Democracies building more border walls: conference

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Border fences used by totalitarian states during the Cold War to keep citizens in are now increasingly being erected by democracies to keep neighbors out, a barrier conference heard Tuesday.

"For all time, the wall has been at the heart of international relations," conference organizer and University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) researcher Elisabeth Vallet said at its opening.

A drop in the number of border fences and walls was recorded during the decade after the end of the Cold War, which was marked by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, she said.

But construction of new structures around democratic states spiked in the most recent decade, after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

There are now 50 walls stretching along 30,000 kilometers (18,641 miles) of borders "because these states feel a need to protect their citizens against others."

Over two days, conference delegates are to discuss border fences separating the United States and Mexico, Israel and the Palestinian territories, India and Bangladesh, and Spain's enclaves Ceuta and Melilla and Morocco.

© 2011 AFP

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