Why are demographic changes a challenge to international security?
The world population seems to be highly increasing and leading to changes in demographic patterns across the globe. The World population growth has been highly increasing with estimates showing that middle range estimates will increase from 6 billion to 7.3 billion in 2025 (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2015, pp. 1).The factors for the increasing growth in the world have been attributed to fertility trends which have been increasing in the world (Ceccorulli, Fassi, & Lucarelli, 2017, p. 255). As the world population increases, new threats to security arise since this growth affects the way people relate with each other in different situations. The increase in population has led to new sorts of crime and insecurity and at the same time presents challenges to the local government in developing relevant infrastructures for managing this increasing population.
Changes in conflict
One element of demographic trends to international security is the changes like conflict influenced in the world. The nature of conflicts is likely to change in the future due to urbanization, the spread of immigrant communities and the demographic pressures on natural resources (Teitelbaum 2015, p. 89). Urbanization is slowly taking over the world with most people moving to urban areas to search for employment opportunities. This makes the urban areas highly populated and those who are unemployed get engaged in different types of crime. CheSoh (2012, p. 294) suggests that as urban areas become centres of economic, political and social centres, the shanty areas and low-life neighbourhoods become recruiting grounds for radical groups or revolutionaries for fighting the war. This means that urbanization leads to widespread conflict which arises due to the fight for resources. Studies have shown that crimes are high in inner-city areas located in lower-class cities (Curiel & Bishop 2018, p. 5). This can be explained from the broken window hypothesis which suggests that deteriorating neighbourhoods attract crime.
For example, dilapidated houses lead to increased crime and vandalism creating safety issues. All sorts of crime exist in urban areas but these crimes are high in low-income urban centres. When compared to rural areas, crime is low because there are no hiding places and lower population density makes it easy for people to know each other which is a social control to crime. Malik (2016, p. 71) suggests that urbanization alone is not a cause of increased insecurity but rather a breeding ground for factors that increase insecurity like crime, robbery, violence, drugs, and war which vary from locality to locality. This is the reason why crime is not evenly distributed in all urban centres but rather the factors that influence crime vary in different areas. For example, the rise of the industrial revolution changed the nature of crime since when people started living in areas close to industries, urbanization started and thus new crimes also started being witnessed around the world.
Increased Rise of Youthful Populations
Increased population growth is also associated with the youthful population who are more crime-prone as compared to the older population. This is reflected in the increased high arrest rated among the youth aged between 16-25 years (West, Phaure, Macdonald, & Hornby 2019, pp. 4). The rate of arrest is correlated with other crime-related activities like drugs and violence which increase as a result of the increased youthful population who may not be engaged in any meaningful activities. This rising rate of youth crime reflects the wider societal issues that arise from increased demographics and the inability of society to evolve with these demographics as a way of managing them.
Population Pressures on Resources and Conflict
Population pressures that arise from the changing demographics increase pressure on natural resources like water rights which are a likely source of future conflict. This has been witnessed in many regions around the world where the fight for resources has led to deaths in the population as people seek to protect the resources that they have (Plabita 2015, p. 22). This is common in arid areas where resources like water and grazing grounds have led to the death of many people especially in developing countries in Africa. The scramble for these minimal resources which came as a result of increased demographics has led to new types of crimes that had been forgotten in the 21st century. Another example is the plan for Turkey to control the flow of river Euphrates to build the grand Anatolia project for hydroelectric power will affect the flow of water to Syria and Iraq which will fuel new conflict between these countries.
Increased Technological Communication and Refugees
As the world develops technologically, advances in transportation and communication make it easy for intercontinental migration of people around the world. This can be related to the increased size of ethnic Diasporas in many parts of Europe. This has led to the rise of travel agents and diaspora activists groups who make it easy for people to move from one place to another (Mendes, Silva, Hallal, & Tomasi 2014, p. 4). Today, there are many people migrating to westernised countries illegally in search of greener pastures. As these people migrate into other countries, they can causes conflict with the local people as they seek to advance the interests of their home countries. Migrations around the world have historically led to sources of new conflict in the phase of international community. The influx of refugees can weaken the host nation’s security due to the infrastructure burden attached to managing the increased refugee population. For example, in Macedonia, there is fear of the influx of Albanians from Kosovo since this affects the government plans and creates new priorities for managing these people.
Changes in the Nature of Conflict
Demographic factors can also lead to changes in the sources of conflict that countries and regions experience. Factors like massive population growths or migrations can create advantages to some regions against others. The source of conflict shifts with these changing demographic trends as seen in the Middle East where an increase in the youthful population led to revolutionary movements against the state. This is also related to the development of the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria which developed as a result of an increasingly youthful population. Increases in demographic growth also lead to the shift in power balances between different groups in a country or region (Dowd, 2015, p. 15). When population growth takes place, it does not take place evenly and thus some groups can decline as others grow (Butu, Hashim, & Ahmad, 2017, p. 85). This shifts the balance of power from one group to another which creates tension and even conflict between the groups. For example, the Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990 was fuelled by the increasing Shiite Muslim population which threatened the Maronite Christian control of politics in the country. The same was seen in Northern Ireland when the population growth in the early 1970s swung in favour of the Catholic minorities. These shifts in power balance affect the political processes and policies which lead to civil war between groups. In most cases, the aggrieved states will look for ways of fighting to retain their interests which can, in turn, lead to war.
