy and protection of human rights has resulted in
a proliferation of NGOs, ‘transnational issue networks’16 and media groups dedicated to keep
violating governments in check. In the 1970s and 1980s, more human rights and pro-
democracy NGOs were established than ever before (tabulations reveal an exponential growth
trend for NGOs worldwide: 38 in 1950, 72 in 1960, 103 in 1970, 138 in 1980 and 275 in
1990).17 NGOs have also increased their effectiveness by developing communication networks
that link diverse groups. In recent years the links have involved grass roots actors and domestic
issue groups too.18 Latin America has been at the forefront of such regional grass root linkages,
in large measure due to the close cross-cultural exchanges in the region. This has resulted in an
international demonstration effect as original groups in the region inspired others to follow their
example or establish links with them.19
Issues that were once strictly internal have now been expanded to allow multilateral
intervention in a world becoming smaller and more densely linked than ever before.
Ascertaining free and fair elections is no longer a subject within a country’s sole domain, but
rather, the interest of institutions such as the UN, the Carter Center, the OAS and the
Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). Since the first UN election
monitoring exercise in Ghana in 1956, countries as diverse as Latvia, Zambia, Bangladesh and
Nicaragua have invited the scrutiny of international institutions to ensure proper electoral
democracy.20 In the last fifteen years, pro-democracy intervention has achieved legal backing.
Countries in Europe and the Americas, most notably the members of the CSCE (in 1991) and
the OAS (in 2001), have codified their collective belief that issues relating to democracy are of
legitimate concern to the international community.

The Cultural Framework and International Community
The political culture of Latin America is characterized by shared security and economic issues
resulting in multi-pronged Pan Americanism. In recent decades, the most vigorous collective
action in the region has been in defense of democracy. Notable instances of this include the
OAS intervention in Haiti (repeatedly since 1991), Peru (1992, 2000), Venezuela (1992),
Guatemala (1993), Dominican Republic (1994), Paraguay (1996, 1999), Ecuador (2000) and

GA Res.1541, 15 UN GA OR Sup p. (No 16 ), supra note 31, at 29. To note the progression towards greater
inclusiveness in the U N doctrine regarding self-determ inism , see a lso A nne x to G A R es.2625, supra note 31,
principle 4 and finally International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Dec.16, 1966, 999 UNTS 171,
reprinted in 6 ILM 368 (1967) en tered into force M ar.23 , 1976) and ratified by 11 3 states in N ovember 1 991.
Kathryn Sikkin k. “H um an R ights, P rincipled Issu e Networks, a nd S overeignty in Latin America.”
International Organization 47, 3 (Su mmer 19 93): 411-441.
Kathryn Sikkink. “Reconceptualizing Sovereignty in the Americas: Historical Precursors and Current
Practices,” Houston Journal of International Law 19, 3 (spring 1997): 705-729.
Kathryn Sikkink. “Reconceptualizing Sovereignty in the Americas: Historical Precursors and Current
Practices,” Houston Journal of International Law 19, 3 (spring 1997): 705-729.
Ibid., 18.
Ibid. 14: 69-75.
most recently the response to the 2002 coup in Venezuela.
The pan American defense of democracy regime has been constructed over the span of
more than a century, and is the collective effort of several diplomats, scholars, issue networks
and political leaders. In recent years it has also reflected the efforts of grass roots actors and
domestic NGOs (most notably of those in Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Colombia as discussed
in Leilah Landim and Andre Thompson’s case studies;21 also of Chile and Guatemala). The first
exhortation for collective action to promote democracy came from Chilean Pedro Felix Vicuña
in 1837. He envisaged a “Great American Congress” to support democratic governments and
popular revolutions and to oppose tyrannies.22
However, this Pan American doctrine was impeded by the other strand that has
characterized Latin American political culture: i.e. the fear of US interventionism. The
philosophy of regional interaction in the Americas has been a tug of war between non-
interventionist dogma as exemplified by the Calvo (1868), Drago (1902) and Estrada (1930)
doctrines, and proposals favoring interventionism for democracy, such as those drafted by
Alberdi (1844), Tobar (1907) and Rodriguez (1945-46).23 The noninterventionist proposals had
at their core the view that nonintervention is an absolute legal obligation and that the
commitment to democracy is a relative moral obligation.24 Unpleasant histories of US heavy
handedness in the region made the noninterventionist side stronger. However, it must be
stressed that in spirit, Latin American noninterventionism has been less an end value, and more
a means to secure other desired goals, particularly prevention of illegitimate interventions by the
US (Sikkink 1996, 719).25 In fact, much of the noninterventionist doctrine was in direct response
to US interference. For instance, the Drago doctrine that was adopted at the Montevideo
Conference was a response to the interventionist Monroe doctrine. The Estrada doctrine
adopted as part of the OAS charter in 1948, was born of the fear that the pro-democracy Tobar
plan would create an opening for US interference in the region.26 The end of the Cold War and
subsequent end of democracy as a US tool to gain access to other countries eased much of the
tension surrounding this debate. Pro-democracy ideas that had been bubbling under the surface
became the dominant commitment shaping regional interaction.
As the Cold War drew to a close in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was a drastic
change in the scope of multilateral intervention as well as the norms for intervention in Latin
America. The OAS has attempted to expand its domain from the traditional ‘firefighter
approach’ to crisis prevention;27 it has enhanced its electoral monitoring capabilities and has
overseen elections in over a third of its member countries. Norm change has been spurred

See Leila Landim and A ndres T homson , “Non Go vern mental O rganiza tions an d Philanthropy in L atin
Am erica: A n O verview,” V olun tas, vo l. 8, no .4 (1997), pgs. 33 7 to 3 50.
Pope G. Atkins. “The Inter-American System,” in Latin America in the International Political System. (San
Fran cisco: Westview Press, 1995).
Ibid., 22: 220-225.
Ibid., 222.
Ibid., 18: 719.
Ibid., 22.
An drew Coope r and Thom as Legler. “Passing th e Te st: The O AS, The InterAm erican Democratic Ch arter,
and the C risis in Ve nezuela .” W orking Pap er.
through the increasingly interventionist procedures inscribed in its regulation: the pro-
democracy rewriting of the standard for intervention in the Protocol of Cartagena de Indias
(1985), the creation of an immediate action group to address crisis through Resolution 1080
(1991), the establishment of representative democracy as a requisite for OAS membership
through the Washington Protocol (1992, took effect 1997) and most recently, the establishment
of democracy as a fundamental human right through the Inter American Democratic Charter
(2001). The emerging OAS goal is of rapid and flexible response to shaky democracies in the

Civil Society and Domestic Institutions
Civil society in Latin America is increasingly segmented, mobilized and politically aware.29 The
most vocal segment of civil society has historically been made up of well-educated, politically
charged people that have settled into NGOs and other politically relevant stations. In recent
years, less elite groups – trade unions, evangelical institutions, the Catholic Church and micro-
networks – have become more politically aware and have helped shape countries’ politics.30
There has also been a proliferation of externally assisted issue networks that maintain links with
multilateral institutions.31 In the realm of democracy protection, the OAS has encouraged citizen
participation in a host of its activities, especially to identify potential problems and make
recommendations to its election monitoring task forces. Further, the OAS has established a Unit
for the Promotion of Democracy that provides training and assistance to strengthen the
democratic procedures of member states. The overarching goal is to ensure citizen participation
in democracy.32
Recent events in Latin America underscore the importance of civil society, and popular
sovereignty as the emerging norm de jure. In January 2000, Ecuadorians took to the streets and
forced Jamil Mahuad to resign. A few months later, the Peruvians did the same to Fujimori, and
in January 2001, popular protests drove out President Fernando de la Rua in Argentina. The
Venezuelan coup of April 2002 made it the most recent of such instances of People Power. The
new means charting sovereignty practices are of the international norms cascade— a raid shift
towards recognizing the legitimacy of new norms, and ‘international and regional action on

Ibid., 27.
Ellen Lutz and Kathryn Sikk ink. “Th e International Dim esn sion od De mocratiza tion and H um an Rights in
Latin America.” in Democracy in Latin Am erica: (R e)co nstructin g Political Society, eds. M anuel An tonio
Ge rreton and Edwa rd N ewman. (New Yo rk: U nited N ations U nive rsity P ress, 20 01 ), Miche al Shifter. “La tin
American democratization: The Civil Society Puzzle,” in Civil Society Aid and Democracy Promotion, eds.
Ottoway and Carothers. (Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2000). Moises Naim.
“Democracy dictates Latin America’s future,” Financial Times (London). April 26, pg.13. Also Ibid., 16 and
Micheal Shifter. “Latin American democratization: The Civil Society Puzzle,” in Civil Society Aid and
Democracy Promotion, eds. Ottoway and Carothers. (Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International
Pea ce, 2 000).
Ibid., 30.
For information on other citizen-centered programs, see UPD Information Paper. “History of the Unit for the
Prom otion of Dem ocracy” h ttp://ww uction/histo ry.htm
behalf of these norms’33 – and how well regional institutions reflect and respond to the norms,
but gaining in importance is how civil society conforms to, or changes, these norms.34

The Constructivist Template
A layered conception of sovereignty helps in establishing links between issues or agents
previously considered to be unconnected, thus affording a more comprehensive understanding
of the institution. There are, however, certain core aspects of the constructivist conception that
may be applied as an analytical template in order to facilitate an all-inclusive picture. These
aspects highlight the main structures and agents that are the harbingers of change for the
meaning of sovereignty within its spatial and temporal location:

1. Global Trends: Global and regional events and ideas may effect sovereignty as well as
the history of practices of sovereignty and nonintervention, and the issues under contest
in the region.

2. The Cultural Framework and International Community: All practices (of sovereignty or
otherwise) must necessarily be embedded within a larger cultural framework.35 The levels
of political consciousness, inherent isolationist tendencies, openness to change, and
global connectivity are some of the culturally determined behaviours that play a
significant role in understanding the trends in sovereignty practices. The nature and
power of multilateral organizations in the region could significantly colour regional
sovereignty practices. In some cases, these institutions have maintained close ties with
domestic civil society groups and NGOs, and have collectively impacted sovereignty

3. Domestic Institutions and Social Environment: The nature of civil society groups on the
local and regional level (their external links, priorities, levels of fragmentation and of
mobilization etc.) may affect the nature of their initiatives. These groups may be
significant agents for internal pressure and external tie-ups. Domestic institutions may
also include the administrative and defense units of the country. In Venezuela, the
judiciary and the armed forces are significant internal pressure groups impacting
sovereignty practices from within.

4. The Regime: The nature of the regime in a particular country, and equally important, the
regimes of the majority of surrounding countries, may be shapers of the nature of

Ellen Lutz and Kathryn Sikk ink. “Th e International Dim esn sion od De mocratiza tion and H um an Rights in
Latin America.” in Democracy in Latin Am erica: (R e)co nstructin g Political Society, eds. M anuel An tonio
Gerreton and Edward Newman. (New York: United Nations University Press, 2001): 284.
Ibid., 33.
Da vid Stra ng, “C onte sted S overeignty: The So cial C onstruction of Colon ial Im perialism,” in State
Sovereignty as Social Construct. Eds. Thomas Biersteker and Cynthia Weber. (Cambridge: Cambridge
Un iversity Press, 1996.
sovereignty practices in the region, in their impact on regional priority issues and the
nature and frequency of interstate dialogue.

Applying the Template to the Venezuelan Crisis
The crisis and response in Venezuela are a microcosm of the challenges and practices that
define the region. Having given a broad overview of the nature and direction of these practices,
I now apply relevant aspects of the constructivist template to the situation in Venezuela in the
months preceding the coup. I will attempt to extract the chief structures shaping ideas about
sovereignty that were later strengthened through the OAS response. Basically, this section finds
that regional currents legitimizing popular sovereignty as the only true sovereignty, are reflected
in the actions of the Venezuelan populace that culminated in the coup of April 2002. The
Venezuelan instance reveals a highly mobilized and energized civil society that ended up
connecting with multilateral organizations and actively participating in crisis resolution. The idea
that sovereignty means exclusive jurisdiction over domestic issues is thus challenged from both
within and without. There is a growing link between domestic and international groups that may
in fact usher the benefits of sovereignty – legitimacy, authority and a place in international
forums as well as political imaginations – to the sub state level. Civil society institutions are
granted space in mixed forums that include international, regional and state actors. This new
empowerment may ease the barriers civil society actors face in making their voices heard, and
may grant some authority and gravity to their concerns.

Sovereignty Practices before the Coup
Venezuela’s civil society is fragmented along social and economic issues (Naim 2002).36
However, the months immediately before and after the crisis saw unusual collectivities form
amongst various factions around grievances with Chávez’s regime. Before Chávez, the single
emotion that bound various factions was resentment with the widely pervasive corruption that
characterized the Punto Fijo system— the rigged two party monopoly that Jennifer McCoy calls
partyarchy37— that was the forty-year-old norm in Venezuela. Hugo Chávez emerged as a
glimmer of hope promising to eliminate poverty and clean up the political infrastructure of the
country. His landslide victory in the 1998 elections revealed not just how weary Venezuelans
had become of the two leading parties, but also how fervently they clung to the hope that
Chávez and all he promised would return them to their days of oil-rich glory. By this time, vast
sections of the civil society had not only become politically aware, but also active shapers of the
country’s politics. In fact, although Chávez was a favorite among sections of the trade union and
business community, it is primarily less active evangelical institutions and the country’s majority
poor that shot him to power.38
When Chávez’s reign lapsed into hubris and incompetence, the civil society, already
mobilized and energized, did not retreat into silence. Chávez’s suspiciously authoritarian

Moises Na im, “Dem ocracy dictates Latin Am erica’s future,” Financial Times (London), April 26, 2 002, 13.
Jennifer L. McCo y, “Chavez a nd the En d of “Partyarchy” in Vene zuela,” Journal of Dem ocracy 10, 3 (1999)
Ibid., 30.
constitution and 49 revolutionary laws, deemed to have been passed without consultation with
the opposition, raised an immediate outcry among the business community and political
parties39. The constitution increased the role of the state in the economy, significantly
diminished political representation by abrogating the Senate, loosened civilian control of the
military and potentially secured the presidency for Chávez till 2012. The laws included
economic, social and political reforms that would redistribute private land without compensation
and tighten control of the state oil company PDVSA.40
People’s grievances against Chávez resulted in the development of a heterogeneous
coalition of diverse civil groups. This reflects an interesting feature of Latin American civil society
that is emerging in the pro-democracy regime. Unusual linkages of civil organizations are being
created around specific issues. In Venezuela, such links spanned business, labor, the Catholic
Church and media groups, and were supported by vast sections of the middle class.41 The
emerging mammoth issue group organized several multi-sectoral and multi-class demonstrations
and even developed ad-hoc committees to work out ideas for the institutional impeachment of
Another feature of Venezuelan civil society that emerged in the months prior to the coup
was its eagerness to fit in with regional support structures. In this context, constructivist scholars
Kathryn Sikkink and Ellen Lutz suggest that civil society often actively transforms identity to
become more in conjunction with regional and international political practices.43 Venezuela
proves this theory in two ways. Firstly, in recent years there has been a wave of hands-on action
towards popular sovereignty in Latin America. This is in the form of civil society led rebellion
against undemocratic leadership. In 2000 Ecuadorians took to the streets and forced Jamil
Mahuad to resign. A few months later, the Peruvians did the same to Fujimori, and in January
2001 popular protests drove out President Fernando de la Rua. One cannot ignore that the
Venezuelan coup is the most recent of a series of popular revolutions that have attempted to
oust authoritarian Latin American leaders in the last three years. Time and again there has been
exasperation with undemocratic leadership in the region, but since the pro-democracy regime
has gained acceptance such exasperation appears to have become more radical and even extra-
constitutional, thus effectively destabilizing the sovereign power structure within national
borders. Secondly, in Venezuela certain factions of civil society appeared to actively grasp for
external support of their actions, particularly from Washington. A striking example of this is that
CIA director George Tenet and secretary of state Colin Powell’s comments that Chávez was
being undemocratic were magnified to become prescriptions for the opposition in Venezuela.
Both comments promptly made front-page news in Venezuela and were celebrated by leading

Steve Ellner and Fred R osen, “The R ema rkable Rise and Fa ll of Hugo Ch avez,” NACLA Report of the
Am ericas 36, 1 (July/ August 2002) 9-15; Omar G. Encarnación , “Ve nezuela ’s Civil Society Co up,” World
Policy Journal (Sum mer 20 02).
Omar G. Encarnación , “Ve nezuela ’s Civil Society Co up,” World Policy Journal (Sum mer 20 02).
Staff Reporter. “After the coup, the reckoning.” The Economist, April 25 th, 2002.
Steve Ellner and Fred R osen, “The R ema rkable Rise and Fa ll of Hugo Ch avez,” NACLA Report of the
Am ericas 36, 1 (July/ August 2002) 9-15 .
Ibid., 33: 290.
civil society agents as a green signal from Washington.44
The other determinant of sovereignty practices before the coup was the domestic
institutional makeup. This includes the armed forces and the judiciary. Both institutions were
involved in opposing Chávez, and their actions had grave implications for the government’s
leadership and sovereign hold. Ironically, Chávez himself is to blame for politicizing both the
armed forces and the judiciary. He stuffed courtrooms with loyalist judges, and put officers he
hoped were loyal into key commands in the army.45 This politicization showed in the military
led coup, and in the subsequent opposition he has faced by Supreme Court judges. Although
the actions of both institutions appear to be urged more by partisan politics rather than need
for proper democracy, the widespread (although not wholehearted) public support for their
actions magnify the power they have to shape sovereignty practices. When Chávez was
reinstated, the officers responsible for the coup were let off by a sympathetic Supreme Court
amidst great cheers from the public. The emergence of domestic institutional actors standing up
to the government encouraged civil society actors who had long wanted to make their voices
heard. When international delegates came in to Caracas, they sought input from military
representatives as well as civil society ones.46
Basically, social and political borders in the months leading up to the coup were
softening—both within the country, as well as in relation to other countries. Venezuelan civil
society, long divided, now began forming unusual coalitions along issue lines. It may even be
suggested that civil society began organizing in patterns similar to those in surrounding
countries, and was encouraged by the regional emphasis on democracy and popular
sovereignty as the only legitimate sovereignty. The traditional sovereignty of the government
in power was being deconstructed from both within and without. International scrutiny and
criticism, particularly from the US, was making Chávez’s position vulnerable. Domestic
institutions such as the judiciary and the military grew dissentious and civil society took matters
into its own hands and revoked the supreme authority of the government. Taken together, these
actions destabilized the norm that the government is the unquestioned authority within a
country’s borders. Although major aspects of this picture are temporary and anti-democratic,
the wave of radical pro-democracy activity also brought with it the seed for positive multilateral
intervention, which would help stabilize Venezuela, and solidify a new and dynamic mechanism
for crisis resolution.
The coup itself was a three-day whirlwind event. On April 11 2002, the general strike led
by CTV (Confederacíon de Trabajadores de Venezuela), the leading trade union of Venezuela
and FEDECAMARAS, the leading business association, culminated in a street demonstration
outside Chávez’s official residence and spurred nationwide violence. In the early hours of the
next morning Army Commander Lucas Rincon declared that Chávez had resigned and Pedro
Carmona, the head of FEDECAMARAS (Federacíon de Camaras de Comercio y Producíon),

Ibid., 41.
Staff Reporter. “The Americas: Chavez and the judges: Politics in Venezuela.” and “A tragic and dangerous
stalemate.” The Eco nom ist, August 17 and Oc tober 10, 2002.
Staff R epo rter. “Th e Americas: Ch avez and the judges: Politics in V ene zuela.”The Eco nom ist, August 17,
took over as head of state, as Chávez was held at a military base. However, Carmona had only
started to establish the basic policies of his government before sections of the air force rebelled
against the new ‘unconstitutional’ regime and spurred a capital wide Counter Coup movement
on April 13. The violence of the 13th ended early on the morning of the 14th, when Hugo
Chávez was reinstated as the president of Venezuela.

Sovereignty Practices After the Coup
Burgeoning power of the armed forces and judiciary aside, which is probably limited to their
peculiar politicization in Venezuela, the after coup events fortify certain dynamic and probably
irreversible trends that are shaping sovereignty practices in the region. The emerging picture is
of an increasingly efficient multi-pronged response that, after invitation by host government,
significantly shapes its sovereign domain. Four developments characterize the shift in
sovereignty practices. Firstly, the new structure determining sovereignty practices is both
multilayered and multi-spatial. Its forums involve many groups of participants, and are held in
several places throughout the region. This helps to construct a decentralized, rapid and flexible
response to a domestic crisis anywhere in the region.
Secondly, the new structure urges hitherto unparalleled levels of openness and
transparency in the international arena. The task forces of the multilateral pro-democracy
regime are responsible for monitoring, criticizing and making recommendations about the
domestic situation and policies. The results are multiple forums in which countries must air dirty
laundry that under traditional sovereignty regulations had been theirs to hide.
Thirdly, sovereignty no longer resides exclusively with the government of the country.
Rather, legitimate sovereignty lies in democratic institutions, which is in the citizens of the
Finally, the new structure has created links between multilateral and domestic issue
groups. This has ushered more direct citizen participation and in the future may establish the
benefits of sovereignty at the sub state level.

