Page 1

Volume XI


Winter 2021


Print edition

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ The McGill Journal of Political Studies (MJPS) is published annually by the Political Science Students’ Association of McGill University (PSSA), 843 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC H3A 0G4. ISSN 0835-376X (Print) ISSN 2291-5648 (Online) The journal is jointly funded by: The Political Science Students’ Association of McGill University The Arts Undergraduate Society The Students’ Society of McGill University Electronic editions of the Journal are available online at http://ssmu.mcgill.ca/mjps/ For further information, please contact our Liaison Librarians, Michael David Miller and Katherine Hanz, at McGill University. All assertions of facts and statements of opinion are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of the Editorial Board, the Advisory Board, the Faculty Advisors, the Arts Undergraduate Society, the Studets’ Society of McGill University, McGill University, or its faculty and administration. Cover Illustration by Olivia Yu


TABLE OF CONTENTS The Social Credit System, Robin Vochelet .............................................................................................................................. 8 A Tool for Authoritarian Resilience in Mainland China

Conservation as Colonialism, Sophie Wirzba .................................................................................................................. 18 Legacies and Futures

American Exceptionalism and the Afghanistan War, Mikail Mali ................................................. 28 The War on Truth Exposed by Failing Policies

Affirmative Action and Brazil’s Racial Democracy, Florence Harvey-Hudon ............... 40 When Myth Eclipses Reality

Perpétuer la division, affaiblir l’ÉtaT, MaríA Laura Chobadindegui ............................................. 56 La gestion de la diversité au Liban et en Irak

Pills and Bills, Victoria Flaherty .................................................................................................................................................. 72 The Constitutional Feasibility of National Pharmacare within Canadian Federalism

“Women, Life, Freedom”, Madelyn Evans ................................................................................................................................ 90 The Feminist Revolution of the Kurdish YPJ

Understanding Europeanization in Post-Communist Europe, Chanel MacDiarmid ... 102 Conditionality and Democratic Backsliding

IR and Border Security, Grey Cooper ......................................................................................................................................... 116 Imposition of Individualised UK Ideals on LGBT+ Refugees

The Currency of War, Mackenzie Birbrager ................................................................................................................... 128 The Global Arms Trade and War Profiteering


FOREWORD In this most unusual pandemic year, I am especially honoured to introduce the annual edition of the McGill Journal of Political Studies. Entirely written and edited by students, the Journal features the best in political science analysis by our talented and hard-working undergraduates. They have overcome the distance and isolation that has divided us this year to gather together in a virtual community of scholarship. Writing on themes as diverse and timely as racial discrimination in Brazil, democratic backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe, the feasibility of pharmacare in Canada, and many more, the ten authors represented in this year’s Journal display both analytical acumen and elegant writing. Through careful argumentation and attention to evidence, they reveal the structural and institutional roots of contemporary political problems and in doing so, illuminate the complex paths towards understanding and resolution. Congratulations to the authors and editors on a job well done! Juliet Johnson Professor and Chair Department of Political Science


Our TEam Editor-in-Chief Ilona Métais

Managing Editor

Kennedy McKee-Braide

Editorial Board

Nicole Basran Elizabeth Franceschini Evdokia Konstantopoulos Marie Le Rolland Nour Mohsen Brianna Morrison Jordan Royt Ioanna Tzima


Addison Clifford Maeve McGuire Amiya Raina Victorine Sirveaux

Podcast Coordinator Mathieu Lavault

Graphic Designers Olivia Yu Kayla Zhang Miranda Zhang


Director of Peer Reviewers Olivia Gumbel

Peer Reviewers

Daniel Ciocca Addison Clifford Madeline Colbert Muetterties Kaitlin Corbeil Taylor Douglas Claudia George Victoria Karamitsos Maya Mau Jon Marvin Reyes Maeve McGuire Anqi Meng Sara Mohammadi Helia Mokhber Louis Nowell Jaimi Plater Joshua Poggianti Faisal Rabbani Nicklas Rieck Emily Segal Sebastian Stephen Villegas Strange Isabella Tortone Peter Trombley Lucy Truong Lucia Winter Yu Xuan Zhao Jack Zimakas

WORDS FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF “Every crisis comes with opportunities”. This is the principle that guided me as this year’s Editor in Chief of the McGill Journal of Political Studies (MJPS) Print. The MJPS serves as an important platform to showcase the strongest and most compelling McGill undergraduate research papers. The editorial and production process of MJPS Print is exclusively student-led and encourages the thoughtful exchange of ideas, along with dialogue between students and faculty. A myriad of new and unusual questions emerged when leading the creation of the journal in the midst of a global pandemic. The biggest one being: how can we adapt the MJPS 2021 Print edition to its time? Because we could not have an in-person launch this year, we had to find an innovative way of giving these ten stellar articles more visibility. Therefore, we decided to launch MJPS’ first podcast series called “In Brief” where each editor interviewed their author to dive deeper in their article. I am really proud and honored to have led this new project throughout the year and hope that our readers enjoyed listening to our podcasts as much as we loved creating them! This journal and podcasts would not have been possible without the colossal work and dedication that our editorial board, authors, peer reviewers, and copy editors have put into delivering impeccable academic articles that tackle important modern-day issues across the world. I would like to thank our team of graphic designers, Olivia Yu, Miranda Zhang, and Kayla Zhang for their phenomenal work on making the journal look elegant and of-its-time. A very special thanks goes to our managing editor, Kennedy McKee-Braide for her continued support, hard work, and enthusiasm, and to our podcast coordinator, Mathieu Lavault, without whom our podcast series would not have seen the light of day. I would also like to thank Sandy Hervieux, our library liaison for the valuable resources, training, and advice that she has provided. Thank you to the Political Science Student’s Association and MJPS Online for your support. And finally, thank you to our dear readers for supplying MJPS with an audience. We hope that this year’s edition will stimulate your curiosity. Ilona Métais Editor in Chief, McGill Journal of Political Studies Print



A Tool for Authoritar

rian Resilience in Mainland China

Over the past decades, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has become a leading country in terms of infrastructure and technological development, largely surpassing its Western counterparts. A cornerstone of this new Digital Silk Road is the Social Credit System (SCS), a new media platform in the Chinese digital landscape. Started in the mid-2010s, this system aims to provide a comprehensive social network covering the entire country, centralizing key information on Chinese citizens as users of this network. The SCS ranks social interactions between citizens, providing a grade that ranges from 350 to 950 points, itself translated to a letter grade scale. This social credit score basically determines its owner’s fate: high scores give them access to discounts and even rewards from the PRC. Bad scores, on the other hand, result in individuals being deprived of access to elite schools, universities, or even banned from flying with Chinese airlines. This paper explores the aspects of the SCS, and attempts to account for the incentives proposed by this innovative digital system, ranging from technological incentives that helps propel the Chinese tech field as the world’s leading digital infrastructure, as well as economic incentives for both the PRC and everyday Chinese citizens. Further attention is also given to the sociological relation between the SCS and Asian values, a controversial notion that provides reasons for citizens to comply with the SCS rather than to oppose it.

Written by Robin Vochelet Edited Edited by Firstname by Nicole Lastname Basran

At the end of a 22-year civil war, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) won the right to the Chinese mainland territory, forcing the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, abbreviated KMT) to go on exile to the island of Formosa, modern-day Taiwan. Both states grew into authoritarian regimes through the second half of the 20th century: The Republic of China in Taiwan favoured a right-wing, capitalist dictatorship backed by the U.S., whereas the People’s Republic of China, on the mainland, birthed a Marxist-Leninist communist regime based upon the ideology of its founding father, Mao Zedong. As popular uprisings struck both countries in the 1980’s, something interesting happened: while uprisings in Taiwan led the country into the “third wave” of democratization, the Tiananmen Square uprisings in Mainland China led to a regime reconfiguration. Over 30 years later, the CCP has developed one of the most sophisticated software systems that has made the People’s Republic one of the most controlling existing authoritarian regimes. This “all-seeing, all-knowing” online software program––known as the Social Credit System (SCS)––centralizes the majority of Chinese citizens’ data and has faced much backlash from Western democracies and international human rights organizations. However, what is perhaps more striking in this case is the Chinese population’s compliance and the way it reinforces the cycle of authoritarian resilience in Mainland China. Broadly speaking, authoritarian resilience can refer to a state’s ability to maintain illiberal top-down structures that subjugate its controlled population, further legitimizing and reinforcing this hierarchy.1 The Chinese case is of particular interest to showcase this concept. It illustrates the importance of socio-cultural factors that can bolster the authoritarian, single ruling party structure. Therefore, this paper will seek to explain how the increasing use of invasive A.I. allows the CCP to remain in power. After a brief overview of the current software intelligence deployed in Mainland China, the first section will look at how the application’s functionalities may incentivize Chinese cit-


izens to comply with the party leadership. The second section will provide a short explanation of the socio-anthropological concept of “Asian values” and how the People’s Republic’s A.I. network’s pervasive nature might reinforce a top-down discourse seeking to enforce an artificial culture of subordination. Technological lens: authoritarianism through Artificial Intelligence China’s Social Credit System Digital infrastructures for state surveillance in China reached a climax in the past few years by creating the Social Credit System (SCS). SCS is currently developed by the biggest technology companies in China, including the giants that already control the contemporary Chinese platform environment: Alibaba and Baidu.2 SCS aims at centralizing big data on all Chinese citizens in one application, offering a detailed profile on many individuals’ characteristics, ranging from household information or health profile to credit balance. Collecting and centralizing this data allows the ruling CCP to create a “social credit score” that can be used to keep track of citizens’ good or bad behaviour.3 Their commercial and social interactions are given a grade, ranging from A+++ to D, which will determine their score. Individuals with a score of 1050 or above are praised as model citizens, an example for the rest of society to follow. However, those whose score falls to 849 or below might face restrictions in their everyday lives. Some of these restrictions include being banned from flying or getting train tickets, subject to slow access to the Internet, or even excluded from some jobs or private schools.4 Further restrictions are imposed on individuals whose scores drop below 549, as they are automatically added to a blacklist and publicly shamed for being bad citizens, also facing regular controls by government authorities.5 The centralization of this big data has contributed to the deployment of surveillance activities in virtually every aspect of the life of Chinese citizens, allowing them to use their face to

pay at their local fast-food restaurant (“facial recognition”) or determine what would be the necessary quantity of toilet paper for them in a public bathroom. Merging different elements from dystopian science fiction, echoing the “Nosedive” episode of Black Mirror or the core concept of large-scale state surveillance as seen in Person of Interest, the SCS creates a self-sustaining cycle that encourages Chinese citizens to abide by authoritarian rule. Coercive repression and social management Given the Chinese Social Credit System’s aforementioned characteristics, it is not hard to see how the extensive spread of the SCS can lead to a cycle of self-sustaining authoritarianism. The most corrosive aspect of the SCS is the “name-and-shame” dynamic it creates. By being publicly exposed and shamed whenever their social credit score drops too low, Chinese citizens are at risk of being ostracized by their peers, leading to a self-sustaining cycle of social management.6 Because they fear negative repercussions for their reputation and restrictions imposed on their everyday lives, citizens will perpetuate the repressive work that would usually fall under the ruling party’s authority by excluding deviants from their networks. This reflects a broader pattern of coercive repression bolstered by the CCP since the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising.7 This large-scale protest acted as a wake-up call to the Chinese government that an overthrow of the authoritarian regime was not impossible. Many of its policies have since then shifted to “coercively repress” the Chinese population. This implies that citizens are given the impression that they deliberately contribute to the regime because doing so is better for them than to act against it. Many government officials have indeed emphasized that the purpose of the SCS is not merely to control the population, but to promote a wider radius of trust between Chinese citizens, which would contribute to help them feel safer and more connected to their peers.8 In this sense, they are prone to take on the work of the CCP by excluding individuals

whose social credit scores are too low, thus incentivizing them to abide by the regime’s rules eventually. This centralized app also allows for social management at the individual scale, where citizens evaluate their own behaviour and actions and the possible impacts on their social credit score, another expectation of the ruling CCP.9 In light of these elements, it appears that China’s SCS is very useful to sustain authoritarianism throughout the country, as it provides a system of “name-and-shame” that publicly humiliates citizens who do not abide by the rules. The fear of punishments for low social credit scores, and the contrasting promise of rewards for the most exemplary citizens, gives the Chinese population a further incentive to respect the rule and authority of the CCP. Economic incentives Another important reason that helps understand why China’s SCS contributes to the authoritarian resilience of the incumbent CCP is that it acts as a major provider of economic resources and opportunities, both for the Chinese state and its citizens. For instance, the market size of the big data industry in China represented about US$2.5 billion in 2016 and has maintained a steady annual growth rate of almost 30 percent.10 Considering China’s role in the contemporary global economy, and its notable advance in the tech field, SCS could represent one of its biggest economic initiatives in the years to come, as the CCP moves on to implement the system in the whole country.11 With such a significant share of the market, SCS provides the Chinese population with unique economic opportunities that considerably diminish their incentives to act against this authoritarian process. In fact, the gradual implementation of SCS has opened up a brandnew field of expertise to help shape the project. While SCS is based upon gathering data at a large-scale, giving meaning to this data is not innate and requires contributions from tech workers to help the app make sense of all the data collected.12 In this sense, SCS is most likely to greatly impact the Chinese tech field, both in employment and tech-


nological advancement. The employment capacity of the SCS reaches far beyond A.I. expertise. For instance, the implementation of centralized data banks at the local level, such as state-built residential complexes or neighbourhood facilities, requires citizens’ participation in monitoring the activity recorded. While everyone is expected to abide by the rules of the social credit score and to “socially manage” their community, the Chinese state has led extensive campaigns to hire specific personnel in charge of monitoring the implementation of this technology at the local level.13 This gives a broader picture of how the SCS is on its way to becoming a driving force of the Chinese economy. When given economic benefits if they contribute to the regime, citizens have little to no incentive to stand up against it. While it is too early to confirm this, as the full-scale implementation of the SCS initially scheduled for late 2020 will most likely be pushed back due to current events, there has been evidence of compliance with authoritarianism when given socio-economic benefits in exchange in East Asia, mainly in Singapore.14 Given how the Chinese authoritarian regime has managed to maintain its legitimacy since 1949, it is very likely a similar outcome will occur. This section has highlighted how China’s Social Credit System’s very structure calls for Chinese citizens to abide by the authoritarian regime’s rules. Producing a system of “name-and-shame” and punishments allows the CCP to rule using a strategy of fear while promising rewards for model citizens. Similarly, the current expansion of the SCS is creating a wide range of economic opportunities that would benefit both the state and its citizens, acting as yet another incentive for citizens to accept and legitimize authoritarian rule. In this sense, the SCS echoes broader socio-cultural dynamics that the Chinese regime uses to assert its authority. Socio-cultural lens: the role of Asian values Defining Asian values The following section will look at


China’s possible socio-cultural values used to reinforce the authoritarian regime’s legitimacy. The most relevant example is one of “Asian values” that have increasingly gained importance in the science of East Asian politics. The term was first coined by former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in the 1990’s. Defining “Asian values” can prove to be tricky, but following the major principles outlined by Lee, it refers to a set of values different than that typically found in West European democracies. “Asian values” prioritize community, order, and the rule of law over individuality and chaos.15 This implies that people would generally accept an authoritarian regime that can promise peace and security as a trade-off for personal freedoms. This notion that Asian peoples can tolerate authoritarianism for the sake of collective security has triggered widespread controversy. While some East Asian political figures, including Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, have agreed with Lee’s definition of “Asian values,” scholars have generally condemned this restricted vision of East Asian politics, arguing that Lee was merely using this concept to justify and legitimize his own authoritarian regime.16 There is also a serious geographical limitation to this concept: is it credible to talk about one set of values for an entire continent that ranges from the eastern Mediterranean to the easternmost Pacific? For the sake of this paper, though, it should not be assumed that all of Lee’s allegations hold true in contemporary Mainland China. Rather, there is some middle ground to be found between a fully culturally-enshrined subservience to authoritarianism on the one hand and the full rejection of authoritarian structures on the other hand. “Asian values” and the Chinese surveillance state How can the concept of “Asian values” explain authoritarian resilience in China amid a large-scale AI surveillance project? First and foremost, this concept broadly echoes some of China’s oldest traditions, including Confucianism. Although it is sometimes considered a religion, this doctrine ar-

gues for a sense of structure and hierarchy in society. This hierarchy is achieved through guiding principles for order in relationships: parent-child, husband-wife, master-slave, etc. This creates an artificial dichotomy whereby the subordinate acknowledges a master is superseding them and accepts this subordination.17 Although the CCP had a history of eliminating elements of traditional Chinese culture during the Cultural Revolution throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, it has since shifted to use Confucian-inspired slogans and messages in the official discourse, such as “harmonious socialist society.”18 To some extent, this increasing presence of Confucianism in the party’s official discourse seems to echo official public announcements related to the SCS, where the CCP used the terms of “trust” and “harmony” to promote potential benefits of the software.19 This terminology seems to echo Lee Kuan Yew’s definition of “Asian values”: Chinese citizens would comply with the authoritarian regime’s SCS project because it translates to more order and security.20 The SCS would therefore act as a symbol of discipline and hierarchy, echoing Confucian ideas. In practice, relatively high levels of approval of SCS seem to corroborate the idea that Chinese citizens would be more compliant with the SCS project of state surveillance. According to a 2019 survey study, over 64% of respondents expressed strong approval of SCSs in general, praising the security prospects such systems can provide.21 Interestingly, most of the respondents who disapproved of this specific SCS being implemented in China were individuals with relatively low levels of education and mainly residing in rural areas,22 where many of SCS’ features have barely been incorporated yet.23 On the one hand, this would seem to further validate the idea that the SCS responds to a need for security and hierarchy rooted in so-called “Asian values”: those living in major Chinese cities who have been exposed to its features are more favourable to SCSs

because of the sense of security it can bring. That being said, the extent to which this explanation is contingent upon “Asian values” is minimal. Positive reactions to the SCS being implemented in Chinese cities might also be related to the software’s specific features that would make life easier for Chinese citizens. Furthermore, the fact that there has not been another large-scale software similar to China’s SCS implemented anywhere else limits our ability to determine whether high approvals can strictly be imputed to a potential set of “Asian values.” The Social Credit System, a vector of Western hypocrisy? While examining the extent to which socio-cultural characteristics might affect overall compliance to the SCS and other authoritarian initiatives, it is important to remember that the bulk of the criticism against the software came from the West. Critics against the Chinese government are numerous due to China’s constant rejection of Western neoliberal assumptions that capitalism would bring forward freedom and democracy.24 For instance, in response to the CCP’s decision to implement the SCS nationwide, many Western newspapers published articles depicting the Chinese social credit system as the ultimate dystopian science-fiction-made-reality, using terms like “creepy”25 or “Big Brother”26 to refer to the SCS. While SCS comparisons to Black Mirror “Nosedive”27 are based on superficial resemblance, as both deal with an application that rates its citizens and provides benefits for users with high scores while punishing those with low scores, the project is still in the early stage of its development; thus it is too early to tell whether or not the SCS will turn Mainland China into a “real-life ‘Black Mirror’ nightmare.”28 In addition, Western criticisms of Chinese citizens’ compliance with the CCP and the SCS come short of accounting for similar


technological experiments in the West. For instance, a German bank has started to use geo-scoring to generate credit scores. U.S. tech giants Google, Apple, or even Facebook have each contributed to one aspect of the SCS individually, let it be self-quantification through Google Fitbit or the Health application on Apple smartphones. In contrast, Facebook as well as its partner platform Instagram, both benefit from rating culture via the collection of likes and virtual attention.29 These various examples serve as a reminder that Western populations are also, to some extent, complacent with the way technology is used to monitor and survey our lives while encouraging individuals to self-monitor and sometimes monitor others. The previous paragraph has shown possible implications of socio-cultural “Asian values” in overall compliance with the SCS as an engine of authoritarian control, though it is still too early to determine whether these are representative of authoritarian resilience at all. Conclusion This paper has attempted to showcase several features that explain why the Social Credit System might act as a tool for authoritarian resilience in Mainland China. On the one hand, the system of rewards and punishments provides an incentive for Chinese citizens to self-monitor their behaviour according to the Chinese Communist Party’s guidelines and monitor their friends’ and relatives’ behaviour. Punishments and threats of “name-and-shame” are effective enough to keep citizens compliant with the state. In addition, the potential benefits brought by the large-scale implementation of the SCS, mainly economic opportunities, acts as yet another incentive for citizens to comply with the state. Prospects for security and greater stability promised by the state via the application echo socio-cultural conceptions of “Asian values,” reflected in the increasingly Confucian stance taken by the CCP in its state media narrative. However, the impact of socio-cultural values remains very limited and is often used as an argument from the West to criticize China’s rejection of Western


neoliberal conceptions of democracy. Still, the extent to which China is working to develop its Social Credit System is a unique project that meets no equal in the contemporary world. As the COVID-19 pandemic is coming to an end in China, the increasing implementation of SCS technology will undoubtedly carry on throughout the country. Only in the years to come will we be able to tell the actual consequences of this large-scale software program on politics and society.

Endnotes 1 Wenfang Tang, “The ‘Surprise’ of Authoritarian Resilience in China,” American Affairs 2, no.1 (Spring 2018). 2 Yongxi Chen and Anne S. Cheung, “The Transparent Self Under Big Data Profiling: Privacy and Chinese Legislation on the Social Credit System” (Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong Press, 2017): 360. 3 Simina Mistreanu, “Life inside China’s social credit laboratory: The party’s massive experiment in ranking and monitoring Chinese citizens has already started,” Foreign Policy, April 3, 2018, https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/04/03/life-inside-chinas-social-credit-laboratory/ 4 Alexander Ma, “China social credit system, punishments and rewards explained,” Business Insider, October 29, 2018, https://www.businessinsider.com/china-social-credit-system-punishments-and-rewards-explained-2018-4 5 “Credit Information,” Creditchina. gov.cn, accessed April 1, 2020, https://www. creditchina.gov.cn/xinyongfuwu/shouxinhongmingdan/ 6 Fan Liang, Vishnupriya Das, Nadiya Kostyuk, and Muzammil M. Hussain, “Constructing a Data-Driven Society: China’s Social Credit System as a State Surveillance Infrastructure,” Policy & Internet 10, no. 4 (August 2018): 420. 7 Andrew J. Nathan, “China’s Changing of the Guard: Authoritarian Resilience,” Journal of Democracy 14, no. 1 (January 2003): 14. 8 “The general office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the general office of the state council issuWed opinions concerning accelerating the construction of credit supervision, warning and punishment mechanisms for persons subject to enforcement for trust-breaking,” Xinhua, September 25, 2016, http://www.xinhuanet.com/politics/2016-09/25/c_1119620719.htm 9 Lucy Hornby, “China Revives Citizen ‘Grid Management’,” Financial Times, April 3, 2016, https://www.ft.com/content/ bf6a67c6-940e-11e5-bd82-c1fb87bef7af

10 “Report of the Big Data Development in China,” CAICT: China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, accessed April 2, 2020, http:// www.caict.ac.cn/kxyj/qwfb/ztbg/201703/ P020170327603296651223.pdf 11 Clayton Cheney, “China’s Digital Silk Road: Strategic Technological Competition and Exporting Political Illiberalism,” Pacific Forum Working Paper 19, no. 8 (July 2019): iv. 12 Creditchina.gov.cn. 13 Roger Creemers, “China’s Social Credit System: An Evolving Practice of Control,” (Leiden: University of Leiden, 2018): 8. 14 Kenneth Paul and Andrew Sze-Sian Tan, “Democracy and the Grassroots Sector in Singapore,” Space and Polity 7, no. 3 (2003): 8. 15 Amartya Sen, “Human Rights and Asian values: what [L]ee Kuan Yew and Le Peng don’t understand about Asia,” The New Republic 217, no. 2-3 (1997): 34. 16 Michael Hill, “‘Asian values’ as reverse Orientalism: Singapore,” Asia Pacific Viewpoint 41, no. 2 (2002): 181. 17 Peter K. Bol, “Neo-Confucianism in History,” in Neo-Confucianism in History, ed. Peter K. Bol (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2008): 1-2. 18 Sébastien Billioud, “Confucianism, ‘cultural tradition’ and official discourses in China at the start of the new century,” China Perspective 3 (2007): 54. 19 Nathan, p.8. 20 Mark R. Thompson, “Whatever Happened to ‘Asian Values’?,” Journal of Democracy 12, no. 4 (2001): 156. 21 Genia Kostka, “China’s social credit systems and public opinion: Explaining high levels of approval,” New Media & Society 21, no. 7 (February 2019): 1571. 22 Ibid 23 Jamie Horsley, “China’s Orwellian Social Credit Score Isn’t Real,” Foreign Policy, November 16, 2018, https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/16/chinas-orwellian-social-credit-score-isnt-real/ 24 Surain Subramaniam, “The Asian Values Debate: Implications for the Spread


of Liberal Democracy,” Asian Affairs: An American Review 27, no. 1 (2000): 23. 25 Ma, Business Insider, October 29, 2018. 26 Rachel Botsman, “Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens,” Wired, October 21, 2017, https://www. wired.co.uk/article/chinese-government-social-credit-score-privacy-invasion 27 Megan Palin, “China’s ‘social credit’ system is a real-life ‘Black Mirror’ nightmare,” New York Post, September 19, 2018, https://nypost.com/2018/09/19/chinas-social-credit-system-is-a-real-life-black-mirror-nightmare/ 28 Ibid 29 Karen L.X. Wong and Amy S. Dobson, “We’re just data: Exploring China’s social credit system in relation to digital platform ratings cultures in Westernised democracies,” Global Media and China 4, no.2 (2019): 227.



This paper explores the potential of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) to address the dominant colonial paradigm in modern-day conservation efforts; therefore, furthering Indigenous-settler reconciliation and helping to achieve the goals of Land Back in what is currently known as Canada. I begin by exploring how the field of conservation has developed from its colonial origins to present conceptions that better recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples, however, maintain oppressive colonial elements. I subsequently examine this evolution through the history of Rocky Mountains Park and the Banff Indian Days festival. Next, I define and explore the potential benefits and challenges of IPCAs, supported by the case of the Haida Nation’s conservation efforts. I conclude that IPCAs are a promising avenue to further reconciliation and Land Back in Canada due to their inherent countering of the colonial conservation paradigm.

Written by Sophie Wirzba Edited by Firstname Brianna Morrison Lastname


Conservation as Colonialism

of Exclusion and Prospects for Inclusion

Canadians typically view conservation as an unmitigated moral good. However, a closer look at the history of conservation in Canada reveals a contrary reality of violence, displacement, and hypocrisy. This paper will first define and compare Indigenous conceptions of land alongside colonial and contemporary conservation paradigms, including how remnants of colonial paradigms are still found in current conservation efforts. I particularly focus on the colonial creations of the false nature/culture and work/ recreation dichotomies. An exploration of how these conceptions of land conservation are used to justify Indigenous Peoples’1 displacement and cultural suppression will be demonstrated through the case of the Stoney Nakoda Nation and the creation of Rocky Mountains Park (RMP), and the promotion of the park’s objectives through Banff Indian Days. Next, I will identify how conservation efforts that take into account Indigenous land practices and conceptions of land have the potential to be used as a tool for reconciliation and Land Back through examining the case of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) in Haida Gwaii. In this paper, through exploring the cases of the Stoney Nakoda and Haida Nations, I argue that the use of IPCAs for conservation has the potential to help further reconciliation in Canada by actively countering colonial conservation paradigms and practices based in these paradigms. A Historical Exploration of Conservation Paradigm A 2018 report for Parks Canada by the Indigenous Circle of Experts (ICE), a group of Indigenous experts and conservationists, provides an in-depth exploration of Indigenous worldviews concerning conservation. To create the report, ICE hosted regional gatherings among Indigenous communities. During these gatherings, Elders and other community members alike shared understandings of land and water as being inseparable from Indigenous “ways of life, identities, values, spiritual practices, [and] knowledge systems.”2 Moreover, humans


are recognized as part of the land, a belief which manifests itself into an “unbreakable and sacred” connection to land.3 This relational view of humans and land provides a key insight into Indigenous understandings of conservation. For Indigenous Peoples, conservation entails the maintenance of and renewal of the relationships that have “conserved the lands and waters for thousands of years.”4 The relational quality of Indigenous conservation acts in opposition to settler conceptions of land as a commodity.5 Indigenous Peoples were unaccustomed to settler conceptions of land as private property. The notion that land could be bought and sold was forcefully imposed upon Indigenous Peoples by settlers.6 Indigenous Peoples believe that land is not something to take from but rather contains histories, provides basic necessities, and participates in ceremonies.7 Nowhere are these profound differences in land conceptions more noticeable than when examining the colonial conservation paradigm and the policies inspired by it. The colonial conservation paradigm is based on several key assumptions that inherently contradict Indigenous conceptions of land. Author Stan Stevens identifies four key assumptions underscoring this paradigm, first including that protected areas should be “created and governed by states.”8 The second assumption articulates that the goal of these areas should be nature preservation and biodiversity conservation, with the third assumption arguing that these goals can only be achieved if protected areas are uninhabited and their natural resources are unused (as Indigenous Peoples are threats to these objectives).9 The final assumption entails that “coercive force is legally and morally justified” to remove people in the pursuit of these goals.10 Colonial assumptions enshrined in conservation policies, primarily in the form of protected areas, underscore definitions, governance, discourse, and marketing. Protected areas are currently defined, by the Canadian state and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as: “a

clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the longterm conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.”11 This definition is markedly different from the one put forth by the IUCN in 1969, which defined national parks as places “where one or several ecosystems are not materially altered by human exploitation and occupation,” which should be administered by the “highest competent authority of the country.”12 The latter definition strongly reflects the colonial conservation paradigm.13 Notably, in practice, the paradigm has typically allowed for settler tourism and recreation in protected areas. Such activities include hunting for sport for settlers, despite excluding Indigenous Peoples from using the same land for subsistence and cultural purposes. The colonial conservation paradigm’s rationale is rooted in a long history of colonial scientists falsely linking Indigenous populations to environmental degradation. The scientists’ erroneous link exemplifies how colonial science can justify policies, such as protected areas, to displace and control Indigenous Peoples.14 In recent years the discipline of conservation has begun to move away from these assumptions of the colonial conservation paradigm towards a new conservation paradigm that increasingly recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ significance for conservation across the world. This increase in recognition for Indigenous land practices is rooted in a growing body of research that exhibits strong correlations between Indigenous territories and high biodiversity areas across multiple countries.15 Related research also reveals that many Indigenous Peoples’ territories are as (or more) effective than state-created protected areas in preserving biodiversity.16 Stevens argues that this pattern is a result of the deliberate protection and sustainable use of natural resources, species, and ecosystems by Indigenous Peoples.17 While Stevens’ work is not specific to Indigenous Peoples in Canada, his descriptions of sustainable Indigenous Peoples’ land practices align close-

ly with Indigenous conceptions of land in Canada described by King and ICE. However, despite a global paradigm shift, authors John Shultis and Susan Heffner assert that dominant discourses and models in conservation today still reflect original, exclusionary conservation paradigms. 18 These authors argue that the assumptions embedded within the colonial conservation paradigm has persisted in the form of the nature/culture and work/recreation dichotomies, which identify nature as separate from culture, and work separate from recreation.19 Parks often perpetuate the conceptualization of nature as untouched by humans except for recreation by implementing restrictions on subsistence hunting and other cultural practices within park boundaries. These policies exhibit how these dichotomies maintain significant influence within modern-day conservation, despite their conflict with Indigenous conceptions of land that conservation projects claim to value.20 This persistent contradiction results in projects that may tokenize Indigenous Peoples’ participation, while upholding these dichotomies that prioritize parks for leisure purposes, among other practices rooted in the colonial paradigm. Such criticisms exhibit the reconciliatory work that remains to be undertaken in conservation. Conservation and Protected Areas as Tools of Colonial Rule The two primary mechanisms historically used by conservation efforts to control Indigenous Peoples first include the designation of land as a protected area, followed by the outright removal of Indigenous Peoples from their land, often through violent measures.21 In North America, Indigenous land displacement by protected areas particularly took place in the late 1800s, as settlers were increasingly moving westward.22 Second, once parks displaced Indigenous communities, policies such as fishing and hunting regulations further reduced Indigenous Peoples’ access to protected land and directly impacted


their abilities to maintain subsistence livelihoods.23 These practices serve the colonial conservation paradigm by removing as much human influence on nature as possible. However, settlers’ allowance to enjoy recreational activities within these parks is a less acknowledged exception to the “pure wilderness” aspect of the paradigm. The first national park established in Canada, Rocky Mountains Park (RMP), exemplifies the unjustified privilege settlers grant themselves in protected areas.24 RMP was formed on historically contested First Nations territory in 1887 in an initial effort by the Canadian state to secure the land surrounding several hot springs near what is now known as Banff.25 Over the course of the park’s initial formation and growth, motivations evolved from an initial desire to grow tourism and control First Nations movement to also focus on wildlife conservation efforts.26 These hot springs, in particular, had cultural significance to the Stoney Nakoda Nation, who utilized the springs and areas around the hot springs for marriage ceremonies and gathering of medicinal herbs, among other practices.27 The surrounding mountains were also used for subsistence hunting, trapping, and fishing, which became forbidden in 1890 after a biologist commissioned by the government declared Indigenous hunters to blame for a lack of big game wildlife in the area.28 Park authorities treated First Nations as a threat to the conservation of the park’s wildlife; however, a later sports code of etiquette for RMP stated that big game were to be used as trophies for sportsmen and not hunted for food.29 The permissibility of settler sport hunting alongside the restriction of Indigenous subsistence hunting exemplifies the hypocrisy ingrained in the colonial conservation paradigm, where nature was not to be altered by humans, except for settler recreation. The narratives and policies of preserving the park’s “wilderness” by pursuing conservation efforts also extended to the Stoney Nakoda Nation and other First Nations in the region. These narratives are ex-


hibited in the Banff Indian Days festival, where First Nations (majority Nakoda) Peoples were invited to RMP for a three to fiveday cultural spectacle once a year.30 During Banff Indian Days, First Nations Peoples would set up teepees, wear “traditional” clothing, and perform how “real Indians lived 100 years ago” (a prominent marketing slogan for the Banff Indian Days).31 These events marketed the First Nations communities of the area as part of the park’s “wilderness”, despite these Peoples reality of having their activities and movements at the time highly restricted through policies like the pass system. The pass system required Indigenous people to obtain a pass from their Indian Agent to leave their reserve for any reason, for fear that they were threats to the park’s wildlife, among other motivations of control.32

The events romanticized the narratives of the vanishing wilderness and “vanishing Indians,” using narratives of disappearance to further market RMP and Banff Indian Days, despite the creation of the park itself being responsible for the reduction in traditional First Nations practices in the area.33 First Nations Peoples were often compared to animals by park administrators, Indian Days organizers, and tourists partici-

pating in the Indian Days. Such comparisons manifested themselves in the discourse surrounding hunting policies. These discourses compared First Nations Peoples to predatory animals, marketed First Nations Peoples as part of nature for the Indian Days, and in tourist photography where taking photos of First Nations Peoples was frequently compared to hunting.34 Because of their significant marketing value for the event, organizers strictly enforced behavioural standards for First Nations participants.35 However, despite the organizers and park administrators’ attempts to exert control over the Stoney Nakoda and other First Nations participants, these Nations, as well as individual participants, found ways to assert their agency within the confines of the event and park restrictions. Stoney Nakoda people continued to hunt in the park, challenged stereotypes in Banff Indian Days, and used the events to maintain otherwise banned cultural traditions, earn money, and assert territorial claims.36 Although the Banff Indian Days exact format has changed over the years, the founding narratives persisted until the final Banff Indian Days in 1978.37 As of April 2020, RMP, now known as Banff National Park, prohibits subsistence hunting, and Parks Canada maintains legal ownership of the hot springs that drove the formation of RMP.38 This case exhibits how, along with residential schools and other injustices to Indigenous Peoples, histories of conservation and protected areas are not as far in the past as many Canadians would like to believe if we can consider them in the past at all. As discussed in Section II, remnants of the colonial paradigm used to justify protected area policies that restrict traditional Indigenous practices (along with certain policies enacted by original park administrators themselves) are still prevalent in many conservation efforts across Canada today. The colonial paradigm’s continued presence within conservation policies allows for the continued exclusion of Indigenous Peoples from maintaining their relationships with the land.

Conservation, Reconciliation, and Land Back The Truth and Reconciliation Commission states, “Reconciliation is not about ‘closing a sad chapter of Canada’s past,’ but about opening new healing pathways of reconciliation that are forged in truth and justice.”39 Following this mindset in reconciliation efforts entails that the history of conservation and protected areas by the Canadian state be acknowledged and used to motivate justice in protected areas and the field of conservation. Concerning protected areas, ICE asserts in their 2018 report that for meaningful reconciliation to occur: there must be space for Indigenous Nations to assert their nationhood and sovereignty in their traditional lands, Indigenous Peoples be allowed to participate in cultural practices in these areas without having to ask for permission, and Indigenous knowledge systems be engaged with by conservation scientists, among other suggestions.40 These suggestions align with the barriers to Indigenous participation in protected areas articulated by Shultis and Heffner, in the forms of the nature/culture and work/recreation dichotomies. While reconciliation is a highly personal process, The Indigenous Circle of Experts proposes that Canada can best pursue the principles of reconciliation within protected areas and the field of conservation through Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs). The Indigenous Circle of Experts defines IPCAs as “lands and waters where Indigenous governments have the primary role in protecting and conserving ecosystems through Indigenous laws, governance and knowledge systems.”41 IPCAs can and are managed in diverse ways, including Indigenous government-Crown government partnerships, Indigenous government-non government partnerships, hybrid partnerships with multiple partners, and sole Indigenous governance.42 However, regardless of the management strategy, they share the essential elements of being Indigenous-led, representing a long-term commitment to conservation, and elevating Indigenous


rights and responsibilities.43 In their 2018 report, ICE recommends that IPCAs: promote respect for Indigenous knowledge systems, respect protocols and ceremony, support the revitalization of Indigenous languages, conserve cultural keystone species, protect food security, and adopt holistic approaches to governance and planning.44 The respect for Indigenous rights, knowledge systems, and cultures intrinsic to IPCAs often allows IPCAs to overcome the nature/culture and work/recreation dichotomies rooted in the colonial conservation paradigm. The concept of reconciliation itself is controversial, with many Indigenous land defenders and allies using the phrase “reconciliation is dead’’ as they protect their land from extractive and destructive colonial projects.45 In a 2020 opinion piece in the Globe and Mail, Anishinaabe journalist Tanya Talaga argues that reconciliation never truly existed, as the Canadian state has never treated Indigenous Nations as equal partners and has at best used “reconciliation” as a political slogan.46 In the place of calls for reconciliation, many activists have turned their focus to the Land Back movement, which calls for land to be returned to Indigenous Nations and a “nourishing” of Indigenous relationships to land.47 Specific demands of this movement include: the dismantling of colonial white supremacist structures such as Parks Canada, the return of public lands to Indigenous nation, and implementing true free, prior, and informed consent regarding land development.48 Although the return of land to Indigenous Nations should not be conditional on using the land in a way that is acceptable to the settler-colonial state, Canadian state-sanctioned IPCAs can be a tool to further the goals of the Land Back movement, provided that they are solely managed by Indigenous Nations and contribute to the dismantling of colonial conservation institutions. Despite globally shifting attitudes on conservation, IPCAs still face obstacles in challenging existing conservation efforts and land governance. The Canadian state currently manages resources and nature by


categorizing natural resources into distinct silos, separating resources and land from water, creating distinct governance strategies for different geographical elements.49 Their strategy directly opposes Indigenous holistic conceptions of land and water, integral to the Indigenous conservation strategy discussed in Section II. Variation in treaties and land claim agreements pose another challenge by providing incentives and opportunities to create IPCAs for certain Nations, and disincentives for others.50 The lack of treaties and resulting modern treaty process in British Columbia and Northern Canada allows for and encourages greater Indigenous involvement in decision-making. In contrast, Nations with historical treaties may lack similar incentives to collaborate with the Canadian state.51 Other challenges include the Canadian state’s assertion of its sovereignty at the expense of Indigenous Nations, inconsistent existing reporting and monitoring mechanisms, and the maintenance of the colonial conservation paradigm itself.52 These challenges pose threats to reconciliation efforts through conservation, as many of these challenges maintain the status quo of the colonial conservation paradigm responsible for the upholding of policies that suppress Indigenous cultural practices. Both the benefits of and the challenges facing IPCAs are highlighted in the case concerning the Haida Nation. As of 2018, the Haida Nation collaboratively managed eighteen protected areas (referred to as Haida Heritage Sites) on the islands of Haida Gwaii with the Government of British Columbia according to Haida Stewardship Law, with seven areas established before modern agreements with little Haida involvement, and eleven established as modern government-to-government agreements.53 The establishment of the eleven new modern Heritage Sites resolved threats to culturally significant old-growth forests in the form of resource extraction, aiding in preserving both terrestrial and marine biodiversity.54 These protected areas also allow all Haida citizens (individuals with Haida

ancestry) to retain their right to access the resources of Haida Gwaii for “cultural reasons, and for food or commerce consistent with the Laws of Nature as reflected in the laws of the Haida Nation.”55 However, the establishment of these areas was not without challenges. This case is also one where Haida Gwaii is not under a historical treaty, incentivizing collaboration amongst the involved parties as theorized by Zurba et al.56 It is essential to note that even where this collaboration was incentivized, negotiation of these areas took nearly three years, and involved court cases, local activism and resistance, and radical strategy by the Haida Nation.57 Despite the resolution of these negotiations and the establishment of protected areas, balancing interests between the Haida Nation, resource extractors, and the British Columbia government through the co-management process remains an ongoing challenge.

colonial conservation paradigm and resulting practices actively and materially return land to Indigenous nations. The case of the Haida Nation’s establishment and leadership of eighteen protected areas exemplifies successful countering of the colonial conservation paradigm and its practices, allowing all Haida citizens full use of the islands’ resources for cultural purposes regardless of protected areas. Despite the challenges facing implementation and maintenance of IPCAs, IPCAs still offer a promising avenue for reconciliation and Land Back in Canada, given the history of conservation and protected areas as a tool of colonial rule.

