What factors influence the creation of a nation?
By: Reed Oberlander
What factors influence the creation of a nation? (At what point does it become a nation? How must it be governed? Need there be a reason for its creation? Does such a reason need to have certain qualifications before the country is considered legitimate?) The Earth is an interesting place in no small part because of its great diversity. In past times, this diversity existed because of inability for cultures to intermingle, but today, the diversity exists less out of necessity and more because different groups choose different lifestyles, values, etc. Today there exist more nations than ever before, demonstrating how people have created their own places and ways of living to best suit their needs. The research was undertaken to uncover what factors cause people to take actions which lead to the creation of a new nation, to determine how creating a nation benefits its citizens, and how people may undertake such a feat themselves.
The research was primarily conducted online because this was the easiest way to get varied international sources; however, some of the online sources were online transcriptions of primary source documents (not created on the internet). A video of an interview was used as well to gain perspective of a founder of a nation, not just a writer. Some print sources were used as well in researching the creation of nations, namely books as these are great academic resources which are likely to be more reliable and hold quality information. Academic journals were also used in research as these are conducted and published by academic writers and compilers whose single goal is the proliferation of knowledge above all else. The wide variety of sources allows for them to be used in varied ways, to support or challenge each other. This also means that the arguments presented will not be representative of only one person and their beliefs.
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There exist no universally agreed upon criteria to determine what constitutes a country. Many countries have been around (at least in name, if not in governmental style or other factors) since before the common era, while others have been created much more recently. Some countries do not recognize others, demonstrating one small facet of the larger conflicts which exist internationally. Countries rise from many different situations, but perhaps the most common reason is dissatisfaction with a previous country. The research conducted focused on the history and causes of the formation of nations and micronations. While today there exist criteria, albeit not universally, for creating a nation (though the criteria need not be met entirely nor is recognition necessary), in the past, criteria for the determination as a nation were less defined, or not defined at all. This means that if criteria were to be set, not all current nations may fit the criteria; the lack of criteria should be seen as a benefit to new nations because it allows wider interpretation of what is necessary to be a nation.
For example, many nations existed in antiquity, some as empires, and have survived to present day as nations, such as Great Britain and Spain, which created colonies throughout the world. These colonies became nations when they declared independence from the colonial power, such as in 1821 when Guatemala (then encompassing several present day Central American countries) declared independence from Spain. Subsequently, in 1938, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica separated from Guatemala and the Central American Congress (Woodward, Ralph Lee, Jr.). Many of the nations which exist today were created as colonies of another nation and have since gained their independence because the people wished for control of their own affairs. When people have a unifying reason for creating a new country, gaining their independence and sovereignty is all the more likely.
In a similar manner, countries can be formed when people wish to have control over the religious aspects of their lives. For example, the nation of Israel (which existed in antiquity, but was lost until the 20th century) was created in 1947 after the persecution of the Jews in Europe. It was decided by the United Nations that the people of Jewish faith should have their own country, and Israel was established as this country because it had historically been the Jewish homeland. This nation was created for religious purposes, but the situation led to major conflicts with the Arab nations which lost land to the new Jewish state (Constable, George). Such is a major issue with creating new nations: the acquisition of territory. Other nations exist for religious reasons, such as Vatican City, a sovereign nation which serves as the head of the Roman Catholic Church. This nation officially received recognition as such in 1929 despite a long history before that. ("Lateran Treaty.") The creation of the Vatican as a state has been seen by some as an actual loss of power in return for recognition, but the opposite has also been argued because recognition and the ability to have control over one’s own country is a large aspect of power (Géraud, Andr´).
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One of the most surprising findings was that there exist no universally accepted criteria for determining whether or not a country is in fact a country. There are two predominate theories regarding the definition of a country: the declarative theory and the constitutive theory. The declarative theory of statehood states that a country needs “a) a permanent population; b) a defined territory; c) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.” ("Convention on Rights and Duties of States."). This definition dates from the Convention at Montevideo in 1933, signed by 19 North and South American countries, and it is widely accepted in the international community for defining nations, stating that a country requires only the four points mentioned by name, and no other requirements (such as external or internal recognition) are necessary to be considered a nation. Under this theory, a country is essentially a country if it believes so and can fulfill the basic criteria.
The constitutive theory of statehood states that recognition by other nations is necessary to become a country. This theory is used particularly by the United Nations, although not even all of the members of the United Nations recognize all other members. Under this theory, even a country which maintained all of the criteria set forth in the Convention at Montevideo would not be considered a state if it lacked recognition by other states. (The amount of states which need to recognize a new state before it can be considered such remains undetermined.) The lack of recognition is one of the only things keeping some states from gaining the title of state, such as Palestine, which meets all of the criteria established under the Montevideo Convention but yet remains unrecognized by the United Nations (Foldvary, Fred E.). This need for recognition by other states also keeps many micronations from being recognized as states, despite technically fulfilling the terms of the Montevideo Convention.
