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The Ethics of Kin State Activism: A Cosmopolitan Defense

  • George Vasilev

Abstract

A notable feature of nationalism's contemporary resurgence is the increasing eagerness of governments to support and shape the political causes of populations living abroad that are viewed as ethnic kindred. However, global criteria for judging when such kin state activism is and is not acceptable have so far remained elusive, as the objectionable instances of the practice tend to overshadow the legally and morally consistent ones. I argue that the analysis of world affairs and promotion of global justice would benefit from an ethic of transnational conduct that has a rightful place for kin states. I defend a set of cosmopolitan criteria for this purpose, outlining how they enable us to recognize and combat the dangers posed by certain forms of kin state mobilization without forgoing the opportunities presented by certain other forms to overcome minority repression and enhance regional security.

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References

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NOTES

1 Steven Piver, “Mr. Putin: Turning Neighbor into Adversary (Op-Ed),” Moscow Times, October 31, 2017, www.themoscowtimes.com/2017/10/31/mr-putin-turning-neighbor-into-adversary-op-ed-a59432.

2 Max Fisher, “Russia Is Starting to Use the Same Line on Baltic Countries That It Used to Invade Ukraine,” Vox, October 1, 2014, www.vox.com/2014/10/1/6880329/russia-baltic-threats-ukraine-estonia.

3 Simone Benazzo, Martina Napolitano, and Marco Carlone, “Hungary's Orban Woos Romania's Restive Hungarians,” Balkan Insight, November 27, 2017, balkaninsight.com/2017/11/27/hungary-s-orban-woos-romania-s-restive-hungarians-11-24-2017/.

4 Helena Smith, “Confrontational Erdoğan Stuns Greek Hosts on Athens Visit,” Guardian, December 7, 2017, www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/07/turkish-president-erdogan-to-make-landmark-visit-to-greece.

5 Sven Milekic, “Croatian President Seeks Erdogan's Help over Bosnia,” Balkan Insight, January 9, 2018, balkaninsight.com/2018/01/09/croatian-president-asks-for-erdogan-s-help-over-bosnia-01-09-2018/.

6 Bellamy, Alex J., The Responsibility to Protect: A Defense (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

7 Kymlicka, Will, Multicultural Odysseys: Navigating the New International Politics of Diversity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

8 Walzer, Michael, “On Humanitarianism: Is Helping Others Charity, or Duty, or Both?,” Foreign Affairs 90, no. 4 (July/August 2011), p. 79.

9 Palermo, Francesco, “National Minorities in Inter-State Relations: Filling the Legal Vacuum?,” in Palermo, Francesco and Sabanadze, Natalie, eds., National Minorities in Inter-State Relations (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2011), pp. 56, 12; and Csergő, Zsuzsa and Goldgeier, James M., “Kin-State Activism in Hungary, Romania, and Russia: The Politics of Ethnic Demography,” in Mabry, Tristan James, McGarry, John, Moore, Margaret, and O'Leary, Brendan, eds., Divided Nations and European Integration (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), p. 107.

10 Palermo, “National Minorities in Inter-State Relations,” p. 15.

11 Thakur, Ramesh, “The Responsibility to Protect: A Forward-Looking Agenda,” in Kemp, Walter, Popovski, Vesselin, and Thakur, Ramesh, eds., Blood and Borders: The Responsibility to Protect and the Problem of the Kin-State (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2011), p. 57.

12 Kardos, Gábor, “Role for the Kin-States?,” in Ieda, Osamu and Majtényi, Balázs, eds., Beyond Sovereignty: From Status Law to Transnational Citizenship? (Sapporo, Japan: Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University, 2006), p. 128; and Kinga Gál, “National Minorities in Inter-State Relations: Commentary from Country Perspectives,” in Palermo and Sabanadze, National Minorities in Inter-State Relations, p. 212.

13 As proponents of RtoP are at pains to stress, pillars 1 and 2 of the principle are not about armed intervention. See, for example, Bellamy, Alex J., “The Responsibility to Protect and the Problem of Military Intervention,” International Affairs 84, no. 4 (July 2008) pp. 615–39.

14 The impediment posed by the Security Council and its decision-making rules on confronting harm-doing has been well documented. The political body is cited as a paradigmatic example of multilateral inaction in the face of unfolding humanitarian catastrophes and has been implicated in the death of millions of people due to “egregious non-reactions.” For a discussion of these failures in the context of RtoP and kin state activism, see Thakur, “Responsibility to Protect,” pp. 11–20; and Ho-Ming So Denduangrudee, “Problems and Prospects for R2P: The Unilateral Action of Viet Nam in 1978,” in Kemp et al., Blood and Borders, pp. 146–47.

15 I draw here on Linklater's inventory of harm, applying it to the experiences of ethnic and linguistic groups and therefore the circumstances relevant to kin state activism. See Linklater, Andrew, The Problem of Harm in World Politics: Theoretical Investigations (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

16 Ibid., p. 61; and Vasilev, George, Solidarity across Divides: Promoting the Moral Point of View (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), pp. 2040.

