Impact of Globalization on International Security Essay

Impact of Globalization on International Security

In order to better discuss the question at hand we must first discuss briefly what globalization is? Globalization as a term has been widely spread during the last two decades, even though it is not a very precise or agreed term. We can say that globalization is a process where different societies, cultures and economies have integrated more and more in a global network via trade, communication and transportation. The term includes economic globalization, i.e. the integration of national or regional economies into the international economy through trade, financial flows, the proliferation of technology, migration etc. Globalization refers also to the international circulation of ideas, languages and culture. It is a process being driven by a combination of factors like economic factors, political factors, technological, social and cultural factors. [1]

We must understand the fact that globalization and its components are not spread equally, nor do them influent the same throughout the world. For example many African states are much less globalized than European states and in terms of components, for example financial globalization is much more diffused than migration. A concrete example where components of globalization are not spread equally would be China where economical and technological globalization is much more present than liberal ideas. According to Habermas nation states are more and more under pressure both on functional and on normative grounds. They are increasingly unable to handle the intensity and volume of flows of people, capital, information, and problems that cross their borders. He argues that nowadays it is more difficult for nation states to maintain political sovereignty and that the dynamic of democratization is leading to a new transnational and global form of governance. [2]

Despite Habermases deduction of where it leads, the fact stands that in a globalized world states cannot solve problems in a unilateral way. In security terms states cannot tackle their own security threats efficiently, which leads to the need for states to cooperate in order to manage the threats that result from globalization. Globalization affects in two major ways issues of security in one way it diminishes their threat (positive way) and in the other it increases them (negative way). There are a whole range of security threats from the more traditional, such as interstate and intrastate wars, economic collapse, arms proliferation, refugee crises, infectious diseases, insurgencies, genocides and ethnic cleansing, to relatively more new threats like climate change, oil depletion, nuclear weapons, drug and human trafficking, population trends, terrorism and cyber war. [3]

Globalization has had a positive impact or a more restrictive effect in security issues like interstate and intrastate wars, genocides, ethnic cleansing, and prohibition of further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). We have noticed that since the end of the cold war armed and military conflicts have diminished in number, time and space. With globalization is less convenient to make war and is more difficult for them to spread since it is very likely for measures to be taken from the UN and NATO to confine these conflicts and arrive to solutions as soon as possible. In today’s globalised world there is more security provided from international organizations; trade and spreading of democracy makes it less likely to go to war, also the possession of WMD makes states more hesitating. [4] If we see the trend there are more efforts to confine conflicts, for example Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Ivory Coast and now Libya (although this remains highly debatable); nuclear weapons have decreased in number and continue to decrease although more countries now posses them. [5]

There is also the other side of the medal where globalization has increased the level of some security threats like migration, terrorism, infectious diseases, oil depletion and climate change. With the development of technology, trade, communication and transportation it is more difficult to prevent and solve problems like migration, terrorism, infectious diseases and financial crisis from passing states borders. Also in the highly globalised world that we live in today climate change has become a major problem one that requires enhanced cooperation in the international level but that withholds many complexities. Globalization has brought more welfare which in turn has helped increase the global population and the speed at which resources are consumed, and now we face the threat of depletion of a major resource like oil. All of the security threats mentioned above require more cooperation in the international level to find some stable solutions. Through globalization problems like organized crimes which used to be primarily domestic problems now are internationalized. [6]

Despite the effect that globalization has on security issues we must emphasize the fact that not all states are affected the same, i.e. maximizing the gains while lowering the risks. For example more developed states can cope better and are much less vulnerable to risks of globalization than are developing countries. Nevertheless, globalization in general reduces the ability of states to act successfully in a unilateral way and to respond to security threats. This increases the necessity for states to cooperate and manage the threats that result from globalization. Globalization also means that seemingly weak actors like individuals (terrorists) or small and isolated problems like viruses can have a disproportionate influence on international security. Furthermore states have different vulnerabilities meaning that their propensity to cooperate in the international arena will vary according to their vulnerabilities and interests. [7]

Even between rich and powerful countries we can notice differences in the ways they deal with global security threats. The USA for example often behaves unilaterally when dealing with security challenges caused or aggravated by globalization. A different behavior is seen on other important actors such as member states of the European Union. EU member states try to find effective multilateral solutions to the same problems that USA tries to tackle on its own. With the Lisbon treaty and the changes in CFSP, EU has enhanced its capabilities and its efforts to tackle these problems in a more cooperative way. We must say that EU tackles better in a multilateral way nontraditional security threats like migration, climate change, economic issues, drugs and human trafficking. [8]

Moreover globalization has considerable effect on the study of international security and how we perceive threats. While it is fairly easy to find countless books and articles that deal with hard power and military related topics in international security; we notice a decline in attention concerning the analysis and study of nontraditional security threats like migration, infectious disease and economic crisis. For example researchers of the less traditional international security issues like economic crisis, climate change and public health take for granted the idea that internal behavior in domestic policies can have a thespian influence on specific international problems. For these researchers globalization only intensifies trends that have perpetually been present among us, to them it displays merely a change of degree rather than type. It is quite different for analysts who analyze more traditional security issues relating hard power, war and the use military force, to them globalization challenges their orthodox, state centric presumption about how security issues are determined and followed. Globalization affects the study of international security for example by how traditional state centric views of war and military security issues are challenged in the way globalization alleviate threats by non state actors like organized crime, insurgencies and terrorism. [9]

We can say that globalization has increased the persistence of a more liberal approach to the study of international security while realism is playing a more subtle role. More focus is being placed on the individual rather than states. In this case analysts and/or policy shapers of US which focus on hard power and military power will be ineffective and perhaps counterproductive since other actors whose cooperation is necessary to solve security issues will refuse to comply. Globalization has not only changed the way the study of international security is approached but also the role of major powers in these issues. [10]

Word count Q1: 1490

The “human security agenda”: discuss content and meaning, and the possible consequences of adopting this framework for security analysis!