The structure in which sovereignty is being altered
The collective action network for the Venezuelan crisis spanned multilateral organizations,
research groups, development agencies, media networks, human rights monitors, press
fraternities, business councils, labor organizations and educational groups, both domestic and
international.47 The crisis response team active in the Venezuelan instance reflected an
expansion of groups that are collectively shaping regional politics, and the norms of regional
interaction. The infrastructure for regular monitoring of the Venezuelan situation came from the
Rio Group, the OAS, the Carter Center, Group of Friends of Venezuela and the UNDP. From
the domestic arena there were representatives of the government, the 34 NGO and political
party strong Coordinadora Democrática, the state oil company, the media, the Catholic Church,
National Assembly leaders, CTV and FEDECAMARAS who participated in the negotiations.

Stephen Johnson. “Rebuilding Democracy in Venezuela,” The Heritage Foundation policy research and
ana lysis Backgrounde r #1 545 (M ay 6 , 2002). Http ://www.heritage .org/Resea rch/La tinAmerica/B G1 545.cfm .
Further, the establishment of various cities as head quarters for all organizations enhanced the
decentralized and multi-agency efficiency that characterized much of the response. The broad
spectrum of interests covered in this lineup more closely reflects the array of political units that
in fact shape political norms. Shifts in sovereignty practices are considerably strengthened with
each OAS action in the realm of democracy defense due to the development of such dynamic
and far-reaching networks.

New Levels of Intervention and Openness
The agencies and organizations of the multilateral pro-democracy regime are responsible for
monitoring, criticizing and making recommendations about the domestic situation and policies.
The response to the Venezuelan crisis is the most recent of this dynamic, persistent and
interventionist stance. The day that the coup occurred, OAS Secretary General César Gaviria
issued a public statement condemning the coup and calling for peaceful conduct by protestors
and the government. 48 Even as he prepared for an on site visit to investigate the crisis situation
on behalf of the other OAS members, the Rio Group who happened to be meeting that day
issued a collective statement calling for immediate OAS action in support of democracy in the
country.49 Other organizations such as the Carter Center and the UNDP also rapidly mobilized
to support peaceful negotiations and soon after so did the Group of Friends for Venezuela
(consisting of the diplomatic heads of Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Portugal and USA). In the
year following the coup, Gaviria made 7 visits to Venezuela, and each time provided in depth
reports of his investigations at General Assembly and Permanent Council meetings held shortly
after. Representatives of the Carter Center visited Caracas on several occasions, provided
detailed reports at Permanent Council meetings, and drafted the proposals that would ultimately
break the domestic deadlock.
The immediate outcome of such a multi-pronged effort by the regional community was
an almost complete breakdown of traditional sovereignty norms. On the 18th of April 2002, a
few days after the coup, the nitty-gritty of the Venezuelan crisis – polarized civil society,
dissentious armed forces, human rights violations, etc. – was laid out before OAS member states
for scrutiny and recommendations. Future investigations made with the sole intent of keeping
tabs on Venezuela would stand the same treatment. The emerging regional environment
appears to be one in which borders are rescinding in significance, as issues of democracy and
human rights come to the forefront. A problem in the maintenance of democratic institutions
in a particular country has become legitimate cause for concern for the entire regional
In Venezuela there were, predictably, instances wherein certain factions of society—most
notably the government and opposition members – urged a return to other norms of

César G aviria, “S tatem ent o f the O AS Secretary G ene ral on the situ ation in Vene zuela (E-0 78-02),”
(statement issued on April 11, 2002)
http://w ww ain/m ain.a sp?sLan g= E& sLink =h ttp://ww w.upd.o
Rio Group. “Rio Group Document on Venezuela” (document presented at the meeting of the OAS
Perm ane nt Coun cil, W ashington D .C., M ay 2 8, 2002).
http://w ww ain/m ain.a sp?sLan g= E& sLink =h ttp://ww w.upd.o
sovereignty convenient to them. On the part of the state this was reflected in the upholding of
traditional sovereignty norms when politically suitable. I refer here primarily to the testy thanks
given by the Venezuelan representative to OAS members at the OAS Permanent Council
meeting held on the 28th of May, a little more than a month after the coup, with the clear
message that the situation was now a domestic problem.50 On the part of civil society, it meant
preferring extra-constitutional movements for popular sovereignty rather than the negotiations
that the OAS had to offer. A glaring example of this is when the Coordinadora Democrática
disregarded Carter’s proposals and pursued radical and occasionally violent methods to oust
Chávez. Incredibly, multilateral efforts in Venezuela succeeded in overcoming these setbacks.
At the core of their success are well-defined priorities, flexible action plans, impressive
communication networks and a more inclusive decision making framework.

The shift away from state-centered sovereignty
In the Protocol of the Cartagenas de Indias (1985), the OAS members declared that the
promotion of representative democracy is grounds to soften noninterventionist dictates.51 The
protocol marked a milestone in the shift towards the conviction that actions to pressure a
dictatorial government in fact do not violate the principal of non-interventionism, since the
principal derives its clout from internationally recognized popular sovereignty.52 In other words,
popular sovereignty emerges as the legitimate form of sovereignty, and thus the only one
warranting non-intervention. This development was underscored in The Inter-American
Democratic Charter (2001), which emphasized the role of citizens in the democratic process and
the inviolability of their rights. The practices of the OAS and others in Venezuela suggest this
shift, but more accurately, they emphasize the shift away from state-centered conceptions of
sovereignty. Sovereignty is no longer the unquestioned possession of the state, but rather, of
democratic institutions.53 A statement of this shift was made in the wording of Gaviria’s first
statement in response to the situation in Venezuela. Gaviria called for the restoration of the
freedom of the press. He and others took no steps to urge the reinstatement of Chávez. Even
later when it became clear that Chávez had not resigned but been ousted, Gaviria declared that
Chávez’s removal was ‘fait accompli’ and did not ask for his reinstatement. 54 The prime concern

Ibid., 27.
This is a special amendment to Chapter 1 of the OAS Charter as established under the Special General
Assem bly held in Cartagena, C olom bia in 1 985. It states: “R epresentative d em ocracy is an ind ispen sable
condition for stability, peace, and development of the region.” The following phrase was added as one of the
organization’s essential purposes: “to promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect for
the principal of nonintervention.”
Heraldo M uñoz, “The R ight to Demo cracy in the Am ericas,” Jou rna l of Inter-A merican Studies an d W orld
Affairs 40, 1(Sp ring 1998): 1-18.
Ibid., 48, 49 and 27.
Ibid., 48; César Gaviria, “Address by the Secretary General of the OAS, report pursuant to Resolution
CP/RES.811(1315 /02) Situation in Venezuela” (presented at the OAS Permanent Co uncil meeting,
Washington D.C., 18 th Ap ril, 200 2).
http://w ww ain/m ain.a sp?sLan g= E& sLink =h ttp://ww w.upd.o
of the Rio group, too, was the ‘normalization of democratic institutions’.55 The re-establishment
of Chávez and his cabinet was not seen as part of the necessary action to defend the
constitutional order.56
Cautious to the political vagaries of the days following the coup, at the OAS meeting of
April 12 the Venezuelan representative was prohibited from sitting at the table. It was thus a
forum unrepresentative of the Venezuelan government that first scrutinized the Venezuelan
situation and devised collective action plans.
The immediate concerns shared by multilateral groups were the re-establishment of
democratic procedure and safety of the people against human rights violation. The response
to the Venezuelan crisis suggests a growing trend in regional politics and recognition. The upper
echelons of governmental power are less essential in the definition of democratic institutions.
The domestic structures gaining in importance under the pro-democracy efforts are more people
centered democratic institutions such as free press and other civil liberties.

The Growing Connection between Regional and Local Agency
A remarkable feature of the negotiations in Venezuela was the degree of connection between
multilateral organizations such as the OAS and Group of Friends, and domestic civil society
organizations. In order to get an understanding of the crisis that was more in consonance with
ground reality, OAS task forces talked with many civil society organizers throughout Caracas
in the days following the coup. The citizens’ grievances and recommendations were then
included in reports presented to multilateral decision making bodies such as the Permanent
Council and the General Assembly. This tactic is similar to the one developed for accurate
monitoring of electoral procedures in member countries. However, the OAS response in
Venezuela took multilateral—citizen interaction a step further by communicating with sections
of the civil society on a regular basis, and requesting constant updates on the domestic situation
from them. The underlying goal is of comprehensive understanding of the crisis at any given
time. For instance, the Group of Friends had regular updates from Gaviria and the Venezuelan
Ambassador Jorge Valero, but also opposition leader Timoteo Zambrano as well as local media
After the initial disharmony, the link between regional and local agencies strengthened,
and the desire to reach amicable conclusions was reinforced by such communication. In fact,
mid-way through the negotiating process, civil groups such as CTV and FEDECAMARAS began
coordinating directly with the OAS. The CTV immediately informed Gaviria of its intention to
strike, showed willingness for agreement facilitated by the OAS, and when the deadlock could
not be broken, revealed that the Forum could continue irrespective of the strike.
The negotiating table at work in Venezuela was the epitome of the more –inclusive
approach to conflict resolution. This approach involves domestic and regional pressure groups,

Ibid., 49.
César Gaviria, “Address by the Secretary General of the OAS, report pursuant to Resolution
CP/RES.811(1315 /02) Situation in Venezuela” (presented at the OAS Permanent Co uncil meeting,
Washington D.C., 18 th Ap ril, 200 2).
http://w ww ain/m ain.a sp?sLan g= E& sLink =h ttp://ww w.upd.o
and may usher a new degree of openness and cross-boundary communication around specific
issues. Not only were Carter Center, OAS, UNDP, host government and the opposition
participants at the meetings, but also Catholic bishops, media executives, national Assembly
leaders, civil society leaders, CTV, FEDECAMARAS, and members of the diplomatic corps
representing the US, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, France, Germany, Canada,
Japan, Italy and the UK.57 The expanded involvement of multilateral agents is enhancing
regional forums. More importantly, the emerging links between multilateral and domestic groups
may result in the percolation of regional action plans and an international norms cascade to the
grass root level. Domestic groups may build more efficient tool kits to focus multilateral attention
on future crisis situations, as well as to organize around specific issues in a constitutional
manner. The new degree of mobilization and connectivity this affords could encourage the
development of inter-country civil society issue groups, and bring forth the benefits of
sovereignty at the substate level.

The dynamic processes that characterize the defense of democracy regime are changing the
political landscape of Latin America, and the political imaginations of its citizens. Sovereignty
processes have shown the most dramatic shifts. A region that historically supported non-
interventionism has now softened its borders to allow for issue based collective action. The
proliferation of pressure groups and increased levels of cross-boundary communication between
various issue networks at the international, regional and local level are diversifying efficient tool
kits for democracy protection, even as they are homogenizing regional priorities.
This research indicates that sovereignty practices in Latin America are being redefined
to include new degrees of issue-based interventionism. The multilateral response to Venezuela’s
crisis was a strong step in this direction. The flexible and inclusive structure that has been
created for democracy protection is encouraging dynamic and result-oriented collective action.
Recognition practices have also altered, being now granted only to representative democracies
and the popular sovereignty that they represent. The new degree of inter-country openness and
transparency may result in more harmonious and progressive understandings of democratic
procedure. From the ground up, Venezuela reflects an older trend of extra-constitutional
behavior for reclamation of popular sovereignty. However, there is also an unprecedented level
of communication within civil groups, and between regional and local agencies. The
development of such communication networks may focus the benefits of sovereignty at the sub
state level.


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Liberal Democracy: Dead End or Cross-Roads?
Mirela Catuneanu

The end of the twentieth century witnessed a wave of optimism regarding the future of
Liberalism and democracy in the contemporary world. One of these absolute optimists is
Francis Fukuyama who, following in the steps of the hegelian idealism and encouraged by the
fall of communism in the former Soviet Union and the Eastern European bloc, declares liberal
democracy a global winner. He perceives no further threat to this ideology and to the state
system that it underlies, and foresees no future clashes of ideologies. In building his theory,
however, he sees communism as the unique ideology and state system opposed to liberal
democracy. The current paper contrasts Fukuyama’s “end of history” with some recent events
in the Middle East. The aim is to determine whether Fukuyama’s discussion is entitled to be
declared universal in nature.

he following analysis is aimed at supporting my argument that none of the three main

T claims of Fukuyama’s end of history theory – “no viable alternatives to liberalism,” “the
end of mankind’s ideological evolution,” and “no alternatives to the Western liberal
democratic state” – stays on solid ground when applied to the Muslim world. My research is
centered on the question of whether Fukuyama’s claim is viable in light of the Middle Eastern
specific reality.
Fukuyama maintains that with the fall of communism, Western liberal democracy and
the liberal state became absolute winners of the clash between ideologies and state systems,
respectively, with no further potential for conflict with alternatives, or for change. First in 1989
and then in 1992, he stated that “the triumph of the West ... is evident first of all in the total
exhaustion of viable alternatives to Western liberalism,”1 then as a possible “end of history” –
which in his interpretation is “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the
universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”2
Reactions to Fukuyama’s theory arose as early as 1989. As Fukuyama himself
acknowledges, his argument provoked a blaze of commentary
and controversy all over the world.3 Among his first critics were Mirela Catuneanu is a
Allan Bloom, Pierre Hassner, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Irving third year Economics
Kristol, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Stephen Sestano who and Commerce
argued that “liberalism may have won, but it may be decisively student at Mount
unsatisfactory;” that Fukuyama’s theory instigates a decrease in Allison University.
alertness in international affairs; that he seems oblivious to
poverty which is still omnipresent in the world and poses a real

Fran cis Fu kuyam a, "Th e En d of H istory," The N ational Interest 16 (Summer 1989): 3.
Ibid., 4.
Fran cis Fu kuyam a, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: The Free Press, 1992): 11.
threat to liberal democracy; that he should have gone further back in time, to Aristotle, who
taught us that all forms of government, democracy included, are inherently unstable; that it
would be frightening to see how the “basic principles of the liberal democratic state can no
longer be improved on” when its main exponent, the United States, finds itself exhausted from
trying to solve the new, post-Cold War problems that confront it; and that just because power
takes on new forms, it will not cease to exist. 4
An indirect line of criticism seems to be set up by Huntington’s “clash of civilizations”
and by scholars such as Ronald Inglehart, Harrison Lawrence and others, who followed in his
steps and warned that some countries have never been democratic and many may never
become so or, even if they do, there will be limits on their progress beyond which they will
never go. In the same vein it is argued that there are important differences among civilizations
in terms of political and economic development and that the obvious roots of these differences
are in the peculiarities of their cultures;5 that economic success is experienced not only by the
individualist liberal Westerner but also by the family-oriented Easterner living in a still traditional
society; that the international dialogue of the future may become structured not in divergent
political and economic terms but according to the reality of the nine different ‘cultures’ into
which the population of the world is divided.6
In what follows, a step-by-step discussion of Fukuyama’s three-fold argument, tempered
with empirical evidence on the local reality and the latest evolution of events in the Middle East,
will help determine whether Fukuyama’s theory stands the test of history and of regional
specificity, and whether it deserves further criticism or praise.

a) “No Viable Alternatives to Liberalism”

Main Ideological Tradition in the Middle East
If by “viable” alternatives to Western liberalism Fukuyama means able to live, grow and
develop, then, when he did not count in Political Islam, he left out the fiercest adversary of
liberal democracy in the Middle East and in the Muslim world as a whole. Political Islam is a full-
fledged ideology adopted by most Muslims. It has its own theoreticians and promoters.
Also known as Islamism, Islamic fundamentalism, Islamic radicalism and Wahhabism,
this currently predominant Islamic ideology has its roots in the major tradition of revivalist Islam,
which is extremely radical in its assertions and beliefs, and extremely critical of the Western
liberal democracy and of the Muslim deviants who adopt it. Founded in the eighteenth century
by Muhammad ibn’ Abd al-Wahhab, the revivalist movement does not recognize the authority
of the other two traditions, which are the tradition and the liberal tradition. Although they, too,

Bloom, Allan, Pierre Hassner, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Irving Kristol, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Stephen
Sesta nov ich, "Responses to F uku yam a," The N ational Interest 16 (Summer 1989): 35.
Hu ntington, S am uel P ., The Clash of Civilizations: Remaking the World Order (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1996): 29.
Inglehart, Ronald, “Culture and Dem ocracy” (p. 80-97) in Harrison, Lawrence E. and Samuel P. Huntington
ed., Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Behaviour (New York: Basic Books, 2000): 81.
were of Islamic inspiration, these two traditions were seen as unqualified to interpret Islam, as
not sufficiently mindful to the letter of Islamic doctrine, and as not placing enough emphasis on
the Arabic language, the holy idiom of the Prophet Muhammad. The Islamists do not have
much consideration for the political institutions of their countries, either, which they see as
illegitimate “usurpers of God’s sovereignty”.7
Political Islam, a “populist-cultural-religious force”,8 gathered unprecedented force
after the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1978-79 and in the aftermath of the first Gulf War. It has
become a challenge for the governments of many Islamic countries in the Middle East and
Northern Africa such as Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. This is just one of the many
examples of revivalist upheaval at a time of crisis, when the system cannot cope with the
internal and external problems that confront it. This is a recurrent pattern in the social and
political life of the region. Political Islam is fuelled by worldly frustration and denial, and by the
socio-economic and political problems experienced by the Muslim society. In practice, Political
Islam translates into a strong desire to introduce a divine order in the political life of the
respective countries and into sheer hatred for the secular state. One of its most important
theoreticians, Hasan al-Turabi, very much in the trend of Marxist historical determinism,
announces that the course of history will inevitably lead to the “establishment of the Islamic
state”,9 as the ultimate form of government.

Not only does Political Islam have the most followers of all the three traditions, but it has
developed several forms of extremism that practice terrorism as a weapon against liberal
democracy and its most prominent representatives. The best known and most efficient extremist
organization of this type, Al-Qaeda, posed on September 11, 2001 a real threat to the United
States, one of the world’s leading liberal democratic countries, and caused events with serious
implications for the future of the region.
Al-Qaeda’s underpinning ideology derives from an Islamic religious movement known
as Salafiyya,10 a branch of the revivalist tradition that clearly rejects democracy and Liberalism,
and Western values in general. The Salafis’ main purpose is to take the Muslim world back to
the seventh century of the common era, the time of Prophet Muhammad, when the civilization
of Islam was not threatened by “the hyper-sexualized, commercialized culture of the West”.11
Al-Qaeda’s leader, Osama (“young lion” in Arabic) bin Laden, is a Saudi
multimillionaire, “a turbaned Robin Hood, hiding out not in the forests of Nottingham during
the Middle Ages, but in the mountains of almost medieval Afghanistan who enjoys worldwide

Kurzman, C harles, ed., Liberal Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1998): 5-6.
Fak sh, M ahm ud A , The Future of Islam in the Middle East. Fundamentalism in Egypt, Algeria and Saudi
Ara bia (W estp ort: P raeger, 19 97 ): xi.
Ibid., xii.
Doran, M ichael Scott, "Somebody E lse's Civil War," Foreign Affairs 1, 81 (January/ February 2002): 23.
Bergen, Peter L., Holy War, Inc. Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden (New York: The Free Press,
1998): 2.
celebrity”.12 He has a “global network of lieutenants and supporters”.13 He has sufficient
financial resources to operate independent of support from outside the organization. Perhaps
ironically, a world in which globalization advances at a rapid pace fuelled by modern
technology such as the Internet allows his message to be taken up in the blink of an eye to holy
warriors in various parts of the world. According to a statement of the U.S. State Department
in 1996, “bin Laden is the most significant financial sponsor of Islamic extremist activities in the
world today”.14 He and his terrorist network are seen by the United States as a real threat not
only to the country itself but to liberal democracy as a whole since they are in perpetual conflict
with its values.15

What if Islamism Did Not Exist?
There are voices, however, who assure us that Islamism will share the fate of
communism.16 Would this scenario bring a more optimistic perspective of Liberalism and
democracy to the Middle
East? Would potential conflict be thus eliminated? A brief review of Islamic attitudes, values and
beliefs, as opposed to the Western ones, and of the current human rights situation in the region
will help us answer this question.
By going back to Locke, Kant, Hegel and Marx, Fukuyama acknowledges the long
tradition of
philosophical, religious, and political ideology ingrained in Christianity. This tradition, through
centuries of distilling and refining, has led to the birth of democracy and Liberalism, the two
symbiotic pillars of the modern liberal democratic state.17 The concept of democracy as a form
of government goes back to the Greek philosophers.18 But in the West, democracy is more than
a form of government: it is a mentality rooted in Christianity and humanism, and relies on
“respect for the moral personality of man”19 whose infinite value in the eyes of God is strongly
emphasized. However, Fukuyama seems oblivious to the fact that not every part of the world
relies on the same ‘cultural’ tradition.
Not only is there hardly any democratic tradition in the Middle East but the very religious
beliefs of its inhabitants lead to a completely different vision of Man, who exists only to please
God. This is in spite of the fact that there are voices asserting that the Qur’an – the holy book
of Islam which lies at the heart of every aspect of human life and activity – if properly
interpreted, could set the stage for true democracy in that part of the world, and that the concept

