8 Jul

An Urgent Call for Volunteers! 

I discovered the needs of the Eastern Shore migrant farm workers two year ago throught  the Migrant Ministry of Sacred Heart and St. Pius X Church. The aim  of this ministry is to clothe, feed, and minister to the thousands that labor their way through primarily tomato fields on the Eastern Shore.  In the past, I’ve asked my friends, colleagues and family members to donate cloth and food for these families, but this time my request is different, I want you to consider helping  Mariola’s Family with your time and work.

Mariola is a young widow living in a broken trailer. Her husband was murdered outside his trailer leaving her alone with no work and 5 children all under the age of 7.  Without the appropriate paperwork she no longer works at all. 

Last week, two member of the ministry visit her and what they found wast truly heart wrenching.  The trailer is in horrible shape. There are many structural concerns.  Repairs must be done asap! some issues include mold, sagging ceilings, no screens on windows, broken windows, rotting frames, and general filth. Mariola and her Family need us! 

Currently, we are looking for volunteers to provide this family’s basic needs, beginning with the improvement of their trailer and surroundings. We are looking for a group of people willing to clean up the yard and fix the trailer in the upcoming weeks.

IF you have thoughts and would like to help this family, please let me know ASAP!
Also, if you know of anyone who may have some skills in making some of these repairs,
please pass this on to them!

you can reach me at

Thank you
Muchas Gracias!

shower kitchen2 hallceiling bedroom 2013-07-02 15.44.06


Collective Security in the Westphalia System

7 Jun

The treaty of Westphalia in 1648 represented the decline of the Catholic Church, ended the 100 year war, and marked the rise of contemporary nation-state notion that we used nowadays. The notion of state has a very political meaning. Sates can be defined as a political communities rooted in important elements such as territory, population, sovereignty. Nevertheless, states are also governed by values or principles such as freedom, security, liberty, order, and welfare.

Security is perhaps one of the most important notions for states within the system, but it is a difficult to define. Security for some authors such as Barry Buzan is defined as freedom of threat, and for other such as Caldwell & Williams is just a state of being (the feeling of being secure, securitas) explained in their book “Seeking Security in an Insecure World”. Additionally, the concept of security is related to level of tolerance one state if happy to live with. Syria’s President, for instance, has a high level of tolerance for brutality. With that example, I just want to claim that security does not mean peace. Conversely, security is an evolving concept that shapes state behavior within the system. Summing up Security is not what a bunch of scholars say, but what states do with their security in the real world.

Based on statement, states decide to organize themselves to achieve security and by doing that the recognized that they need the backing of other states, because achieving security is not a task that can be taken by just one state. According to former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton’s multi-partner strategy, none state in the world, even the most powerful one, has neither the capabilities nor the power to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  With that in mind, the necessity to arrange security in a different way is crucial.

Security, therefore, can be arranged in many different ways such as: alliances, empires, neutrality, regimes or collective security (CS) . The first four types have serious flaws in the long-run as we studied in our Collective Security Seminar. However, CS stands out from the rest for the reason that I will enounce in the next section.

Collective Security:  an overview

CS as defined in the book “Collective Security after the Cold War” written by George Dows, is a group of states that collectively agree to decrease security threats by punishing any state that violates the rules of the system. Collective security, therefore, is based on state’s sovereignty and requires a particular level of consensus for its implementation.  States know that they will not be alone. States recognize that a collective action will be lead to punish the “bad apple.” As a consequence, lawbreakers know that CS’ resource will be mobilized in order to punish their bad behavior.

CS relevance is also linked to its goal. CS ambitions to create dependable expectations for peaceful change and peaceful resolution of conflicts while reducing high spending in military budget and strong reliance in military force.  Regarding the applicability of CS, the book “A World Restored” by H. Kissinger studies and explores the achievements and failures of the previous CS organizations: (1) the concert of Europe in 1814, and (2) the League of Nations after WWI. These two case studies show CS’ effort to stabilize BOP in both Europe (concert of Europe, COE ) and the whole system (League of Nations).

Using these two case-studies, I argue that CS is compatible with the principles of Westphalia state system (WST). The first one, the COE, ended a long period of rivalry in the region and allowed European states deal together with common enemies. However, the COE was not able to contain the fierce rivalry between UK and GR. Despite that, COE performed well during its existence. As for that reason, I argue that, COE served as an early foundation for the establishment of the EU.

The second case, the LON based on the liberal ideas proclaimed by US President Woodrow Wilson, aimed to build a world safe for democracy while achieving peace and prosperity. It is true that the LOF failed, but it failed after having accomplishment a lot too! The LOF is the foundation for the current CS model, the UN. And for me, that is its greater achievement ever in the history of CS mandate.  The LON’s mistake was the lack of decision-making procedure to punish defectors. Because of that the LON was unable to (1) block Italy attack on Ethiopia (2)impede Japan invasion to China (3) block Russia invasion to Finland (4) obstruct Germany expansionist ambition,  and (4) to impede WWII. The lesson of its failure is that any CS arrangement cannot longer ignore state national interest.

The current CS arrangement, the UN, it does not ignore state national interest, but it aims to make prevail nations’ common interest over it and that is not an easy feat. Nonetheless, least, the UN moved forward with a stronger decision making procedure based on one of its most important organs the UN Security Council (UNSC). The UN, as a collective security arrangement, has been target of a lot criticism during the last two decades. The critiques focus on the UNSC, some scholars[1] argue that UNSC does no longer reflect the distribution of the power and that the P-5 veto member (CH, RU, UK, US, FR ) are the responsible for UN inaction.  The UN and the large majority of nations acknowledge this problem, however even, the attempts it has been difficult to modify or change the way the UNSC works. As the WST points out national interest is important for every nation. Nations values their sovereignty and defend the international principles of self-determination and non-interference in internal affairs. The UN mandate understand that, and maybe for that reason the former Secretary-general Kofi Annan pushed for the establishment of a Code of Conduct in order to limit the veto usage in cases in which the national security of the states were threatened. Even if Anna’s proposal failed to get the majority necessary to get approved by the UN General Assembly, it demonstrated that the UN as a CS mandate still appeal to the majority of states. UNSG will push for changes and the establishment of measure that make it more efficient.

Final Remarks

CS is compatible with the principles and values of the WSS. As I noted before, CS does not ignore WSS principles and elements such as territory, population, sovereignty, freedom, security, liberty, order, and welfare. Conversely, CS reflected in the mandate of the UN aims to provide peace, stability and enhance social welfare in the system. I cannot ignore, CS deficiencies, but that situation arise for different reasons.  Sometimes states do not perceive risk or threat in the same way or they just want to behave in a sour realistic way underestimating the benefits of cooperation.

It is important to point out that sometimes states retrain themselves to do things in the short run even when they know they are going to get bad consequences in the future. But there is nothing irrational on this behavior, humans do the same too (e.g. we eat too much, we save too little and we sleep too little). The principles of the WSS indicate that states as the main actors of world politics while strive to defend their sovereignty and national interest, but if we analyzed carefully by doing things together, we (state) can obtain greater payoffs. The issue is how to renounce to this immediately benefits in order to get even greater one in the future and I am sure that would not be easy. But I am confident that by applying the WSS principle, states will achieve those “milieu goals,” able to change and influence their behavior within the system according to Arnold Worlfers in his book “Discord and Collaboration.” In sum, the compatibility of CS and WSS as clear it is allows the whole system to move forward in other different areas of security such as environment, technology, gender, human security and international law.

[1] Weiss in his article “The Illusion of the UNSC Reform,” his argument points out that the mechanism used by  the UNSC increases divisiveness and it does not reflect 21st distribution of power



Social Security Needs of Domestic Workers & International Relations

31 May
South Africa-Domestic Workers

South Africa-Domestic Workers

Domestic Work

Domestic Work

International relations reflection

Understanding IR: context & definition

The three primary schools of international relations -neo/realism, neo/liberalism/ and constructivism- offer a guide to understand world politics. Each of them maintain its own rationale in order to explain the complex and challenge nature of world politics. But theorizing about almost any feature in world politics soon becomes entangled in a web of controversy. Each theory understand the effect of anarchy differently, therefore, each theory sees the world with different glasses (i.e., neorealism scholars keep a pessimistic vision of the world denying progress and change while neo/liberalism keep a positive attitude believing that human beings can better themselves).  Theories are the backbone of the field of international relations and they are defined as as a consistent set of 2 or more generalizations/hypothesis that try to explain phenomena. According to this definition neorealism, neoliberalism and constructivism are all useful IR theories.