17 Linklater, Problem of Harm in World Politics, p. 13.

18 Ibid., p. 61.

19 Jasmin Mujanovic, “Croatian Ruling Party's Dangerous Meddling in Bosnia,” Balkan Insight, October 24, 2018, balkaninsight.com/2018/10/24/croatian-ruling-party-s-dangerous-meddling-in-bosnia-10-23-2018/; and Maja Zivanovic, “Serbia Assists Dodik's Election Campaign in Bosnia,” Balkan Insight, September 11, 2018, balkaninsight.com/2018/09/11/serbia-assists-dodik-s-election-campaign-in-bosnia-09-10-2018/.

20 Darko Janjevic, “Greater Albania—Bogeyman or a Pipe Dream?,” Deutsche Welle, May 4, 2017, www.dw.com/en/greater-albania-bogeyman-or-a-pipe-dream/a-38705227; and “Tirana Hails United Albanian Stance in Macedonia,” Tirana Times, January 13, 2017, www.tiranatimes.com/?p=130658.

21 Jenne, Erin, “A Bargaining Theory of Minority Demands: Explaining the Dog that Did Not Bite in 1990s Yugoslavia,” International Studies Quarterly 48, no. 4 (December 2004), p. 742.

22 Gjevori, Elvin, “Kin State Non-Interventionism: Albania and Regional Stability in the Western Balkans,” Nations and Nationalism 24, no. 1 (July 2017), pp. 171–93.

23 Olena Shapovalova, “The Role of Russia as a Kin-State in Protecting the Russian Minority in Ukraine,” in Kemp et al., Blood and Borders, p. 177.

24 Stepan Kravchenko, “Putin Promises ‘Decisive’ Protection for Ethnic Russians Abroad,” Bloomberg, October 31, 2018, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-31/putin-promises-decisive-protection-for-ethnic-russians-abroad.

25 Shapovalova, “Role of Russia as a Kin-State in Protecting the Russian Minority in Ukraine,” pp. 174–75, 179.

26 Nagle, John, “Does Having a Kin State Lessen the Likelihood of Minorities Engaging in Secessionist Mobilization? An Analysis of the Moderating Influence of Kin States,” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 19, no. 3 (2013), pp. 288–89, 300.

27 Carlà, Andrea, “South Tyrolean Solutions to Ethnic Conflicts from a Security Studies Perspective,” Ethnopolitics Papers 6, no. 42 (2016), p. 10.

28 Kymlicka, Multicultural Odysseys, pp. 118–121.

29 Risse, Thomas and Ropp, Stephen C., “Introduction and Stock-Taking,” introduction and overview to Risse, Thomas, Ropp, Stephen C., and Sikkink, Kathryn, eds., The Persistent Power of Human Rights: From Commitment to Compliance (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 325.

30 Johnston, Alastair Iain, Social States: China in International Institutions, 1980–2000 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2008).

31 Gjevori, “Kin State Non-Interventionism,” pp. 180–81.

32 Koinova, Maria, “Kinstate Intervention in Ethnic Conflicts: Albania and Turkey Compared,” Ethnopolitics 7, no. 4 (2008), pp. 380, 381; Gjevori, “Kin State Non-Interventionism,” p. 178.

33 Mersiha Gadzo, “Is Croatia Undermining Bosnia's Sovereignty?,” Al Jazeera, December 20, 2018, www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/croatia-undermining-bosnias-sovereignty-181218142705856.html.

34 Dryzek, John S., Deliberative Democracy and Beyond: Liberals, Critics, Contestations (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 131.

35 Watch, Human Rights, Denying Ethnic Identity: The Macedonians of Greece (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1994); McDougall, Gay, Report of the Independent Expert on Minority Issues: Mission to Greece (Geneva: United Nations Human Rights Council, 2009); Turkish Union of Xanthi and Others v. Greece (app. nos. 55557/12, 73646/13, 7050/14), Eur. Ct. H.R. (2014); Home of Macedonian Civilisation and Others v. Greece (app. no. 1295/10), Eur. Ct. H.R. (2015); Greek Helsinki Monitor, Minority Rights Group—Greece, Humanist Union of Greece, and Coordinated Organizations and Committees for Roma Human Rights in Greece, “Greece: Non-Recognition of Macedonian & Turkish Minorities Despite ECtHR Rulings,” statement presented at the 2015 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Warsaw, Poland, October 1, 2015; and “European Parliament Conference on Minority Rights in Greece Violently Interrupted by Greek Members of Parliament,” FUEN, March 7, 2016, www.fuen.org/news/single/article/european-parliament-conference-on-minority-rights-in-greece-violently-interrupted-by-greek-members-of-parliament/.

36 Thakur, “Responsibility to Protect,” p. 59.

37 Ibid., p. 21.

38 Vasilev, Solidarity across Divides, pp. 30–40.

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The Ethics of Kin State Activism: A Cosmopolitan Defense

  • George Vasilev

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