Irredentism is any position advocating
annexationof territories administered by another stateon the grounds of common ethnicityor prior historical possession, actual or alleged. Some of these movements are also called pan movements. It is a feature of identity politicsand cultural and political geography. Since most borders have been moved and redrawn at one point, a great many countries could theoretically present irredentist claims to their neighbours.
However, some states are the subject of potential irredentism from birth. Post-WWI
Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Near Easthad borders carved out by the Allies that left many of the new states in that region unsatisfied due to minority populations and conflicting historical claims. Many of Africa's borders were artificially imposed by European colonial powers. The result split ethnic groups between different countries, such as the Yoruba who are divided among Nigeria, and Benin. In some cases, the irredentist arguing continued well past the Second World War and on to the present day.
An area that may be subjected to a potential claim is therefore sometimes called an "irredenta". Not all irredentas are involved in actual irredentism.
The word was coined in
Italyfrom the phrase " Italia irredenta" ("unredeemed Italy"). This originally referred to Austro-Hungarian rule over mostly or partly Italian-inhabited territories such as Trentinoand Triesteduring the 19th and early 20th century.
A common way to express a claim to adjacent territories on the grounds of historical or ethnic association is by using the epithet "Greater" before the country name. This conveys the image of national territory at its maximum conceivable extent with the country "proper" at its core. It must be noted that the use of "Greater" does not always convey an irredentistic meaning. For instance,
Greater Romaniais the common translation given to the Romanian term "Romania Mare", which is the name given between the two World Wars to the Kingdom of Romania. Romania claimed irredenta over Transylvaniaand Bessarabiaafter World War I. The term was also used by Germans referring to Greater Germany, a state consisting of pre World War I Germany, actual Austria and the Sudetenland.
Some states formalize their irredentist claims by including them in their constitutional documents.
Argentina:Part III, Section 1 of the Constitution of Argentinastates that "The Argentine Nation ratifies its legitimate and non-prescribing sovereignty over the Malvinas (Falkland Islands), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islandsand over the corresponding maritime and insular zones, as they are an integral part of the national territory. The recovery of said territories and the full exercise of sovereignty, respectful of the way of life of their inhabitants and according to the principles of international law, are a permanent and unrelinquished goal of the Argentine people."
People's Republic of China:The preamble to the Constitution of the People's Republic of Chinastates " Taiwanis part of the sacred territory of the People's Republic of China. It is the lofty duty of the entire Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland." The PRC claim to sovereignty over Taiwan is generally based on the successor state theory, whereby the PRC is the legally recognized successor state to the Republic of China.
Republic of China:Article 4 of the ' Constitution of the Republic of Chinaoriginally stated that: "The territory of the Republic of China within its existing national boundaries shall not be altered except by a resolution of the National Assembly" although recent constitutional changes have moved this power to that of a national referendum.
:The Republic of China has not formally renounced claims to the areas currently controlled by the
People's Republic of China, Mongolia, and parts of Russia( Tuvan Republic), Burmaand other Central Asian states bordering China, though it no longer actively pursues these claims. Ironically, for the ROC to renounce claims on the Mainland would be regarded as a declaration of Taiwan independenceby the PRC which could likely provoke military intervention.
Comoros:Article 1 of the Constitution of the Union of the Comoros begins: "The Union of the Comoros is a republic, composed of the autonomous islands of Mohéli, Mayotte, Anjouan, and Grande Comore." Mayotte, geographically a part of the Comoro Islands, was the only island of the four to vote against independence from France (a 63%-37% majority) in the referendum held December 22, 1974. The total vote was 94%-5% in favor of independence. Mayotte is currently a "departmental collectivity" of the French Republic.
India:From 1950 onward India has claimed Pakistan-administered Kashmir(which Indians refer to as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir(PoK) and Pakistan refers to it as Azad Kashmir, meaning Independent Kashmir in Urdu) as part of Jammu and Kashmirand Aksai Chin(which Indians refer to as China-occupied Kashmir).Fact|date=August 2008
United Kingdom:From 1937 until 1999, articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Irelandprovided that " [t] he national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland". However, " [p] ending the re-integration of the national territory", the powers of the state were restricted to legislate only for the area that had ceded from the United Kingdom. Arising from the Northern Ireland peace process, the matter was mutually resolved in 1999. Ireland's constitution was altered by referendumand its territorial claim to Northern Irelandwas dropped. The amended constitution asserts that while it is the entitlement of "every person born in the island of Ireland ... to be part of the Irish Nation" and to hold Irish citizenship, "a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island." Certain joint policy and executive bodies were created between Northern Ireland, the part of the island that remained in the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, and these were given executive authority. The advisory and consultative role of the government of Ireland in the government of Northern Ireland granted by the United Kingdom, that had begun with the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, was maintained. The two states also settled the long-running dispute concerning their respective names: "Ireland" and the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" with both governments agreeing to use those names.