By the same token, the  value of each theory is  based on other factors such as relevance, uniqueness,  and ability to explain current events. Constructivism, in this case, stands out front the rest due to its ability to explain the system while focusing just on the essential features of world politics such as identities, perceptions, and ideas.

In 1992 Alexander Wendt shook up the world of IR theory with his article “Anarchy is what states make of it: the social construction of power politics.” His theory brought back conceptions of classical philosophers such as Plato and Descartes whom understood that ideas, and not the material world, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality (Plato: Allegory of the Cave). For Plato, most people are like the prisoners in a cave who think the shadows are reality, but noble men are those who escape the cave and see the real world. They have true knowledge.

I place myself on this side of IR theory, even when debate often lies on the rationalist-liberalism debate. But it in a sense I don’t care about that debate anymore because what really matters in this moment is to come up with something that makes people think about the world differently and that demands to tell something that people don’t already know. In not interested in the old ideas/ theories dealing with the same rational assumptions: states as rational actor, and the most important actors of the system, seek to enhance power in a system govern by mistrust and self-interest.

On the light of making people think about the world differently is necessary to research the most diverse subjects possible while challenging the existing system,  IR needs scholars able to think systematically and logically about any situation or event while having a strong knowledge of the full range of theories that are out there.

Many the most interesting questions of the field are being raised outside of IR (even Keohane and Waltz’ theories).  The strength of  this research project is that allow to look outside the field  while applying IR theories and principles of other school of tools such as feminism, Copenhagen and English school.  Authors of these three schools argues the need for diversify the field foci with different approaches such as gender, emancipation, and securitization. What they all three have in common is the idea that states are the means and individuals are the ends (Ken Both: Critical Security Studies) while pointing out the urgent need for “freeing of people all those human and physical constraints that stop them by carrying out what they would freely choose to do.” (Ken Both: Security and Emancipation) luckily, enough for the field, the recent years have been marked by the introduction of altruistic concepts such as human security, peace studies, and responsibility to protect (R2P) that seek to protect the vital core of human lives in order to enhance fulfillment and freedom targeting education, gender, health, governance, international law and justice. Their importance lies in the fact that they reevaluate state’s attributes, sovereignty and supremacy, in oder to determine that states are the guarantors of their citizens and whenever they failed, this responsibility must be undertaken by the international community.

Certainly IR has become an incredibly diverse terrain, sometimes with contradictory positions, but in my opinion, there is no any point to just keep defending what theorist have said in the past, especially when I believe that any given generalization might never cover whole present or future. What makes life interesting is that: (1) evolves in unpredictable ways,  (2)what means something in the West might mean something completely different in the East,  (3) the same situation affect women, men, and children differently. But, in the same time we are all inter-connected and that confirms that  the only argument that really matter is the recognition of, and respect for people’s rights while empowering people and communities.

Social Security Needs of Domestic Workers & International Relations 

The research project on security needs of domestic workers tells people something they don’t already know, then, it tells something that make people think about social security differently while teaching the rationale of real world rather than set of theories per se.  

The research project on security needs of domestic workers under the umbrella of the International Labour Organization (ILO) works towards making decent work a reality for domestic workers worldwide.  Along with the C-189 Domestic Workers Convention and the Recommendation 201, ILO encourages countries to commit and take measures aimed to improve the protection and working conditions of DWs.  This collaborative strategy embodies several multidimensional aspects such as remuneration, work time, child domestic work, international labour migration, forced labour, and workers organizations. It is evident, that the only way to advance DW’s rights is by providing a unifying framework for coherent and integrated approaches from an upper level in collaboration with UN Women, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN human rights treaty bodies and special procedures of the Human Rights Council, and the OSCE in addressing domestic work.

The modus operandi of this strategy, making decent work a reality for DWs, embodies liberalism theory aimed to capturing the important features of world politics -rise of interconnectedness and interdependence among states when dealing with transnational issues-. According with liberalism theory, Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye in “Power and Interdependence” remind us that states can cooperate with each other when the incentives of cooperation are high while relying on institutions.  The ILO strategy for action towards making decent work a reality for DWs proves liberalism rationale right, institutions can provide for public good in a non-excludable and non-rivalry way for both weak and powerful states. (Josep Grieco’s concept of voice opportunity meaning putting states in a condition of equality where weak actors can participate and voice their concerns).  Moreover,  IOs provide a framework for action based on join decision making that foster cooperation and a more inclusive environment. By the same token, Martha Finnemore and Michel Barnett in “Rules for the World: International Organization in World Politics,” recall us that through international mechanisms and IOs, acting as bureaucracies, power is channel into different directions.

ILO strategy encompasses actions at global, regional, and country levels in 4 areas: (1) Building and strengthening national institution, (2)Facilitating the organization and representation of domestic workers and their employers, (3) Awareness-raising and advocacy on domestic workers’ rights; and (4) Building the knowledge base on domestic work and exchange of experiences between countries to enhance actions and impact at country level. This admirable strategy overlaps with Arnold Wolfer’s concept of Milieu Goals (Arnold Wolfers: Discord and Collaboration), that tell us by investing in milieu goals, actor strengthen the environment in which they dwell, milieu goals are, therefore, those possessions that seek to shape behavior in order to build a safer and more inclusive environment while fostering IOS and promoting HR.

Feminist theory runs in parallel to this project in the sense that it aims reveal masculine bias that have perpetuate deplorable working conditions, labour exploitation, and abuses of human rights facing domestic workers. Gender analysis is pivotal in this project due to the fact that “even though a substantial number of men work in the sector it remains a highly feminized sector: more than 80 per cent of all domestic workers are women. Globally, one in every 13 female wage workers is a domestic worker (or 7.5 per cent), and the ratio is as high as one in four in Latin America and the Caribbean, and almost one in three in the Middle East. Improving working conditions in this sector has broader ramifications for greater gender equality in society.”  The dialogue on social security needs and decent work rights for DWs turns around unlocking the full potential of women at work. It is very likely that states move forward advancing rights in the domestic sector because the prize is huge: women fuel the growth of state economy working either as CEOs or DWs.  It is evident that the lack of regulation in the domestic sector threats and affects women and men differently, a gender approach will produce a social security system in which welfare, equality ad development would be more important than the mere implementation of laws.

My participation in this project with 6 DWs in South Africa invited me to explore South Africa’s history, government, and legislation.  South Africa is the country with the highest number of domestic workers in Africa, “more than three-quarters all all domestic workers in South Africa are female, and the sector was the country’s third largest employer for women in 2010, employing approximately 15.5 per cent of all women workers

,” I was really touched by the the testimony of these DWs, their sacrifices and aspirations. They all acknowledge the importance of their work to South Africa society and feel unsatisfied with the system in place. The experiences shared by DWs put into perspective, the importance of the role of social security in poverty alleviation.  The degree of inequality in South Africa, reflected in the lack of protection for DWs, is morally and politically unacceptable. A social net is necessary for DWs, who do not yet share benefits with the rest of workers. A social security net is needed in order to safeguard DWs against contingencies such as unemployment, old, and illness.


IR certainly has shifted from the grand debates between all kinds of “ism” and methodologies to more concretes issues. I say this because I never saw to be productive to compare  the merits of realism v. liberalism or liberalism v. constructivism, and so on.  As noted earlier, and stated in considerable detail elsewhere, it does not make sense to argue what is the best all-purpose explanatory variable. What make sense is to work from things we would like to either change or explain those real-world problems we want to identify and try to solve

Making decent work a reality for domestic workers worldwide is a subject that interested not only the 53 million DW worldwide but also states. Research on this topic focuses on a matter that is important for a large number of people, especially of a sector of  workers that has long labored invisibly.  This sector along with advocates in various countries have been building up a national frameworks for codifying the rights of DWS, so far nine countries have ratified the C-189 Domestic Worker Convention including Bolivia, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua and Philippines; other countries that have passed new laws or regulations improving domestic worker’s rights are Venezuela, Bahrain, Thailandia, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, India and Singapore.

Last but not least, I would like to add my genuine interest in real-world international issues brought me into this project which I believe provide a deep insight on social security necessities, ILO, Article 13,  needed in order to advance decent work for DWs.