Conclusion This paper has explored the colonial conservation paradigm, its contradictions with Indigenous conceptions of land and water, and how conservation has evolved beyond colonial assumptions. However, the field of conservation still largely adheres to nature/ culture and work/recreation dichotomies, resulting in the maintenance of policies rooted in the colonial conservation paradigm, such as requiring permits for cultural practices and prohibiting hunting and trapping in protected areas. Despite increased recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ contributions to biodiversity preservation, these maintained barriers to Indigenous Peoples’ participation in cultural activities in protected areas, and Indigenous conceptions of conservation, illustrate a need for reconciliation. The need for reconciliation by and with the field of conservation is also exhibited by the case concerning the Stoney Nakoda Nation and RMP, which illustrates how the colonial conservation paradigm has been used to displace and suppress Indigenous Peoples and their traditions. I have argued that progress towards reconciliation and Land Back can occur by establishing IPCAs to counter the


Endnotes 1 While this paper focuses on cases of First Nations, similar experiences under colonial conservation apply to Inuit, although in the distinct context of Northern history and geography. While the Métis Nation is affected by the colonial conservation paradigm, the history of the Métis Nation and protected area policies is less documented than for First Nations and Inuit. Therefore, this paper will use the term Indigenous when otherwise unspecified by the literature and for broad references and use the names of specific Nations wherever possible. 2 . The Indigenous Circle of Experts, We Rise Together: Achieving Pathway to Canada Target 1 through the creation of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas in the Spirit and Practice of Reconciliation - The Indigenous Circle of Experts’ Report and Recommendations (Gatineau, QC: Parks Canada, 2018), 35. https://www. deslibris.ca/ID/10096675 3 The Indigenous Circle of Experts, We Rise Together, 35. 4 The Indigenous Circle of Experts, We Rise Together, 35. 5 Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2017), 219. 6 Liz Clark et al., “Land Claims, Title, and Ownership” in Our Stories: First Peoples in Canada edited by Len Fortune and Kathryn Willms (Toronto: Centennial College), 218 https://p.widencdn.net/ldyhlz/ Our-Stories_-FirstPeoplesinCanada. 7 King, The Inconvenient Indian, 219. 8 Stan Stevens, “Indigenous Peoples, Biocultural Diversity, and Protected Areas,” in Indigenous Peoples, National Parks, and Protected Areas: A New Paradigm Linking Conservation, Culture, and Rights, ed. Stan Stevens (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2014), 36. 9 10 11


Stevens, “Indigenous Peoples,” 36. Stevens, 36. Melanie Zurba et al., “Indigenous

Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), Aichi Target 11 and Canada’s Pathway to Target 1: Focusing Conservation on Reconciliation.” Land 8, no. 1 (2019): 3, https://doi. org/10.3390/land8010010. 12 International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, “Resolutions Adopted by the Tenth General Assembly of the IUCN,” Tenth General Assembly (New Delhi, 1969) 156, https:// portals.iucn.org/library/efiles/documents/ NS-SP-027.pdf. 13 Stevens, “Indigenous Peoples,” 29. 14 William Beinart and Lotte Hughes, Environment and Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), 3. 15 Stevens, “Indigenous Peoples,” 22. 16 Stevens, 22. 17 Stevens, 22. 18 John Shultis et al., “Hegemonic and Emerging Concepts of Conservation: A Critical Examination of Barriers to Incorporating Indigenous Perspectives in Protected Area Conservation Policies and Practice.” Journal of Sustainable Tourism 24, no. 8-9 (2016): 1233-1235, https:// doi.or g/10.1080/09669582.2016.1158827. 19 Shultis et al., “Hegemonic and Emerging Concepts of Conservation,” 12311232. 20 Shultis et al., 1231-1232. 21 John Sandlos, “National Parks in the Canadian North: Comanagement or Colonialism Revisited?” in Indigenous Peoples, National Parks, and Protected Areas: A New Paradigm Linking Conservation, Culture, and Rights, ed. Stan Stevens (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2014), 134. 22 John Sandlos, “National Parks,” 134. 23 John Sandlos, “National Parks,” 134. 24 Courtney Wade Mason, Spirits of the Rockies: Reasserting an Indigenous Presence in Banff National Park (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014), 52. 25 Mason, Spirits of the Rockies, 50. 26 Mason, Spirits of the Rockies, 52. 27 Mason, Spirits of the Rockies, 51. 28 Mason, Spirits of the Rockies, 53-57. 29 Mason, Spirits of the Rockies, 54. 30 Jonathan Clapperton, “Naturalizing

Race Relations: Conservation, Colonialism, and Spectacle at the Banff Indian Days,” Canadian Historical Review 94, no. 3 (2013): 350, https://doi.org/10.3138/chr.1188. 31 Clapperton, “Naturalizing Race Relations,” 350. 32 Clapperton, “Naturalizing Race Relations,” 353; Mason, Spirits of the Rockies, 43-44. 33 Clapperton, “Naturalizing Race Relations,” 354. 34 Clapperton, “Naturalizing Race Relations,” 358. 35 Clapperton, 358. 36 Clapperton, “Naturalizing Race Relations,” 364-370. 37 Clapperton, “Naturalizing Race Relations,” 378. 38 “Regulations - Banff National Park,” Parks Canada, accessed April 14, 2020, https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff/ visit/regs; “Canadian Rockies Hot Springs,” Parks Canada, accessed April 14, 2020, https://www.hotsprings.ca/. 39 The Indigenous Circle of Experts, We Rise Together, 27. 40 The Indigenous Circle of Experts, We Rise Together, 28-29. 41 The Indigenous Circle of Experts, We Rise Together, 35. 42 The Indigenous Circle of Experts, We Rise Together, 45. 43 The Indigenous Circle of Experts, We Rise Together, 36. 44 The Indigenous Circle of Experts, We Rise Together, 38-41. 45 Tanya Talaga, “Reconciliation isn’t dead. It never truly existed,” The Globe and Mail, February 29, 2020, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-reconciliation-isnt-dead-it-never-truly-existed/. 46 Talaga, “Reconciliation isn’t dead” 47 David Gray-Donald, “What is Land Back? A Settler FAQ,” Briarpatch Magazine, September 10, 2020, https://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/what-is-land-backa-settler-faq. 48 Hayden King and Riley Yesno, “Part Four: Reclamation,” Land Back: A Yellowhead Institute Red Paper (October 2019):

https://redpaper.yellowheadinstitute.org/ part-four-reclamation/; “LANDBACK Manifesto,” LANDBACK, accessed March 9, 2021, https://landback.org/manifesto/ 49 Zurba et al., “Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas,” 10-11. 50 Zurba et al., “Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas,” 11. 51 Zurba et al., 11. 52 Zurba et. al, “Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas,” 10-13. 53 The Indigenous Circle of Experts, We Rise Together, 35. 54 The Indigenous Circle of Experts, 35. 55 “History of the Haida Nation,” Haida Nation, accessed April 14, 2020, hhtps:// www.haidanation.ca?page_id=36. 56 Zurba et al., “Indigenous Protected and Conserved” 57 Louise Takeda et al., “Power and Contestation in Collaborative Ecosystem-Based Management: The Case of Haida Gwaii.” Ecological Economics 70, no. 2 (2010): 186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.02.007.


American Exceptionalism and

The War on Truth Exposed by Failing Po

the Afghanistan War


This analysis focuses on the Afghanistan War by examining the Bush, Obama and Trump Administrations’ decision-making units and the implications their policies have had on the effectiveness of the war. What is now the longest conflict in modern American history has been characterized by policies that are sub-optimal and even damaging to America’s interests and security. By employing the theoretical frameworks of Polythink and Groupthink, it becomes evident that members of these units, by virtue of their disparate worldviews, institutional and political affiliations, and decision-making styles, typically have deep disagreements over the same dilemma. It will become evident that the Bush and Obama Administrations’ failure to adequately implement a strategy for end-of-war and post-war planning was due to the exclusivity of the military dimension in planning. Since the advent of the Trump Administration and the Agreement to Bring Peace to Afghanistan, there is an opportunity to develop a political system that keeps competition in the non-violent realm. The success of this agreement and the need for continued international support rests on the back of every Afghan - envisioning an Afghanistan that binds peace and unity together after nearly two-decades plagued by violence, division, corruption, and lies.

Written by Mikail Malik Edited by Jordan Royt

Why has the Afghanistan War been the longest conflict in modern American history? Following the 9/11 attacks, the U.S entered the costly War on Terror, launching two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. American foreign policy decisions during these turbulent years have often been criticized as suboptimal or even damaging to America’s interests and security. A number of texts, individuals, and political structures will be of importance for this analysis. Former national security staff member of the Bush Administration, Richard Clarke, and his memoir Against All Enemies will be employed to evaluate involvement in Afghanistan as it pertains to U.S. counterterrorism efforts and several key actors in the military and intelligence apparatus will be evaluated to discover the influence they had on key decision-making processes. In order to illustrate the foundations of the key faults in the decision-making process, Alex Mintz and Carly Wayne’s Polythink Syndrome will be employed. The author’s discussion on Groupthink and Polythink Syndrome will be a vehicle for evaluating the Bush and Obama Administrations’ approach to Afghanistan since 9/11 and its trajectory years after. In hundreds of confidential interviews that constitute a secret history of the war, U.S. and allied officials admitted they veered off in directions that had little to do with al-Qaeda or 9/11. By expanding the original mission, they said they adopted “fatally flawed warfighting strategies based on misguided assumptions about a country they did not understand.”1 It will be uncovered that the Bush and Obama Administrations’ failure to adequately map out a longterm strategy that would recognize and plan for foreseeable risks had a lasting legacy on the effectiveness of the Afghanistan War. Moreover, the discussion on end-of-war and postwar planning in Afghanistan was limited exclusively to a military dimension. Thus, Polythink and Groupthink syndrome will be employed as a framework for understanding these failing policies. Before entering into this discussion, it is important to note the definitions of


Groupthink and Polythink in order to illustrate how it affected the decision-making apparatus of the two administrations. Mintz and Wayne define Groupthink as a “mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.”2 At the national level, this means that cohesive policy-making groups, such as the advisors to the President, often make suboptimal decisions as a result of their conscious or subconscious desire for consensus over dissent. As a result, they ignore important limitations of chosen policies, overestimating the odds for success, and failing to consider other relevant policy options. On the other hand, Polythink is a “group dynamic whereby different members in a decision-making unit espouse a plurality of opinions and offer divergent policy prescriptions, and even dissent, which can result in intragroup conflict and a fragmented, disjointed decision-making process.”3 Members of this unit, by virtue of their disparate worldviews, institutional and political affiliations, and decision-making styles, typically have deep disagreements over the same task. According to Mintz and Wayne, “the failure to prevent 9/11, like many U.S. decisions in the War on Terror, was a result of Polythink among and within key governmental decision-making branches.”4 Responding to 9/11: The Inability to Map Out Long-Term Goals In analyzing the reasons behind the stunning national security breakdown, the 9/11 Commission Report pointed to several key faults in the decision-making process, all symptomatic of the Polythink syndrome: “communication failures, lack of sharing of intelligence information, and the ill-preparedness of various security agencies in the U.S.’’5 In the report, the authors find that key fault lines, such as between various government agencies, contributed to information sharing problems and confusion that allowed al-Qaeda to seize national se-

curity gaps. The lack of information sharing led to fundamental misunderstandings of the threats America faced from Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network during the Bush administration. The authors learned of fault lines within the government – “between foreign and domestic intelligence, and between and within agencies... [they] learned of the pervasive problem of managing and sharing information across a large and unwieldy government that had been built in a different era to confront different dangers.”6 Indeed, after the 9/11 attacks a “Groupthink siege mentality was particularly pervasive in the Bush administration.”7 The stress triggered by an external threat, in this case the September 11 attacks, led to an overestimation of that threat. During the intervening time, if that threat does indeed become greater, the overestimation would still bear fruit. However, what becomes evident is that the chosen policy path failed to represent an accurate assessment of the threat and encouraged misguided assumptions about a country decision-makers did not understand. Richard Clarke recounts his determination to push the Bush administration’s policy intended to go after al-Qaeda. In January 2001, several months before the 9/11 attacks, Clarke “briefed the first Bush administration, Condi Rice, Steve Hadley, Dick Cheney, and Colin Powel. [His] message was stark: al-Qaeda is at war with us, it is a highly capable organization, probably with sleeper cells in the U.S., and it is clearly planning a major series of attacks; we must act decisively and quickly.”8 Rice responded to Clarke stating that it “would not be addressed until it had been framed by the Deputies. [He] assumed that meant an opportunity for the Deputies to review the agenda. Instead, it meant months of delay.”9 According to Clarke, the failure in the “organizations that we trusted to protect us, failures to get information to the right place at the right time, earlier failures to act boldly to reduce or eliminate the threat [were not taken seriously].”10 What was unique about Bush’s reaction to terrorism was his

selection of a concrete example of potential state sponsors of terrorism. It was plainly obvious “after September 11 that al-Qaeda’s sanctuary in Taliban-run Afghanistan had to be occupied by U.S. forces and the al-Qaeda leaders killed.”11 Unfortunately, Bush’s efforts were slow and small; instead of his administration focusing on a country that had been engaging in anti-U.S. terrorism, he shifted attention and resources to one that had not been – Iraq. When offering the Taliban a chance to avoid U.S. occupation of Afghanistan failed, he initially sent in only a handful of Special Forces. This led to enhanced perceptions of threat and an aggressive pursuit of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. However, it also impeded the thorough considerations of foreign policy options, planning for contingencies, and long-term policy development. For example, only eighteen days into the Afghanistan War, Bush, already facing criticism from the media for slow pace of operations, determined that any indication of doubt from the president would ripple throughout the system. In response, “he sat his national security team down asking: I just want to make sure that all of us did agree on this plan, right? – they all agreed.”12 The failure to tolerate ambiguity and nuance and the incapacity or unwillingness to map out a long-term strategy that would recognize and plan for foreseeable risks “is a hallmark of Groupthink.”13 The focus on invasion at the expense of reconstruction illustrated the overreliance of the Bush decision-making unit on the military brass, whose “dress uniforms with rows of ribbons highlighted their military expertise, which was a whole lot more extensive than [Bush’s], at the expense of external experts in and outside of the State Department, who would have provided a different perspective and contributions to the deliberations.”14 The emphasis of the administration on best-case scenarios and the overconfident view of the costs of the conflict were exacerbated by the early successes of the military phase of the war. Bush acknowledges this fault, recog-


nizing that in “retrospect, our rapid success with low troop levels created false comfort, and our desire to maintain a light military footprint left us short of the resources we needed. It would take several years for these shortcomings to become clear.”15 It is interesting to note that in many ways, these early failures to question assumptions, hear various perspectives, and explore alternative policy options during the initial entrance into the war, “spurred the Polythink group dynamic that would mark the decision-making processes surrounding the subsequent U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.”16 In an effort to avoid the Groupthink mistakes of his predecessor, President Obama’s national security team would spend months divisively debating a compromise “mini-surge option that had been critiqued from both the left and the right as a satisfying choice with questionable strategic merit.”17 Divided They Persist: Intra-Administration Division and its Chaotic Implications When Obama took office, the war in Afghanistan was already in its eighth year. By then, the fighting had morphed into a full-blown insurgency and the Taliban looked unstoppable. They had adopted a “flexible, decentralized military structure and even a national political organization, with shadow governors and district leaders for nearly every Afghan province.”18 America was losing, and the enemy knew it. Polythink symptoms include “intragroup conflict, confusion and lack of communication, a paradoxically limited review of policy options, a failure to reappraise previously rejected alternatives, biased information processing characterized by framing effects, and most importantly, lowest-common denominator decision making or even decision paralysis.”19 Nearly all of these key symptoms were present in the early years of the Obama Administration’s national security team. Obama’s ‘team of rivals’ remained sharply divided along institutional, ideological and generational lines that proved hard to overcome. In the words of former Obama Deputy National Security Advisor Douglas


Lute’s staff, “tribes populated the presidency, reflecting its divisions.”20 This deficit of trust, as former Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal termed it, “appeared unintentional on both sides... but over time, the effects were costly.”21 McChrystal’s memoir cast into sharp relief the internal divisions in the Obama Administration, suggesting that they were even more intense and disparate than previously known. Nasr claims, “the truth is that [Obama’s] administration made it extremely difficult for his own foreign-policy experts to be heard.”22 In reviewing the book Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward for The New York Times, Peter Baker summarizes the divisive portrait of the U.S. national security apparatus during the Afghanistan War Review process: “Infighting among various members of the administration was rampant; turf battles between the White House and the State Department were also prevalent; Richard Holbrooke, during his tenure as [SRAP], chronicles the discord and dysfunction between the State Department and the White House on end-of-war and postwar planning in Afghanistan.”23 The many competing voices and conflict within the foreign policy decision-making unit in turn led to gaps in communication and confusion regarding the execution of war strategy and even extended perceptions of the overall policy goal in Afghanistan. A damning investigation by the Washington Post, based on leaked government documents, revealed in December 2019 that “senior US officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.”24 This reflected the internal divisions in the approach to Afghanistan, rather than the collective consensus that was being pushed to the public. The investigation, through an extensive array of interviews, brings into sharp relief the core failings of the war that persist to this day. They underscore how three

presidents – Bush, Obama, and Trump – and their military commanders have been unable to deliver on promises to prevail in Afghanistan. U.S. officials acknowledged that their “warfighting strategies were fatally flawed, and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.”25 At the outset, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan had a clear, stated objective – to retaliate against al-Qaeda and prevent a repeat of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Yet the interviews show that as the war dragged on, “the goals and mission kept changing and a lack of faith in the U.S. strategy took root inside the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department.”26 The result: an unwinnable conflict with no easy way out. The Taliban was not involved in the 9/11 attacks and none of the hijackers or planners were Afghans but the Bush administration “categorized Taliban leaders as terrorists because they had given al-Qaeda sanctuary and refused to hand over Osama bin Laden.”27 Like Bush, Obama lacked an effective diplomatic strategy for dealing with the Taliban. In public, the Obama administration called for reconciliation between the Afghan government and insurgent leaders but the content of the report shows his advisers disagreed strenuously over what that meant. In another hallmark of Polythink, the internal Obama Cabinet discussions surrounding the Afghan War had illusions of an expansive review process, but nonetheless centered on a small number of actual policy options. Indeed, the bulk of the Afghanistan policy review focused on three options presented to President Obama by the military; “85,000 troops for a full counterinsurgency, 40,000 troops a more fiscally and politically feasible option for counterinsurgency, and 20,000

troops for a plan that would focus mainly on counterterrorism operation.”28 However, these many options presented only an illusion of choice to the young President. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry expressed reservations, stating that “we have not fully studied every alternative, and that we underestimate the risks of this expansion, by relying on forecasts that are imprecise and optimistic, potentially adopting a strategy that would increase Afghan dependency and deepening military involvement in a mission that most agree cannot be won solely by military means.”29 Thus, though Obama did have choices, it had been significantly limited to the disadvantage of all. Moreover, the discussion on end-ofwar and postwar planning in Afghanistan was limited exclusively to the military dimension. Communication with the State Department on diplomatic courses of action was also minimal, and suggestions for diplomatic and political solutions were quickly discarded. Objections raised by Eikenberry regarding the feasibility of working with Afghan President Hamid Karzai were largely ignored. Richard Holbrooke, a staunch advocate of a more diplomatic process, was also silenced throughout his term as the SRPA. Throughout the review process, there was “no discussion at all of diplomacy and a political settlement... the military wanted to stay in charge and going against the military would make the president look weak.”30 This failure had profound consequences: the Obama White House failed to aggressively explore negotiations when it had the most boots on the battlefield. Promising leads were left to wither, and the military once again capitalized on civilian disunity to pursue its maximalist objectives. Individual advisors in Polythink groups may also possess an incentive for


processing or presenting information in a biased manner, “using selective pieces of information and favoring frame tactics to strengthen their specific perspective regarding the policy issue at hand.”31 For example, the military and the Department of Defense framed the war as a “battle necessary for the security of the U.S. both as a way to decimate extremists bent on attacking the U.S. and as a deterrent for future would-be terrorists.”32 Former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, even declared in one strategy meeting: “the focus is al-Qaeda and the degree to which al-Qaeda would be empowered by a Taliban success. If the Taliban make significant headway, it’ll be framed as the defeat of the second superpower.”33 On the other hand, members of the State Department framed the conflict as a liability to America’s diplomatic interests abroad and believed al-Qaeda could be contained without the counterinsurgency campaign advocated by the military. Rather than tamp down information processes and discussion in order to move the decision-making process forward, Obama often “peppered advisers with questions and showed an insatiable demand for information, taxing analysts who prepared three dozen intelligence reports for him and Pentagon staff members who churned out thousands of pages of documents.”34 In the case of the Afghanistan War review process, Obama’s ultimate choice was deploying “30,000 additional troops in a form of counterinsurgency light.”35 However, many political analysts have argued that the policy decision chosen ran the risk of achieving “neither a successful military counterinsurgency nor a successful drawdown and diplomatic solution to the conflict.”36 Obama’s own advisor, Douglas Lute explained that the president “had treated the military as another political constituency that had to be accommodated.”37 Thus, displaying the political divides that were truly at the forefront. Despite Obama’s insistence that he must continue to carry out the Afghanistan War to a successful conclusion, the discon-


certing fact was that he owed his meteoric rise to power on his resounding criticism of U.S. war efforts in Iraq, but also Afghanistan. Obama had campaigned against Bush’s ideas and approaches. However, “Obama had perhaps underestimated the extent to which he had inherited Bush’s presidency – the apparatus, personnel and mind-set of war- making.”38 A major critique of Obama’s handling of the Afghanistan War centered on his habit of inserting political considerations into troop decisions. One commentator claimed, “the President had a truly disturbing habit of funneling major foreign-policy decisions through a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisors whose turf was strictly politics.’’39 Others argue that Obama really had no choice but to consider political ramifications of his actions in Afghanistan because “if he sped up this timetable and America’s Afghan allies began to go down the drain, it would surely become a major line of attack by republicans.’’40 Thus, the focus on political concerns deeply divided the decision-making unit, increasing Polythink and leading to suboptimal policy choices that may have been partially based on over-weighted, non-compensatory political factors. An inevitable imbalance existed between the military-intelligence complex, with its offerings of swift, dynamic, camera-ready action, and the foreign-policy establishment, with its seemingly ponderous, deliberative style. Ultimately, the differing worldviews and styles of information seeking, deliberation, and decision-making within the decision-unit would become a major obstacle in the Obama administration’s attempt to find consensus. Striking a balance between Polythink and Groupthink in decision-making processes is a central challenge for leaders. In fact, the growth in the power of the presidency, the reach of a president’s decisions and actions, and the impact they can have all over the world make it essential to examine character and the ways in which it influences policy making and implementation.

Obama’s approach to his decision-making about the war contrasts with the approach of President Bush. The decision-making process in the Bush White House was often marked by “secrecy, a lack of deliberation, and the exclusion of members of his administration and the career services who ordinarily would have been consulted on important decisions.”41 Obama’s approach was instead “inclusive and more consistent with scholarly conclusion that ‘multiple advocacy’ would best inform presidential decision-making.”42 This style, however, was also conducive to creating a Polythink dynamic. The divisive infighting of his Cabinet and the overly extended nature of his policy review was not effective and quickly led to destructive Polythink – stirring even more group conflict, triggering confusion, and nearly resulting in a decision paralysis at critical moments of the Afghanistan War. Four years later, Obama was no longer making the case for the ‘good war’. Instead, he was fast washing his hands of it. The Unorthodox Approach in the Trumpian Age: The Agreement Bringing Peace to Afghanistan and its Implications Many Americans, including many who voted for Obama, want nothing to do with war. They are disillusioned by the ongoing instability in Iraq and Afghanistan and tired of almost two decades of fighting. They do not believe war was the right solution to terrorism, and they have stopped putting stock in the scaremongering that the Bush administration used to fuel its foreign policy. There is a growing sense that America has no interests in Afghanistan vital enough to justify a major ground presence. It was court opinion that Obama first embraced the war in Afghanistan. When public opinion changed, he quickly declared victory and called the troops back home. His actions from start to finish were guided by politics, and they played well at home. Abroad, however, the stories the U.S. tells to justify its on-again, off-again approach do not ring true to friend or foe. Vali Nasr, senior advisor to U.S SRAP Richard Holbrooke states

“America is leaving Afghanistan to its own fate. America is leaving even as the demons of regional chaos that first beckoned it there are once again rising to threaten its security.”43 The incoming Trump administration faced the same circumstances of the Obama White House eight years earlier. The Afghan forces were weak, “owing to poor training, inadequate motivation, uninspiring leadership and a high rate of desertion.”44 Trump announced his new Afghan policy saying that although “his instinct was to pull out, and that historically he liked to follow his instincts, he had realized that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk of the Oval Office.”45 He contrasted his policy with Obama’s, saying that nation-building would not be his objective, and that he would not tell the Afghans how to live. However, Trump’s generals won his consent to a limited surge of “3,900 troops in addition to those already deployed.”46 Stripped of its lurid wrapping, this struck most observers as largely a concise description of the Obama strategy to “to kill insurgent leaders; and to protect U.S. and international presence in the capital from attack by Taliban forces and jihadists.”47 Where Trump’s version of the policy differed from Obama’s was on the issue of a sunset condition. Obama had established in advance a time frame for his surge and a date for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. This decision was widely criticized at the time as the incentive for the Taliban was “to wait out the U.S. presence and then restore its hold over Afghan countryside upon the departure of US forces.”48 However, Trump stressed that conditions on the ground and not arbitrary timetables would guide his actions, adding that he “would not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.”49 Although he claimed the policy reflected ‘a doctrine of principled realism’ – a term frequently used to describe tempering of power politics by a concern for human rights and humanitarian interests – he defined the principle in question as ‘America first’ rather than any ethical imperative.


Moreover, the political logic of Trump’s policy repeated the dubious American preconception that the “Taliban could be subdued and then pressured into a political settlement.”50 However, the Trump administration was able to achieve in its first term what the Bush and Obama administration were either unable or unwilling to do over two terms each: sign a peace deal with the Taliban. Officially entitled Agreement for Bring Peace to Afghanistan, this three part, fourpage document guarantees a timeline of 14 months for the “complete withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan; a Taliban pledge that Afghan soil will not be used against the security of the United States and its allies; the launch of intra-Afghan negotiations; and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.”51 As political scientist Barnett Rubin, who has advised both the U.S. State Department and the United Nations on Afghanistan said, “no rational, conventional, predictable U.S. politician would take the risks needed to negotiate seriously with the Taliban.”52 Moreover, according to International Crisis Group President Robert Malley, who was a senior foreign policy adviser to Obama, “it would have been far preferable if a deal had been reached years ago, when the Taliban were in a weaker position, but it would be far worse if a deal were not reached now, based on the illusory belief that, somehow, the Taliban will be in a weaker position tomorrow.”53 There are still worries within thinktanks and analysts that crisis could implode. Many observers anticipate that a “full-scale U.S. withdrawal and/or aid cut-off would lead to the collapse of the Afghan government and perhaps even the reestablishment of Taliban control, a scenario President Trump said possibly will happen.”54 The question remains whether domestic politics will get in the way of strategy again where a “legitimate, U.N.-mandated winnable mission for peace and democracy, unlike Iraq and Syria, is disregarded for further support.”55 Likewise, all Americans – “the news media included – need to be prepared to examine the national credulity or passivity


that’s led to the longest conflict in modern American history.”56 It seems Washington has set aside its long-standing insistence that any “substantive negotiations had to include the Afghan government’s participation and acceded to the Taliban’s demand that an understanding on withdrawal of foreign forces be reached in talks solely with the United States prior to commencement of peace talks among Afghans.”57 Although any peace agreement in and of itself is a limited vehicle for conflict resolution, an agreement and the process of compromise and consensus building that produces it can set a foundation for peace. Ultimately, the will of the parties to make an agreement stick and to resolve the inevitable disputes over implementation that will arise will determine whether the foundation holds or crumbles. Building on that foundation will require developing a “political system that keeps competition in the nonviolent realm.”58 Conclusion Many conditions have changed in Afghanistan over the last two decades, but the basic structural conundrum of the Afghan state has not: “Afghan political elites predominantly insist on a highly centralized system, but a winner-take-all political apparatus, combined with a deeply entrenched patronage- based political culture and with ethnic and tribal identity politics, has produced persistent internal conflict and left Afghanistan vulnerable to external influence.”59 While President Trump’s foreign policy has been unwise if not self-defeating in many areas, he is right, as was Barack Obama, to want to scale back a global conflict that appears to have no outer bound. President Trump’s own worldview and his conduct of diplomacy varied from the leaders before him. His overreliance on personal relationships and his unique understanding of diplomatic agreements are reflective of Groupthink mentality. The competing voices prevalent under the Obama administration were less prevalent under the Trump administration

that often-made suboptimal decisions as a result of their conscious or subconscious desire for consensus over dissent. Nevertheless, in the case of Afghanistan, the Trump administration was clear in its approach and stymied any opposition to their decision-making unit. Hitherto, the agreement still has many roadblocks in its way, including the speed of which U.S. withdrawal will take place and ensuring Taliban compliance to a cease-fire and intra-Afghan talks. The failure of American leaders – from the Pentagon to the State Department to Congress to the White House - to develop and pursue a strategy to end the war has become redundant. As the United States mulls withdrawal from Afghanistan, recent media coverage has been punctuated with defeatism. It is a stark contrast with the overwhelming optimism of the Afghan people for a future of peace with liberty and dignity, which is achievable with continued international support. Three presidents – Bush, Obama, and Trump – and their military commanders have been unable to deliver on promises to prevail in Afghanistan. U.S. officials acknowledged that their warfighting strategies were fatally flawed, and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation. The Trump administration’s signing of the Agreement to Bring Peace to Afghanistan is a win for diplomacy. However, it is only the foundation for lasting peace which requires leaders to put aside political considerations and support the Afghan people by concluding the longest conflict in modern American history. The collective trauma felt by the foreign policy community in the wake of the Bush administrations’ approach to Afghanistan and Obama’s own personal decision-making style and ideology led to a boomerang effect in which different advisors framed the war in a variety of discordant ways, suing accurate but incomplete information to bolster their perspectives. While the military viewed the Afghanistan War as an important, and very public, display of America’s military power, members

of the State Department viewed the war as a potential drag on diplomatic overtures to other predominantly Muslim countries that resented their involvement. Thus, decisions were constrained by the menu of choices presented which were a product of bureaucratic politics. In sum, the institutional lens through which the Afghanistan War was seen was a critical factor that divided the decision-making unit. This lens increased Polythink and inhibited consensus and cooperation on one overarching policy objective. Now it’s up to President Trump’s administration and the Taliban to ensure the agreement is respected. The success of this agreement and the need for continued international support rests on the back of every Afghan - envisioning an Afghanistan that binds peace and unity together after nearly two-decades plagued by violence, division, corruption and lies.


Endnotes 1 Craig Whitlock, “Stranded Without Strategy,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019. 2 Alex Mintz, & Carly Wayne, The Polythink Syndrome, (California: Stanford University Press, 2016), 3. 3 Mintz & Wayne, 3. 4 Mintz & Wayne, 4. 5 Mintz & Wayne, 38. 6 “9/11 Commission Report,” National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, August 21, 2004, 13. https:// www.9-11commission.gov/report/ 7 Mintz, Alex, & Wayne, Carly. The Polythink Syndrome, (California: Stanford University Press, 2016), 69. 8 Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies, (New York: Free Press, 2004), 905. 9 Clarke, 450. 10 Clarke, 464. 11 Clarke, 476. 12 George W Bush, Decision Points, (New York: Crown Publishers, 2010), 199.   13 Alex Mintz, & Carly Wayne, The Polythink Syndrome, (California: Stanford University Press, 2016), 37. 14 George W Bush, Decision Points, (New York: Crown Publishers, 2010), 193.   15 Clarke, 207. 16 Alex Mintz, & Carly Wayne, The Polythink Syndrome, (California: Stanford University Press, 2016), 70. 17 Mintz & Wayne, 70. 18 Vali Nasr, “The Inside Story of How the White House Let Diplomacy Fail in Afghanistan,” Foreign Policy, March 4, 2013. 19 Alex Mintz, & Carly Wayne, The Polythink Syndrome, (California: Stanford University Press, 2016), 70. 20 Mintz & Wayne, 70. 21 Mintz & Wayne, 71. 22 Vali Nasr, “The Inside Story of How the White House Let Diplomacy Fail in Afghanistan,” Foreign Policy, March 4, 2013 23 Peter Baker, “Woodward Book Says Afghanistan Divided White House,” The New York Times, September 21, 2010.  24 Craig Whitlock, “At War With the Truth,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019. 


25 Whitlock. 26 Whitlock. 27 Craig Whitlock, “Stranded Without Strategy,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019. 28 Alex Mintz, & Carly Wayne, The Polythink Syndrome, (California: Stanford University Press, 2016), 74. 29 Mintz & Wayne, 75. 30 Mintz & Wayne, 76. 31 Mintz & Wayne, 78. 32 Mintz & Wayne, 79. 33 Mintz & Wayne, 79 34 Mintz & Wayne, 79 35 Mintz & Wayne, 79 36 Mintz & Wayne, 80. 37 Mintz & Wayne, 80. 38 Mintz & Wayne, 82. 39 Mintz & Wayne, 82. 40 Mintz & Wayne, 83. 41 Mintz & Wayne, 86. 42 Mintz & Wayne, 87. 43 Vali Nasr, “The Inside Story of How the White House Let Diplomacy Fail in Afghanistan,” Foreign Policy, March 4, 2013. 44 IISS, “The Trump Administration’s Afghanistan Policy,” Strategic Comments 23, no. 33 (2017): 2. 45 IISS, 3. 46 IISS, 3. 47 IISS, 3. 48 IISS, 3. 49 IISS, 3. 50 IISS, 3. 51 Mehdi Hasan, “On Afghanistan, Three Words I Never Thought I’d Write: Bravo, Donald Trump,” The Intercept, March 2, 2020. 52 Mehdi. 53 Mehdi. 54 IISS, “The Trump Administration’s Afghanistan Policy,” Strategic Comments 23, no. 33 (2017): 1-4. 55 Ashraf M Haidari, “Stay the Course to Win the Peace in Afghanistan,” The Diplomat, February 12, 2019. 56 “End the War in Afghanistan,” The New York Times, February 3, 2019. https:// www.nytimes.com/2019/02/03/opinion/afghanistan-war.html.

57 Laurel E Miller, & Jonathan S Blake, Envisioning a Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Afghanistan, California: RAND Corporation, 2019, 3. Accessed March 14, 2021. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_ reports/RR2937.html 58 Miller & Blake, 24. 59 Miller & Blake, 24.


Affirmative Action and Bra

azil’s Racial Democracy When Myth Eclipses Reality This work focuses on the mitigated success in redressing racial discrimination and inequality in Brazil, ‘the most unequal country in the world.’ Identifying a disconnect between evidence of discrimination and popular discourse, this paper looks at Brazil’s colonial past before providing an in-depth examination of post-abolition concepts of mestizaje and racial democracy. Engineered and promoted by Brazilian elites anxious to limit Black uprisings, such notions discredited the possibility for racism to exist in the country by emphasizing biological and cultural mixing and by framing inequality as class based. After providing an overview of Brazilian racial inequality and Black resistance through time, I highlight the pervasive influence of elite discourse on lagging Black consciousness and mobilization. Elaborating on challenges to Afro-Brazilian mobilization, this work identifies the strength of the Brazilian state as well as its currently fragmented party system–where Black people are ‘captured’– as significant hindrances to effective political mobilization by the Black movement. Offering an overview of contemporary Brazilian politics, this work also notes the detrimental effects of the Jair Bolsonaro regime on social welfare programs and affirmative action policies in Brazil.

Written by Florence Harvey-Hudon Edited by Evdokia Konstantopoulos

Widely recognized as ‘the most unequal country in the world,’ much attention has been directed towards inequality reduction in Brazil since the 1990s. While most of the state’s efforts have materialized in the celebrated Bolsa Família conditional cash-transfer program and in a law which pegs the minimum wage to GDP growth, affirmative action policies, most prominently in public institutions of higher education, have also been implemented.1 Despite significant evidence that the Lula administration’s social welfare programs and affirmative action policies had succeeded in reducing inequalities since the 2000s, Jair Bolsonaro’s incumbency has been marked by revocation and contraction, as the new president claimed: “This cannot continue to exist, it is all victimization. Poor black, poor woman, poor gay, poor person from the Northeast. Everything is victimization in Brazil. We will end that.”2 Echoing the sentiments of “those with more education, more money and who are whiter,” Bolsonaro bolsters the complaints of opponents who argue that affirmative action is unnecessary, may disadvantage non-targeted groups and is “distinctly un-Brazilian.”3 As a whole, Bolsonaro’s comments uncover the widely accepted rhetoric of Brazilian racial democracy wherein all racial groups coexist as equals and in which pervasive racial discrimination in the job market and political sphere is framed as class-related.4 Accordingly, this work highlights the continued influence of the Brazilian myth of racial democracy as central in repudiating affirmative action policies and discouraging racial mobilization. Supplementing a survey of Brazilian race discourse with a review of mestizaje effects as well as an examination of the Brazilian state and party system, this work illuminates strong state capacity and a fragmented party system as considerable challenges to effective political mobilization by the Black movement. Altogether, this work identifies numerous factors behind mitigated success in redressing racial discrimination and inequality in contemporary Brazil.


