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  Our last issue (Boston Review, June/August 1993) featured a roundtable on „The North/South Divide at the End of the Cold War¾ with articles by Olara Otunnu, Eqbal Ahmad, Jagat Mehta, Alan Henrikson, and Randall Forsberg. Here we extend the discussion with contributions by Neta Crawford and Virginia Gamba.

Democratic Security

Neta Crawford

How can we move toward a peaceful and democratic world in a way that respects the right of people to self-determination? How can we prevent wars and genocide or stop them if they do occur?

The impulse in the North has often been to suppose that the best way to promote peace and democracy is for the great powers to impose it. This hegemonic version of security has been proposed in different forms by Stephen Van Evera and Alan Henrikson in recent issues of the Boston Review (November/December 1992, June/August 1993). A more extreme form of the hegemonic view, advanced by Paul Johnson (New York Times Magazine, 18 April 1993), proposes a return to colonialism in the form of international „trusteeships¾ for poor countries whose governments have failed or are violent toward their own citizens. The trusteeships would be run by the „civilized¾ nations.

The alternative to the hegemonic view is wider participation ã more democratic institutions and practices ã in creating cooperative security. Greater democratization should help avoid the problems of paternalism and self-interested unilateral action.

The contributions by Olara Otunnu, Eqbal Ahmad, and Jagat Mehta in the most recent issue of the Boston Review pose potentially workable solutions along these lines ã for example, democratizing international security and peacekeeping by restructuring the UN Security Council to include a greater number of states. I agree with much of their analysis, in particular with the importance and desirability of using democratic institutions and practices to create a more secure world. But I disagree, at least in emphasis, on five points.

1. Otunnu, Ahmad, and Mehta put too much stress on the UN and the Security Council rather than on regional organizations.

Because it operates largely on democratic principles and represents almost every country, the United Nations is a proper forum for debates and action for collective security. But because of its size and already extensive responsibilities, the UN lacks the resources to address all potential security problems in time to save lives. Regional organizations may act more quickly and in ways that are sensitive to regional history and concerns.

For example, during the 1980s, despite US intervention, the Contadora group helped push peace along in Central America. The Frontline States in Southern Africa were able, although not very successfully, to counter South African military and economic aggression. Regional organizations do, of course, sometimes fail to act because they lack resources, are committed to non-interference in the internal affairs of states, or because these regional organizations are partially composed of states whose leaders are themselves dictators and thugs. But the UN should step in only in such cases.

2. The international community needs much clearer criteria for international intervention to promote security.

What constitutes a legitimate cause of intervention? Human rights violations, the breakdown of civil order, massive corruption, authoritarianism, or genocide? Until it is clear that interventions are not misused to impose unwanted forms of government on states, I favor ã like Randall Forsberg ã a narrow list of causes for international intervention: perhaps only to counter aggressor states, genocide, and massive starvation. Establishing aggressors, genocide, and famine in recalcitrant countries is difficult enough and these instances alone will constitute hard tests of international humanitarian commitment.

3. It is time to rethink definitions of „security¾ and „threats to the peace.¾

Security is not simply a military matter. It is also political (the right to self-determination); physical (e.g. the provision of human needs like food); economic (the ability to provide); environmental (access to uncontaminated resources); and cultural (religious and ethnic identities are respected). The World Bank and development agencies regularly intervene in ways that may support or jeopardize these forms of security. Cooperative security schemes should work to promote these other kinds of security, recognizing that when groups and nations are insecure in these areas, military instability and war may follow.

4. The norm of non-intervention clashes with an emerging norm of intervention for humanitarian reasons. We need to think more carefully about the historical and ethical basis for both normative impulses, and to consider whether there is a way to reconcile them.

The norm of non-intervention (most vociferously enunciated by the former colonies) reflects the concern that intervention is at the cost of self-determination and dignity. Colonialism, the most egregious form of intervention, is no longer legitimate.

But, as Olara Otunnu correctly notes, this conflicts with „emerging values of human rights and democracy.¾ Increasing empathy toward others and a sense of responsibility underlie the impulse toward humanitarian intervention. At the same time, however, those in the North sometimes arrogantly seek to spread human rights and democracy to the Third World.

I also believe that democracy and human rights are better than authoritarianism and repression. Yet respect for self-determination, and for the fact that democracy is both a process and an outcome, demands that the North not force its particular forms of democratic practices on the South. No one should be afraid to identify human rights abuses or to call for wider political participation. But it is both ironic and impractical to force-feed democracy, a system based on consent and self-determination.

5. The international components of collective security ã stressed by Otunnu, Ahmad, and Mehta (and earlier contributors) ã are clearly important, but insufficient.