Prisoner’s Dilemma and World Politics

13 May

World politics (WP) is a discipline that evolves continually. WP as a multidisciplinary discipline studies the behavior of the states and other actors such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organization (IOs) and Transnational Corporations. But theorizing almost anything in WP easily becomes entangled in web of controversy. For that reason, scholars strive to find new theories or tools in order to capture the essence of the field. This essay aims to explain why the Prisoners’ Dilemma (PD) captures WP by focusing in its main features. The first part analyses game theory started in the 60’s.  The second part points out the essence of PD while highlighting the work made by some GT scholars. The third part provides evidence to support my main argument; PD does capture the essence of WP. The last section brings together my final remarks or conclusion.

1.     (GT)- Game theory:  an overview of the IR

GT has been defined as the mathematical expression of how expectations of outcomes cause outcomes. This mathematical manner illustrates actors/players’ behavior allowing a better understanding of the real world and its essence. GT is based on four assumptions (1) players are rational (2) players make decisions in order to obtain a gain [players are gain-maximizers] (3) player’s decisions are linked, and (4) there is a great incentive for defection/betrayal.

Based on the above four assumption, I can argue that GT perfectly describes the structure of the system, where states, as the main actors/players, seek to maximize their gain by pursuing relative gains (RG). In addition, GT, illustrates how due to mistrust and uncertainty, states cheat in the system. States are not sure about other’s intentions, therefore, they decide to follow their own individual and selfish national interest rather than cooperate. This first section shows how GT captures the essence of WP largely explains by neo/realism theory described by the most important classical intellectuals such as Thucydides, Machiavelli, and Hobbes or neo/realist scholars such as  Hans Morgenthau in his book “Politics among Nations: struggle for power and peace”, Kenneth Waltz in his books “Man, state, and War” and “Theory of International Politics

2.     Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD): its importance and its relation to WP.

Game theory can be found in different forms: stag hung, chickens game and PD. The latter one is a 2X2 game that illustrate the situation in which to players have the option to either defect or cooperate. But without knowing opponent’s intentions, players opt to cheat, even when the payoff for cooperation is greater.

The PD proves that the system is governed by mistrust and the likelihood for defection is greater.  Robert Axelrod in his book “Evolution of Cooperation” runs PD model to demonstrate that cooperation can emerge even among enemies. By applying PD, he found that TIT-FOR-TAT is the best strategy to win the game and be better off. The strategy knows as TIT-FOR-TAT means cooperation in the first move and then imitation of opponent’s movement.  In chapter # 4, Axelrod offers 2 case studies that demonstrate the accurateness of his finding. The case-studies are: (1) WWI and (2) evolution of the species. The former one illustrates how during the WWI soldiers from enemy countries developed altruistic practices. By using the principle “live and let live.”  and that proves that under particular conditions and during particular periods of time, enemy soldiers restrained to attack each other: friendship emerged!

The importance of this book, therefore, the significance of PD, is that validates that cooperation can emerge even between enemies when the game is repeated over and over: Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma (iPD). Robert Axelrod demonstrates that cooperation can emerge in anarchy.  Therefore, cooperation does not need the existence of central authority.

This important finding can be supported by other IR tool:  the Shadow of the Future (SOF). The repetition of the game lengthens the SOF, because states can built a reputation and can know each other better. But even more important, states can identify and punish defector while rewarding good behavior. As the evolutionary-learning theory by Modelski (1990) suggests, states learn over time and their learning can speed up by rewards and punishment with the likelihood to reach an ethical learning.

3.     Evidence: how and why the PD

The importance of GT no matter is form, is that demonstrates the cooperation can emerge in a world governed by anarchy. This finding offers a better understanding of WP that believes in altruism, governance and ethical improvement. PD and iPD demonstrates that it is possible to mitigate anarchy and that it is possible to move forward from the sour and static neorealism theory. However, I am not arguing that GT and iPD are able to capture the whole essence of WP, because none of the theories of IR is able to accomplish such endeavor. Each theory, neo/realism, neo/liberalism and constructivism masters different variables able to explain some, but not all, state’s behavior. It is important to understand that neither power nor institutions nor norms will capture the essence of WP per se. (and I do not believe they seek to do it!).

Game theory and  PD has been used by other important scholars. One of the most fascinating is Bruce Bueno de Mesquita “the Predictioneer’s Game”. By using GT, he aims to predict events and state behavior in WP (e.g. Iran bomb). The accuracy of his model base on GT tells its ability to captures the essence of the field. He not solely focus on the main variables, he goes further and investigates for actor’s preferences and interest, what they want and what are they able to sacrifice. At the end, he can obtain a better picture of the future.

Final Remarks: Capturing the essence of WP is relative!

WP is a multidisciplinary discipline in continuous evolution. WP is not a freeze image; WP is more an album with different snapshots. Therefore capturing its essence is not an easy feat. However, PD does a great job! It captures the essence, part of it, based on the accuracy of its assumptions (explained in section #1). Section #3 demonstrated that under some circumstance, IPD is a very precise IR tool that allow scholars to make predictions as Nostradamus did with natural events. Section #2 argued that event when theories are not making to predict, forecast is desirable in WP.

For me, iPD and PD captures the central issues of WP such as anarchy, self-interest, gains (relative and absolute), cooperation, defection, SOF, and BOP. Its applicability is enormous. PD can be used to explain the reality of International politics. One example of that is the book the “Tragedy of Commons” by G. Hardin. In this book, the author show us how the personal benefits of using the common is clear while pointing out collectively negative impact we cause to the common good. This book really struck me, because reflects the main issue of international politics: how achieve that actors/players/ states renounce to their selfish interest while opting for collective decisions/action that benefit the environment and the structure of the system. G. Hardin, same as other scholars have been using GT and PD without noticed perhaps. In the end, this way to illustrate rational choices provides us the best tool for understanding world politics.  Leaving parsimony on the side! For all the above reasons, I conclude this essay where I began; PD does capture the essence of WP in a fascinating, accurate, clever and creative way.

The New World Order in 2022

3 Dec

New World Order- 2022Image 

In the next decade, the economic and financial crisis will produce more damages. In my opinion, the most immediate crisis of the Western democratic model will be caused by the inability of the United States and Europe to deal with their respective fiscal and financial issues. Even when these problems are economic the weaknesses they reflect will be political. That is very important because even when the so-called rise of the rest seems to be a trend for the upcoming decades, in 2022 the situation will be even more discouraging for them. The scenario will bring together few countries trying to catch up with the West without any possibility to dethrone the U.S. from its predominant position.

As a result, emerging powers will not be able to sustain their growth becoming forever-emerging actors. Likewise in 2022, the EU will struggle to move forward, resolve its economic problems, and satisfy the needs of all its members while remaining unable to deliver a solution to its underlying issue, too much debt and too little growth. But even when the world will look elsewhere for leadership, at least for the foreseeable future, it will not find any substitutes. An EU without Greece and Spain as members is conceivable. 

Amazingly, this situation will strengthen American relations with Europe while encouraging America to seek strongest partners in unthinkable nations. The Myanmar-Burma visit, a military dictatorship that has long been subject of U.S. sanction, will spill over political opening. I forecast a post-Castro era influence by the positive participation of youth Cuban-American generation. In the next decade, South America will benefit from the creation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership[1], a giant free trade area of Asian and Western hemisphere. If the next round of negotiations is fruitful and the pact is signed by October 2014, as scheduled, I predict the TPP as the world’s biggest and most ambitious commercial bloc. On the other hand, legalization of drugs in South America will be possible driven by the decision of Washington and Colorado to allow Marijuana use.

In the next decade adjustment will take place in the world American made, quoting R. Kagan. Regarding the Middle East, I do not calculate favorable shift because these kind of genuine internal revolutions will take decades to play out. The challenge is for the United States to develop the necessary strategic patience and assist new governments deliver the economic progress they will need for political survival.

Last but not least, worldwide the scenario illustrates an increasingly informed populace, angry over widespread corruption, unemployment, and personal enrichment by an elite few. Protest will intensify, especially in CH and RU spurred by accelerated information across the world, those factors will add more uncertainty and volatility to the world order. However, weather anomalies will become the largest sources of instability. In the next decade, climate changes, storms and natural disaster will play a pivotal role. The super-storm threat will move nations to address together this threat with global agreements.

Summing up, in the next decade the world of states will still be the world of high politics, hard power, and realpolitik, while the emerging world of societies that includes low politics, soft power, human rights, democracy, and development will struggle to gain a better position.