The inconsistencies between the two theories make statehood a difficult task to achieve because often a state can fulfill the requirements for one theory but not the other. However, some nations have been known to function as nations without fulfilling the requirements of the Montevideo Convention or gaining recognition. For example, some nations have gone through periods of not having relations with other nations, such as North Korea, well known for its isolation (Kano, Hiroshi). Conversely, situations also exist in which one nation will exist only because of the actions of another which has strong relations and relations with the fledgling nation. For example, South Korea, with a large amount of assistance from the United States, was able to construct a nation using a strong military as a major factor. In this case, without recognition and relations with the United States which allowed massive support, South Korea may have collapsed, particularly from potential North Korean pressure (Kim, Jinwung).
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This research made me question why there is no universally defined and accepted method for acquiring statehood. I realized though, that to have such a method would require all (or at least a majority) of countries to agree to the method, and that many may not wish to do so because it may allow more countries to exist, thus potentially reducing the influence of the currently established countries. Also, rigidly defining a set of criteria for statehood could limit the diversity of states, which would be seen as negative by many and perhaps as culturally insensitive. If criteria for nationhood were rigidly defined, then it would be more difficult and more unfair to newly formed territories which would remain unable to acquire nationhood without the prior consent of the current nations.
An interesting outcome of the research was the question of why nations exist in the first place. The division of areas of land and groups of people by nationality seems to foster animosity above all else; why then do nations exist for just this purpose? Perhaps the greatest reason is that the concept of a nation was constructed long ago, when the people of Earth were less connected on a global scale and the power of a government could not often reach beyond certain physical boundaries, enabling multiple states to form. However, as time progressed, such states grew and came into conflict because of their need to expand and often because of their different ideologies. Indeed, because these nations were previously isolated from each other, they developed independently, creating cultures, governments, languages, and people unique to each of them. Nations first existed as a way of uniting the people of one region under a common factor. Today, nations play this role to a lesser extent: nations often have citizens from many different regions, sometimes originally from other regions. Today, nations still unite people under a common factor, but in many places that factor has switched from being language, culture, or region to other factors such as political ideology. This factor is the reason for the creation of many micronations, and it is often the reason for civil wars, which can lead to the creation of a new nation. However, nations still exist as dividers of people, despite the work of entities such the United Nations, which seek to bring these nations together peacefully. The good news is that creating a nation may be a viable way to avoid future conflict among people with differing ideologies.
Another interesting outcome of my research was my increased knowledge on micronations. These have been previously mentioned in this research paper: a micronation consists of a small group of people (perhaps even an individual) who no longer wish to associate with their previous nation and therefore seek control of their own lives in the most direct way possible: by literally governing them. There are many examples of micronations, all created for a reason. Some micronations are very serious in pursuing their political freedoms and many fulfill the requirements of the declarative or constitutive theory. One of the best examples of a highly successful micronation is the Principality of Hutt River which has many of the characteristics of any traditional nation such as a population, currency ("Hutt River Province Banknotes."), government, relations with other nations, and even recognition from the country of Australia. (Array), (II, George). Some micronations never intend to leave their parent country physically, but more so in spirit. Even this act of symbolic secession can have a powerful political message, sometimes enough to bring about the wanted change. For example, the Conch Republic, near the Florida Keys, USA, seceded in protest of the government’s institution of a border crossing which nearly ruined the local tourist economy by scaring away the tourists. The citizens of the Conch Republic good naturedly (and successfully) brought about a resolution to their problem by creating their micronation as a political statement (Secretary General of the Conch Republic.). Micronations are conceived with the purpose of bringing about change for the citizens of the nation in a direct manner.
My research helped me understand the origin of nations (both specific nations, and the concept of nations in general). I have also learned from the research how the concept of a nation and the process of creating one have changed over time to adapt to a more globally connected international community. This research has helped me to decide that a way in which I might best be able to benefit others is to inform them of this history of nations, its changes over time, and how nations are created. I will make this information available to people around the world on a website which will also catalogue the steps necessary to create a nation, as both a tool for better understanding of nations as a whole and a tool for any adventurous micro-(or macro) nation builders to take control of their own lives in the most direct way possible: through creating a nation in which they control the government and its policies.
