New states in the new decade

By Kelly Wakefield

A group of southern Sudanese men wave local flags and dance outside a polling station in Juba

As we move into 2011, the media have reported at least two of the newest made states around the world.  The largest media coverage has been afforded to Sudan with almost 99% of southern Sudanese voters choosing sucession in January’s independence referendum reported The Guardian.  This will creat a southern independent state from the north on the 9th of July 2011.  Sudan has witnessed decades of marginilisation and conflict with a north-south war from 1983 to 2005 causing around 2 million deaths. 

The second new states were created in October 2010 as the five Caribbean islands comprising the Netherlands Antilles resulted in dissolution.  The islands of Curacao and St Maarten have become autonomous within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  Christopher (1999) questioned more than a decade earlier whether the process of new state making would carry on into the millennium, after the remarkable number post WWII. 

Christopher looks at decolonisation and secession amongst others and concludes that ‘in practice, potential for placing new states on the world political map in the early years of the new millennium is strictly limited to no more than 10-20 countries’.  How many more new states will be created before the end of the decade is an interesting question as well as the reasons why.

Christopher, A. J. (1999) ‘New States in a New Millennium’ Area, 31, 4, p327-334.

Xan Rice, 30 January 2011, ‘Nearly all southern Sudanese voted for sucessionThe Guardian

Matt Rosenberg, ‘Top 5 geographic news events of 2010‘ About.com

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