My Word

My Word

Why Not a New Strategy and Goal? Independent Nations vs. Statehood
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February 2, 2017

Why would any Fourth World nation or confederation of Fourth world nations want to become recognized as an independent state? The track record for failures is pretty stark suggesting that it may be better to pursue a political course to create an “independent nation” or “independent confederated nation” ruled under customary laws. Great shifts of political power are fully underway throughout the world, and these changes will have dramatic influences on the choices and actions of Fourth World nations as we proceed deeper into the 21st century of the Christian calendar. Keen observers of Fourth World geopolitics, and there are a few, will notice that the indigenous peoples of southern Sudan broke away from Sudan to form South Sudan.

That was in 2011. In 1994, Mr. A-Bagi Kabeir, of the Numba of Sudan initialed the International Covenant on the Rights of Indigenous Nations claiming the full right of self-determination (Article 3). His initial in Geneva, Switzerland had the Numba people joining the Crimean Tartars (initialed by Mr. Nadir Bekir), the Confederacy of Treaty Six Nations (initialed by Mr. Ron Lameman), the Opethesaht Nation (initialed by Ms. Judy Sayer, and West Papua Peoples’ Front (OPM) initialed by Mr. Viktor Kaisiepo. What is striking about the changes that have occurred since that meeting in Geneva in 1994 is that the Numba are essentially captive in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan state in the Nuba Mountains adjacent to South Sudan where civil war between contending political and military officials broke out in 2113. The Numba are sympathetic to the fighters in South Sudan and have sent their own people to fight in the civil war. The Numba have family in the northern part of South Sudan—across the border in Ruweng state. The central issue of the war? Who will control the oil and money from wells in the north of the country? More than 300,000 people have been killed and no decision has been made. Was it a good idea for the mostly tribal societies to vote by 93% to form the state of South Sudan or would there have been a better course of action to achieve self-determination. Yes, I know, the Sudanese government was hugely oppressive against the indigenous peoples in the south. Yes, the United States government worked to press for South Sudan’s independence and that was followed by the selection of Salva Kiir Mayardit as president. Within weeks, the president and vice president couldn’t agree and they broke into to opposing forces—then began the civil war. The Numba became part of the conflict for control of the state of South Sudan. South Sudan is now classified as the second most “fragile state” in the world only exceeded by Somalia—a state that essentially collapsed years ago.

Eritrea is another state formed by Fourth World nations wanting to become an independent state. It has been formed originally from the kingdoms of Medri Bahri and Hamasein. Breaking away from Ethiopia in a war (1998-2000), it was declared an independent state in 1991. It is now a one-party state with a long list of human rights atrocities resulting in the state of Eritrea becoming tagged as the country with the worst human rights record. It was a country controlled by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini for many years. It is now a country in turmoil with a population estimated at 6.4 million with the Tigrinya making up the majority (55%), and the Tigre making up 30% followed by the Kunama, Rashaida and the Nara. Multiple languages characterize the communications landscape. The country is nearly split down the middle between the religions of Christianity and Islam. And with this profile, Eritrea is a political mess.

Yemen is another multi-national state formed out of Fourth World nations.

What has happened is that many nations have discovered that having an independent state is not such a good idea. States are organized hierarchically with the top dominating everything below. When one nation’s leader decides to oppress the other nations inside the new state, all hell breaks loose. Fourth World nations are particularly susceptible to domination and oppression from other indigenous nations. Yes, it is true that states contribute huge oppressive problems for Fourth World nations, but all one has to do is look at the states dominated by one indigenous nation (not all, it is true), and you can see that there must be an alternative to independent statehood for Fourth World nations. Here are a few examples:


Dominant Fourth World Nation Subjugated Fourth World Nation(s) Status State
Burman Shan, Karen, Rahnine, Karenni, Chin, Kachin, Mon, Akha, Lisu, Lahu, Mru, Rohingya At war Burman/Myanmar
Tigrinya Tigre, Kunama, Rashaida, Nara and more. At war South Sudan
Darod  & Hawiye



Isaaq At war Somalia

(Somali Land, Punt Land, Mogadishu)

Hadi Houthis At war Yemen

Figure 1: Domineering Nations and Subjugated Nations in Independent States

These are “Fourth World Wars” in the true meaning of the expression. They are violent and many thousands of people in native communities are being killed. How can this be a good idea?

And, there are more Fourth World nations claiming the right to become an independent state: Kurdistan (territorial extent into Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran), Uyghuristan (territory in western China and parts of Mongolia, Kirgizstan, Afghanistan, and more), Catalonia (territory in northeastern Iberia Peninsula and a tiny portion of south Eastern France), Scotsland (Territory claimed under dominating royal fiat in the United Kingdom, Q’inoba’l (territory in northwestern Guatemala), Biafra (territory in southern Nigeria) and more elsewhere.

Struggling against one another for control over the keys to the “toilet house” strikes me as borderline insanity at best and suicidal at worst. Fourth World nations have their hands full just fending off the money/power land and resource grabs by states’ governments and their crony corporations. While these struggles have been hugely damaging to Fourth World nations, I think I can say, without fear of contradiction, the challenge of the kleptocratic state is getting worse.

We need some serious thinking in the Fourth World to recalibrate our understanding of the struggle and what are the goals when the struggle is ended. What are indigenous nations attempting to accomplish—and yes I mean politically—since dealing with other cultures and other ethos (states) involves diplomacy (politics) and war (politics). If we just want a better world where living things can live freely, then how is that going to be achieved? If we want the right of free, prior and informed consent, how is that going to be achieved? If we want to freely choose our own future without external interference, then how is that going to be achieved?

Out ancestors the world over have not managed to give us good examples of how to achieve these things. Many nations and their leaders simply acted selfishly and disregarded the need for collaboration, cooperation and coalition. They ran off in their own ways to get stuff from the invaders. Yes, many fought valiantly and many died, but what was the strategy to avoid the disaster?

We have before us radical changes in the environment, social, political, economic and geopolitical worlds. If we think we can hide, I want to suggest that is not a course of action that works in a world where everyone is under a camera lens.

We need a Congress of Fourth World Nations that convenes and probably runs for a year or two to discuss and decide on what will be local, regional and global strategies. And what will the goals be: political, economic, cultural, social, strategic and geopolitical. In 1992 I worked with ten Fourth World nations and three states (Japan, Germany, Russia and the United States) to organize and convene a Congress of Nations and States. All parties agreed to the plan except the United States (then headed by George H.W. Bush. Remember, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and even Russia and China had all be harshly negative about the then emerging Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They have made smiles toward the Declaration since, but in reality they all still oppose implementing this flawed, but potentially useful Declaration. A serious departure from past political and strategic efforts is needed: Independent nations (no not as states but as nations) or confederated nations may be the new alternative. (I wrote a book about this approach (Indigenous Nations and Modern States [2012 at Amazon) and suggest that some nations have already begun testing the approach

In the face of a world rapidly becoming home to Trumplicans and their fascist buddies in France, Russia, and Holland and in sub-parties in Austria, Germany and Italy. The United Nations is not a real option any longer, though we should still keep an eye on it and even talk once in awhile. A Congress of Fourth World Nations organized at first at sub-regional levels and then at regional levels and then globally can be the birthplace of a new set of options for the world’s more than 6,000 nations. That is 1.3 billion people. We might start with the International Covenant on the Rights of Indigenous Nations. It is certainly worth a try since what we have been doing is at a dead end.

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