States, Nations & Nation-States

What is a State?

Definition: Traditionally, the central actors in international relations, states possess a permanent population, defined territory and recognised sovereignty. States are not necessarily culturally homogenous, for example, Australia.

States are defined by:

- Legitimacy: all states have the right to exist and the authority of the government within the state is supreme, legitimate and recognised

- Formal obligations: states have duties to one another based on international laws and customs, i.e. treaties must be obeyed, non-interference, etc.

- Sovereignty: that no higher authority than the state exists within international relations

Features of states:

- permanent populations comprising of people who are not necessarily culturally homogenous

- defined territory

- recognised sovereignty

- functioning government and economy

Is South Sudan a State?

South Sudan is an internationally recognised state as there is a functioning, legitimate government, that was democratically voted in. South Sudan holds a permanent population of whom are not culturally homogenous, these people recognise the current government as the supreme body in the state. South Sudan have power over a defined territory.

South Sudan: A Nation-state

South Sudan is a nation-state as it's citizens are largely culturally homogenous. South Sudan possesses the following features of a Nation-state:

- permanent population

- defined territory

- recognised sovereignty

- largely culturally homogenous citizens

South Sudan is not a 'nation' as it has recognised sovereignty.

State, Nation, or Nation-state?

Samoa: Nation-state

Palestine: Nation

United Kingdom: State

Taiwan: State (Republic of China)

Vietnam: State

Vatican: Nation

Mauritius: State

The difference between a State and a Nation

A nation is a group of people that are culturally, historically and religiously homogenous but do not necessarily live within a defined territory and are not internationally recognised, for example Palestine.

However a state is an internationally recognised area with a defined territory that is economically and governmentally self sufficient and functioning with a permanent population, for example Israel.

What is sovereignty?

Sovereignty is a states internationally recognised ability to exercise effective control of a territory with recognised borders. States with the authority to represent their territory internationally and be the highest form of governance for said territory.

State sovereignty can be challenged by internal groups that may be seeking independence. Sovereignty can also be challenged by other groups not recognising the sovereign borders, or externally by another state.

Third agenda issues can also challenge sovereignty as well as global crises.

What challenges South Sudan's sovereignty?

As there are violent outbreaks between Sudan & South Sudan over oil revenue, civilians and South Sudan's peoples health and stability is being compromised. This may be a challenge to their sovereignty as other countries may have to intervene if it becomes a global issue where there is serious concern for the safety of the people in the country.

Primary aim of South Sudan

The primary aim of South Sudan as a state would be to maintain their sovereignty and survive as a state with legitimate borders, as their borders are being increasingly compromised by war between Sudan and South Sudan.

South Sudan's National Interests

South Sudan's national interests mainly lie with establishing themselves as a state and building a less hostile relationship with Sudan. At current, they should be working on eradicating the blatant human rights violations within their borders, and the corruption of governance and officials.

National Interest

National interests of states are used to justify their policy actions and identify their goals or objectives.

They can be categorised into geo-political or strategic interests; economic and trade interests; or being perceived as a good international citizen.

National interests can change when a state has to react to global events. Over time however, the rise of these events and third agenda issues has seen states expand their national interests beyond their borders.

What are the key values South Sudan should be aiming to achieve?

One value South Sudan should be aiming to achieve is peace throughout their state, where civillians will not fear their lives when partaking in normal every day activities. This starts with mending the racial and ethnic tensions that are rife throughout South Sudan.

South Sudan should be aiming to achieve transparency throughout their government and political institutions. No journalist or reporter, or civillian should have to suppress freedom of expression in order not to risk their life.

They should also put in place proper actions to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions that are clear violations of human rights. This is needed in order for families of victims to get justice and move on with their lives in a safe country that they can call home.

The role of the international community

The IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) has deployed teams to monitor the parties agreement not to prevent attacks on civillians - as it has been breached.

Further, the US, UK, EU, Norway and China have taken measures to keep the peace in South Sudan. They have sent peace delegates and helped fund the peace process by providing aid. The US sanctioned government officials and the EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on them further.

UNMISS has helped over 100,000 civillians fleeing South Sudan. The UN Security Council, since October 2014, has supplied South Sudan with around 10,500 soldiers under UNMISS.