IR - One Definition A Day: Fourth WorldA shorthand term for what the UN has called the least developed countries. These states are distinguished by very low per capital Gross Domestic Products (GDPs), low levels of literacy and low levels of manufacturing development. Geographically, the Fourth World is confined to two continents: Africa and Asia.
In Africa, the so-called 'famine belt' stretches across the midlle of the continent from Mauritania to the Sudan; in this region the already vulnerable economies have recently been exacerbated by drought. In Asia, the paradigm Fourth World state is Bangladesh. States can slip into this category as a result of man-made rather than natural conditions. Afghanistan and Mozambique, states ravaged by revolutionary insurgency and forein intervention, can be cited here.
In terms of the global hierarchy of states, the Fourth World clearly refers to those actors at the margin of the system. The UN and agencies such as UNCTAD, as well as influential bodies of private interests such as the Brands Reports Commission, have sought to draw the attention of elites and attentive publics in the rest of the system to the plight of these states. See also quasi-states.
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