Ibid., 44.
Ibid., 44.
Bergen, Holy W ar, Inc., 2.
Ibid., 44.
Fak sh, M ahm ud A , The Future of Islam in the Middle East. Fundamentalism in Egypt, Algeria and Saudi
Ara bia (Westport: Praeger, 1997): xv.
Ross, Alf, Why Dem ocracy? (Copenhagen: Harvard University Press, 1952): 136.
Hu ntingotn, S am uel P ., The Th ird Wave . Dem ocratization in the Late Twe ntieth Century (Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press, 1991): 5.
Ross, Why Dem ocracy?, 137.
of shura – which stands for social consensus in decision-making,20 for the ruler’s obligation to
consult the people – is proof of this democratic potential. Most thinkers and analysts agree that
the Islamic model does not match the Western one, that each reflects a different set of values
and concepts.21 This part of the world has its own attitudes, values and beliefs strongly rooted
in religion, which shapes a completely different ‘culture’.22 “When Westerners talk about political
ideas, they naturally hark back to the Magna Carta, the American Revolution, and the French
Revolution. Muslims go back to the Qur’an and the hadith (verse) to derive good principles
about good governance and concepts of social and economic justice”.23
Liberal democracy cannot exist in the absence of human rights. The status of women
and their rights in these countries is a telling example of how unprepared for democracy the
Middle East is. Despite the fact that many of them are members of the United Nations
(Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria) and in this position have
undertaken binding legal obligations through ratification of a whole body of legislation on
human rights, these countries are obviously not satisfied with what they perceive as tools for
secularization and westernization in the form of human rights arguments. The international
human rights law is, in many respects, not compatible with the Islamic ideology, culture and
religion, and with shari’a, the Islamic law, whose various interpretations has affected women’s
rights in Islam. Women are not only absent from the public debate and from public life in
general, they do not have elementary rights such as the right to marriage based on free choice
and consent. Marriage in Islam is still imposed on women. The notion of a woman interacting
freely with males, and the idea that she could choose a husband on her own are deeply
offensive in Islam and are perceived to threat to existing social order.24

Could Liberal Democracy be Exported to the Middle East?
If liberal democracy cannot be adopted from within, the only chance to bring it to the
Middle East would be to have it imposed from without. This is the alleged motif behind the wars
waged by the U.S. against Afghanistan and Iraq. Both wars were allegedly underlain by the
liberal belief that “promoting freedom will produce peace”25 in the region as expressed by
President Bush in his speeches. On various occasions, he stated that “what happens in the
Middle East matters to America [because] the bitterness of that region can bring violence and
suffering to [its] own cities”, and that the United States “support[s] the advance of freedom in

Filali-Ansari, Abdou, “Can Modern Rationality Shape a New Religiosity? Mohamed Abed Jabri and the
Paradox of Islam and Modernity” (p. 156-171) in Cooper, John, Ronald Nettler, and Mohamed M ahmoud,
ed., Islam and Modernity. (New York: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 1998; I. B. Tauris Publishers, 2000): 159.
Inglehart, Ronald, “Culture and Dem ocracy” (p. 80-97) in Harrison, Lawrence E. and Samuel P. Huntington
ed., Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Behaviour (New York: Basic Books, 2000): 79.
Fulle r, Graham E., "Th e Fu ture of Politica l Islam ," Foreign Affairs 2, 81 (March/April 2002): 50.
Ali, Sh ahe en S arda r, Gender and Human Rights in Islam and International Law. Equal Before Allah,
Unequal Before Man? (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2002): 159.
Doyle, M ichael W . "Libera lism a nd W orld P olitics," The American Political Science Review 4, 80 (December
1986): 1151.
the Middle East because it is [its] founding principle, and because it is in [its] national interest.”26
There are voices among political scientists asserting that Iraq and its oil are nothing but
instruments enabling the US to maintain its hegemony in the world in the post-Cold War era.
This argument deserves further scrutiny. However, our focus is on the extension of liberal
democracy to the Middle East and Northern Africa and, as a result, the United States is brought
into discussion only as a possible or impossible vehicle for this transfer.
Once achieved, peace in the Middle East could create the grounds for capitalism and
democracy, which, in turn, would prevent further terrorist attacks against liberal democracy, and
could allow the Middle Easterners to embrace liberal ideology. A democratic post-Saddam Iraq
could become a model of democracy in the region. However, peace, democracy and capitalism
are only very remote possibilities in the Middle East as the current situation attests. Both
Afghanistan and Iraq are difficult countries. Neither has a unified population with a common
national identity. The society is formed of many, often antagonistic, tribes, armed and ready to
fight each other. This is a major barrier to democracy because elections held under ethnic and
religious tensions could generate a government controlled by one group to the detriment of the
others. Free and fair elections could thus trigger conflict instead of liberty and democracy.27 As
Huntington puts it, governments produced by elections may be democratic and at the same
time undesirable because they are not able to adopt policies serving equally everyone’s
The process of democratization imposed from outside is slow, fragile, and, above all,
very costly. “Without a full-fledged, long-term military occupation”, no progress on the path
introducing “effective modern democratic state structures” can be guaranteed in Afghanistan.29
And since the international community is already giving signs of fatigue, the ambition to turn
Afghanistan into a modern state with a democratic government is giving room to the alternative
of a “loose national mediation committee” rooted in the local reality.30 Iraq’s future seems to
be even more uncertain than Afghanistan’s. The actual reform plan that the Bush administration
has thus far set out does not seem to be very promising in terms of ability to produce radical
changes in the Arab world. Iraq used to be a full autocracy in which the leader was held in
power by an extensive security apparatus used to repress the civilian population, and divided
to rule. Thus, the opening brought by the Americans may become the beginning of a civil war
in the name of revenge for past atrocities, and not the dawn of liberal democracy. Analysts see
its future tightly connected to the timing of elections. Early elections might provoke civil conflict
and thus not be conducive to commitment to the new institutions built on a democratic basis.
Late elections, on the other hand, enhance the Iraqis’ overt frustration with the presence of the
Remarks by the President in Commencement Address at the University of South Carolina, May 9, 2003
Otta way, Marina and Judith Yaph e, "Political Recon struction in Iraq: A Rea lity Ch eck," Carne gie
Endo wm ent for International Peace (March 27, 2003): 4,
Hu ntingotn, S am uel P ., The Th ird Wave . Dem ocratization in the Late Twe ntieth Century (Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press, 1991): 10.
Otta way, Marina and An atol L ieven , "Rebuilding Afgha nistan : Fan tasy versus Rea lity," Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace 12 (January 2002): 1,
Ibid., 5.
U.S. troops perceived as an occupational force and have potential to jeopardize the whole
democratization process.31 Other problems remain unsolved for the foreseeable future, which
delay the democratization and liberalization process in the country, such as security fears,
internal border disputes, lack of national cohesion, potential of intervention by the neighboring
countries, etc.32
To make things worse, the very credibility of the United States as a pro-democratic actor
is affected by its excessively long indulgence in accepting and co-operating with the full
autocracies of the region. Besides, they are trying to separate Islam from politics, which reflects
their ignorance of the intricate relationship between the two and of the fact that Islamism has
no real ideological rival in this part of the world.33 The United States’ sometimes ambiguous
interests in the stability of the oil-rich Persian Gulf and of strategically critical Egypt led it to
undergo peacemaking actions to contain the radical opponents of peace (Iraq, Iran, Libya) and
leave friendly Arab regimes to take care of their internal problems at will. Without ignoring
political reform in its entirety, the US “just tinkered with it on the margins”.34 It is thus hard to
see in the United States a reliable vehicle of liberal democracy in that part of the world.

b) “The End of Mankind’s Ideological Evolution”

Liberal Islam
Hardly known to the Western audience and not too well received at home because of
the negative connotations of the term ‘liberal’ in parts of the Islamic world where it is
“associated with foreign domination, unfettered capitalism, hostility to Islam,”35 Liberalism,
nevertheless, exists in the Middle East. It was initiated by Shah Wali-Allah (India, 1703-1762),
a revivalist thinker with ‘liberal’ religious views. His interpretation of the holy book is
considerably more humanistic than that of Revivalism. It talks about opposition to theocracy,
support for democracy, guarantees of the rights of women and non-Muslims in Islamic
countries, defense of freedom of thought, and belief in the potential for human progress.
However, at this early stage, like Revivalism, Liberal Islam does not depart from religion and
only very few of its promoters have a Western view and attitude towards Liberalism and
democracy. “The similarity of liberal Islam and Western Liberalism does not imply that liberal
Muslims are stale and reassuring imitators of Western philosophy. Many of their writings are
firmly rooted in Qur’anic exegesis, in the lives of the Prophet Muhammad and the early
Muslims, and in traditional Islamic forms of debate”.36

Otta way, Marina and Thom as C aroth ers. "Th e Right Ro ad to Sovereign ty in Iraq ," Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace 27 (October 2003): 1,
Byman, D aniel, "Constructing a Democratic Iraq: C halle nges and O ppo rtunities," Interna tional Secu rity 1,
28 (Summer 2003): 61.
Fulle r, Graham E,. "Th e Fu ture of Politica l Islam ," Foreign Affairs 2, 81 (March/April 2002): 3.
Indyk, M artin, "B ack to the Bazaar," Foreign Affairs 1, 81 (January/ February 2002): 77.
Kurzman, C harles, ed., Liberal Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1998): 5.
Ibid., 10.
Only in the nineteenth century did Liberal Islam begin to distinguish itself more clearly
from Revivalism, promoted by a wave of intellectuals schooled in the West. On the intellectual
plane, liberals began to separate ijtihad from taqlid, reason from authority, respectively. Ijtihad
allowed Islam to be interpreted in accordance with the perceived needs of the modern age. But
none of these needs were liberal in the Western sense: need to resist European rule or
acquiesce37. Many liberals of this period are still the product of religious education.
Probably the closest resemblance between Western Liberalism and Liberal Islam is their
respect for modernity. Through education reform, promoters of Liberal Islam managed to
introduce in schools disciplines such as engineering, military science, medicine and natural
sciences, comparative legal studies and social science, modern languages. Journalists trained
in these schools laid a timid foundation for liberal communication with the masses through
media. Cairo became a central site for liberals to visit and study, just as Mecca and Medina had
been for revivalist a century earlier. Liberals reached the apogee of their power in the first two
decades of the twentieth century.38

c) “No Alternatives to the Western Liberal Democrat State”

Forms of human government typical to the Middle East
As long as there is oil in the Middle East, autocracy as a form of government will be hard
to remove from the region, and liberalization and democratization will have no true support.
Partial opening is possible, though, as has been already seen in the ‘liberalized autocracies’39
of the region. Islamic states have seen almost every possible type of regime other than a
democratic one: the region has had its fair share of “monarchical, socialist, secular nationalist,
Islamist, military junta...”40 The unifying thread of these different types of regimes is their
authoritarian rule underlain by ‘rentierism’. The oil-rent state is common in the Middle East. In
these countries, oil is the blessing of those in power and the curse of the ordinary people living
in poverty since the government controls a monopoly on it and therefore derives substantial
revenues from rents received from foreign countries. “These rents allow the state to become
autonomous from society and unaccountable to its citizens.”41 This way the “state can usually
resist much of the pressure for reform and political accountability.”42 It reduces its role to the
preservation of citizens’ traditional entitlements. The rentier state is opposed to the Western
production states, where the government uses its fiscal tools to obtain revenue from the
population who agrees to be taxed in return for having its interests and needs catered to.
Another difference between the two lies in the very large non-private sector typical to the Middle
Kurzman, e d., Liberal Islam, 8.
Ibid., 9-10.
Kazem i, Farhad a nd A ugu stus R ichard Norton . Hard liners and Softliners in the Middle E ast in Handelman,
Ho ward an d M ark T essler, ed. Democracy and Its L imits: Lessons from Asia , Latin America an d the M iddle
East (Notre Dame: University of Notre dame Press, 1999): 69.
Ibid., 69.
Kazem i and Norton. Hard liners and Softliners in the Middle E ast, 70.
Eastern state, in which the government is the almost exclusive employer and spender: in 1985,
public spending accounted for forty percent of Tunisia’s GNP, and forty-eight percent in
Egypt43. We can already see how ‘rentierism’ has a detrimental effect on economic development
and political liberalization. With money from rents, the state responds only to those concerns
of the population deemed necessary for staying in power and discourages the formation of an
independent bourgeoisie. By co-opting the members of the bourgeoisie in state-funded
economic projects, the government motivates them to remain loyal to the state and not to push
for reform. The oil rent perpetuates authoritarian governments in countries like Jordan, Saudi
Arabia, Tunisia, Lebanon, the Gulf states, etc.44
Implicit in ‘rentierism’ is the concept of ‘clientalism’ also practiced by Middle Eastern
countries.45 ‘Clientalist’ economies involve “obligations of cooperating parties which are implicit
rather than explicit and take the form of gift giving.”46 As opposed to the market economies,
where interactions among individuals rely on contracts and where neutrality of the relationship
is thus ensured, the economic relationships and social interactions of the ‘clientalist’ state
members rest on “kinship and ethnicity.”47 “Gift giving reinforces a sense of trust and enduring
obligation among the parties.”48 This economic climate cannot foster or even accommodate the
development of free markets as an essential prerequisite for Liberalism. Fukuyama acclaimed
the triumph of consumerism all over the world but the mere presence of western products in
Middle Eastern markets unaccompanied by sound underlying free market principles cannot be
equaled to 48victory.

The argument that Western liberal democracy and the liberal state become absolute
winners of the clash between ideologies and state systems, respectively, with no further potential
for conflict with alternatives, or for change derived from Fukuyama’s theory on the “end of
history” does not have straightforward and immediate application in the Middle east. In the
Middle East, liberal democracy can either run into a dead end, if Political Islam manages to
keep it away from the region and ‘rentierism’ and ‘clientalism’ further marginalize it, or be at a
cross-roads from where its development can take a new turn, adjusted to the Islamic reality, as
the existence of presently timid Liberal Islam suggests. At present, the social, political and
economic situation of the region is complicated and does not lend itself well to short-term
optimistic scenarios. Since the Middle East is not a negligible part of the world, the
announcement of the triumph of liberal democracy and its universality announced by
Fukuyama is premature.

Ibid., 72.
Ibid., 74.
Mo usse au, M ichael, "Market Civilization and Its Clash w ith Terror," Interna tional Secu rity 3, 27 (Winter
2002/03): 10.
Ibid., 11.
Mousseau, “Market Civilization and Its Clash with Terror,” 12.

Ali, Shaheen Sardar. 2002. Gender and Human Rights in Islam and International Law.
Equal Before Allah, Unequal Before Man? The Hague: Kluwer Law International.

Bergen, Peter L. 1998. Holy War, Inc. Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden. New
York: The Free Press.

Bloom, Allan, Pierre Hassner, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Irving Kristol, Daniel Patrick Moynihan,
and Stephen Sestanovich. 1989. Responses to Fukuyama. The National Interest 16:

Byman, Daniel. 2003. Constructing a Democratic Iraq: Challenges and Opportunities.
International Security 1, 28: 47-78.

Doran, Michael Scott. 2002. Somebody Else's Civil War. Foreign Affairs 1, 81: 22-42.

Doyle, Michael W. 1986. Liberalism and World Politics. The American Political Science
Review 4, 80: 1151-1169.

Faksh, Mahmud A. 1997. The Future of Islam in the Middle East. Fundamentalism in Egypt,
Algeria and Saudi Arabia. Westport: Praeger.

Filali-Ansari, Abdou. 2000. Can Modern Rationality Shape a New Religiosity? Mohamed
Abed Jabri and the Paradox of Islam and Modernity. In Islam and Modernity, 156-
171. Edited by John Cooper, Ronald Nettler, and Mohamed Mahmoud. New York:
I. B. Tauris Publishers.

Fukuyama, Francis. 1989. The End of History. The National Interest 16: 3-18.

—. 1992. The End of History and the Last Man. New York: The Free Press.

Fuller, Graham E. 2002. The Future of Political Islam. Foreign Affairs 2, 81: 48-60.

Huntington, Samuel P. 1991. The Third Wave. Democratization in the Late Twentieth
Century. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

—. 1996. The Clash of Civilizations: Remaking the World Order New York: Simon and

Indyk, Martin. 2002. Back to the Bazaar. Foreign Affairs 1, 81: 75-88.
Inglehart, Ronald. 2000. Culture and Democracy. In Culture Matters: How Values Shape
Human Behaviour, 80-97. Edited by Lawrence E. Harrison and Samuel P.
Huntington. New York: Basic Books.

Kazemi, Farhad and Augustus Richard Norton. 1995. Hardliners and Softliners in the Middle
East. In Democracy and Its Limits: Lessons from Asia, Latin America and the Middle
East, 69-89. Edited by Howard Handelman and Mark Tessler.. Notre Dame:
University of Notre dame Press.

Kurzman, Charles. 1998. Liberal Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.

Mousseau, Michael. 2002/2003. Market Civilization and Its Clash with Terror. International
Security 3, 27: 5-29.

Ottaway, Marina and Anatol Lieven. 2002. Rebuilding Afghanistan: Fantasy versus Reality.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 12, January : 1-7,

Ottaway, Marina and Judith Yaphe. 2003. Political Reconstruction in Iraq: A Reality Check.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 27: 1-8,

Ottaway, Marina and Thomas Carothers. 2003. The Right Road to Sovereignty in Iraq.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 27, October: 1-7,

Ross, Alf. 1952. Why Democracy? Copenhagen: Harvard University Press.
More Than Just a Game: Cricket in
England and the West Indies
Mark Lyons

This paper charts the history of cricket from the Victorian era in England, through the periods
of imperialism, and independence, in the West Indies, and following it through into the present
era of commercialisation. In so doing it attempts to illustrate how cricket, throughout its history,
has been a game that has been driven by forces that lay, to borrow from cricketer and
intellectual C L R James, beyond its boundaries. That is to say, cricket has been driven by
political forces that have embedded in the game various symbols and meanings that are
dependent upon one’s relation to the game itself. Furthermore, by relating the case of cricket
to other similar examples, it hopes to demonstrate how this politicization of sport is not unique
to cricket.

hen, on June 29,1950, the West Indies cricket team defeated England for the first time

