Ethnic security in the international system: No man's land?

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Problems relating to the apparent incompatibility of ethnic identity with dominant constitutional and international forms of organisation have been increasingly problematic since the end of the Cold War. This is somewhat paradoxical in the sense that the general liberation from superpower competition has in many cases not liberated identity groups, but instead has highlighted the inequalities pertaining to the distribution of power, rights, and resources across the international system. Domestic discussions of state security have in many multi-ethnic states been replaced with a discussion of ethnic security, which itself is formulated in a broader sense, in which security is taken to imply economic, political, social, linguistic, and environmental rights and stability. This has highlighted the inconsistencies of the practice and structure of the international system and has accentuated claims to sovereignty vis-a-vis security in an environment in which notions of justice have become more significant in practice as well as theory. Such notions, in the context of ethnic security, have been expressed in a variety of ways, some peaceful and some violent. The frameworks of politics which provide broad security and representation needs to become more responsive to the liberation of identity in order to prevent the enslavement of ethnic groups all over again.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-46
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000


  • Ethnic identity
  • Ethnic security
  • Positivist and normative security studies
  • Post-Cold War world
  • State security


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