What if they share the sovereignty over Khemed in different portions?
We are all different. Our societies reflect these differences. Each of the countries we are born in and where we spend our life is different. Some are rich in natural resources, some are not; some have a strong financial system, some have financial crisis very often; some guarantee complete freedom of expression yet some are a “big brother” society controlling every step we take and impose legal and other limitations on our freedoms; and many other differences. The peoples in our stories (Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria) are different in many senses. We know that:
The majority of Khemedians are polytheists and there are some other minorities that are monotheists. Their main God is Ra, the sun. Together with Ra, there are twelve other minor (six Gods and six Goddesses). Although the territory is small in size, it is highly rich in a very rare metal only found there. However, they do not possess the means for its exploration and exploitation. Therefore, their main source of income is the exportation of basic products obtained from fishing and farming. They do not have any means to defend the island. Finally, the sovereignty of the island has been continuously claimed by two sovereign States, Syldavia and Borduria. Because Syldavia and Borduria have never been interested in Khemed and their land they have always maintained peaceful bilateral relations. Until now.
Syldavia is a medium size sovereign State with a large population, mainly polytheists. Similar to Khemed, their main God is Ra, the sun. They also have several minor Gods and Goddesses. This country is situated in another continent and although not having natural resources, it is immensely wealthy mainly because of the many services they provide, their infrastructure and their level of technological and scientific development. Syldavians have one of the most developed means of defence in the world.
On the contrary, Borduria is one of the largest sovereign States in the world in terms of territorial size, but not densely populated. Bordurians are mainly monotheists. The only God they recognise is Pachamama (Mother Earth). Their economy is based on agriculture. It is a non-wealthy country with heavy international debt, high rates of unemployment and inflation and governmental corruption. They do not have any means to defend their territory. Geographically, they are located in the continent adjacent to Khemed, so mainland Borduria shares with Khemedians part of the continental shelf.
If the representatives accepted that by application of maximin each of them had to receive a portion of the sovereignty over Khemed they may accept that these portions should be of different size and nature. Or may not? One of the representatives may argue that the shares of sovereignty should be equal unless an unequal distribution may bring all three parties (Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria) to final equality. In other words, inequalities are unjustified unless they work to the advantage of the worst-off peoples of the three. If Khemedians were in a situation of disadvantage, then Khemedians would receive a larger share of sovereignty over Khemed.
However appealing, the representatives would see this way of distributing sovereignty would bring about several problems:
First, the peoples in Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria have different level of financial development, their economies are very different and as a consequence, they have very different levels of wealth. In addition to wealth, all these parties will possess several other elements that are also likely to be unequal amongst them—e.g. power, geographical location, etc.
When the representatives think about dividing up whatever the sovereignty over Khemed entails, they potentially have to think about what constitutes a fair allocation of additional wealth and any other elements that are attributes of sovereignty amongst parties who already have unequal holdings. For example, if Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria accepted to divide sovereignty in share of different size and nature, would all of the additional holdings go to the poor party up to the point at which its situation equals the other two parties?
We have Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria. They are equal joint claimants to the sovereignty over Khemed and all that it entails.
Khemed and Borduria are both poorer than Syldavia. Before the negotiations Syldavia does not have any obligation in relation to Khemed or Borduria and the wellbeing of their peoples. Why should they suddenly acquire that responsibility when it comes to their shared sovereignty over Khemed? Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria have equal claims and Syldavians no obligation to sacrifice its equal claim to Khemed or Borduria just because they happen to be poorer. Syldavia simply does not have that sort of special responsibility to either Khemed or Borduria.
Second, one of the representatives may think that Syldavia could accept because they would need the cooperation of Khemed and Borduria. However, it is still unclear why Syldavia would agree to lower the benefits for its people only to improve the situation in Khemed or Borduria. It is easy to think the representatives may consider Syldavia could accept this sort of agreement and help Khemed and Borduria. But what about the obligations? An agreement like this one would imply that the inequalities in the distribution would be fair if they benefited Khemed and Borduria, then Syldavia not only would have to share the benefits but also contribute more in terms of the obligations. And that seems unreasonable again.
For example, consider the case of the rare natural resource in Khemed. By dividing in different shares the sovereignty over Khemed and asking Syldavia to help Khemed and Borduria by reducing its share, Syldavia would explore and exploit the natural resources in Khemed and would share the resultant benefits. It is hard to see how or why the Syldavia would accept such an arrangement.
The next post will consider in more detail this option. But so far it seems highly unlikely that the representatives of Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria accept the division of unequal shares of sovereignty over Khemed that might result in more obligations only to one of them whilst the other two received mainly (or solely) benefits.
Jorge Emilio Núñez
30th October 2017