W in a test match, few could have understood the greater significance that accompanied
the falling of the final wicket. That first victory, and the subsequent series win that
summer, became great sources of pride for people throughout the West Indies as they joined
together to celebrate victory against their imperial ruler. Over the next few decades, as West
Indian cricket went through its golden age, the sport came to have great cultural importance for
the accompanying movements for independence. Its impact was as great as, if not greater, than
literature and other forms of high culture. This relationship between cricket and nationalism is
an example of how sport has become a form of political and cultural expression, not just in the
West Indies, but all over the world.
In his classic 1963 book, Beyond a Boundary, cricketer, writer, and intellectual, C.L.R.
James gives his account of how cricket in the Caribbean evolved from an imperial game to a
form of Caribbean cultural expression every bit as important as opera, dance, and literature. As
James points out however, the game of cricket could never be just a game. From its rise to
prominence in England during the Victorian era, through the spread of the game by imperial
elites, to the West Indian drive for independence, and up to the present era of
commercialisation, cricket has always been a game that is affected
by forces that lay beyond its boundaries. It is by examining these Mark Lyons is a
forces, and how they have been played out in the real world, that fourth year Political
one can see how cricket is related to several issues in contemporary Science Honours
political science. Cricket has become a form of political and cultural student at Mount
expression precisely because people have used it in such a way. Allison University.
Therefore, by examining how different people have used cricket,
one can see the real political and cultural motives that lay behind
their actions. The experiences that are shown within cricket can also be seen manifesting
themselves in other sports, in other nations: the link between sport and politics is not unique to
cricket in England and the West Indies.
The first thing that must be understood about cricket is the way in which Victorian social
values came to be tied with it, despite the fact that it is not a Victorian institution. The version
of the game that the Victorians played had taken shape and solidified during the Hanoverian
era, and despite their tendency to modernize other forms of leisure during the same period, the
Victorians were very reluctant to change any of the traditional laws or implements of cricket.
This is because it was during this period that the English came to revere cricket as a great
national symbol.1 Cricket, it must be understood however, was much more than just a national
symbol for the Victorians. Rather, it also became closely tied to religion and morality, as it was
believed to represent the ideals of good health, self-sacrifice, discipline, and loyalty to the crown.
It was thought that these values could be instilled in people by having them play the game. As
a result, all sectors of Victorian society came to revere cricket and everyone in the nation was
encouraged to play. The links that cricket had developed between itself and positive social
values led people to view cricket, along with the crown, as a durable institution of social
harmony. Because cricket was also viewed as an exclusively English creation, and thus
untarnished by outside influences, it also became viewed as a symbol of English cultural
Looking at this, one can see that the Victorians had merely associated this older game
with the positive values that they saw as being representative of their own society. Despite this,
and even though the game has gone through significant changes since then, cricket has
remained inextricably linked with Victorian social values.3 This is what Eric Hobsbawm means
when he speaks of an invented tradition as an attempt to have the values of a suitable historical
past continue by aligning certain current practices with these acceptable values.4 In this case, the
Victorians -- and English society since that era -- have assigned to cricket the values of a period
that remains a great source of pride. The game of cricket was not a new invention, but the
values that came to be associated with it were. It was this great pride and sense of cultural
supremacy that led the English to use cricket as a tool of imperialism. A sense of responsibility
had led the Victorians to believe that it was their duty to civilize people that were not as
advanced as themselves.5
This notion was spread throughout the colonies during this era via not only the
individual colonialists but also the entire imperial structure. Everyone, from early plantation
bosses in the Caribbean to the more formal leaders of the imperial structure, took cricket with
them when they left England because they viewed it as having a much greater purpose than
providing a mere form of recreation or entertainment.6 The greater purpose that imperial rulers
Keith A P. San diford, Cricket and Victorian Society,” Journal of Social History 17 (1983): 303-317.
John Sim ons, “The ‘En glishness’ of English Cricket,” Journal of Popu lar Culture 29 (1995): 41-50.
Eric Hobsbawm, “Introduction: Inventing Traditions,” in The Inven tion of Traditions. eds. Eric Hobsbawm
and Terence Ranger (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 1-14.
San diford.
For the more formal leaders see: Sandiford; Brian Stoddart, “Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial
Respon se in the British Em pire,” Com parative Studies in Society and H istory 30 (1988): 649-673; Wendy
Varney, “H owzat! Cricket From E mp ire to Globalization,” Peace Review 11, no. 4 (1999): 557-563. For the
and laymen alike saw for cricket was its ability to transmit and establish certain cultural values
in the colonies. While this was not the only way in which imperial rulers forced their values on
colonial societies,7 sport, and cricket in particular, was viewed as one of the best ways of
accomplishing this goal.8 It was believed that sport would have two distinct results when it was
imposed on the colonial population. First, it would act as a sort of civilizing agent that would
impart on the colonists the values and correct social behaviour they lacked (meaning those of
the model Victorian society). Second, it would also be able to form a sort of common cultural
bond that would connect the whole empire together.9
In this respect, one can see a link here between the English use of cricket in the West
Indies, and the American cultural experience at home and overseas. At home, educators of the
progressive era in the Untied States attempted to assimilate the children of European
immigrants, just as the English did with its colonists. While overseas, in places such as the
Philippines, they regarded it as their duty to civilize those who they believed were inferior, just
as the English did. In both cases, sport was used as an important tool to accomplish these goals.
The American use of sport in this way derived from the fact that the Americans of the
progressive era, and of other times, much like the English of the Victorian era, believed that
sport could play an important role in the transfer of social values.10
These notions of sport being used as an imperial tool have strong resonance with a
couple of the themes that Edward Said covers in his book, Culture and Imperialism. First, and
most importantly, the attempt on the part of the imperial ruler to use sport as a way of having
colonial societies adopt their social and cultural values is an example of what Said terms cultural
imperialism. Cultural imperialism is differentiated from classical imperialism (that is to say
imperialism based upon a geographic area) because of its relation to values and ideas that leads
to more insidious and long lasting effects. The sense of cultural supremacy meanwhile can be
viewed as being an example of the sort of arrogance that Said believes is required on the part
of the imperial ruler to maintain control over people in distant lands. Said also argues that this
is driven by a belief on the part of the imperial ruler that it is their duty to subjugate the people
whom they see as being inferior to themselves. These points appear to perfectly mirror the
feelings of both the English and Americans in their different, yet similar, experiences.11
Despite the motives underlying the transplantation of cricket in the West Indies, the game
was very well received in the islands by the colonists. The game was so well received in fact, that
the colonial population voluntarily accepted it even without formal prompting from the

early b osses see: Brian Stod dart, “C aribbe an C ricket: T he R ole of Spo rt in Em erging sm all-na tion Politics,”
Interna tional Journ al, 43, no.4 (1998): 618-642.
It is imp ortan t to state here that in this disc ussion, when one refers to “colo nists,” “colonial popu lations,”
“colonial societies,” or “West Indians,” one is in not referring to the entire West Indian population, but rather
the p eop le of non-E nglish desc ent.
Richard H olt, Sport and the B ritish (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), 202-203, 212. See also: C. Searle,
“Race B efore Wicket: Cricket, Empire and the Wh ite Rose,” Race and Class 31, no.3 (1990): 31-48.
Ho lt, 202-203, 212; Sto dda rt (198 8).
Gerald R. G ems, “Spo rts, War and Ideological Imp erialism,” Peace Review 11, no.4 (1999): 573-578.
For th e po ints m ade abo ut Sa id, see: Edw ard W . Said, Culture and Im perialism (New Y ork, K nop f, 1993),
especially chapter 1.
English.12 The main reason for this, at the outset at least, was that the colonists wished to
emulate their imperial rulers as a way of dismantling the barriers that had been set up between
them.13 What actually occurred was that the division between the groups remained intact while
the colonists continued to be subjected to English values.14 This is because playing the game
meant conforming to the values that it was supposed to represent, namely an acceptance of the
continuation of the Empire, and Victorian social practices.15
Even though the West Indians may have initially accepted cricket, over time they became
much more resentful of its presence. The slavish emulation of whites by blacks in cricket and
the continued barriers between the two groups led to great frustration and aggression on the
part of West Indian cricketers. This aggression found its outlet in the form of the cricket bat, as
West Indian cricketers sought to outperform whites in all areas of the game.16 Cricket came to
represent not only English values and ideals but also a form of political demonstration where
frustration could be taken out on the ball. In this way, cricket became a struggle against English
supremacy, where the West Indians successful participation in the game became an expression
of their nationhood.17 This striving for recognition through cricket resulted in the development
of a larger number of great West Indian cricketers starting in the late 1920s.18 As others came
to see the West Indians as great cricketers, West Indians came to see themselves in the same
light, thereby resulting in a greater national confidence.19
Where the English had used cricket as a tool of cultural domination, the West Indians
responded by using it as a tool of freedom and nationalism. The confidence and growing sense
of nationalism that West Indians received from their excellence at cricket in turn formed the
basis of a common cultural bond throughout the Caribbean. Where West Indian society had
once been divided into several sectors based upon factors such as geography, skin colour, and
status, cricket came to form an integral part of a new and unified Caribbean culture. This new
Caribbean culture rallied around cricket to express support for independence and a
fundamental rejection of not only the practice of colonialism, but also the values that it stood
for. At the same time however, this rising feeling of nationalism, because of its link with cricket,
remained tied to England and the values that it represented.20 The dilemma that this
juxtaposition created within West Indian society is wonderfully expressed in the words of
Jamaican Orlando Patterson.

Cricket is the game we love for it is the only game that we can play well, the only
activity which gives us some international prestige. But it is the game that deep

Ho lt, 212; Sto dda rt (198 8).
Stod dart (1 998).
Ibid.; Cyril L R. James, Beyond a Boun dary (New Y ork, Panth eon , 1983), espe cially chap ters 2,3 , & 4 .
Stod dart (1 988).
Mau rice St. Pierre, “West Indian Cricket Part 1: A Socio-H istorical Appraisal,” Caribbean Qu arterly 19, no.2
(1973a): 7-27.
St. Pierre (19 73a).
Holt, 221-222.
down we must hate-the game of the master. Hence it becomes on the symbolic
level the English culture we have been forced to love, for it is the only real one
we have, but the culture we must despise for what it has done to us…21

The example of how West Indian nationalism developed out of the game that had been
imposed by the “imperial leader” can be related to more contemporary examples involving
sport in Canada and the United States. The victory of the Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series
of baseball represented the first time that a Canadian team had beaten the Americans at their
own game in such a high profile setting, in much the same way that the West Indian victory in
1950 was a watershed for West Indian sport and culture. Just as in the West Indian example of
1950, the Blue Jay victory resulted in a wave of nationalism that spread across the country,
despite the lack of Canadian players actually on the team.22 Both of these victories came against
the “imperial” power in games that are viewed as domains of dominance by the imperial power
and resulted in nationalistic pride in the “colonial” nation.
Here again one can see the some of Said’s ideas playing out in the real world. The fact
that the West Indian colonists accepted cricket is symptomatic of what Said believes is an
integral part of imperialism, the notion that it requires the support of both sides in order for it
to continue. In this understanding, the subordinate people in the imperial experience must
accept their role in the system, just as the rulers must. Said also points out, however, that each
side has its own set of perspective, interpretations, and emotions regarding their common
history. Therefore, the meaning of this common past is dependent upon which side one
stands.23 This helps to explain why the English can reminisce about the glory days of empire
while the West Indians challenged the empire, and celebrate its fall.
The conflict within colonial society that develops out of the split feelings about the sport
is symbolic of a greater divide that tears at these societies. This type of divide, Said argues, is
typical of the imperial legacy (cultural imperialism) that is left to burden the colonists when the
formal bonds of empire (classical imperialism) have been removed. Despite this apparent
antagonism, Said claims that all cultures are formed out of cultural hybrids such as this. This
point stems from Said’s belief that no culture stands alone and that the experiences of different
cultures inevitably impact those they come into contact with, and thus the hybrid. For Said, the
antagonism that exists is an example of the negative impact that cultural imperialism has, as it
results in attempts to keep cultures separate that lead to a rehashing of the old imperial rivalries.
Instead, Said believes that people should acknowledge, accept, and celebrate, their shared
experiences so that a more understanding world can result, rather than one that is fraught with
Orlando P aterson, “The Ritual of Cricket,” Jamaica Journal 3, no.1 (1969): 22-25 quoted in Helen Tiffin,
“Cricket, Literature and the Politics of De-colonisation: The case of C.L.R. James,” in Sp orts, Money, Morality
and the M edia, eds. Richard Cashman and Michael Mckernan (Kensington, Australia: New South Wales
University Press, 1981), 177-193.
Sean Hayes, “America’s National Pastime and Canadian Nationalism,” in Sp ort and Mem ory in N orth
Am erica, ed. Stephen Wieting (London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2001), 154-184.
For th e po ints m ade abo ut Sa id, see: Said (1993), espe cially chap ter 1.
So while the West Indian sense of nationalism found in cricket may have derived from
England, it was nonetheless viewed as being distinctly West Indian. C.L.R. James argues that
the West Indian way of playing cricket was fundamentally different from the traditional English
way of playing. This is related to James’s idea that cricket was a form of art, the presentation
of which had just as much political significance and impact on the definition of what it meant
to be West Indian as any other form of art. James argues that while the English demonstrated
their own form of artistic representation in cricket, so too did the West Indians. The West Indian
style is claimed to be more expressive and stylistic than the traditional, straight English version,
a symbol of the freedom and independence that the West Indians sought through the game.25
While it may be difficult for some to accept the notion that cricket is a form of artistic
expression, it is clear that there was a direct link between cricket and political or cultural
expression during the Caribbean independence era. The great cricketers of the era were born
out of the same social movement as the great literary and political minds of the day. There was
therefore a strong link between the ideas of those minds, and the actions of their fellow
cricketers: each in their own way called for change.26 James himself was a cricketer before he
was a writer, and he credits the game for having taught him a great deal about politics.27 In this
situation the workings of sport were very similar to the use of language, as the sport offered the
opportunity for the player to express their desire for national independence.28
Cricketers in West Indian society starting in this period have come to be great political
symbols or visionaries. During the independence era, cricketers were exalted to a new hero
status within West Indian society that required them to be mindful of the political ramifications
of their actions, if they were not already .29 During this era of the 1930s, great Trinidadian
cricketer Learie Constantine had his play restricted by the need to conform to a socially
accepted position, before later becoming a spokesperson for the West Indian cause.30 In the
independence era, however, cricketers were allowed -- if not expected -- to use cricket as a way
of speaking out.31 The cricketers did speak out, and while a good many have done it outside
of the game, a great many more did it within the game itself.32 The link between cricketers and
social activism leads to a link between these men and their role as public intellectuals.
In his book, Representations of the Intellectual, Said discusses a number of different
understandings of what it means to be an intellectual. While cricketers do not conform to Said’s
definition, they do share some of the same characteristics. Caribbean cricketers performed the
role of the intellectual by standing up against the forces of injustice in the name of freedom and

See in particular: James, chapters 6,7, 11 and 16.
James, 71.
Helen Tiffin, “Cricket, Literature and the Politics of De-colonisation: The case of C.L.R. James,” in Sports,
Money, Morality an d the M edia, eds. Richard Cashman and Michael Mckernan (Kensington, Australia: New
South Wales University Press, 1981), 177-193.
Mau rice St. Pierre, “West Indian Cricket Part 2: An A spect of Creolization,” Caribbean Qu arterly 19, no.3
(1973b): 20-35.
James, 105-109.
St. Pierre (19 73b).
equality. In Said’s mind however, a part of being an intellectual was the notion that they are not
just someone playing a role, but rather someone who is fully committed to the intellectual cause,
in all manner of fields and at all costs, expressing an idea to and for the public. So while the
cricketers spoke out in much the same way as real intellectuals, their scope was not large
enough to be consistent with Said’s definition.33
The fact that the cricketers did express these ideas is important nonetheless; the fact that
they played such a central role in the West Indian fight for independence is perhaps
symptomatic of the fall of the public intellectual. Michael Ignatieff bemoans what he sees as the
fall of the public intellectual because of the absence of any real, substantive challenge to the
politics of the day. A rise in populism and over-democratization, he argues, has left no one to
speak for the public need. The fact that West Indian people have been forced to find arguably
their most important “intellectuals” on the cricket field is a perfect example of what Ignatieff sees
as a lack of real intellectuals to speak for the public.34
As cricket began to take on an increasingly important role in the expression of West
Indian nationalism, tension inevitably arose between the West Indian and English conceptions
of the game. The West Indians believed that the best way of advancing their nationalist
sentiment was to beat the English at their own game.35 There was the equal notion on the other
side that the English could perhaps retain their cultural supremacy, and therefore reinforce their
grip on the colonies, by beating the West Indians.36 The test match provided an arena for the
two sides to dramatize their conflict, as tension remained high on the pitch, especially
throughout the independence era.37 Even after independence was firmly established, cricket
remained a way for the former colonists to stroke back at the imperial ruler for their past sins.38
These tensions can once again be related to the antagonisms that Said envisioned
developing out of cultural imperialism. Said noted how pressure exerted on the colonial society
by imperial rulers would inevitably result in a “push back” by the colonies. In the West Indian
experience, cricket was one of the ways that the colonists pushed back. What worried Said,
however, was that the tensions and antagonisms of the past would continue to be played out
over and over again in the future as the notion that the two cultures were separate remained.
The fact that the cricket ground has remained a scene where the colony confronts the imperial
ruler for the sins of the past speaks to this idea.39 The fundamental cause of all of this is related
back to the idea of the invented tradition. In this case, the invention comes not from a false
continuation of English values of the past, but rather the sidestepping of the English influence
to refer instead to a distinct West Indian historical background.40 It is perhaps arguable that had

For S aid’s u nde rstanding of pu blic intellectuals see: Ed ward W . Said, Representations of the Intellectual: The
1993 Reith Lectures (London, Vintage, 1994), especially chapter 1.
For Ignatieff’s argum ents see: Michael Ignatieff, “The Decline and Fall of the Public Intellectual,” Queens
Qu arterly 104, no.3 (1997): 395-403.
Holt, 222.
St. Pierre (19 73b).
For the points made about Said, see: Said (1993), especially chapter 1.
For the points made about “invented tradition,” see: Hobsbawm.
West Indians such as James been able to accept the “Englishness” of cricket, rather than
demonstrating their own uniqueness, these antagonisms may not have been so great.
The change in reference point from an English to a West Indian one is an aspect of the
notion of branding which has found its way into West Indian cricket. Peter van Ham expresses
the idea behind this in his discussion about the rise of the brand state. The branded state, van
Ham argues, uses aspects of its history, geography, and ethnic motifs to develop its own distinct
image. This image is then used to sell the branded state to the globalized world. Nevertheless,
this constructed image lacks any sense of the true national identity and nationalism. The notion
that the West Indian game had more panache than that of the English game is an example of
this, with the West Indies attempting to show off their less conservative, more free-spirited side.41
Now, as a result of the West Indies selling themselves through cricket, the only thing that people
in other nations tend to know of them is their cricket image,42 while the actual West Indian
culture is clearly more diverse than this.
Cricket has indeed had a long and colourful history from when it was first played by
sheepherders in England to the more commercialized game that is played today. Through all
of this has survived the idea that cricket is more than just a game as it continues to represent a
great many things to a great many people. While West Indians see the game with a great sense
of pride and a part of what it means to be West Indian, the English use the game in exactly the
same way. Despite this, the two sides have clearly imparted on the game their own values and
preconceptions, which has resulted in completely different understandings of the game.
The example of imperial cricket is a historical one and yet it is very much a
contemporary one. While it may sound cliché, one cannot know the true nature of the world
in which they live if they do not understand the past and how it is related to the present. The
example of cricket games in the past have mirrored similar examples in the present and have
been helpful in understanding current theories about the nature of the world in which the sports-
as-politics game is played. Sports such as cricket are intensely political because they are played
by humans. They reflect the human tendency to rule and divide just as much as they do the
tendency for humans to play for pure recreation and entertainment. All one should need to play
the game is a bat and a ball and eleven people per team. Unfortunately, when there are people
involved, there is no way a game could ever be so simple.


Gems, Gerald R. “Sports, war and ideological imperialism.” Peace Review 11 (4) (1999):

Hayes, Sean. “America’s National Pastime and Canadian Nationalism.” In Sport and Memory
in North America, ed. Stephen Wieting. London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2001.

For th e po ints m ade abo ut va n H am see: P eter V an H am , “The Rise of the Brand S tate: T he P ostm ode rn
Politics of Image a nd Rep utation,” Foreign Affairs 80 (2001): 2-6.
Stod dart.
Hobsbawm, Eric J. “Introduction: Inventing Traditions.” In The Invention of Traditions, ed.
Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press,

Holt, Richard. Sport and the British. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990.

Ignatieff, Michael. “The Decline and Fall of the Public Intellectual.” Queens Quarterly 104
(3) (1997): 395-403.

James, Cyril L R. Beyond a Boundary. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984.

St. Pierre, Maurice. “West Indian Cricket Part 1: A Socio-Historical Appraisal.” Caribbean
Quarterly 19 (2) (1973): 7-27.

—. “West Indian Cricket Part 2: An Aspect of Creolization.” Caribbean Quarterly 19 (3)
(1973): 20-35.

Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf, 1993.

—. Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures. London: Vintage, 1994.

Sandiford, Keith A P. “Cricket and Victorian Society.” Journal of Social History 17 (Winter)
(1983): 303-317.

Searle, Chris. “Race Before Wicket: Cricket, Empire and the White Rose.” Race and Class
31 (3) (1990): 31-48.

Simons, John. “The ‘Englishness’ of English Cricket.” Journal of Popular Culture 29
(Spring) (1995): 41-50.

Stoddart, Brian. “Caribbean Cricket: The Role of Sport in Emerging small-nation Politics.”
International Journal 43 (4) (1998): 618-642.

—. “Sport, Cultural Imperialism and Colonial Response in the British Empire.” Comparative
Studies in Society and History 30 (October) (1988): 649-673.

Tiffin, Helen. “Cricket, Literature and the Politics of De-colonisation: The case of C.L.R.
James.” In Sports, Money, Morality and the Media, ed. Richard Cashman and
Michael Mckernan. Kensington, Australia: New South Wales University Press, 1981.

Van Ham, Peter. “The Rise of the Brand State: The Postmodern Politics of Image and
Reputation.” Foreign Affairs 80 (5) (2001): 2-6.
Varney, Wendy. “Howzat! Cricket From Empire to Globalization.” Peace Review 11 (4)
(1999) 557-563.
Disease Diplomacy: The Inherent Paradox of
Globalization and AIDS
Laura Roberts

This paper seeks to understand a remarkable paradox linked to the processes of globalization
and the increasingly notorious AIDS pandemic. Commonly dubbed the next Black Death, AIDS
is crippling not only the public health system in a myriad of countries, but it is becoming
increasingly infamous as a development, security, trade, economic, and social issue that must
be dealt with multilaterally. The aspects of globalization such as transportation, social and
cultural marginalization, and economic integration seem to be intensifying the international
AIDS crisis to emergency levels never seen before in our history. However, at the same token,
progressions like global governance and cooperation, and the technology revolution are
providing us with realistic and promising solutions to this deadly outbreak. Case studies from
countries around the world will be used to demonstrate this paradox in a practical setting.