Historical Context Firstly, Anthony Marx examines historical facts of Brazil’s colonial era in Making Race and Nation. Surveying previous literature on the subject, Marx promptly clarifies that despite the apparent disconnect between the country’s history of largescale slavery and a later absence of legal segregation, ‘rosy explanations’ need to be discarded.5 Tannenbaum and Freyre claim that Portuguese colonialism was characterized by “a more humanitarian form of slavery” influenced by Catholic doctrines of natural equality as well as colonial racial tolerance resulting from Portugal’s proximity and contact with Africa (as well as its domination by the Moors). Revising these claims, Marx highlights the extensiveness and brutal nature of Brazil’s colonial era.6 Discrediting claims that high levels of manumission and miscegenation during the period could demonstrate the colonizer’s mercy and “cultural predilection,” he emphasizes that Brazilian slaveholders imported new slaves cheaply and in large numbers because they were unable to keep them alive and that colonial settlements largely consisted of “outnumbered and disproportionately male Portuguese.”7 As for the role of the Church, Marx reminds that the Catholic Church owned slaves before underlining the harmful impact of the Church’s doctrines of natural equality, which “reinforced status distinctions by race, with Africans at the bottom of the formally inclusive hierarchy.”8 As such, despite allegations that the Portuguese pursued policies of incorporation more than imposition, Marx argues that the longevity of direct, centralized imperial efforts effectively enforced slavery, imposed a ‘color bar,’ and established discrimination against Black people.9 When abolition was finally instated, the Brazilian ruling class opted to “maintain their long-established social order of white privilege without enforcing racial domination,” as they feared dissent from the large Black population.10 Absence of legal segregation post-abolition, however, did not imply racial democracy according to Marx, who

rather posits the myth helped maintain the structure of white privilege and non-white subordination while avoiding “the constitution of race into a principle of collective identity and political action.”11 Supported by a belief in mulatto – referring to people of mixed Black African and white European ancestry – social mobility, the myth of racial democracy diluted potential conflict and disguised racial boundaries, allowing for racial inequality to be “explained as reflecting unavoidable but fluid class distinctions” by Brazilian elites.12 Altogether, the absence of a firmly established official race order “provided no explicit target of state policy against which racial identity could be consolidated,” thereby yielding limited identity formation among Black people, who, lacking self-consciousness as a unified group, could not “collectivity interpret and act upon their situation.”13 Race Consciousness Examining the initial conviction that “there [was] little or no racial discrimination but rather great fluidity among races,” Edward Telles suggests that the evidence of harmonious horizontal relations – as seen through intermarriage – led some thinkers to predict that “integration would lead to eventual assimilation,” whereas others believed the evident racial inequality and discrimination in vertical – hierarchical – relations discredited the plausibility of racial democracy.14 As Telles summarizes, sociability among the races as presented through the idea of mestizaje – “referring to both biological and cultural mixture” – did not signal racial harmony for thinkers such as Abdias do Nascimento, but rather acted as an “ideology for legitimizing racial discrimination.”15 As Telles notes, the concept of mestizaje was promoted by Brazilian elites and anthropologist Gilberto Freyre during the 20th century, as race science was progressively discredited.16 Widely contradicting evidence that social hierarchies based on race, color and language had been established – and had persisted – since the colonial era, mestizaje narratives present-

ed Brazilian “national subjects as meta-races that fused white, indigenous, and black blood or culture.”17 Departing from 19th and 20th century concern over non-white ‘liabilities’ and whitening strategies (through which they hoped to increase the share of whites in the country), elites engaged in a reframing – or denial, as Marx puts it – of Brazil’s racist history.18 Disguising a long belief in white biological supremacy dating back to colonization and slavery, elites declared that “mestizos or mixed-race persons would [thereupon] be considered the ideal or prototypical citizens” as ethno-racial distinctions would suddenly disappear from official and popular discourses.19 As outlined by Telles, concepts of mestizaje and racial democracy were endorsed in Brazil despite criticism by intellectuals “that they erased race and ethnicity from the consciousness of the general population (…) [and that] mestizaje implied a cultural or statistical genocide of black and indigenous peoples.”20 Adopted by many who would usually be identified as indigenous, Black or mulatto, the mestizo identity gained popularity, according to Telles, because it promised “more fluid and presumably superior social relations.” 21 Limited in its concrete effects, however, Telles found that “skin color cut through the cover of mestizaje and revealed an unambiguous pigmentocracy” in Brazil, whereby skin color predicted ethnoracial inequality and was linked to reported discrimination.22 Black Mobilization Despite considerable hindrances, numerous instances of Black mobilization mark Brazil’s history, notwithstanding mitigated results in collective identity formation. From large slave revolts to Nascimento’s quilombismo – “a concept that operates bonds of combative solidarity with the African peoples of the diaspora and the continent” – formal and informal resistance surfaced throughout the centuries.23 Post-abolition, many racial movements began in the “black, urban emergent middle class,” as the sub-


group’s access to education, resources and international influences is believed to have contributed to its awakening and organization.24 Founded in 1931, the Frente Negra Brasileira was the first major post-abolition Black movement in Brazil.25 Mostly reaching Black elites, the movement remained highly patriotic and embraced racial democracy, advocating for its fuller elaboration.26 Focusing on assertion of Black culture after the Vargas dictatorship, the group’s efforts to encourage negritude remained fruitless, as “Afro-Brazilian culture was constantly folded into a Brazilian culture celebrating tolerance consistent with the ideology of racial democracy”.27 Breaking with the Frente Negra’s emphasis on culture, subsequent 1970s Movimiento Negro Unificado (MNU) undertook a more militant approach, disillusioned that modest mobilization would amount to concrete results.28 Centered on Black self-esteem and solidarity, the MNU similarly gained limited traction in Brazil, as its focus on ideology failed to gain popularity in the favelas (shantytowns).29 Notable for its more concrete approach, a 1991 campaign by Black activists to encourage Afro-Brazilian self-identification as Black in the upcoming census emphasized the need to “consolidate a racially defined pressure group.”30 Promoting ethnic pride through the negro category, activists sought to diminish racial ambiguity, destigmatize blackness and resist ‘whitening’ in a country where official and unofficial hierarchies “have inhibited the formation of a collective Black identity around which African Brazilians may mobilize in response to shared discrimination and exclusion.”31 Gaining some momentum among younger cohorts, the negro category is slowly replacing the brown category in self-identification contexts, although street-level usage remains low.32 Such results, while promising, may remain fruitless if they are not instrumentalized by Black activists into state efforts to reduce racial inequality. Black Consciousness in Brazil As previously discussed, 20th-century racial thinking was characterized by wide-


spread adherence to state-promoted mestizaje ideology in Brazil. Concretely reflected in the increasingly growing share of Brazil’s population which self-identified as ‘mixed’ or ‘brown’ (officially the pardo category since the 1940 census) from the 1950 census to the 1991 census, notions of mestizaje are believed to have prompted more complex, ambiguous, and fluid racial classification in Brazil.33 Resulting in decreasing self-identification of the population as ‘Black,’ the internalization of mestizaje is visible through official systems of classification (as used in censuses) as well as in popular systems, which employ additional terms such as moreno and, to a lesser extent, negro.34 Classification along a continuum, moreover, makes categories more elusive, as notions of “who is black, mixed, or white in Brazil may change greatly within [the country] depending on the classifier, the situation, or the region.”35 Côr–a term more commonly used than race–thereby becomes relational; influenced more by informal discourses about physical characteristics–“including skin color, hair type, nose shape, and lip shape”–than by ancestry.36 Besides physical traits, markers such as education and class also seem to influence racial identification, as people who self-identify as white are more socially advantaged than self-identified non-whites and as a “tendency for race-color identity to shift toward white among wealthier and better-educated non-white individuals” can be identified, showing that money and education ‘whiten.’37 Still holding symbolic value, whiteness and blackness therefore remain commonly associated with status in Brazil, resulting in the practice of whitening the racial classification of children as well as the consideration of whiteness as “a valued property in the marriage market for both whites and non-whites, allowing the former to maintain high status for their children and permitting the latter higher status for themselves.”38 Camouflaged by the celebrated myths of “color-blind sexuality” and of “erotic democracy,” the symbolism associated with blackness and whiteness, however, does manifest itself in horizontal relations, or

those of equal standing, in Brazil.39 As duly pointed by Donna Goldstein in her ethnography Laughter out of Place, blackness and ‘African characteristics’– e.g., “kinky hair and flat noses”– remain associated with slavery or contemporary ‘servitude’, and are therefore considered ugly, whereas white characteristics belong to a higher category of beauty.40 Such claims, however, are often challenged by Brazilians who point out that “the primary icon of ‘hot’ sexuality in Brazil is the mulata.”41 Forgetting the origin of the mulata, who was “appropriated solely as a sexual object” and “exalted as an erotic Other” since colonial times, those who defend the positive image of the mulata ignore the power imbalance through which a “pornographic gaze of white males upon Black female bodies” was established.42 In popular discourse, such omittance also transpires in the Black Cinderella fantasy, a narrative in which a “poor, clever and seductive dark-skinned woman” carries out a golpe de baú (treasure chest coup) and gains upward social mobility by seducing a coroa (an older, rich and usually white man).43 Undeniably intertwining notions of gender, class and race, the cross-class and cross-color Black Cinderella story is vehemently defended as ‘logically not racist’ by those who fail to note that “Black female sexuality is valorized and considered erotic because it is suspended in a web of power relations that make it available in a particular way.”44 Altogether, the Black Cinderella fantasy demonstrates how the elite-promoted ‘color-blind erotic democracy’ is internalized by low-income women while simultaneously ‘proving’ that despite racialized notions of beauty, interracial sexuality ‘discards’ the possibility of racism.45 Nonetheless, evident patterns of erotic calculation within the fantasy are neither democratic, egalitarian nor idiosyncratic. Rather, notions of a color-blind erotic democracy help “mask and normalize everyday racism and internalized racism in Brazil.”46 Limits to Afro-Brazilian Identification Often compared to the United States and South Africa, Brazil stands out as a na-

tion with surprisingly low levels of racebased mobilization. As previously noted, the absence of an official racial order in Brazil “provided no explicit target of state policy against which racial identity could be consolidated.”47 Similarly, the uncodified nature of Brazil’s racism resulted in “the lack of a Brazilian race-based civil rights movement” and, as such, racism was not challenged directly in courts.48 Nonetheless, structures of racism are widely recognized by segments of the poor Afro-Brazilian urban population, even though such recognition does not automatically translate into enthusiastic support for the Black consciousness movement.49 If racial discrimination is perceived and often alluded to in ‘hidden transcript’– more muted, informal forms of protest such as humour, namely–why is it silenced and isolated from the political sphere?50 On the one hand, we may identify mestizaje and notions of racial democracy as highly diminishing the salience of race as a basis for mobilization in Brazil. Mestizaje, as Madrid highlights, blurs ethnic boundaries and reduces ethnic polarization throughout Latin America.51 The ambiguity of racial classifications resulting from mestizaje, as such, results in “multiple, fluid, and ambiguous ethnic identities” to which Brazilian natives only weakly identify.52 This is crucial, as multiplicity of identities may reduce the prominence of a single identity and “defuse social and political conflict.”53 Considering that identity formation is a prerequisite for mobilization, this deficiency of a self-conscious group which can collectively interpret its condition precludes possibilities for meaningful mobilization.54 Concretely, mestizaje also renders the Black category more porous, leading to a desire to ‘escape’ from it.55 Strikingly, popular notions of “the mulatto escape hatch” and myths of a Black Cinderella indicate a widespread understanding that there are–however slim–possibilities for upward social mobility for low-income Black people in Brazil.56 According to Goldstein and Telles, such opportunities often result in the avoidance of self-identification as Black, as the racial classification is often associat-



ed with negative characteristics–dirty work, ugliness, and servitude–and fewer chances of succeeding in life.57 Such negative connotations therefore encourage the prevalence of the mulatto category over an Afro-Brazilian identity, implying an ability to escape into a more positively valued category.58 This process significantly hinders the possibility of Black solidarity, as many “Afro-Brazilians are wary of taking pride in and declaring their blackness.”59 As such, leaders of the Black movement appear out of touch with the majority of the population, since “only highly politicized people can speak openly about their race without feeling the shame attached to blackness.”60 Internalized racial ideology, as such, translates into “harmony and avoidance of racial confrontation” in Brazil.61 On the other hand, racial identity is often understated to the benefit of class identity, which Brazilians often relate more strongly to.62 This is most noteworthy considering that notwithstanding the economic legacy of slavery, poverty and residential segregation are conceptualized as class problems rather than race problems, indicating that Brazilian elites have successfully reframed racial inequality as “reflecting unavoidable but fluid class distinctions.”63 Consistent with the claim that “racial differences [are] fluid and conditioned by class” evidence that some–though not many–Afro-Brazilians are able to succeed encourages accommodation.64 Realignment along class distinctions, as such, could also reflect an underemphasizing of race by Afro-Brazilians in order to retain hope.65

sometimes described as ‘top-down’) tangibly showcases that mobilization and pressure tactics from Brazil’s Black movement have proven successful.66 Making use of race and ethnic social science data available since the multicultural turn, the Black movement argued that race and ethnicity were associated with societal inequalities, thereby justifying a need for racially based affirmative action policies.67 Originally condemned as unconstitutional, racial quotas were officially permitted in a unanimous ruling by the Brazilian Supreme Court in April 2012. Allowing affirmative action policies to take a person’s race into account, the Court cited Article 3 of the constitution, which states, “the Federal Republic of Brazil fundamentally seeks to create a free, just, and undivided society; eradicate poverty and marginalization; reduce social and regional inequalities.”68 While “the idea of affirmative action or policies specifically designed for blacks and mulattos [sounded] quite odd and out of place in the Brazilian context,” discrimination and white privilege could no longer be ignored in the country, leading to the establishment of class-based and race-based quotas in federal institutes of higher education.69 Considering that pardos (Browns) and pretos (Blacks) have suffered severe disadvantages in the sphere of education in Brazil, access to the higher education system through affirmative action “allows entry into a place of former middle and upper-class privilege mainly occupied by whites.”70 In the long run, such policies can also be expected to reduce inequalities in the labor market, for which IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) data illustrates disproportionately lower revenues for pretos and pardos, disproportionate portions of pretos and pardos employed in the informal sector as well as disproportionate shares of executive and management positions occupied by brancos (whites).71

Affirmative Action and its Detractors Current Affirmative Action Policies Despite considerable challenges to mobilization, the implementation of affirmative action policies in Brazil (while

Limits An undeniable achievement for the Black movement, the Supreme Court decision to allow racial quotas has nonetheless

failed to materialize significantly in spheres outside of education. Crucially, the labor market remains largely impervious to affirmative action, with only a few enterprises voluntarily adopting measures.72 As for the political sphere, a recent gain in ensuring that Black candidates get a fair share of airtime and public funding remains largely isolated.73 Despite some openness to affirmative actions demonstrated by Brazilian institutions, policies problematically rely on self-identification data rather than systemic measures.74 Attempting to address this challenge, Federal Senator Benedita da Silva (from the Partido dos Trabalhadores, or PT) suggested in 1998 that color identification be included on identification cards, employment, educational, hospital and police registries, as the measure would allow the state to accurately assess the color composition of the country.75 According to da Silva, the policy would not only enable conclusive evaluations on the distributions of public goods and penalties to be undertaken, it could also bring more consciousness of the society’s plurality.76 Harshly criticized as “counterproductive, unnecessary, and dangerous”, da Silva’s initiative was never implemented, leaving problems of unpredictability in self-identification and inaccuracy in distribution evaluations largely unresolved.77 As a result, claims that a shift in racial discourse, especially if geared towards affirmative actions, may lead to a ‘blackening’ of the Brazilian population cannot be statistically tested, allowing for alarmist warnings by the very small, but powerful, opponents of such policies to gain traction.78 As a whole, affirmative action policies in Brazil remain largely insufficient in adequately addressing racial inequalities, and a majority of policies discussed in the mid-1990s–“social programs targeted at black neighborhoods, job training programs, preparatory courses for university entrance exams, and support for black-owned businesses”–have yet to be implemented.79 Whether substantial energies will be directed towards the reduction of racial inequalities, as Nobles declares, will be determined by politics, not social scientific thought.80

Support and Opposition In terms of support, we must note that despite evidence from 2010 Latin American Public Opinion Project surveys on university quotas that “nearly half of Brazilians strongly agree that reserving university spots for Black people and mulattos is fair, and more than two-thirds are at least somewhat favorable to this statement,” one in every six Brazilians strongly disagreed, indicating that they believed university quotas for Afro-Brazilians are very far from fair.81 Unsurprisingly, those who voiced disapprobation were generally from the more educated, richer and whiter segments of the Brazilian population, signaling that a small, yet powerful minority strongly opposes affirmative action in Brazil.82 Sharing this opinion, many Brazilian scholars have argued that “U.S.-style affirmative action will produce negative consequences for Brazilian society,” which should not dismiss racial democracy as a mere myth.83 Considering that said myth “provides an ideal of racial egalitarianism,” many hold that affirmative action policies politicize race in ways that are distinctly un-Brazilian.84 As a whole, detractors insist that racial quota policies unfairly disadvantage non-targeted groups, and that “class-based policies would be sufficient and effective in combating racial inequalities, since in Brazil most poor people are black and brown.”85 Partially supporting such claims, Brazilian economist Monica de Bolle posits much of Brazil’s success at reducing inequality in the 2000s was related to the conditional cash-transfer Bolsa Família program as well as an increase in the minimum wage.86 Nonetheless, a considerable reliance on external economic forces (namely, the commodity boom) rendered these reductions highly volatile, with data showing that inequalities have been rising since 2015.87 With current President Jair Bolsonaro in power, such trends are unlikely to reverse, as the incumbent has actively attacked welfare programs and affirmative action policies. Frequently proposing to abolish racial quotas, bills presented by the Social Liberal


Party (Bolsonaro’s party) also aim to abolish 2012 legislation which reserves half of places in federal universities to students from public high schools.88 Similarly attacking social, cultural and labor programs, Bolsonaro’s presidency has discarded the Partido dos Trabalhadores’ platform of radical change and insistence on lessening social injustice, rather promising to “clean up politics, shrink the state and crack down on crime.”89 Materialized in cuts to the Bolsa Família program, Bolsonaro’s shrinking policies undermine years of PT efforts and directly affect millions of Brazil’s poorest, who had begun to foresee a better future for themselves.90 Sadly, the Bolsonaro administration’s threats to affirmative action policies and social welfare reflect a déjà vu in a country believed to have historically been “indifferent to poor people mainly because they are mostly black or brown,” whilst the arguments voiced by affirmative action critics match the aforementioned pervasiveness of racial democracy notions and the salience of class identities in Brazil.91 A Centralized State Far from indicating absence of resistance, the continued domination of Afro-Brazilians by the Brazilian elite signals unity and effectiveness. As Marx highlights, Brazil’s unique experience of royal presence – with Dom João IV’s exile in the country in 1808 and command by Portuguese heirs until 1889 – helped preserve a remarkable degree of Brazilian unity and stability, as “Brazilian nationalism shifted from anti-Portuguese to embracing a localized monarchy.”92 Besides symbolic influence, Portuguese-descendent emperors also ensured the persistence of an established order, and the transition to a republic was marked by “a prefabricated central state” already in place.93 Intra-white unity, furthermore, benefited from the Portuguese colonial tradition of “a strong crown and weak private sector,” providing a strong base with which elites could install a corporatist order.94 Benefiting from strong state capacity, elites used educational and cultural campaigns to promote “racial democra-


cy spectacles of samba, futebol and carnival” which would showcase Brazil’s unique history and unity.95 With remarkably low state investment in education, Afro-Brazilians were ill-equipped to question state-promoted ideology and achieve upward social mobility, further displaying strategies of opportunity hoarding.96 Also instrumentalized in the implementation of the rule of law, strong Brazilian state capacity, paired with “cracking down on crime” rhetoric, has resulted in extreme violence– during the 1964-1985 dictatorship and beyond–in a country now described as a violent democracy.97 Perceived as a form of governance, state violence has been disproportionately directed towards Afro-Brazilians, who represent 76.2 percent of police victims according to the 2018 Brazilian Yearbook of Public Security.98 Such ‘necropolitics’ directed at this population segment are unlikely to be resolved under Bolsonarism, as the President openly defends “ultra-hardline views on fighting crime” and 90.4% of the population reports being very concerned by crime.99 Since “fear of violence and sensation of insecurity leads to public support for draconian public policies,” racial inequality in Brazil will most likely continue to be reflected in lethal violence and public security policies marked by police impunity.100 Such violent climate, understandably, also discourages mobilization by Afro-Brazilians, as defying the authorities or exhibiting dissent may prove deadly. Brazil’s Party System From a political standpoint, an astonishing deficiency of explicit racial politics in Brazil proves both striking and detrimental to the Black movement’s efforts. Indeed, Brazilian politics have been marked, for decades, by an avoidance of race by the majority of elected candidates –with the notable exception of aforementioned Benedita da Silva.101 Partially due to a reduction of ethnic polarization resulting from mestizaje, avoidance of race in Brazilian politics is also encouraged by the country’s strong presidential tradition

and weak party system.102 In a system where tremendous resources are at the disposition of the President while parties are divided, highly decentralized and fragile, the Brazilian population typically votes for individuals, not parties.103 Encouraged by the open list system, this phenomenon undermines the potential formation of a Black movement party with significant clout.104 Since ethnic parties tend to succeed in party systems with competitive rules for intra party advancement, the highly fragmented Brazilian system–where thirty distinct parties are currently represented in Congress–impedes the chance that a Black movement party could “stake out unclaimed policy territory, exploit untapped social cleavages, or embrace important demands of the electorate that [other] parties have failed to address.”105 As a result, racial politics are absorbed by class-based politics, since a large segment of Afro-Brazilians belongs to poorer segments of the population. Obstructed by the Workers’ Party (PT) claims that “there is no color to socialism,” racial politics are suffocated in Brazil’s party system, despite overwhelming support by Afro-Brazilians for the PT in recent years.106 Considering the current weakness of Afro-Brazilian group unity, avoidance of race in Brazilian politics seems unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Political Capture As a whole, evidence from Brazil shows parallels to Paul Frymer’s description of political capture in the United States, whereby a political party captures specific minority interests while facing little to no efforts by the primary opposition party, which does not attempt to attract the minority’s votes.107 Despite evidence from 2010 that there are no significant differences in support for affirmative action between leftists and rightists in Brazil, conflicting evidence from 2011 showed a higher percentage of social assistance recipients which stated they would cast a hypothetical vote for the incumbent (Lula, with the PT) than non-recipients.108 Since Lula’s terms, analysts have claimed policies such as the Bolsa Família allowed

the PT to broaden its electoral clientele to low-income and poorly educated Brazilians.109 Since the disadvantaged in Brazil, including Afro-Brazilians, are believed to vote for “those who they believe will improve their chances of being productive members of the society, raising their children, and leading a better life,” Afro-Brazilians are, arguably, captured by the PT, as the Social Liberal Party (the PT’s adversary in the 2018 presidential election) rather economically leans to the right.110 As such, despite assertions that the Brazilian electorate does not identify with any party but rather votes for individuals–due to the open list system–evidence from the 2018 presidential elections shows clear trends in Black (and poor) support for PT candidate Haddad, while rich white Brazilians showed overwhelming support for Bolsonaro.111 Considering unwavering support from lulistas (Lula supporters) despite the former president’s convictions, we may hypothesize Haddad’s strong support by poor Black people–despite a platform which did not focus on racial issues – to signal a growing loyalty to the PT within a traditionally volatile party system.112 Such a trend, if continued, would signal the capture of Black people by the PT, and could explain the very limited gains in affirmative action policies in the past years, as the interests of the captured group are neglected by its own party.113 Conclusion As a whole, this work has provided a thorough examination of previous literature on Brazilian inequality before highlighting the pervasive influence of mestizaje and racial thinking–with a focus on racial democracy–on Brazilian attitudes towards race. Elaborating on challenges to Afro-Brazilian mobilization, this work identifies the strength of the Brazilian state as well as its currently fragmented party system–where Black people are ‘captured’–as significant hindrances to concrete gains in activist efforts to reduce racial inequality in Brazil. Offering an overview of contemporary Brazilian politics, this work notes the detrimen-


tal effects of the Jair Bolsonaro regime on both social welfare programs and affirmative action policies in Brazil. Bringing forth the legacies of racial thinking, this work identifies the elite-engineered myth of racial democracy as a significant factor limiting inequality reduction, despite popular outcries for improvements since the 1990s.


Endnotes 1 Joshua Kaplan, “Event Summary: Assessing the First Six Months of the Bolsonaro Administration in Brazil,” Wilson Center, July 2019, 5, www.wilsoncenter. org/publication/event-summary-assessing-the-first-six-months-the-bolsonaro-administration-brazil ; Edward Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America (The University of North Carolina Press, 2014), 23, muse.jhu.edu/book/44106. 2 Kaplan, “Event Summary: Assessing the First Six Months of the Bolsonaro Administration in Brazil,” 5; Rosana Heringer, “The Future of Affirmative Action Policies in Brazil,” Society for Cultural Anthropology, 28 Jan. 2020, culanth.org/fieldsights/the-future-of-affirmative-action-policies-in-brazil. 3 Amy Erica Smith, “Who Supports Affirmative Action in Brazil?” Brazil LAPOP, Vanderbilt University, 2010, 1;4, www.vanderbilt.edu/lapop/brazil.php. 4 “Desigualdades Sociais Por Cor Ou Raça No Brasil,” IBGE, 2019, 1, biblioteca. ibge.gov.br/index.php/biblioteca-catalogo?view=detalhes&id=2101681. 5 Anthony W. Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007), 7. 6 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 8; 29. 7 Marx, 9; 51; 65. 8 Marx, 8; 34. 9 Marx, 9; 29. 10 Marx, 15. 11 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 15-16. 12 Marx, 9; 15; 69. 13 Marx, 19-20. 14 Edward E. Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil (Princeton University Press, 2014) muse.jhu. edu/book/57401, 6; 10; 8. 15 Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America 18-19; Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 8.

16 Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America, 1;18. 17 Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America, 2;19. 18 Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America, 17; Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 8. 19 Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America, 19; 21. 20 Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America, 21. 21 Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America, 19; 21. 22 Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America, 13. 23 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007), 15.; Guilherme Moura Fagundes, “Reclaiming Quilombismo in the End of the Conciliations,” Society for Cultural Anthropology, 28 Jan. 2020, culanth.org/fieldsights/reclaiming-quilombismo-in-the-end-of-the-conciliations. 24 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 255. 25 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 21. 26 Marx, 255-256. 27 Marx, 257. 28 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 21; 257. 29 Marx, 258. 30 Marx, 260. 31 Marx, 260; Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 85. 32 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil 87; 100. 33 Melissa Nobles, Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics, (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 2000), 104-105; Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 80. 34 Nobles, Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics, 104-105;


Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil , 81. 35 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 79. 36 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 79 ; Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America 1;16. 37 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 95; 98; Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America 223. 38 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 94 ; Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America, 16. 39 Donna M. Goldstein, Laughter out of Place: Race, Class, Violence and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown: with a New Preface (Los Angeles: University of California, 2013), 108; 121. 40 Goldstein, Laughter out of Place: Race, Class, Violence and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown: with a New Preface, 121. 41 Goldstein, 115. 42 Goldstein, 113-114. 43 Goldstein, 109. 44 Goldstein, Laughter out of Place: Race, Class, Violence and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown: with a New Preface, 109; 125. 45 Goldstein, 126. 46 Goldstein, 135. 47 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 20. 48 Goldstein, Laughter out of Place: Race, Class, Violence and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown: with a New Preface, 105. 49 Goldstein, 130. 50 Goldstein, 131. 51 Raúl L. Madrid, “Ethnicity and Ethnopopulism in Latin America,” The Rise of Ethnic Politics in Latin America (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2012), 20. 52 Madrid, “Ethnicity and Ethnopopulism in Latin America,” 22; Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 105. 53 Madrid, “Ethnicity and Ethnopopulism in Latin America,” 17.


54 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 19. 55 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 79. 56 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 9; Goldstein, Laughter out of Place: Race, Class, Violence and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown: with a New Preface, 106. 57 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 9;89; Goldstein, Laughter out of Place: Race, Class, Violence and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown: with a New Preface, 107-108; 121. 58 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 75; Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 105. 59 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 9; Goldstein 106-107 60 Goldstein, Laughter out of Place: Race, Class, Violence and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown: with a New Preface, 107-108. 61 Goldstein, 132. 62 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 105 63 Goldstein, Laughter out of Place: Race, Class, Violence and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown: with a New Preface, 105 ;Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 3; Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 15. 64 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 7; Marx, 15. 65 Marx, 254. 66 Marcelo Paixão and Edward Telles, “Affirmative Action in Brazil,” LASA Forum Debates, LASA Forum, 2013, forum.lasaweb. org/files/vol44-issue2/Debates4.pdf, 10. 67 Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America 24; 223. 68 Paixão and Telles, “Affirmative Action in Brazil,” 11; Márcia Lima, “Affirmative Action in Brazil,” ReVista, revista.drclas.harvard.edu/book/affirmative-action-brazil. 69 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 16; Pigmen-

tocracies 23 70 “Desigualdades Sociais Por Cor Ou Raça No Brasil,” IBGE, 2019, biblioteca. ibge.gov.br/index.php/biblioteca-catalogo?view=detalhes&id=2101681, 71 “Desigualdades Sociais Por Cor Ou Raça No Brasil,” 1;3. 72 Paixão and Telles, “Affirmative Action in Brazil,” 10. 73 Fabio Teixeira, “Brazil Fights Racism with New Campaign Rules for Black Politicians,” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 26 Aug. 2020, www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-race-elections-idUSKBN25M2QN. 74 Nobles, Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics, 174. 75 Nobles, 174. 76 Nobles, 174. 77 Nobles, 174. 78 Nobles,176. 79 Paixão and Telles, “Affirmative Action in Brazil,” 12.; Mala Htun, “From ‘Racial Democracy’ to Affirmative Action: Changing State Policy on Race in Brazil,” Latin American Research Review 39, no. 1, 2004, www.jstor.org/stable/1555383. Accessed 8 Nov. 2020, 72. 80 Nobles, Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics, 128. 81 Smith, “Who Supports Affirmative Action in Brazil?” 2. 82 Smith, 4; 6. 83 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 16-17. 84 Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 16; Smith, “Who Supports Affirmative Action in Brazil?” 1. 85 Smith, “Who Supports Affirmative Action in Brazil?” 1; Lima, “Affirmative Action in Brazil.” 86 Kaplan, “Event Summary: Assessing the First Six Months of the Bolsonaro Administration in Brazil,” 5. 87 Kaplan, 4-5. 88. Heringer, “The Future of Affirmative Action Policies in Brazil.” 89 Simone Bohn, “Social Policy and Vote In Brazil: Bolsa Família and the Shifts

in Lula’s Electoral Base,” AmericasBarometer Insights, Vanderbilt University, 2011, www. vanderbilt.edu/lapop/news/030211BrazilBohn.pdf, 54; Eduardo Simões, “Brazil Election,” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 28 Oct. 2018, graphics.reuters.com/BRAZIL-ELECTION/010080JS13F/index.html. 90 “Brazil ‘Bolsa Familia’ Cut, Millions Struggle to Survive,” Al Jezeera, 8 Feb. 2020.; Julie A. Cavignac, “Threatened Rights and Resistance: For a Politically Engaged Anthropology,” Society for Cultural Anthropology, 28 Jan. 2020, culanth.org/fieldsights/ threatened-rights-and-resistance-for-a-politically-engaged-anthropology. 91 Lima, “Affirmative Action in Brazil.” 92 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 15; 32. 93 Marx, 15. 94 Marx, 17; 33. 95 Telles, Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America 20; Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, 20. 96 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 34. 97 Simões, “Brazil Election.”; Susana Durão, “Bolsonaro’s Brazil and the Police Fetish,” Society for Cultural Anthropology, 28 Jan. 2020, culanth.org/fieldsights/bolsonaros-brazil-and-the-police-fetish. 98 Durão, “Bolsonaro’s Brazil and the Police Fetish.” 99 Fagundes, “Reclaiming Quilombismo in the End of the Conciliations,”; Simões, “Brazil Election.” ; Daniel Brinks, “A Tale of Two Cities,” Routledge Handbook of Latin American Politics, Taylor & Francis, 2011, 70. 100 Brinks, “A Tale of Two Cities,” 61; Durão, “Bolsonaro’s Brazil and the Police Fetish.” 101 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 259. 102 Madrid, “Ethnicity and Ethnopopulism in Latin America,” 19; Carlos Ranulfo Melo and Felipe Nunes, “Politi-


cal Parties: the Case of Brazil,” Aug. 2015, doi:10.1057/9781137482464_4, 2. 103 Melo and Nunes, “Political Parties: the Case of Brazil,” 6; 19. 104 Melo and Nunes, 19. 105 Gustavo Ribeiro, “Why Is Brazil’s Congress so Fragmented?” The Brazilian Report, 13 Nov. 2018, brazilian.report/power/2018/11/13/brazilian-congress-fragmented/ 106 Marx, Making Race and Nation: a Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil, 259; Simões, “Brazil Election.” 107 Paul Frymer, Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America (Princeton University Press, 2010) muse.jhu.edu/ book/61038, 8. 108 Smith, “Who Supports Affirmative Action in Brazil?”6 ; Amy Erica Smith and Matthew Layton, “Social Assistance Policies and the Presidential Vote in Latin America,” LAPOP, Vanderbilt University, 2011, www. vanderbilt.edu/lapop/insights/IO866en.pdf, 7. 109 Bohn, “Social Policy and Vote In Brazil: Bolsa Família and the Shifts in Lula’s Electoral Base,” 54. 110 Bohn, 75; Simões, “Brazil Election.” 111 Melo and Nunes, “Political Parties: the Case of Brazil,” 19; “2018 Brazilian Presidential Election Results,” Brazil Institute, Wilson Center, 1 Nov. 2018, www.wilsoncenter.org/article/2018-brazilian-presidential-election-results. 112 Simões, “Brazil Election.”; Melo and Nunes, “Political Parties: the Case of Brazil,” 5. 113 Frymer, Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America, 8. W



Perpétuer la division, affaib

La gest

Le Liban et l’Irak ont été marqués par des crises intercommunautaires, politiques et économiques qui ont coûté des vies et menacé l’État. Cet article montre qu’une mauvaise gestion de la diversité est largement responsable de ces problèmes. L’article évalue deux composantes de la gestion de la diversité : le consociativisme confessionnel et le fédéralisme. L’évaluation procède par deux critères, soit l’effet de ces systèmes sur les tensions intercommunautaires et sur le fonctionnement efficace de l’État. Cet article établit que le fédéralisme irakien a un effet négatif sur les relations arabo-kurdes en raison d’une carence d’interdépendance. Il montre également que le confessionnalisme facilite l’instrumentalisation politique des tensions religieuses et maintient artificiellement la primauté des divisions confessionnelles. De plus, il engendre d’importantes paralysies politiques et encourage un clientélisme intracommunautaire qui effrite la santé financière de l’État. Enfin, en illuminant les fondations structurelles des crises connues par le Liban et l’Irak, cet article souligne que des réformes superflues ne parviendront pas à sauver les économies libanaise et irakienne et à alléger les tensions communautaires. Plutôt, de difficiles transformations du système seront ultimement essentielles.