[1] The proposed TPP bloc would include Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru, and Japan — the third largest economy in the world, South Korea, and Colombia also may join.



Politics on Senegal, West Africa 2012

6 Sep

 This article was published on GPIS bulletin available HERE



Renaissance Monument-Senegal, West Africa

On April 4th, 1960, the Republic of Senegal was granted independence from France, a nation that had colonized it since the mid-17th century. It has been only fifty-two years since Senegal got its independence, but the vestiges of the colonization still remain palpable in Senegalese society. With only four presidents in its political history, it is possible to assert that Senegal is a newborn republic in the world of freedom and in many other areas, such as democracy and human rights. However, American intentions in supporting the government of Senegal are strong according to Lewis Lukens, Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, who received us at the U.S. Embassy located in Dakar on May 24th, 2012 in an informal dialogue about his mission as Ambassador to Senegal, he explained the U.S. intentions in supporting democracy not only in Senegal but also in all Africa. He also raised the challenging political situation face by the governments of Mali, Uganda, and Guinea-Bissau whom the U.S. government has called to adhere to the rule of law. That is perhaps the most critical situation that could affect the security of Senegal, a country that has not yet been touched by terrorism, but it is entirely surrounded by it.

Achieving stability in Senegal has not been an easy feat. The period before former President Wade left power can be described as the chronicle of a civil revolution. During the seventeen-day visit to Senegal, the memories of the recent violent protests, lead especially by discontented young people, were still fresh. The walls were full of both propaganda and graffiti either supporting or opposing ex-President. Even the tenth edition of the well known international art scene festival, Dak’ART, was flooded by artistic expressions in honor of the revolution and to pay tribute to the six people killed, and those who participated in the brave movement “Y’en a marre” (I am fed up with this or I can’t stand this) who were either injured, beaten, or arrested by the forces of the state. Those activist movements consisted of civil society groups, opposition parties, and ordinary citizens in a show of force and were even more resistant than President Wade’s determination to stay longer in power. The importance of those movements is that Senegalese society demonstrated an ability not only to demand but also to achieve changes for the better of its whole country. Senegalese society re-found its own strength as one of the most powerful weapons to influence political decisions regardless of who is in power. Senegal is an excellent case study that demonstrates the current discourse in global politics is not about national security anymore; the discourse pivots to people, especially at the grassroots level. Senegalese people will never be the same. That was the sentiment that I perceived as a result of interacting and interviewing people during my seventeen-day journey in Senegal. It seems the society will not forget Wade’s abuses of power and authoritarianism. Any forgetting will be quickly reversed by the sight of Wade’s masterpiece, the 162 foot bronze statue called “The Renaissance Monument.”

As a final remark about politics in Senegal, I would like to underline an aspect that could explain the season of revolts and dissatisfaction of the Senegalese population. Senegalese people have their roots in a history strongly marked by struggles for freedom. Senegalese people have painfully learned to recognize the importance of getting together as a tool to overcome oppression. The history of this nation holds many years of slavery and colonization and those two events have shaped the character of its people and imposed particular values such as solidarity, union, and community. Senegal underwent decolonization in the latter half of the 20th century and this explains in part why there are so many conflicts going on in Senegal and Africa today. Every country has a difficult time in its formative years, but Senegal is today a society that cannot be easily silenced, a culture which claims and voices its frustrations. That is a good sign that could permit Senegal to fight against its most dangerous political evils: corruption and political favoritism.

For more details, I invite you to either watch a video that was edited with personal pictures at or visit our website in which we present the collective experience of the Senegal journey.

Call for Donations, Appel pour Donations, Has tu Donación!

30 Jun



     No hay mejor momento para apoyar este noble proyecto que AHORA. Este proyecto busca recoger US$1,500 alrededor de $3’000.000 pesos que serán destinados en su totalidad a la organización EL IMPERIO DE LOS NINOS en Senegal, África.  Esta organización ayuda a niños de la calle que se encuentra en situación de vulnerabilidad. Esta organización no recibe ningún tipo de ayuda del gobierno y subsiste de DONACIONES. La directora de este proyecto es Sara Ferguson, ella tiene una fuerte pasión por el futbol  y proyectos sociales. La situación de los niños de Senegal la inspiro a llevar este proyecto a cabo y lo mejor es que AHORA TU PUEDES COLABORAR PARA HACER ESTO REALIDAD! Para hacer tu donación solo tienes ingresar al link adjuntado al fina de este mensaje. Recuerda que cada peso recibido es a favor de los niños de la institución el Imperio de los Niños. Y no olvides que siempre que donas por una buena causa esta construyendo un mundo mejor! 


Il n’y a pas de meilleur moment pour appuyer ce projet noble que de le faire dès MAINTENANT. Ce projet cherche à trouver 1.500$US soit environ 1200€ ou  3. 000.000 $pesos qui seront destinés dans sa totalité à l’organisation « l’EMPIRE des ENFANTS » au Sénégal (Afrique). Cette organisation aide les enfants des rues qui se trouvent dans une situation de grande précarité. Cette organisation ne reçoit pas ce type d’aide du gouvernement et elle subsiste grâce à des DONATIONS. La directrice de ce projet est Sara Ferguson, elle est  passionnée  de football et par des projets sociaux. La situation des enfants du Sénégal l’a  poussé à réaliser ce projet et le meilleur consiste à ce que «  MAINTENANT, TU PEUX COLLABORER POUR FAIRE DE CE PROJET UNE RÉALITÉ! Pour faire ta donation tu as seulement à cliquer sur le lien joint  à la fin  de ce message. Il est nécessaire de  rappeler que chaque dollar, euro ou peso reçu est en faveur des enfants de l’institution  « L’EMPIRE DES ENFANTS ». Et n’oublie pas que chaque fois que tu fais don pour une bonne cause, c’est pour construire un meilleur monde!

Sitio de Internet, link:

HUMAN SECURITY -No Longer Just Hot Air

28 Jun

HUMAN SECURITY: No Longer Just Hot Air

Human security has encouraged governments, policymakers, scholars, international institutions, and even presidents to think about security as something different from the neorealism approach. Thereby, human security has propelled a new concept of security in addition to balance of power, security dilemma, national security, and military capabilities. Nowadays, everyone everywhere uses the term human security. Human security is the subject of an endless number of research projects and reports. Amazingly, it is also a graduate program offered by many universities around the world.

The rationale of human security is that the safety of the states is linked to individuals; it also recognizes states as potential generators of insecurity. Thereby this new security concept, based on individual sovereignty and protection of the human beings, challenges state sovereignty and national security. In practice, these dissimilar security approaches could produce tensions not only within a state but also in the international community. The issue with human security is the danger that it poses to the concept of national security. States pay a different price when they decide to give priority to their citizens rather than give priority to their selfish national interests; protecting human beings represents something different than the protection of state interests and some states are neither willing nor prepared to assume this responsibility. For that reason, human security at some point can be problematic, imposing more constraint to the states and generating tension.

This essay focuses on the question of whether or not human security has been taken seriously by the international community. This question has emerged from the debate of whether or not states should consider human security as a paradigm shift rather than merely “hot air.” My hypothesis is that human security, despite its all-encompassing definition, has accomplished much more than other security approaches in less time and that is demonstrated in the creation of the International Criminal Court; the development of international humanitarian law and human rights; and the deployment of more complex humanitarian operations, just to cite three examples.

This paper proceeds as follows:

First, I discuss human security as a different security approach from neorealism.

Second, I explore the agreed international definition of human security adopted by the United Nations in 1994, as a departure point, in order to test whether or not human security has been taken seriously by the international community in the last several years. This testing process is presented in the last sections. Therefore, this essay analyzes humanitarian interventions, the responsibility to protect, human rights, and the creation of the International Criminal Court as human security accomplishments that test and prove the hypothesis as correct.

The above final section of the paper proposes an opposing view to the assumption that human security is so vague that it verges on meaninglessness and consequently offers little practical guidance to people interested in applying the concept. Contrarily, this paper defends and demonstrates that human security is a central component of international security that offers a much more useful approach based on human-centered thinking.