The factors which I have found that influence the creation of a nation include many aspects that can create conflict but also those which are designed to preventively stop conflict. These factors include war, religion, cultural differences, political beliefs, protest, solidarity with members of a group, and many more. All nations are created for a reason, but there are no restrictions on what that reason may be. There are also no set criteria for defining a nation, though there are most definitely guidelines. To complete my project, I will be creating for my product a website, in which I will give histories of some nations as well as my own guidelines for how to successfully create a nation. The creation of a nation is a powerful tool which can be used by people to achieve their goals and, if properly implemented, have control of their lives.
Array. “The Mouse that Roared.” Principality of Hutt River. 18 Apr. 2010. ABC News. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. <http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2010/s2875856.htm>. Leonard Casley, Prince of the Principality of Hutt River, speaks regarding his nation, its creation, how it is administered, and its legitimacy. There is a video and a transcript of what was said in the interview. During the interview, Prince Leonard discusses the history of his nation as well as giving tours to visitors. The importance of this source is that serves to showcase how a micronation may gain legitimacy in nationhood.
Constable, George, ed. Library of Nations: Israel. Amsterdam: Time-Life, 1986. Print. This book focuses on the nation of Israel. Mentioned are how the nation existed in antiquity, disappeared, and was founded again in modernity. Issues regarding the founding of the nation are mentioned as well as what was necessary to do so and what opposition was encountered. This serves as a useful tool in recognizing that creating a nation is not an easy process, but it is often a worthy cause. The Israeli people definitely achieved many of the steps necessary to create a nation, one of the largest being recognition by other nations. Some of these criteria will be used in creating the product which will describe what the process of creating a nation consists of.
"Convention on Rights and Duties of States." The Avalon Project. Yale Law School, 2008. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. <http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/intam03.asp>. This source provides a verbatim copy of the proceedings of the Montevideo Convention wherein 19 American nations set forth criteria relating to the classification of nations among other things. This source was useful in determining what factors were necessary for the determination of a nation, what was needed to create one, and for identifying if nations truly have criteria or not.
Foldvary, Fred E. "United Nations Representation for Palestine." The Progress Report. N.p., 26 Sept. 2011. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. <http://www.progress.org/2011/fold736.htm>. This source discusses the history of the issue of Palestinian and Israeli conflict and explores why recognition has been difficult for the Palestinians to achieve. The Palestinians realize that recognition is the only way to be seen as a legitimate country and also the only way to lay a claim to the lands which currently rest under Israeli control. While it is not mandatory for any country to be recognized by another, without this recognition no country is really able to be considered equal to others. For some countries, recognition is not the goal, but for many others, without recognition, statehood does not exist.
Gelineau, Kristen. "Fed up with Your Country? Create Your Own!" The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 3 May 2010. Web. 8 Oct. 2012. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/9058619>. This article discusses the possibility of creating a nation from the beginning. Micronations are explored as a viable means of self government. Several individual micronations are evaluated and discussed, providing good history for the idea of a micronation and also possible means for creating a new nation.
Géraud, Andr´. "THE LATERAN TREATIES: A STEP IN VATICAN POLICY." Foreign Affairs 7.4 (1929): 571-584. EBSCO eBook Collection. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. <http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.lib.az.us:2048/ehost/detail?sid=942bf885-9cb3-4b04-9012-423e7ae9c450%40sessionmgr114&vid=3&hid=127&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=a9h&AN=14795217>. This source discusses how the Vatican City was created as a nation in 1929 via the Lateran Treaty. This source discusses how the move by the Vatican was seen by some as a loss of power for the gains that would come with allying with Italy. The author of this source argues that in actuality, the Vatican did not lose power in the agreement, but instead furthered its political power. This source illustrates that while religion plays a large part in the creation of some nations, so too does the quest for increasing power and influence.
"Hutt River Province Banknotes." ATS notes. N.p., 2010. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. <http://www.atsnotes.com/catalog/banknotes/hutt-river.html>. This website focuses mainly on the currency of the Principality of Hutt River. This micronation has created its own currency and stamps as symbols of nationality, which are an effective way of building a nation and gaining legitimacy and followers for it. This information will be useful in creating a guide for how to create a nation, what steps should be followed.
II, George. "Hutt River Province (Principality)." Imperial Collection. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. <http://www.imperial-collection.net/hutt_river_main.html>. Much of the information found here reflects the history of the Principality of Hutt River. The history shows the steps taken to form the micronation as well as the reasons behind the action of creating the nation. Certain factors which add legitimacy to the nation are also discussed, such as a flag, territory, citizens. The information here is crucial to understanding that the definition of a nation is in the eye of the beholder.
"Information About Australia." Amazing Australia. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. <http://www.amazingaustralia.com.au/australia_information.htm>. This site provides information regarding the creation of both Australia and Principality of Hutt River as (separate) countries. This page is worthwhile because it discusses how both a macro and micro nation have been formed, their histories, and their current statuses. In considering nations, both large and small nations need consideration.
