The North-South Divide: Modern Conflict between the First and Third Worlds

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The North-South Divide

In a system rooted in competition what happens if one side gains a dominant advantage? Theory dictates that the capital will flow and that production will increase on the side of the disadvantaged, but what if the dominant power decides to change the rules and make its dominance more absolute? These are questions fueling the discussion of North-South conflict. Many reasons for these problems existing have been explained, and also many different conclusions on ways to remedy such situations.

The conflict has emerged from the receding East-West confrontations of past decades. The core struggle of wealth and poverty remains but the geography of the conflict has shifted. Colonial imperialism of the past hundred years left to tangible legacies. The first is our current map of the world with the relatively new independence of several Middle Eastern and South Asian countries. The second is the North South divide. The end of imperialism brought about the freedom of many lesser developed countries but freedom does not imply prosperity. Some of the clearest examples of the contemporary North-South conflict have manifested themselves within the WTO. The divide first emerged when the WTO could not decide on a new leader in 1999 and split the five-year term between a Thai politician supported heavily by the South and a New Zealander supported by the North. Again in 1999 the WTO Seattle conference was delayed by environmental activists and vandalizing anarchists who staged a street protest outside. The conference itself was characterized by disagreement. Many of the industrialized countries of the North wanted to negotiate provisions in areas like environmental regulation and labor laws. This was seen as an attack by many of the less developed countries of the South. They argued that there was no way that they could meet these standards noting that the countries of the North had not been bound by them while they were industrializing. While...
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