Sunday, 12 November 2017


Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria are having negotiations about the sovereignty over Khemed. Their world is about to perish and they must come to an agreement. Each of these parties sent representatives to the negotiations. By application of maximin the representatives decided to share the sovereignty. However simple it may sound, they face another problem: how are they going to share sovereignty? That is to say, how can sovereignty be divided? They have already reviewed several options and rejected them all. First, the historical entitlement. To benefit only one of the parties was the second option. The third choice reviewed was to divide sovereignty in different portions. Right now, they are considering whether sovereignty could be divided into equal parts. In brief, to divide sovereignty equally means to grant unequal parties at many levels and in many ways equal portions of sovereignty over Khemed. With this in mind, it is highly likely any reasonable representative would see at least three main problems:

a) How are the rights and benefits going to be distributed?

b) How are the obligations going to be distributed?

c) What are they going to do with the areas of sovereignty that in principle cannot be divided?

Thinking as the representatives would, let us consider these three problems one at a time.

First, sovereignty over any land will imply rights and obligations. Khemed, like any other territory, will imply both rights and obligations in terms of its sovereignty. Focused on rights only, if Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria were to receive an equal portion of sovereignty that would at first glance sound fair. Or not? The problem is not the theoretical equal division, but its application to reality. After signing such an agreement, Khemed and Borduria would find themselves with 33% of the rights in relation to, for example, the exploration and exploitation of the rare natural resource that could save them all. As we know, only Syldavia has the technology and means to explore and exploit the resource. This means that what in principle appears to be a fair distribution of sovereignty because the shares were equal, in reality will result in the disadvantage of most of the parties and to the advantage of only one of them.

Similar to the point before, the representatives would think of the equal division of obligations. To that extent, consider the same example, that is the exploration and exploitation of natural resources. Would only Syldavia have the obligation to do these? What about the obligation Khemed and Borduria cannot comply with because they do not have either the technology or the means? Consider another important example, how would the three parties protect or defend the rare natural resource? The three peoples, Khemedians, Syldavians and Bordurians depend on the rare metal in order to survive a natural catastrophe. If they divide the sovereignty amongst the three parties in equal portions, each will be obliged to protect the same rare resource. How will Khemed and Borduria fulfil their obligation when they do not have the means to do it?

Considering the two issues we addressed before in a separate manner proves to be a problem if the representatives want to divide sovereignty equally. Would this view change if we considered equal division of rights and obligations together? The short answer: it would not. Why? If Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria accepted to divide equally the rights and obligations in relation to the sovereignty over Khemed, in the case of, for example, the exploration and exploitation of natural resources it would be still Syldavia the only one able to do it. Also, in the case of the protection of the territory and the resources, Syldavia would be once more the only party with the ability to do it. In brief, Syldavia would be the only party able to exercise its rights in relation to the sovereignty over Khemed (at least in the examples we examined) and the only party able to comply with its obligations. Would that give Syldavians the exclusive use and ownership of the rare natural resource? Or, for whatever reason, would they have to share the result of their efforts while Khemedians and Bordurians did very little?

The third and final problem we will consider: what about areas that cannot be divided? Similarly, what about areas that in principle might be divided but they could not be divided equally? Leaving aside for now the considerations we have just made, the sovereignty over Khemed will indeed imply natural resources (including the rare metal), its exploration and exploitation, protection, and may other areas that in principle could be divided. But there will be many other areas that will prove to be difficult to divide. For example, how are they going to share the making and application of the law? For a specific example, what about criminal law in the case one of the parties still had death penalty as capital punishment and the other two parties did not? What about human rights in the event one or more of the parties were under regimes different from a democracy? On the social side, what about migrations, issues related to ethnicity, language, culture and religion? Should the wishes of the majority prevail? Or should they reach a new agreement? And these are but a few examples. Let us remember sovereignty has to do with many areas and many levels.

There could be other problems with equal division of the sovereignty over Khemed. In any case, the representatives would acknowledge at least the three considered above. It is highly unlikely any reasonable representative would opt for this option and even if one of them did, it is extremely hard to see how the three of them would come to such an agreement.
The next posts will introduce some other considerations. This time the representatives will have to be more creative and come up with another option since the ones already available seems to only grant endless disputes. And, as we know, with the end of their world fast coming, time is something they cannot take for granted.

Jorge Emilio Núñez

13th November 2017

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