1. Human Security: A Different Security Approach

It is possible to outline the concept of human security (HS) using neorealism as a contrasting approach. According to traditional neorealist thinking, security focuses on military defense of national interests. This approach, which has dominated the security field for many years, has centered its rationale on states. Besides, it has overstressed military threats and capabilities assuming that “states are the safe haven that protects citizens from the intrusion of anarchy and disorder.[1] Contrarily, the concept of HS has gone beyond the traditional idea of security, taking into account that security “might mean different things to different people, and in fact might have no precise meaning.”[2] The human security approach also argues that a states’ security is linked to individual security. Thereby, the security of the states is a means to guarantee citizens’ security. Comparable reasoning is found in the social contract philosophy rationalized by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau in which states not only exist to serve the will of the people but also to provide protection of their well being; in Rousseau’s words, the “new-born state arises from a contract among individuals to escape the horrible state of war.[3]

            According to the neorealism approach, the main threat for states emerges from other states. That’s why Waltz argues that within a self-help world, states have to do whatever they think necessary for their own preservation. In other words, being unsure about other states’ intentions, the security dilemma becomes an unbearable reality.[4] Waltz also predicted automatic balance of power but, contrary to his expectations, no country since 1991 has emerged to perform such balance. In fact powerful and emerging economies lack the rationale to invest too much money in national defense (e.g. Japan, United Kingdom, and Brazil). Conversely, from the HS view, threats emerge from different sources including states and non-state actors and force is no longer the ideal instrument to provide security. In the case that force would be necessary, its usage would be multilateral and under the intervention of international institutions.

Another paramount difference between neorealism and HS is related to the nature of threats. From the HS angle, security threats may come from the state itself. That is an important political aspect taking into account that democracy exists to protect the rights of individuals. Thereby, the new security approach recognizes states as generators of insecurity through direct or indirect threats as a consequence of the states’ actions in the name of national security. For Dan Caldwell, the new security paradigm imposes more restraints on the states due to increased interconnectedness of people and their problems which forces states to work together. Besides, the new security paradigm imposes a moral responsibility because “seeking security in an insecure world for one’s state alone is a strategy doomed to failure. This is especially true in light of the increasing interconnectedness, but it has been a fact of life throughout history… We cannot ignore the security of others without endangering our own.”[5]

Summing up the features pointed out in the above paragraphs, it is possible to assert that while the traditional notion of security is based on states’ sovereignty and the protection of national interests, HS is based on individual sovereignty and the protection of human beings. Thereby, its materialization implies transnational cooperation as a realistic way to face threats. This cooperation can be achieved through the creation of international organizations (IOs), the strengthening of norms, and the participation of both large and small states. Among these three mechanisms, equal participation of the states through IOs provides noteworthy human security results. Within IOs all states have the right to participate. Particularly, they have “voice opportunities” –using Joseph Grieco’s terminology, “weaker states, under conditions of interdependence have the desire to have a voice in decision; states favor institutionalized ties with a stronger partner as a way of following them to work for a mutual gain and to avoid becoming a vassal of the partner.[6] This situation also boosts the use of “soft power” as a tool to get a better position within the global system, “soft power is the ability to get desired outcomes because others want what you want. It [soft power] is the ability to achieve goals through attraction rather than coercion.”[7] Countries such as Canada, Norway, and Japan have been using this rationale as a strategy to get a better position in the international system through the creation of the Human Security Network and the Commission on Human Security. These three countries, particularly Canada is an outstanding example of how countries can modify their policies and strive to achieve a reasonable concept of nation by prioritizing human beings. The 2002 U.S National Security Strategy is another example of how states (in this cases the United States) can gradually realize the importance of prioritizing human beings, “the United States now finds itself engaged around the world in military operations and initiatives that have little to do with fighting, but everything to do with providing humanitarian assistance, training foreign militaries, and building security, justice, and law enforcement institutions to improve domestic stability.”[8] As a conclusion, it is possible to point out that the only effective way to grapple with global security concerns is to move beyond the traditional focus of national security to the organizing concept of HS, in which the definition offered by the United Nations is very useful.

2. International Human Security Definition

Human security has been defined from different scholarly perspectives; this landscape has erroneously been regarded as a shortcoming. However, this apparent weakness should be considered as a strong point – “Human security is powerful precisely because it lacks precision and thereby encompasses the diverse perspectives and objectives of all the members of the coalition. The political coalition that now uses human security as a rallying cry has chalked up significant accomplishments, including the signing of an anti-personnel land mines convention and the imminent creation of an international criminal court.”[9] It is important to point out that this paper does not pretend to offer a narrow definition of HS. Instead, this document, shifting from the scholarly definitions, uses the institutional human security definition adopted in 1994 by the United Nations (UN).

Since 1948, with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the concept of security underwent many changes. During the Cold War, the UN could not manage the majority of the globe’s security affairs mostly due to the predominance of the traditional neorealist thinking – “the UN’s security machinery was essentially marginalized for most of the Cold War. It was not until the Iron Curtain fell and later the Soviet Union imploded that the UN assumed a substantial role in international peace and security.”[10] This fact was reflected in events such as the attack on Egypt by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel in 1956; Indonesia’s campaign against the Netherlands’ territorial possession in New Guinea in 1960; India’s conquest of the Portuguese colony of Goa in 1961; Somalia’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1975; Tanzania’s conquest of Uganda in 1978; Vietnam’s invasion of Democratic Kampuchea in 1978; the Soviet Union’s campaign in Afghanistan in 1979; Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980; and Argentina’s attack on the United Kingdom Falkland Islands colony in 1982.[11] Nevertheless, the post-Cold War period, encouraged by both President Bush’s proclamation of a “New World Order” and the rise of numerous international organizations, brought hope to the international community.

The years following the collapse of the Soviet Union were essential for the deconstruction of the traditional neorealist approach. The security studies’ debate allowed to both broaden and deepen the definition of security – “By broadening, I mean the consideration of nonmilitary security threats, such as environmental scarcity and degradation, the spread of disease, overpopulation, mass refugee movements, nationalism, terrorism, and nuclear catastrophe. By deepening, I mean that the field is now more willing to consider the security of individuals and groups, rather than focusing narrowly on external threats to states.”[12] Unquestionably, new global threats increased, inter-state confrontations decreased, and within the UN the traditional security notion was re-thought due to the events of the new post-Cold War era.

The debate of a new security agenda began and the international community became much more conscious that “most of the world’s nearly seven billion people are threatened by problems unrelated to war within states.[13]States acknowledged that there was no such thing as absolute security, so states recognized HS as an important tool in world politics. As a consequence of that, in the beginning of the 1990s the idea of HS developed and marked a paradigm shift from the traditional focus of security studies to a new approach based on individuals as a metric. In 1992, the UN formulated the Agenda for Peace; in the words of the UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, “the enduring importance of the Agenda for Peace is that while prioritizing the security of people rather than states, the ultimate responsibility for securing humans is passed back to the states.”[14] According to this concept, states are the “foundation stone” in international systems, but their sovereignty is not absolute.

Two years later the UN Development Programme(UNDP) adopted an official concept of human security in its Global Human Development Report. This document called for the adoption of a human security agenda to encompass the new critical issues threatening the world community. It is important to point out the importance of this report because “much of the literature on human security attributes the official launching of the concept in global politics to the UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) of 1994, which treats it as an extension of the human development paradigm.[15]

The second chapter of the HDR entitled “New Dimension of Human Security”[16] defined human security as a universal, interdependent, and people-centered concern relevant to rich and poor people everywhere, “human security means that people can exercise their choices safely and freely-and that they can be relatively confident that the opportunities they have today are not totally lost tomorrow.[17] Furthermore, the report divided life’s contingences into seven areas of security: economic security, food security, environmental security, health security, personal security, community security, and political security.

In conclusion, the UN definition agreed upon by the country members if applied would provide security from chronic threats, such as hunger, poverty, disease, violence, and the prevention of sudden and painful threats to human lives. Human security as a security tool has produced significant changes in the global system particularly in the way states apply national security and provide priority to human beings. Despite its broad definition, human security has accomplished much more than other security approaches in less time and that will be demonstrated in the following sections.

  • TESTING HUMAN SECURITY: Humanitarian Intervention

During the Cold War the use of force to save victims of human rights abuses was considered a violation of the UN Charter and that situation allowed governments to commit any kind of atrocities against their population. These kinds of actions, even thought rejected by the international society, went unpunished, and for that reason “intervention by force gained importance as the only means of enforcing the global humanitarian norms that have evolved in the wake of the Holocaust. This fundamentally challenges the established principles of non-intervention and non-use of force.”[18] In the debate of humanitarian intervention, the HS approach has helped to envisage the concept of sovereignty in a different way because doing nothing in order to relieve the suffering of others may lead to moral charges. HS opened the path for a broad interpretation of Chapters VI and VII, allowing the creation of the so-called peacekeeping operations that were not explicitly mentioned in the UN Charter. By the same token, states recognized humanitarian intervention as a legitimate practice and the UN was able to carve out a role in security matters. Indeed, HS distorted the neorealist argument, which established that states appealing to self-defense could always justify their actions in international politics.