“We can no lo nger push the afflicted into plagu e ho spitals and retreat like m ediev al bu rghers
behind the high walls of our city’s defences. We must begin by recognizing that welfare is a global
common good. AIDS is the first epidemic of globalization. It has spread rapidly beca use of the
massive acceleration of communication, the rapidity with which desire is reconstructed and
ma rketed globally, and the flagrant inequality that exists within and betwee n societies.”
-Tony Barnett and A lan W hiteside, AIDS in the Tw enty-First Century; Disease and Globalization
New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2002:4.

cquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is an infectious disease caused by the

A Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). AIDS is the advanced form of HIV which may
not cause disease for a long period of time after the initial exposure.1 It is transmitted
primarily through contact of contaminated body fluids, especially blood and semen. Commonly
dubbed the next Black Death, AIDS is crippling not only to the public health system in many
countries,2 but it is becoming increasingly notorious as a development, security, trade,
economic, and social issue that must be dealt with multilaterally.
With thousands of new infections and deaths every day,
Laura Roberts is a
questions must be answered. Firstly, how and why is AIDS
fourth year International
getting distinctly worse? And secondly, what can be done to
Relations Honours
begin combating this deadly disease? These answers lie with the
student at Mount Allison
phenomenon that has swept the world by storm: Globalization.
Globalization is a dynamic, continuous process
encompassing various vehicles of change. It includes

Donna Olendorf, Christine Jeryan, Karen Boyden, et al.1999. The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine,Vol.1, A-B.
Plea se see World HIV and AIDS S tatistics, [on-line]available from: for Global Estimates of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, at the of end 2002.
interdependence and interconnectedness that see no boundaries or borders. Some of the most
predominant processes include, but are not limited to, transportation (the facilitated movement
of people and objects), social and cultural marginalization, economic integration, global
governance and cooperation, and the technology/information revolution. As the processes of
globalization become increasingly significant on the global stage, various consequences are
bound to ensue. How then, are the processes of globalization linked, negatively or positively,
to the AIDS pandemic? There seems to be an inherent paradox: the processes of globalization
have intensified the international AIDS crisis to emergency levels never seen before in our
history. At the same time, as the forces and institutions of globalization continue to grow, so too
does the ability to respond and provide a practical resolution to this epidemic.
Malcolm Waters suggests that there are some observable aspects of globalization, notably
increasing speed and volume. The speed of movement is discerned in two ways: First, as
something tangible (i.e. people), and second, as something intangible (i.e. cyber messages).
Both types of speed have increased massively and at unprecedented levels. Coupled with that
is another factor: shrinking space. With space being increasingly expressed in terms of time of
travel or communications, it appears to shrink as travel and communicational time decrease.
Waters speaks of the “phenomenological elimination of space and the generalization of time.”
A third aspect of globalization is permeable borders, which relates back to the idea of increased
interconnectedness and interconnectivity. The relationship of these two factors, between nation
states and the wider world, is increasing. Waters goes on to tell us that economic, political and
cultural change is now beyond the control of any national government, which has led to the
debates regarding the demise of the nation state.3 The fourth inherent aspect of globalization
is reflexivity. Local communities everywhere have the chance to interact with the world, as the
feeling of isolation becomes less of an option. Waters cites Giddens as saying that globalization
is the sine qua none of what he terms ‘reflexive modernity’, characterized by an increasing flow
of information, images, symbols and purchasable lifestyle identities.4 It is important to note that
globalization offers risks and opportunities, a facet central to the understanding of our paradox.
It has winners and losers within all societies and regions of the world. While it threatens to
marginalize entire regions in economic and political terms, it also benefits the technologically
advanced, while providing opportunities to newly industrialized countries.5 The 1999 Human
Development Report provides data that supports this inclination, which consists of an unequal
and therefore conflict-laden distribution of the costs and benefits of globalization.6
We will examine our paradox through the five main processes identified above:
transportation, social marginalization, economic integration, global governance and
See Susan Strange, “The Defective State,” Daedulus, (Spring 1995): 55-74., Kenichi Ohmae, “The End of
the Nation-State: The Rise of Regional Economies,” (1995), Saskia Sassen, Losing Control? Sovereignty in an
Age of Globalization (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 1-30.
All observations/characteristics taken from M alcolm Waters, as expressed in John Beynon, David Dunkerley,
eds., Globalization: The R ead er ( New York: Routledge, 2000): 6-7.
Pau l Ken ned y, Dirk Me ssne r, Fran z Nu sche ler, eds., Global Trends and Global Governance (Sterling : Pluto
Press, 2002): 157-158.
United Nations, Globalization with a Human Face: United Nations Human D evelopment Report, [on-line]
(accessed 15 Ma rch, 2 003); av ailable from http://hdr.un dp.o rg/repo rts/globa l/199 9/en /; Internet.
cooperation, and the technology/information revolution. It is the first three that seem to be
exacerbating the international AIDS crisis and thereby causing constraints against the
development of a viable global resolution. The latter two, seem to be the most predominant
processes of globalization that can assist in combating the AIDS pandemic.

This exploration of transportation has two case-specific categories: the international sex trade
and global tourism. In recent years, the international sex trade has grown exponentially. With
the emergence of this booming industry, there is an inherent and vicious rise in the number of
HIV/AIDS cases.
We will analyze a situation regarding Thailand sex workers working out of Denmark to
assess just one example of the severity and intensity of the international sex trade. This
extensive study was provided by the fieldwork of Anders Lisborg, who is affiliated with the
Centre for Development Research in Copenhagen. Globalization has facilitated prostitution
through increases in transnational migration, a problem that has accentuated the AIDS crisis in
past decades. There are three main types of prostitution migration patterns: “returning with a
tourist” (Type A), “migration through transnational social networks” (Type B), and “migration
through agents and commercial networks” (Type C).
Type A would involve a “typical” woman who is already working in the sex industry out
of the major urban centers of Thailand such a Bangkok, Koh Samui and Pattaya. While meeting
a Danish tourist or expatriate in Thailand, they would return with him to Denmark. Typically
the men will pay all the expenses for the Thai prostitute to come to Denmark, on the condition
that a marriage follows and the women commits to being the man’s servant. A common
characteristic of this type of prostitution migration is that the prostitutes have not planned their
migration in advance, and if a pro forma marriage is not legally provided, they remain in
Denmark to work in brothels and massage parlours. During the late 1980’s and 1990’s, HIV
infection rates among commercial sex workers saw a dramatic increase. HIV positive rates
reached epic proportions of 41-54 percent among commercial sex workers in brothels in the
northern Thai provinces in the early 1990’s.7 When sex workers would migrate to Denmark and
other European countries, they would bring infections and sexually transmitted diseases across
the border with them.
Type B’s “migration through transnational social networks” involves women, who have
friends and relatives in Denmark who can inform them about opportunities abroad and
eventually assist in their migration processes. The transnational networks serve as vehicles to
facilitate, motivate, and encourage migration. One woman in Thailand, Pikhun, had stopped
in Copenhagen once on a trip back to Thailand. She knew she wanted to return if the
opportunity was granted. When a close friend of her mother opened a massage parlour in
Denmark, the woman asked Pikhun if she would come and join her. She migrated from
Denmark back to Thailand a myriad of times before finally settling back in Thailand. Her
experience, however, demonstrates two examples of migration through transnational social
Leslie An n Jeffrey, Sex and Borders: Gender, National Identity, and Prostitution Policy in Thailand
(Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 2002): 109-110.
networks. Her case was an example of the “migration snowball effect,” or the so-called “chain
migration”, whereby women who have already experienced western migration, spread rumours
about the possibilities which lie in West. This only encourages the spread of more migration,
and thus disease. This migration can be viewed as an inevitable outcome of globalization as the
latter has served to facilitate the former. With the rise of global traffic, there could be inevitable
increases in HIV/AIDS infection rates.
The final type is migration through agents and commercial networks. The prostitutes in
this category are usually the ones who experience the most hardship. They use agents globally
who do the work for financial gain. These representatives can vary from individuals who have
received profit on a one-time basis, to criminal organizations established for the purpose of
prostitution through migration. The agents are seen as charity workers and experienced business
dealers who can provide new lives to displaced, unhappy sex workers in Thailand. Because of
their influence in both the sending and receiving countries, these agents are becoming
increasingly successful in influencing global migration patterns. Anders Lisborg’s research
suggests that Type C prostitution and its ensuing migration is an inherent offspring of
globalization. Globalization has facilitated international prostitution through the processes of
migration, thereby giving life to increasing HIV/AIDS statistics over the past decade.
The tourism industry, facilitated by globalization, has also been a factor in the rapid
spread of AIDS. Jeremy Seabrook identified the irony with sex tourism being a symptom of
globalization: the ‘integration’ of the whole world into a single economy, when both the workers
in the industry and the clients from abroad are themselves the product of global disintegration
– the destruction of local communities, the dissolution of rootedness and belonging, and the
breaking of old patterns of labour and traditional livelihoods – and the psychological confusion
of so many people caught up in something of which they have little understanding and over
which they have less control.8 Global tourism is a booming industry, and a significant factor of
globalization. In cases such as Thailand, the sex industry is one of the primary lures for tourists.
International prostitution appears to be rapidly increasing due to the spread of travel, migration,
and liberal economic “development” across the globe:

Never underestimate the impact of the 747 on rapid population movements;
European tourists who once saw the Mediterranean as a distant luxury now
holiday in the Seychelles and Phuket, while women and men from Nigeria and
Brazil sell themselves on the streets of Rome and Dusseldorf, and many migrants
find their jobs as entertainers, maids and nannies carry with them the expectation
of sexual services.9

Thailand seems to be the best study for global sex tourism as it has one of the most bustling
industries in the world with it bringing more than $4 billion a year to the national economy.
Millions of travelers, 70% of them men traveling alone, arrive in Thailand annually to purchase
the sexual services of teenage workers at bargain rates. The Internet is feeding this tourism as
Jerem y Seabrook, Travels in the Skin Trade (London: Pluto, 1996): 169-170.
Denis A ltma n, Global Sex (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001): 106-107.
well, not only in Thailand but also globally. Global sex guides posted on the World Wide Web
highlight the “best” countries and their regions to find prostitutes, facilitating international sexual

Social Marginalization
There is an unremitting, fierce cycle when it comes to globalization, poverty and AIDS. The
World Health Organization defines poverty, in its strictest definition, as a lack of money or
material possessions. In broader terms, poverty can be understood as the state of having
insufficient means, which may include the lack of social or educational resources. Poverty is
associated with other conditions such as unemployment, low education, deprivation, and
homelessness.11 Louis Pasteur once said that epidemics are never merely biological. They are
shaped and amplified by social forces, which are in turn set in motion by economic change.
“Just as the bubonic plague thrived in the crowded, pestilential European cities which provided
the breeding grounds for the rats which spread the disease, so too is AIDS spreading along the
fault lines of poverty, gender and class inequality.”12 As globalization can be seen as breeding
poverty, especially in the developing world, poverty is also one of the most quoted rationales
for explaining the rapid spread of AIDS, as it expands among those most susceptible to poverty,
inequality, and disparity.
Sandra Thurman, director of the Office of the National AIDS Policy for the United
States of America informs us that we cannot begin to win the battle against AIDS unless we, as
global citizens, deal with the basic vulnerabilities brought on by poverty and inequity. “Girls’
access to education, women’s access to micro credit loans and opportunities, fighting racism,
homophobia, long-standing gender inequality, and the exploitation of children are all, indeed
AIDS issues. Protecting the dignity and human rights of people living with HIV and AIDS and
all people with disabilities is, in fact, an AIDS issue.”13

For example;
World H ealth Organiza tion, W orld H ealth Rep ort 20 01, Mental Health; New Understanding, New Hope [on-
line] (accessed 29 March, 2003); available from
http://w ww hr20 01/200 1/m ain/en /chapter1 /001 c3.h tm; Internet.
“We a ll have AIDS,” New Internationalist, No. 346 (June 2002): 10.
Sandra L. Th urman , “Joining Forces to Fight HIV an d AIDS ,” Washington Quarterly, Vol. 24, No.1. (Winter
2001): 102.
On top of this, the impact of HIV and AIDS has worsened poverty conditions at all
levels, but specifically among the poorest sectors. Families are losing their primary breadwinner
and care-giver, and the numbers of child orphans as a result of losing a parent to AIDS is
skyrocketing. In turn, those children usually drop out of school, which leads to a generation of
unskilled workers. Household expenditures are being spent on health care, funerals, and care
related travel. The money that goes to AIDS care is rerouted from funds, which could have sent
children to school. Because families need money to deal with these problems, it forces young
girls and women into prostitution, seeking money to pay for their loved ones’ medical attention.
As a result of their heightened sexual activity, their risk of contracting HIV is automatically
Poverty is a key factor that increases personal and social vulnerability to AIDS.15 There
are many reasons for why this vulnerability exists: First and foremost, poor communities have
little or no access to health
care. Sexually transmitted
diseases are widespread in
many developing countries
because people simply cannot
afford treatment while health
and governments cannot
provide clinics or the medical
staff to help prevention. In
addition, people living in poor
communities tend to receive
less education, resulting in a
multitude of illiterate people.
This limits their access to
information about the disease
and skyrockets their risk of
contracting a STD. Living in
poverty also forces many
breadwinners to leave their
Figure 1 – HIV/AIDS Classification of Risk
families in search of work,
Source: The W orld B ank , Confronting AIDS; Public Priorities in a
which has grave consequences Global Epide mic (New Y ork: O xford Un iversity Press, 1999).
on family structures, and the
family as a whole.

Karen M cElra th, ed ., HIV and AID S: A Global View ( Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 2002): 209-210.
Please see Figure1 for a classification of risk of people susceptible to HIV/AIDS.
AIDS is also having drastic impacts on the underdevelopment of many states. The
disease lowers household incomes, sometimes affecting more than one working resident, and

From one employee • Me dical Care • Red uced job prod uctivity
with HIV/AIDS • Benefits p aym ents • Red uced pro duc tivity due to employee’s
(individual costs) • Recruitment and training absences
of replacement worker • Sup ervisors time in dealing with p rodu ctivity
• Vacancy rate until replacement is hired
• Reduced productivity while replacement
worker learns the job

From many • Insurance premiums • Senior management time
em ployees w ith • Acciden ts due to ill • Production disruptions
HIV/AIDS workers and • Depressed m orale
(organizational costs) inexperienced • Loss of ex perien ced workers
replacem ent w orkers • Deterioration of labour relations
• Costs of litigation over
benefits and other issues

Table 1 – The Costs of AIDS to an Employer
So urc e: Sydney Rob son, Jonatho n Sim on, Jeffrey R . Vincent et al., “AIDS is Yo ur Business,” Harva rd
Business Review, (February 2003): 84.

families are finding it increasingly difficult to fund the treatment required for their health.16 The
disease is also increasing the cost of doing business in terms of health care, death benefits,
pensions, recruitment, training and other costs. Table 1 shows a breakdown of the total costs
of AIDS to an employer. The Harvard Business Review declared (with a surprising lack of
sensitivity) that “AIDS is destroying the twin rationales of globalization; cheap labour and fast
growing markets.” Workers are becoming increasingly unproductive, mostly as a result of their
illness-related absences and time away from work to care for their sick relatives.
Many corporations derive a competitive advantage from the low costs of performing
business in the developing world. AIDS is destroying that benefit and handing the tab of
medical care over to the multinational firms. For example, the average executive in a
corporation with operations in South Africa encounters the probability that anywhere from 10%
to 40% of its employees are HIV positive. If there is an absence of effective treatment, almost
all of them will die over the course of the next decade. The corporations affected by the
pandemic, however, can serve as resourceful collaborators in halting the spread of AIDS as well.
This could be viewed as a benefit of globalization: multinational corporations willing to invest
financially to avoid the costs of an unhealthy workforce and population. Prevention and
Canad ian H IV/A IDS Legal Network, A IDS as a Developm ent Issue. Canadian HIV/AIDS Policy and Law
Newsletter, Vol.2, No.4. (July 1996): 1-3.
treatment campaigns implemented by businesses in the developing world will benefit them in
the long run as workforces will become more productive and less expensive. AIDS could reduce
GDP growth by rates of 0.5% to 2.6% a year in several African countries. With statistics such
as these plaguing the corporations, it only makes sense for them to develop strategic goals,
which incorporate preventive treatments for their workers.17

Economic Integration
Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, has established a global AIDS Fund, with an
initial target of $10 billion. As of June 2002, the fund had established about $2.0 billion in
pledges. The United States has committed a meager $200 million, compared with the $50
billion it donated to fight global terrorism after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The
developing countries, usually the hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic, cannot fight this on their
own; especially in an era where it appears that global economic conditions are conspiring
against them. With healthcare systems in a weak position, debt payments draining national
budgets, and the diversion of aid being spent elsewhere (i.e. terrorism), the prospect of more
resources to fight AIDS appears slim.18
One of the most contentious issues surrounding the globalization and AIDS debate
encircles a larger debate surrounding international trade rules on drugs. Sandra Thurman tells
us that the G7, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization (WHO)
and the United Nations (UN) must work in concert to refine policy regarding pharmaceuticals
and medical technology, especially with regards to parallel importation and compulsory
licensing. There is a hard equilibrium to maintain. It involves guarding international property
rights and ensuring adequate future investment and interest in research and development,
versus ensuring affordable access for emerging humanitarian emergencies and keeping the
needs of the most affected people at heart.19 One in four Africans is expected to die from the
disease. Even with these shocking statistics, the globalization of economic integration is
continuously putting the continent at greater risk. 90% of AIDS research and investment is spent
on the development of expensive drugs for the treatment of the 8% of people who have
contracted the disease in developed countries, thereby drying up the funds and the research
agendas for more affordable vaccines to prevent its further spread in the third world.20 But as
Thurman identified, there is a fine line between affected citizens who desperately need treatment
and multinational corporations seeking incentives to continue research and development on
drugs. From the point of view of pharmaceutical companies, patents are the significant
motivation for innovation.
The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement is annex
1C of the Marrakesh Agreement, which established the World Trade Organization. The United

All sta tistics taken from: Sydney Rob son, Jonatho n Sim on, Jeffrey R . Vincent et al, “AID S if Yo ur Busine ss,”
Harvard Business Review, (February 2003): 81-87.
New Internationalist, 12.
Thurm an. Joining Forces to fight HIV and AIDS, 208-209.
An kie H oogvelt. 2001. Globalization and the Post Colonial World; The New Political Economy of
Development. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001): 196.
States, who in 1994 was especially interested in addressing services regarding trade and
intellectual property privileges, were under the impression that they had not been well protected.
Based on these concerns, the eighth set of negotiations (Uruguay Round) began in 1986 in
Punta del Este, Uruguay and finally concluded in 1994. The TRIPS agreement established
substantially higher standards of protection for a full range of intellectual property rights such
as patents, copyrights, trade secrets and trademarks that are embodied in current international
agreements as well as providing for the valuable enforcement of those standards both nationally
and internationally.21 The strengthening of the intellectual property rights regime is the subject
of intense scrutiny and debates in most countries of the world. By enforcing the protection of
intellectual property rights, TRIPS embodies a significant challenge to a number of developing
countries, which have to make considerable changes to their legislation to be in compliance.
“TRIPS has the greatest impact on medicines as it deals with patent law and sets some
minimum standards such as 20-year patent protection for pharmaceuticals.”22 If we step back
to look at the grand picture, we immediately observe how globalization has had negative
consequences on the AIDS pandemic. Through globalization and the process of economic
integration, international trade agreements such as TRIPS, became possible and thus limit
access to drugs for the most needy in the developing world.
Vandana Shiva provides us with an interesting perspective regarding TRIPS. She
asserts that it is essentially the globalization of western patent laws that have been used
historically as instruments of conquest. The word “patents” has its historical significance in
“letters patent” – the open letters granted by European sovereigns to conquer foreign lands or
obtain import monopolies. Christopher Columbus derived his right to conquest the Americas
through the letter patent granted to him by Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand.23
“TRIPS allows for the production of medicines by companies other than the patent
holder (compulsory licensing). TRIPS also allows for the importing of medicines from countries
other than the country of manufacture (parallel importing).”24 Compulsory licensing and parallel
importing are both widely practiced by western countries. Some less developed countries have
been pressured by western governments to ban compulsory licensing and parallel imports to
make it more difficult for them to gain access to drugs in the interest of profit. In 1999, there was
mounting pressure on Thailand where the United States sought to limit access to affordable
treatment for HIV/AIDS patients. This was the case in South Africa as well. Thailand is capable
of producing good quality cheap generic drugs, but local production has been limited by trade
pressure from the US government. The US views TRIPS as a minimum standard and, in
discussions with other countries, usually asks for more commitments by threatening trade
sanctions if they are not met. Pressure from the US to force Thailand to limit compulsory

Philip R. C ateo ra, John L . Gra ham , Intern ationa l Ma rketing. (New York: Irwin McGraw Hill, 1996): 46-47.
David W ilson, Paul Crawthorne, N athan Fo rd, Saree Aongso nwan g, “Global trade and a ccess to me dicines:
AIDS treatm ents in Thailand,” The Lancet (November 27, 1999): 1-2.
Vanda na S hiva, “W ar against n ature and the p eop le of the So uth,” in Sarah A nde rson, ed., Views From the
South: The Effects of Globalization and the WTO on Third World Countries (Oakland, CA: Food First/The
International Fo rum on G loba lization): 114.
David Wilson et al.: 1-3.
licensing and parallel importing is not a new phenomenon. It was these issues that motivated
the Doha Declaration.
In November 2001, the Doha Declaration came to life and was viewed by many as
a saving grace to the negative impacts of TRIPS by adding flexibility to legislation regarding
compulsory licensing and parallel importing. Within such a debate, our paradox becomes visible
once again. While the forces of economic integration came to impede access to drugs via the
TRIPS agreement, it was the Doha Declaration, another example of a global economic input,
which was designed to respond to concerns about the possible implications of the TRIPS
agreement for access to medicines. With the advent of Doha, the TRIPS council is mandated
to find a solution to the problems countries may deal with in making use of compulsory
licensing if they have too little or no pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, reporting to the
General Council by the end of 2002. The declaration also extended the deadline for the least
developed countries to apply provisions on pharmaceutical patents until January 1st, 2016.25

