• Gerry O’ReillyEmail author
Part of the Key Challenges in Geography book series (KCHGE)


In Part 1, geopolitics emphasizes territory, power, time, place and space regarding conflict and its resolution in geographical contexts. Concepts surrounding territoriality, resource control, defence and identity are assessed where the state continues to act as the framework for the UN and humanitarian law, despite globalizations. Defining and positively channelling nationalism remains challenging while territorialisation quests continue on planet earth, but also in outer space and possible future cyberwars. Conflict entails material and existential variables including Utopias, religion, development and democracy. The Democracy and UN HDI indices, shows strong correlations between conflict, crises and coping capacities. Kernel to development objectives are justice, human rights, endowment, entitlement and peace-building. Multiple causes exist for regional conflicts that can become radicalized. For sustainable development, planning with good governance supporting good citizenship is imperative, interconnecting central to local government and wider scales. In Part 2, humanitarian action and development contexts are appraised. Contexts, events and processes are core to global geopolitical orders and attempts at international governance, with humanitarian NGOs promoting action based on impartiality, neutrality and independence. The UN Responsibility to Protect has made progress in shifting the focus of international law to a more people-centred approach, keeping in mind hazards and risks. The impact of any disaster is proportional to the population’s vulnerability levels and responses include multiple stakeholders aiming to support sustainable development. But the triad—food, power and hunger remains embedded in political-economy. A back to basics approach, encompassing food and health, money and work, environment and good governance must be kept to the forefront as attempted in the Sustainable Development Goals (2016–2030). In Part 3, the nexus between geopolitics, international organization and humanitarism is appraised. This needs to be interpreted within the realpolitik of the global geopolitical environment of 1945, and original architecture of the UN—General Assembly and Security Council, with the latter including the five WWII victors holding veto powers, and effects of this during the Cold War (1947–91). Yet, humanitarian breakthroughs came with the Geneva Conventions, R2P and International Criminal Court. From the 55 original UN member states in 1945, this increased to 193 by 2011, and reforms in UN power structures urgently need to reflect this. Such is particularly evident in disjuncture between UN ideals and capacity to deliver, in contrast to the realpolitik being played out in Ukraine and Crimea (2014 on), Syria (2015 on), Yemen (2015 on), DRC and Myanmar. UN agencies play a foremost role in humanitarian action, but the key players are NGOs and IFRC. Other significant examples of inter-governmental organizations include the Council of Europe, Europe Union, Organization of American States, African Union, Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation. For the present, multilateralism remains the best deterrent to unbridled unilateral state action and its inherent dangers.


Geopolitics Development International organisations 

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of History and Geography, St. Patrick’s CampusDublin City UniversityDublinIreland

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