Pakistan:From 1950 onward Pakistan has claimed Jammu and Kashmir (which Pakistan refers to as Indian-occupied Kashmir), as part of their state's "national territory." Pakistan also claims Azad Kashmir.Fact|date=August 2008
Somalia:Prior to its break-up as a functioning state, the Somali constitution contained paragraphs explicitly claiming adjacent territories to form a " Greater Somalia". The present Transitional Federal Charter(TFC) of the new Transitional Federal Government(TFG) clearly claims territories which comprise the self-declared independent nation of Somaliland, thus asserting sovereigntyover territory of the former Somali Republic.
Spaincontinues to claim the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, ceded to Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht, and argues its case at the United Nationsclaiming its territorial integrity is affected. Moroccomakes similar claims against Spain over the North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Portugaldoes not recognize as Spanish the territory of Olivenza conquered by Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, Spain ocupies Olivenza since 1807, following the Peninsular War during the Napoleonic Wars. Altough Spain recognizes the Paris traity of 1814 and agreed the terms of the Viena congress, which would return Olivenza to the portuguese crown, maintains the ocupation, ilegal under internacional law and listed by the CIA.
Some of the most violent irredentist conflicts of recent times in
Europeflared up as a consequence of the break-up of the former Yugoslaviain the early 1990s. The wars in Croatiaand Bosnia and Herzegovinawere largely about creating a new political framework of states, each of which would be ethnically and politically homogeneous. The conflict erupted further south with the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovoseeking to switch allegiance to the adjoining state of Albania. (See Chazan, 1991, Irredentism and international politics.) Greececlaims that the use of the name Republic of Macedoniaby its northern neighbor signifies an irredentist claim on the northern province of Macedonia in Greece. Other pacifist movements claims a pacific "reunification of Yugoeslavia". Southeast Asiatoo is another region in which armed irredentist movements have been active for almost a century, due to the Balkanizationof North-East India, Burmaand Bangladeshunder British colonialism. Most prominent amongst them are the Nagafight for Greater Nagaland, the Chin struggle for a unified Chinlandand other self-determinist movements by the ethnic indigenous peoplesof the erstwhile Assamboth under the British and post-British Assam under India.
Some have alleged irredentism by Armenia in its support of the predominantly Armenian-populated region of
Nagorno-Karabakhin Azerbaijanto gain independence from Azerbaijan. [ [http://www.semp.us/publications/biot_reader.php?BiotID=224 What is Irredentism] ] According to a prominent expert on irredentist movements, Thomas Ambrosio, "from 1992 to the cease-fire in 1994 Armeniaencountered a highly permissive or tolerant international environment that allowed its annexation of some 15 percent of Azerbaijani territory". [Thomas Ambrosio. Irredentism. Ethnic Conflict and International Politics, Praeger Publisher, 2001, pp.148] Armeniadenies its direct involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh War. In view of Nadia Milanova, Nagorno-Karabakh represents a combination of separatism and irredentism. [ Nadia Milanova. The Territory-Identity Nexus in the Conflict over Nagorno Karabakh: Implications for OSCE Peace Efforts, Human Rights Without Frontiers International, 2003]
Syrian Social Nationalist Party, which operates in Lebanonand Syria, works for the unification of most modern states of the Levantand beyond in a single state referred to as Greater Syria. The proposed pan-Arab "Syrian" country includes Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait; and southern Turkey, northern Egypt, northeastern Libyaand southwestern Iran.
Japanese extremists seek ways to annex an island,
Dokdo, that historically and officially belongs to ROK. There has been a lot of conflicts over the island, and even some political parties claims that Dokdo is not big enough to be considered as an island. They also demanded the return of the Kuril Islands, the four southernmost points of the island chain north of Hokkaidocurrently under Russian administration since the end of World War II.
Irredentism is commonplace in
Africadue to the artificially declared political boundaries of former European colonial nation-states passes through tribal boundaries. The Ethiopian Great Imperium of Eastern Africain some Ethiopian nationalist circles: To extend the ancient Ethiopian empire into the former Ethiopian province of Eritrea, the Sudanincluding Christian Southern Sudan, Fachoda and the Darfurregion, neighboring Djibouti, Somalia, parts of Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambiqueand even into Yemen.
Irredentism is also found in the
USby some Chicanonationalists and Mexican-Americanactivists in the controversial La Razaand Aztlanmovements. They call for the return of formerly Mexican-dominated lands in the Southwestern United States back to Mexicoafter the US annexed lands in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgoto become the present-day states of California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico; and parts of Colorado, Nevadaand Utah. Fact|date=September 2008 Venezuelakeeps its claim over the Guayana Esequibaterritory in nearby Guyana.
List of irredentist claims or disputes
Status quo ante bellum
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