Écrit par Maria Laura Chobadindegui Révisé par Nour Mohsen

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tion de la diversité au Liban et en Irak

Le Liban comme l’Irak comptent une importante diversité religieuse politisée. Les deux pays tentent d’accommoder les différences religieuses par le consociativisme, un système politique « appliqué dans les sociétés profondément divisées visant à promouvoir la stabilité politique »1, entre autres par un partage du pouvoir exécutif entre les communautés. De plus, l’Irak compte une diversité ethnique politisée ; l’État tente de concilier cette diversité par un système fédéral qui partage les pouvoirs constitutionnels entre le palier fédéral et les régions fédérées. Puisque de grandes divisions peuvent faire naître un conflit, une bonne gestion de la diversité est essentielle. J’évaluerai la gestion de la diversité au Liban et en Irak à travers le consociativisme et le fédéralisme, et montrerai que celle-ci est un échec. Deux critères guideront mon évaluation. Pour être considérés efficaces en tant que mécanismes de gestion de la diversité, le consociativisme et le fédéralisme devraient (1) atténuer plutôt que stimuler les tensions intercommunautaires et (2) atteindre ce but sans faire obstacle au fonctionnement efficace de l’État. Certes, l’échec irakien quant à la diversité est plus apparent : depuis 2005, des tensions intercommunautaires éclatent. Le pays a connu des guerres civiles, la montée de Daech et une tentative de sécession du Kurdistan en 2017.2 Pour sa part, le Liban n’a pas connu de conflit intercommunautaire depuis 1989, lorsqu’une reconfiguration de la distribution de pouvoir entre les groupes religieux a mis fin à une guerre civile de 15 ans.3 Néanmoins, je montrerai qu’en Irak comme au Liban, les systèmes de gestion de la diversité en place exacerbent les tensions et nuisent à l’État. En premier lieu, je détaillerai le consociativisme et le fédéralisme au Liban et en Irak. En deuxième lieu, j’évaluerai ces deux systèmes en fonction de mon premier critère : l’effet sur les tensions intercommunautaires. Je traiterai d’abord de la dimension ethnique en Irak, et montrerai pourquoi le fédéralisme irakien actuel ne parvient pas


à intégrer la population kurde. J’aborderai ensuite la dimension religieuse : j’expliciterai comment le consociativisme libanais limite la violence en affirmant une identité fondamentalement pluraliste de l’État et en représentant équitablement les communautés dominantes. J’expliquerai ensuite que l’Irak est privé de cet aspect positif du système à cause de facteurs historiques et du rapport démographique. Enfin, j’affirmerai que le consociativisme exacerbe les divisions interconfessionnelles dans les deux pays. En troisième lieu, j’évaluerai le consociativisme en fonction de mon second critère : l’effet sur le bon fonctionnement de l’État. Je montrerai alors que le consociativisme mène à une paralysie politique. Par la suite, j’aborderai le muhasasa, une forme de clientélisme politique intracommunautaire qui découle du système consociatif et qui ruine la santé financière des États libanais et irakien. Enfin, je conclurai que, malgré leurs importants défauts, ces systèmes ne risquent malheureusement pas d’être prochainement transformés. La gestion de la diversité : le consociativisme et le fédéralisme Le Liban compte une impressionnante diversité religieuse politisée. Officiellement, dix-huit groupes religieux sont reconnus. Parmi ceux-ci, trois sont numériquement supérieurs : les chrétiens maronites, qui représentent 22% de la population, et les musulmans sunnites et chiites, qui représentent chacun 28% de la population.4 Lorsque confrontée à une population divisée, aux identités politisées, une démocratie a « deux choix — l’intégration ou l’accommodation. »5 Le Liban a choisi d’accommoder la diversité par un système consociatif confessionnel, dans le cadre d’une démocratie parlementaire.6 Ce système institutionnalise la pluralité religieuse depuis l’indépendance du Liban en 1943, lorsqu’il a été stipulé que le président de la République doit toujours être maronite, le premier ministre, sunnite, et le président du Conseil des représentants, chiite.7 Il a

aussi été décidé que les sièges parlementaires soient attribués par communauté religieuse ; depuis 1989, ils sont divisés de façon égale entre musulmans et chrétiens, et proportionnellement au sein de chacun de ces groupes.8 L’Irak accommode également sa diversité religieuse par un système consociatif au sein d’une démocratie parlementaire.9 Certes, 99% des Irakiens sont musulmans10 mais les divisions sunnites-chiites sont politisées. 60% des Irakiens sont chiites, alors que les Arabes sunnites représentent 20% de la population.11 En Irak, le président est Kurde, le premier ministre est chiite, et le président du Parlement, sunnite. Contrairement au Liban, la présidence irakienne est largement honorifique. De plus, la configuration n’est qu’informelle et volontaire,12 alors qu’au Liban, la constitution accorde un certain poids juridique au partage religieux du pouvoir. Alors que les divisions au Liban ne sont politisées que sur le plan religieux, l’Irak doit également composer avec des divisions ethniques. L’Irak est à majorité arabe. Cependant, le pays compte plusieurs minorités, la principale étant les Kurdes, qui représentent 20% de la population.13 L’identité kurde est depuis longtemps politisée, et les Kurdes ont mené de nombreuses luttes pour accroître leur autonomie et atteindre l’indépendance. Ainsi, « une incessante lutte armée pour l’autonomie kurde » a marqué la politique irakienne dès 1961 et jusqu’à l’invasion américaine.14 Dans le cadre de la guerre du Golfe, les États-Unis ont déclaré en 1991 une zone d’exclusion aérienne au nord de l’Irak : cette zone a accordé aux Kurdes un espace autonome au sein duquel se sont développées des institutions de type étatique.15 Face à l’autonomie et aux tendances sécessionnistes kurdes, Bagdad tente d’accommoder la diversité ethnique par le biais d’un système fédéral, au sein duquel le Kurdistan constitue une région autonome fédérée.16 Maintenant que j’ai explicité la gestion de la diversité au Liban et en Irak par le consociativisme et le fédéralisme, je me

penche sur l’efficacité et la viabilité de ces systèmes. Dans la prochaine section, je les évalue en fonction de leurs effets sur les relations intercommunautaires. J’analyse d’abord l’impact du fédéralisme irakien sur les relations arabo-kurdes, puis les conséquences du confessionnalisme sur les tensions interconfessionnelles au Liban et en Irak. Les tensions intercommunautaires Les tensions interethniques en Irak Le bilan de l’Irak en matière de diversité ethnique est mitigé. D’une part, le fédéralisme est l’élément crucial permettant l’allégeance des Kurdes à l’État irakien. Au moment de bâtir les fondations constitutionnelles de l’Irak post-Hussein, les Kurdes avaient déjà connu l’autonomie et une longue histoire de luttes : tout arrangement unitaire serait impossible. D’autre part, le fédéralisme irakien souffre d’une carence d’interdépendance entre les paliers fédéraux et régionaux qui motive l’indépendantisme kurde et qui, à long terme, voue l’Irak à l’échec. Ainsi, le fédéralisme est d’abord parvenu à atténuer les visées séparatistes kurdes et à promouvoir la participation des kurdes au sein de l’État fédéral.17 Pendant quelques années, les politiciens kurdes ont clairement affirmé leur soutien envers un État irakien uni, et se sont abstenus de « mettre de l’avant des politiques promouvant la sécession. »18 Cette situation s’est transformée pendant le second mandat du premier ministre Nouri al-Maliki (2010-2014).19 Maliki a centralisé le pouvoir, exclu certains Kurdes du gouvernement fédéral et bafoué l’autonomie du Gouvernement régional du Kurdistan (GRK).20 Ses actions ont augmenté la méfiance des Kurdes envers l’Irak et leur sentiment d’aliénation : en 2015-2016, seulement 6% des Kurdes indiquaient que leur groupe était « traité de façon juste par la société et le gouvernement. »21 Paradoxalement, Bagdad a alors empiété sur l’autonomie du GRK pour freiner des contrats indépendants de sa part


quant à ses ressources pétrolières, puisqu’ils « pourraient encourager l’indépendance du GRK. »22 Ce sont pourtant ces interventions qui ont réorienté les Kurdes vers la sécession.23 La rupture avec l’État central irakien s’est ainsi cristallisée en septembre 2017, lorsque le GRK a tenu un référendum sur l’indépendance, motivé par ses victoires face à Daech, par son contrôle de la ville de Kirkouk et par l’attente erronée d’être soutenu par les pays occidentaux.24 92% des voix étaient en faveur de l’indépendance.25 Le traitement que le gouvernement fédéral réserve au GRK depuis cette tentative de sécession risque d’encore aggraver l’aliénation kurde. Effectivement, le gouvernement irakien a rapidement déployé ses troupes dans les territoires contestés occupés par les forces armées du GRK.26 L’État fédéral a ainsi récupéré la région de Kirkouk et ses ressources pétrolières, longtemps sujet de discorde entre le fédéral et le GRK.27 De plus, Bagdad a fermé le trafic aérien international au Kurdistan.28 Pour mettre fin au blocus, Bagdad réclamait que le contrôle des aéroports internationaux du Kurdistan lui revienne, tout comme le contrôle des douanes et des tarifs douaniers. Le Kurdistan a acquiescé aux demandes en 2018, perdant ces acquis.29 Évidemment, Bagdad profite de l’échec sécessionniste pour limiter l’autonomie kurde. Cette approche attise pourtant ce même rejet de l’État irakien qui a été stimulé par les actions de Maliki et qui a mené au référendum ; pour atténuer les ambitions indépendantistes, Bagdad devrait plutôt affirmer l’autonomie kurde, mais également instaurer des mesures incitatives pour la participation des Kurdes à l’État fédéral. En effet, respecter l’autonomie kurde est une condition sine qua non à la survie de l’État irakien, mais tout simplement réaffirmer cette autonomie risque de reconduire à une crise de sécession. En somme, même si le système fédéral et l’autonomie des Kurdes étaient respectés, le fédéralisme irakien tel qu’il a été établi par la constitution menacerait probablement à


nouveau l’intégrité territoriale du pays ou rehausserait les tensions. Le « paradoxe du fédéralisme » s’applique au cas irakien. Certains auteurs affirment en effet que le fédéralisme apaise les tensions ; d’autres indiquent qu’il facilite la sécession.30 Ces deux résultats contradictoires découlent des mécanismes mêmes du fédéralisme : en accordant une autonomie régionale, le fédéralisme diminue les tensions et le désir d’indépendance, mais en perfectionnant des paliers régionaux de pouvoir, le fédéralisme accorde aux régions les outils nécessaires à l’obtention d’un pays.31 Le fédéralisme est donc caractérisé par une tension entre unité et éclatement. Les régions fédérées irakiennes jouissent d’une exceptionnelle autonomie : la constitution définit un « gouvernement fédéral exceptionnellement limité. »32 Le Gouvernement régional du Kurdistan (GRK) se comporte comme s’il était un État indépendant, et possède entre autres une structure gouvernementale, un drapeau, un hymne national et ses propres forces armées.33 Ainsi, le cadre constitutionnel fédéral irakien aggrave les effets sécessionnistes du paradoxe du fédéralisme, puisqu’il néglige l’importance de l’interdépendance pour le bon fonctionnement du système. Effectivement, malgré la centralisation opérée par Maliki, l’Irak « se distingue [...] par un déséquilibre entre une autonomie vaste et une interdépendance plutôt inexistante. »34 Pourtant, la pérennité d’un système fédéral dépend de sa capacité à combiner autonomie et interdépendance. Alors que la ferveur indépendantiste a historiquement existé chez les Kurdes, le palier fédéral est trop faible pour être attrayant à long terme. Le référendum de 2017 a échoué, mais principalement en raison du manque d’appui international et de manigances politiques entre les partis kurdes. Dans des conditions plus favorables, un référendum pourra être tenté à nouveau, et il risque soit de désintégrer les frontières irakiennes, soit d’alimenter un violent conflit. Pour diminuer

les chances d’une future sécession, l’État fédéral doit atteindre un équilibre délicat : en premier lieu, il doit respecter l’autonomie des Kurdes et ainsi alléger les tensions présentement vives. Puis, une fois ces tensions apaisées, il doit modifier son arrangement constitutionnel pour augmenter l’intérêt kurde à demeurer dans la fédération. Ainsi, par un système fédéral, l’Irak réussit partiellement à soulager les tensions entre les Kurdes et Bagdad. Cependant, la gestion de la diversité ethnique demeure dans l’ensemble un échec : d’abord, le système fédéral comporte un important défaut, une carence d’interdépendance, qui compromet la viabilité de l’État. Puis, l’exclusion engendrée par le gouvernement Maliki et après le référendum ravive chez les Kurdes un ressentiment envers le gouvernement central. Les tensions interconfessionnelles au Liban et en Irak Je me tourne maintenant vers l’impact du consociativisme confessionnel sur les tensions entre communautés religieuses au Liban et en Irak. Au Liban, la division sectaire de la population est une institution historique.35 D’une part, le double caïmacan ottoman et le moutassarifat du Mont-Liban, entités politiques ancêtres du Liban moderne, ont connu des configurations politiques en fonction de l’appartenance religieuse.36 D’autre part, le Liban a historiquement été un « refuge de communautés confessionnelles chassées d’ailleurs. » 37Ainsi, le consociativisme confessionnel accorde « à l’histoire du Liban une continuité mythique. »38 L’expérience de la cohabitation intercommunautaire est donc au cœur de l’identité nationale libanaise ; pour cette raison, « le consociativisme a permis [...] une certaine identité libanaise unifiée. »39 En raison de cette continuité historique mythique et de la répartition plutôt équitable des postes politiques depuis 1989, le confessionnalisme établit l’État libanais comme étant profondément pluraliste. L’État est fondamentale-

ment perçu comme n’appartenant à aucune communauté en particulier, mais comme étant lieu de négociation entre les groupes. Les communautés ne se sentent donc pas aliénées. Même pendant la guerre civile de 1975-1990, « sauf de rares exceptions, les communautés libanaises [...] n’ont jamais formulé de désirs séparatistes.»40 Ceci montre le sentiment d’appartenance des communautés à l’entité politique libanaise. Plutôt que de rejeter le Liban, des communautés s’opposaient au partage inéquitable de pouvoir qui permettait aux maronites de dominer, et luttaient donc « pour plus de pouvoir au sein de l’état existant. »41 Tant que la division de pouvoir actuelle est considérée légitime, le risque de violence existe, mais est plutôt mince : l’identité pluraliste de l’État et la représentation politique garantie par le système favorisent la paix.42 Cependant, cette légitimité dépend du fragile équilibre démographique existant entre les communautés. Effectivement, les 18 groupes religieux reconnus sont en situation minoritaire. Pour l’instant, la politisation des différences chiites-sunnites maintient un clivage intracommunautaire qui efface tout rapport de majorité-minorité entre chrétiens et musulmans.43 Si un groupe devenait majoritaire, soit par changement démographique ou par une ré-imagination de l’identité, il rejetterait probablement le partage du pouvoir établi, et les risques de conflit seraient plus élevés. Ce système est donc peu viable à long terme : il est fondé sur un équilibre qui ne peut être éternellement maintenu. De plus, ces effets positifs du consociativisme sont éclipsés par ses importantes conséquences négatives, qui sont détaillées plus bas. Pourquoi le confessionnalisme irakien ne parvient-il pas à pareillement promouvoir un équilibre fragile entre les communautés et, ainsi, à éviter le conflit ? D’abord, en Irak, il ne s’ancre pas dans un mythe historique qui définit l’État comme étant pluraliste. Puis, le rapport démographique est tout autre : comme un groupe est


clairement majoritaire, il ne suffit pas à projeter une image pluraliste de l’État. Les communautés religieuses n’ont donc pas toutes développé un sentiment d’appartenance : en Irak, le confessionnalisme a porté l’État à afficher une identité spécifiquement chiite qui exacerbe l’aliénation sunnite, contribuant à la violence.44 Jusqu’en 2003, la minorité sunnite arabe dominait l’État irakien.45 Le régime de Hussein a réprimé et marginalisé de nombreux chiites ; ceux-ci ont donc perçu la chute de Hussein comme l’opportunité d’exercer enfin leur droit légitime à la gouvernance en tant que majorité. En conséquence, le gouvernement irakien post-2003 a affiché un « nationalisme d’État fortement chiite. »46 L’élite chiite s’est approprié l’État, entre autres par la de-baathification, qui fut imposée par les États-Unis47 mais « implémentée avec rigueur par les élites irakiennes après 2004 »,48 et qui a purgé la fonction publique des anciens cadres du parti baathiste. Comme la majorité d’entre eux étaient sunnites, ces mesures ont aggravé l’aliénation de cette communauté et son rejet du nouvel État irakien. La marginalisation des sunnites s’est aussi accrue pendant le second mandat du premier ministre Maliki (2010-2014), puisque celui-ci a centralisé le pouvoir et exclu des sunnites de l’administration publique.49 Ces processus d’exclusion, jumelés à la création d’un État confessionnel, ont ainsi « créé les conditions pour la radicalisation. »50 Ainsi, en Irak, la confessionnalisation de la politique n’a mené à aucune paix, mais a plutôt semé les germes de la violence, qui a explosé lors des guerres civiles. La montée de Daech a ainsi représenté ainsi un rejet extrême de la nouvelle identité chiite de l’État et « de l’État-nation irakien »51 par des groupes sunnites. Au Liban, les identités religieuses étaient politiquement saillantes avant même l’établissement de la République libanaise. Le système politique s’est donc adapté au contexte social. Toutefois, en institutionnalisant la pluralité religieuse, le confessionnalisme perpétue artificiellement l’importance


des divisions religieuses, et encourage les groupes à être en compétition pour promouvoir leur supériorité.52 En Irak, le système ne fait pas que perpétuer des divisions : en grande partie, il les crée. Certes, l’identité chiite avait été partiellement politisée par la répression du régime baathiste. Ce niveau de politisation était toutefois bien inférieur à celui connu maintenant. Puis, ce n’est qu’après le renversement de Hussein en 2003 que les Arabes sunnites d’Irak ont véritablement développé une conscience communautaire.53 Bien que l’élite politique baathiste était largement sunnite, elle n’était pas liée par une logique sectaire. Le parti Baath prônait le nationalisme arabe, et c’est donc « le panarabisme laïque et nationaliste qui liait l’élite politique sunnite. »54 La chute de Hussein a constitué un éveil identitaire sunnite : « nous nous sommes réveillés un jour [...] et avons soudainement découvert que nous étions tous sunnites », a partagé un politicien irakien.55 L’identité irakienne sunnite s’est donc principalement bâtie en réaction à une affirmation identitaire chiite, dans un sentiment de marginalisation et d’aliénation.56 L’organisation politique communautaire de l’Irak post-2003 n’était donc pas inévitable. Elle a plutôt été cimentée par le comportement de certains politiciens chiites et par les décisions de l’Autorité provisoire de la coalition (APC). L’APC a entre autres nommé les membres du Conseil intérimaire du gouvernement irakien de façon à refléter le supposé poids démographique des groupes religieux et ethniques. Cette décision a arbitrairement accordé prééminence aux identités communautaires et a ainsi « politisé l’identité de groupe à un niveau sans précédent. »57 Depuis, la confessionnalisation de la politique irakienne n’a fait qu’effriter l’unité nationale.58 Ultimement, en Irak comme au Liban, cette création et ce maintien d’un fractionnement religieux, puis son incorporation au sein de la politique, augmentent les risques de conflits intercommunautaires.

D’une part, toute compétition politique prend des dimensions sectaires. D’autre part, les politiciens peuvent facilement mobiliser des craintes communautaires pour leur propre intérêt politique. Ainsi, au Liban, les politiciens stimulent intentionnellement les peurs intercommunautaires pour « détourner l’attention du public des problèmes de corruption ou de l’échec de développer des politiques sociales et économiques viables. »59 Par exemple, le Hezbollah a récemment profité de la fondation religieuse du système pour taire les revendications anti-corruption de ses supporteurs, majoritairement chiites. Un mouvement de manifestations antisystème, qui a débuté fin 2019, impliquait au départ tous les groupes religieux. Rapidement, le Hezbollah a employé une rhétorique sectaire, affirmant que les manifestations étaient un complot visant à « affaiblir les Libanais chiites », ce qui a diminué de façon significative la mobilisation dans les régions chiites.60 Les politiciens irakiens emploient également ces techniques. En 2015, l’Irak a connu d’importantes manifestations antisystème. Le premier ministre Maliki a alors tenté d’instrumentaliser les craintes chiites en affirmant que les manifestants étaient des baathistes.61 Comme les termes « baathiste » et « sunnite » sont incroyablement associés dans le discours populaire, Maliki souhaitait ainsi fractionner toute alliance interreligieuse. Une telle instrumentalisation de la diversité a plus de chance d’être efficace dans un environnement politique confessionnel, car les « acteurs et événements importants échappent [alors] rarement aux étiquettes sectaires. »62 En Irak, ces manipulations politiques ont alimenté d’importantes violences interconfessionnelles. En somme, le fédéralisme, par sa carence d’interdépendance, échoue à intégrer les Kurdes, et les formes de consociativisme

irakien et libanais exacerbent les tensions interconfessionnelles. Je vais maintenant examiner le consociativisme en fonction de mon deuxième critère d’évaluation, les conséquences sur le fonctionnement de l’État. Le fonctionnement efficace de l’État Au Liban comme en Irak, le consociativisme nuit au fonctionnement efficace de l’état. En effet, je montrerai qu’il provoque une paralysie politique qui s’avère catastrophique en période de crise. Je montrerai également que ce système encourage un clientélisme politique intracommunautaire, le muhasasa, qui alourdit l’État et provoque un gaspillage des ressources financières. La paralysie politique Le système politique libanais dépend du respect du partage confessionnel du pouvoir et exige une répartition égale des postes ministériels. Ces contraintes limitent de façon significative la bonne gouvernance en affligeant l’État d’une immobilisation politique chronique, particulièrement apparente lors de la formation des gouvernements.63 En 2019, former le cabinet des ministres a pris neuf mois. Puisque la coalition menée par les partis chiites Hezbollah et Amal avait remporté le plus grand nombre de sièges, mais que le premier ministre doit être sunnite, les négociations ont pris énormément de temps.64 En fait, chaque élection parlementaire paralyse le gouvernement pendant de longs mois. En 2009, cinq mois ont été nécessaires pour former un cabinet ; en 2013, dix mois ont été nécessaires.65 Puis, le système est particulièrement immobilisé lors des moments de tensions intercommunautaires ; pourtant, c’est à ces moments qu’une bonne gestion politique est cruciale. Par exemple, la guerre


civile syrienne a accentué les tensions entre chiites et sunnites.66 Ces désaccords ont retenti dans la sphère politique. Ainsi, de mai 2014 à octobre 2016, les députés libanais n’ont pu s’entendre pour choisir un président : le Parlement a pourtant tenté 46 fois d’élire un chef d’État.67 Les dysfonctionnements chroniques causés par le confessionnalisme politique s’avèrent particulièrement problématiques en temps de crise. Le gouvernement libanais fait face à une crise économique d’ampleur inédite. La situation a été aggravée en 2020 par la pandémie de la COVID-19 et par l’explosion du port de Beyrouth, qui a engendré 6 à 8 milliards de dollars de pertes et de dommages,68 ce qui représente plus de 40% du PIB nominal projeté pour 2020 par le FMI.69 Le pays est maintenant plongé dans une crise de la dette et son économie est détruite.70 En mai 2020, plus de 55% de la population se retrouvait sous le seuil de pauvreté. La crise économique a des répercussions sur la gestion de la crise sanitaire de la COVID-19 : le gouvernement ne peut « accorder aux hôpitaux privés et publics les fonds qu’il leur doit » et ceux-ci manquent donc de matériel essentiel, incluant des masques et des gants.71 De l’aide financière internationale est donc attendue avec impatience par la population. Cependant, cette aide est conditionnelle à l’adoption d’un plan de réformes approuvé par le FMI, mais les divisions entre camps politiques confessionnels perdurent et provoquent une « impasse politique qui a jusqu’ici empêché les réformes. »72 Mustapha Adib, désigné premier ministre le 31 août, était chargé de former un nouveau cabinet d’experts qui permettrait au Liban de sortir de la crise. Il a échoué :73 des représentants des partis chiites et chrétiens ont bloqué ses propositions, indiquant que les ministres doivent être choisis par des représentants de tous les groupes religieux.74 Saad Hariri, qui a déjà été premier ministre du pays de 2009 à 2011 puis de 2016 à janvier 2020, a de nouveau été chargé de former un gouvernement le 22 octobre 2020.75 Près de cinq mois


plus tard, il n’y est toujours pas parvenu.76 Pendant ce temps, l’économie libanaise s’enfonce. Mais dans un système qui dépend d’un partage intercommunautaire, l’équilibre confessionnel prend préséance même pendant une crise qui pourrait mener à la disparition du pays. Cette paralysie politique est reproduite en Irak. Par exemple, en 2010, plus de 9 mois ont été nécessaires pour parvenir à former un cabinet ;77 en 2019, « une importante impasse [a empêché] le parlement d’approuver tous les postes ministériels. »78 Le muhasasa Le consociativisme confessionnel encourage aussi le développement de vastes réseaux de clientélisme politique basés sur l’appartenance religieuse. Ce clientélisme intracommunautaire, souvent désigné par l’appellation muhasasa,79 s’exprime grandement par l’octroi de postes dans la fonction publique. Au Liban, la constitution stipule que les plus hauts postes de la fonction publique, de la magistrature, des forces de sécurité et des agences publiques et semi-privées doivent être partagés également entre musulmans et chrétiens.80 Dans les faits, le muhasasa domine « tous les coins et recoins de la bureaucratie d’État. »81 Les politiciens libanais aiment affirmer que sans ces pratiques clientélistes, l’équilibre intercommunautaire s’effondrerait, entraînant avec lui toute possibilité de cohabitation.82 Dans les faits, ce système contribue plutôt à ruiner l’État. Puisque les politiciens et fonctionnaires allouent les postes de sorte à assurer le contrôle de leur communauté sur l’État, le secteur public ne cesse de croître inutilement, même si l’économie libanaise va de mal en pis. Les dépenses croissantes en salaires et la lourdeur du système, en rendant l’État inefficace, augmentent la facture et forcent l’État à emprunter des fonds.83 Ainsi, le muhasasa a contribué à la catastrophique situation économique du pays. Puis, comme l’affiliation confession-

nelle est le critère suprême dans l’allocation des postes, les qualifications des candidats sont reléguées au second plan.84 L’incompétence et la lourdeur étatique mènent à une mauvaise gestion des services, précipitant des catastrophes. Ainsi, l’explosion de Beyrouth a constitué le point culminant « d’années d’incompétence, de dysfonctionnement et de corruption. »85 Le phénomène est semblable en Irak. Depuis 2003, la fonction publique est en expansion. Par exemple, de 2007 à 2012, plus de 750 000 nouveaux emplois ont été créés : 80% de ceux-ci étaient dans le secteur public.86 Dès 2011, 60% des tous les emplois à temps plein étaient dans le secteur public.87 Comme au Liban, plusieurs de ces employés « n’ont pas l’éducation et l’expérience requises »88 pour les postes. L’inefficacité qui découle de ce fait contribue à faire grimper les frais. L’Irak est un pays rentier, qui tire plus de 90% des recettes publiques du pétrole.89 Lorsque le prix du pétrole est suffisamment élevé, l’Irak parvient à payer la facture. Mais lorsqu’il baisse, le gouvernement doit emprunter des fonds. Dès la fin de 2020, les recettes mensuelles du gouvernement ne représentaient que 50% de ses dépenses. L’Irak risque donc « un effondrement macro-budgétaire – potentiellement dans l’année. »90 Puis, même lorsque le prix du pétrole est élevé, le muhasasa constitue un gaspillage qui limite la capacité d’investissement de l’État. Ainsi, dans les deux pays, la gestion de la diversité à travers le muhasasa génère un État inefficace et financièrement malade. Conclusion : Quel futur pour l’Irak et le Liban ? Enfin, j’ai évalué la gestion de la diversité ethnique et religieuse au Liban et en Irak en fonction de deux critères, l’impact sur les tensions intercommunautaires et sur le fonctionnement de l’État. J’en conclus que la gestion de la diversité par le consociativisme dans les deux pays, et par le fédéralisme en Irak, est globalement défaillante. En Irak, le confessionnalisme a mené à la

projection d’une identité chiite par l’État, provoquant l’aliénation des autres communautés, surtout des Arabes sunnites. Au Liban, le confessionnalisme perpétue un mythe historique formant la base d’une identité nationale, mais il exacerbe surtout les tensions, entre autres en facilitant l’instrumentalisation politique des peurs communautaires. Dans les deux cas, ce système cause une paralysie politique qui accentue les crises et encourage le muhasasa, qui obstrue le fonctionnement efficace de l’État. Quant aux relations arabo-kurdes en Irak, le fédéralisme a un certain avantage, puisqu’il accorde au Kurdistan l’autonomie essentielle au maintien de l’intégrité territoriale irakienne. Toutefois, le non-respect de cette autonomie par le gouvernement Maliki et le traitement du GRK post-2017 ont grandement attisé l’aliénation des Kurdes. De plus, la structure fédérale néglige l’interdépendance, fournissant aux Kurdes peu d’incitatifs pour demeurer dans la fédération à long terme. Le Liban a besoin de réformes pour éviter la faillite, et l’Irak se dirige vers une crise fiscale. De surcroît, les deux pays font face depuis octobre 2019 à des mobilisations populaires d’ampleur, qui dénoncent principalement la corruption, l’élite politique et le chômage, et qui appellent à la fin du confessionnalisme.91 Néanmoins, les probabilités de réformes substantielles sont minces. Au Liban, les inlassables négociations entre les partis politiques demeurent infructueuses. Le retour du premier ministre Hariri, représentant parfait de l’establishment, signale le manque de volonté de l’élite politique à mettre en place les réformes nécessaires. Puis, la pandémie de la COVID-19 et l’économie occupent aujourd’hui plus les esprits que d’éventuelles réformes politiques. Bien que des transformations substantielles soient nécessaires pour mettre véritablement fin aux problèmes économiques structurels du pays, pour le moment, des réformes superficielles qui demeurent ancrées dans le cadre


confessionnel actuel sont plus plausibles. Pareillement, la classe politique irakienne est peu motivée à présenter des réformes substantielles. De plus, la majorité des mobilisations populaires ont jusqu’à présent lieu en zones chiites.92 Si les partis représentant la majorité chiite agissaient pour satisfaire aux demandes de leurs supporters, ils risqueraient l’opposition des sunnites et des Kurdes. Les partis chiites n’ont pas intérêt à prendre une telle décision alors que des groupes extrémistes comme Daech, qui savent exploiter l’aliénation sunnite, sont encore actifs,93 et que les pays occidentaux retirent leurs troupes pour des raisons politiques ou liées à la COVID, rendant l’Irak vulnérable.94 Ainsi, aucun parti – chiite, sunnite ou kurde – ne risque de démanteler le système prochainement. Plutôt, le gouvernement et le parlement continueront de proposer des réformes superflues,95 en espérant que les mobilisations s’essoufflent. Ainsi, à court terme, les systèmes libanais et irakien demeureront inchangés. Mais comme l’a montré cet article, leurs défauts sont trop importants : à long terme, le confessionnalisme politique et le fédéralisme irakien semblent voués à l’éclatement.


Endnotes 1 Eduardo Wassim Aboultaif, “Revisiting the semi-consociational model: Democratic failure in prewar Lebanon and post-invasion Iraq,” International Political Science Review 41, n°1 (2020): 109. 2 Petros Petrikkos, “Building Bridges in Divided Societies: Consociationalism and Centripetalism in Lebanon and Iraq,” Federal Governance 15, n°2 (2019): 20; Joanne McEvoy et Eduardo Wassim Aboultaif, “Power-Sharing Challenges: From Weak Adoptability to Dysfunction in Iraq,” Ethnopolitics (2020): 5. 3 Petrikkos, “Building Bridges,” 20. 4 Muhammad A. Faour, “Religion, Demography, and Politics in Lebanon,” Middle Eastern Studies 43, n°6 (2007) : 919. Ces statistiques sont des estimations, puisque aucun recensement n’a eu lieu au Liban depuis 1932. 5 John McGarry et Brendan O’Leary, “Iraq’s Constitution of 2005: Liberal consociation as political prescription,” International Journal of Constitutional Law 5, n°4 (2007): 670. 6 Adham Saouli, “Sectarianism and Political Order in Iraq and Lebanon,” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 19, n°1 (2019): 80. 7 Petrikkos, “Building Bridges,” 20-23. 8 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “International Religious Freedom Report for 2017: Lebanon,” United States Department of State, consulté le 20 novembre 2020, https://www.state.gov/ reports/2017-report-on-internationalreligious -freedom/lebanon/. Cet arrangement inclut les druzes et les alaouites dans l’allocation de sièges musulmans. 9 Yasir Kuoti, “Exclusion and violence in post-2003 Iraq,” Journal of International Affairs 69, n°2 (2016): 20. 10 Central Intelligence Agency, “Middle East and North Africa, religious affiliation by country,” consulté le 20 novembre 2020, https://www.cia.gov/the-world -factbook/ static/9ce141893261dddace924638c8f62d79/ Middle_East_Religion_graphic

_FINAL_WFB_2015-12.pdf. 11 Abbass Alkhafaji, “Iraq and the Limit of Freedom,” American Behavioral Scientist 49, n°4 (2005): 601. La plupart des chiites sont arabes. Les Kurdes, qui seront discutés plus bas, sont majoritairement sunnites. Cependant, le clivage sunnitechiite est davantage politisé chez les Arabes que chez les autres groupes ethniques. Ainsi, chaque fois que je réfère aux « sunnites » dans ce texte, je réfère principalement aux Arabes sunnites. 12 Matthijs Bogaards, “Iraq’s Constitution of 2005: The Case Against Consociationalism ‘Light’,” Ethnopolitics (2019): 3-5. 13 Alkhafaji, “Iraq and the Limit of Freedom,” 601. 14 Burak Bilgehan Özpek, “Democracy or Partition: Future Scenarios for the Kurds of Iraq,” Insight Turkey 14, n°3 (2012): 127. 15 Lawrence M. Anderson, “Theorizing Federalism in Iraq,” Regional & Federal Studies 17, n°2 (2007): 167. 16 “Iraq’s Constitution of 2005,” consulté le 20 novembre 2020, https:// www.constituteproject.org/constitution/ Iraq_2005.pdf?lang=en. 17 Özpek, “Democracy or Partition,” 128. 18 Özpek, “Democracy or Partition,” 132. 19 McEvoy et Aboultaif, “PowerSharing Challenges,” 11. 20 Özpek, “Democracy or Partition,” 134. 21 Mieczyslaw P. Boduszynski, “Iraq’s Year of Rage,” Journal of Democracy 27, n°4 (2016): 122. 22 Özpek, “Democracy or Partition,” 135. 23 Özpek, “Democracy or Partition,” 136. 24 Joost Hiltermann et Maria Fantappie, “Twilight of the Kurds,” Foreign Policy, n°227 (2018): 42-43. 25 “Iraqi Kurds decisively back independence in referendum,” BBC, 27 septembre 2017, https://www.bbc.com/ news/world-middle-east-41419633.


26 Hiltermann et Fantappie, “Twilight of the Kurds,” 42-43. La plupart de ces territoires étaient occupés depuis 2014 en raison de la lutte contre Daech. 27 Michael M. Gunter, “Arab–Kurdish Relations and the Future of Iraq,” Third World Quarterly 32, n° 9 (2011): 1629-1631. 28 “Bagdad paralyse les aéroports internationaux au Kurdistan,” Radio-Canada, 29 septembre 2017, https://ici.radio-canada. ca/nouvelle/1058715/irak-kurde-referendum -independance-turquie-petrole-suspensionvol-aeroport. 29 “Les aéroports du Kurdistan irakien rouvrent sous le contrôle de Bagdad,” France 24, 13 mars 2018, https://www.france24. com/fr/20180313-aeroports-kurdistanirakien-rouvrent -sous-controle-bagdad. 30 Pour un survol de la littérature à ce sujet, voir Anderson, “Theorizing Federalism,” 161-165. 31 Anderson, “Theorizing Federalism,” 161. 32 Brendan O’Leary, How to get out of Iraq with integrity, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), 118. 33 Nevzat Soguk, “With/Out a State, Kurds Rising: The Un/Stated Foreign Policy and the Rise of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq,” Globalizations 12, n°6 (2015: 958. 957-968. 34 Bogaards, “Iraq’s Constitution of 2005,” 8. 35 Saouli, “Sectarianism and Political Order,” 73-74. 36 Bassel F. Salloukh et al., Politics of Sectarianism in Postwar Lebanon (London: Pluto Press, 2015), 13-14. 37 Gaby Hsab, “Confrontations politiques et allégeances confessionnelles : le cas du Liban,” Hermès, La Revue 2, n°51 (2008) : 120. 38 Hsab, “Confrontations politiques,” 121. 39 Petrikkos, “Building Bridges,” 29. 40 Mario Apostolov, “Lebanon: Constitutive Communities or Minorities?” Religious minorities, nation states, and security (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited,


2001), 101. 41 Apostolov, “Lebanon: Constitutive Communities,” 101. Italiques ajoutés. 42 Saouli, “Sectarianism and Political Order,” 83. 43 Saouli, “Sectarianism and Political Order,” 80. 44 Fanar Haddad, “Shia-Centric State Building and Sunni Rejection in Post-2003 Iraq,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (2016): 5. https://carnegieendowment. org/files/CP261_Haddad_Shia_Final.pdf. 45 Saouli, “Sectarianism and Political Order,” 70. 46 Fanar Haddad, Sectarianism in Iraq: Antagonistic Visions of Unity, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 145. 47 McEvoy et Aboultaif, “PowerSharing Challenges,” 3. 48 Boduszynski, “Iraq’s Year of Rage,” 114. 49 Özpek, “Democracy or Partition,” 128-134. 50 Saouli, “Sectarianism and Political Order”, 81. 51 Haddad, “Shia-Centric State Building,” 17. 52 Abdalhadi Alijla, “Between inequality and sectarianism: who destroys generalised trust? The case of Lebanon,” International Social Science Journal 66, n° 219220 (2016): 178. 53 Haddad, “Shia-Centric State Building,” 16. 54 Saouli, “Sectarianism and Political Order”, 72. 55 “Make or Break: Iraq’s Sunnis and the State,” International Crisis Group, 14 août 2013, https://www.crisisgroup.org/middleeast-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian -peninsula/iraq/make-or-break-iraq-ssunnis-and-state. 56 Haddad, Sectarianism in Iraq, 167. 57 Haddad, Sectarianism in Iraq, 151. 58 Petrikkos, “Building Bridges,” 21. 59 Saouli, “Sectarianism and Political Order,” 75. 60 “Pulling Lebanon out of the Pit,” International Crisis Group, 8 juin 2020, https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-

north-africa/eastern -mediterranean/lebanon/214-pullinglebanon-out-pit. 61 Boduszynski, “Iraq’s Year of Rage,” 118. 62 Haddad, “Shia-Centric State Building,” 4. 63 “Lebanon announces government after months of deadlock,” Al Jazeera, 31 janvier 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/ news/2019/1/31/lebanon-announcesgovernment-after -months-of-deadlock; Petrikkos, “Building Bridges,” 27. 64 Petrikkos, “Building Bridges,” 24. 65 “Lebanon announces government,” Al Jazeera. 66 Saouli, “Sectarianism and Political Order,” 82. 67 “Lebanon: Michel Aoun elected president, ending two-year stalemate,” BBC, 31 octobre 2016, https://www.bbc.com/ news/world-middle-east-37821597. 68 Groupe de la Banque Mondiale, Union européenne au Liban et Nations Unies, “Évaluation rapide des dommages et des besoins à Beyrouth,” août 2020, 20, http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/ en/269891598854114103/pdf/Beirut-Rapid -Damage-and-Needs-Assessment.pdf. 69 “Le PIB libanais subira la même contraction qu’au Venezuela en 2020, selon le FMI,” L’Orient-Le Jour, 20 octobre 2020, https://www.lorientlejour.com/ article/1237255/le-pib-libanais-subira-lameme-contraction-quau-venezuela-en2020-selon-le-fmi.html. 70 Flavie Holzinger et al., “Le Liban, un pays en banqueroute,” Le Monde, 26 juin 2020, https://www.lemonde.fr/ international/article/2020/06/26/le-libanun-pays-en -banqueroute_6044321_3210.html. 71 “Lebanon: COVID-19 Worsens Medical Supply Crisis,” Human Rights Watch, 24 mars 2020, https://www.hrw. org/news/2020/03/24/lebanon-covid-19worsens-medical-supply -crisis.

72 “Avoiding Further Polarisation in Lebanon,” International Crisis Group, 10 novembre 2020, https://www.crisisgroup. org/middle-east-north-africa/eastern -mediterranean/lebanon/b81-avoidingfurther-polarisation-lebanon. 73 Alice Hackman/Agence FrancePresse, “Le premier ministre renonce à former un nouveau gouvernement,” La Presse, 26 septembre 2020, https:// www.lapresse.ca/international/moyenorient/2020-09-26/liban/le-premier -ministre-renonce-a-former-un-nouveaugouvernement.php. 74 “France ‘regrets’ Lebanon has not yet formed a government,” Al Jazeera, 16 septembre 2020, https://www.aljazeera. com/economy/2020/9/16/france-regretslebanon-has-not -yet-formed-a-government. 75 Timour Azhari, “Saad Hariri renamed as Lebanon PM a year after stepping down,” Al Jazeera, 22 octobre 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/ news/2020/10/22/lebanons-saad -hariri-secures-parliamentary-support-tobe-next-pm. 76 “Lebanon’s interior minister says security forces reached ‘rock bottom’: local media,” Reuters, 10 mars 2021, https://www. reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-crisissecurity -idUSKBN2B22LA. 77 Gunter, “Arab–Kurdish Relations,” 1627. 78 Petrikkos, “Building Bridges,” 27. 79 Également « dawlat al-muhasasa » ou « muhasasa taifia ». Le terme muhasasa ne désigne pas uniquement le clientélisme communautaire : il fait référence à tout partage communautaire des postes et fonctions, que ce partage soit légal ou illégal, corrompu ou formalisé. Dans le cadre de cet essai, cependant, je l’utilise pour référer spécifiquement au clientélisme. 80 “Lebanon’s Constitution of 1926 with Amendments through 2004,” consulté le 20 novembre 2020, https:// www.constituteproject.org/constitution/


Lebanon_2004.pdf?lang=en. 81 Bassel F. Salloukh, “Taif and the Lebanese State: The Political Economy of a Very Sectarian Public Sector,” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 25, n° 1 (2019): 44. 82 Carmen Geha, “Politics of a garbage crisis: social networks, narratives, and frames of Lebanon’s 2015 protests and their aftermath,” Social movement studies 18, n° 1 (2019): 81. 83 Salloukh, “Taif and the Lebanese State,” 46-49. 84 Salloukh, “Taif and the Lebanese State,” 49-50. 85 “Avoiding Further Polarisation in Lebanon,” International Crisis Group. 86 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank, “The Unfulfilled Promise of Oil and Growth Poverty, Inclusion and Welfare in Iraq, 2007-2012,” 17 novembre 2014, 125, https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/ iraq/publication/unfulfilled-promise-of-oiland -growth. 87 United Nations in Iraq, “Country Profile,” consulté le 20 novembre 2020, http://www.uniraq. com/index.php?option=com_ k2&view=item&id=941:country -profile&lang=en. 88 Sarwar Abdullah et al., “Clientelism: factionalism in the allocation of public resources in Iraq after 2003,” Middle Eastern Studies 54, n° 4 (2018): 669. 89 Le Monde et l’Agence France-Presse, “Irak : deux explosions visent un gazoduc et un oléoduc,” Le Monde, 31 octobre 2020, https://www.lemonde.fr/international/ article/2020/10/31/irak-deux-explosionsvisent-un -gazoduc-et-un-oleoduc_6058034_3210. html. 90 Kirk H. Sowell, “Iraq’s Dire Fiscal Crisis,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2 novembre 2020, https:// carnegieendowment.org/sada/83108. 91 Chloe Cornish, “Protesters seek end of sectarian power-sharing in Iraq, Lebanon,” Financial Times, 4 novembre 2019,


https://www.ft.com/content/607d3030fcca-11e9 -98fd-4d6c20050229. 92 Harith Hasan, “What Will Happen to the Protest Movement?” Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center, 23 décembre 2019, https://carnegie-mec .org/2019/12/23/iraq-2020-what-willhappen-to-protest-movement-pub-80675; “Unrest erupts anew in Iraq’s anniversary of protests,” The Arab Weekly, 2 novembre 2020, https://thearabweekly.com/unresterupts-anew-iraqs-anniversary-protests. 93 Fabrice de Pierebourg, “Pas de confinement pour le groupe État islamique,” L’actualité, 17 juin 2020, https:// lactualite.com/monde/pas -de-confinement-pour-le-groupe-etatislamique. 94 “US troops in Afghanistan: Allies and Republicans alarmed at withdrawal plan,” BBC, 18 novembre 2020, https://www. bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-54980141; “Les soldats canadiens sont transférés hors d’Irak en raison de la pandémie,” RadioCanada, 2 avril 2020, https://ici.radiocanada.ca/nouvelle/1690659 /koweit-irak-forces-armees-canadatransfert. 95 Hayder Al-Shakeri et Taif Alkhudary, “There can be no ‘going back to normal’ in Iraq,” Al Jazeera, 25 novembre 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/ opinions/2020/11/25/there -can-be-no-going-back-to-normal-in-iraq/. Toutes les traductions de l’anglais au français sont faites par Maria-Laura Chobadindegui.


sal h heal milli Cana To a Cana to im polit at th are k prog cial l

Pills and Bills The Feasibility of Pharmacare Within Canadian Federalism

Canadians hold a great deal of pride in the fact that Canada has univerhealth care. Yet, Canada is the only country in the world with a universal lth system that does not include prescription drug coverage, which leaves ions of citizens with zero or limited access to coverage. So, why does ada have a glaring, pharmacare-shaped hole in its healthcare system? address this question, a historical survey is undertaken to examine why ada is currently lacking a system of this sort. Further, is it even feasible mplement a pharmacare program in light of Canada’s constitutional and tical landscape? This paper argues that intergovernmental political will he provincial and federal levels and continued positive media coverage key in determining this feasibility. While the implementation of such a gram will not come without its challenges, the current political and solandscape suggests that with the necessary effort, such a task is possible.

