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Political Play
Zulfiqar Shah
Foreign policy of oppressed 09 June, 2015
Foreign policy is not only a matter of the nations that are having a sovereign country. There use to be a foreign policy of oppressed as well, which usually is carried out by the social and public faces as well as intelligentsia of the social movements, oppressed nations or the nations without states.

There is one fundamental principle in the foundations of the foreign policy of oppressed: The social, political, cultural and intellectual leadership and representation of that nation / social movement must be knowing the broader outlines of the interests of the nation and the basics of international as well as peoples diplomacy or the borderless diplomacy.

Let us discuss this highly academic nature of issue in the form of basic questions because this write-up is the first of its kind on such a theme. Or let us say, the theme itself has not been discussed academically so far, therefore primarily it requires basic understanding of the things.

Who can be considered oppressed people?

There are so many social groups and entities that can be considered in the category of oppressed:

I. Oppressed and occupied nations that are struggling for freedom, secession, independence, liberation, right to self determination and / or a wider range of rights;

II. Discriminated and vulnerable classes and sections of the society like wage-laborers, agriculture workers, fishing communities, hilly and nomadic people; indigenous communities; and significant ethno-linguistic and religious minorities;

III. Peculiar sections of the society like gays, lesbians, and trans-gender community.    

Why oppressed needs a foreign policy?

The foreign policy for discriminated and vulnerable as well as peculiar sections and classes of society need an entirely non-confronted foreign policy and engagement to achieve some things in the context of rights regime, legislation and implementation. 

Since the social movements of such social sections and classes are usually not considered against the state or the particular construct of the state, but require certain reforms by the state in a bid to attain their fundamental rights both in the society and state; therefore their foreign policies and engagements are very smooth, highly welcomed, simple, issue based and are accommodated mostly by the various groups of power across the world. 

There is another peculiarity of these groups foreign policy that they have broader options for making friends, form networks and seek support from other similar social movements, groups and institutes.

Foreign policy for oppressed as well as stateless nations, and the occupied people is one of the highly patchy, hard, and well resisted initiative. Such foreign policy is usually unwritten, becomes an outcome of collective socio-political and economic understanding of the nations that gradually develops during the course of oppression. This foreign policy engagement is highly resisted by the establishment of the oppressor state and its allied states. It always works around political, economic, social and cultural rights, importance, and interests.

These foreign policy initiatives can be carried on people to people, rights bodies, political movements and sympathetic governments level. Mostly these initiatives are carried to seek maximum external support, positive perception and lobbying to build pressure on the oppressor state in a hope to seek rights and resolve issues.  

Who does carry the foreign policy from among the oppressed?

Leaders and cadres of political parties as well as movements; civil and political rights activists; writers; journalists; intellectuals; actors; singers and sports persons from among the oppressed usually undertake the foreign policy of the oppressed. However, each groups' engagement has its own nature of initiatives.

What are the categories of oppressed people's foreign policies?

When political actors undertake foreign policy engagement, they mostly discuss the political, strategic, state, movement and diplomatic support for their cause. They usually engage with the governments, political parties and political movements of the various friendly countries.

The engagement by the civil and political rights activists mostly deal the very same issues for which political parties struggle; and are justified under given broader rights instruments and frameworks adopted either by international community and rights groups worldwide or by law of the country in which their nation is being oppressed. However, their method of engagement is highly different from the method of political parties.

Writers, journalists and intellectuals of the nations, unlike others, may not adopt travelling requirements like others; however they usually write and discourse on the issues and rights of political movements through writing or spoken as well as visual discourse. They mostly do not associate with any political group. They usually think and express about the broader interests of the people.

The cultural representatives of oppressed usually focus on the cultural aspects of the oppressed nation which usually have political relevance in their era's regional, continental and international issues.

Issues versus stance in the oppressed policy?

A foreign policy of oppressed may be divided into two sections. An engagement that is around certain political issues like natural resources exploitation; ethnic cleansing; rights violation; and the engagement that is around sovereign aspects like provincial autonomy; right to self-determination and territorial freedom.

Juxtapositions in the foreign policy of oppressed

A oppressed nation usually fights on two fronts -- its participation in the governance through votes; and at the same time its struggle for the sovereign and independent status. Some odd times come in the foreign policy of oppressed when secessionist tend to support those who want to seek the rights within federation / oppressor state; and vice versa. And, in some of the perspective both join their hands together.

About the subject

Since there is no available academic discourse and treatise on the issue, therefore its more details either can come from those who have been part of this process or can be researched furthermore. A detailed research work is required on this subject.

To the oppressed

There is not only excessive need to get engage in the foreign policy for the oppressed but there is much need to learn from the associates from across the successful movements like East Timor, Kosovo and South Sudan.  

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
About The Author
Zulfiqar Shah is a stateless activist, analyst, and researcher. Although he is a refugee, and living a life in exile, he is a born Sindhi and South Asian. Currently he lives in India.
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