International Cooperation
“Global governance rests on different forms and levels of international coordination,
cooperation, and collective decision making, with international organizations taking on these
coordination functions and contributing to the development of global modes of perception.”
Global governance is not a project involving only governments or international organizations
as instruments of world states. What makes the concept of global governance so unique is that
it calls not only on state organized multilateralism but also for ‘cooperation of governmental and
nongovernmental actors from the local to the global level.’26

Uganda is a prime example of how globalization, through the vehicle of international
cooperation can assist in combating the AIDS pandemic. While Uganda has fallen victim to the
common themes that are undermining all aspects of African development (i.e. food industry,
orphaned children, and decreased economic growth), it is one of the few African countries that
are implementing a system of intervention, and seeing the results. The Uganda Aids
Corporation (UAC) was established in 1992 to replace the National AIDS Prevention and
Control Committee, and assists in developing a national strategy to fight AIDS. The UAC’s
response was to implement a multi-sectored approach to the spread of AIDS (MACA),
recognizing first, that the disease affects peoples from all walks of life in their country, and
second, that assistance is needed from foreign powers. Uganda’s success may also be attributed
to the government’s initial frankness in dealing with such a huge epidemic. President Museveni’s
strategy included announcing HIV/AIDS as one of the areas needing the most foreign assistance
and discussing the legitimacy of the illness with his citizens. Some of the actors involved

World T rade Organiza tion, The Doha Declaration Explained, [on-line] (accessed M arch 9, 2003); av ailable
at: http ://www.w glish/trato p_e /dda_e/doha explained_e .htm #trips; Intern et.
Definitions all derived from; Pau l Ken ned y, Dirk Me ssne r, Fran z Nu sche ler, eds. Global Trends and Global
Governance (Sterling: Pluto Press, 2002):160, 161.
included non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), religious groups, community associations,
and international lawyers. The UNAIDS report in December 2002 demonstrated that the
epidemic does react to human intervention, there was a steady drop in HIV prevalence among
15-19 year old pregnant women, coupled with almost doubling increase in condom use by
women aged 15-24 between 1995 and 2000/2001.27

The paradox we have identified regarding the globalization of AIDS is no more apparent than
in Thailand. As mentioned before, with globalization encouraging one of the most bustling sex
tourism industries in the world, it has also espoused one of the most successful treatment
programs the global community has ever witnessed. Figures 2 and 3 show the decline in
HIV/AIDS infection rates in
Thailand among military conscripts
and commercial sex workers
respectively. In 1988/89, the
country saw the first wave of the
epidemic. HIV infection rates
sharply increased among injecting
drug users, rising from almost zero
to 40% in a single year. Almost
concurrently, a second wave of
infection spread amongst sex
workers. “In 1989, it was found
that 44% of sex workers in Chiang
Mai, in the north, were infected
with HIV. The rising infection
levels among sex workers, which
reached 31% nationally by 1994,
Figure 2 – HIV among 21-year-old Conscripts in launched subsequent waves of the
Thailand. epidemic in the male clients of the
Source: The W orld H ealth Organiza tion, Health – A Key sex industry. As a result, infections
Priority; Success Stories in Developing Countries; occurred in their wives, partners
and their children.”28 The national
response to this frightening
situation involved international
cooperation and collaboration which was facilitated by globalization. The government was, and
is still, aware that they must strategically plan so that their approach involves many members
of society, including local partners and sectors of the government. Prime Minister Anand

Un ited N ations, AID S ep idem ic update, [on-line] (accessed March 26, 2003); available from:
ww w.unaid orlda idsda y/20 02/press/E piup date .htm l; Internet.
Avert.Org (Intern ational H IV and A IDS Ch arity), HIV and AIDS in Thailand, [on-line] (accessed 15
Feb ruary, 2003); available fro m ww /aidsth ai.htm ; Internet.
Panyarachun, in 1991/92, placed
AIDS policy under the coordination
of the Office of the Prime Minister
with a multi-sectoral prevention
committee under his jurisdiction.
NGO’s began to be involved as
health became an increasing
priority. In addition, th e
government launched a nation-
wide campaign to reduce HIV/AIDS
transmission. A vigorous 100%
condom campaign was launched to
encourage safe behaviour. With
17% of brothel-based workers
already infected, any lapse in
condom use could have an
Figure 3 – Increasing condom use by Commercial
explosive impact on the epidemic.
Sex Workers and decline in Sexually Transmitted
Sex workers were screened
Infections in Thailand
weekly/biweekly at government Source: The W orld H ealth Organiza tion, Health – A Key
STD clinics and issued free Priority; Success Stories in Developing C ountries,
condoms.29 http://w ww ew/aids1 .htm

Information Revolution
The cyber-age has ushered in a new era of communication and information accessibility. As a
result, those most susceptible to the AIDS pandemic now have access to pertinent information
regarding its causes, transmission, and outcomes. When citizens of the world become more
educated about the disease, the awareness grows exponentially as people inform their friends,
families and relatives. Unfortunately, the paradox we have identified is also present even in
regards to this process of globalization. The reality of regional disparities plagues the world, and
there are an astonishing number of people left unaware of any revolution in technology. As Ken
Wiwa stated at Mount Allison University on March 13, 2003, there are over four billion people
in this world who have yet to experience the advantages of being connected via the World Wide
Web to the global village.30 This produces a major and obvious problem: there are currently
29.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, one of the highest infection
rates in the world, yet it is African citizens who have the least amount of access to the Internet
and its educational benefits. 31
Fortunately, the cyber-era is making inroads and continues to educate people about
AIDS, even in the developing world. For example, last December, a new resource center, which
provides current and accurate information on HIV/AIDS opened up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Tony Barnett, Alan Whiteside, 334-335
Ken Wiwa, Mount Allison University, March 13, 2003
UNAIDS, AIDS Epidemic Update 2002, p.12.
This centre will serve as Ethiopia’s main source of information on the pandemic, where the
country is now reported to have 7.3% of adults infected with HIV in a country of 67 million
people. The resource center is home to a multimedia collection, high-speed computer terminals
with access to the Internet, and databases of local and international HIV/AIDS organizations and
funding opportunities. An important function of the centre will be to work with the Ethiopian
journalists to ensure that news coverage regarding AIDS is sensitive and factual. Dr. Tadese
Wuhib, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), believed that “having
access to accurate and current information is key to halting the spread of this virus…young
people and adults need to be educated and informed about HIV/AIDS so they can protect
themselves and care for those who are infected or affected.”32

The future of HIV/AIDS
There are staunch believers that predict the center of the HIV/AIDS crisis will shift from Africa
to Eurasia over the coming generation. It is predicted to sweep through Russia, India and China
first, and anticipated to have a staggering death toll, far exceeding the numbers Africa has
seen.33 This will have severe consequences for the rest of the world, projecting to offset the
balance of power in Eurasia, and thus the relationship between those states, and the states of
the world. Russia seems to fall victim to all the processes of globalization that are making the
pandemic worse: economic and social dislocation which have left the country in an upheaval,
increased poverty, new freedoms which were made available with the demise of the Soviet state
have led to greater opportunities for geographic mobility, extramarital sex, prostitution, and
drug use. All these factors, direct and indirect products of globalization, are transforming the
country into a veritable breeding ground for the virus. The disease is sweeping through India
as well. Most of the Indian HIV/AIDS epidemic is transmitted by commercial sex workers (as is
the case in Thailand) and commercial truckers crossing borders on a daily basis. Prostitution in
the country seems to be widespread as well. Social scientists claim that in the early 1990’s there
were approximately two million active sex workers with demand increasing yearly. The third
country predicted to be greatly affected by the virus in the near future is China. As of 2002, the
Chinese Health Ministry raised the official estimate to one million citizens living with HIV/AIDS.
Chinese authorities and UNAIDS both announced that the prevalence of HIV in China has been
increasing in the past few years by about 20-30 percent per year. An important note to be made
is that the magnitude of the Eurasian HIV/AIDS epidemic over the coming quarter-century is
projected to match or exceed that of the entire worldwide HIV crisis up to our present point. In
the decades ahead, the likelihood of HIV breakouts in the Eurasian land mass will largely
depend on how the leaders and state officials respond now.

British B road castin g Corpo ration. BB C M onitoring A frica. Ethiopia: HIV/AIDS
Resource Center opens in Addis Ababa (Addis Abab a, Eth iopia: Walta In form ation web site, 1 1 D ecember,
Please see C hris Beyrer, “Accelerating and Dissem inating across Asia,” Washington Quarte rly, Vol.24, No.1
(W inter 20 01 ): 21 3 as qu oted in UN AID S for statistics rega rding the Preva lence o f HIV a nd AID S in Asia in
Surprisingly, there have been no local or international health studies to examine this
potential, devastating scenario.34 Chris Beyer, public health analyst at the Johns Hopkins
University of Public Health emphasizes the need to respond to such dangers. The Asian
epidemics that have occurred have been explosive, and were not well predicted or managed.
With the exception of Thailand, Asian governments have been slow to respond to the threats
of AIDS. As such, these state officials largely failed, and continue to do so, in containing the
spread of the virus among their citizens.35
We have learnt that AIDS is not just a health issue, but a fundamental social, economic,
trade, security and development issue. In just a few decades, AIDS has wiped out years of
progress in the mission to improve the lives and health of families throughout the worlds poorest
regions. The paradox of globalization and AIDS never ceases to be apparent. The processes of
globalization are serving as primary vehicles in accentuating the AIDS pandemic and
constraining any hopes at developing a viable solution. On the other hand, global cooperation
and the information revolution, also processes of globalization, could potentially be used as
solutions to this global crisis. The problem now rests with civil society and the actors that govern
them: how can we, as a concerted group, pro-actively respond to the positive processes of
globalization, while attempting to restrain the negative ones, in an attempt to formulate a
solution to the most horrible pandemic this planet has ever seen? The answer is not so easy to


Altman, Denis. 2001. Global Sex. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. World HIV and AIDS Statistics, [on-line]. [cited 02 April, 2003]. Available from
the World Wide Web:

International HIV/AIDS Charity. World HIV and AIDS Statistics. In
[on-line]. [cited 15 February, 2003]. Available from the World Wide Web:

Barnett, Tony, and Alan Whiteside. 2002. AIDS in the Twenty-First Century; Disease and
Globalization. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Beynon, John and David Dunkerley, eds. 2000. Globalization: The Reader. New York:

Argum ent, statistics and conclusions all derived from N icholas Eberstadt, “The Future of A ids,” Foreign
Affairs, Vol. 81, No. 6., (Nov/Dec 2002): 23-35.
Chris Beyrer, “Accelerating and D isseminating across Asia,” Washin gton Qu arterly, Vol.24, No.1., (Winter
2001): 213.
Beyrer, Chris. Winter 2001. Accelerating and Disseminating across Asia. Washington
Quarterly. Vol.24, No.1: 211-223.

British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC Monitoring Africa. “Ethiopia: HIV/AIDS
Resource Center opens in Addis Ababa,” Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Walta Information
web site, 11 December, 2002.

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. July 1996. AIDS as a Development Issue.
Canadian HIV/AIDS Policy and Law Newsletter. Vol.2, No.4: 1-4.

Cateora, Philip R., and John L. Graham. 1996. International Marketing. New York: Irwin
McGraw Hill.

Eberstadt, Nicholas. Nov/Dec 2002. The Future of Aids. Foreign Affairs. Vol. 81, No.

Hoogvelt, Ankie. 2001. Globalization and the Post Colonial World; The New Political
Economy of Development. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Jeffrey, Leslie Ann. 2002. Sex and Borders: Gender, National Identity, and Prostitution
Policy in Thailand. Vancouver: University of British Columbia.

Kennedy, Paul, Dirk Messner, Franz Nuscheler, eds. 2002. Global Trends and Global
Governance. Sterling: Pluto Press.

Lisborg, Anders. 2002. “Bodies Across Borders: Prostitution-related Migration from
Thailand to Denmark.” in Thorbek, Susanne and Bandana Pattanaik eds. 2002.
Transnational Prostitution; Changing Global Patterns. London: Zed Books.

McElrath, Karen, ed. HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press.

Olendorf, Donna, Jeryan, Christine, Boyden, Karen et al. 1999. “The Gale Encyclopedia
of Medicine,” Vol.1, A-B, Framington Hills MI.

Oxfam America. Structural Adjustment Programs in Humanitarian Emergency [on-line].
[cited accessed 16 March, 2004]. Available from the World Wide Web:

Robson Sydney, Jonathon Simon, Jeffrey R. Vincent, et al. “AIDS is
Your Business.” Harvard Business Review (February 2003).

Seabrook, Jeremy. 1996. Travels in the Skin Trade. London: Pluto.
Shiva, Vandana. 2000. War against nature and the people of the South in Sarah Anderson.
2000. Views From the South: The Effects of Globalization and the WTO on Third
World Countries. Oakland, CA: Food First/The International Forum on Globalization.

Thurman, Sandra L. “Joining Forces to Fight HIV and AIDS.” Washington
Quarterly, Vol. 24, No.1 (Winter 2001).

Uganda AIDS Commission. HIV/AIDS Prevalence Rates in Uganda [online].
[cited 13 March, 2003]. Available from the World Wide Web:

UNAIDS. AIDS Epidemic Update 2002 [online]. [cited 13 March, 2003].
Available from the World Wide Web:

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[cited 15 March, 2003]. Available from the World Wide Web:

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March, 2003]. Available from the World Wide Web:
Humanitarian Intervention: A look at Rwanda, Srebrenica
and the Responsibility to Protect
Lana MacLellan

This essay looks at the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty’s The
Responsibility to Protect, a new report attempting to create a successful policy for humanitarian
intervention. The pertinent question addressed in this analysis is whether or not this report could
have prevented tragedies such as Rwanda and Srebrenica. I first analyze The Responsibility to
Protect, examining the elements that distinguish it from past intervention policies. I will then
look at what historically happened during two conflicts; Rwanda and Srebrenica, and continue
with an examination of the reasons behind their failure. This essay will present the Responsibility
to Protect as a relatively well-explained and representative policy idea, with its fundamental flaw
being that it does not address the underlying problems existing at the heart of these
catastrophes. The root causes explored here include a lack of state political interest, a lack of
financial aid from wealthy countries, error, as well as inaction from the UN, its branches and
many of its member states.

here has been much controversy over “humanitarian intervention” – when is it okay to

T intervene in another sovereign state? What methods should be used, and who should be
authorizing these actions? Looking at failed past interventions such as those in Srebrenica
and Rwanda, it becomes clear that intervention policies have to change. This is well known to
states as well as the United Nations. In September 1999, during a meeting of the UN General
Assembly, Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressed this issue:

“If humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on
sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica –
to gross and systematic violations of human rights that offend every
precept of our common humanity…But surely no legal principle – not
even sovereignty – can ever shield crimes against humanity”1

Annan then went on to challenge the members of the UN:

“It is essential that the international community reach consensus – not
only on the principle that massive and systematic violations of human
rights must be checked, wherever they take place, but also on the
ways of deciding what action is necessary, and when, and by whom”2

Gareth Eva ns, “Intervention and State Sovereignty: Breaking Ne w G round.” Global Go vernance 7 (Apr-Jun
2001): 119-125.
The Canadian government, under the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy,
took up this policy challenge. On September 14th 2000, the government announced the
formation of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). This
commission, made up of members from around the globe, produced a report on the issue – The
Responsibility to Protect. This report attempts to answer all the fundamental questions circling
state intervention. But is this report actually feasible?
Is the ICISS’s The Responsibility to Protect realistic, and can its key idea(s) be effectively
practiced or implemented? Could the UN possibly take this report as their new policy to replace
the old policy of humanitarian intervention, or is it, by proposing simple resolutions to complex
issues, overly idealistic? Will this report be approved globally, or solely by the permanent five
members of the Security Council and the developed nations in the UN – is it internationally
representative? Does the ICISS really address the problems at the heart of the debacles of
Srebrenica and Rwanda? Most importantly, what happened in Rwanda and Srebrenica – what
important element does the ICISS fail to address?
The Responsibility to Protect raises numerous questions over and above the issue of
feasibility. It also raises questions about whether it actually brings forth an idea that could have
prevented tragedies such as Rwanda and Srebrenica and potential similar tragedies in the
future. There is no question that the Responsibility to Protect is a well-explained policy idea –
one that is representative, attempts to redefine humanitarian intervention, and plots out what
is to be done when a human rights catastrophe is occurring. This report, however, does not
address the fundamental problems that were at the heart of the worst post-Cold War human
rights catastrophes. It is unrealistic and avoids the root problems (about to be explored), of past
failed attempts at intervention. Although it may impress policymakers, and is under serious
consideration by the UN as a new policy of intervention, the steps outlined in this report do not
identify these core problems. The Responsibility to Protect is not an idea that will help prevent
future genocides. Failed interventions can be attributed to a lack of state political interest, a lack
of financial assistance from wealthy countries, error, and plain ignorance on the part of the UN
along with its branches, and many of its member states. The ICISS’s Responsibility to Protect
is too idealistic to be successfully applied to modern intervention problems. This essay will first
analyze the Responsibility to Protect by examining the elements that distinguish it from past
intervention policies, and continue by looking at the historical facts on the conflicts in Rwanda
and Srebrenica. A step-by-step approach will be taken in an effort to analyse the failure of these
interventions and the reasons behind them – reasons that are not addressed in the new policy
idea, therefore making it unable to prevent such tragedies from occurring again.
The Responsibility to Protect differs from current intervention policy in two main ways.
The first is the introduction of new terminology; the ICISS wanted their new idea to be looked
at with fresh eyes. The past use of the term‘humanitarian intervention’ carries a lot of baggage,
and as far as the committee is concerned, does not accurately describe the aims of the policy
idea. In the report, the ICISS explains the change to the novel term, ‘the responsibility to
protect’: “[the report’s] central theme, reflected in the title, is "The Responsibility to Protect", the
idea that sovereign states have a responsibility to protect their own citizens from avoidable
catastrophe – from mass murder and rape, from starvation – but that when they are unwilling
or unable to do so, that responsibility must be borne by the broader community of states.”3
The second main difference is the setup of the three new elements or responsibilities of
the commission. There is also enhanced emphasis on the first element:
a. The responsibility to prevent: to address both the root
causes and direct causes of internal conflict and other man-
made crises putting populations at risk.
b. The responsibility to react: to respond to situations of
compelling human need with appropriate measures, which
may include coercive measures like sanctions and
international prosecution, and in extreme cases military
c. The responsibility to rebuild: to provide, particularly after
a military intervention, full assistance with recovery,
reconstruction and reconciliation, addressing the causes of
the harm the intervention was designed to halt or avert. 4
There is a new profound emphasis on the first of these; the responsibility to prevent. The ICISS
has named this the single most important dimension of the responsibility to protect. This is a
positive stop toward preventing events such as Srebrenica and Rwanda: if the problem can be
detected early, then something can be done before a population suffers greatly. Also, this means
that the UN would not have to get into the discussion of state sovereignty – an extremely
delicate issue among the international community. This idea could be put into practice; its
feasibility however rests on a few assumptions concerning the behaviour of international actors.
These would include: an in-depth and serious consideration of the problem in aiding nations,
as well as their willingness to help those at risk. The political willingness of other states is the all-
important issue that the ICISS fails to address. If that willingness is not present, then the report
is rendered useless. Willingness is the fundamental requirement for the success of such an
endeavour. This is the reason behind the occurrence of such genocides. It was not because of
any issue that is analyzed in this report, but because states were not willing to perform what was
needed in order to avoid these tragedies. This can be seen in these, two of the worst failed
interventions. As Brian Urquhart has written: “…not since the Second World War has violence
been more widespread, and international institutions and regional coalitions less able to control
Between early April and mid-July 1994, members of the Hutu majority in the tiny central
African state of Rwanda systematically gunned down or hacked to death with machetes up to

