Tuesday, 5 November 2013
Toleration and the Falklands
Different genders, ethnicities, religions and beliefs, social and financial situations: the world is a mixture of different diversities. Argentina, the United Kingdom and the Falkland islands are but one of many examples around the world with three societies with their problems, interests, realities. Therefore, how can joint enterprises amongst sovereign States with different interests be possible? How can sovereign States of different kinds participate in shared projects? Is that possible at all?
In order to live together in concord a minimum mutual acceptance is required amongst sovereign members of any societal organization (national or international), which establishes a sort of invisible net that makes them part of the same conglomerate: e.g., a nation or the international scenario. They are tolerant with respect to each other’s existence and difference. However, what does it mean to be tolerant? To tolerate something or someone implies to recognise its existence. If the thing or person did not exist, the first individual would not even need to think about tolerating them. The fact that individuals tolerate each other does not imply they are equal or even similar. The same ideas can be applied to the sovereign State. The international community is constituted by several agents; amongst them, the State has a pre-eminent role. Every State is expected –at least- to tolerate its peers although they may have important internal and external differences (e.g. type of government).
It may be argued that sovereignty and tolerance are not conceptually closed. As sovereignty implies absolute imperium or supreme authority over a given territory and its population (sovereign State), it may have an antithetical relationship with tolerance. However, the fact that sovereignty can –and it does- have constraints refutes that postulate. The question here is what it is understood by a tolerant behaviour amongst sovereign States.
A sovereign State is not tolerant if it does not respect its peers –i.e. if it does not respect others’ sovereignty. Does Argentina respect the United Kingdom in the case of the Falklands and viceversa? In what specifically concerns to sovereignty conflicts, every involved sovereign State objects or disapproves its opponent claims over the third territory resulting in a zero sum game for all the involved agents. By adding toleration to the equation, these sovereign States would at least secure its reciprocal respect as international peers and, possibly, the mutual acknowledgement as interested agents in relation to the third territory. How far can this special kind of international toleration be extended? The answer to this question is crucial because depending on its outcome, toleration may imply respect of the status quo in sovereignty conflicts or include behaviours to move towards a viable solution.
At first glance, toleration seems to be usually understood as implying negative obligations –in the form of not to do, not to interfere with someone else. Similarly, at international level, the principle of non-interference is core to international relationships.
Both Argentina and the United Kingdom can act in relation to the Falkland islands, they know about their existence and that of their competitor, and they refrain from fully putting their claimed rights into action. There is indeed a certain degree of toleration between Argentina and the United Kingdom. In fact, the main –only?- problem between them is the dispute about the sovereignty over the Falklands. Can an umbrella of toleration be the answer?
A first –and mature- step in order to move forward is that both the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom accept their competitor in the conflict as well as the Falkland islanders. We have already seen why the Falkland islanders should be included in ANY negotiations and have a say. See:
Falkland islanders and equal worth
Sovereignty over the Falklands: who has the right to claim?
Once they finally acknowledge mutually their existence and the FACT that there are all claiming the same piece of land, the THREE parties can go into negotiations. And all this is actually covered simply by being tolerant. Is that so hard to ask for?