Insecurity is spreading. Another hot war in the Ukraine, a climate emergency, another Cold War and nuclear arms race, another long war just announced, 100 million people displaced by conflict and climate change, vast inequality and precarious conditions everywhere. Our new global neighbourhood looks rough and risky.
Whatever happened to security, “the state of being free from danger or threat”?
by Douglas Roche
It’s no longer postponable. Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown, in a demented and terrifying way, why the possession of nuclear weapons must be outlawed now. Far from closing down the little that remains of nuclear disarmament agreements because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this seminal moment in the history of the 21st century must be seized.
The contradictions in Canada’s nuclear disarmament policies have got to be fixed. Sand castles won’t stop a tsunami. We and our NATO partners can no longer go on professing a desire for an end to nuclear weapons while supporting the military doctrine of nuclear deterrence, which leads to even more than the present 13,000 nuclear weapons…
To read on, see pdf below.
Strong arguments are being made to rid the world of the risk posed by reliance on nuclear deterrence. We should adopt a mutual security policy based on sustainable common security principles.
The Palme Commission in 1982 proposed the concept of Common Security: “All states, even the most powerful, are dependent in the end upon the good sense and restraint of other nations. Even ideological and political opponents have a shared interest in survival. In the long run, no nation can base its security on the insecurity of others. True security requires a cooperative effort, a partnership in the struggle against war.”
What are some “tools” of common security?
- local-global democracy
- human rights
- social justice
- economic development
- environmental security
- peaceful measures
- “non-offensive” defence (NOD)
What are “Confidence and Security Building Measures” (CSBM)?
States wanting to improve their security can develop techniques of gradually developing confidence between themselves and states they perceive as threats. During the Cold War, the NATO and Warsaw Pact states agreed through the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) to participate in:
- Annual mutual exchanges of military information
- Consultation and cooperation re: unusual military activities
- Cooperation re: hazardous incidents
- Voluntary hosting of visits to dispel concerns about military activities
- Visits to bases, academies, language facilities, conferences, sporting, cultural events
- Joint military exercises and training
- Mutual provision of experts
- Prior notification of certain military activities
- Observation of certain military activities
- Sharing annual calendars of military activities
- Communications (CSCE Communications Network)
- Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting
Are there other security building processes?
- Creation of Nuclear Weapons Free Zones (NWFZs) See the Opanal website and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs website on NWFZs
- Use of Preventive Diplomacy to avert violent conflicts
- Reference of inter-state disputes to the International Court of Justice
- Maintain peace in pre- or post-conflict regions through use of UN peacekeepers
- The International Criminal Court enables prosecution of international criminals in cases of war crimes where their own country does not act, or where national prosecution is not believed to be fair and credible.
- Intrusive inspection measures such as “Open Skies”: The “Open Skies” Treaty of 1992 allows states parties to conduct observation flights over each other’s territories and provides warning of surprise attack, reduces misperceptions and thereby promotes mutual confidence.
- Conversion of industry and transfer of priorities; creation of new jobs in public infrastructure, climate sustainability sectors
Scholars, Studies and Reports proposing alternative security options:
- H. Peter Langille: Sustainable Common Securitiy
- Ernie Regehr: Preparing for a World Without Nuclear Weapons: Alternative Security Arrangements
- Harald Muller: “The Importance of Framework Conditions,” in George Perkovich and James M.
Acton, editors. Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: A Debate, Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace, 2009, 337 pp. http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/abolishing_nuclear_weapons_debate.pdf
- Bjørn Møller: Common Security and Nonoffensive Defense: A Neorealist Perspective, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1992, 285 pp.
- Commander (Ret’d) Robert Green: Security without Nuclear Deterrence (2018 updated edition, available as an e-book)
- Mary Kaldor: Dismantling the global nuclear infrastructure, 11 August 2009
Beebe, Shannon D., and Kaldor, Mary (2010), The ultimate weapon is no weapon: human security and the new rules of war and peace. PublicAffairs Books, New York, USA
- Delegitimizing Nuclear Weapons: A report sponsored by the Swiss and New Zealand governments for presentation at the 2010 NPT, with research and writing by the Monterey Institute.
- The Nuclear Turning Point: A Blueprint for Deep Cuts and De-alerting, edited by Harold Feiveson.
- Group of 78/Rideau Institute (2018 update): The Shift to Sustainable Peace and Common Security
- Group of 78 Policy Forum (2018): Getting to Nuclear Zero: Building Common Security for a Post-MAD World
- Ceasefire Blog, July 2, 2021, Time for Canada to get serious on rethinking security for a post-pandemic world