International Com mission o n Inte rvention and S tate Sovereignty. The Resp onsibility to Protect. 2001,
International Com mission o n Inte rvention and S tate Sovereignty. The Resp onsibility to Protect. 2001,
Brian Urquha rt, “The Rusty Tools of Peace .” World Policy Journal 17 (Winter 2000/2001): 2-7.
800,000 Tutsis.6 Other sources estimate that the number of Tutsi murdered is actually closer to
1 million. Such figures are difficult to confirm because of the inability to distinguish Hutu and
Tutsi corpses. The two tribes live in the same country, sharing the same language and the same
customs.7 While this massacre was occurring, the UN was ‘effectively silent’ despite what one
report (from the Organization of African Unity, the OAU, holding the US, France, Belgium, and
the Vatican responsible for the 1994 genocide) calls “incontrovertible” evidence that Western
powers were wary of the dangers before and during the slaughter.8 As seen through the turn of
events which took place in 1994, it is evident that the steps outlined in the ICISS’s Responsibility
to Protect would not have saved the Tutsis in Rwanda. This is primarily because the West had
no interest in the area. Information concerning the massacre in Rwanda was known to the UN
and the West before the genocide. Unfortunately, both the nations of the West and the United
Nations made the decision to ignore this information for reasons of self-interest until it was too
The Tutsi had long dominated politics in Rwanda, and made up approximately 17
percent of Rwanda’s population. With less than one percent of the population being of
aboriginal Twa descent, the remaining 82 percent of Rwanda’s population consisted of Hutus.
The three groups lived intermingled in the country, without uprising. This ended in 1959, during
the independence of the country, when the Hutus violently seized control in a struggle that left
about half of the Tutsi populations fleeing to neighboring states.9
The Hutus then divided themselves into two groups. The first lived in the southern and
central part of the country. They supported the Parti du mouvement et de l’émancipation des
Bahutus – or the PARMEHUTU. This group was the majority, and had gained power during
independence. The second group was found in the northwest, and remained a minority. Power
struggles, invasions, and small massacres followed, ending with the coup of a northwestern
Hutu, Juvenal Habyarimana, which shifted not only the political power of Rwanda, but its
economic and military power as well. The minority Hutu group soon dominated all these areas.
After the coup, there was a 15-year period of relative peace until October of 1990. At
this time, a rebel force composed mostly of Ugandan Tutsi refugees of the Rwandan Patriotic
Army (RPA) along with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (PRF) invaded northern Rwanda. They
made substantial progress against the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR), which consisted of Hutus.
In August 1993, the Arusha accords were signed – a peace agreement laying the foundation for
a government of national unity and the integration of the two armies.10 Because of Hutu
extremists, there was a delay in the implementation of the accord. Then, a plane carrying
Rwanda’s president, Habyarimana, was mysteriously shot down on April 6, 1994. Violence
erupted the next day. Government radio stations in Rwanda began telling Hutus to ‘take
vengeance against the Tutsi’ for their alleged murder of the president.11 Hutus began ransacking

D’Arcy Jenish, “Preventable G enocide.” Maclean’s 113 (Jul 2000): 24.
Timothy P Carney, “U nited Nations Bills U.S. for 1994 R wand an G enocide.” Hum an Events 56 (Jul 2000):6
Timothy P Carney, “U nited Nations Bills U.S. for 1994 R wand an G enocide.” Hum an Events 56 (Jul 2000):6
Alan J. Ku perma n, “Rwan da in Retrospect.” Foreign Affairs 79 (Jan/Feb 2000): 94-118.
The W orld B ank Group. “Countries: Rw and a.” 2002 http://ww w.w orldbank .org/afr/rw 2.htm
Alan J. Ku perma n, “Rwan da in Retrospect.” Foreign Affairs 79 (Jan/Feb 2000): 94-118.
Tutsi villages; they murdered, raped, and robbed the Tutsis, then set fire to their homes. Many
Tutsis fled their homes and villages, going to cities and seeking refuge in hospitals, schools, and
churches. Groups of a few hundred to tens of thousands of Tutsis were soon concentrated in
these areas.12 This began a standoff between the poorly armed Hutus and the unarmed Tutsis,
which lasted for days until better-armed Hutus began to arrive at sites in which the Tutsis held
refuge. These Hutus were now heavily armed with grenades, machine guns, and rifles.
This genocide in Rwanda is something not witnessed since the systematic killing of Jews
during WWII, among others, but with two major differences. Primarily, the killing rate in
Rwanda was five times that performed by the Nazis.13 Rwanda was the fastest genocide rate
recorded in history – approximately 250,000 Tutsis were murdered in just over two weeks.14
Why was nothing done about the situation? Was it simply that, like the Nazis, they were able
to keep their horrific actions a secret from the international community? Unfortunately, there
was nothing secret about the genocide in Rwanda. There were no sealed trains or secluded
camps. The genocide was broadcast on the radio.15 This leads to the next question: why was
there no outside intervention until it was too late?
A common argument against this idea is that neither the West nor the UN were aware
of the degree of the situation to the extent where they would have attempted to put an end to
it. This perception is, however, quite flawed. Conclusive proof that genocide was taking place
was provided to the Security Council in May and June.16 Pieces of information had began
leaking to officials as early as January of 1994:

“The most critical piece of intelligence came from a high-level informer who told
Colonel Luc Marchal of UNAMIR (UN Assistance Mission to Rwanda-1,458 troops
that were sent to Rwanda to monitor the peace agreement and integration of armies)
the chilling news that the extremists planned to precipitate the withdrawal of
UNAMIR by killing Belgian soldiers and Tutsis in Kigali at an estimated rate of 1000
every twenty minutes using militia units. The credibility of this information was
confirmed when UN Forces found secret caches of weapons at sites disclosed by the

On January 11, the Canadian commander of the UN peacekeepers in Rwanda, General
Romeo Dalliare, cabled the UN’s DPKO (Dept. of Peacekeeping Operations) with the previous
warning. He wanted permission to seize the weapons in question. This request was turned
down. A senior member of the DPKO was asked about this issue in a BBC interview on
December 1998 and he simply replied that, “although the warning from Dallaire was ‘alarming’,

Alan J. Ku perma n, “Rwan da in Retrospect.” Foreign Affairs 79 (Jan/Feb 2000): 94-118.
Linda M elvren, “Behind Closed Doors.” The World Today 56 (Aug/Sep 2000): 9-11.
Alan J. Ku perma n, “Rwan da in Retrospect.” Foreign Affairs 79 (Jan/Feb 2000): 94-118.
Linda M elvren, “Behind Closed Doors.” The World Today 56 (Aug/Sep 2000): 9-11.
Linda M elvren, “Behind Closed Doors.” The World Today 56 (Aug/Sep 2000): 9-11.
Nich olas J. W hee ler, Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. New Y ork:
Oxford University Press, 2000.
the DPKO view was ‘not Somalia again’.”18 After Somalia, where numerous peacekeepers were
killed, the UN was reluctant to put their peacekeepers in another such dangerous operation.
They could not afford to suffer another blow to their credibility. Therefore, the DPKO would
rather take the chance of having nearly a million innocent people dying, than risk the chance
of tainted credibility. Kofi Annan also spoke with Dallaire, but told him to share the information
he had received with President Habyarimana. The problem with this request was the fact that
Habyarimana was the one who authorized the use of the weapons, and encouraged their use
for the cleansing of the Tutsis.19 Annan acted as ‘an ultra-cautious bureaucrat’, simply waiting
for more information rather than acting immediately, and making sure that the UN adhered to
their mandate while a massacre was occurring.20 There is no question, however, that his worst
move was the failure to act after receiving the critical telegram from Dallaire about the atrocities
that were to come. The UN’s New York headquarters chose to virtually ignore this urgent
information from Dallaire, by simply brushing it off and telling Dallaire to send it to someone
else – a bureaucracy at work. The CIA analyzed the information from the cable from Dallaire,
and concluded that ‘should the Arusha Process collapse, half a million people would die in
Rwanda’.21 The warning signs were present.
For a long time, crucial information on the occurrences in Rwanda was withheld from
members of the Security Council by UN staffers. The Security Council was finally made aware
of the deteriorating condition in Rwanda, but they were preoccupied with the Serbs, leaving
Rwanda on the back burner. By this time, it was already too late to stop the killings. Many of
the main players, mainly the American, French, and Belgian governments, already had their
own information about the situation. They knew exactly what was unfolding, not only through
the work of their embassies’ own superior local intelligence, but through their ambassadors who
received the information which had been passed on to them through Dallaire.22
“Non-permanent members were not made aware of the situation,” the then-president
of the Security Council, Colin Keating of New Zealand, stated: “We were kept in the dark. The
situation was much more dangerous than was ever presented to the Council. With better
information, the council might have proceeded quite differently.”23 The Rwandan issue was not
taken as seriously as the situation demanded. Informed members were too blind to realize that
it was more than the small civil war most of them believed it to be.
Permanent members began secret sessions, but for the first three weeks of the genocide,
during which most of the victims were killed, the fate of Rwandan civilians was hardly
discussed.24 As Bruce Wallace of MacLean’s magazine noted, “If anyone wanted to know the
Security Council’s true intentions toward Rwanda, they had only to look at how it responded
Nich olas J. W hee ler, Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. New Y ork:
Oxford University Press, 2000.
Nat H entoff, “The Holoca ust Without G uilt.” The Village Voice 44 (Ma r 1999):
“Leaders: Rwa nda Re visited.” The Eco nom ist 353 (Dec 1999): S5-S6.
Nich olas J. W hee ler, Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. New Y ork:
Oxford University Press, 2000.
BruceW allace, “The Rw anda D ebacle.” Maclean’s 113 (Jan 2000): 34.
Linda M elvren, “Behind Closed Doors.” The World Today 56 (Aug/Sep 2000): 9-11.
Linda M elvren, “Behind Closed Doors.” The World Today 56 (Aug/Sep 2000): 9-11.
once the actual genocide began. There was evidence of the Hutu aims, and the great powers
chose to look away.”25 Only on April 28th did the issue of the Council avoiding the massacres
appear on the public scene. They had spent countless hours discussing their plan to pull out
peacekeepers, and a small amount of time discussing how to achieve a ceasefire, but no
discussion on the genocide was taking place. When murder of this magnitude occurs, the UN
simply cannot maintain their habitual neutrality. They need to choose a course of action and
act quickly. “Neutrality may be fine when UN members are exercised about border disputes,
but not when one side starts the mass obliteration of the other. Then it is time to take sides.”26
In the United States the issue was also virtually ignored, and thought of as something
which was of no interest to the United States. Clinton, along with Madeleine Albright (the UN
Ambassador at then time) “ordered America to do nothing to stop the killing, even though at
the end of April 1994, a State Department secret intelligence report unequivocally called what
has happening ‘genocide’.”27 Why? Intervention in Rwanda was not in the interest of the United
States. There was nothing at stake for the US; they had no national interest to protect in
Rwanda. The pressing issue for the government was the upcoming congressional election. After
losing soldiers in a failed intervention in Somalia, if Clinton was to admit that genocide was
actually occurring, and he was not acting on it– he knew it would only mean lost votes for the
Democrats.28 To Clinton, votes in the congressional election apparently meant more than saving
hundreds and thousands of innocent victims in Africa. Colin Powell, the former chairman of
Joint Chiefs of Staff for the US had said “As long as I am chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
I will not agree to commit American men and women to an unknown war, in an unknown land,
for an unknown cause, under an unknown commander, for an unknown duration.”29 The US
was unwilling to send soldiers into Rwanda without more information – information that had
started to be sent to them months earlier. Dallaire had military plans that were rejected time and
again by the UN, since they simply did not believe that Rwanda was about to face the crisis that
Dallaire knew was coming.
The United States also had a huge impact on the UN not taking adequate action.
Stephen Morris of Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies has
stated that when the UN finally did discuss “the horrific killings that were taking place, it was the
US that refused to allow the UN to call these events ‘genocide’; so as to avoid triggering any
serious military intervention.”30 None other than Albright herself delayed the vote at the UN on
this topic. At this point, 500,000 Tutsis had already met their fate.
Why were troops not sent to Rwanda? Is it simply that American troops would not have
been able to prevent the genocide? Morris touched on this issue: “Stopping the genocide would
not have required a major military operation. The killers were militarily incompetent mobs
armed mostly with clubs, spears, and machetes. The then commander of the UN Assistance

Bruce W allace, “The Rw anda D ebacle.” Maclean’s 113 (Jan 2000): 34.
Leaders: Rwanda revisited 1999, S6
Nat H entoff, “The Holoca ust Without G uilt.” The Village Voice 44 (Mar 1999): 28.
Linda M elvren, “Behind Closed Doors.” The World Today 56 (Aug/Sep 2000): 9-11.
Nat H entoff, “The Holoca ust Without G uilt.” The Village Voice 44 (Mar 1999): 28
Mission claimed that 5000 men and a mandate to act would have been sufficient to stop the
killings.”31 It is clear that the US would not have wanted to send in troops, after having their
men killed earlier in Somalia. Would this have been a problem? Considering that the bulk of
peacekeepers do not come from the US, this could have easily been accomplished. American
troops would not have been necessary. Alan Kuperman reported in Foreign Affairs that
“Belgium had asked the UN for more support to reinforce its own soldiers in the UN component
there. But, the United States vetoed Belgium’s request, so not only that country was forbidden
to protect its own soldiers, but no country could help.”32 Belgium had pleaded for
reinforcements, along with a new mandate from the Security Council in January and February
of 1994 on the grounds that UNAMIR could not maintain order. Based on the additional cost
of having additional troops and the fact that the soldiers would be subject to excessive danger,
Britain and the United States blocked this initiative before it could even reach a vote.33 The UN
took no action, meanwhile indicating that it viewed the shedding of Rwandan blood as a serious
matter. It is clear that many countries did not feel that the funds should be dedicated to
peacekeeping in Rwanda at the time.
Following the Rwandan genocide, it was apparent that the UN and the West were, at the
very least, partly responsible. This is a sentiment felt by everyone – including high officials from
both groups. Kofi Annan stated: “the failure to intervene was driven more by the reluctance of
Member States to pay the human and other costs of intervention, and by doubts that the use
of force would be successful, than by concerns about sovereignty.”34 This readily admits that
the issue was not the West or the UN’s concern about sovereignty – one of the very things that
the Responsibility to Protect states needs to be looked at and changed within the current
intervention policy. Rwanda was not in the interest of the UN member states, particularly the
US. There was no economic interest in Rwanda, nor was it of any strategic relevance. There was
no oil or other precious resources in Rwanda. There was nothing the US desired.
It is difficult to understand how these innocent victims dying at an alarming rate could
not be in the ‘interest’ of the United States, or of several other states. For any intervention policy
to be effective, whether it is the Responsibility to Protect or any other policy, the interest of
states has to be present. States have to be willing to be attentive to early information and
warning signs. The UN and member states have to possess the ability to take into account that
two catastrophes can be occurring simultaneously in the world. They need to realize that one
cannot be temporarily ignored, or put on the back burner. States also have to be willing to
devote aid to these situations, whether in the form of peacekeepers or funds. Rwanda was not
an issue of the ethics of sovereignty, as the Responsibility to Protect tries to solve. It was an issue
of selfish states unwilling to listen, unwilling to give, and unwilling to take seriously genocide in
a small, distant African state.

Alan J. Ku perma n, “Rwan da in Retrospect.” Foreign Affairs 79 (Jan/Feb 2000): 116
Alan J. Ku perma n, “Rwan da in Retrospect.” Foreign Affairs 79 (Jan/Feb 2000): 116
Nich olas J. W hee ler, Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. New Y ork:
Oxford University Press, 2000.
A second blatant case of failed intervention is that of Srebrenica, a town in the Serb
republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Only two years after the United Nations declared the city a safe
zone, the worst massacre of the Bosnian war occurred here. The incident would also become
the worst massacre in Europe’s history since the Second World War. In July 1995, up to 8,000
Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serbs.35 The remains of close to 2,500 men
and boys have been found in mass grave sites, yet there are thousands more men who are
missing, most likely in additional grave sites not yet exhumed. The tragedy surrounding these
killings in the Bosnian war is that these victims were not soldiers killed in combat, but males
murdered by a conflicting ethnic group. This is apparent in the exhumed bodies, found
blindfolded with their hands bound, or shot behind the head or in the back.36 In Sarajevo and
Srebrenica, we saw the inability of peacekeeping forces under UNPROFOR command to bring
this ethnic cleansing, or even the massacre of innocent civilians, to an end.37 The killing in
Srebrenica was much different than that of Rwanda. The latter genocide was coined as
genocide in ‘fast-forward’; at its height pulling in a death rate of 5.5 people per minute. In
Bosnia, however, the killing took place in slow motion.38 Why was it that only a year after the
shame of Rwanda, the UN was unable to intervene successfully? Had they learned nothing?
The intervention was a failure fundamentally because of the “error, misjudgment, and
an inability to recognize the scope of the evil confronting us”, as expressed by the United
Nations in the Srebrenica Report.39 The conflicts had been continuing for quite some time in
Bosnia, and the UN simply did not take the protection of the city of Srebrenica seriously after
the commander of the UN mission to Bosnia, Lieutenant-General Philippe Morillon, labelled
it a ‘safe zone’ in 1993. The UN also failed to explain to the people relying on their protection
what a ‘safe zone’ actually implied.
There had been so much fighting that the importance of repeated threats aimed at the
Muslims, began to decrease in the concerns of the international community. The massacre took
place under “the cover of a negotiating effort and a United Nations relief effort whose officials
kept insisting that progress was being made on both the humanitarian and the political level.”40
In hindsight though, it is well known that no real progress was taking place.
The UN felt it had achieved this ‘progress’ through naming Srebrenica a ‘safe zone’,
though it became one of the most dangerous places in which to be located. After naming the
city a safe zone, an agreement was made between the Bosnian Serbs and the Muslims. The
Muslims were to disarm, while the Serbs were to halt all attacks on the city. This idea appeared
to be sound, but it was a known fact that none truly expected the plan to work. Nick Cameron,
the winner of the Military Cross in Bosnia, spoke out about this very issue. He said there was
never a serious prospect of this agreement being enforced, and that they “never intended to

Dragan P etrovic and John P hiliips, “Dutch Prom ise Aid to Bosnia M assacre Tow n.” The Tim es (Jun
“The W hole and A wful Truth.” The New Repu blic (Dec 1999): 9.
Shirley Williams, “Should NA TO S top the Bom bing?” The Times (May 1999): 21.
Da vid Rieff, Slaughterhou se: B osn ia an d the Fa ilure of the West. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
“The W hole and A wful Truth.” The New Repu blic (Dec 1999): 9.
Da vid Rieff, Slaughterhou se: B osn ia an d the Fa ilure of the West. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
fight for this place. That was never the plan.”41 The UN never really planned on intervening.
This was apparent with the naming of Srebrenica as a safe zone and not a safe haven. The
critical difference is that military intervention is only applied to threats on a safe haven – not to
a safe zone. Had the Muslim population been aware of this difference in terminology, they
probably would never have given up their arms and left their lives in the hands of the blue beret
Soon, Bosnian Serbs had driven the majority of the Muslims into centers, such as
Srebrenica, reducing the city to a ‘glorified holding pen’42 for the Muslims. This is when the
vicious attacks on the Muslims began. There were only about 110 lightly armed Dutch UN
soldiers in Srebrenica at the time, who made no effort to halt the Serb force. Cameron saw the
oncoming Serbs, and knew something needed to be done to save the Muslims inside the city.
He desperately called the UN at its headquarters in New York, asking them to send NATO
planes for an air attack, similar to the air attacks that had occurred over other parts of Bosnia.
He noted he “(waited for) swarms of angry aircraft diving and destroying the attacking Serbian
targets at will. There was nothing.”43 Was it simply that the UN didn’t know about the Serbian
force, advancing on Srebrenica, and therefore did not have the means to send in such an air
force? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The UN did have warnings of the attack, and chose to
undertake no action. The UN also had, at its disposal, the military firepower that would be
necessary for an air attack on the Serbs.44 Again, nothing was done, and the UN remained idle
while it witnessed thousands of Muslims murdered by the Bosnian Serbs. Allegedly, local forces
were under orders to use “the necessary measures, including the use of force” to protect
Srebrenica.45 Why then, were no such forces used?
There are two main possible explanations for this course of events. The first is that the
local commander in Bosnia, General Bernard Javier, was at fault. Either he was incompetent
in following these instructions and putting what military power he controlled into use, or he
simply ignored the cries of help from Cameron. The second possibility is that the Security
Council members, who were entrusted with the safety of the Muslims, decided that the
requirements for the safe areas were overly expensive and required too much effort. They made
the decision, secretly, to abandon these areas.46
As Wim Kok, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands stated after the massacre, “The
international community has fallen short in offering sufficient protection to the people in the so-
called safe zone [of Srebrenica],” he declared. “The international community, in which the
Netherlands played a special role in this respect, appeared unable to prevent the enclave from
falling and the genocide by the Bosnian Serbs that followed.”47 It was not only the UN in New