Written by Victoria Flaherty Edited by Kennedy McKee-Braide

Canada is the only country in the world with a universal public health insurance system that does not include prescription drug coverage.1 Compared to its peer countries with similar healthcare systems, Canadians are covered less often with higher costs. In fact, approximately one in ten Canadians cannot afford their prescription drugs, a statistic that swells when considering vulnerable populations, such as seniors and low-income individuals. The vulnerabilities of Canada’s current disjointed landscape of pharmaceutical drug coverage run counter to the founding principles of the Canada Health Act.2 The clear inequity of pharmaceutical drug inaccessibility and the grand implications of federal universal pharmaceutical drug coverage, referred to hereinafter as pharmacare, has led to a recent uptick in political and public interest in the field. So, why does Canada have a glaring, pharmacare-shaped hole in its healthcare system? Answering this question will be the first task of this paper through an exploration of the historical context and constitutional framework of Canadian healthcare. Ample data shows that pharmaceutical care exists as a limb of the healthcare system. Therefore, healthcare will be explored at length because there is limited federal legislation that speaks solely or primarily to pharmaceutical care. In other words, this paper will explore pharmacare with the understanding that pharmaceutical care exists under the more general healthcare umbrella.3 Provinces will be used as the relevant regional unit of measure, despite health care deliverance disparities within provinces, as they are the best conceptualization of pharmaceutical regionalization in accordance with the constitution, the federation, and with Statistics Canada’s term “health region.”4 By understanding pharmacare within the boundaries of healthcare in the federation, this paper turns to its second task: addressing whether pharmacare is feasible in light of how Canadian institutions, politics, and the public play into the possible implementation of pharmacare.5 The findings of this paper are that the feasibility of


pharmacare is contingent on three fundamental conditions. The first is that pharmacare must be structurally feasible within the constitutional structure of federalism that denotes healthcare as a responsibility of the provinces. The second is that political will, which may spur from institutional and partisan sources, must be activated at multiple levels within the federation. Third, the public appetite for pharmacare must remain sizable, which may be in flux if significant negative media coverage threatens its inception. By pulling evidence from historical precedence of government-to-government collaboration on “big bang” policy projects and looking towards how the federation may cooperate between governments, I will exhibit that this is within reach for Canada, albeit with challenges.6 These challenges are not only surmountable but are more in reach than other policy maneuvers of this scope and scale, which is why the subject matter at hand is pharmacare’s feasibility as opposed to merely its viability. Further, this paper does not assess pharmacare’s economic feasibility, although the literature agrees that pharmacare would save lives and money. Thus, I will be focusing on the feasibility of the implementation of pharmacare in the Canadian context by looking at structures, institutions, and political factors that may influence whether pharmacare is possible. “Long Promised, Undelivered”7 Balkanized?: Constitutional and Historical Context8 It may seem surprising that universal pharmacare is not already in place, given that it has been continuously recommended, is aligned with previous health legislation, and has broad popularity. In fact, upwards of eighty percent of Canadians are in favour of the federal government establishing universal pharmaceutical drug coverage.9 So, why has Canada not yet adopted a pharmacare system? The answer is rooted in the barriers stemming from Canadian policy institutions and electoral incentives for

reform.10 To illustrate this, I will adjust this paper’s gaze backwards at the rigid jurisdictional delineations of the constitution, the historical context of Canadian health politics, and the scientific realities of the health sector. Under section 92(7) the Constitution Act of 1867, healthcare is clearly under provincial jurisdiction, as the provinces hold the responsibility to “establish, maintain, and manage hospitals, asylums, charities and charitable institutions.”11 Historically, in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries, healthcare deliverance was largely private, deregulated, and delivered by community organizations across Canada, especially outside of large urban centers.12 The provincial management of healthcare remained largely insular until the 1950s, when federal cost-sharing of healthcare established Canada’s system of universal, comprehensive public insurance for hospital care in the 1950s.13 This was in the form of the 1957 Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act (HIDSA), which came after numerous provinces began to implement various forms of province-wide, universal hospital plans.14 HIDSA reimbursed half of the province’s costs for specified services, which led to the national expansion of federal spending power to support and standardize healthcare. The development and implementation of universal healthcare began to move swiftly and definitively in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1961, the federal government established the landmark Royal Commission on Health Services which offered recommendations for improvement, including health facilities and research, financing, and health services.15 Notably, the Commission recommended coverage for prescription drugs.16 The momentum generated by public interest in healthcare, the provincial desire for universal healthcare, and the recommendations of the Commission resulted in the Liberal Government passing the 1966 Medicare Act.17 Medicare established a formula under which the federal government financially contributed 50 percent of provincial expenditures on insured hospital and physician services.

This cemented federal funding to support healthcare for a specific set of services and given uniform terms and conditions. From 1966 to 1972, provinces worked on implementing universal medical care coverage with varying degrees of success.18 In 1977, the previously utilized cost-sharing program was replaced with block funding to the provinces that used a combination of cash payments and tax point transfers, which allowed the federal government to reduce their tax rates while provincial governments simultaneously and proportionately raised theirs. In doing so, greater flexibility was granted to the provinces in choosing their own policy agendas and determining the prioritization of healthcare spending.19 It is not clear why pharmacare was not initially incorporated in Medicare when it was first suggested, but a large part of those pharmaceutical costs were nowhere near what they are today, making it was a less important issue. The 1984 Canada Health Act (CHA) was the most monumental development in Canadian healthcare as it established principles of healthcare and required that health insurance be: universal, publicly administered, portable across provinces, comprehensive of all “medically necessary” physician services and hospital care, and offered without direct charges to patients.20 The CHA made the federal government responsible for administering national principles for the healthcare system, financial support to provinces, and several other functions, including care for Indigenous peoples on reserves. More importantly to the consideration of pharmacare is the fact that the CHA states its intention as being to facilitate reasonable access to healthcare services without barriers, including financial ones. The stated aims of the CHA were to allow for services to be provided on a prepaid basis, diminishing charges at the point-of-service. The CHA also set the criteria that provinces must fulfill in order to receive the full amount of federal cash under the Canada Health Transfer, further standardizing the quality of healthcare.21 Moreover, the legis-


lation continues to be important to national identity, as 85 percent of citizens in 2005 felt that the elimination of this system would constitute a ‘‘fundamental change to the nature of Canada.”22 In the 1990s, a period of federal and provincial struggle to regulate formularies and administer funding took root, as scientific breakthroughs, patent and regulation law, and the needs of the country meant that pharmaceutical policy became a pervasive issue. Pharmaceutical prices skyrocketed, with drug spending accounting for the second-largest share of healthcare costs, only behind hospitals, for the first time in history in 1997.23 Alongside this surge in prices, the provincial regulation of pharmaceuticals became institutionalized and carried out through tools like therapeutic substitution programs, drug efficacy review boards to determine formularies, and economic analysis of drugs’ cost-effectiveness.24 Provinces composed committees to make recommendations regarding the inclusion of drugs on reimbursement formularies while attempting to assess the therapeutic significance and cost effectiveness of each drug. This is exemplified by the actions of British Columbia, which implemented a therapeutic substitution program in 1995, changing the face of provincial pharmaceutical classifications by altering how drugs were indexed and substituted for cheaper drugs. For example, Cimetidine, the approved drug for histamine-2 receptor antagonists, was substituted for the cheaper alternative Ranitidine based on the program’s recommendations which may not always be bioequivalents.25 This reference-based pricing system of approval quickly became commonplace in every province as provinces coped with cost pressures and new drug inventions. At this point, pharmacare was introduced as a policy option for dealing with this shift but was not acted upon because the costs for provinces and citizens were still manageable with transfers and insurance, which has drastically changed since the late 1990s. Moreover, provinces wanted to maintain autonomy as jurisdictional reference-based pricing sys-


tems were established. Further, the coordination of joint systems was very difficult after British Columbia had taken the plunge and there was not sufficient federal political will to mobilize the advocacy of provinces foregoing their power over pharmaceutical systems. However, these reasons for nonaction are all significantly less salient in today’s political climate, as drug costs for citizens and governments continue to rise. Sagrada Família: Evolving Policy Expectations and Contemporary Government Responses Under the CHA, a “near-universal” system of medical coverage has evolved that is remarkably similar in scope across the nation.26 However, a vast gap exists in the legislative foundations of pharmaceutical care, the very agent of therapeutic impact and healing for patients.27 As I have shown thus far, the scientific realities and lack of political will to implement pharmacare stopped its exploration in the 1960s and 1990s.28 But times are changing and medications have exploded in price, shown by the fact that Canadians spent $34 billion CAD on pharmaceuticals in 2018, which is thirteen times more than was spent in 1985.29 Because of earlier failures to implement pharmacare, provinces deliver most of Canada’s pharmaceutical services, expected to meet national standards. The Health Transfer remains the largest transfer to provinces, providing predictable long-term funding for healthcare in accordance with the principles of the Canada Health Act.30 Provincial health insurance in each province must cover medically necessary hospital and doctors’ services, although it is worth noting that medical necessity is not defined or parameterized by the CHA. Thus, ‘medically necessary’ services are funded by provinces, with the support of federal funds. For low-income individuals who do not qualify for specialized insurance plans yet wish to obtain pharmaceutical healthcare, the options are to pay out-of-pocket or buy private insurance or employment-based group insurance. In 2010, publicly funded health expenditures accounted for sev-

en of every ten dollars spent on healthcare. In 2011, it was announced that the Health Transfer will continue to grow at six percent annually until 2016-17, and starting in 2017-18, the Transfer began to grow in line with a three-year moving average of nominal Gross Domestic Product growth, with funding guaranteed to increase by at least three percent annually.31 The current system for drug coverage in Canada is one that entails patchwork coverage, leaving millions of Canadians with zero or limited access to coverage. This has manifested in upwards of 100 government-run pharmaceutical programs in Canada and upwards of 100,000 private drug benefit plans. Thus, it seems as though the Canadian public and politicians are in agreement that the current system of pharmaceutical coverage is not ideal or efficient. This assumption will propel my work in the next section, where I will address whether pharmacare is feasible now in light of the rising costs of pharmaceuticals and a disjointed patchwork of coverage. Paths Forward: The Feasibility of Pharmacare Structural Feasibility: The Constitution, Legislative Viability, and Indigenous Healthcare The contours of implementing pharmacare in Canada are complex and to name a single path to feasibility would be folly, as several possible paths to implementation exist. In this section, I will address whether pharmacare is feasible within the legal, constitutional, and institutional structures of Canada, ultimately concluding that it is. In order for this to happen, intergovernmental collaboration must exist between provincial governments and between levels of federation, in congruence with private sector engagement.32 It is evident that health policy in Canada has long been coloured by the battles fought between the federal and provincial governments.33 Due to the constitution, the federal government cannot act as the sole legislator of pharmaceutical policy, although it can heavily influence policy direction through the provision of conditional

funds.34 Thus, it would be up to the provinces to opt-into the pharmacare system, necessitating extensive intergovernmental negotiations for both the initiation and maintenance of pharmacare. The federally commissioned Advisory Council on Pharmacare suggests collective decision-making on policy, in order to achieve an equitable and uniform patient experience.35 A collegial approach will be useful if the council’s suggestion of a Canadian Drug Agency (CDA) is to be pursued with the goal of uniformizing a federal formulary and negotiating prices with the buying power of all 37 million Canadians. Because formulary building and negotiations are currently conducted primarily on a provincial scale, difficulty may arise in the formation of a CDA due to the possible hesitancy of provinces to allow federal encroachment into formularies. Yet, this would fulfill the intention of the CHA and the principles of Medicare, thus strengthening the structural basis for pharmacare’s feasibility. Although the formation of formularies and purchasing policies may present difficulties, various models of pharmacare are constitutionally and legally feasible. This is proven by the fact that every major examination of Canada’s health system for the past 55 years has recommended a form of universal drug coverage, beginning with the 1964 Hall Commission Report.36 Collaboration within the constitutional framework will need to exist within current institutional structures available for province-to-province collaboration. This entails fraternization between siloed provincial bureaucracies, communication between provincial expert panels, and federal facilitation of partisan initiatives. One of the most significant institutional infrastructures that may serve to facilitate the inception of pharmacare is the Health Ministers’ Meeting, where the provincial health ministers gather to discuss and debate policy.37 The feasibility of effective pharmacare is complicated by Canada’s settler-colonial structure, as there are unique considerations for the feasibility of administering pharmacare to Indigenous nations.


Currently, several key challenges uniquely impact Indigenous peoples while accessing prescriptions, including administrative, geographic, and systemic barriers.38 The quality of healthcare Indigenous people experience in Canada is significantly lower than non-Indigenous people, as is well-documented in the literature and exacerbated by the fact that Indigenous healthcare is worse when it is delivered through regionalized care.39 Regionalized healthcare––like Canada’s–– perpetuates federal-centric administration and control of Indigenous peoples, imposing boundaries on their territories and fragmenting community perspectives across jurisdictions.40 While pharmaceuticals have powerful therapeutic effects, revitalizing the healthcare system’s workability for Indigenous peoples will be incomplete without addressing the lack of adequate food and housing for many communities and the negative effects of colonialism on Indigenous health.41 The federal government has suggested that there is a need to work with Indigenous peoples to develop a “process” for determining whether and how they wish to participate in national pharmacare.42 Further, Budget 2018 dedicated 1.5 billion dollars to Indigenous healthcare. These considerations, however, do not spell out any of the actual details of Indigenous participation in national pharmacare, only that there are significant structural barriers. Financial and physical barriers to obtaining prescriptions are far more prevalent for Indigenous people, which will need to be structurally addressed by pharmacare if Canada hopes to truly adhere to the CHA.43 Thus, in order to successfully and consensually implement pharmacare, it is clear that substantive consultations will need to be undertaken that are written into the formation of pharmacare. Due to a lack of policy precedent, clear legislation, and the suboptimal pharmaceutical coverage for Indigenous peoples, it is difficult to analyze the feasibility of delivering a pharmacare system in this context.44 It is important to note that only registered First Nations and Inuit qualify for non-insured benefits at present. The federal


government has stated that it is willing to act in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to be actively i nvo l ve d in developing and determining health… programmes affecting them” and to “administer such programmes through their own institutions.”45 However, this commitment inspires little confidence, as the federal government has consistently engaged with Indigenous nations and people through conduct in non-compliance with UNDRIP.46 Further, there is significant evidence that the provinces of Canada do not adequately advocate for Indigenous health issues or provide sufficient healthcare for Indigenous communities.47 Therefore, in order for pharmacare to be realized, provincial governments will need to engage in dialogue and deliberation on many levels of authority, including with Indigenous peoples, and must be willing to concede partial autonomy in exchange for fiscal transfers. Pharmacare’s implementation has important implications, as the federal government would likely have a heavy hand in guiding policy areas that fall under section 92(7) of the constitution. This remains feasible, as there is historical precedent for similar exchanges of power for funds in healthcare, exhibited by Medicare. The conditions for this exchange will need to be conducted through political parties, bureaucracies, and institutional meetings. As aforementioned, it is unclear what the role of Indigenous peoples will be in the formation of this policy due to section

91(24) of the constitution, although it has been the historical norm that consultations will tend towards being symbolic rather than substantive. Thus, pharmacare’s implementation within provinces and Indigenous communities will depend highly on whether provinces opt in and how ethically the federal government can engage in nation-to-nation policymaking. The limitations to my argument that pharmacare is structurally and politically feasible are mostly related to Canada’s slow, incremental health policy development system and its colonial structure. This creates significant barriers to implementation for early proposals of pharmacare which can be attributed to the bureaucracy of Canada’s institutions, electoral incentives, and policymaking in liberal democracies.48 Despite the barriers presented by this policy incrementalism, pharmacare remains a feasible opportunity for collaborative policymaking due to the room allowed by the constitutional and structural room for policy collegialism. Feasibility Based on Political Will At a 2015 meeting of the provincial and territorial health ministers, there was concern over whether pharmacare is “politically feasible.”49 This section will analyze that claim by examining whether political will may activate within the structure of Canadian politics, thereby on multiple levels of the federation and transcendent of party, to facilitate pharmacare. In terms of multi-layer will, it is clear that political will must exist amongst provincial and federal governments, thus this paper must demonstrate that this will has the potential to spur from both levels. Turning first to the federal level, it is clear that the will to implement pharmacare is gaining traction, as the Liberals, the Greens, and the New Democrats all included pharmacare in their 2019 election platforms.50 The parties cited the substantive medical and pharmacoeconomic advantages, pointing to key inefficiencies within the current system, which are largely due to Canada missing out on the collective bar-

gaining power of our population.51 Yet, this massive spending on the federal level does not take the onus off of private citizens nor off of provinces. This has notable economic implications, as Canada could save an average of seven billion dollars per year on drug costs if pharmacare is implemented.52 Further, long-term costs would decrease, as patient adherence to preventive medicine drastically reduces the need for emergency interventions, namely in the form of costly procedures.53 Moreover, if all provinces increased per capita drug spending to the levels observed in the two provinces with the highest spending level, an average of 584 fewer infant deaths per year and over 6 months of increased life expectancy would occur.54 Unlike the other three major federal parties, the Conservative Party is staunchly opposed to introducing pharmacare, citing that approximately 95 percent of Canadians are already eligible for drug coverage either through employers or provinces.55 This number is deceiving, as the actual number of Canadians who do not actually have coverage is closer to twenty percent. However, former leader Andrew Scheer stated in 2019 that the Conservatives are willing to work towards “filling gaps” in coverage, although he has not specified how.56 Thus, if pharmacare were delayed until 2023 and the Conservatives formed the next Canadian government, it would clearly be unfeasible. Short of this delay, political will clearly exists at the federal level to establish pharmacare. This is not enough, though, as the provinces need to be active participants in creating national healthcare policy. As stated by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, federal actors are unwilling to stick their neck out for pharmacare if it is not reflected in party behaviour at the provincial level. This is exhibited by Trudeau’s 2019 statement that he does not want to “send money to [Premier of Ontario] Doug Ford or [Premier of Alberta] Jason Kenney… if they are not going to actually move in the right direction.”57 Provincial political will


comes institutionally from the voters due to Canada’s electoral system, which means that provincial governments act as mouthpieces for policy expectations within the federation. Thus, provincial will to institute a pharmacare system must come from the provincial governments, and by extension from voters who theoretically dictate their policy priorities via voting behaviour. Canada’s current high spending on drugs, especially in comparison to their OECD peers, does not shield citizens or provinces from paying for pharmaceuticals. Citizens are often still on the hook for copayments and/or deductibles to ensure pharmaceutical coverage. This is a detriment to pharmaceutical accessibility, as even small co-payments may result in thousands of Canadians skipping on filling their prescriptions. In congruence with this, provincial governments end up paying a significant portion of the costs incurred, because they have no jurisdiction over market competitiveness or pricing. Because of these facts, it is conceivable that provinces see the advantages of developing a pharmacare system, strengthened by the trend that provincial units are inching towards negotiating a pharmacare system, exhibited by the generative discussions occurring between provinces. However, the election of provincial parties that convey platforms that are antithetical to pharmacare could present an insurmountable challenge to its inception, as these parties would institutionalize perspectives that prioritize provincial autonomy. Because of the constitution, the existence of pharmacare is locked in a state of political immobility if activation does not transcend provincial considerations.58 Thus, to prove that pharmacare is politically feasible, there must be benefits associated with implementing national pharmacare that cut across provincial considerations. Provincial actors would likely be inhibitive to pharmacare’s feasibility if there was evidence that private pharmaceutical interests agglomerate only in specific provinces, as insurance firms and the pharmaceutical industries would be the major “losers” of this program.59 Yet, due to


the nature of these industries, it is unlikely that significant economic or political considerations will become politically activated only in certain regions in order to prevent these industries from losing profit, because the industry is consistently pervasive in all the major regions of Canada. This does not erase the intergovernmental difficulties remaining in the coordination of a policy plan of this size, shown by Trudeau’s consistent avoidance of providing details about facilitating intergovernmental cooperation while campaigning on pharmacare.60 However, this does suggest that pharmacare will be able to garner provincial and federal political will to become a tangible policy plan. Pharmacare is most feasible in considerations of political will when the implications of not allowing federal influence into one’s healthcare would mean negative effects for one’s province. In regard to pharmacare, these negative effects are the aforementioned issues with accessing pharmaceuticals that lead to prescription rationing, missed prescriptions, and economic burden on citizens. This leads to more expensive health outcomes long-term, as effective use of pharmaceuticals is the primary way to prevent more costly medical interventions, like surgery. Dr. Eric Hoskins, the chair of Canada’s Advisory Council on the Implementation of Pharmacare, spoke to the validity of this logic, pointing out that: “It makes no sense to have people end up in a hospital bed that costs $1,000 a day because they can’t afford a pill.”61 It is clear that the political will from the provinces to yield autonomy in favour of better outcomes was exhibited with HIDSA and with other health improvement policy like the 2007 Patient Wait Times Guarantee, both of which allowed the federal government to encroach further into section 92(7) territory for the sake of health economics and improved patient outcomes. Therefore, as long as there is sufficient political will stemming from the provincial level to implement pharmacare despite a potential loss of power and/or autonomy, provinces will work to implement pharmacare. The Premiers of the provinces

generally point to the fact that many provinces already have plans, but that they are willing to move forward if Ottawa leads the talks, exhibiting a measured stance but also an openness to responding to the will of the electorate and the federal government.62 This provincial will must exist in congruence with federal will to claim that pharmacare is feasible due to the federal nature of Canada, which I have explored and expanded on by showing that will does exist. Media Coverage and Public Opinion A paramount consideration to undertake is whether political will to implement pharmacare exists at the social and public levels of how information is disseminated to Canadian citizens, who elect leaders in provincial and federal elections. In this sense, political will is available to be readily activated and articulated by institutions, based on polling data that states that Canadians support its inception.63 In other words, Canadians have a significant appetite for this policy plan, which may form into the policy expectations of voters depending on how electoral and political trends continue to develop. Canadians may harbour this appetite due to frustration with the current pharmacoeconomic situation or because of a belief that pharmacare is in line with collective, ideological morals about the right to access healthcare. There is significant evidence that pharmacare’s qualitative attraction may spur political will, exhibited by the Advisory Council pointing to it as being in line with “Canadian values.” Further, there is significant data that suggest that citizens, regardless of province, place a high value on Canada’s healthcare system and wish to see universalism expanded.64 Thus, pharmacare is certainly feasible if observed through the lens of whether citizens may vote in candidates who campaign on universal drug coverage. Despite this, there has been some varied discontent regarding pharmacare expressed by the media. In a survey of the top stories from each of Canada’s ten most-read news sources, the National Post and the Cal-

gary Herald were the two most anti-pharmacare sources. Despite the fact that it seems like most of the claims made by these papers are disputed by the scholarship on this topic, disregarding these sources would not give a whole picture of whether pharmacare is feasible in Canada. This is for one simple reason: media sources help shape public opinion, which shapes voting behaviour. Voting behaviour, as I have pointed to, is extremely pertinent to the feasibility of pharmacare, especially at the provincial level. Most articles in Canadian media that have expressed a negative view of pharmacare share basically the same criticisms of a national “monopolistic” policy: it is expensive, unnecessary, and could actually reduce access to care.65 Additionally, local papers that operate in the Postmedia conglomerate continually publish negative content about the Liberals’ path to Pharmacare, such as the London Free Press which emphasizes that “there’s no need to wipe out a system that already works well for the vast majority... to help a few.”66 As such, how will the media affect public opinion, which will certainly affect the appetite for pharmacare and how pressure is placed on the government? Kelly Blidook tackled this very question, exploring the extent to which the media affect public perceptions of “the way things are” in Canadian healthcare.67 Blidook indicates that media use has a significant effect on public perceptions regarding the state of healthcare, especially when negative, meaning that the potential impacts of media on public perception regarding pharmacare is a significant factor when considering the future of its feasibility. If the majority of the media were to turn on pharmacare and the will of the people were to dictate the shape of public policy in Canada, as our liberal democratic structure suggests, pharmacare would likely not be feasible. Mapping the quantity of negative media that quantifies a threat to pharmacare is beyond the scope of this paper, which presents a limitation to my claims. However, it is clear that many media sources remain complimentary to


pharmacare thus far, and that the majority of negative reporting seems to be rooted in already solidly blue regions that are already slightly less likely to support pharmacare (for example, Calgary media sources). As a whole, the Canadian media does not seem to focus excessively on pharmacare in a negative light and many sources of media are quick to point out the advantages of pharmacare. Moreover, negative coverage seems to be highly regionalized and therefore less of a threat than if it were nationwide. Thus, in light of the present situation and given the current evidence, pharmacare remains a feasible option for Canadian healthcare. This may change in time given Blidook’s findings, if voices in Canadian media significantly turn their favour against pharmacare, but that does not seem to be a significant risk at this time. How will COVID-19 Impact Pharmacare? The claims of this paper are based on literature, data, and government communications that predate the pandemic and fail to adequately consider how the pandemic might impact the implementation of pharmacare. Health spending, public prioritization of healthcare infrastructure, and parliamentary debate on healthcare have been at record highs throughout the first year of the pandemic and will likely to continue to be so in the near future. There are several possibilities about what the upshots of COVID-19 will be on the implementation of pharmacare, which I will now outline. Firstly, it is possible that healthcare may remain in the forefront of Canada’s political collective consciousness, which could have the effect of shedding light and moving debate forward on pharmacare. In late 2020 and early 2021, there has been pressure placed on the Liberals by the New Democratic Party to get pharmacare off the ground, but the government thus far has not chosen to make decisions on pharmacare, focusing instead on vaccine rollouts.68 After voting down a 2021 pharmacare bill proposed by the NDP, Trudeau has emphasized that the process of implementing pharmacare will not be im-


posed by the federal government, but will instead be inductive and involve intergovernmental cooperation. Partisan whips and provincial-federal boundaries may be slightly weakened in the fallout of COVID-19, as political actors realize that they may need to reach across the aisle and to different levels of governance to prioritize healthcare. This possibility, although idealistic, is a possible upshot because COVD-19 initially seemed to be spurring increases in governmental collegiality, which may have the potential to bleed into other topics (like pharmacare). This is indicated by the fact that Ontario’s Conservative finance minister praised Trudeau’s management of the pandemic and has promised to “stand shoulder-to-shoulder” with the federal government.69 However, as the pandemic has progressed, the likelihood of this possibility has decreased as the adversarial nature of partisan politics and provincial-federal relations has essentially returned to full force. This indicates that the collegiality observed was a shortterm, rally-around-the-flag-esque effect. It is also possible that COVID-19 may slow or halt the implementation of pharmacare. First, COVID-19 may reaffirm the provinces’ desire to have autonomy and independence in determining health policy, as leaders may see it as illuminating the differences between each province’s healthcare infrastructure and quality. This is observable in BC and Alberta’s refusal to adopt the federal government’s contact tracing mobile application for free.70 This may result in provinces being less willing to make concessions to the federal government for drastic new institutional policies or cash transfers, as they may wish to retain the ability to make decisions regarding formularies for future emergencies. However, this may also have the opposite effect, as provinces may be more willing to expand healthcare coverage for citizens upon realizing the importance of federal-level responses to health challenges. Second, parliamentary and public debate on health has been significantly directed away from pharmacare, as more airtime and debate in the House of Commons has been

spent dealing with emergency responses to COVID-19. Thus, the salience of pharmacare in political discourse has been lowered, making it less likely to be implemented in the short-term. Lastly, federal and provincial healthcare budgets may be focused on fixing the vulnerabilities exposed by COVID-19, such as hospital bed numbers, staffing numbers, and technology. Thus, there might be less political will to put a “down payment” on pharmacare at this time.71 If COVID-19 were an infection that typically necessitated prescribed pharmaceutical drug therapy, this may be a different story, as a spotlight might have been shone on the inequalities and public health risks of inaccessible pharmaceuticals. However, due to COVID-19’s viral nature and the fact that most patients who are prescribed medications receive them in hospitals (meaning that their drugs are already covered under the CHA), the inaccessibility of drug therapy has not become a key consideration. It is beyond the scope of this paper to make claims about the degree of certainty with which COVID-19 will impact pharmacare as this may be better analyzed by public healthcare and medical professionals. However, it is important to note that the pre-pandemic literature may be less applicable to the future state of health policy in Canada as the world moves forward.

policy-building. Additionally, political will must exist from the provincial-level government to collaborate with the federal government in a way that may mean giving up autonomy. Lastly, that media coverage of pharmacare does not turn public opinion against pharmacare, given the democratic nature of Canadian politics. Despite the feasibility of pharmacare, it is unclear how the federal government will go about delivering pharmacare to Indigenous peoples, as they are under the federal government’s constitutional jurisdiction. There are clearly political actors across the political spectrum that aim to either propel or bring a halt to pharmacare’s implementation. Although it seems like most evidence points to overall benefits of implementing pharmacare, there are valid concerns that go against implementing pharmacare. In any case, this paper concerned itself mainly with the feasibility of pharmacare, rather than the merits of its implementation. To this end, this paper concludes that pharmacare is feasible, but that there are complications with making any broad statements about pharmacare due to Canada’s settler-colonial character and the uncertainty created by COVID-19.

Conclusion The lack of a pharmacare system in Canada complicates its universal healthcare system and seems to run counter to its institutional and legislative healthcare principles. This paper has tackled why the Canadian system lacks pharmacare, showing that previous attempts have largely been unsuccessful because of a perceived lack of need or the lack of political will. It then turned towards examining the question of the feasibility of pharmacare, demonstrating that pharmacare is indeed feasible structurally and politically, given three key conditions: the existence of political will from the federal government to propel its inception forward, provision of funding, and the structuring of negotiations through cooperative


Endnotes 1 Steven G. Morgan et al., “Estimated Cost of Universal Public Coverage of Prescription Drugs in Canada,” CMAJ 187, no. 7 (April 21, 2015): 492, https://doi. org/10.1503/cmaj.141564. 2 Health Canada, “Canada Health Act,” February 24, 2020, https://www. canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/ health-care-system/canada-health-care-system-medicare/canada-health-act.html. 3 Statistics Canada Government of Canada, “Health Regions: Boundaries and Correspondence with Census Geography,” December 16, 2015, https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-402-x/2015002/appann/ap-an1-eng.htm. 4 Natalia Diaz-Granados, Katholiki Georgiades, and Michael H. Boyle, “Regional and Individual Influences on Use of Mental Health Services in Canada,” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne De Psychiatrie 55, no. 1 (January 2010): 10, https://doi. org/10.1177/070674371005500103.population-based, cross-sectional survey, the Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health and Well-Being, consisting of adults aged 15 years or older (n = 36 984 5 Steven G. Morgan and Katherine Boothe, “Universal Prescription Drug Coverage in Canada: Long-Promised yet Undelivered,” Healthcare Management Forum 29, no. 6 (November 2016): 252, https://doi. org/10.1177/0840470416658907.public coverage of prescription drugs has been recommended by major national commissions in Canada dating back to the 1960s. It has not, however, been implemented. In this article, we extend research on the failure of early proposals for universal drug coverage in Canada to explain failures of calls for reform over the past 20 years. We describe the confluence of barriers to reform stemming from Canadian policy institutions, ideas held by federal policy-makers, and electoral incentives for necessary reforms. Though universal \”pharmacare\” is once again on the policy agenda in Canada, arguably at higher levels of policy discourse


than ever before, the frequently recommended option of universal, public coverage of prescription drugs remains unlikely to be implemented without political leadership necessary to overcome these policy barriers.”,”container-title”:”Healthcare Management Forum”,”DOI”:”10.1177/0840470416658 907”,”ISSN”:”0840-4704”,”issue”:”6”,”journalAbbreviation”:”Healthc Manage Forum”,”language”:”eng”,”note”:”PMID: 27744279\ nPMCID: PMC5094297”,”page”:”247-254”,”source”:”PubMed”,”title”:”Universal prescription drug coverage in Canada: Long-promised yet undelivered”,”title-short”:”Universal prescription drug coverage in Canada”,”volume”:”29”,”author”:[{“family”:”Morgan”,”given”:”Steven G.”},{“family”:”Boothe”,”given”:”Katherine”}],”issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2016”,11]]}},”locator”:”252”}],”schema”:”https://github.com/ citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/ csl-citation.json”} 6 Joan Price Boase, “Institutions, Institutionalized Networks and Policy Choices: Health Policy in the US and Canada,” 290, accessed March 15, 2021, https:// onlinelibrary-wiley-com.proxy3.library. mcgill.ca/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-0491.1996. tb00244.x.; Gregory P. Marchildon, “Canadian Medicare: Why History Matters,” in Making Medicare: New Perspectives on the History of Medicare in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012), 5, http://www.jstor. org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2tv25c. 7 Morgan and Boothe, “Universal Prescription Drug Coverage in Canada,” 249.public coverage of prescription drugs has been recommended by major national commissions in Canada dating back to the 1960s. It has not, however, been implemented. In this article, we extend research on the failure of early proposals for universal drug coverage in Canada to explain failures of calls for reform over the past 20 years. We describe the confluence of barriers to reform stemming from Canadian policy institutions, ideas held by federal policy-makers, and electoral incentives for necessary reforms. Though universal \”pharmacare\” is

once again on the policy agenda in Canada, arguably at higher levels of policy discourse than ever before, the frequently recommended option of universal, public coverage of prescription drugs remains unlikely to be implemented without political leadership necessary to overcome these policy barriers.”,”container-title”:”Healthcare Management Forum”,”DOI”:”10.1177/0840470416658 907”,”ISSN”:”0840-4704”,”issue”:”6”,”journalAbbreviation”:”Healthc Manage Forum”,”language”:”eng”,”note”:”PMID: 27744279\ nPMCID: PMC5094297”,”page”:”247-254”,”source”:”PubMed”,”title”:”Universal prescription drug coverage in Canada: Long-promised yet undelivered”,”title-short”:”Universal prescription drug coverage in Canada”,”volume”:”29”,”author”:[{“family”:”Morgan”,”given”:”Steven G.”},{“family”:”Boothe”,”given”:”Katherine”}],”issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2016”,11]]}},”locator”:”249”}],”schema”:”https://github.com/ citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/ csl-citation.json”} 8 Daniel Muzyka, “The Inconvenient Truths About Canadian healthcare,” 2012, www.conferenceboard.ca/CASHC/ research/2012/inconvenient_truths.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookie Support=1. 9 Charles Adler, “Pharmacare Is a Popular Idea — so Where Do the Parties Stand?,” Global News, accessed March 15, 2021, https://globalnews.ca/news/5968367/ canada-election-pharmacare/. 10 Morgan and Boothe, “Universal Prescription Drug Coverage in Canada,” 251.public coverage of prescription drugs has been recommended by major national commissions in Canada dating back to the 1960s. It has not, however, been implemented. In this article, we extend research on the failure of early proposals for universal drug coverage in Canada to explain failures of calls for reform over the past 20 years. We describe the confluence of barriers to reform stemming from Canadian policy institutions, ideas held by federal policy-makers, and electoral incentives for necessary reforms. Though universal \”pharmacare\”

is once again on the policy agenda in Canada, arguably at higher levels of policy discourse than ever before, the frequently recommended option of universal, public coverage of prescription drugs remains unlikely to be implemented without political leadership necessary to overcome these policy barriers.”,”container-title”:”Healthcare Management Forum”,”DOI”:”10.1177 /0840470416658907”,”ISSN”:”0840-4704”, ”issue”:”6”,”journalAbbreviation”:”Healthc Manage Forum”,”language”:”eng”,”note”:”PMID: 27744279\nPMCID: PMC5094297”,”page”:”247-254”,”source”:”PubMed”,”title”:”Universal prescription drug coverage in Canada: Long-promised yet undelivered”,”title-short”:”Universal prescription drug coverage in Canada”,”volume”:”29”,”author”:[{“family”:”Morgan”,”given”:”Steven G.”},{“family”:”Boothe”,”given”:”Katherine”}],”issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2016”,11]]}},”locator”:”251”}],”schema”:”https://github.com/ citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json”} 11 Dale Gibson, “The Canada Health Act and the Constitution Discussion Paper,” Health Law Journal 4 (1996): 5.; “Ss. 91, 92 and 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867,” University of Toronto Libraries, accessed March 15, 2021, https://exhibits. library.utoronto.ca/items/show/2434. 12 Marchildon, “Canadian Medicare: Why History Matters,” 8. 13 Morgan et al., “Estimated Cost of Universal Public Coverage of Prescription Drugs in Canada,” 493. 14 Marchildon, “Canadian Medicare: Why History Matters,” 11. 15 Health Canada, “Royal Commission on Health Services, 1961 to 1964,” June 13, 2005, https://www.canada.ca/ en/health-canada/services/health-caresystem/commissions-inquiries/federal-commissions-health-care/royal-commission-health-services.html. 16 Morgan et al., “Estimated Cost of Universal Public Coverage of Prescription Drugs in Canada,” 495. 17 Marchildon, “Canadian Medicare:


Why History Matters,” 12. 18 Marchildon, 14. 19 Health Canada, “Canada Health Act,” February 24, 2020, https://www. canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/ health-care-system/canada-health-care-system-medicare/canada-health-act.html. 20 Morgan and Boothe, “Universal Prescription Drug Coverage in Canada,” 250.public coverage of prescription drugs has been recommended by major national commissions in Canada dating back to the 1960s. It has not, however, been implemented. In this article, we extend research on the failure of early proposals for universal drug coverage in Canada to explain failures of calls for reform over the past 20 years. We describe the confluence of barriers to reform stemming from Canadian policy institutions, ideas held by federal policy-makers, and electoral incentives for necessary reforms. Though universal \”pharmacare\” is once again on the policy agenda in Canada, arguably at higher levels of policy discourse than ever before, the frequently recommended option of universal, public coverage of prescription drugs remains unlikely to be implemented without political leadership necessary to overcome these policy barriers.”,”container-title”:”Healthcare Management Forum”,”DOI”:”10.1177/0840470416658 907”,”ISSN”:”0840-4704”,”issue”:”6”,”journalAbbreviation”:”Healthc Manage Forum”,”language”:”eng”,”note”:”PMID: 27744279\ nPMCID: PMC5094297”,”page”:”247-254”,”source”:”PubMed”,”title”:”Universal prescription drug coverage in Canada: Long-promised yet undelivered”,”title-short”:”Universal prescription drug coverage in Canada”,”volume”:”29”,”author”:[{“family”:”Morgan”,”given”:”Steven G.”},{“family”:”Boothe”,”given”:”Katherine”}],”issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2016”,11]]}},”locator”:”251”}],”schema”:”https://github.com/ citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/ csl-citation.json”} ; Health Canada, “Canada Health Act.” 21 Morgan et al., “Estimated Cost of Universal Public Coverage of Prescription Drugs in Canada,” 248.


