Architecture for a territorial dispute resolution system : a systems approach
Author(s)Sharma, Rajeev, S.M. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
System Design and Management Program.
Edward F. Crawley and Robert I. Rotberg.
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Introduction: A great part of the world today is engaged in excruciating conflicts that threaten the afflicted regions locally besides holding global peace to ransom. Most of these conflicts take the form of territorial disputes that are often protracted and sap the energies out of the nation states. Kashmir, Sudan, Israel-Palestine and Sri-Lanka today are embroiled in a bitter dispute embittered by relentless bloodshed and deep-rooted animosity carried forward through generations. The disputed regions in themselves are a mute testimony of the abject neglect of its subjects by the central ruling body (could be a democratic government! a dictator or a monarch) and failure to provide some of the important political goods across the board for a long period of time. When weighed against some of the accepted norms of development indices like the GINI index, GDP, GDP per capita, infant mortality rates, HDI index, TI index, etc one would see that the disputed regions perform quite pathetically across most of the metrics and not without a reason. Nation states exist to provide political goods to people (Ref 1). However, quite unabashedly nation-states continue its tirade against each other over a piece of land pumping huge sums of public assets that could otherwise be diverted towards development efforts depressing benefits in both the disputed territory and on the whole. Territoriality is dogma that invokes strong reactions. As per Zartman (Ref 2) a state's territory is a collective good that is equally shared by the citizens of the state. This means that the territory is indivisible and is available in the same proportion to all the citizens. It is considered to be one of the three basic components--together with people and a government--which endow a state with a sovereign moral personality universally recognized by the law and the community of nations. Till the time the territoriality is perceived as a collective good, there is no room for territorial claims to erupt. They however occur when the "national territory"--or, what the state's authorities suppose to be the "national territory"--is no longer perceived as a common good by a concerned group of citizens and becomes a "need" for this specific group. Territorial claims are about the desacralization of this territorial absoluteness. They represent iconoclastic uprisings from "politically active communal groups" determined to question the absolutely sacred dogma of the state's territorial integrity. Thus fundamentally a territorial dispute is a process of deconstruction and de-institutionalization of the nation state's order and boundaries. The focus of this thesis is to understand the epistemology of a territorial dispute and develop a framework for creating a more effective conflict resolution design. This by no means is aimed at churning out a cook book kind of a recipe to solve all the territorial disputes that afflict the world. On the contrary, this work makes an attempt to trace the path as we move from a dispute system to a resolution system by understanding the underlYing architecture. It is in fact akin to taking a step backwards and revisiting the delicate theme of territorial disputes by dissecting it deeper to peel off the layers that wrap the core problem. We use the principles of systems thinking and system architecture in understanding the intrinsic nature of a territorial dispute by treating it as a system operating in a given environment. The systems thinking paradigm allows us to view the problem in an unbiased and objective manner without getting fixated on a particular solution or a problem area. It attempts to view the conflict holistically and tries to lay threadbare the embedded structural units in the system by decomposing it into its lowest entity. The objectivity that would (in all likelihood) emerge from such an exercise may provide plausible steps to architect a resolution system design template or at least strengthen the intuitive logic of the negotiators and mediators as they grapple with the specter of a territorial dispute. In taking this view on the issue, it is indeed quite well understood that architecture of systems that are laced with social and political processes is tedious as they are highly complex and non-linear in their response. The complexity stems from the deep crosscoupling between the social, political and economic processes and the non- linearity arises out of the fact that each input in a particular realm does not necessarily elicit a proportional response. There are strong causal feedback loops that make the system response counter-intuitive too. It is beyond doubt, a sizeable challenge for a resolution system architect to pick up the gauntlet and create a simple yet creative architecture that would form the vertebral column for the design of a robust resolution system. To be able to do so one needs to clearly understand the rudiments of Systems Architecture and International Relations so as to weave a concept together.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, System Design and Management Program, 2007.Includes bibliographical references (leaves 137-139).
DepartmentSystem Design and Management Program.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
System Design and Management Program.