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Undefined Borders: A New Concept in International Affairs
In a world beset by concepts of statehood, nationalism and individualism, where values of peace, stability and prosperity intermingle with those of power, security and national interest, the Palestinians have been struggling to determine their own existence, commonly referred to as "self-determination." In recent decades, the Palestinian national movement strove to find its place in the international arena and to acquire the legitimacy required for existing as a nation. The speech of Yasser Arafat to the United Nations General Assembly in 1974 did find its echo in international forums, while his speech in 1988 based the legitimacy of the Palestinian national independence on U.N. Resolution 181. The visit of U.S. President Bill Clinton to Gaza in December 1998, his speech there to the Palestinian National Council and his subsequent commitments were high points in this protracted and continuous process of international recognition of Palestinian national rights.

Overdue Statehood

With the century nearing its end, the Palestinians aspire to a new start, tempted to believe that their battle has been won and is a thing of the past and that the new century will be one of statehood and stability in the not-so-coherent structure of Palestinian existence.
Palestinian statehood is long overdue. After decades of struggle for recognition, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is in control of major cities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians have a representative authority, an elected parliament and a government led by an elected president. There is a Palestinian airport and a Palestinian police force. Moreover, there are diplomatic representations of foreign countries to the PNA. There are promising developments in the domains of information, industry, trade and economy. A number of institutions have been working in the areas of democracy, human rights, women's and children's issues; and established organizations have been working in the fields of public health, education and others. Donor agencies and donor money have been active and forthcoming in the last couple of years. Ministries and public institutions have employed a high number of personnel, qualified and underqualified, who, otherwise, might have been unemployed. The major achievement can be summarized by stating that there are both valid public and private sectors in the PNA, leading, therefore, to the elementary conclusion that statehood has been rightly earned and is now due.

The Question of Borders

In all literature of international relations, statehood is defined by its elements of sovereignty, representative authority, and territory with defined and recognized borders. With the knowledge that major and essential elements of statehood have been acquired - a representative government, a recognized nation, and an internationally recognized history of struggle for self-determination - the Palestinians can declare a state. The problem that would impose itself on Palestinian statehood would be the difficulty of defining the borders of the state. But does a state need to define its borders? Could it not be the novelty of the 21st century that a state may exist without defined borders?
In the age of communication, the media and the Internet, this concept might very well be valid. A state can have its place in the world without having to define its borders. It has been said that self-determination means that the self determines its existence and defines itself. Thus, each state can choose and determine its structure, form, system, language, culture and aspirations. And like an Internet website, it can exist without clear delimitations of borders. The state can be referred to as or , or .
There will be no defined borders for this state "currently under construction." Indeed, we can learn from international history that states have been proclaimed while their borders were still being disputed and before border issues were defined or settled, once the founders of the state had gained recognition and acceptance by the international community. For example, the State of Slovenia was recognized even before the complete disintegration of Yugoslavia. In certain cases, this recognition came to satisfy a sort of balance of power. In other cases, it has been the strong will of the nation to find its place in the international arena. In the case of the Palestinian people, it has been both. The Palestinian struggle for self-determination over long decades ensures the right of that people to find its place on the international map. With the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority, the Palestinian demand for independent statehood can no longer be overlooked. Even without borders, the Palestinian state is finding its place in the international world of states and entities.

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