22 Morgan et al., “Estimated Cost of Universal Public Coverage of Prescription Drugs in Canada,” 249. 23 Government of Canada, “Federal Investments in healthcare,” September 21, 2009. https://www.fin.gc.ca/fedprov/fihc-ifass-eng.asp 24 Aslam H. Anis, “Pharmaceutical Policies in Canada: Another Example of Federal-Provincial Discord,” CMAJ 162, no. 4 (February 22, 2000): 524. 25 Anis, 524. 26 Health Canada, “Canada Health Act.” 27 Anis, “Pharmaceutical Policies in Canada,” 527. 28 Steven Lewis, “It Won’t Be Easy: How to Make Universal Pharmacare Work in Canada,” International Journal of Health Policy and Management 9, no. 1 (October 8, 2019): 3, https://doi.org/10.15171/ ijhpm.2019.82. 29 Health Canada, “Final Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare” (Government of Canada, 2019), 29. 30 André Lecours et al., Fiscal Federalism and Equalization Policy in Canada: Political and Economic Dimensions, The Johnson-Shoyama Series on Public Policy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017), 30, http://www.deslibris.ca/ ID/453503.”ISBN”:”978-1-4426-3543-2”,”language”:”English”,”number-of-volumes”:”1 online resource”,”publisher”:”University of Toronto Press”,”publisher-place”:”Toronto”,”source”:”WorldCat Discovery Service”,”title”:”Fiscal federalism and equalization policy in Canada: political and economic dimensions”,”title-short”:”Fiscal federalism and equalization policy in Canada”,”URL”:”http:// www.deslibris.ca/ID/453503”,”author”:[{“family”:”Lecours”,”given”:”André”},{“family”:”Marchildon”,”given”:”Gregory P”},{“family”:”Olfert”,”given”:”M. R. (“},{“family”:”Béland”,”given”:”Daniel”},{“family”:”Mou”,”given”:”Haizhen”}],”accessed”:{“date-parts”:[[“2021”,3,16]]},”issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2017”]]}},”loca-

tor”:”30”}],”schema”:”https://github.com/ citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/ csl-citation.json”} 31 Department of Finance Canada, “History of Health and Social Transfers,” January 1, 2000, https://www.canada.ca/ en/department-finance/programs/federal-transfers/history-health-social-transfers. html. 32 Department of Finance Canada. 33 Raisa Berlin Deber, “Health Care Reform: Lessons From Canada,” American Journal of Public Health 93, no. 1 (January 2003): 23. 34 Deber, 23. 35 Health Canada, “Final Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare,” 66. 36 Health Canada, 30. 37 Jane Taber, “Health Ministers Consider Alternate Approaches for Expanding Pharmacare,” Globe and Mail, accessed March 16, 2021, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/health-ministers-discussed-two-tier-approach-to-pharmacare/article25526544/. 38 Health Canada, “Final Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare,” 53. 39 Carolyn Stephens et al., “Disappearing, Displaced, and Undervalued: A Call to Action for Indigenous Health Worldwide,” Lancet (London, England) 367, no. 9527 (June 17, 2006): 28, https://doi.org/10.1016/S01406736(06)68892-2.; Smylie J et al., “Indigenous Health Performance Measurement Systems in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.,” Lancet (London, England) 367, no. 9527 (2006): 94.; Hartmut B Krentz, “Aboriginal Health in Canada: Historical, Cultural, and Epidemiological Perspectives (Review),” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 72, no. 2 (1998): 103–5. 40 Josée G. Lavoie et al., “Lost in Maps: Regionalization and Indigenous Health Services,” HealthcarePapers 16, no. 1 (2016): 68, https://doi.org/10.12927/hcpap.2016.24773.often purposeful - of Indigenous place-names, and understandings of territory and associated obligations. The

Canadian map with its three territories and ten provinces, electoral boundaries and districts, reflects boundaries that continue to fragment Indigenous nations and traditional lands. Each fragment adds institutional requirements and organizational complexities that Indigenous nations must engage with when attempting to realize the benefits taken for granted under the Canadian social contract.”,”container-title”:”HealthcarePapers”,”DOI”:”10.12927/ hcpap.2016.24773”,”ISSN”:”1929-6339”, ”issue”:”1”,”journalAbbreviation”:”Healthc Pap”,”language”:”eng”,”note”:”PMID: 27734791”,”page”:”63-73”,”source”:”PubMed”,”title”:”Lost in Maps: Regionalization and Indigenous Health Services”,”title-short”:”Lost in Maps”,”volume”:”16”,”author”:[{“family”:”Lavoie”,”given”:”Josée G.”},{“family”:”Kornelsen”,”given”:”Derek”},{“family”:”Boyer”,”given”:”Yvonne”},{“family”:”Wylie”,”given”:”Lloy”}],”issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2016”]]}},”locator”:”68”}],”schema”:”https://github.com/ citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json”} ; Health Canada, “Final Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare,” 25. 41 Health Canada, 34; Smylie J et al., “Indigenous Health Performance Measurement Systems in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.,” 93. 42 Health Canada, “Final Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare,” 35. 43 Krentz, “Aboriginal Health in Canada,” 103–5.; Health Canada, “Final Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare,” 35. 44 Krentz, 103-105. 45 Health Canada, “Final Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare,” 25. 46 Russell Diabo and 2017, “On the 10th Anniversary of UNDRIP, Indigenous People Have Nothing to Celebrate,” CBC, 2017, https://www.cbc.ca/news/indig-


enous/opinion-10th-anniversary-of-undrip-1.4286449. 47 Amohia Frances Boulton, Josée G. Lavoie, and Laverne Gervais, “Regionalization as an Opportunity for Meaningful Indigenous Participation in Healthcare: Comparing Canada and New Zealand,” International Indigenous Policy Journal 3, no. 1 (2012): 8. 48 Morgan and Boothe, “Universal Prescription Drug Coverage in Canada,” 251.public coverage of prescription drugs has been recommended by major national commissions in Canada dating back to the 1960s. It has not, however, been implemented. In this article, we extend research on the failure of early proposals for universal drug coverage in Canada to explain failures of calls for reform over the past 20 years. We describe the confluence of barriers to reform stemming from Canadian policy institutions, ideas held by federal policy-makers, and electoral incentives for necessary reforms. Though universal \”pharmacare\” is once again on the policy agenda in Canada, arguably at higher levels of policy discourse than ever before, the frequently recommended option of universal, public coverage of prescription drugs remains unlikely to be implemented without political leadership necessary to overcome these policy barriers.”,”container-title”:”Healthcare Management Forum”,”DOI”:”10.1177/0840470416658 907”,”ISSN”:”0840-4704”,”issue”:”6”,”journalAbbreviation”:”Healthc Manage Forum”,”language”:”eng”,”note”:”PMID: 27744279\ nPMCID: PMC5094297”,”page”:”247-254”,”source”:”PubMed”,”title”:”Universal prescription drug coverage in Canada: Long-promised yet undelivered”,”title-short”:”Universal prescription drug coverage in Canada”,”volume”:”29”,”author”:[{“family”:”Morgan”,”given”:”Steven G.”},{“family”:”Boothe”,”given”:”Katherine”}],”issued”:{“date-parts”:[[“2016”,11]]}},”locator”:”251”}],”schema”:”https://github.com/ citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/ csl-citation.json”} 49 Taber, “Health Ministers Consider Alternate Approaches for Expanding Phar-


macare.” 50 Matthew B. Stanbrook, “Election 2019: Unprecedented Hope for Universal Pharmacare,” CMAJ 191, no. 41 (October 15, 2019): 10, https://doi.org/10.1503/ cmaj.191291.; Morgan Lowrie, “Trudeau Pledges $6B to Kickstart Talks on Health Care, National Pharmacare with Provinces,” accessed March 16, 2021, https://globalnews.ca/ news/5939030/trudeau-pledges-6b-to-kickstart-talks-on-health-care-national-pharmacare-with-provinces/. 51 Anis, “Pharmaceutical Policies in Canada,” 525. 52 Morgan et al., “Estimated Cost of Universal Public Coverage of Prescription Drugs in Canada,” 497. 53 Stanbrook, “Election 2019,” 12. 54 Pierre-Yves Crémieux et al., “Public and Private Pharmaceutical Spending as Determinants of Health Outcomes in Canada,” Health Economics 14, no. 2 (2005): 107–16, https://doi.org/10.1002/hec.922. 55 Crémieux et al.; Kerri Breen, “Scheer on the Ford Factor, Cutting Spending and Why the Conservatives Aren’t Pitching National Pharmacare,” Global News, accessed March 16, 2021, https://globalnews.ca/news/6026500/ scheer-ford-spending-pharmacare/. 56 Andrew MacLeod, “Three Parties, Three Roadmaps to Universal Pharmacare in Canada,” The Tyee (The Tyee, September 25, 2019), https://thetyee. ca/News/2019/09/25/Universal-Pharmacare-Roadmaps/. 57 Tonda MacCharles, “Trudeau Won’t Force Child Care or Pharmacare on Provinces That Don’t Want It,” thestar.com, September 5, 2019, https://www.thestar. com/politics/federal/2019/09/05/trudeauwont-force-child-care-or-pharmacare-onprovinces-that-dont-want-it.html. 58 Morgan Lowrie, “Trudeau pledges $6B to kickstart talks on healthcare, national pharmacare with provinces”, Global News, Sept. 23, 2019, https://globalnews.ca/ news/5939030/trudeau-pledges-6b-to-kickstart-talks-on-health-care-national-phar-

macare-with-provinces/ 59 Taber, Jane. “Health Ministers consider alternate approaches for expanding pharmacare”. The Globe and Mail, July 16, 2015.; Natalia Diaz-Granados, Katholiki Georgiades, Michael Boyle, “Regional and Individual Influences on Use of Mental Health Services in Canada.” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, (2010): 12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/20113539/. 60 Lowrie, “Trudeau pledges $6B to kickstart talks on healthcare, national pharmacare with provinces.” 61 MacLeod, “Three Parties, Three Roadmaps to Universal Pharmacare in Canada.” 62 Rachel Aiello, “What the Premiers Think about a National Pharmacare Plan,” 2019, https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/ what-the-premiers-think-about-a-nationalpharmacare-plan-1.4711882. 63 Leslie Young, “9 in 10 Canadians Want National Pharmacare: Heart & Stroke Poll - National | Globalnews.Ca,” 2019, https://globalnews.ca/news/5941124/pharmacare-poll-heart-and-stroke/. 64 Deber, “Health Care Reform,” 23. 65 Michel Kelly-Gagnon, “Four Reasons National Pharmacare Monopoly Is a Terrible Idea — and the First Is $15.3 Billion in New Taxes,” Financial Post, January 8, 2021, https://financialpost.com/news/ election-2019/four-reasons-national-pharmacare-monopoly-is-a-terrible-idea-andthe-first-is-15-3-billion-in-new-taxes. 66 Aaron Wudrick, “We Can’t Afford Wall to Wall Pharmacare,” London Free Press, July 16, 2019, https://lfpress.com/opinion/ columnists/wudrick-we-cant-afford-wallto-wall-pharmacare/wcm/639b678a-4e4a4641-9b95-189ee21959d0/. 67 Kelly Blidook, “Media, Public Opinion and Health Care in Canada: How the Media Affect ‘The Way Things Are,’” Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue Canadienne de Science Politique 41, no. 2 (2008): 357. 68 Ryan Maloney, “NDP Calls Out Lib-

erals For Voting To Kill MP’s Pharmacare Bill,” HuffPost Canada, February 24, 2021, https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/ canada-pharmacare-ndp-liberals-vote_ ca_6036b086c5b60e3ed48b601f. 69 Village Media, “Premier, Ontario Finance Minister Applaud Federal COVID-19 Aid Announced This Morning,” CityNews Ottawa, accessed March 16, 2021, https://ottawa.citynews.ca/coronavirus-covid-19-national-news/premier-doug-ford-to-updateprovince-on-covid-19-response-2177536. 70 Rachel D’Amore, “Pressure Grows for Alberta and B.C. to Join COVID Alert App as Cases Surge,” Global News, accessed March 16, 2021, https://globalnews.ca/ news/7483333/covid-alert-canada-alberta-bc/. 71 Alex Ballingall, “Justin Trudeau Slams Doug Ford as He Lays out ‘down Payment’ for Pharmacare and Better Health Services,” The Hamilton Spectator, September 23, 2019, sec. Canada, https://www. thespec.com/news/canada/2019/09/23/ justin-trudeau-slams-doug-ford-as-he-laysout-down-payment-for-pharmacare-andbetter-health-services.html.


“Women, Life, Freedom” The Feminist Revolution of

the Kurdish YPJ

On April 4, 2013, prompted by the eruption of the Syrian Civil War and the encroachment of ISIS into Kurdish territory, the Women’s Protection Units was established. More commonly referred to as its acronym “YPJ,” (Yekîneyên Parastina Jin in Kurdish), this all-female militia is one of the main two armed forces in Rojava, a de facto autonomous region in northeastern Syria also known as Western Kurdistan. This paper explores the dual objective of the YPJ and the factors which have enabled the group’s resounding military, social, and political success. This essay seeks to demonstrate that the YPJ has been widely successful at waging a struggle against the conditions of inequality imposed by the dominant patriarchal system of the region due to its founding ideology, which places female liberation at the center of the broader Kurdish national movement. The YPJ has achieved resounding progress both on the battlefield against ISIS and within Kurdish society. Furthermore, this paper argues that through the establishment of an all-female militia in the Middle East, the YPJ has forged a revolutionary feminist movement whose message has reverberated across the world.

Written by Madelyn Evans Edited by Ioanna Tzima

On April 4, 2013, prompted by the eruption of the Syrian Civil War and the encroachment of ISIS into Kurdish territory, the Women’s Protection Units was established.1 More commonly referred to as its acronym “YPJ,” (Yekîneyên Parastina Jin in Kurdish), this all-female militia is one of the main two armed forces in Rojava, a de facto autonomous region in northeastern Syria also known as Western Kurdistan.2 The YPJ, along with the all-male YPG (“People’s Protection Units”), serve as parallel forces under the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and part of the broader military umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).3 The SDF is a unified fighting force composed of Kurdish, Arab, Turkmen, Assyrian and Armenian militia which militarily seeks to defeat ISIS and other Jihadist groups in the Syrian Civil War.4 Politically, the SDF aims to create a secular and autonomous democratic country in northern Syria.5 The YPJ, through operating under the framework of the SDF military alliance, has carved out its own path within the Syrian Kurdish Resistance fight. Spearheading both the Kurdish Female Movement and the battle against ISIS, the YPJ seeks to advance women in social, economic, and political domains of life with their leading motto “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi!” (“Woman, Life, Freedom!”).6 This paper will explore the dual objective of the YPJ and the factors which have enabled the resounding military, social, and political success of the group. First, this essay examines the interconnected military and ideological goals of the YPJ, including their aims to defeat both ISIS and the patriarchal mindset that underlies it. Next, this paper will analyze the success of the YPJ in achieving these objectives, assessing the victories they have achieved both on the battlefield and within Kurdish society. In order to measure the extent to which the YPJ has achieved social and political progress, the current laws, political representation, conditions of education and employment, and social norms in Rojava will be evaluated. Finally, this paper will examine the main factors which the YPJ’s resounding progress can be


traced to, including the implications of the YPJ’s founding ideology and support from the West, both militarily and ideologically. Overall, this essay seeks to demonstrate that the YPJ has been widely successful at waging a struggle against the conditions of inequality imposed by the dominant patriarchal system of the region due to its founding ideology, which places female liberation at the center of the broader Kurdish national movement. Moreover, this paper will argue that through the establishment of an all-female militia in the Middle East, the YPJ has forged a revolutionary feminist movement whose message has reverberated across the world. Main Objective of the YPJ: Waging a War on the Patriarchy Since the beginning of the Rojava revolution in 2012, the militarization of women has become essential in the Kurdish struggle for national liberation.7 After the arrival of female PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) combat veterans in 2013, the YPJ was formed as an autonomous women’s force separate from the larger YPG.8 Understood as a necessity to preserving both the existence and identity of the Kurdish movement, the establishment of the YPJ was followed by the creation of YPJ centers and female defense academies in every district in Rojava.9 Today, in the semi-autonomous regions of Kurdistan, approximately forty percent of all combatants are women.10 The YPJ is predominantly comprised of Kurdish fighters, but also includes females from different ethnic groups in northern Syria, local Arab women, and Western volunteers.11 The organization, although spearheading a military campaign, is primarily waging an ideological war. Importantly, the YPJ has a dual objective; it seeks to defeat ISIS militarily and, fundamentally, it aims to deconstruct the patriarchal impositions which underlie ISIS itself.12 In undertaking a struggle against the dominant patriarchal and capitalist system, the YPJ seeks to liberate women from conditions of inequality and oppression imposed on society around

the region.13 The basis of the YPJ’s objective can be traced to the ideology of the PKK and its founder, Abdullah Öcalan, which places gender equality at the center of the revolution and the new Kurdish state.14 The ways in which Öcalan’s founding ideology has helped open the way for a Kurdish feminist movement will be explored below. The duality of the YPJ’s military and ideological goals are interconnected because their overall objective is based on the belief that the liberation of women is fundamental for the eradication of ISIS.15 According to YPJ Comrade Heval Aryan, many YPJ fighters understand ISIS to be “the outcome of the male dominant system.”16 ISIS practices femicides and follows a specific ideology of patriarchy, sexism, and oppression.17 Under the circumstances of ISIS’ offensive, women are not perceived as human beings with rights and freedoms, but “as objects to be raped and enslaved.”18 According to YPJ commander Rojda Felat, ISIS sees women as property and the capitalist system present in the region maintains the patriarchy; both perpetuate the norm that “it is legitimate to use, abuse and persecute women.”19 These female units thus aim to overturn patriarchal norms in the region and empower women to break free of traditional gender roles.20 In many aspects of Middle Eastern society, the power and right of women to fight for themselves in battle is a contested and controversial belief.21 The YPJ seeks to dispel these beliefs by demonstrating through combat that women have their own will, are autonomous beings, and are able to defend themselves. 22 Finally, the YPJ, as part of the wider Kurdish national movement, fights to protect their land and people.23 For female Kurds, their struggle for freedom as women is interconnected with their emancipatory struggle as a nation. The YPJ embodies the shared Kurdish national vision of a secular polity which safeguards women’s rights, freedom, and democracy.24 However, as female Kurdish fighters they face intersectional struggles beyond obtaining statehood, including abuse, rape, and forced migration due to the Syrian Civil War and the Islamic

State’s Siege of Kobanî.25 The female Kurdish identity is crossed by the intersection of gender, ethnicity and class, which forms and complexifies their organized struggle. Moreover, the presence of the female figure in a political context of armed conflict challenges the traditional boundaries of international politics, as well as alters the composition of gender roles between public and private spheres.26 The Kurdish feminist identity thus is distinct in the fact that it constitutes both the “oppressed nation” and the “oppressed gender.”27 These identities, which reinforce one another, bolster the YPJ’s commitment to its objective of fighting against both ISIS and the conditions of inequality imposed on their society. Military Success of the YPJ The first component of the YPJ’s objective – defeating ISIS in combat – has been widely successful. The YPJ’s efforts in driving ISIS fighters from their Syrian strongholds have captured global headlines, introducing millions around the world to the plight of the Kurds in Syria and beyond.28 The YPJ, fighting alongside the all-male YPG, has been instrumental in a number of successful and strategically important missions in the region.29 In 2015, for example, the YPJ was absolutely crucial in the battle to take back control of Kobanî in Syria from ISIS.30 In the battle, eighty percent of all the fighters were women and their involvement stretched “from the coordination team to the units on the front line.”31 YPJ commander Azima described the role that women played in the liberation of Kobane as “heroic” and one which “left its fingerprint on history.”32 The YPJ spearheaded another monumental military campaign from 2014-2017 in Raqqa, which culminated with the liberation of the city from ISIS occupation on October 17, 2017.33 The YPJ-led SDF operation was a turning point in the war against ISIS because Raqqa had been the de facto capital of ISIS since 2014.34 The historic campaign emancipated thousands of captive Yazidi women and children, helping civilians to es-


cape gangs and reach safe zones.35 Symbolically, the YPJ officially announced its victory over ISIS in the al-Naim Square, a place where ISIS gangs previously committed mass executions.36 Marking the magnitude of the victory as a beacon of freedom for women and the peoples of the region alike, YPJ Commander Nesrin Abdullah declared, “We dedicate the liberation of Raqqa to all the women of the world.”37 The YPJ thus has been very successful in organizing themselves against ISIS, which has consequently showcased the power and strength of an all-female militia to the world. Social and Political Success of the YPJ The second component of the YPJ’s objective – fighting for female liberation and gender equality within their society – has made significant progress over the past several decades. This female militia has become the most visible symbol of the democratic Kurdish experiment in women’s rights and equality.38 Fighting in an all-female unit has not only empowered Kurdish women by their victories on the battlefield, but has strengthened women’s gender consciousness.39 When assessing the extent to which the YPJ has achieved their aim, it is important to note that the struggle for women’s equality is not an objective which can be achieved by reaching a certain target, but rather an ongoing goal.40 YPJ Comrade Heval Aryan points out how “Freedom has no limits… change is always present in this process.”41 In this regard, the extent to which the YPJ has achieved social and political progress thus far will be measured


through assessing the current laws, political representation, conditions of education and employment, and shifting social norms in Rojava and across the region. The Rojava Charter, the founding document of Rojava, is a striking indicator of the legal protections which women have gained.42 The Rojava Charter of the Social Contract for self-rule states that “women have the inviolable right to participate in political, social, economic and cultural life,” and, further, affirms that “men and women are equal in the eyes of the law.”43 The Charter also mandates “public institutions to work towards the elimination of gender discrimination.”44 Women sit at the center of the document because of the general acceptance within the Kurdish movement that the level of women’s freedom determines the scope of democracy and freedom in a country.45 The changing laws within Kurdish society are also evidence of significant advancements towards gender equality. Legislation now bans polygamy, child marriage, domestic violence, and dowry.46 Women have also been given the right to divorce, to keep their children and homes after a marital separation, and to inherit property on an equal basis with men.47 These new laws override long-observed Shariah law provisions which gave a woman’s testimony in court “only half the weight of a man’s.”48 While laws do not change traditions overnight, they have chipped away at them.49 Women have also gained a significant amount of political representation, which has led to increased participation and has had substantial consequences on socioeconomic dynamics.50 By law, every government institution in Kurdish-controlled Syria has a male and female co-president.51 Furthermore, government boards and committees must be equally mixed by gender, and women’s institutions are led by only women.52 The implementation of quotas and the principle of co-presidency has ensured that gender balance is asserted at all levels of political council, including in cities under Kurdish control which are predominantly Arab.53

Change is also evident within the sphere of education and employment. At the newly established Rojava University in Qamishli, the subject of jineology, or the “science of women” is now taught, making women’s rights a fundamental part of the program.54 Driving schools and firearms courses to teach civilian women how to defend themselves have also been created in several cities.55 Ilham Ahmed, a female Syrian-Kurdish politician from the Democratic Union Party, explains how by “educating young children to believe in equality between men and women,” they are gradually changing their society.56 Women are widely represented in various fields of employment, including health, media, the economy, language training, art, and culture.57 Across northern Syria, women serve as defense ministers, guards at checkpoints, traffic cops, and senior officers of local security forces.58 Furthermore, the organization Star Congress, which operates throughout Rojava and Syria, focuses on economic opportunity and development and upholds the notion that strong associations of women are necessary to confront the existing male-dominated institutions and mentalities.59 The fact that women are building their own place in society is evidence of shifting social structures and a transformation of traditional social norms.60 The agenda for women’s liberation has been pushed to the forefront of their society, exemplified by a banner in the city center of Qamishli which declares, “We will defeat the attacks of ISIS by guaranteeing the freedom of women in the Middle East.”61 Even in the town of Manbij, which is overwhelmingly Arab, conservative, and tribal, the Kurdish minority has witnessed a “real acceptance” of their efforts to enact gender equality.62 Overall, the fact that women sit at the center of the fight, the law, and politics is evidence that the YPJ has made extraordinary progress towards a society in which women can participate in every domain not by the permission of men, but “by the will of women.”63 In freeing themselves from the exploitative male regime in military, political, social, and cultural as-

pects, women have begun to carve their own place within society. Factor for Success: The YPJ’s Founding Ideology The resounding progress the YPJ has made in defeating both ISIS and patriarchal institutions of oppression can primarily be traced to the theoretical underpinnings of the organization’s founding ideology. The YPJ, along with the YPG and its allied groups, look to PKK founder Abdullah Öcalan as their ideological leader.64 Öcalan advocates an ideology of liberation and gender equality which lies in the concept of jineology. Jineology is broadly defined as “the science of women” and is built on the principle that a society can call itself free “only with the actual freedom of women and with a real consciousness surrounding them.”65 The science uses alternative paradigms to analyze the ways in which gender hierarchies have been created and institutionalized in the spheres of culture, politics, history, philosophy, and economics, and it aims to revise the study of these fields from the “female perspective.”66 Öcalan argues that the theorization and implementation of jineology is necessary for the entire society because the “hegemonic masculinity” must be deconstructed in order to achieve the liberation of both women and men.67 Furthermore, Öcalan contends that women’s liberation is fundamental for the establishment of democracy and, thus, the ideology places gender equality at the center of both the movement and of the democratic-building process.68 Women who join the YPJ must spend at least a month studying the political theories of Öcalan, making the feminist ideology deeply embedded within the workings of the movement.69 The YPJ’s founding ideology’s central placement of female emancipation carries many important implications for the overall success of the movement. The recruitment of female combatants has represented an explicit rejection of patriarchal gender norms and has given women a means of mobilizing themselves into organizations and politi-


cal parties which bolster female empowerment.70 Another significant outcome is that women’s centrality in fighting and defending their people has given them a substantial role in shaping their own rights and re-configuring society. There is a clear link between the existence of the YPJ and the shifting role of women in society because female participation in Rojava is a “victory won by the blood of YPJ martyrs.”71 In other words, the YPJ have proven the validity and success of their existence not only through their rhetoric but through their blood and sacrifice.72 The militarization of Kurdish women has shattered traditional understandings of femininity and masculinity, permitting an active transformation of societal norms.73 The physical fight itself is only part of the YPJ’s wider process to reach their territorial, political, and social freedom.74 It is evident that the concept of jineology which underpins the organization’s founding ideology has been the requisite for placing female liberation at the center of the broader Kurdish movement. Factor for Success: Western Military and Ideological Support A second important factor which explains the success of the YPJ has been the group’s support from Western states, both in terms of military aid and an ideological recognition of the Kurdish struggle. Firstly, the United States and other Western powers including France and the United Kingdom have provided crucial on-ground support to help the YPG and YPJ coalition defeat ISIS.75 During the Kobane siege in 2014, for example, the US provided airpower which struck key targets and dropped military supplies at a moment when the YPG were being pushed back and it looked like ISIS would achieve victory.76 Western intervention turned the tide in the war against ISIS and highlighted the importance of the committed partnership between the US and the Syrian Democratic Forces.77 Momentous military victories against ISIS, such as the one in Kobanî, have introduced millions around the world to the plight of the YPJ and the Kurds in Syria. The increased visibility of the YPJ’s efforts


has led to further foreign support beyond the United States. For example, female volunteers from Western countries have signed up to fight with the YPJ, and countries such as Sweden have sent troops to the region to train Kurdish forces.78 Margot Wallström, Sweden’s former foreign minister, was at the forefront of the initiative and under her leadership, Sweden adopted a feminist foreign policy.79 A feminist foreign policy is one which promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment at its center, making the YPJ’s efforts for female liberation ones which closely align with Sweden’s broader foreign policy goals.80 In addition to military support, the YPJ has also gained ideological acceptance from the United States and Western Europe, leading to a Western recognition of the female Kurdish struggle that has furthered their revolution’s visibility. The popular representation of the YPJ in the images of women fighters which have circulated the media counterposes the generalized Western portrayal of the Middle East81 as barbarous, villain jihadists.82 The YPJ fighters embody “a new model of the woman in the Middle East,” which has spurred a rise in international enthusiasm for their struggle.83 They enforce a secular Western vision and their ideals of feminism and democracy appeal to a Western audience.84 Although the recognition is conditional in that it seeks “to divorce the feminist approach embraced by the [YPJ] from its very specific political narrative and then reconnect it with Western liberalism,” this recognition has nonetheless been significant in amplifying the voices of Kurdish women.85 Overall, it is evident that both the positive representation of the YPJ in Western media and military support from Western countries have bolstered the military success and the visibility of the female Kurdish struggle, leading to a more widespread recognition of their identity. Conclusion Over the course of this paper, the dual objective of the YPJ was examined, both in terms of its military campaign against

ISIS and its ideological war against the patriarchal impositions within society placed on women. The YPJ’s success in achieving these goals was then assessed. The YPJ’s instrumental role in multiple crucial offensives against ISIS demonstrates the broad extent to which the militia has accomplished its military aims. In terms of the YPJ’s social and political aims, the transformation of society within Rojava – encompassing gender quotas, the legal protection of women’s rights, the instruction of feminism in universities, and more – demonstrates the resounding progress the group has attained towards the struggle for female emancipation and gender equality. The YPJ’s success was primarily traced to the theoretical underpinnings of Öcalan’s founding ideology of jineology, as well as support from the West, both militarily and ideologically. The struggle for resistance and recognition within the region proves to be an ongoing endeavor, however the Kurdish women’s movement has proved both their physical and ideological strength. As the revolution in Rojava pursues, the feminist fighters of the Kurdish YPJ will continue to fight for female liberation, shattering traditional gender norms both on the battlefield and within society.


Endnotes 1 Jessica Trisko Darden, Alexis Henshaw, and Ora Szekely, “The Kurdish Regions: Fighting as Kurds, Fighting as Women,” in Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars (Washington, DC, USA: Georgetown University Press, 2019), 44. 2 “YPJ: Women’s Protection Units,” The Kurdish Project, https://thekurdishproject.org/history-and-culture/kurdish-women/ypj/. 3 Jessica Trisko Darden, Alexis Henshaw, and Ora Szekely, “The Kurdish Regions: Fighting as Kurds, Fighting as Women,” in Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars (Washington, DC, USA: Georgetown University Press, 2019), 44. 4 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 5. 5 Dean, 5. 6 Dean, 2. 7 Dean, 11. 8 Jessica Trisko Darden, Alexis Henshaw, and Ora Szekely, “The Kurdish Regions: Fighting as Kurds, Fighting as Women,” in Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars (Washington, DC, USA: Georgetown University Press, 2019), 44. 9 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 11. 10 Jessica Trisko Darden, Alexis Henshaw, and Ora Szekely, “The Kurdish Regions: Fighting as Kurds, Fighting as Women,” in Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars (Washington, DC, USA: Georgetown University Press, 2019), 44. 11 Aylina Kilic, “Revolutionary women from Rojava lead fight for women’s liberation in the Middle East,” Green Left, no. 1129 (March 13, 2017), https://www.greenleft. org.au/content/revolutionary-women-rojava-lead-fight-women’s-liberation-middle-east. 12 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of


Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 5. 13 Jessica Trisko Darden, Alexis Henshaw, and Ora Szekely, “The Kurdish Regions: Fighting as Kurds, Fighting as Women,” in Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars (Washington, DC, USA: Georgetown University Press, 2019), 44.. 14 Bahar Şimşek and Joost Jongerden, “Gender Revolution in Rojava: The Voices beyond Tabloid Geopolitics,” Geopolitics, October 29, 2018, 12. 15 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 5. 16 .Dean, 13. 17 Dean, 27. 18 Dean, 27. 19 Aylina Kilic, “Revolutionary women from Rojava lead fight for women’s liberation in the Middle East,” Green Left, no. 1129 (March 13, 2017), https://www.greenleft. org.au/content/revolutionary-women-rojava-lead-fight-women’s-liberation-middle-east. 20 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 13. 21 Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “Inside The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Women’s Rights,” Defense One, last modified February 6, 2018, https:// www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/02/inside-worlds-most-radical-experiment-womens-rights/145760/. 22 Aylina Kilic, “Revolutionary women from Rojava lead fight for women’s liberation in the Middle East,” Green Left, no. 1129 (March 13, 2017), https://www.greenleft. org.au/content/revolutionary-women-rojava-lead-fight-women’s-liberation-middle-east. 23 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 7. 24 Daniel Douek, “Stateless Nations: The Case of Kurdistan” (lecture, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, March 9,

2020). 25 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 7. 26 Ferreira, Bruna, Vinícius Santiago, Bruna Ferreira, and Vinícius Santiago. “The Core of Resistance: Recognising Intersectional Struggle in the Kurdish Women’s Movement.” Contexto Internacional 40, no. 3 (December 2018): 479–500. https://doi. org/10.1590/s0102-8529.2018400300004. 27 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 7. 28 “YPJ: Women’s Protection Units,” The Kurdish Project, https://thekurdishproject.org/history-and-culture/kurdish-women/ypj/. 29 Jessica Trisko Darden, Alexis Henshaw, and Ora Szekely, “The Kurdish Regions: Fighting as Kurds, Fighting as Women,” in Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars (Washington, DC, USA: Georgetown University Press, 2019), 50. 30 Darden et al., 50. 31 Darden et al., 50. 32 Darden et al., 50. 33 “Raqqa liberated: ‘We dedicate this to all women,’” Green Left, no. 1158 (October 21, 2017), https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/raqqa-liberated-’we-dedicate-all-women’. 34 “Raqqa liberated,” Green Left. 35 “Raqqa liberated,” Green Left. 36 “Raqqa liberated,” Green Left. 37 “Raqqa liberated,” Green Left. 38 Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “Inside The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Women’s Rights,” Defense One, last modified February 6, 2018, https:// www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/02/inside-worlds-most-radical-experiment-womens-rights/145760/. 39 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 6. 40 Dean, 13.

41 Dean, 13. 42 .“Rojava revolution will democratise Syria,” Green Left, no. 1188 (July 22, 2018), https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/rojava-revolution-will-democratise-syria. 43 Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “Inside The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Women’s Rights,” Defense One, last modified February 6, 2018, https:// www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/02/inside-worlds-most-radical-experiment-womens-rights/145760/. 44 Lemmon, “Inside The World’s.” 45 “Rojava revolution will democratise Syria,” Green Left, no. 1188 (July 22, 2018), https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/rojava-revolution-will-democratise-syria. 46 Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “Inside The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Women’s Rights,” Defense One, last modified February 6, 2018, https:// www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/02/inside-worlds-most-radical-experiment-womens-rights/145760/. 47 Rod Nordland, “Women Are Free, and Armed, in Kurdish-Controlled Northern Syria,” The New York Times (New York), February 24, 2018, https://www.nytimes. com/2018/02/24/world/middleeast/syria-kurds-womens-rights-gender-equality. html. 48 Nordland, “Women Are Free.” 49 Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “Inside The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Women’s Rights,” Defense One, last modified February 6, 2018, https:// www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/02/inside-worlds-most-radical-experiment-womens-rights/145760/. 50 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 15. 51 Rod Nordland, “Women Are Free, and Armed, in Kurdish-Controlled Northern Syria,” The New York Times (New York), February 24, 2018, https://www.nytimes. com/2018/02/24/world/middleeast/syria-kurds-womens-rights-gender-equality. html.


52 Nordland, “Women Are Free.” 53 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 15. 54 Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “Inside The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Women’s Rights,” Defense One, last modified February 6, 2018, https:// www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/02/inside-worlds-most-radical-experiment-womens-rights/145760/. 55 Rod Nordland, “Women Are Free, and Armed, in Kurdish-Controlled Northern Syria,” The New York Times (New York), February 24, 2018, https://www.nytimes. com/2018/02/24/world/middleeast/syria-kurds-womens-rights-gender-equality. html. 56 Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “Inside The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Women’s Rights,” Defense One, last modified February 6, 2018, https:// www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/02/inside-worlds-most-radical-experiment-womens-rights/145760/. 57 Jessica Trisko Darden, Alexis Henshaw, and Ora Szekely, “The Kurdish Regions: Fighting as Kurds, Fighting as Women,” in Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars (Washington, DC, USA: Georgetown University Press, 2019), 51. 58 Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “Inside The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Women’s Rights,” Defense One, last modified February 6, 2018, https:// www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/02/inside-worlds-most-radical-experiment-womens-rights/145760/. 59 Lemmon, “Inside The World’s,” Defense One. 60 Jessica Trisko Darden, Alexis Henshaw, and Ora Szekely, “The Kurdish Regions: Fighting as Kurds, Fighting as Women,” in Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars (Washington, DC, USA: Georgetown University Press, 2019), 51. 61 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of


Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 13. 62 Rod Nordland, “Women Are Free, and Armed, in Kurdish-Controlled Northern Syria,” The New York Times (New York), February 24, 2018, https://www.nytimes. com/2018/02/24/world/middleeast/syria-kurds-womens-rights-gender-equality. html. 63 Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “Inside The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Women’s Rights,” Defense One, last modified February 6, 2018, https:// www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/02/inside-worlds-most-radical-experiment-womens-rights/145760/. 64 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 2. 65 Dean, 8. 66 Dean, 8. 67 Dean, 8. 68 Dean, 5. 69 Aylina Kilic, “Revolutionary women from Rojava lead fight for women’s liberation in the Middle East,” Green Left, no. 1129 (March 13, 2017), https://www.greenleft. org.au/content/revolutionary-women-rojava-lead-fight-women’s-liberation-middle-east. 70 Jessica Trisko Darden, Alexis Henshaw, and Ora Szekely, “The Kurdish Regions: Fighting as Kurds, Fighting as Women,” in Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars (Washington, DC, USA: Georgetown University Press, 2019), 46. 71 Darden et al., 51. 72 Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “Inside The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Women’s Rights,” Defense One, last modified February 6, 2018, https:// www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/02/inside-worlds-most-radical-experiment-womens-rights/145760/. 73 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 13. 74 Dean, 15. 75 Jessica Trisko Darden, Alexis

Henshaw, and Ora Szekely, “The Kurdish Regions: Fighting as Kurds, Fighting as Women,” in Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars (Washington, DC, USA: Georgetown University Press, 2019), 44. 76 “YPG: People’s Protection Units.” The Kurdish Project. https://thekurdishproject. org/history-and-culture/kurdish-nationalism/peoples-protection-units-ypg/. 77 Si Sheppard, “What the Syrian Kurds Have Wrought,” The Atlantic, last modified October 25, 2016, https://www.theatlantic. com/international/archive/2016/10/kurdsrojava-syria-isis-iraq-assad/505037/. 78 Her Story: The Female Revolution— Leadership., BBC Worldwide Learning, 2016, https://fod-infobase-com.proxy3.library. mcgill.ca/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=128865. 79 Her Story. 80 Her Story. 81 This refers to Said’s argument about the brutal imposition of a Western narrative on the East. 82 Bahar Şimşek and Joost Jongerden, “Gender Revolution in Rojava: The Voices beyond Tabloid Geopolitics,” Geopolitics, October 29, 2018, 6. 83 Valentina Dean, “Kurdish Female Fighters: the Western Depiction of YPJ Combatants in Rojava,” Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation, 2019, 10. 84 Bahar Şimşek and Joost Jongerden, “Gender Revolution in Rojava: The Voices beyond Tabloid Geopolitics,” Geopolitics, October 29, 2018, 6. 85 Şimşek and Jongerden, 2.


Understanding Europeanizati

Conditionality and De

ion in Post-COmmunist Europe

emocratic Backsliding In 2004 and 2007, former Communist states in Central Eastern Europe (CEE) joined the European Union (EU) after a lengthy accession process involving the consolidation of democratic institutions. However, many of these states have since faltered in key democratic indicators, with some states experiencing executive aggrandizement, the gradual empowerment of elected leaders. This paper investigates the accession process in order to explain these trends. First, it reviews the various conditionality mechanisms the EU deployed throughout the accession process to ensure the transposition of EU rules. It then moves to a discussion of liberal democracy, and the different manifestations of democratic backsliding. This paper then employs a discursive institutionalist perspective, which focuses on norms and discourses as the key factors protecting democratic procedures and institutions. In doing so, it explains how the absence of democratic deliberation can have significant consequences for the institutionalization of liberal democratic values in newly consolidated democracies. Ultimately, this paper argues that the increasing degradation of political debate can thus be traced to this imposition, which constrained responsive and accountable party competition. Therefore, democratic backsliding in CEE states can be attributed in part to the EU’s conditional accession process that precluded substantive democratic debate over domestic policies.

