Locations have always been a prime focus in the world arena. Along with other factors location has helped shape economic agreements, trading routes and conflicts. In today’s world arena it is important to identify the importance of location or how less important location has become. In a contemporary society where people can communicate rapidly and easily regardless of their location you can argue that the world is getting more united; or that we are creating bigger divides between the developed and less developed nations.
General importance of locations and its historical significance
Before technology like the internet and e-mail, global focus was primarily based on trade routes and therefore, interests tended to be on a more regional level. Exchange of information was slow and more than often irrelevant to the greater audience. However, as communication improved and information could be exchanged more efficiently, potential for agreements developed. Arrangements due to location became increasingly common and throughout the years have developed extensively.
Location has helped shape these agreements; a prime example is that of the European Union. Initially what was primarily an economic agreement has grown to become a political, social and security union1. There are obvious economic and political benefits as a result. Countries involved with the EU all benefit from better representation on a global scale as well as an opportunity to facilitate trade with other EU members. However, the EU does require members to follow certain rules and regulations on social, political and economical standards. This does occasionally cause uneasiness among member sates as they feel Europe could be more democratic.
Another example of how location has influenced the economic world is in the American continent. USA, Mexico and Canada are part of what is called the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA). Due to location these countries traded heavily with one another, therefore, a free trade zone was created to break down trade barriers and reduce costs for businesses trading within the NAFTA zone.
There are many examples of how location has helped shape economic, political and social agreements. NAFTA and the EU are two among many agreements which were partly motivated by location. This section has focused mainly on positive aspects of location and the benefits of co-operation. The next passage will deal with the conflicts involved with location.
Examples of location and the focus of the world arena from current world events.
Location can help shape co-operation but too often also shapes conflicts. There have been many wars over the years which were due to neighbouring countries fighting over land and resources. A typical example is that of Cyprus. After the decolonisation by England in 1960, the country was left split between Greeks and Turkish. Sporadic fighting took place from 1960 up until 1974 when things escalated and the Turkish government decided to intervene in order to protect the Turkish living in Cyprus.
At that point all Greek Cypriotes moved to the south of the island and all Turkish Cypriotes moved to the north and now currently hold a 1/3 of the island. Fortunately there is no physical conflict anymore but this conflict is still present today, almost everyone is aware of the situation in Cyprus. For such a small country which is now entering the EU, it has made quite a big impact on the world scene. Even though Cyprus is an island, location had a big part to play in the conflict. Turkey considers Cyprus to be an extension of their territory therefore; they felt a need to seize land which originally did not belong to them in order to protect their people.
Arab countries have also been noticed in the global world arena due to the September 11th, Middle East instability and the Palestinian issue. As a result attitudes have changed towards the Arab world:
“Following September 11th events in the US, thinking and priorities in the west started to change and this would have its impact on the Arab region” (Gamal Mubarak, member of the secretariat of the ruling National Democratic Party, Regional Analysis 22/10/2001)
In the world arena the Arab world is seen as insecure, they therefore suffer economically. However, the Arab world does have the potential to be a major player on the world arena. If they could emulate the European example and create a bloc of economic integration they would be more respected and have more influence2. The Arab world has the potential to be an important economic region yet their continuous conflicts prevent it from progressing on the world stage.
Implications of location for the study and analysis of world politics.
In modern day politics it can be argued that location is of little significance. Due to the many ways of communication available it is said we live in a “borderless” world3. However, it can also be argued that the divide between the western world and the east is getting bigger. With the evolution of the internet, information and communication has been revolutionised. Eastern countries have limited access to information. Consequently, an inequality has been created and will carry on growing. This is important as information is needed and media is a very powerful tool in order for people to make decisions.
Some states are sceptical on the issue as they can’t control the information flow their population receive. Generally these states are the less democratic. Moreover if the states can’t control the media, they can’t control their people. Information has to be the link between east – west, north – south, divides. If everyone could have access to information as easily as people in the USA or in Europe the world would be more united. At present, the disparity is enormous therefore, democracy can never truly be attained.
Location raises various important issues in the contemporary world arena. As we are on the positive side of the spectrum it is easy to neglect issues happening on the other side of the globe. I believe that we are all involved in the issues of location and therefore are capable of making a difference. Whether it’s in the form of protest or voting we have the opportunity to voice our ideas, a privilege denied to too many people in less fortunate circumstances.
“Knowledge is power” (Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est) Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), Meditationes Sacrï¿½ De Hï¿½resibus (1597)
1 B. White, R. Little, M. Smith, Issues in world politics: chapter 4 Regions and regionalism page 72
2www.Arabicnaews.com “Current world events urge Arabs to activate common action”
Regional, Analysis, 22/10/2001 URL: visited on 25/10/2003 http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/011022/2001102232.html
3 CWA Lecture 3 locations-slide 4, M. Smith
The Contemporary World Arena (03EUA601)
Assignment 1: Locations and the focus of the world arena