International Trade, Human Rights and Sustainable Development in Conflict Zone: A Study of Nagaland

Posted on February 18, 2022 by Cheapest Assignment

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The aspects of development in the case of conflict zones are known to be associated with negative viewpoints. The examples of troublesome business environments in conflict-ridden regions such as Somalia, Sri Lanka and Myanmar provide a comprehensive outlook into the limitations over trade, protection of rights and sustainable development. The following essay aimed at reflecting on the case of Nagaland which is classified as a conflict zone characterized by frequent clashes between the Indian armed forces and Naga rebels. The essay presented a brief overview of the history of the conflict and its duration thereby suggesting the critical nature of the conflict. First of all, the human rights aspect was considered in the essay that was supported by reflection on basic concerns for human rights protection in conflict zones and the examples of human rights violations that have been noted in Nagaland e.g. AFSPA. The second aspect emphasized in the essay was international trade which was associated with the positive outcomes it can bring in a conflict zone as well as the examples of initiatives to promote international trade.  Finally, the essay focused on sustainable development in conflict zones, its definition, major precedents for sustainable development and challenges for the same alongside illustrating the sustainable development concerns encountered in Nagaland. 

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The prospects of sustainable development, international trade and human rights in conflict zones are particularly subject to various ambiguities due to a wide assortment of reasons. One of the prominently noted conflict zones in India is Nagaland which has been subject to ethnic conflicts between the indigenous Nagas and the government of India. It is essential to focus on the factors which have been acting as blockades for social development in the region alongside considering the dynamics of retrospection that lead to consideration for the positive effects of conflict

It could be notably observed that frequent conflicts are responsible for large scale losses to the economy, human rights of the population and lack of insights into the future direction of development. A brief reflection on the nature of the conflict alongside the variations in the aspects of sustainable development, human rights and international trade in Nagaland could provide a clear impression of the approaches that can be assumed as best practices and negative aspects for conflict zones. 

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The conflict:

The conflict in Nagaland could be associated with a broad illustration of the history of northeast India which is considered as one of the most ethnically diverse regions in the country. The region is populated by approximately 40 million people among whom 213 tribal groups have been identified. The conflict in Nagaland is primarily due to the demand for the sovereignty of the ethnic Naga people. Prior to the expansion of British colonialism in India, Nagaland was a sovereign territory and it is imperative to state the fact that the Naga territory refused inclusion in the Union of India as of January 10, 1929. 

The independence of India from British colonial rule was followed by including Naga Hills as Nagaland in Assam. A major portion of the original sovereign territory of the Nagas i.e. Naga Hills was placed in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal. The division of the territory was also noted between countries as India and Myanmar shared portions of Nagaland. This led to the formation of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland and the Naga National Council which were directed towards the formation of a sovereign ‘greater Nagaland’ which would be formed by including the territory occupied by Myanmar now

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The armed insurgency and conflicts were initiated in 1956 through the Naga National Council which were primarily responsible for classifying Nagaland as a conflict zone. Even in the present time, with peace efforts in progress, many factions of rebel groups such as NSCN (Khaplang) have not been actively participating in peace measures and on the contrary, they have been leading attacks throughout the North Eastern region of India in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. 

The efforts of the Indian government in developing peace fronts with various rebel groups have been commended by citizens albeit with the prominent concerns for social integration of the rebels and leaders within administrative functions. Hence it can be observed that a long history of conflict has been inflicted on Nagaland which is identified prominently in the violation of human rights, setbacks for sustainable development and limited prospects for international trade. A reflection on the individual factors with respect to the case of Nagaland would provide an impression of the dynamics pertaining to them in conflict zones.

Human rights:

The human rights of the population in the conflict zones are subject to uncertainty and could be associated with frequent violations. One of the foremost examples of this case could be identified in the establishment of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) by the Indian government for tackling Naga insurgents in the North-Eastern region. The act is also considered as an indicator of the reluctance and inability of the government for solving conflicts by the implementation of relevant political measures. 

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The act was formed as a bundle of various provisions authorized by the central government in order to counter the insurgency efforts of the Naga National Council (NNC) for gaining autonomous rights in the region. The implementation of AFSPA was primarily directed towards safeguarding the territorial and political integrity of India and was the indicator of the deployment of armed forces for the management of internal conflicts. On the contrary, AFSPA signified the violation of human rights and was responsible for escalating the conflict to a military level thereby leading to the decimation of prospects for political solutions to the conflict situation in Nagaland.  

