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FW Political Identity & Equality

Published: August 31, 2014, Author: Rÿser Rudolph C.

In two articles I wrote for Indian Country Today (read HERE and HERE) I argue for the formal recognition of new political identities for the world’s indigenous nations–a political status that places these nations at a level of political equality with states, kingdoms and other internationally recognized polities.

I argue for a mutually determined intergovernmental mechanism between each indigenous nation and each state. Then they can engage a democratic dialogue and mediated negotiations. Through such mechanisms nations may realize a formalized political status suitable to their political aspirations. I suggest such an arrangement is essential to promote peaceful relations and global stability. And, this will be an effective approach to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).

The political identity of each indigenous nation must rise to a position of political equality. This necessarily ensures that the peoples of indigenous nations may sit at the table of international engagement with honor and dignity as is or should be the position enjoyed by all peoples. In a recent interview with the editor of International Cry Magazine (read HERE) I discussed the significance of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. I comment on the present international climate within which Fourth World nations must now conduct themselves: suggesting the opportunity for dialogue and negotiations.

Examples of dangers that continue to befall Fourth World nations that do not have an internationally recognized political status include the recent topics of my essays. I write about Russian’s manipulation and confiscation of Fourth World nations to take over independent states and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) [a non-state organization] vicious mass murders of peoples in Syria and Iraq. These are, of course, not new depredations, but examples of two recently noted series of events. Many nations in Argentina, Mexico, Burma, Peru, India, Pakistan, and Rwanda have been attacked. In Afghanistan, Libya, Israeli occupied Palestine, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Guatemala, Uganda, El Salvador, China, South Sudan, Sudan, and in other states nations have suffered similar attacks.

Political identity and a consequent political status are essential to a Fourth World nation’s existence in the international neighborhood. The international space includes states, transnational corporations, transnational religions, criminal syndicates and transnational non-state organizations (as diverse as the World Wildlife Fund, ISIL and al Qaeda). Fourth World nations are the only political entity among these other than a state that governs territories and peoples. And, they are not considered members of the community.

These nations have within their territories 80% of the world’s remaining [life giving] bio-diversity, ancient cultures, growing and youthful populations, and ancient knowledge systems that have ensured their survival for thousands of years.  Yet the “new boys in the neighborhood” [states, corporations and the like] covet, confiscate, and consume what originates with Fourth World nations without their consent.  That is why the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples stresses in three separate paragraphs: the right of free, prior and informed consent.

Fourth World nations have been part of the international neighborhood long before the existence of the entities that now claim prominent international space. The world was long well ordered before the emergence of empires, states, and odd entities. Other entities such as criminal organizations, transnational and domestic corporations, and non-governmental [non-state] organizations have complicated things. What has become global disorder in the last few hundred years troubles an increasing number of observers. For those who thought there was a “world order” under the post war conditions following World War II a few respected observers pine for the old days–old days when Fourth World nations I might note were virtually invisible.

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger writes in his soon to be released book “World Order” adapted for a Wall Street Journal article: “History offers no respite to countries that set aside their sense of identity in favor of a seemingly less arduous course. But nor does it assure success for the most elevated convictions in the absence of a comprehensive geopolitical strategy.” The “Balance of Power” strategist for the Nixon Administration is troubled by what he characterizes as a “crisis” in the world that has lost the “concept of order that has underpinned the modern era.” He expresses concern for a global international environment no longer dominated and controlled by “great powers” that keep order in the world. And, he laments the multi-polar world that followed the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991.

Kissinger sees an international “world order” spinning off its axis. He worked throughout his career to perfect a world order based on “balance of power politics between the great powers”. He points to the civil war in Libya, the Islamic State of the Levant (ISIL) cutting a swath out of Syria and Iraq, the virtual collapse of Afghanistan into an electoral muddle, Russia’s willingness to invade the sovereign state of Ukraine and China’s South China Sea island claim over Japanese objections as examples of the breakdown in the global order. Of course Kissinger faults the decline or loss of “American idealism and traditional concepts of statehood and balance of power” as being responsible for the rocky and unstable international environment. He wishes for the United States to reclaim its “exceptionalism”—so conceived as a “free and democratic” society.

Mr. Kissinger’s call for a renewed exceptionalism to restore the “World Order” seems quaint in the complex international environment. As time goes on it will no doubt become more complex as Fourth World nations unveil new political identities in the global neighborhood and more players enter the international space. For what Secretary Kissinger urges on states to reclaim for their identity (exceptional United States I presume) is in another sense essential for Fourth World nations: political identity and political status. And these nations too must develop their own “comprehensive geopolitical strategy.”

I have proffered Fourth World Geopolitics as a framework for that strategy. Fourth World Geopolitics is a field of study and a practical description of the conduct through governing institutions of social, economic, political, strategic and cultural relations between nations and between nations and states (plus other political constructs) concerning the use, occupation and rule over territory (geography), resources for life, peoples, and cultural space.

Democratic engagement in the international neighborhood is the ideal Mr. Kissinger promotes; and I will agree with him that such is not only desirable, but also essential for a more peaceful world. What is needed for states is also required for Fourth World nations. When such engagement is achieved then all of humanity will be respected and honored at the international table of dialogue and negotiations.

Mutual agreement between contending parties is the goal, but to have agreement, all parties must be at the table expressing their free, prior and informed consent. To sit at the table Fourth World nations must achieve a distinct political identity as well as political equality with the other parties at the table. Presumably, Secretary Kissinger would agree with this idea.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

access here