Some interesting case studies about the evolution of humanitarian and military intervention have been written in the last two decades. However, due to its methodology and deep research, the case study book written by Nicholas Wheeler[19] provided enough empirical evidence to decide what counts as a legitimate humanitarian intervention considering the HS approach. By analyzing Cold War events such as the: (1) India’s use of force against Pakistan-1971, (2) Vietnam’s intervention in Cambodia-1978 (3) Tanzania’s use of force against Uganda-1978; and the humanitarian interventions after the Cold War: (1) Iraq, (2) Somalia, (3) Rwanda, (4) Bosnia, and (4) Kosovo, the author defines humanitarian intervention as moral duty in cases of supreme humanitarian emergencies where the requirements of proportionality and necessity must be satisfied. By exploring the above deplorable events, it is possible to observe an evolution in the scope of humanitarian intervention marked by the predominance of the security of people rather than security of states.

In the years initially following the Cold War, humanitarian interventions were based on states’ legitimation in which the balance of power between the major states enabled and constrained interventions – “most of the interventions during the Cold-War even though were not authorized by the UNSC, were legitimated according to the humanitarian claims pleaded by the major states (…) However, the structure of the society of states was not sufficiently constraining to prevent India, Vietnam, and Tanzania from the use of force.”[20] The thesis advanced in Wheeler’s book is that those actions “were justifiable because the use of force was the only means of ending atrocities on a massive scale, and the motives/means employed were consistent with a positive humanitarian outcome.”[21] However, later post-Cold War years reflected not only changes in global balance but also changes in domestic level toward protection of civilians. Human atrocities were no longer tolerated alongside with the fact that media became more interested in broadcasting human suffering. That was the case for Iraq and Somalia, in which public opinion and television pushed Western states for humanitarian intervention. Based on international pressure and international commitment, the UN adopted humanitarian decisions such as Resolutions 688 and 794, allowing the intervention and implementation of a second-generation of peace operations characterized by pursuing more ample goals.  The best example of this kind of peace operation is the Somalia intervention, which after achieving the humanitarian goal, began a second phase to facilitate political reconciliation. The Somali experience, alongside Angola’s, Mozambique’s, and El Salvador’s interventions, inaugurated the debate about mission creep, military action, and nation building. These scenarios, in which the nature of peace enforcement and nation building operations (Chapter VII of the UN Charter that does not restrict any use of force) represented a challenging new generation of peace operations that embodied a much wider concept of human protection.

Since 1956, when the first humanitarian intervention was launched in response to the Suez Canal crisis, things have sharply changed. Nowadays its concept is broader and included other kind of missions – “the evolution of intervention, began, therefore with the relatively simple concept of peacekeeping and developed, in the space of a decade, to something more complex. That means operations extend to address the political, economic, and social fault lines that produced violence. Intervention now includes military action and various degrees of societal reform.”[22] The above discussion about expansion also brings up the fact that sometimes alliances have responded to the demands of the public opinion without the approval of the UN Security Council (UNSC)NATO’s intervention in Kosovo, for instance. This kind of action, characterized by defending human beings in terms of a particular moral principle, has created a legal precedent that constrains states in future actions. For instance, the legal precedent created in Kosovo was that unilateral intervention is feasible when the UNSC has already adopted resolutions identifying human rights abuses – “the right to act claimed by NATO in Kosovo is not a unilateral right, under which each state may decide for itself that intervention is warranted… the prior decision of the Security Council is asserted as a key element to justification. Although the Security Council had not authorized the use of force in Kosovo, it had determined that the situation there constituted a threat to international peace and security and so made the determination that is the essential precondition under the UN Charter to the authorization of the use of force by the Security Council.”[23] The high development of human rights, the better positioning of HS ideas, and the shift from state-centered to individual-centered approaches have enabled practices of intervention that were previously inconceivable. Nowadays, considering the absence of major conflicts, the relevance of HS in the field of humanitarian intervention is undeniable. The concept of humanitarian intervention has evolved and so has our level of tolerance against human rights abuses. It is unlikely that situations such as Rwanda occur again in which the barrier to intervention was driven “by the reluctance of Member states to pay human attention and doubts that the use of force would be successful than by concerns about sovereignty.”[24] Peace operations have also broadened their scope; according to Michael Pugh, peace operations reflecting power distribution serve to sustain international systems. For him, current peace operations assist human security and its expansion – “peace operations form a key part of a broad project to confer liberal rights on societies at war by implementing responsibility to protect civilians, good governance, human security, and capacity building.”[25]

            Summing up, it is important to emphasize that humanitarian interventions, regardless of category (conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping, peace enforcement nation building or peace building), translate to states’ interests in long-term security based on the respect for human rights. States acknowledge that an unstable situation in one area can easily generate a global mess. The interventions in Liberia, Uganda, Cambodia, and Sierra Leone demonstrated international interest in halting regional disasters as a strategy to prevent global catastrophes. Due to the fact that there is no recipe for success for achieving peace, it seems that defending human security everywhere is one of the most effective mechanisms to protect national interest and keep the international order. Any step in that direction means a gain for humanity in which humanitarian intervention ultimately depends on the states’ attitudes to devote resources, and potentially lives, to address the suffering of strangers.

  • TESTING HUMAN SECURITY: Responsibility To Protect

During 2001, huge steps already done in favor of HS were challenged.  The hope of the nineties was broken down by the September 11th attacks. This disaster, along with the disastrous memories of Kosovo (UNMIK), East Timor (UNTAET), Namibia (UNTAG), Cambodia (UNTAC), Rwanda, and the UN intervention in Iraq during the Persian Gulf War, challenged the new security agenda and marked a new period in the debate on human security. Facing critical moments, nations gathered at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, in which Canada’s Prime Minister Jean Chretien appointed the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). In 2001 the ICISS delivered a paramount report entitled Responsibility to Protect (R2P). This document focused on the question of “when, if ever, it is appropriate for states to take coercive – and in particular military – action, against another state for the purpose of protecting people at risk in that other state.”[26]     The hub of the debate was the idea that sovereign states have the responsibility to protect their own citizens, but when states are unwilling or unable to do so, that responsibility must be borne by the international community. In theory it is widely recognized that sovereign states are the best guardian of HS. Nevertheless, the experiences in Rwanda, East Timor, and Darfur are evidence that governments can also kill their own people. The R2P embraced three specific responsibilities: (1) the responsibility to prevent (2) the responsibility to react, and (3) the responsibility to rebuild. At the 2005 World Summit, the UN general Assembly (UNGA) adopted a declaration committing the UN to the R2P, so the UNGA agreed to the use of force in three precise situations: (1) genocide, (2) ethnic cleansing and war crimes, and (3) crimes against humanity when the government is unwilling or unable to prevent these crimes and provide protection to its citizens. For the first time in history, governments collectively agreed that in some circumstances the security of individuals and groups must be prioritized over the security of the states. Nobody can deny the paramount importance of this accomplishment. In the words of H. Bull, it could represent “a society in which states accept no only a moral responsibility to protect the security of their own citizens, but also to wider one of guardianship of human rights everywhere.”[27]

The R2P establishes that legitimate sovereignty entails responsibilities as well as rights, the state is now widely understood to be servant of its people, and not vice versa. At the same time, individual sovereignty has been enhanced by a renewed consciousness of the right of every individual to control his or her own destiny.”[28]

It is important to shift from the above theoretical analysis to the first military R2P enforcement since its establishment in 2005 – that is the fall of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. The R2P’s collective action as a strategy to stop mass atrocities was a huge achievement and should be used to illuminate future interventions. The Libyan intervention was done by both applying the R2P doctrine and applying President Obama’s Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities(PSD-10), in which the prevention of mass atrocities is addressed as follows: “Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States.”[29] R2P in the case of Libya legitimated by the UNSC demonstrated a well-implemented intervention and the priority of human beings over national state interest.

