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Introduction to Geopolitics

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1 Introduction to Geopolitics


3 What is Geopolitics? The study of how geography impacts politics, demography, and economics, especially with respect to developing foreign policy and international conflicts.

4 Geopolitics A term used to describe how nations or groups of people interact with or exert their influence over other peoples or surrounding nations Refers to one nation’s sphere of influence over its neighbors

5 A key to understanding geopolitics is understanding that political attitudes and actions in the past are important factors in determining the current world condition. These attitudes develop in large part in response to the nation’s geographic situation in the world.

6 Many mechanisms can be used by a
nation to exert its influence over another country. Ø Military force Ø Trade Ø Foreign aid Ø Mass media Ø Religion Ø Economic sanctions and Industrial Development ** Energy and Pollution ** Population Policies

7 When interaction between groups or nations is "ʺconfrontational"ʺ human rights are often at issue.
Human rights issues can involve: ~ loss of life ~ economic deprivation ~ religious persecution ~ torture ~ arbitrary detention ~ abuse of children (child pornograpghy, labour)

8 The United Nations Declaration
of Human Rights – 1948 (rev. 1968) "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." "… entitled to all rights and freedoms without discrimination of any kind…"

9 The United Nations Commission of Human Rights receives over 400,000 complaints a year from individuals, families or groups such as Amnesty International


11 All humans are born free and equal and in dignity and rights
Everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national origin, property, birth or other status

12 All human beings are entitled to the following freedoms:
~ life ~ liberty ~ freedom from torture ~ equality before the law ~ freedom of movement (including right to immigrate) ~ ownership of property ~ freedom of opinion and expression ~ choice of employment ~ equal pay for equal work ~ unhindered trade union membership ~ a standard of living suitable for health or well-­‐‑being ~ free participation in the cultural life of the community

13 How universally accepted are these human rights?

14 Malaysia argues that under Islamic law, men and women are treated differently
China and Iran claim: "ʺtheir national circumstances are their own affair"ʺ ie. NOT the UN'ʹs Should traditional cultural values be placed ahead of Universal Human Rights?

15 Facts on Human Rights *Violence against women and girls is the most pervasive violation of human rights in the world today *Discrimination against women and girls is an important cause of malnutrition. The very high rates of child malnutrition and low birth weight throughout South Asia are linked to such factors as women'ʹs poor access to education and their low levels of participation in paid employment, compared to other regions. *More than 1 million children, mostly girls, are forced into prostitution every year *2 million girls each year are at risk of genital mutilation – approximately 6,000 per day *Disabled persons constitute ten per cent of the world'ʹs population 79 percent of the indigenous people in Peru are poor, and more than half live in extreme poverty *Some 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are currently working according to the ILO. Of this total, 120 million are working full-­‐‑time. 61% of child workers (153 million) are found in Asia; 32% in Africa and 7% in Latin America (

16 Sovereignty

17 Sovereignty

18 Sovereignty A sovereign nation is one with a national government that is able to control what happens within its borders i.e. unrestricted by the polices and actions of others

19 Sovereignty and Ethnicity
Often, sovereignty and ethnicity conflict with each other Ethnicity – membership in a particular cultural group sharing cultural, linguistic and other traits in common The right of an ethnic group to independence if it so wishes (self‑determination) has long been accepted in principle – but in practice is often ignored e.g. Kurds, Welsh, Basques

20 Problems Associated with Ethnic Independence
In practice, few ethnic groups have sole possession of an area of land Members of other ethnic groups usually share the same area in a "ʺjumbled"ʺ manner

21 Problems Associated with Ethnic Independence
b) An ethnic minority seeking independence would itself create other ethnic minorities Where does it stop?

22 Problems Associated with Ethnic Independence
c) Independence would produce literally hundreds of small nations This conflicts with the concept of the "ʺglobal village"ʺ of closer cooperation between nations and larger political and economic units Consider the case of Africa

23 Problems Associated with Ethnic Independence
Presently there are 50 countries, but there are 5000 different tribal groups

24 Problems Associated with Ethnic Independence
Does each tribe have a right to self-­‐‑ determination? This would establish a number of micro-­‐‑ nations of 50,000 to 100,000 people

25 Minority Rights are a major concern for the United Nations
Ø Minorities are often disliked by the majority, who expect the minority to "ʺadjust"ʺ to the majority culture (eg. some countries prohibit the teaching of minority languages) Ø Minorities are often regarded as "ʺforeigners"ʺ -­‐‑ even in their land of birth Ø Persecution is often the result -­‐‑ Xenophobia

26 What makes a "ʺnation"ʺ?

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