“Testam ent of Betrayal” Sunday Times (Jul 2002): 16
Da vid Rieff, Slaughterhou se: B osn ia an d the Fa ilure of the West. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
“Testam ent of Betrayal” Sunday Times (Jul 2002):16
“Testam ent of Betrayal” Sunday Times (Jul 2002): 16
“Testam ent of Betrayal” Sunday Times (Jul 2002): 16
“Testam ent of Betrayal” Sunday Times (Jul 2002): 16
Richard Bee ston, “Dutch C abinet Resigns Ove r Massacre Rep ort” The Times (Apr 2002): 18.
York who ignored the call for assistance from Srebrenica, but also the Dutch peacekeepers who
virtually stood back and watched the Serbs during the killings.
The UN could not have prevented this massacre if the ICISS’s new policy idea had
previously been put into place. No part of the new idea states that the UN and member states
need to ‘try harder’ to recognize when a threat to innocent people is taking place. The UN did
not take seriously the threat to Srebrenica until it was too late, and no written policy will change
that. It is evident that the UN realized it was their own negligence in stopping the Serbian forces
that led to such a massacre. Following Srebrenica, a similar attack occurred in a marketplace
in Sarajevo. This time however, the UN knew better – they intervened, ultimately ending, for
a period of time, the war in Bosnia. The new policy idea also mentions nothing concerning the
difference between safe zones and safe havens. It seems unreasonable that one can be
supported militarily while the other cannot. Safe areas can be attacked, whether they are labeled
zones or havens and either label will not be a predictive factor on the magnitude of an attack
in the area. If it is severely attacked, as was the case during the summer of 1995, the standing
military needs to have the mandate to intervene. They cannot simply stand to the side and
observe thousands of men and boys be massacred.
Despite this all, the principal issue, once again, is money. Politics and economics cannot
be separated. The UN did not want to financially support an air force operation after it was
made apparent that the Serb forces were moving in on Srebrenica. They had the military power
to do so (through possibilities such as the US and NATO), yet failed to make use of it principally
because of the cost. Member countries have the financial ability to help– but they are putting
a price on human life, once which wealthy developed states consider too high. In order for
intervention to have any possibility for success, states need to willingly support the missions of
the UN and its peacekeepers financially. This has been one of the leading problems in both the
Rwanda and Srebrenica cases. This is another issue which is not properly addressed in the
Responsibility to Protect.
The Responsibility to Protect is a systematic and representative idea for new
humanitarian policy. This could potentially be adopted as the new policy of the United Nations,
however this would not solve the problems of intervention faced in the past. The report seems
to be overly idealistic, as it approaches the concept of intervention simplistically, without
addressing the deeper causes. It does not bring attention to the root problems of failed
interventions such as financial aid, lack of state political interest, error, ignorance, and
underestimation of the scope of detrimental factors; all elements found at the core of such failed
interventions as Rwanda and Srebrenica.
As Linda Melvern of The World Today has noted, “The failure of the international
community to act while some one million people in Rwanda were slaughtered, was one of the
greatest scandals of the twentieth century.”48 Intervention did not happen in Rwanda due to the
lack of Western interest, the lack of financial aid, and ignorance regarding the gravity of the
issue. Rwanda did not hold any political interest for the United States (or any other state in the
West) and therefore the US was not anxious to act, even after having knowledge of the terror

Linda M elvren, “Behind Closed Doors.” The World Today 56 (Aug/Sep 2000): 9-11.
occurring. They had nothing to protect, and there was no political or economic benefit to be
gained from intervening. Many states were ignorant of the fact that something disastrous was
taking place while individual states, especially the permanent member states of the UN, had
some prior knowledge of the massacre, yet chose to ignore the warning. They were preoccupied
with the Bosnia situation, assumed that nothing more than a civil war would occur in Rwanda,
and were timid to act aggressively after the events in Somalia. Governments cannot be timid
when at every second, human lives are being lost. The UN was not attentive to obvious
warnings, and was ignorant of the fact that the Hutus were to commit a full-fledged massacre
on the Tutsis. The biggest reason though, was lack of financial aid. The soldiers were prepared
enter Rwanda, yet no state was willing to provide the required financial assistance.
Again in Srebrenica, financial aid was the critical issue in the failed intervention. There
were peacekeepers willing to work within the conflict, yet no state wished to spend the funds for
the intervention. This was because they did not perceive the small town of Srebrenica as a
threat for the Muslim people. They made an error in believing that since the town was named
a ‘safe area’, the Bosnia Serbs would refrain from any attacks. They did not take the
responsibility to ensure safety for the town seriously. The UN needs to recognize the volatility
of these conflicts and realize that it is not always fully aware of when and where there will be
ethnic conflict, nor can it predict the scope or gravity of the event. The international community
cannot afford ever again to be late, as they were in Srebrenica.
Looking at the reasons why Srebrenica and Rwanda were failed attempts at
humanitarian intervention, it is evident that the ICISS’s Responsibility to Protect is not an idea
capable of preventing such atrocities from reoccurring. Although it is well structured and
innovative, it does not address the root causes of failed intervention. It seems that the will of
states to aid in humanitarian intervention missions had nothing to do with morals or ethics;
rather, it had everything to do with the realist notions of self-interest of states. This is the root
problem with contemporary humanitarian intervention. Policies must focus on ways to make
states politically willing to assist in such instances, not concentrate on what needs to be achieved
when political will is present. Therefore, the Responsibility to Protect is not feasible or realistic,
and does not deserve to be adopted by the United Nations or the international community, as
their new humanitarian intervention policy.


Anonymous. 1999. Leaders: Rwanda Revisited. The Economist, December, S5-S6.

—. 1999. The Whole and Awful Truth. The New Republic, December, 9.

—. 2002.Testament of Betrayal. Sunday Times Jul y, 16

Beeston, Richard. 2002. Dutch Cabinet Resigns Over Massacre Report. The Times, April, 18.
Carney, Timothy P. 2000. United Nations Bills U.S. for 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Human
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Evans, Gareth. 2001. Intervention and State Sovereignty: Breaking New Ground. Global
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Hentoff, Nat. 1999. The Holocaust Without Guilt. The Village Voice 44: 28.

International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. 2001. The Responsibility to

Jenish, D’Arcy. 2000. Preventable Genocide. Maclean’s 113, July, 24.

Kuperman, Alan J. 2000. Rwanda in Retrospect. Foreign Affairs 79: 94-118.

Melvern, Linda. 2000. A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide. New
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—. 2000. Behind Closed Doors. The World Today, Aug/Sep, 9-11.

Petrovic, Dragan, and John Phillips. 2002. Dutch Promise Aid to Bosnia Massacre Town. The
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Rieff, David. 1995. Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West. New York: Simon &

Urquhart, Brian. 2000/2001. The Rusty Tools of Peace. World Policy Journal 17:2-7.

Wallace, Bruce. 2000. The Rwanda Debacle. Maclean’s 113, Jan , 34.

Wheeler, Nicholas J. 2000. Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International
Society. New York: Oxford University Press.

Williams, Shirley. 1999. Should NATO Stop the Bombing?. The Times May, 21.

World Bank Group, The. 2002.“Countries: Rwanda.”
Identity and Control Among Muslims in Diaspora
Margaret Hoyt

This essay explores the multiple negotiations that must be made on the part of the Muslim
community upon immigration to the West with a focus on how women demarcate and convey
Muslim identity and community solidarity.

pproximately one-third of the world’s Muslim populations currently reside in countries

A in which they constitute a religious minority.1 Particularly in the west, Muslim diaspora
communities are not able to associate their cultural and religious identity to a specific
territory that is Muslim, as they are no longer situated in an environment where they practice
their religious and cultural rituals as part of the greater majority. Muslims who have immigrated
to the west find themselves relegated to a minority status in which their cultural and religious
values are at odds with those of the dominant host society to which they have immigrated.
Thus, they must find ways in which to neutralize their anxiety surrounding the preservation of
their ethnic, cultural, and religious identity that stems from the position they occupy vis a vis
the dominant society. There are multiple strategies that may be used to achieve successful
integration into a culturally diverse host country, such as assimilation, or the marking of cultural
identity which usually involves female gender. The use of this last option, which will be
explored here, entails the placing of boundaries around Muslim identity and the putting in
place of symbols that designate a strong, unwavering declaration of this identity to both
themselves as a united community and the host society that would assimilate them.
Specific and unique characteristics are linked to a specific population in order to both
identify and protect its members. Among diaspora Muslim populations, one of the ways by
which this is handled quite successfully is through the “collective control of female behavior and
the use of female representations.2 Muslim populations within the immigrant context make use
of the female body to declare and preserve their identity; female sexuality and issues deemed
to express female sexuality and gender such as dress and social behavior are then used to
express collective Muslim identity in an environment that threatens its values and beliefs.
Muslim communities define themselves then, by the
characteristics that are associated with the women in their
Margaret Hoyt is a fourth
community and how these differ greatly from the
year Anthropology Honours
characteristics they associate with western women; “men
student at Mount Allison
not only turn women into markers of collective identity but
also make them the very stakes of cultural competition. In
so doing, they claim to be able to speak for Islam”.3 Control

Azzam, 198 0, x.
Rac hel B loul, En gen dering Muslim Identities: De tteritotializa tion and the Ethnicization Pro cess in F ran ce in
Making Muslim Space in North America and Europe. ( Berkeley: University of California Press 1996), 234.
Ibid., 235.
of women, and especially control over women’s sexuality, becomes the means by which men
assert their cultural and religious identity, and perhaps even claim their cultural and religious
superiority within the immigrant context.4 The Muslim man’s identity, as well as the larger
collective Muslim identity, hinges on the adequate use and presentation of cultural symbols,
which might be translated into control over the Muslim woman’s body. The women become
concrete and visual markers of Muslim identity in the west through their dress and chaste
behavior, as well as symbolic markers of segregation and seclusion through their absence.

Muslim anxieties concerning migration
Immigrants, along with second generation Muslims, find themselves forced to cope with the
fears, anxieties, and uncertainties that arise from the need to integrate themselves into a society
that is predominantly white, Christian, and classified as dar al-harb/dar al kufr (the land of
war/the land of the infidel),5 while at the same time retaining the core of their religion.
Immigration carries with it important religious and cultural consequences that necessitate the
formulation of new strategies to reshape and maintain the bonds of the community within the
diaspora context.6 The affirmation of a collective identity through the use of identifying symbols
and criteria is necessary to preserve the cultural and religious values and beliefs that are
challenged within the new host society. This is accomplished through symbolic boundaries that
are preserved around the community by the enforcement of signs and codes of meaning that
fit into an established framework denoting membership in the Muslim community.
Many Muslim communities believe that the state of the family in North America is
appalling, and consequently feel the need to guard themselves against “sex, alcohol, drugs, and
family breakdown”.7 Muslim parents have a very real fear that their children will lose both their
cultural and religious identity by conforming to Western standards. An effort to protect the
Muslim family from this perceived Western decadence is evidenced by strict dictated norms of
behavior for women in many Muslim diaspora communities. The Muslim woman is seen as the
most essential member of the family in the preservation of traditions, values, and spiritual
mores.8 Women are also expected to be modest and keep interaction with males to a minimum,
making activities outside the home difficult.9 Consequently, women are depended upon to keep
Islamic values intact in the face of Western corruption by protecting both their families and
communities. This is accomplished by offering themselves as examples of what the proper

Arjun A ppa dura i, “Disjunctu re an d Differenc e in the Globa l Cultural E con om y,” Public Culture 2(2):(1990),
Sam i A Aldeeb A bu-Sahlieh, “The Islam ic Concep tion of Migration,” International Migration Review
30(1)(1996): 37-57.
Ch anta l Saint-Blancat., “Islam in Diaspo ra: Between Rete rritorialization and Extraterritotiality,”. Internation
Journal of Urban and Regional Research 26(1) (2002): 139.
Linda S. W albridg e, Withou t Forgettin g the Imam : Leban ese Shi’ism in an American Community (Detroit:
Wayne State University Press, 1997), 175.
An ne S oph ie Roald, Wom en in Islam: The Western Experience (New Y ork: Routle dge, 2001).
Asm ia Gull H asan, American Muslims: The New Generation (New Y ork: C ontin uum , 2002).
Sha hna z Kh an, Muslim Women: Crafting a North American Identity (University of Florida Press, 2000), 74.
Muslim woman should be, and by dutifully conforming to the expectations of the community.

The role of the Muslim mother in preserving collective identity
Women themselves are expected to ensure the boundaries around female sexuality by fulfilling
their obligation of being proper Muslim mothers. The way in which the upcoming generation
of girls are mothered has become an important issue for Muslim women, as it is through these
girls that the continuity of cultural and religious identity will be secured. The successful mother
is required to impart values of chastity on her daughters and maintain “social and sexual
control of the girl child”.10 These mothers are responsible for the morality, sexuality, chastity,
and overall molding of their daughters into good Muslim women that will allow their
community to flourish.
This may become problematic since both mother and daughter are attempting to carve
out niches for themselves by redefining their Muslim identities in a manner which will fit into
their traditional cultural boundaries, but will allow them to be comfortable within the new host
society. This difficulty is enhanced by the fact that the daughters may be pulled more in the
direction of the new culture while the mother attempts to impart traditional values. Many
Western Muslim women face the dilemma of wanting their daughters to enjoy educational
opportunities which will provide them with the status, freedom, and autonomy not available
to them in their home culture, but being equally concerned about the risks that they will be
exposed to while obtaining this education.11

The experience of Muslim women within the immigrant context
Most Muslim women immigrate to the West with their families and are typically obliged to
adhere to their wishes concerning religious practice, dress, and lifestyle in order to
communicate their membership to the Muslim community. The Muslim community in the
Western diaspora is often small, but extremely powerful and influential among Muslim
families.12 These women are under great pressure to modify their behavior and dress to
maintain the integrity and identity of the community. The burden of the visibility and honor of
the Muslim community is carried by women as the issues of dress and chaste, modest behavior
is unique to them. Muslim women carry “a much larger burden of establishing their community
identity and moral values than their male counterparts, the great majority of whom wear
Western clothes entirely and do not stand out as members of their community.”13 Beginning
around the age of twelve or thirteen, restrictions are placed on Muslim girls that do not apply

Sha hna z Kh an, Muslim Women: Crafting a North American Identity (University of Florida Press, 2000), 75.
Ma rcia H erm ansen, Two W ay Acculturation: Muslim W ome n in Am erica Between Individua l Choice
(Liminality) and Com mu nity Affiliation (Com mu nitas) in the The M uslims of Ame rica ( New York:
OxfordUniversity Press, 1991), 191.
Ho ma H ood far, The Veil in Their M inds an d on O ur H ead s: Veiling Practices a nd Muslim Wom en in
Wo men , Gend er, Religion: A Reader (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 440.
to their male kin in the same age group.14 Women are forced to deal with issues such as
freedom of movement, dress, and chastity, all of which men are not. Young Muslim girls are
expected to exemplify chaste behavior by avoiding “any references to sexuality in their dress
and behavior, especially in mixed company, and are not to associate with any males other than
those next of kin.15 Women and their behavior are used as a representation of the values of the
community; the symbolic importance they hold in their countries of origin is reproduced in an
even stricter manner in the diaspora context in order to ensure its preservation.16 Issues
surrounding the sexuality of women such as chastity, virginity, sex segregation, and modest
dress are key in Muslim societies and are thus a focal point among Muslim communities in the
West. The values placed on women’s chastity serves as “symbolic markers of the boundaries
between their own community and the surrounding society.17
Muslim women must constantly negotiate appropriate spaces for themselves where both
the dominant society and their ethnic community wish to section them off as “Other”. The way
in which these women negotiate a place for themselves must be a reaction to how they are
categorized by their own culture, as well as the Western one in which they find themselves.
Within a diaspora context, Muslim women must negotiate a new identity for themselves on
multiple levels; it must be negotiated within families and communities, within the new dominant
culture, as well as on a personal level.

The Islamic understanding of sexuality
Sexuality is not considered to be purely an issue of personal choice for Muslims. It
is responsible for the creation of families and thus acts as an expression of the spiritual nature
of marriage.18 Celibacy is not required in order to dedicate one’s life to God; however, it is
essential that sexuality should be practiced within the framework of morality that the Qur’an
dictates.19 It should be noted, however, that the honor and self image of most Muslim men
“revolves around the orbit of women’s sexuality, which is seen as a male possession”20 and a
woman’s virginity and chaste behavior is her male kin’s responsibility.
The Islamic concept of female sexuality is an active one in which the seclusion and
surveillance of women is necessary to prevent social disruption that will inevitably be caused
by the powerful agent of aggressive female sexuality.21 This dangerous power is feared due to

Ho ma H ood far, More than Clothing: Veiling as an Adaptive Strategy in The Muslim Veil in North America:
Issues and Debates ( Toronto: Women’s Press, 2003), 18.
M.W. Buitelaar, “Negotiating the Rules of Chaste Behavior: Re-interpretations of the symbolic complex of
virginity by young w ome n of Mo roccan descen t in the Netherlands,” Ethnic and Ra cial Studies 25(3) (20 02):
Ibid., 466.
Leila Badaw i, Islam in Women in Religion (New York: Pinter Publishers, 1994), 95.
Riffat H assa n, An Islamic Perspective in Women, Religion, and Sexuality: Studies on the Impact of Religious
Teachings on Women (Philadelphia: Trinity Press Internation, 1990), 117-118.
Ibid., 99.
Fatim a M ernissi, The M uslim Con cept of Active Female Sexua lity in Beyon d the Veil:Male-Fema le Dynam ics
in M odern Muslim Society (Indiana University Press, 1987), 217.
its potential to challenge the social order, and subsequently must be subjugated in order to
“neutralize its disruptive effects”.22 Men are thus assigned the duty of keeping it in check by
ensuring the preservation of female virtue. The male’s adequate control of female virtue reflects
directly on their honor, prestige, and identity as Muslim men. Since the desired social order
within the diaspora setting is tenuous and uncertain, it is crucial to keep female sexuality, and
by association the Muslim male identity, intact.

Sexuality as defined by clothing and veiling in the western context
Clothing is a social institution that communicates gender, social group, and ideology23, and
within the context of immigrant Muslim women, it becomes an instant symbol that ties them
to the Muslim community. Both the modest covering of the body and the veil understood in
these terms become immediate identifiers of the woman’s commitment to her religion, culture,
family, as well as to her modesty. The woman who adopts proper Islamic dress “represents
respectfulness and she is a sign of a healthy and decent society where sexuality is restricted to
taking place inside a marriage, where everybody fulfills their obligations and obtains their
rights”.24 It is an instant visual boundary that communicates her membership to the Muslim
community, her availability, and her dedication to chastity. This is crucial since the female body
is seen as a provocation to the male sexual instinct and female sexuality is a defining boundary
around Muslim identity in the West.
“Veiling has been intertwined with Islamic ethics”25 and thus serves to separate the
woman from the dominant Western society by marking her as off limits. The use of the veil
creates boundaries to demarcate women as Muslim, and as such, allows them to pursue
educational and employment opportunities that would be closed otherwise due to family
opposition. Muslim men use “female attire and behavior as markers of a distinct collective
Islamic presence and identity”.26 The modest, unique appearance of Muslim women in public
is used as an instant marker of membership to the Muslim community; this is striking since the
majority of Muslim men dress themselves in Western attire.27 For most Muslim families, dressing
modestly, whether with or without a headscarf, is still considered of paramount importance in
protecting oneself against the onslaught of American sexual freedom.28
The personal autonomy of Muslim women is often limited due to the important role they
play as symbols and protectors of the collective Muslim identity. Many Muslim men display the

Ibid., 219.
Ho ma H ood far, The Veil in Their M inds an d on O ur H ead s: Veiling Practices a nd Muslim Wom en in
Wom en, Gender, Religion: A Reader (New York: Palgrave.Hoodfar, 2001), 42.
An ne S oph ie Roald, Wom en in Islam: The Western Experience (New York: Routledge, 2001), 289.
Homa H oodfar, More than Clothing: Veiling as an Adaptive Strategy in The Muslim Veil in North America:
Issues and Debates (Toronto: Women’s Press, 2001), 425.
Rac hel B loul, En gen dering Muslim Identities: De tteritotializa tion and the Ethnicization Pro cess in F ran ce in
Making Muslim Space in North America and Europe (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 239.
Ibid., 242.
Linda S. W albridg e, Without Forgetting the Imam: Lebanese Shi’ism in an American Comm unity (Detroit:
Wayne State University Press, 1997), 181.
belief that “we are Muslim, our women behave/look this way”.29 The collective use and control
of the Muslim woman’s body and sexuality has become the site in which Muslim identity is
displayed and preserved in the diaspora context; this is carried out in most instances without
the individual choice, opinion, or consultation with the women involved.
In the Western world, the Muslim diaspora community protects itself, identifies itself,
and places boundaries around itself through the control of women’s sexuality, behavior,
mobility, and dress. With the diaspora, females are used as markers of a collective Muslim
identity, as well as a kind of cultural interface that mediates the cultural and religious
encounters between Islam and the West. The Islamic norms surrounding women are contrasted
with those of the host society that is threatening them, and the Islamic norms are deemed
morally superior and consequently must be enforced to prevent these corrupting Western
influences. Chastity and the subsequent control over women’s sexuality is considered to be the
responsibility and concern of the community as a whole.30 Cultural affirmations are made by
means of strict prescriptions of morality, chastity, purity, behavior, and dress for women, which
keeps them rooted within the Muslim community.
Muslim women living in the western diaspora must then attempt to locate themselves
between the pressures exerted on them by the dominant Western society and the pressures
placed on them by their family and community. They are faced with the burden of delineating
boundaries around their Muslim communities in order to preserve their cultural and religious
identities against the powerful pressures exerted on them by host societies through the symbolic
use of their bodies.


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