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Time taught us that poverty is a factor of political instability. Poverty defines itself like the state of one who possesses nothing. It is also a lack of assets, a lack of necessaries of life. We all know that man is an animal, and as an animal, instinct for survival takes over in some moment of its existence, when that existence is threatened. Through history, poverty has been one of the most important reasons of war, at anytime, anywhere. This factor is more relevant now that countries will of conquest are less important. Moreover, when developed countries are increasing their resources day after day, some developing countries still can’t provide necessary products to their people. So, can we affirm that poverty is the greatest threat to political stability in the developing world? We will see that it is still an important factor, and that it offers the ideal basis to instability, but that is not the only factor leading to conflict situations.
Between years 2000 and 2010, we saw several conflicts in the world: the second Intifada (2000, Israel), Hmong conflict (2000, Laos), second Afghanistan war (2001), Waziristan war (2001), civil war in Ivory Coast (2001), civil war in Macedonia (2001), South Thailand conflict (2001), second Iraq war (2003), Baluchistan conflict (2003, Pakistan), civil war in Darfur (2003, Soudan, Chad and Centre of Africa), Yemen conflict (2004), Uzbekistan riots (2005), Israel/Lebanon conflict (2006), Tibet riots (2008), South Ossetia war (2008, Georgia) Djibouti/Eritrea war (2008), and Gaza war (2008). As we can see, just a few conflicts have poverty as basis, but the major parts of countries concerned are developing countries.
The Ivory Coast case is significant. Most rebels are disaffected youths who were recruited from neighbourhoods and other places, where are prevailing insecurity and poverty. A poor population is a fertile ground for warriors. A hungry young, who has just £1 a day to live, would easily be tempted by a warriors speech which propose a better future in a supposed new order they will establish. Moreover it is also the case for terrorist organisations such as Al-Qaida. In the months that followed the events of September 11, 2001, the U.S. government, supported by other coalition members quickly formed against terrorism, responded to attacks by an intensification of police activities, military and intelligence, as well as the adoption and implementation of new financial instruments and legal. Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) developed a comprehensive strategy to fight against terrorism, including trying to tackle its root causes, like several other multilateral and intergovernmental organizations. A year and a half and two wars later, the government of the United States has officially decided to join these efforts by publishing the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism in February 2003. This paper describes an America determined and able to use the tools of coercion, and less aggressive ways to reach its goal. The U.S. government said that terrorists – though they are not, themselves, necessarily poor or uneducated – use the suffering of the poor as a platform to recruit more people.
Since September 11, 2001, many politicians, including President Bush, have established a direct relationship between poverty and terrorism. Thus, at the International Conference on Financing for Development held in Monterrey (Mexico) in March 2002, Heads of State participants said that the fight against poverty was inextricably linked to the fight against terrorism. Although spontaneously and traditionally, it has probably tended to establish a direct link between poverty and terrorism, the information gathered to date do not support this assertion. Instead, they would rather the reverse. Indeed, if poverty is really the root cause of terrorism, most terrorists are from the poorest parts of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. So far, this is not the case. A study by Princeton University, conducted in 2002 on terrorism and Israeli Arab Middle East, revealed that in this region, not just terrorists had a higher standard of living in poverty, but they also had at least a high school diploma (A. Krueger, J. Maleckova – May 2002. “Education, Poverty, Political Violence and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?”, Working Papers). Although it may be that, in general, terrorists are neither poor nor uneducated, they tend to use the suffering of the poor in part to justify their acts of violence and attract more supporters. They claim often to speak for the poor. We also notice that political instability is associated with a certain inequality within a country. We note that in many developing countries, there are rich neighbourhoods alongside ghettos. Some elite benefits the country’s resources to the detriment of the rest of the population. This fact makes easier the appearance of such a phenomenon as described above, and therefore constitutes an additional threat to the political stability of a country.
The country economy also has its importance in the system. The major part of developing countries is economically fragile. In case of civil war or conflict in such a situation, the country economy threats to collapse, leading to a worse situation than before and increasing poverty, and so, putting the country into a vicious circle. To avoid that kind of situations, IMF and World Bank has been created (in 1944 and 1945 respectively). These two institutions can help, borrowing money to countries in need. But in case of politic instability, capital is retired. Moreover, action by the World Bank is often criticized, especially by governments in place that put off taking action against corruption and hold real elections, and the anti-globalization movement who accused the World Bank to meet the requirements of most multinationals that those of local populations. IMF have also been criticized. Critics have to source the most anti-globalization organizations and also from renowned liberal economists (cf. Friedman …) or the World Bank. They consider that the IMF intervention, even if they allow a temporary breakdown of third world countries that accept them, exacerbating poverty and debt by eliminating or reducing the response capacity of those States, which prevents them to better deal their problems. The main argument is based on the fact that the IMF recommended the same economic and recommendations broadly similar structural adjustment plans (mainly privatization and opening of the market) to any country seeking assistance, without analyzing in depth the each structure. On the basis of the Washington Consensus, it most often advocate greater openness to capital, global goods and services, privatization of public enterprises and fiscal austerity. It may take as an example of Argentina, who was considered a model country by the IMF (to be followed to the letter IMF’s recommendations), but experienced a severe economic crisis in 2001, causing chaos. That is why, vicious circle situations are really hard to fix for concerned countries.
In conclusion, we can assess that poverty is not the only factor leading to political instability and so, it does not constitute the greatest threat to it. The fact that some malicious person can use this poverty to conduct policy actions is a greater danger. Moreover, economic mismanagement builds upon a developing country by corrupted leaders or international institutions not providing adequate advises are also crucial. But the fact is that poverty is an issue that such a country can easily face, and so, is the first problem that must be fought by international institutions if it want to help. And so, the problem is: are these institutions setting up good deeds for that? Moreover, after the 2008 financial crisis, helping these countries could be a solution to restart global economy growing and open new markets.
Word Count: 1253.
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