Self-determination around contested borders sparks regional conflict
At a time of global geopolitical uncertainty, the twin forces of national identity and self-determination are growing in disruptive capacity. Already this is leading to violence and constitutional instability, at times spurred on by foreign powers. Examples include states expelling ethnic or religious minorities, national minorities attempting to secede and nation-states extricating themselves from international constraints on their sovereignty.
A deepening of disputes over cultural and political borders would trigger widening clashes, potentially causing regional domino effects as states and sub-state actors mobilize in defence of or opposition to the status quo. This instability would create new trigger-points for interstate conflict, particularly in regions where disputes over self-determination are long-standing and are likely either to be resolved violently rather than consensually or to draw in regional hegemons and/or global powers.
Stronger promotion and protection of equal cultural and political rights within states would help defuse tensions about national identity. So would the fostering of stronger economic and other links between states sharing contested borders. Drawing on successful examples of constitutional innovation—such as multilevel and cross-community forms of governance—might help guide the administration of internally divided polities.