Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria are having negotiations about the sovereignty over Khemed. Having accepted the rule of maximin they are going to share sovereignty. So far, we know WHO will be part of the negotiations: Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria; WHY they are part of the negotiations: because each of them has a colourable claim; and WHAT they are going to do with the allocation of sovereignty: they are going to share sovereignty by application of maximin. The representatives are now discussing HOW these shares will be decided. To do this, the representatives of each population (Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria) are reviewing a series of possible options in order to make a decision about how to share the sovereignty over Khemed.
The first option all the representatives revised and rejected was historical entitlement. That is to say, what would be fairer that grant the sovereignty (or the largest share of sovereignty) to the party whom was in that land first? What would be fairer than to give to someone what is due to him? However simple at first, the representatives have realised this approach will not settle the question and will only bring controversy.
The second option the representatives considered had to do with what kind of choice, if any, might be best for one of the parties that is originally in a comparatively bad situation (Khemed) and if so, if that would justify leave the other two with smaller shares. They rejected this option. That is because the agreement should offer such a solution that not only is in the best interest of just one of the parties but somehow includes those of all the claimants.
The previous post introduced another possibility. They are now reviewing a third option: what if they shared the sovereignty over Khemed in different portions? Different from the option considered before in which only one of the parties had to be protected, this choice considered the case all the parties would have a share of sovereignty but the shares would be different.
We have already seen some problems with this third option. Let us consider this choice in more detail. There are many potential pitfalls:
a) Sovereignty is a complex concept that has different levels and areas. Sovereignty may refer to human rights but it may as well refer to natural resources, defence, religion, territory, people, government, only to name a few. It remains unclear which criterion the representatives might choose in order to determine the size and nature of each share of sovereignty. For example, the shares of sovereignty could be differently divided taking into account the size of the population, the size of the territory, the level of development, the fact that the rare natural resource is in that land, etc. That would mean that depending on the criterion of choice the size of the share would be different.
In our story, Syldavia is largely populated but had a smaller territory than Borduria (only to think of two of the many elements the representatives could use for the comparison). On the contrary, Borduria is not densely populated but has the largest of the three territories. If the representatives decided the size of the shares of sovereignty over Khemed based on territorial extension it is clear that Borduria would have the largest share. However, if the size of the population was the defining criterion, Syldavia would result in the party with the largest share of sovereignty over Khemed.
It is at least difficult to see how or why one criterion would be chosen over any other criterion, in particular if the criterion benefited only one of the three claiming parties.
b) A problem related to the one just mentioned is that most of these issues are factual and will change over time. That is to say, even if the representatives agreed on, for example, the size of the population to determine the size of the sovereignty share, the size of the population will not remain the same over time. On our story, Syldavia is densely populated; Borduria is not. But it may be the case in the future that the population in Syldavia declined in number while Borduria has an opposite experience. Would that change the size of the share of sovereignty in the future?
c) We tend to think of sovereignty in terms of rights. But what about obligations? To a larger share of rights over Khemed should the benefited party have more obligations than the other two? If, for example, Khemed received 50% of the sovereignty over its territory, would that mean that Khemed had the 50% obligation to explore and exploit the rare natural resource? Or to defend it? It is a fact, according to our story, neither Khemed can explore and exploit the natural resource nor defend it.
In brief, the representatives are considering a third option to distribute the sovereignty over Khemed amongst Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria. By taking this option the complications are numerous: a) it is problematic to determine which party would receive the largest share, and there would always be two parties which would be left with a smaller portions, in different ways; b) different parties will be different in many senses (size of the population, size of the territory, level of development, defence power, human rights, and many others); c) sovereignty is a complex concept that implies rights as well as obligations in many different areas; d) the feature that the representatives might choose as a criterion to differentiate the shares could change over time; and d) why would any of the parties be motivated to let everything work to the advantage only one of them?
The next posts will examine in detail a fourth possible option: whether the shares of sovereignty should be equally divided amongst Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria. This choice will undoubtedly open the arguments to questions related to how we can secure equal shares of, for example, objects or activities that cannot be divided. Similarly, how the representatives may define what “equal” means? And finally, how unequal parties may be treated equally? But these and more questions will be reviewed in detail next time.
Jorge Emilio Núñez
03rd November 2017