Human security is a new concept developed after the cold war and it is used today by various actors and factors in international relations like states and governments, international organizations (IO) and nongovernmental organizations (NGO). It is a concept that comes as result of successful attempts to broaden the traditional concept of security. The human security agenda includes traditional and nontraditional security issues such as war, economic security, arms proliferation, refugees and migration, public health security, insurgencies, genocides and ethnic cleansing, environmental protection, nuclear weapons, drug and human trafficking, terrorism, food crisis etc. Shortly put it means a broad definition of security where the focus is on the individual level as opposed to the more traditional focus on the international or domestic/national level, i.e. the states system or states. [11]

Human security is a very interesting concept, one that even though stands to some extent in conflict with the state centric concept of security that we are used to, governments have used it to shape foreign and security policy. Another interesting fact is that it did not come from researchers or analysts but it came from politics; it was first used in the Human Development Report of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in 1994. Since then the concept has taken a broad use by UN, NGOs and it has become a cornerstone of policy for important states like Switzerland, Canada and Japan. 14 states have formalized the concept in a multilateral setting within the Human Security Network, and they meet annually at the foreign minister level since 1999 to follow an analogous human security agenda on many security issues. [12]

The content of human security agenda can be divided in two major components, “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”. The first is linked closely to the activities of the human security network and it means to take way the threat or the use of violence and force from the life of the population. There are many successes examples from following the objectives of “freedom from fear” policy such as the creation and promotion of the ICC the International Criminal Court, the Ottawa Convention (to ban anti-personnel landmines), and the action to restraint the proliferation of light weapons and the misuse of small arms. The second (freedom from want) is based upon the original formulation of the UNDP and it is about securing what is considered as basic human needs in terms of food, health, economy, environmental and social security. This was included on the very famous 2003 final report of the UN Commission on Human Security. The report points to ten ways how to improve human security on a global scale focusing not only in situations of conflict but as well on issues related to access to education, access to health care, fair trade, patent rights, and basic freedoms. [13]

The human security agenda with its both divisions of “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want” it’s quite complex and withholds contested consequences if it is going to be adopted as a framework for security analysis, which seems to be the desire of many individuals, NGOs, some IOs, and even some states. Of course if adopted not both divisions have the same consequences, for example “freedom from fear” is a much more narrow view of human security and is much more coherent. While “freedom from want” is so broad that includes issues that present no real threat to human security. It seems that as a result from this human security includes nearly everything that can be considered a threat to people’s wellbeing. Here lies the potential risk that if everything that impacts negatively peoples well being is marked as a security threat, than security will lose its meaning. If this happens than security instead of being a term that helps prioritizing problems and being at the focus of policy makers and analysts than it will be counter-productive. The concept will have no utility; it won’t easy the process of prioritizing problems or help make policies more coherent. There must be some priorities, global equity, universal education or fair patent rights cannot rival international security issues like terrorism, wars, pandemic disease etc. We must understand that securitizing everything it won’t help the problems disappear it will only narrow our tools to deal with them. [14]

It is understandable that expanding so much the human security agenda it becomes nearly impossible to find all the resources to deal properly with the presented problems. What has already happened and is probable to continue to happen is that major stakeholders will discuss the issues in international bodies and promise more than they can deliver. Examples can be given by observing objectives like poverty eradication throughout the world, part of the human security agenda, where many powerful countries have failed consistently to provide what they pledge during UN funding campaigns. Mr. Smith suggests that: “the international community must be very careful about confusing the provision of international security – no matter how unfairly it may be defined – with the pursuit of development/humanitarian goals. [15]

As mentioned in the beginning the human security agenda shifts the object of security from states to people. It categorizes human security threats in 7 general categories: personal, community, environmental, economic, food, health and political security. To be more specific the novel formulation stipulates human security firstly as safety from chronic threats disease, hunger and repression and secondly it takes the meaning of protection from harmful disruption in daily life patterns being it in home or working environment. It also asserts that such threats can exist in all levels of development and national income. We notice an effort to change the concept of security from the realist and cold war definitions and obsession with arms and territorial security to a people’s security and a sustainable human development. [16]

Despite the attempts to shift security from states to individuals the human security agenda is being developed within the framework of the UN system meaning that states member of the UN and their governments are charged with fulfilling these policies. Perhaps the human security enthusiasts forget that the traditional state centric view of the international security system already includes some basic human needs. Meaning that issues like food, health, education and individual security which are part of the human security agenda are also part of states agenda even though in some states these are issues that take a lot of attention and in others they lack the adequate commitment. Believing that this is generally the case than perhaps in order to solve or to soften such issues more attention should be focused on good government both in developed and developing countries. Perhaps this could be a better approach than adding more extremely difficult goals to an already very crowded international agenda. If we take a quick look at the world we will see that it is filled will failed, weak or ineffective states and governments. If we take into account this fact than we notice that human security is very much related to the state security system itself. [17]

Furthermore since we don’t have a world government and that is very likely that we won’t have one in the foreseeable future the duty of providing human security primarily falls under states and secondly under IOs. If we do not have an authority or authorities to insure protection from fear and want human security won’t be achieved. Since states are so important for human security, and for them to provide it, it is necessary that they themselves be secured, than states should deal primarily with threats directed to them. That is why as long as there will be more important or urgent threats, human security agenda will have a lower priority in the international security agenda. I agree with Smith’s suggestion that: “we should simply revert back to the terminology of ‘human rights’ and ‘human/international development’ and promote those goals accordingly rather than re-package and devalue them in the form of potential security threats to the richer, and more powerful, developed world”. [18]


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