Commendably, R2P’s major contribution is that today there is a greater recognition of the fact that genocide, ethnic cleansing, and mass killing demand international action. Furthermore, nowadays there exists clear limits on how governments treat their civilians; it seems that states are concerned with the treatment of their citizens. The application of R2P demonstrated that sovereignty is no longer an impenetrable attribute. This assumption about sovereignty was deeply scrutinized in Marco Schlesiger’s empirical study of Security Council Resolutions, in which he studies the UNSC’s Resolutions from 1945 to 2007. Running cross-tabulation, Schlesiger divided the UN history into four periods: (1) Foundation of the UN 1946-1976; (2) From Palestinian Terrorism to the end of the Cold War 1968-1989; (3) An approaching “New World Order” and the New Millennium 1990-2001; (4) 9/11 and its impact on Global Security 2001-2007. As a main result, he found “that there has been a gradual increase in the acknowledgment of HS issues over the periods.”[30] His statistical method proved the UNSC’s awareness for the HS issues – “…it proved to be wrong that UNSC’s resolutions only referred to inter-state conflicts. In period 3 and 4, we found out that there is a facto norm of intervention in which State’s sovereignty is still existing, but not absolute anymore.”[31]


  • TESTING HUMAN SECURITY: Human Rights & Global Governance

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) established common standards and inalienable principles for all peoples and all nations. Since its proclamation, there has been a significant enumeration of HR in other documents such as the Genocide Convention (1948), The Refugee Convention (1951), and the Conventions on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979). It is important to consider that HS in the field of human rights (HR) has produced significant and important achievements and changes, especially in the construction of a less conflictive international behavior. The philosopher John Searle explains this reality construction using a chess analogy – “the rules [international rules] did not evolve in order to prevent collision; rather, it is the rules [human rights] that constitute the identities of the pieces and establish what moves they are permitted to make.”[32]

Nowadays, human rights have become important to pivotal people not only because of the astonishing media attention toward HR violations but also because of the denouncing role played by NGOs – “the power of NGOs mainly comes from their role in providing information, lobbying, working with and energizing governmental and international human rights agencies, and exposing human rights violations to world public opinion. They use, or try to use, the military and sanctioning powers of states when real enforcement is required. They play a large role in putting human rights problems on the agenda of various UN human rights agencies. Human rights NGOs make the international human rights system stronger and more active.”[33] The international community can no longer ignore abuses and infractions against HR. Indeed, non-compliance with HR can deteriorate political and diplomatic relations between states and jeopardizes a country’s reputation and a country’s influence within the international community.  The diversity of HR’s movements, charged to track, analyze, publicize, and promote human rights, have produced paramount changes; according to the Human Security Report 2010,[34] five out of six regions in the developing world saw a net decrease in core human rights abuse between 1994 and 2003.

Additionally, according to the author of this essay, one of the most significant achievements in the field of HS has being the protection of HR regarding women. It seems that now, the shift is from an individual-centered to a gender-centered approach.  In July 2010, this fact was consolidated with the creation of UN Women as the UN entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women. Since then, a huge noteworthy number of gender conventions have been signed attempting to equalize women’s and men’s rights – “this aspect is of great significant because of increasing evidence documenting that women are the key to successful development and to overcoming poverty, as it is generally women who ensure food, education, and health care for the children and families. Human security cannot be achieved without consistent progress in improving women rights.Additionally, a huge array of governmental, nongovernmental organizations, movements, and activists has emerged to accomplish the UDHR goals. The shift from the traditional focus of security studies to a people-centered approach to security has reinforced HR. Thereby it is unreasonable to detach the strengthening of HR from the evolution of HS, because achieving a true HS requires the realization of HR as a sine qua non condition.

Since its launch, the problem of human rights has been the lack of obligation; “viewed through the crude lens of political realism, human rights do not exist because international human rights law carries no legal force,”[35] and while some countries have broadened their conception of HRs, others have advocated for a subdivision of the Universal HRs into subcategories known as first, second, and third generation rights. The creation of the European Convention in Human Rights in 1953 by the Western European countries is an example of the former situation; “The European Convention has developed into the most effective current system for the international promotion and protection of human rights. It now covers 41 countries and 800 million people. In the 1990s it expanded to include countries from Lithuania to Russia to Malta.”[36] Conversely, according to the latter circumstance, it is important to understand that culture and religion have imposed some impediments as well. For instance, the efforts made to integrate HR into Asian or Islamic tradition in which women’s rights are differentiated from men’s rights (e.g., the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islamthat does not sanction honor killings of women, the forced wearing of the burqah, or female circumcision).

Governments, particularly non-democratic states and dictatorships, are simultaneously protectors and abuser of HR. According to the Political Terror Scale (PTS) used to rank each country on a five-point scale on HR abuses, there has been a substantial worldwide decline in authoritarianism over the past quarter-century highly correlated with an increase in the respect of HR.  That is produced in part because people are challenging systems, middle classes are demanding changes for greater freedom and an improvement in their life’s conditions, and democracy has gained more acceptance in the international community. As U.S. President Clinton declared, “Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere. Democracies do not attack each other.”[37] His comment echoes those of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, during her visit to Czechoslovakia in 1990, “if we can create a great area of democracy stretching from the West Coast of the United States to the Far East, that would give us the best guarantee of all for security, because democracies do not go to war with one another.[38] So, it is possible to assert that enhancing good governance is crucial to ensure HS.

Global governance (GG) refers to the fact that the international community must take seriously the challenges of solving international threats through the creation of new cooperative structures – “the international community is ready to eliminate HIV/AIDS, it is ready to take action on global warming, and it is ready to eliminate poverty. People are yearning for somebody from somewhere to bring about a more equitable and effective management of the global system.”[39] In 1995 the Commission of Global Governance produced its report titled Our Global Neighborhood, in which global governance was defined as “the sum of the many ways individuals and institutions, public and private, manage their common affairs. It is a continuing process through which conflicting or diverse interests may be accommodated and co-operative action may be taken. It includes formal institutions and regimes empowered to enforce compliance, as well as informal arrangements that people and institutions either have agreed to or perceive to be in their interest.”[40] Thereby, the materialization of GG embraces a political commitment to address the most pressing global problems; GG is a call to action constituted by the need for more cooperation among governments, NGOs, non-state actors, and international organizations. In the words of Klaus Dingwerth and Phillip Pattberg, “global governance, in this political perspective, is frequently conceived as a long-term project of global integration, for which the evolution of the European Union can be considered a model in which the global governance system represents the creation of networks, from the local to the global level, based on a shared problem-solving orientation, a fair balance of interests, and a workable canon of shared norms and values as a basis for institutional structures for the handling of problems and conflict.”[41] The concept of GG reflects the period of global transformation in which we are living. The attribute of global is more adequate to describe the new threats, and governance distinguishes itself from the traditional notions of international politics – “global governance is therefore best seen as a specific perspective on world politics. As such, it differs from the state-centric perspective of seeing world politics as essentially inter-national relation. Global governance is useful as a new concept not only because it is different from international relations or international politics, but also from other related terms such as transnational politics, world politics or world order.”[42] The global governance regime includes the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), the trade organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), MERCOSUR, the International Human Rights System, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the International Criminal Court (ICC), among many others. In practice, attempts to reach governance have also been done since the creation of the 2002 Network of Regional Governments for Suitable Development (nrg4SD)launched in South Africa. These regional endeavors, due to their importance, cannot be overlooked. The nrg4SD symbolized the first significant regional attempt to take responsibility for a more suitable future. The Gauteng Declaration, initially signed by twenty-three regional governments, considered nrg4SD as an effective way of regional governance based on the acceptance that “Regional governments are necessary and crucial to the progress of a sustainable development. Regional governments are best placed to address specific sustainability issues and are essential partners in solidarity with other spheres of government and civil society.[43] It is true that regional governments can play a paramount role in stabilizing democracy, in facing new threats, and in promoting human rights, but in order to achieve HS goals, regional governance should be shifted to global governance, “where governments and partners in civil society, the private sector, and others are forming functional coalitions across geographic borders and traditional political lines to move public policy in ways that meet the aspirations of a global citizenry.”[44]

Summing up this section, it is pivotal to mention that nowadays sovereignty has become more diffuse because states have invested much more effort to distribute their power at the global level and sub-national agencies. States are now more self-conscious of redefining their national identity and narrowing their traditional sovereignty’s scope. Democracies in the world have doubled from 1970 to 1990 (currently there 123 elected democracies in the world), there are more than 250 intergovernmental organizations, and over 5,800 recognized international NGOs.[45] The above proliferation holds the potential for a remarkable expansion of collective action and engagement in common causes where the ideal point is to find the right balance of openness to civil society, respect of human rights, and political savvy in order to enhance human security.