According to a fact-finding commission instated by the government, the AFSPA was considered as a beacon of oppression, an object of hate and the promoter of discrimination. The particular implications towards the Act’s various dimensions also suggested the violation of various provisions stated in international human rights legislation. Some of the crucial factors of human rights law that were violated by AFSPA include the right of protection from arbitrary arrest or detention, the right to freedom from abuse and torture and the right to life. Furthermore, the act also reflected on denial of the right to remedy for the victims that are clearly indicative of the violation of human rights in a conflict zone

Therefore the application of human rights law in conflict zones is subjected to prominent limitations based on its relevance to all scenarios of armed conflict. On the other hand, this factor is found to be prominently noted in the case of international armed conflicts and in the case of domestic conflicts, the application of human rights law is straightforward. 

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The expansion of the scope of IHL rules for domestic conflicts has been realized profoundly in recent years primarily through the involvement of customary international law. However, the period of peace should also be subjected to evaluation for violation of human rights from the perspectives of social, ethical, legal and political dimensions.  

The case of Nagaland’s armed conflict could be reviewed from the perspective of international laws among which the UNICEF’s engagement with the protection of civilians agenda placed in January 2014 can provide insights into the crucial human rights aspects that must be focused on in conflict zones. The foremost concern should be drawn towards the protection of civilians during armed conflict. It is imperative to consider the fact that the conflict between the Indian armed forces and Naga rebels leads to collateral damage for residents as observed in the daily ordeal faced by the local population for daily activities such as collecting food and fuel

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The emphasis on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts was largely emerging in the 1990s, especially during the era post the Cold war. During this period various instances of state collapse and violent transition were characterized by atrocities on the human population in violation of international safeguards. Another prominent event that led to the review of international precedents for safeguarding the rights of the human population was in the Sri Lankan civil war in which the armed forces were in conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) that can be assumed as a parallel to the Naga conflict considered for this essay. Therefore, the workstreams of the United Nations for the preservation of human rights in the form of Responsibility to Protect, Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), Women, Peace and Security (WPS), Prevention of Genocide and the Protection of civilians could be identified as necessary interventions in the Naga conflict for ensuring the protection of human rights, especially in the basic concern for the protection of civilians. 

International Trade:

International trade in conflict zones is primarily subject to negative opinions especially noted in the apprehensions of investors to place their money in markets subject to conflict. Another prominent limitation that is identified in the case of trade in conflict zones is identified in the confusion of WTO policymakers regarding the impact of trade on the human rights of the population in conflict zones. Generally, the reduction of trade is associated with implications towards reduction of conflict through sanctioning of trade albeit with certain instances that are reflective of policymaker’s decisions to promote trade in conflict zones. 

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Conflict zones could be very easily assumed as non-profitable areas for investment such as in the case of Nagaland which is subject to frequent skirmishes between the armed forces and rebels thereby proving limited prospects for sustainable returns on trade in the region. However, it is imperative to observe that the perception of risk in such scenarios is generally reflective of stark contrast with reality. The foremost rationale for investment in a conflict zone such as Nagaland could be identified in the form of prospects for superior growth at the cost of limited investments and lack of artifices. The prominent aspects which could be considered as a reasonable invitation for international trade in Nagaland could be identified in the diversity of natural resources and substantial potential for hydroelectricity. 

Major arguments can be drawn from the literature regarding the effectiveness of trade in promoting peace and could be outlined profoundly in the views of Kant suggesting that the elements of commercial spirit and republican constitutions would subsequently lead to a situation of peace. Trade agreements are considered as the promoters of improved political relations and expectations of potential gains in the long term. In the case of Nagaland, it is essential to observe the radical disparity in factor endowments particularly identified in the residence of a large share of the local population in rural areas with approximately 12% of the population residing in urban locations. Participation in international trade would make the state and the citizens identify themselves with a global trade network thereby leading to a sense of proximity with the other nations. 