Written by Chanel MacDiarmid Edited by Elizabeth Franceschini

While far from unique to post-Communist countries, democratic backsliding has been particularly studied in many Central-Eastern European (CEE) states who acceded to the European Union in the Eastern Enlargement waves of 2004 and 2007. Former Communist member states such as Poland, Romania, Hungary, and others have since faltered in key democratic indicators post-accession, such as the independence of the media and judiciary. Not only have they faltered, but the case of Hungary has shown that a stable democracy can undergo democratic backsliding to the point of hybridization, sharing features with authoritarian dictatorships. This has proved that hybridization is not necessarily a stage in a unidirectional process, the result of a failed or partial democratic transition, but a distinct type of regime that can emerge even from consolidated democracies1. Most notably, Victor Orbán’s regime in Hungary is now considered a hybrid regime that is both constrained and legitimized by its continued membership within the EU.2,3   Autocracy contradicts the core norms and values of the European Union (EU), such as freedom, democracy, equality, and the rule of law. Therefore, the existence of an autocracy or hybrid regime threatens the credibility of the EU as a whole.4 The Copenhagen criteria, established in June 1993 by the European Council, affirmed that prior to accession, candidates must have stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, respect for the rule of law, human rights, protection of minorities, and the existence of a functioning market economy. Prospective members must also enact legislation to align domestic law with a body of formal rules referred to as the acquis communautaire, which is the summative body of EU legislation and jurisprudence. While the ‘Europeanization’ of post-Communist states was completed with their adoption of formal EU rules and subsequent accession, the current trends in democratic backsliding indicate that the conditional accession process did not adequately secure the institutionalization of


liberal democratic norms as intended. Institutions are a set of informal and formal rules, which together define practice on the ground, referred to by Elinor Ostrom as the “rules-in-use”.5 Institutionalization can be understood as the process by which formal and informal rules align, and define practice on the ground.6 Europeanization sought to adopt formal rules through transposition, the passing of domestic legislation intended to implement EU directives.7 While these rules structure governance for all EU member states, CEE candidates were subject to additional conditions that mandated the creation of democratic institutions to replace fallen Communist regimes. Democratic backsliding in CEE states can be primarily characterized as a process of executive aggrandizement, wherein elected executives weaken checks and balances on executive power .8 In this way, executive aggrandizement is a form of democratic backsliding that is legitimated through democratic institutions, such as a state’s party system, making it of particular interest to Europeanization studies. This paper will examine the central paradox of the EU’s conditional accession process, where efforts to promote liberal democracy contradict the incentive structure of accession. In requiring rapid transposition of formal rules, the EU prioritized efficiency over democratic legitimacy by foreclosing substantive and ideological debate over public policy in the CEE states pre- and post-accession. The lack of substantive policy debate has caused a decline in the quality of deliberation, which in turn drives democratic backsliding through democratic institutions themselves.  Section I: Mechanisms of Conditionality The fundamental question of Eastern enlargement concerned the capacity of CEE candidates to apply and enforce the acquis beyond accession. Emerging from decades of Communist rule, democratization and Europeanization was a way for CEE states to return to Europe and modernize their econ-

omies, societies, and governments. For CEE states, entry into the EU was seen not just as a public good, but a public necessity.9 For the EU, a lack of compliance from post-Communist members would undermine its internal efficiency, as well as the mutual credibility of its existing members’ commitment to EU rules. Therefore, CEE states faced strict conditionality which demanded “the alignment of the ‘candidate countries’ legislation and institutions with the entirety of the EU law prior to accession”.10 Various conditions have since been criticized as ambiguous, inconsistent, and more demanding of candidates than of existing members. Despite these criticisms, conditionality achieved the desired alignment of domestic legislation with EU rules, and thirteen CEE states acceded in 2004 and 2007.   By promoting liberal democratic and effective governance, the EU sought to achieve peace, stability, and prosperity in its neighbouring Europe. The EU expects candidate countries to adopt its norms and values, and align their domestic institutions, policies, and political processes accordingly.11 To achieve this, the EU developed an accession process utilizing positive conditionality and capacity-building to ensure compliance and adoption of EU policies pre-accession.12 In the decade before the Eastern enlargement, scholars investigated the depth of Europeanization on CEE pre-accession, and how the accession process influenced governance throughout stages of negotiation.  The accession of CEE states was marked by three factors to differentiate it from earlier rounds of accession. The first is the speed of adoption, as the formal process sought to impose the acquis faster and more efficiently for new states than it had for existing members. The second factor was the openness of CEE political elites to EU institutional models and paradigms, as they were actively seeking to replace and reform institutions from the Communist era. Lastly, CEE states faced a particularly broad and deep agenda for policy and institutional reform, requiring not only stable democratic institutions and competitive market econo-

mies, but the administrative capacity to implement EU law and practice.13 The accession process of CEE states put pressure on two aspects of governance in particular: the executive-legislative relationship, and the emergence of a central accession team within the executive.14 Though applicant countries could organize their accession preparations in multiple ways, most of them privileged and empowered the executive branch over the legislature and the judiciary. This task of translating European law was seen by the EU as administrative rather than political: candidate countries were not expected to debate the terms of the acquis, as they were non-negotiable.15 Therefore, within the executive branch, it was civil servants and officials rather than elected politicians who had the longest and most consistent role in EU preparations. The accumulated knowledge and expertise of these civil servants complemented the technocratic bias of the European Union, and many of these core executive teams would leave for Brussels once ascension was complete, rather than remain within the national government to facilitate the implementation of the new legislation.  Given the high volume of legislation within the acquis, national governments used a technocratic approach to fast-track the procedural aspects of the accession process, which limited parliamentary involvement. The absence of substantive debate on the acquis can be seen to reflect at best a consensus on accession, but it also masked the lack of politicians’ knowledge of or agreement with the details of the legislation. Some parliamentarians in candidate countries complained of insufficient information and inadequate access to technical expertise and specialist knowledge, which resulted in poor understanding of the implications of the legislation.16 In this way the transposition of European legislation to national governments marginalized the legislatures throughout the accession process, and limited normative Europeanization to the upper echelons of government.


The External Incentives Model Eastern Enlargement was therefore a process of external governance wherein the European Union had unprecedented influence on institutions and policy making in acceding states. While internal dimensions of governance concern the creation and implementation of rules in political systems, the external dimension of governance in this context concerned the transfer of given European rules and their adoption by non-member states. The EU’s policy of conditionality is their primary mode of rule transfer. During the accession process, the EU employed five broad categories of mechanisms to shape institutions and policymaking through conditionality. The first is gatekeeping, the European Union’s most powerful conditionality tool. By the late 1990s, the European Union had developed a rough progression of stages in the accession process. The various stages, beginning with privileged trade access and ending with entry as a full member, required the fulfillment of specific conditions in order to proceed to the following stage. While instrumental gatekeeping has been acknowledged as a powerful tool, it is imprecise and cannot target complex changes in institutional frameworks, such as “aspects of governance that tend to require sustained and consistent pressure at a deeper level within national administrations”.17 While the different stages of the accession process offered intermediate and graduated benefits, this also meant that conditionality could only be enforced at select stages. Another category was benchmarking and monitoring mechanisms, through which the EU influenced policy and institutions by ranking the candidate’s overall progress


and benchmarking in specific issue areas. These mechanisms applied a direct pressure on policymakers by establishing policy priorities with specific timelines for implementation.18 The third was the provision of legislative and institutional models, which elaborated on the state structures necessary for full implementation of the acquis. The fourth is the provision of financial aid, as the EU insisted on the creation of new governance structures in order to receive transfers. The final category of mechanisms was the provision of policy advice and technical assistance. Together, the EU’s various policy mechanisms demonstrate that their approach towards CEE states has primarily been a logic of harmonization, rather than of development, while the latter would have arguably been more appropriate for post-Communist countries.19 Despite strong democratic institutions being one of the core conditions for accession, the incentives and constraints of the accession process supported the creation of a core national executive. This marginalized other branches and levels of government and  “did not necessarily contribute to the development of shared values as a basis for new governance structures”.20 Adopting the acquis was seen as an administrative exercise and was thus biased towards an executive-dominated, technocratic approach. Despite this, there are doubts on the presumed causal link between EU conditionality mechanisms and the successful rule transfer to CEE states.21 Frank Schimmelfennig and Ulrich Sedelmeier (2004) identify two alternative potential models of the European Union’s external governance in the CEE states.   The primary model evident in the aforementioned mechanisms is the external incentives model, which echoes a rationalist-institutionalist understanding of conditionality. The EU and acceding states are assumed to be strategic actors interested in maximizing their own power and welfare. The acceding state adopts EU rules if the rewards outweigh the political and economic costs of adoption. The cost-benefit calcu-

lation is determined by factors such as the determinacy of the rules, their clarity and formality, the size and speed of rewards, the credibility of the EU to withhold or rescind rewards, and the domestic adoption costs.22 The second is the social learning model, which draws from social constructivism and assumes a logic of appropriateness, where states are motivated by internalized values and norms. In this model, the transfer and adoption of rules is characterized by persuasion, learning, and debates over legitimacy and behaviour. The persuasive influence of the EU resides not in the benefits of membership, but in the legitimacy of its rules and rulemaking processes, its collective identity as a European community, and the resonance of EU rules with the existing or traditional norms of the acceding state. The third model is the lesson-drawing model, wherein non-member states adopt EU rules without incentives or coercion after independently evaluating their transferability and efficiency.   Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier (2004) test these models of rule transfer in two broad issue areas relevant to the post-Communist accession of CEE states to the EU. The first is democratic conditionality, which concerns the fundamental political principles of the EU such as the norms of human rights and liberal democracy. The second, acquis conditionality, concerns the specific rules of the acquis communautaire. While the external incentives model was the primary mechanism through which CEE states adopted EU rules in both issue areas, alternative modes of external governance became relevant in the implementation stages post-accession, or where the acquis offered flexibility. Rules transferred through social learning or lesson drawing were less contested domestically, and more likely to result in sustained compliance. On the other hand, rule transfer motivated by external incentives and bargaining was more likely to cause domestic resistance and poor implementation in the absence of continued monitoring and threats of sanctions post-accession, once the driving incentive of membership

was no longer available.24 The EU’s external governance of the CEE states was characterized by top-down vertical command rather than horizontal and decentralized coordination. Firstly, the EU’s relationship with non-member European states was highly asymmetrical, allowing it to rely on its superior bargaining power to enforce conditionality.25  This constituted a negotiating advantage absent in its relationships with existing member states or external actors. Secondly, nonmembers and acceding states had extremely limited ability to influence the rules themselves. This restricted the scope of accession negotiations to the transition process, instead of bargaining over new rules. Thirdly, rule transfer in the EU was  dominated by top-down, bureaucratic processes.26 This hierarchical mode of rule transfer therefore suffered from a legitimacy problem, as acceding members had no say in the creation of the rules, and thus lacked ‘ownership.’ This allowed for EU law to be perceived as an unjust imposition.27 The legislative adoption of the acquis appeared to demonstrate the effectiveness of the external incentives model of conditionality. However, the formal transposition of EU rules was not always accompanied by effective implementation and enforcement in subsequent policymaking, leading many to question the long-term impact of conditionality post-accession. Scholars predicted that where rule adoption was achieved only through external incentives, rather than through social learning or lesson-drawing, domestic structures would  become causally relevant again—such as political parties, a type of domestic veto-player. Second, they predicted that core executives will move to Brussels, rather than remain to facilitate the implementation of the new legislation. Third, once accession is achieved, new member states could be unwilling to further accept enlargement-specific rules that do not apply to existing members and could attempt to renegotiate. In this way, scholars recognized that the short-term effectiveness of conditionality compromised


the effectiveness of implementation as well as the prospect of uncontested and sustained compliance post-accession.28 Challenges to Institutionalization Post-Accession Sedelmeier asserts that “the success of pre-accession conditionality depended primarily on the conditional incentive of membership, rather than on processes of persuasion and social learning”.29 Following this rationalist approach, Antoaneta Dimitrova (2010) examines whether or not the formal adoption of EU rules has led to institutional change. In addition to the rules-harmonizing policies in the acquis, CEE candidates faced additional conditionality in the enlargement acquis, containing reforms specific to acceding states which “aimed to strengthen CEE democracies and markets by supporting administrative and judicial reform”.30 These reforms required adoption not just of a specific policy, but of a general institutional framework to support the new rules. Furthermore, the institutions themselves needed a strong state framework that was often lacking in post-Communist states. Key aspects of the weak state included the competition between elites over institutions, limited policy implementation, the prevalence of informal networks, and the influence of non-state actors and elite networks on state agencies.31 In analyzing institutionalization of EU rules post-accession and post-conditionality, Dimitrova (2010) concludes that institutionalization would be determined by “another round of strategic bargaining of actors competing to shape institutions around the new formal rules”.32 This could result in three potential outcomes for adopted EU rules post-accession: rules could be reversed or renegotiated, or they could be institutionalized. A third outcome would be the conceptualization of EU rules as empty shells, where actors would keep but ignore the formal rules, while operating according to parallel informal rules on the ground. The relevant actors in the post-Communist context, which assumes a weak state, are politicians, bureaucrats, and elite non-


state actors linked to the state via informal networks and practices.33 Post-conditionality, these veto-players would shape the rules of the institutions, rather than be shaped by them, which would constitute a failure of institutionalization.34 Indeed, after decades of shifting external regimes in Central Eastern Europe, Zsolt Enyedi (2016) asserts that “the mentalities of the communist period, and even more so, the ideological discourses of the pre-communist era, have re-emerged [to] structure relations among the actors.”35 Therefore, particularly in light of executive aggrandizement, one must turn attention to the attitudes of domestic elites, rather than just their behaviour. An Alternative Approach: Discursive Institutionalism Thus far, the institutionalization of EU rules has been understood through rational institutionalism, which emphasizes how formal rules are instrumentally adopted. However, an alternative institutionalism theorized by Vivien Schmidt (2008) shifts focus from cost-benefit analyses to the discourses and attitudes of domestic actors as drivers of institutional change: “Discursive institutionalism’s defining claim is that institutions are not merely incentive structures that coordinate collective action (as in rational institutionalism), historically anchored patterns of constraint (as in historical institutionalism) or embedded political-cultural formations (as in sociological institutionalism), but contexts of meaning that are constituted, reconstituted and changed by the discursive (inter-)action of social and political actors”.36   In using certain discursive abilities, these actors are theorized to follow a logic of communication to rethink, maintain, and change institutions. This contrasts with the logic of fixed preferences and interest maximization or the logic of appropriateness assumed in rationalist and sociological institutionalisms, respectively.37 This theoret-

ical approach reveals that in CEE member states, the domestic social and political actors are “the ultimate agents of change and stability in liberal-democratic institutions,” and not simply the subjects of the EU’s incentive or socialization mechanisms.38 Most importantly, the discursive institutionalist perspective suggests that democratic backsliding is not a result of changing incentive structures, as per the rationalist institutionalist perspective, but instead a result of shifting communicative discourse among domestic elites.39, 40 Section II: Democratic Backsliding and the Importance of Deliberation  Understanding Democratic Backsliding Understanding democratic backsliding requires understanding the core tenets of democracy. Modern liberal democracy is not limited to a single set of institutions but must follow certain procedural norms and respect civic rights, which constitute the self-restrictive rule of law. Indeed, Terry L. Karl and Philippe Schmitter add self-governance to Robert Dahl’s widely accepted listing of “procedural minimal” conditions for modern liberal democracy—or “polyarchy”—to exist, which includes civil rights, regular elections, and freedom of association and expression among others .41  Anna Gora and Pieter De Wilde summarize three strands of democratic backsliding literature that focus on different elements of healthy democracies. The first perspective is based on the liberal understanding of democracy that goes beyond electoralism and focuses on the erosion of liberal values and institutions. Emphasizing the deterioration of the rule of law, this constitutes the legal-institutional perspective. Deterioration in the rule of law, such as limiting the independence of the judiciary, are key to the ‘liberal’ aspect of liberal democracy which is anchored in a shared commitment to norms such as political equality, individual liberty, civic tolerance, and the rule of law itself.42 Deterioration in the rule of law often accompanies executive aggran-

dizement and is the most common understanding of democratic backsliding in the EU. This is due to high-profile and egregious examples in certain post-Communist states, such as Poland’s efforts to constrain the independence of its constitutional court.43 The second perspective is participatory and focuses on the popular components of democracy, such as voter turnout and declining civic participation in both national and European elections, which constitutes the most common understanding of the EU’s democratic deficit.44    The third perspective is cultural-discursive, which turns to norms and discourses as the key factors protecting democratic procedures and institutions. In taking this discursive institutionalist perspective, it becomes clear that the absence of democratic deliberation has significant consequences for the institutionalization of liberal democratic values in newly consolidated democracies.44 In studying backsliding in CEE states, Gora and De Wilde (2020) operationalize democracy into five components: polyarchy, liberalism, participation, egalitarianism, and deliberation. Where the first four are characterized by institutional measures that can safeguard procedural democracy, democratic deliberation relates to elite discourses in the public sphere, rather than in institutional or procedural arrangements.45 The quality of deliberation can be gauged by features such as reasoned justification, references to the common good, external consultation with an engaged society, and respect for counterarguments and competing interests.46     Gora and De Wilde’s (2020) analysis of the thirteen CEE member states reveals that democratic backsliding exists in a two-dimensional space, consisting of two separate and independent processes. The participatory component alone forms one dimension, while the other dimension consists of the four other components mentioned above. The quality of deliberation forms the core of the second dimension, as it is shown to separate the better performing democracies from the worse, while also de-


teriorating faster than any other indicators.47 Thus, the discursive institutionalist perspective is merited as the scope of EU conditionality has foreclosed substantive and ideological debate over public policy in the newly consolidated CEE democracies. The lack of high-quality democratic deliberation over policy has consequently constrained responsive and accountable party competition, and which in turn has facilitated executive aggrandizement. Populism and Technocratic Party Competition Political parties play a fundamental role in the consolidation of modern democracies, where a strong and stable party system is seen as both a driver and indicator of a successful democratic transition. The main functions of political parties in the modern democratic process are to channel representation and freedom of association, articulate voter preferences, and aggregate interests into comprehensive policy platforms. Political parties render ideology and modes of governance coherent to citizens and organize the work of legislatures and executives. As parties structure the electoral process, a fragmented party system and the absence of stable majorities threatens effective governance and discourages electoral participation, further weakening new democracies.48 Party systems in CEE democracies can be characterized as weakly institutionalized, elitist, fragmented, and unrepresentative, while parties themselves are often ideologically amorphous, personalistic, regionalized, underfunded, and unable to create stable coalitions.49 Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier (2004) assert that for acceding CEE states, parliamentary activity and party competition regarding socio-economic issues was undercut by the necessity of  transposing and implementing the acquis in accordance with the schedule of the accession process.50 The necessity of the accession requirements encouraged parties to “develop strategies of interparty competition that allow them to appear as electorally responsive as possible while administering a set agenda of reform and compliance”.51  


As such, the absence of public debate and democratic deliberation precluded an ‘organic’ development of accountable domestic politics, which has weakened the democratic process.52, 53 As the scope of domestic political debate was constrained by consensus regarding accession requirements, public policy became significantly dominated by the rules of the acquis, which acted as valence issues. Valence issues are policy issues for which all parties converge to the same objective, and parties distinguish themselves by competence, rather than ideology or substantive policy commitments. Domestic political debate became characterized by “highly personalized debates over corruption, personal competence, and property restitution,” as well as relatively trivial disputes within parties and with other states. The roles of elites during the Communist period were also disputed and used to undermine opponents’ legitimacy. Thus, Anna Grzymalała-Busse and Abby Innes (2003) assert that political party systems in new democracies offered electoral accountability, but not substantive policy accountability.54   The subsequent consequence of conditional accession was the rise of populism that followed from technocratic political competition and growing discontent with the costs of implementing EU rules. By the early 2000s, the high costs of joining the EU were becoming clearer while the benefits were perceived to recede, especially in comparison to member states of earlier enlargements. Generally, European populism is easily embedded in Euroscepticism and appeals to domestic interests in the face of the EU’s perceived cosmopolitanism and neo-Imperialism.55 Yet while CEE populists have been able to exploit discontent, they have limited ability to advance constructive debate over state policy once elected. Noting rising Euroscepticism in Hungary and Poland, Grzymalała-Busse and Innes (2003) pointed to the irony of populist rhetoric in acceding states, in that “precisely because they have done the most to accept EU demands, they have been least able to debate

the future of their state.”56 Indeed, by enforcing strict conditionality and precluding the possibility for substantive policy deliberation, the EU has encouraged “both technocratic competition and its populist response.”57   Some scholars assert that the term democratic backsliding itself could be inaccurate for CEE states, whose democracies were never fully consolidated. It also overemphasizes institutional rules and organizational structures, while not sufficiently concerned with a state’s political economy and elites.58 The case of Hungary’s party system proves that while one can argue that backsliding post-Communist states were never fully consolidated, it is also clear that formal democratic institutions such as a stable party system do not indicate or institutionalize a commitment to liberal democracy. Prior to the 2010 landslide victory of Fidesz, Hungary was affirmed as a model of Europeanization and post-Communist democratization.59 Hungary avoided the expected pitfalls of post-Communist states and established a relatively representative, stable, and institutionalized party system.  Yet the discourses of legitimacy, animosity between parties, and alienation of the opposition from government intensified party competition. For example, the three blocs in Hungary’s party system collectively agreed that electoral competition should concern the contestation of political regimes, rather than the deliberation of policy alternatives.60 The combination of these discursive and institutional factors has resulted in what Enyedi (2016) describes as a ‘populist polarization’ of Hungary’s party system, wherein political polarization is not based in policy differences, but in cultural and ideological values, as well as competing appeals to “the people.” By discrediting the legitimacy of the opponent, the ruling party justifies the expulsion of the opposition from decision-making processes and justifies the entrenchment of its power through illiberal but legal means. Therefore, when the party system is dominated by appeals to populism, elections become a choice between competing political regimes. Once

Fidesz was elected in 2010, the discourses of legitimacy became consequential as the ruling party then engaged in executive aggrandizement, becoming the most concerning case of democratic backsliding in the EU. Democratic backsliding is often associated with the collusion of elites and the fragmentation of the party system. However, the case of Hungary demonstrates that where political polarization and populism combine, the strength of political parties amplifies, rather than mitigates, the likelihood of democratic backsliding.61 The democratic backsliding of certain CEE states confirms that the liberal democratic rules and institutions established by EU conditionality were insufficiently embedded into domestic politics. However, it also demonstrates that the formal conditions regarding various institutions, pluralistic media, minority protections, and the rule of law among others are insufficient for the consolidation of democratic rule. The roots of democratic backsliding are not in the formal institutions and democratic structures, but in the attitudes, informal norms, and discourses of elites and citizens.62 Conclusions This paper has argued that democratic backsliding through executive aggrandizement in CEE states is a result of the EU’s conditional accession process that precluded substantive democratic debate over domestic policy and institutions. The absence and increasing degradation of policy deliberation is a result of this imposition, which constrained responsive and accountable party competition.  Democratic backsliding through executive aggrandizement is the erosion of democracy not merely as an institution, but as a regime, as illiberal governing parties use democratic processes and tools to push their state towards autocracy. While rationalist institutionalist perspectives explain the adoption of formal rules as a result of conditionality, this approach alone is insufficient to explain executive aggrandizement driven by discourses of legitimacy.  The EU’s main mechanism against


the erosion of liberal democracy in member states is Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union, which allows for sanctions and the suspension of certain member rights against states that commit a “serious and persistent breach” of the liberal democratic values enshrined in Article 2.63 The capacity of material sanctions to reverse democratic backsliding is limited by substantial political obstacles, as it requires support from EU members. Further, as legal tools, the EU’s mechanisms to secure liberal democracy post-accession are also limited to the participatory and legal-institutionalist components of democracy, addressing deterioration in areas such as civic rights, fair elections, and the rule of law.64, 65 Where democratic backsliding is most consequential—the realm of party competition and political debate—the EU has little capacity to intervene beyond the alternative external governance models that use social learning and lesson-drawing to institutionalize rules. Here, there is slight room for optimism, as the existence of other modes of influence mean the loss of pre-accession leverage need not be determinative: where conditional mechanisms incentivized the transfer of formal rules pre-accession, social learning and lesson-drawing could be potential channels for the institutionalization of informal rules.66, 67 However, in order to prevent and remedy democratic backsliding, CEE states are first and foremost in need of domestic constituencies willing and able to challenge the erosion of democracy’s informal norms and principles.68,69 The simultaneous and elite-driven processes of Europeanization and democratization meant that the formal rules and institutions of the acquis were established rapidly and relatively unchallenged by an underdeveloped civil society.70 Indeed, democratic deliberation and public debate are co-constituted, and require each other in order to legitimate representative decision-making. The future of liberal democracy in Central Eastern Europe is not in the hands of the European Union, but in those of citizens whose values, norms, discourses, and practices will determine the trajectory of their institutions.  


Endnotes 1 András Bozóki & Dániel Hegedűs, “An Externally Constrained Hybrid Regime: Hungary in the European Union,” Democratization, vol. 25, no. 7, (2018): 1183. 2 Bozóki and Hegedűs, 1183. 3 R. Daniel Kelemen, “Europe’s Other Democratic Deficit: National Authoritarianism in Europe’s Democratic Union,” Government and Opposition, vol. 52, no. 2, (2017): 212. 4 Ann Gora & Pieter de Wilde, “The Essence of Democratic Backsliding in the European Union: Deliberation and Rule of Law,” Journal of European Public Policy, (2020): 16.  5  Elinor Ostrom, “Institutional Rational Choice: An Assessment of the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework,” Theories of the Policy Process, 38. 6  Ostrom, “Institutional Rational Choice,” 38.  7 Antoaneta L. Dimitrova. “The New Member States of the EU in the Aftermath of Enlargement: Do New European Rules Remain Empty Shells?” Journal of European Public Policy, vol. 17, no. 1, 2010, https://doi. org/10.1080/13501760903464929, 141. 8   Nancy Bermeo, “On Democratic Backsliding,” Journal of Democracy, vol. 27, no. 1, (2016): 11.  9  Ann Grzymalała-Busse & Abby Innes, “Great Expectations: The EU and Domestic Political Competition in East Central Europe,” East European Politics and Societies, vo1. 17, no. 1, (2003): 65. 10  Ulrich Sedelmeier, “After Conditionality: Post-accession Compliance with EU law in East Central Europe,” Journal of European Public Policy, vol. 15, no. 6, (2008): 806. 11  Frank Schimmelfennig & Ulrich Sedelmeier, “Governance by Conditionality: EU Rule Transfer to the Candidate Countries of Central and Eastern Europe,” Journal of European Public Policy, vol. 11, no. 4, (2004): 661. 12  Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier, 280. 13 Heather Grabbe, “How Does Europeanization Affect CEE Governance? Conditionality, Diffusion and Diversity,” Journal of European Public Policy, vol. 8, no. 6, (2001):

1015. 14 Grabbe, “How Does Europeanization Affect CEE Governance?,” 1029. 15  Grabbe, “How Does Europeanization Affect CEE Governance?,” 1017. 16  Grabbe, “How Does Europeanization Affect CEE Governance?,” 1017. 17  Grabbe, “How Does Europeanization Affect CEE Governance?,” 1021. 18  Grabbe, “How Does Europeanization Affect CEE Governance?,” 1022. 19  Grabbe, “How Does Europeanization Affect CEE Governance?,” 1025. 20  Grabbe, “How Does Europeanization Affect CEE Governance?,” 1029. 21  Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier, “Governance by Conditionality,” 662. 22  Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier, 667. 23  Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier, 668. 24  Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier, 674. 25  Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier, “ 675. 26  Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier, 675. 27  Sedelmeier, “After Conditionality,” 811. 28  Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier, “Governance by Conditionality,” 676. 29  Sedelmeier, “After Conditionality,” 807. 30  Dimitrova, “The New Member States,” 139. 31 Antoaneta L. Dimitrova, “The Uncertain Road to Sustainable Democracy: Elite Coalitions, Citizen Protests and the Prospects of Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe,” East European Politics 34, no. 3 (2018): 264. 32  Dimitrova, “The New Member States,” 145. 33  Dimitrova, “The Uncertain Road,” 259. 34  Dimitrova, “The New Member States,” 146.  35 Zsolt Enyedi, “Populist Polarization and Party System Institutionalization,” Problems of Post-Communism, vol. 63, no. 4, (2016):


216. 36 Vivien A. Schmidt, “Discursive Institutionalism: The Explanatory Power of Ideas and Discourse,” Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 11, no. 1,  (2008) : 314. 37 James Dawson & Seán Hanley, “Foreground Liberalism, Background Nationalism: A Discursive-institutionalist Account of EU Leverage and ‘Democratic Backsliding’ in East Central Europe,” JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 57, no. 4, (2019): 714. 38  Dawson and Hanley, “Foreground Liberalism, Background Nationalism,” 716.  39  Dawson and Hanley, “Foreground Liberalism, Background Nationalism,” 723. 40  Schmidt, “Discursive Institutionalism,” 314. 41 Philippe C. Schmitter & Terry Lynn Karl, “What Democracy Is. . . And Is Not,” Journal of Democracy 2, no. 3 (1991): 81. 42  Gora and de Wilde, “The Essence of Democratic Backsliding,” 2. 43 Ulrich Sedelmeier, “Political Safeguards Against Democratic Backsliding in the EU: The Limits of Material Sanctions and the Scope of Social Pressure,” Journal of European Public Policy 24, no. 3 (2017): 345. 44  Gora and de Wilde, “The Essence of Democratic Backsliding,” 16. 45  Gora and de Wilde, 8. 46  Gora and de Wilde, 12. 47  Gora and de Wilde, 16. 48  Enyedi, “Populist Polarization,” 211. 49  Enyedi, 211. 50  Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier, “Governance by Conditionality,” 676. 51  Grzymalała-Busse and Innes, “Great Expectations,” 66. 52  Grzymalała-Busse and Innes, 66. 53  Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier, “Governance by Conditionality,” 676. 54  Grzymalała-Busse and Innes, “Great Expectations,” 66-67. 55  Enyedi, “Populist Polarization,” 215. 56  Grzymalała-Busse and Innes, “Great Expectations,” 69. 57  Grzymalała-Busse and Innes, 72. 58  Dimitrova, “The Uncertain Road,” 258. 59 Lise Esther Herman, “Re-evaluating


the Post-Communist Success Story: Party Elite Loyalty, Citizen Mobilization and the Erosion of Hungarian Democracy,” European Political Science Review 8, no. 2 (2016): 252. 60  Enyedi, “Populist Polarization,” 215. 61  Enyedi, 218. 62  Enyedi, 218. 63  Sedelmeier, “Political Safeguards,” 339. 64  Sedelmeier, 342. 65  Kelemen, “Europe’s Other Democratic Deficit,” 231. 66  Sedelmeier, “Political Safeguards,” 349. 67  Dawson, J., & Hanley, S, “Foreground Liberalism,” 723  68 Dimitrova, “The New Member States,” 260. 69 Milada Anna Vachudova, “From Competition to Polarization in Central Europe: How Populists Change Party Systems and the European Union,” Polity 51, no. 4 (2019) 705. 70  Dimitrova, “The New Member States,” 261.


IR and BOrder Security

Imposition of Individualise This paper discusses the personal and private sphere in relation to the immigration of LGBT+ refugees into the UK. Gender roles and performativity are often associated with the private sphere in traditional IR, but this paper focuses on queer feminist IR lenses that show the interrelation between border security and personal identity. These connections impact which refugees are seen as fitting UK stereotypes of sexuality and gender, and overall result in influencing decisions about whom is granted asylum. Feminist IR structures are used to combine immigration border security and personal experience to analyse the socio-political structures that are placed upon claimants and the resulting performativity. Examples are used of specific refugees’ difficulties in proving their identities. This paper concludes that LGBT+ refugees’ experiences of immigration are based on intersections of IR theory and judges’ decisions based on personal concepts of gender and sexuality within the context of the UK. Written by Grey Cooper Edited by Marie Le Rolland

ed UK Ideals on LGBT+ Refugees

The impact of gender and gender-based assumptions on security is pervasive throughout international relations,1 regardless of the topic viewed. While this concept is often refuted by the more classical IR scholars—such as Tickner, Morgenthau, and Huntington—when taking feminist or queer2 based lenses in IR research, there appears a clear focus on gender and individual experience.1 Thus, the study of border security’s gendered dynamics demonstrates the importance of debates within IR scholarship, serving to disprove mainstream IR theories in favour of queer feminist theories. Most assumptions about gender and border crossings become related to how the state values personal freedoms based on Western heteronormative assumptions. Examples include who has rights, as well as agency, and who feels able to express themselves in the formal channels the state expects.2 These channels are often based around extensive paperwork, and written proof of lived experiences, which can be both hard to obtain and interact with for those without a background of institutional access. A significant number of these assumptions in mainstream IR theories are based around the idea of the Sovereign Man, a person with personal agency and control, which in practice is often not afforded to LGBT+ refugees.3 This difference between theoretical ability and application in reality is heightened when discussing asylum and refugee claimants, whose need for safety in the United Kingdom relies on Western ideas of conventional gender presentation, and what is deemed safe or acceptable within their country as a result. Gender presentation, or gender performativity as discussed by Judith Butler, are the acts that a person does to perform the cultural and social expectations that come along with their gender marker in society, which can in turn be influenced by Hereafter abbreviated as IR. Queer can be used to describe an umbrella of LGBT+ identities, but specifically in this context refers to the gender and sexuality based theory of IR that focuses on the individual’s relations with the state.




intersectional identities, such as ethnicity.4 The social structures which create the latter serve the role of institutions, which in turn are the institutional systems that govern states, and then make decisions about immigration. While performativity can seem superficial and determined only on a caseby-case basis, decisions about gender performance influence who is allowed refuge in the UK, and assumptions about safety and validity claims within the EU—at least while the UK was a member state.3 Gender plays a pivotal role in LGBT+4 refugee claims’ acceptance in the UK due to assumptions of how gender should be performed, as personal presentations of identity are taken to reflect or contradict Western ideals, which creates a cycle of imposing the UK’s overarching conceptions of individuality onto the state’s border security policies. As such, this paper will examine how individual assumptions about gender dictate the UK’s security practice in favour of Western elitism, combined with a focus on individual experiences. Then, the paper will move forward to examples of asylum-seekers and refugee applicants’ experiences. EU states’ acceptances of claimants often focus on determining people’s capacity to be safely accepted, and on assessing an applicant’s need compared to others. While gender may appear to only have surface level implications, the decisions regarding who needs asylum 3 This

paper will be focusing on cases within the past 20 years, going up to and during Brexit, though at the time or writing Brexit was not completely resolved. 4 LGBT+ has been used in this paper instead of Queer in relation to claimants’ identities as it is also an umbrella term but carries less of a Western connotation. The use of Queer is often linked to Western conceptions of what is cis and heteronormative and what is not and comes from a history of specifically English language usage. As such, in order to be more accurate for the descriptions of those who are already engaging with Western assumptions on the presentation of identity, LGBT+ is being used here as an umbrella term instead. Additionally, due to the evidence given, this paper overarchingly focuses on gay and lesbian experience, but the overall applications of individual intersections with IR due to marginalized sexual and gender identity merit the umbrella.

have gender-based impacts for LGBT+ identifying individuals as well. Background on Refugees’ Experiences The manner in which claimants have to interact with the UK’s asylum-seeking system, similar to that of other EU countries, requires a comprehensive explanation about their reasons for seeking asylum upon the first interview. This system forces LGBT+ minorities into a position of immediately needing to provide the strongest case of gay, lesbian, or otherwise non-heteronormative and cis-normative presentation. Importantly, this requirement additionally requires the assumption that all the claimants will be in a position to out5 themselves, completely and in a fully coherent manner, from their first interaction in the UK. The need for a complete and in-depth explanation pressures individuals to engage with a subject that had often not been safe to talk about in their home countries, due to discriminatory laws and fears of physical danger. This explanation during the first interview must be done in minute detail, which can be difficult given the occasional intrusive nature of judges’ questions into individuals’ personal lives. Furthermore, any information that an applicant adds after this first interview must only be new and unknown beforehand.5 This means that if an applicant stated they were not LGBT+, or did not feel comfortable to out a part of their identity at the start of the process, they cannot alter their application later on to add details, or contradict what was established before. The UK’s vetting process of LGBT+ refugee seekers is exhaustive, and leads to many to be turned away or results in a refusal of their application. As further contextualisation, charts exposing the number of cases denied in regard to LGBT+ identity and asylum in the UK state that more than half of the recorded cases from 2015-2018 were refused.6 The implication of the high num5 Colloquial and now widely accepted term for disclosing one’s sexuality or identity, if this identity is not cisgender or heterosexual.

ber of cases in which claimants were likely interpreted as not being LGBT+ enough by a Western judge is problematic when trying to differentiate between personal and state level decisions. Examples of accepted ways to prove LGBT+ identity include an individual presenting their gender identity or sexual orientation as ascribing to Western stereotypes of queerness, having an active love life whenever possible, and often an assumption that they are out to family and friends. In these cases, there is no separation line between claimants and judges as classical IR often states and assumes; the realm of an individual’s private identity becomes a public matter of what is considered by UK officials as both a real and acceptable identity. While mainstream IR strictly separates the private and public spheres, queer and feminist IR has acknowledged that the way these categories are constructed is based on subjective concepts of heteronormative Western identities. As Richter-Montpetit discusses, it is not possible to clearly separate a person’s private sphere from their public opinions and social interactions in the space of social and political institutions.7 In this way, presentation and Western aesthetics also come into consideration, as the judges and courts’ decisions about allowing people to stay in the UK frequently depend on the assumptions of antiquated UK stereotypes of what an LGBT+ person looks like, how they should behave. For example, many refugees share stories of being criticized for not having dated once they have arrived in the UK, thus their lack of interest in dating immediately upon arrival to the UK can be problematic when trying to prove their identities to a Western state.8 There is pressure to prove one’s sexual orientation by having regular relationships, or romantic interactions, immediately after moving to the UK, in order to validate that they are not heterosexual. However, this implicit requirement does not take into consideration refugees’ past trauma and experiences, or the fact that they often emigrate with family members, who may not be accepting of their sexual orientation or gender identity.


As of recently, LGBT+ asylum seekers and refugees to the UK seeking protection from homophobia and transphobia-based discrimination cannot be forced to return to their country of origin under the recommendation to be “discreet” about their identities. However, this change has not decreased the disputes about identity validity, as more claims have since been rejected outright.9 A significant amount of the past reasoning for forcing the return of refugees and others seeking protection assumed that if they were less open about their identities, then they would be safe, and no significant impact would be created on their home lives.10 However, this reasoning was usually based on a judge’s personal assumption that an applicant did not ‘appear’ LGBT+ and as such was safe from any physical harm unless they willingly announced their identity, if they held that identity at all.11 This practice is based on the concept that people could read or judge identity solely based on physical appearance, and a short interview, in a context where asylum applicants already need to provide a performative explanation of their personal experiences, which may never have been shared before. This questioning and performativity has not changed with the legal alterations that have occurred over the past years, both the acceptance of LGBT+ individuals under the refugee category of “social groups” and the change in rules of why they can be refused entry.12 However, the personal assessment of identity according to different cultural norms, and thus the personal element that underpins this element of IR, has remained. The Immigration Process Through Asylum Seekers’ Experiences The documentation of proof that asylum seekers must provide to ensure they are allowed to live in the UK is an important area of imposing individual-based UK gender norms onto those claiming asylum from a different, often non-Western culture. This initiates the blurring of personal and state boundaries. It is commonly understood that as part of fleeing persecution, refugees,


or those going to the UK to claim asylum, are frequently in a rush, and thus unable to prepare and collect evidence in a way that they might want.13 However, this limitation is often overlooked in assumptions of how people will provide proof to the state that they need refuge.14 While this problem may seem overarching, Amnesty International identified that the inability to “collect documentary proof and evidence of their personal experiences before leaving their countries” is specifically an “obstacle to objective and fair assessment of asylum applications based on persecution as a result of sexual orientation.”15 Furthermore, the idea that paperwork clarifies and declares everything it needs to for those reading it does not easily apply to LGBT+ asylum seekers’ situations in which the paperwork can complicate the application process, and sometimes does not give a way to prove or clarify their claim.16 Paperwork is regarded as a system to clearly transmute knowledge, but is established for a Western country upon already existent Western ideals of how autonomy, gender expression, and relationships should work, which marginalizes the spaces asylum seekers have. The documentation itself also quickly becomes complicated with ideas of proof. The issue of how an LGBT+ refugee should provide proof that they were in a relationship when that relationship itself was secret is a common problem.17 The UK’s response in interviews has often been to seek personal stories, but these are required to match with the judge’s idea of what being LGBT+ entails. What then results is a national-level decision about border control, national security and provisions, becoming solely based on the judge’s individual ideas of how a person from a different culture meets antiquated UK LGBT+ stereotypes. Judges’ specific requests to asylum seekers to justify themselves with descriptions of how they express their sexual orientation also create an immigration policy that is significantly more based on individual-level analysis of a situation rather than any of the protocols regarding refugee and asylum seekers in the UK or EU as a whole.