Hama (2013, p. 98) suggests that this means that the changing demographics being witnessed around the world are defined by the population changes that are being experienced around the world. International bodies are struggling to find long lasting solutions on issues like insecurity, crime, refugees and even immigration which have all come as a result of changing demographics around the world. Europe is one of the recipient regions that is suffering from the effects of these demographics which are reflected in the Middle East wars that have led to the increased influx of refugees into Europe. This means that the global challenges being witnessed today will not stop since these demographics seem to be changing every time now and then.
How should Europe deal with the refugee crisis from the Middle East?
The persisting wars in the Middle East have increased refugee problems in Europe. For the last two years, the Middle East region has experienced prolonged wars that have adequately affected people forcing them to migrate to Europe. At the height of the Syrian war, Europe developed a burden of sharing between 28 EU states in 2015 (Kugiel 2016, P. 49). The refugee crisis in Europe has split Europe into two with some countries like the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary refusing to accept refugees. The battle for refugees has led to the need for respecting national sovereignty with some countries arguing that the EU relocation scheme is a way of encouraging more immigrants.
Putting Measures in Place to End the War
One way to deal with the refugee crisis in the Middle East to put measures in place to stop the war. For some time now, war has been the major cause of immigration in the refugees, with some of the wars witnessed in the past being influenced by the western world in their quest to change the Arab world. This is seen in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan where the source of war was based on western interests. This means that the war can only end if western countries advocate for the local interests of the people (Heisbourg 2015, P. 9). The wars in countries like Syria are a fight for sovereignty and the need for people to govern themselves due to the invasion of Turkey in Northern Syria which has since led to an international crisis. The failure by the EU to stop the Syrian war shows a failure in the EU to deal with political issues in its member countries. without stopping the war in the middle East, refugees will still flock European countries as they run away from the wards in their country, this means that the only lasting solution to stop the war and empower neighbouring middle East countries to give them the power to intervene early in the war.
Addressing the EU-Intra Fighting on Refugee Issues
Another way that Europe can address the refugee crisis is to put measures in place to address the intra-EU fighting which has weakened the block. For example, Turkey uses refugees for political ends and thus any deal that it strikes with the EU is not for the good of the EU but rather for its own political gains. As EU countries are struggling to host refugees from Syria, Turkey is still invading Syria and had issued a threat asking the EU not to intervene or else the government will release the refugees in Turkey camps to Europe (Ergun, Dessì, Lindgaard, Ala’Aldeen, & Palani 2018, p. 5). Turkey is also defined as a “civilization state” which defines its interests differently from the west since the country feels it was betrayed by the EU and US in the attempted coup of July 2016 (Rygiel, Baban, & Ilcan 2016, p. 319). Thus integration of the EU is one of the solutions that can be used to end the refugee crisis so that each of the EU countries can take responsibility. The fact that countries like the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary have taken different refugee situations means that the EU countries are no longer loyal to the regional block and thus without integrating all the EU countries, the refugee crisis will not be solved.
Equal Responsibility by EU Countries
Further, EU countries need to take equal responsibility in dealing with refugee issues. This is through equal distribution of refugees across the European countries and not keeping them in bad conditions on Greek camps. Trauner (2016, p. 314) argues that the EU has to develop a relief program that involves all the countries to ensure that they are protecting the refuges and they do not leave the burden to only one country. EU countries need to assess their policies and stands on the different refugee and Middle East issues that affect the people. They also need to put new measures in place for restoring the war through ensuring that they address the real causes of the war which is the Islamic state and the kindred groups with deep-rooted grievances with the Sunni Muslim populations. As the western countries support for some regimes as seen in the rapprochement of Shiite-Persian Iran, the Western world and the EU are leading to the development of hegemonies within Middle East countries which is seen as a threat between the Sunnis and Shiites. Thus as the war continues radicalization seems to increase since the approach of the western world is one-sided and not focussed on bringing the aggrieved groups together.
Therefore, the refugee crisis in Europe can only be addressed through ending the wars in the region which are still attributed to the one-sided interests of Europe and the Western world in their quest to control the Middle East. After wars and wars, the region is still in war with many groups coming up as a result of the crisis that the war has plunged them into. Thus, for now, Europe needs an integrative policy to speak with one voice on the refugee issues and at the same time needs to change its approach to the Middle East wars to give a permanent solution that can allow refugees to go back to their countries.
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