Especially for those who reside in the last remaining superpower, it is important to examine carefully US foreign and economic policies to make sure that the United States does not exacerbate problems by supporting dictators and thugs in the Third World. If the United States alone stopped coddling dictators in poor countries, both the democratic and entrepreneurial forces in the Third World would have a much better chance to organize for a better future. Ýn

Learning to Think in an

„Incomplete¾ Way

Virginia S.I. Gamba

One of the most interesting aspects of the Boston Reviewµs recent debate on cooperative security and the North/South divide lies in the common ground shared by the contributors rather than their differences of opinion.

1. Otunnu, Ahmad, Mehta, Henrikson, and Forsberg all think that present mechanisms for international action in the field of peace and security are inadequate. Otunnu attributes this to the shifting locus of political conflict ã from East-West to South ã and to a shift from interstate to internal conflict. Ahmad and Mehta see a monopolistic transfer of power over world security to the West at a time when nations have a new sense of equality and are confident in their independent nationalisms. Henrikson states that international organizations today are not as „cooperative¾ as one would wish and that more „intimacy of cooperation¾ must be constructed to make present and future collective action legitimate and consensual. And Forsberg sees problems in the lack of linkages between multilateral peacekeeping and peacemaking, defense doctrines, and arms reductions.

2. Each contributor offers an alternative structure that would improve the mechanisms of cooperative security. Otunnu states the requirements of such a system: it must be efficient, prompt, transparent, and participatory. Although he looks to the United Nations rather than to regional organizations to correct present inefficiencies, delays, suspicions, and discrimination, he knows, too, that the United Nations must be restructured to make room for these changes. His main point, however, is less evident. Otunnu argues for undertaking changes in the UN in order to give time for more natural, regional mechanisms to mature. Ahmad and Mehta also push for a changed Security Council structure, but for different reasons. For them, the Security Council perpetuates the status quo of dominant nations; more should be done to find non-offensive compromises between the haves and the have-nots. For Ahmad, changes in the Security Council are part of a larger restructuring of the United Nations that would include: democratizing the Security Council; arranging for permanent UN forces; linking the International Court of Justice to the UN; reinforcing the International Atomic Energy Agency; and structuring development aid so that it is multilateral and not bilateral. Mehta has a different approach. For him the quest for international peace must be secured first from within countries and then, through the broadening of international action and changes in international norms, attitudes, and institutions. Again, he pushes for democratization of the UN coupled with a serious attempt at international arms control, both nuclear and conventional. For Mehta, the democratization that will enable the maintenance of peace and international security must be built, brick by brick, from below.

Henrikson gives a different view. He clearly does not see the utility of the United Nations in its present form and thus he proposes the creation of a parallel system of nations based on the institutionalization and broadening of the G7 Summit Alliance mechanism. Cooperative security should be constructed from the top down, he argues. But the lack of representation in the G7 prevents it from acquiring the universality and legitimacy required for the job. So he proposes a number of approaches to broadening the G7. Forsbergµs formula is more ambitious. For her, systems and means should be linked. With a strategy of nonoffensive defense and multilateral peacekeeping the world would cut military spending while steadily strengthening support for the norm of nonviolent conflict resolution. Her suggestion? To develop a more widely shared sense of values that will motivate efforts for cooperative security worldwide.

All of these arguments can be seen as a microcosm of the international debate on emerging norms for cooperative security. As such, they can shed new light on the debate itself. All contributors judge the present state of affairs as potentially dangerous, not because more violence might explode but because international inaction might set in. In other words, having rid ourselves of the gridlock of the Cold War, we are now ã they fear ã constructing a new gridlock. But current trends toward globalization ã of economies, technologies, arms trade, information, and values ã make inaction unaffordable.

Contributors to the international debate ã like all parties in the international arena, regardless of religion, gender, race or origin ã offer plans for avoiding inaction. In doing so, the temptation is to talk at, rather than to, one another. This is what is happening in the international arena: Each party offers a complete blueprint for cooperative security rather than sharing insights for the creation of a coherent, cooperative blueprint for which all can feel equally responsible. Parties to the international debate should judge each otherµs ideas not as competing proposals but as individual components contributing to a whole. Unless all parties to the international community learn to think in an „incomplete¾ way, there will never be room for the thoughts of others.

Another conclusion which arises from the debate on cooperative security is that it is inextricably tied to cooperative governance. In its turn, cooperative governance is linked to issues about the weakening of the state; the emergence of non-state actors; new definitions of sovereignty; and major trends to globalization. More importantly, international governance must also struggle with the problems of consensus and effectiveness. In the case of the United Nations, for example, many consensual resolutions are over-cautious. This generates problems of interpretation and slows down implementation. A new approach to the issue of consensus within international governance must be found. This could well begin with a search for unity of criteria and values.

Cooperative processes will have to recognize and incorporate diversity and make full use of cooperative resourcing and networking. Consensus is important. But it is not the ultimate objective, and can lead to inaction. By contrast, a unity that takes full account of diversity encourages action. This is the essence of the ongoing international debate.Ýn

Originally published in the September/ October 1993 issue of Boston Review

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