Kano, Hiroshi. "North Korea's International Isolation." International Review. International Review, 16 Dec. 2002. Web. 2 Nov. 2012. <http://www.int-review.org/terr32a.html>. North Korea is well known for its isolation from other countries. In one aspect, it may be admired for not being hindered by what other nations believe about it. North Korea does not seek international approval, despite having a place in the United Nations. North Korea does have recognition as a state, but many other states question the responsibility of the government to the people. North Korea did not always have UN recognition but has operated as a country whether it had recognition or not. North Korea has not always had relations with other countries either, showing that neither recognition nor relations are necessary for nationhood.
Kim, Jinwung. Journal of American-East Asian Relations 17.2 (2010): 174-198. EBSCO eBook Collection. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. <http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.lib.az.us:2048/ehost/detail?sid=a464a1a0-f078-4462-86ce-7ee9e6c32594%40sessionmgr12&vid=1&hid=21&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=a9h&AN=55031472>. A description of the role of the United States and Korean people in building the South Korean Nation. Very important here is the use of government as a tool for creating a nation from a fractured people. This information will be used in the product to discuss what factors are necessary to successfully create a nation.
"Lateran Treaty." Columbia Encyclopedia. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Feb. 2011. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. <http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.lib.az.us:2048/ehost/detail?sid=fde380bd-48fb-48f0-9f64-f8c8a7773fdc%40sessionmgr104&vid=3&hid=127&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=a9h&AN=39017484>. This source describes how the Vatican became a sovereign (and internationally recognized state). The Vatican is less than 100 years old as a modern nation, but it has history far before that. The Vatican's political status was uncertain following Italian unification in 1871, and in 1929 the Vatican made an agreement with Italy in which it would gain the full title of a nation and the benefits to go along with this. The history of the Vatican as a nation underscores one of the major reasons why people often feel the need to separate from a previous nation: religion. While Italian and Vatican citizens were largely of the same religion and the creation of the Vatican was peaceful, many other nations which are created for religious reasons are created under much more strenuous circumstances.
"Montevideo Convention." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/390844/Montevideo-Convention>. This source gives an overview of the happenings at the Montevideo Convention in 1919. The outcome of this convention would be a set of criteria (though not universal) which would help to assist in the defining of a nation in the future. These criteria will be cited in both the research paper and the product along with the theory which corresponds: the declarative theory of the definition of a nation.
Reid, Robin T. "Micronations of the World." Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian Institution, 24 Aug. 2009. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Micronations-of-the-World.html?c=y&page=1>. This source lists and describes briefly several varied micronations which exist today or in the past. The purpose of learning about these nations is to see how people have directly taken a stand for their beliefs in the most direct way possible: self government in the fullest sense of the term. Some of these micronations exist as former parts of the United States, showing that creating a nation is not a task for only lesser developed nations. Indeed, seceding from a previous country is a very common method of creating a nation, but it can lead to war, so this needs to be carefully considered before creating a new nation.
Secretary General of the Conch Republic. "A Brief History of the Conch Republic." Conch Republic. Key West Web Services, 2004. Web. 26 Oct. 2012. <http://www.conchrepublic.com/history.htm>. This source describes the Conch Republic, a micronation which existed for serious reasons and achieved its goal of government actions being rectified in the United States. The people were angry at the inconvenience of a border check on the Florida Keys and seceded, mostly symbolically, from the USA. Creating a nation can have an impact on the lives of those who take action.
Wallach, Yair. "Creating a country through currency and stamps: state symbols and nation-building in British-ruled Palestine." Nations & Nationalism 17.1 (2011): 129-147. EBSCO eBook Collection. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. <http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.lib.az.us:2048/ehost/detail?vid=8&sid=8d997af4-7a1e-44bb-b304-cf40d371c6f1%40sessionmgr12&hid=21&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=a9h&AN=56599879>. A discussion on how items such as currency or stamps can have a great impact on the creation of a nation in familiarizing the citizens with the idea of the new nation existing as such. These items demonstrate national power and influence: the fact that a country has its own money implies a strong economy and stamps imply the ability to have a far reaching influence. These items will be mentioned in the product as part of a guide to the necessities of creating a nation.
Woodward, Ralph Lee, Jr. "Political Chronology." Central America: A Nation Divided. New York: Oxford UP, 1985. 284-307. Print. This source recounted how the nations of Latin America gained their independence. Originally, independence was gained from Spain, and then many of the countries split off from the resulting body to create their own separate nations. The nations here each split because of their differing beliefs (or reasons) which is one of the criteria for creating a nation. This situation reveals one common way nations are created: independence is gained from a former (colonial) power by a people who realize they can have independence and unite for the cause.