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The development of shared trust networks could lead to feasible prospects for sanctions on bad actors and behaviour. Other significant benefits which could be derived from international trade in conflict zones can be ascertained in the facilities for information sharing that can lead to increased awareness regarding the reliability of financiers, identification of new opportunities and appropriate distributors and producers. Trade agreements could serve as the viable framework of regulations for ensuring feasible enforcement of contracts as well as formalizing commitments and promoting crucial norms for effective governance and open markets. The outcomes of international trade in conflict regions could also be responsible for paving long term opportunities through facilitating impetus to economic growth, improvement of governance effectiveness, reduce the probabilities of conflicts and transaction costs. 

The examples of initiatives such as conducting the International Trade Expo in Nagaland in 2017 imply the flexibility for introducing and sustaining international trade. The primary aim of the expo was to include various companies from India as well as the ASEAN countries as well as business promotion agencies for introducing a variety of new products, local services and products, technologies and new business prospects. This factor implies the focus on reaching out to the international market alongside the promotion of local products, services and culture that can lead to outcomes as illustrated above. The development of shared norms and values could be supported by trade especially through the provision of a platform to the indigenous population to make use of their resources and obtain a unique sense of identity based on economic growth. 

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Sustainable development:

The massive abundance of natural resources in Nagaland alongside the diversity observed in the resources implies the potential of the state to promote sustainable development. However, the concerns of domestic conflict could lead to disruption of the opportunities for sustainable development. The consequences of the conflict in Nagaland could be reflective of direct and derived impacts on the environment which could also extend beyond the scope of the conflict zone. Sustainable development can be defined as the process of moderating the use of resources for addressing present objectives without posing any limitations on the capability of future generations for addressing their requirements. 

The profound highlights related to sustainable development could be identified clearly in the elements of integration, eradication of poverty, access to information, a global partnership for common responsibilities, partnership in the context of decision making and bridging the gap between development and environment. From a broader perspective, the goals of sustainable development are primarily vested in the realization of economic growth, environmental conservation and social equity. Social equity can be realized only through ensuring access to basic needs such as education, gender equity, health and human rights alongside the equitable distribution of benefits and resource access in the society. Environmental conservation would be primarily directed towards safeguarding the natural resources alongside minimizing the impact of the resources on the natural environment. Economic growth is primarily associated with the objectives of improving the quality of life of people alongside the eradication of poverty levels. In the case of the Nagaland conflict, it can be clearly observed that these objectives are of utmost importance in the present scenario.  However, it is also essential to focus on the challenges that could be encountered for sustainable development in a conflict zone. First of all the major challenge is to combat inequality and poverty which are common elements identified in conflict-affected regions. 

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The other prominent concerns which can be placed against sustainable development in conflict zones are the development of the capacity to fight corruption, promote trust among the various social groups that are distant due to conflicts and develop a perception of legitimacy for state institutions. It is also essential to observe the challenge of providing minimum public services and promoting inclusive growth in the economy and employment alongside addressing the existing and emergent risks

Some of the examples of concerns in the state of Nagaland to promote sustainable development can be illustrated to present a cognizable interpretation of the effectiveness of the state in realizing the objectives and addressing the challenges illustrated above. The increasing urban population in Nagaland is a prominent challenge for sustainable development owing to the demand for energy that is derived from the rapid depletion of natural resources. The instance of rising in the use of groundwater through digging wells from 50% of households in 2005 to 70% in the existing period could be assumed as a potential threat to sustainable development that is recognized in the depletion of aquifers. 

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The lack of an appropriate drainage system in Kohima could also be assumed as another explicit threat to sustainable development owing to probabilities for contamination of water sources. It is also imperative to consider the house building practices which do not have any engineering validation or compatibility with the sewage system and concern for landslides. From the perspective of rural areas, the development projects instated by the government have been responsible for promoting environmental degradation

One of the examples can be presented in the form of the impact of the development projects on the destruction of the traditional environment thereby leading to limitations over prospects of sustainability for people as well as encouraging poverty and forceful employment of people in coal mining and logging which imply marginal profits for the local people.

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The essay reflects on the case of Nagaland as a conflict zone and the elements of international trade, human rights and sustainable development in the region. The primary aspects of the essay could be identified in the description of the conflict, its reasons and outcomes. Furthermore, it can be clearly inferred from the illustrations in the essay that in order to address the concerns there should be a coherent framework comprising of shared values and norms in the trade as well as sustainable development. Protection of human rights should be largely subject to references from international human rights protection legislation while considering the influence of conflicts on trade and sustainable development from a negative standpoint. 

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