These requests and demands are often invasive and require a significant amount of personal storytelling from applicants. A clear example is Namigadde, a lesbian woman from Uganda who was seeking asylum in the UK. In her case, it became so difficult for her lawyers to argue that she was a lesbian, and have the Home Office lawyers and decision makers agree, that the argument changed to one of “perceived homosexuality,” regardless of her true identity.18 Namigadde was asked in detail how many relationships she had had with women, and when the interviewer found her explanations lacking, they brought her identity into question by challenging if she truly was a lesbian, as she was not always in a relationship with another woman.19 The lawyers required standards of stable dating, within a committed relationship, that did not take into account Namigadde’s life, experiences of homophobia, and difficulty meeting a partner, and instead disagreed with her on her identity.20 Beyond examples like Namigadde regarding the difficulty of proving one’s LGBT+ identity, interviews with the Home Office require a significant amount of personal sharing. Many of the interview questions focus on how personal experiences made refugees feel, and ask them—either directly or indirectly—to relive very personal moments or understandings of their own identity.21 This is a form of performativity and explanation that is not expected of applicants that are seen as heteronormative and cisnormative, and is significantly based on the assumption that an LGBT+ identifying person from a different country will act in the ways dictated by the stereotypes about an LGBT+ person from the UK. Requests for proof to the UK have included implications of how one should come out, and how publicly an individual needs to be able to share their identity for it to be considered valid, which interrelates closely with how people expect gender to be performed. Interviewees have offered to record themselves engaging in sexual acts with their partner to prove that they are gay, such as in the case of Chris and Jason, in which they faxed photographs of themselves having

sex so that Chris could gain asylum.22 This level of personal sharing forces the claimants to perform their own desire and own attraction to other genders, and to place themselves within a UK-driven expectation for how homosexual desire should physically represent itself in their actions. This also becomes voyeurism committed by the state on individuals attempting to cross a border, making it inherently more invasive and unsafe for people who do not ascribe to the state’s default standard of heteronormativity. Therefore, the border should be permeable to those who need to seek asylum, but the requirement for some to publicly share their private lives highlights the lack of equality between people’s experiences. By placing individuals in a situation where they feel required to share pornography with a judge in order to secure safety from persecution elsewhere, the threshold for safety and sanctuary has been lowered significantly. These LGBT+ claimants are not being protected or dealt with in a way equitable to heterosexual cisnormative applicants, and are instead forced to interact with their identity in a potentially traumatic way. The expectation for people to be out and comfortable with sharing their identity without reservations impacts the safety of LGBT+ refugees as well by placing them in a position in which they must perform a niche gender role, but are often not safely able to do so. Many seek refuge because it is unsafe for them to continue living with their families. Interviews in a Stonewall survey contain various testimonies from subjects being raped or beaten by their family for their sexual orientation, and receiving death threats that they had serious concern would be carried out.23 However, a way to help prove one’s identity when claiming asylum, if someone cannot easily do it themselves, is to have a friend or family member advocate for the validity of the claim.24 Putting this pressure on people forces them to directly contradict their own norms for safety and disclosure, and their practices for how they should act with regards to their gender, personal life, and publicity about their sexuality.


Assumptions of how people should present their identity, or that non-heteronormative sexuality should be declared publicly, are individual-level norms that then become changed and affected by people’s status specifically as LGBT+ asylum seekers. The invasiveness of the questions asked in interviews allows the judge to base the outcome of an interview on the gendered appearance and work that an applicant has done in order to conform to expectations. These assumptions can take the form of physical appearance, such as wearing makeup, gay men behaving in an effeminate way, and gay men wearing women’s clothes, as well as ideas about the dating life of a gay person—that they will date in the same way a heterosexual person from the UK does, regardless of cultural or personal differences.25 These demands regarding a person’s proof of identification with standards that are not explicitly set or justified in law result in a cycle of people needing to use highly emotional histories, and be more performative for a Western audience. This then entrenches the unbalanced power dynamics present in the interactions between claimants and judges which take advantage of the asylum seeker’s vulnerable position. Therefore, this method deviates from the purpose of the asylum claims themselves. Further, the personal nature of LGBT+ individuals’ interviews and their legal battles for asylum in the UK ignores the EU legislative focus in asylum claims on past state’s inability or unwillingness to provide protection for individuals. This phenomenon would not have occurred without the blending and normalization of state power within individual spheres, which occurs along gendered lines. The political implications of a gender-based approach to IR While this paper has interwoven gen-


der into the analysis and explanation of the examples and background of asylum seekers in the UK, it is also worth justifying the feminist and queer lenses through which asylum claims must be analyzed. The gendered component of IR analysis and refugees’ identities are required to understand the decision-making process involved. Mainstream IR analysis, such as Morgenthau’s works starting in the 1940s, and then the founding IR theorists in the 1970s and 1980s like Huntington, or Waltz, is based along state lines, traditional impersonal balances of power, and views security and borders as factors that a state interacts with, instead of as components that an individual influences.26 However, the interactions between the state’s policy and the individual asylum claimants are a part of the border security and foreign policy of the state. The refugees that are accepted and prioritized are those that meet the state’s policy requirements, as well as the criterion decided by the EU, and then the UK, as to what constitutes a refugee, and what the state has capacity for. The immigration decisions and rejections, as such, are directly linked to the integrity and security policy of the UK’s borders. The gendered assumptions for how an individual should act in regard to their identity shape many of the responses to asylum claims, and change the nature of the interviews themselves, thus connecting the two aspects. Gender contributes to the power dynamics between the interviewer and the applicant by creating social constructs in which both must behave, while the system grants more agency and power to one person—in this case, the interviewer—by allowing them to dictate the situation’s outcome. This power imbalance, in the context of the applicant’s need for asylum, then forces the applicant’s gender to become performative, which reinforces their unequal position in the power

imbalance. This need to present themselves in a way that is not normal to the claimant can be increased due to racism and sexism, depending on the claimant’s and interviewer’s respective identities and personal biases.27 As such, there are a large number of constraints and expectations placed on the applicants’ social role and conduct, which then carries over to how they dress, present, and identify within a society where appearance and social cues are a large part of the construction of gender. Every individual has a perception of gender roles informed by their place in society, and in this context one person leads others to be impacted by their personal cultural understanding of gender and sexuality. 28 There is a long history of erasure of identity and forced assimilation to Western and especially British culture, especially in the context of immigration and migrants.29 Examples of this include erasure of hijra identities in British colonialism affecting Indian identities, and discriminating and over-policing African immigrants due to both racism, and for not sharing the same cultural practices.30 Therefore, the impact of changing others’ presentations of identity in order to cross a border is increasingly related to the wider scope of IR and state security, while continuing to be based primarily on interpersonal dynamics driven by personal and societal understandings of gender, as theorized by queer feminist IR scholarship. The practice of determining the validity of an asylum claim based on the claimant’s performance of gender according to Western ideals creates a system integrating personal relations to international borders. This brings forward concepts that are part of the private sphere in mainstream IR theory, such as gender and sexual identity, thus placing the judges in a system of hyper analysis of what norms they decide to approve. With a main concern being credibility, a judge needing to determine a claimant’s sexual orientation or gender identity leads to self-surveillance from both sides. Participating in deciding if an LGBT+ applicant’s identity is valid “results in higher levels of self-monitoring, as the ‘expert’ holders of knowledge

recognize the ways in which that knowledge must be organized and articulated in order to meet the particular logics of the refugee system.”31 This further embeds the judge in the process of demanding more documentation, and gives them the agency to ask for more validation of an applicant’s claims by verifying experiences against their own. As such, this process creates a further shift away from refugee laws’ primary focus on providing safety to claimants, and further towards a personal interpretation of who is allowed refuge. Conclusion LGBT+ asylum claimants’ experiences are specifically driven by the intersections between IR theory, concepts of border safety, and UK judges’ personal conceptions of how LGBT+ people should perform their gender and sexuality. The responsibility thus rests on both the legal border system for relying on, continuing to construct, and promoting Western gender and cultural norms for refugees, and on the judges for implementing this value system to the detriment of those seeking aid. There is an expectation from the judges that people who identify as LGBT+ are required to give personal and potentially traumatic details about their lives, to perform openness and give narratives that match a Western conception of what LGBT+ identity should appear as in order to validate their claims for refuge. The specific questions that judges ask claimants are based on the social role that they assume LGBT+ people fulfill, on performing their gender in relation to their sexuality in a clearly articulate way, and ascribing to stereotypes of homosexual attraction and behavior, such as wearing makeup and dressing in a more feminine way if the claimant is male. This reliance on Western performativity results in LGBT+ claimants’ experiences with the border to be harsher and less safe than heteronormative and cisnormative requests for asylum, and thus affects border security and safety as a whole. The assumption in IR theory that the state is protecting its borders does not take into


consideration those whose experiences with border control, when applying for entry as asylum seekers, are specifically based on how others perceive them. As such, it is not possible to make sense of the circumstances of LGBT+ asylum claimants and refugees without considering the gendered political implications of immigration and IR, taking into account the individual experiences of both claimants and judges, and the resulting impact on border permeability and immigration.


Endnotes 1 J. Tickner, “Identity in International Relations Theory: Feminist Perspectives,” in The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory. Y. Lapid and F. Kratochwil (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Press, 1996). 2 Sheldon Magardie, “’Is the Applicant Really Gay?’ Legal Responses to Asylum Claims Based on Persecution Because of Sexual Orientation,” Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, no. 55 (2003): 8184, www.jstor.org/stable/4066302. 3 Tickner, “Identity in International Relations,” 147-162. 4 Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” Theatre Journal 40, no. 4 (1988): 519-31, doi:10.2307/3207893. 5 Kate Karban, and Ala Sirriyeh, “2.7: LGBT asylum seekers and health inequalities,” in LGBT Asylum Seekers and Health Inequalities in the UK. (Bristol: Policy Press, 2015), 4. 6 “Asylum Claims on the Basis of Sexual Orientation: Experimental Statistics,” Home Office: UK Visas and Immigration, London, November 2017. 7 Richter-Montpetit, Melanie. “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (in Ir) but Were Afraid to Ask: The ‘Queer Turn’ in International Relations.” Millennium - Journal of International Studies 46, no. 2 (2018): 225,229. https://doi.org/10.1177/0305829817733131. 8 Kirstie Brewer, “‘How Do I Convince the Home Office I’m a Lesbian?’,” BBC News, February 26, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/ news/stories-51636642. 9 Rachel Lewis, “Deportable Subjects: Lesbians and Political Asylum,” Feminist Formations 25, no. 2 (2013): 178, www.jstor. org/stable/43860691. 10 Satvinder Juss, “Sexual Orientation and the Sexualisation of Refugee Law,” International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 22, no. 1 (2015): 134, www. jstor.org/stable/24676538; Jenni Millbank, “From discretion to disbelief: recent trends in refugee determinations on the basis of

sexual orientation in Australia and the United Kingdom,” The International Journal of Human Rights 13, no. 2-3 (2009): 393, https://doi.org/10.1080/13642980902758218. 11 Lewis, “Deportable Subjects: Lesbians and Political Asylum,” 179; Jamie Grierson, “Home Office Refused Thousands of LGBT Asylum Claims, Figures Reveal,” The Guardian, September 2, 2019, https:// www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/ sep/02/home-office-refused-thousands-oflgbt-asylum-claims-figures-reveal. 12 Lewis, “Deportable Subjects: Lesbians and Political Asylum,” 178. 13 Sheldon Magardie, “’Is the Applicant Really Gay?’ Legal Responses to Asylum Claims Based on Persecution Because of Sexual Orientation,” Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, no. 55 (2003): 83, www.jstor.org/stable/4066302. 14 Magardie, 83. 15 Magardie, 83. 16 David A. B. Murray, “Queer Forms: Producing Documentation in Sexual Orientation Refugee Cases,” Anthropological Quarterly 89, no. 2 (2016): 469-471, www. jstor.org/stable/43955539. 17 Stefan Vogler, “Legally Queer: The Construction of Sexuality in LGBQ Asylum Claims,” Law & Society Review 50, no. 4 (2016): 862, www.jstor.org/stable/44122547. 18 Lewis, 175. 19 Lewis, 175. 20 Lewis, 175. 21 Brewer, “‘How Do I Convince the Home Office I’m a Lesbian?’” 22 Rachel Lewis, “‘Gay? Prove It’: The Politics of Queer AntiDeportation Activism,” Sexualities 17, no. 8 (December 2014): 958-59, doi:10.1177/1363460714552253. 23 Chaka Bachmann, “No Safe Refuge: Experiences of LGBT asylum seekers in detention,” Stonewall (London: 2016): 11-12, https://www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/ no_safe_refuge.pdf 24 Vogler, “Legally Queer,” 862. 25 Lewis, “Deportable Subjects: Lesbians and Political Asylum,” 179; Jamie


Grierson, “Home Office Refused Thousands of LGBT Asylum Claims, Figures Reveal.” 26 Sandra Whitworth, “Feminism,” in The Oxford Handbook of International Relations ed. C. Reus-Smit and D. Snidal (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 3-4. 27 Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” 28 Spike V. Peterson, and Anne S. Runyon, Global Gender Issues in the New Millennium, Third Edition (Westview: Westview Press, 2010), 6-7. 29 Erik Bleich, “The Legacies of History? Colonization and Immigrant Integration in Britain and France,” Theory and Society 34, no. 2 (2005): 171, www.jstor. org/stable/4501720. 30 Bob Carter, et al. “The 195155 Conservative Government and the Racialisation of Black Immigration” Policy Papers in Ethnic Relations, no. 11 (1987): 6, https://web.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/CRER_ RC/publications/pdfs/Policy%20Papers%20 in%20Ethnic%20Relations/PolicyP%20No.11. pdf. 31 Murray, “Queer Forms,” 470-471.



The responsibility of upholding and enforcing the mandate of international peace and security is bestowed upon the permanent members (P-5) of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). However, as they simultaneously trade arms with human rights violating states, they engage in war profiteering. In fact, the P-5 are among the largest global arms exporters in the world and leverage their UNSC veto power to profit from the perpetuation of war. Unfortunately, the existing international legal instruments, such as the Arms Trade Treaty, have proven to be ineffective in ensuring compliance with global standards of behavior in the international arms trade. As the P-5 exhibits a moral and political will to engage in war profiteering, the effectiveness of the global governance system in protecting the most vulnerable global citizens becomes compromised.

Written by Mackenzie Birbrager Edited by Nour Mohsen

The Currency of WaR The Global Arms Trade and War Profiteering

Every day, millions of people worldwide suffer both directly and inadvertently from the consequences of irresponsible arms trade propagated by war profiteering countries1. While the trade of conventional weapons has become a pinnacle of national security and defence policy, the transfer of arms to human rights violating recipients problematizes global arms trade. During the 15 years following 9/11, the value of the legal arms trade increased to almost double its former levels, totaling $95 billion in 2017.2 In response to the increasing militarization of the global state system, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs has claimed that the world is on the brink of a new Cold War, emphasizing the imminence of the dangers posed by the global arms trade on the global governance system.3 In virtue of being the five permanent members (P-5) of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia are the primary responsible for maintaining international peace and security, as conveyed through Chapter V of the UN Charter.4 Paradoxically, the P-5 are among the largest global arms exporters in the world,5 as in 2016 80% of the weapons in trade came from these states and Germany. Furthermore, while the P-5 are granted significant legal and norm-setting capabilities to promote their agenda of peace and security, they are simultaneously profiting from the prolongation of warfare.  Ultimately, the global governance system’s ingrained responsibility to be a protector for its most vulnerable citizens, particularly victims of conflict, is compromised when its most powerful members display a blatant willingness to profit from weapon sales and the perpetuation of armed conflict. Moreover, the effectiveness of international legal agents, such as the Arms Trade Treaty in being a mechanism for circumventing arms trade to human-rights abusing states, is hindered when not all the P-5 are signatories.   To make this argument, I will firstly contextualize the issue of war profiteering


and the arm trade within the global governance system. I will introduce the military-industrial complex as a lens for understanding the war profiteering occurring within this system. Then, in a second section, I will discuss the impact and magnitude of the arms trade. As such, I will reveal how war profiteering and arms trade pose threats to international peace and security through the investigation of current global armed conflicts. Subsequently, I will also highlight the challenges that war profiteering and arms trade present for global governance. In the final section, I will analyze the efficacy of the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty and the prospect for adequate arms regulation. Arms and the Global Governance System  Countries within the international state system have fostered a global arms industry, a network by which they manufacture and sell weapons and military technology.  This trade market is dependent on willing suppliers and purchasers. It is important to understand the role that both major importers and exporters play in the channels of the arms trade in order to appreciate the consequences that stem from weapons trade globally. Interestingly enough, these major exporters are leaders in the global governance system. Global governance is the collective approach to identify and address worldwide problems that transcend the problem-solving capacities of states. The United Nations and its Security Council are leading institutions in charge of global governance.6 Hence, by being major arms exporters, the leaders of the UNSC are exhibiting objectives that are contrary to the responsibilities which have been endowed upon them.  Indeed, a recurring theme in global governance, undermining its efficacy, is beset with inherent contradictions. The international state system is composed of a multitude of state and non-state actors that have conflicting interests. Furthermore, the principle of state sovereignty and non-interference is consistently seen as contradictory to the pursuit of international peace and

security.7 UN Charter Article 51 establishes that states’ right to self-defence is a fundamental principle of national sovereignty.8 The arms trade is no exception to this narrative, as states have long protected their right to sell arms with whomever they wish in the name of national security objectives. However, it is evident that the arms trade is also a contributor to international conflict and human rights abuses.9 Article 26 of the UN Charter recognizes the need to ensure that international peace and security are maintained with the least diversion of the world’s economic and human resources.10 Thus, the contradiction of Article 51 and Article 26 arises, since states have proven that what they equate as legitimately exercising their right to self-defence translates into exorbitant military spending. As a consequence of these contradictions, an informal hierarchy of principles are created, and since the P-5 exercise their veto power with impunity, there is a prioritization of national interests over their responsibilities to the international community. The P-5 are the most important norm entrepreneurs, as their veto power, state and collective political influence span all aspects of global governance.11 Since these states have a monetary interest in the perpetuation of armed conflicts, this results in a lack of resolutive decision making. The military-industrial complex serves as a defining theoretical framework to understand the forces that drive the leaders of the global governance system to engage in the global arms trade. As military powers with insurmountable resources, the P-5 have fostered and exploited the military industrial complex through their engagement as global arms suppliers. In the final days of his presidency, Dwight Eisenhower delivered a speech warning of a threat to democratic government and peace: the military-industrial complex. Eisenhower’s conception of the military-industrial complex detailed the growing union of defence contractors and armed forces.12 In this nexus of private interests and national defence, Eisenhower posited that the US’s military establishment was an active participant in the arms industry.

The President warned about the repercussions of the military-industrial complex for the health of democracy, explaining that a military establishment and a growing arms industry had emerged as a hidden force in US democracy.13 Although theorized in 1961, Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex remains pertinent to the current state of the global arms trade, as these transactions continue to be driven by the nexus of private interests and national defence. To the likely dismay of Eisenhower, the scope and magnitude of the military-industrial complex has become a multi-billion dollar industry.14 Rather than the military-industrial complex being perceived as a direct threat to national democracy, it has become a threat to the global governance system, corrupting states to disregard international obligations for peace and security to engage in the capitalist agenda of the arms trade. The P-5 exhibits this corruption when they prioritize their own economic agenda over the humanitarian objectives of the UN.  P-5 as the main exporters of global arms: the damaging consequences Through the inherent contradictions within the UN system as well as the unparalleled power granted to the P-5, these major global states engage in a duplicitous exchange. They sustain their position of power and responsibility to be a protector of international peace and security, while simultaneously perpetuating violence in human rights violating states.  The United States has been the world’s top arms exporter every year since 1990, and it is closely followed by Russia, China, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.15 The channels of arms trade that these exporting countries have exploited paralleled their foreign policy interests. For instance, from 2012-2016, the US bolstered their arms trade relationship with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, all of which are key allies of the US in the Middle East. In fact, during that period, Saudi Arabia imported 212% more major weaponry than in the previous five-year period,


making the Saudi state the top arms importer in the world.16 Additionally, in conjunction with Russia’s ongoing contention with Ukraine, Russia provided arms to rebel forces in Ukraine. Russia also provided air defence systems to Iran, an ally, in Russia’s support of the Assad regime in Syria. Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar accounted for more than 60% of China’s major weapons exports.17 Both China and Russia have also exported weapons to Nigeria, where armed conflict between the government and Boko Haram has resulted in the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, leading to thousands of civilian deaths and mass displacement.18  Thus, rather than enforcing humanitarian-directed action, these states have instrumentalized their political will to further their own interests against innocent civilians, who are often bystanders in armed conflict.19 Over the course of the Syrian civil war, Russia has vetoed 16 council resolutions in regard to Syria. For many of those votes, China has backed Russia. To date there have been two occurrences when Russia and China have vetoed UN resolutions that would have ensured life-saving humanitarian aid could reach millions of suffering Syrians.20 The viability of the military-industrial complex is emboldened since P-5 have a vested interest in the continuation of deadly conflict. While providing humanitarian aid does not directly contradict the prolongation of these conflicts, it is evident that the political affiliations of Russia and China supersede the humanitarian agenda of the UN. 


In light of this, the problematic nature of the global arms trade occurs when human rights violating players are the recipients of military capabilities. As weapons trade through global arms networks are utilized by recipient actors to commit criminal actions (and there is sufficient evidence which proves that suppliers are aware of these human rights abuses), arms suppliers become complicit in the perpetuation of human rights abuses. Between 1999 and 2003, almost half of the global arms were purchased by countries with poor human rights records.21 This trend unfortunately persists today. In Yemen, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been conducting air strikes against the rebel group, the Houthis. Researchers have found US-designed and/or manufactured bombs and cluster munitions in the rubble of destruction, which is plausible as Saudi Arabia is the US’s biggest arms buyer.22 The Yemen conflict has sparked the worst global humanitarian crisis. Thousands of civilians have been killed, 20 million people are experiencing food insecurity and 10 million of them are at risk of famine.23 Despite worldwide acknowledgement of the Yemeni crisis and Saudi Arabia’s active participation, in 2019, the Trump administration issued an unprecedented emergency declaration for a $8.1 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.24 This deal directly implicates the US in the proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia that is reeking destruction in Yemen and Syria at the expense of millions of innocent civilians.25 The UK joins the US in their complicity in the Yemen conflict. In fact, Saudi Arabia is also the largest consumer of the UK arms trade. This trade has continued unabated since Saudi’s military intervention in Yemen, despite repeated violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi state. Following a similar trend, since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, 53% of the more than 300,000 deaths have been caused by the use of explosive weapons provided by Russia.26 The US has supplied the Syrian opposition forces with military equip-

ment.27 War profiteering, the act of profiting financially from war and militarization, is a consequence of infringements on international peace and security. It is important to note that the global arms trade does not incite conflict itself, but rather exacerbates power dynamics in conflict zones becoming emboldened with heightened accessibility to weapons, giving means to actors to inflict violence on others. Arms accessibility therefore contributes to perpetual cycles of violence, directly undermining economic and social development and political stability in fragile regions.28 Even after conflict has subsided, the continued availability of arms puts pressure on weak governance and slows economic development. Governments in weak states often employ arms as tactics of repression to subdued popular dissent or strengthen their military coalition.29 Oxfam estimates that armed violence costs Africa $18 billion annually. This figure is approximately equivalent to the annual contributions of development to the entire continent.30 Moreover, not only does the proliferation of the global arms trade alter the political fabric of states, it also alters social dynamics. Between 2011 and 2014, Action on Armed Violence recorded almost 150,000 deaths and injuries from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas globally and 78% of these victims were civilians.31 Survivors of explosive weapons may face long-term challenges of disability, psychological harm, and/or social and economic exclusion.32 It is important to grasp the ramifications of the arms trade to understand the immorality of war profiteering in its contribution to irrevocably changing political, social and economic elements in conflict-ridden states. Even upon termination of conflict, these lasting effects hinder civilian’s rights to live a free and dignified life.  The Inefficacy of International Law in Addressing War Profiteering  The establishment of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was an instrumental feat for the international community in arms regulation of conventional weapons and abidance to existing global and legal obligations and norms.

The ATT is a mechanism created in an attempt to ensure compliance to global standards of behaviour in the international arms trade.33 The multilateral treaty was developed through the United Nations General Assembly over the course of seven years, and finally entered into force on December 24, 2014.34 The legally-binding Treaty prohibits the sale of weapons on the condition that they would violate arms embargoes or other international obligations, or would be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, attacks against civilians or civilians objects or other war crimes.35 While the treaty recognizes the inherent right to  sell, acquire and possess weapons, it also highlights the legal obligation to abide by the UN Charter, international humanitarian law, international human rights law and UN-instituted arms embargoes.36 Notably, Article 16 of the UN International Law Commission’s Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, articulates that states have a responsibility to not knowingly aid or assist another state in the commission of an unlawful act.37 The Treaty is intended to prevent the diversion of weapons to ill-intended actors and the illicit arms market in an effort to contribute to international and regional peace, security and stability and reduce human suffering.38 Signatories of the ATT must undergo a risk assessment of whether the weapons they sell will be used to undermine peace and security, violate international humanitarian law or human rights law, or commit acts of terrorism or transitional organized crime.39 Of the P-5, only France and the UK remain signatories.40 The US was an initial signatory, until April 2019, when President Trump announced that the US would resign from the ATT. Thus, the US no longer factors in the past behaviour of a recipient country into its arms transfer decisions.41 Russia and China have never committed to the ATT, which gravely undermines the credibility of the Treaty as  they are the second and fifth


largest arms exporters, respectively. Moreover, four of the five largest arms importers, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and China, all have failed to sign the Treaty.42 When the largest propagators of the arms trade and war profiteering refuse to recognize the relationship between arms trade and violations of international obligations and norms, the validity of these responsibilities and standards are challenged. The global governance system must rely upon respect and abidance for principles that aim to uphold international peace and security. The lack of widespread support for the ATT delegitimizes the efficacy of the global governance system in this regard.  The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research has been steadfast in its criticism of the ATT, claiming that the Treaty has major loopholes that continue to be exploited by war profiteers.43 The ATT is founded on notion that by ensuring conventional arms only end up in the hands of responsible, human-rights abiding actors, international peace and security can be upheld.44 However, the efficacy of the ATT has proven to be restricted, as since it entered into force, there have been numerous examples of irresponsible arms transfers, due to its limitations discussed above. Indeed, despite the UK being a party to the Treaty and the US being a signatory until 2019, both states have knowingly aided and assisted violators of the Geneva Conventions, international humanitarian law and international human rights law by selling arms to Saudi Arabia.45 Saudi Arabia faces widespread international criticism for its human rights record and has committed numerous violations of international humanitarian law, particularly through the state’s involvement in the Yemen civil war.46 In 2019, the Court of Appeal in London accepted one of the grounds put forward by Campaign Against Arms  Trade against the British government. The judgment challenged the lawfulness of the risk assessment conducted by the government in its exporting of weapons and military equipment to Saudi Arabia.47 Additionally, a leak of classified French Defence Ministry doc-


uments reported the use of French-made weapons in Yemen.48 However, a report by Oxfam argues that even in the absence of some of the world’s largest arms exporters, the ATT still has value. The report posits that the ATT creates an international norm for arms exporters that will shape the manner in which all states view arms exports, even non-signatories.49 It supports such a stance by referring to the Ottawa Treaty, which has reduced casualties from landmines by more than two-thirds and achieved significant reductions in landmine trade, despite the fact that the US, China and Russia have not signed.50 Oxfam’s reasoning is idealistic, as global norms have long been established in regard to arms diversion. The ATT is a mechanism which is intended to enforce compliance with such norms. However, in the P-5’s role as norm entrepreneurs, the fact that two of five countries have not signified the Treaty, and those who are signatories have repeatedly violated its terms, directly challenges its efficacy as a norm-setting agent. The Honourable Roméo Dallaire articulates this shortcoming, by explaining that the international community has answered the question of how to prevent and respond to grave injustices through the establishment of laws and institutions that dictate what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable conduct. He explains, “on paper, it would seem we have come a long way, but in reality, we have not managed to keep up with the rapid evolution of armed conflict. International law is not yet robust enough to hold accountable all offenders, and institutions are continuously prevented from achieving their mandates by national interests of member states”.51 His statement points to the ineffectiveness of both the ATT and international law in regulating arms trade. Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex has become an institution in it of itself, and it is an extremely powerful one at that.  One may question how signatories of the ATT continue to sell weapons unabated by the legally-binding requirements of the Treaty. The ATT sets a high threshold of the

certainty a state needs to have with regard to the likelihood that a violation of international law would occur. In response to scrutiny of their arms sale to Saudi Arabia, the British government has continued to insist that it abides by a ‘rigorous and robust’ export control process. The government claims that its arms sales grant UK influence over Saudi Arabia, allowing the UK to provide training and advice on targeting in order to avoid civilian casualties.52 It is hard to imagine how this justification is deemed sufficient under International Humanitarian Law and broader principles of the ATT. The ATT requires two specific reports from State Parties: an initial report on measures taken to implement the treaty, including national laws and regulations, and an annual report on authorized or actual arms exports. Many State Parties have failed to abide by these requirements, not making their reports publicly available. These gaps in reporting allow for states to engage in violating arms exports with impunity.53  The inefficacy of the ATT illuminates a recurring theme in global governance: the lack of political will by states to uphold international agreements and principles. Some of the world’s top arms exporters strategically adopted the ATT out of concern for their international reputations, rather than the possession of political will to abide by international norms of arms diversion. The UK has supported arms embargoes in relation to numerous conflicts through the UNSC.54 However, the UK did not have a significant value in arms trade with any of these countries. If asked to support an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, I would be dubious to believe that the UK would approve. This reality speaks to a greater challenge in the international community and global governance at large, the need for international solidarity. There must be a greater perception of international citizenship that is genuine. The hypocrisy is blatant: states are driven to commit to international agreements in a desire to be seen as a ‘good international citizen’, yet demonstrate a complete unwillingness to comply with the principles of such agree-

ments.55 The hierarchy that arms exporting and importing states operate under, which evidently places some lives over others, can be described as criminal. Conclusion  Each year, thousands of civilians are killed by the very weapons that are sold by P-5 states to callous governments and armed rebel groups.56 While millions are restricted from their right to live with dignity, as they grapple with the perils of armed conflict, the world’s global powers are profiteering from the arms that wreak destruction on their homes, schools and lives. Instead of arms being controlled by pillars of international law and moral conscience, they are sold for profit to those who exploit them for political gain. What can be done to enhance the efficacy of the ATT or arms regulation at large? The loopholes in international humanitarian and human rights law are omnipresent in all human rights issues plaguing the international state system. There are systemic barriers to human rights abiding arms trade, and it would be naive to believe that with the evident lack of political will to enforce international law and treaties that these can be overcome. However, the precedent of the Court of Appeal in London, that the UK government’s refusal to consider Saudi Arabia’s war violations in Yemen before licensing arms sales was unlawful, will hopefully be the first of many. While the UK eventually resumed selling arms to Saudi Arabia, the UK government was momentarily forced to pause sales.57 I implore domestic courts in states that are  actively participating in the perpetuation of war and human destruction to do the same. NGOs can help to combat the issues of war profiteering by increasing awareness among citizens in the P-5 states and encouraging these individuals to lobby for change. Even if only one of these countries realizes the hypocrisy of their behaviour, they can become a powerful advocate on the global stage and work with other countries to put the international interests ahead of their own. 


Endnotes 1 Oxfam International, “Why We Need a Global Arms Trade Treaty,” Accessed November 10, 2020, https:// www.oxfam.org/en/why-we-needglobal-arms-trade-treaty 2 Daryl Kimball, “FOCUS: The Urgent Need for an Arms Trade Treaty,” Arms Control Today 42, no.5 (2012): 4, http://www.jstor.org/stable/23629273. 3 “Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament,” United Nations Publications (2018): 3, accessed November 10, 2020, s3.amazonaws. com/unoda-web/wp-content/ uploads/2018/06/sg-disarmamentagenda-pubs-page.pdf#view=Fit. 4 “Charter of the United Nations” (United Nations: San Francisco, 1945). 5 Jeff Abramson, “US Leads Rising Global Arms Trade,” Arms Control Today 47, no.2 (2017): 37-38, https://www.jstor. org/stable/90004357. 6 “Global governance and global rules for development in the post2015 era,” United Nations Committee for Development Policy (2014). 7 Jennifer Erickson, Dangerous Trade: Arms Exports, Human Rights and International Reputation, 5 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015) 8 “Charter of the United Nations.” 9 Erickson, Dangerous Trade, 9 10 “Charter of the United Nations.” 11 Erickson, Dangerous Trade, 4 12 Tom Bowman et al, “Ike’s Warning Of Military Expansion, 50 Years Later,” National Public Radio (2011), www. npr.org/2011/01/17/132942244/ikeswarning-of-military-expansion-50-yearslater. 13 Bowman et al. 14 “Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament,” United Nations Publications (2018): 47, accessed November 10, 2020, s3.amazonaws. com/unoda-web/wp-content/ uploads/2018/06/sg-disarmament-


agenda-pubs-page.pdf#view=Fit. 15 Abramson, “US Leads Rising Global Arms Trade,” 37. 16 Abramson, 37. 17 Abramson, 37. 18 Brain Wood, “The Arms Trade Treaty: Obligations to Prevent the Diversion of Conventional Arms,” United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (2020): 7, accessed November 11, 2020, https:// unidir.org/publication/arms-tradetreaty-obligations-prevent-diversionconventional-arms 19 Erickson, Dangerous Trade, 8 20 Physicians for Human Rights, “PHR: Veto by Russia, China on Draft UN Security Council Resolution Facilitating Humanitarian Aid for Syria Could Endanger Millions,” Relief Web, accessed Nov 11, 2020, https://reliefweb. int/report/syrian-arab-republic/phrveto-russia-china-draft-un-securitycouncil-resolution-facilitating 21 Erickson, Dangerous Trade, 9 22 Acheson, “Trading Arms, Bombing Towns,” 5. 23 Human Rights Watch, “Saudi Arabia 2020 Report.” 24 “Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy,” Congressional Research Service (2020): 28, accessed Nov 10, 2020, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R44984. pdf 25 Human Rights Watch, “Saudi Arabia 2020 Report.” 26 Acheson, “Trading Arms, Bombing Towns,” 6. 27 Acheson, 6. 28 Kimball, “FOCUS,” 4. 29 Erickson, Dangerous Trade, 9 30 Oxfam International, “Why we need an global Arms Trade Treaty.” 31 Acheson, “Trading Arms, Bombing Towns,” 5. 32 Acheson, 5. 33 Clare D. Silva, “Framework

and Core Standards of an Arms Trade Treaty,” Proceedings of the Annual Meeting (American Society of International Law) 103 (2009): 337, accessed Nov 11, 2020, http:// www.jstor.org/stable/10.5305/ procannmeetasil.103.1.0336 34 Ray Acheson, “Trading Arms, Bombing Towns,” Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (2015): 5, accessed Nov 10, 2020, https://www. un.org/disarmament/wp-content/ uploads/2018/07/Publication_Tradingarms-bombing-towns.pdf 35 Acheson, 5. 36 Silva, “Framework and Core Standards of an Arms Trade Treaty,” 336337 37 Giovanna Maletta, “Legal challenges to EU member states’ arms exports to Saudi Arabia: Current status and potential implications,” last modified June 28, 2019, https:// www.sipri.org/commentary/topicalbackgrounder/2019/legal-challengeseu-member-states-arms-exports-saudiarabia-current-status-and-potential 38 Ray Acheson, “Trading Arms, Bombing Towns,” Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (2015): 4, accessed Nov 10, 2020, https://www. un.org/disarmament/wp-content/ uploads/2018/07/Publication_Tradingarms-bombing-towns.pdf 39 Silva, “Framework and Core Standards of an Arms Trade Treaty” 40 Abramson, “US Leads Rising Global Arms Trade,” Arms Control Today 47, no.2 (2017): 37, https://www.jstor.org/ stable/90004357. 41 Shannon Dick and Rachel Stohl, “Global Arms Trade: Setting an Example for Responsible Policy,” Stimson Centre, last modified November 7, 2019, https:// www.stimson.org/2019/global-armstrade-setting-example-responsiblepolicy/ 42 Oxfam International, “Why we

need an global Arms Trade Treaty.” 43 Acheson, “Trading Arms, Bombing Towns,” 7. 44 Silva, “Framework and Core Standards of an Arms Trade Treaty,” 337 45 Maletta, “Legal challenges to EU member states’ arms exports to Saudi Arabia.” 46 Human Rights Watch, “Saudi Arabia 2020 Report.” 47 Human Rights Watch, “UK: Arms Sales to Saudis Suspended After Landmark Ruling.” Accessed November 11, 2020. https://www.hrw.org/ news/2019/06/20/uk-arms-sales-saudissuspended-after-landmark-ruling. 48 Maletta, “Legal challenges to EU member states’ arms exports to Saudi Arabia.” 49 Oxfam International, “Why we need an global Arms Trade Treaty.” 50 Oxfam International. 51 Roméo Dallaire and Shelly Whitman, “Opinion: Why are children still being recruited to fight in horrifying adult wars?” National Post, last modified November 23, 2019, https://nationalpost.com/opinion/ opinion-why-are-children-still-beingrecruited-to-fight-in-horrifying-adultwars. 52 Perlo-Freeman, “The ATT and War Profiteering: the Case of the UK”, 185 53 Perlo-Freeman, 182 54 Perlo-Freeman, 182. 55 Jennifer Erickson, Dangerous Trade: Arms Exports, Human Rights and International Reputation, 7 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015) 56 Daryl Kimball, “FOCUS: The Urgent Need for an Arms Trade Treaty,” Arms Control Today 42, no.5 (2012): 4, http://www.jstor.org/stable/23629273. 57 Human Rights Watch, “UK: Arms Sales to Saudis Suspended After Landmark Ruling.”



Submission process The McGill Journal of Political Studies (MJPS) accepts manuscripts in either French or English from undergraduates of any faculty or major. Papers are required to have been written for a course at the 300-level or above and must have received a minimum grade of 80% (A-) in that course. Selected manuscripts contain coherent and well-structured arguments, good grammar, and strong syntax. Original analysis and unique perspectives on relevant topics in political science and current affairs distinguish selected papers as some of the best that undergraduate students have written at McGill University. Manuscripts are accepted throughout the Fall semester in multiple submission rounds. All manuscripts enter a double-blind review process. Author’s names are withheld while an anonymous team of both undergraduate and graduate peer reviewers analyze and critique each paper. The Editorial Board then convenes in January to review the anonymous peer review feedback and select the strongest manuscripts for the journal. Authors’ names are released only after the final content is selected, ensuring the integrity of the double-blind review process. At this time, each Editor is paired with an author for a revision phase to prepare the manuscripts for publication. The Journal is a student-run enterprise with an Editorial Board consisting of undergraduate students at McGill University. The Editorial Board relies on the help o undergraduate and graduate peer reviewers, as well as an Advisory Board consisting of the Vice President Academic of the McGill Political Science Students’ Association, faculty from the McGill Political Science Department, and staff from the McGill Library.


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McGill Journal of Political Studies Volume XI - 2020-2021 Edition  


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