  • TESTING HUMAN SECURITY: The International Criminal Court

An area of human rights that requires attention due to its interesting development is the International Humanitarian Law (IHL). According to the Geneva Convention inspired by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), even in times of war, when HS is most at risk, there are certain rights that must be respected – “IHL has correspondingly evolved and adapted to a changing world, both in response to the altered nature of conflict, and also due to the emergence of a people-centered approach to security.”[46]The Hague Conventions and Additional Protocols, as second complementary bodies of the law of war, set up the first international rules on the prosecution of war and for that reason war crimes trials emerged. War crime trials at Nuremberg in Germany and Tokyo brought hope for the respect of HR and demonstrated “that with sufficient political will, governments could prosecute war criminals, albeit from the losing side only.”[47] These first trials consolidated another new phase in the respect of human rights in which countries hired legal advisers as an integral part of their operational deployments due to the possibility of facing persecution for war crimes. This practice, which became a rule implemented in any military deployment, demonstrated that states are much more aware of how the international community assesses their operation.

The internationally community has gradually gotten a better understanding of IHL – “the recent recognition of the concept of war crimes in internal conflicts is one of the most profound but least heralded results of the ascendency of human security as an international priority. Many states have become more willing to focus on the security of individual human beings, and to take firmer steps to promote basic standards of decency.”[48] In the 1990s, after the end of the Cold War, the European Court of Human Rights was createdas the first regional organization with a well-defined human-centric approach and materialized the respect of human beings and the responsibility to protect civilians. The European Court since its creation has developed a large body of jurisprudence applying and interpreting the European Convention in order to offer HR protection. Likewise the establishment of ad hoc tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) materialized the respect of human beings and set the legal precedent that impunity is no longer acceptable in the new security agenda. However, due to the fact that these two tribunals were established to treat crimes committed only within a specific time frame and during a specific conflict, there was a general agreement that an independent and permanent criminal court was needed.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established on July1st, 2002[49] when its founding treaty, the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court, entered into force. The ICC is the first permanent international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community and it is independent from the United Nations system. According to the Rome Statute, “The Court has jurisdiction in accordance with this Statute with respect to the following crimes: (a) The crime of genocide;  (b) Crimes against humanity; (c) War crimes; (d) The crime of aggression.”[50] Thanks to ICC’s jurisprudence, war crimes against humanity are punishable not only during armed conflict but also during peacetime. Indeed, the responsibility of war crimes applies to military commanders, civilian leaders, or any other person in authority. In order to provide a real protection to the most vulnerable people, the ICC’s jurisprudence has even re-interpreted the IHL’s norms, ruling out some felonies such as rape, sexual slavery, and enlistment of children as grave war crimes against humanity. This evolution and reinterpretation of the current international standard confirm that the international community no longer ignores human rights transgressions and violators will be held accountable for their abuses of power. Laudably, this progress is a direct effect of human security – the movement to establish a permanent International Criminal Court is a powerful illustration of the ability and willingness of the international community to work collectively to address a pressing human security need. Human security has long been threatened by shocking violations of humanitarian law and the pervasive culture of impunity, which encourages such crimes. If Human security is to be safeguarded, the culture of impunity must be replaced by a culture of accountability.”[51]

Day by day, the ICC’s jurisprudence has garnered much more international support and hopefully in future years those countries that refused to ratify the Rome Statute for fear of its consequences will change their traditional thinking to a more human-centered security approach, in which HS prevails as a mechanism to facilitate long-lasting justice. To date, according to the 2010-2011 Report of the International Criminal Court to the United Nations,[52]the Court has opened investigations into seven situations: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, the Central African Republic, Darfur, Sudan, the Republic of Kenya, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, and the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.  Quoting the report, “the total number of individuals subject to proceedings before the Court increased from 15 to 25, and seven new persons appeared before the judges pursuant to an arrest warrant or a summons to appear. In addition to the investigations, the Office of the Prosecutor is conducting preliminary examinations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Nigeria, the Republic of Korea and Palestine.” Even more interesting is that at the time of writing this essay (March 14th, 2012), the ICC delivered the first verdict in its 10-year history, finding Thomas Labunga, a Congolese warlord, guilty of recruiting child soldiers and turning them into killers. In a unanimous decision, Labunga was condemned to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment – “the judgment is an important step forward in the worldwide struggle against impunity for grave crimes. The verdict is also the first at an international trial focused exclusively on the use of child soldiers.[53] This case set legal precedents that could be used to put other HR abusers in prison. This decision is perhaps the best conclusion to this essay. This deed, in addition to those previously mentioned, demonstrated that Human Security in our day is no longer a security concept that remains unclear; its usefulness is unquestionable. Human Security has abandoned its level of abstraction to reach a more reliable and meaningful definition in the global security debate. Therefore, human security is no longer just “hot air.”



It was argued in the first section that human security, as a different security concept based on individual sovereignty and the protection of human beings, has boosted transnational cooperation as a mechanism to both face up threats and grapple with global security concerns. Certainly, human security has also encouraged policymakers, scholars, and even states, predominantly Canada, Norway, and Japan, to think about security as something more than national security and the balance of power.

The second section, which emerged from the debate started by Roland Paris of whether or not states should consider human security as a paradigm shift rather than a merely “hot air” focused on the fact that, despite how human security has been defined by different scholars, the definition presented by the United Nations in 1994 is the most appropriate to the achievement of human security’s goals. Besides, this essay highlighted the strength of human security is precisely because it lacks precision; this attribute allows it to encompass different perspectives and objectives.

This research question of this essay was of whether or not human security has been taken seriously by the international community. The null hypothesis was that human security, despite its all-embracing definition, has accomplished much more than other security approaches in less time. The variables used to test the hypothesis were humanitarian intervention, the responsibility to protect, the human rights and global governance system, and the creation of the International Criminal Court. The principal results are as follows:

  • Humanitarian Intervention: human security approach has helped to envisage the concept of sovereignty in a different way, opening the path for a broad interpretation of UN Chapters VI and VII allowing the creation of peacekeeping operations. The evolution of humanitarian intervention reflects the predominance of protecting civilians. The high development of human rights, the better positioning of HS ideas, and the shift from state-centered to individual-centered approaches have enabled practices of intervention that were previously inconceivable; currently peace operations assist human security and its expansion.
  • Responsibility to Protect: materialized some of the human security goals, establishing that in some circumstances the security of individuals and groups must be prioritized over the security of the states. Its major contribution is today’s recognition that genocide, ethnic cleansing, and mass killing demand international action establishing clear limits on how government could treat their civilians.
  • Human Rights & Global Governance: according to the data presented in the essay, enhancing good governance is crucial to ensure human security. Global governance and human rights are long term projects that differ from the state-centric perspective of seeing world politics as essentially inter-national relations. Nowadays, states are more self-conscious of redefining their national identity and narrowing their traditional sovereignty’s scope. The increase in world democracies, intergovernmental organizations, and international NGOs embraces the expansion of collective action and engagement in common causes where the common point is to enhance human security.
  • The International Criminal Court: its evolution and the reinterpretation of the international rules confirm that the international community no longer ignores human rights transgressions and violators will be held accountable for their abuses of power. The ICC confirms that the traditional thinking is refutable and its verdicts demonstrate that human security is the new norm in international systems; human security has abandoned its level of abstraction, reaching a more reliable and meaningful definition in the global security debate.

By the analysis of the above four variables, this paper found the human security rationale, even though it challenges paramount attributes such as sovereignty and non-intervention, has gained more space in the global security agenda and its materialization is evident. By testing the hypothesis, this essay also found that even though human beings represent something more valuable than the protection of state interests, some states are neither willing nor prepared to assume this responsibility. Putting that in perspective, Syria is a good example. Even though the UNSC has not been able to reach a consensus, the majority of states and people acknowledge that Syria belongs to its 23 million citizens, not one man and his family. The discourse is not about national security; the discourse pivots to the people.

Human security is not only a good tool to the states; human security is necessary to build nations and advance democracy, humanitarian assistance, and human rights. Protecting civilians costs more than protecting national interests, but is a cost that produces greater outcomes. This essay demonstrated that engaging both states and non-state actors in coalitions, partnerships, NGOs, and networks is the best mechanism to empower people and

[1] Ken Booth, “Critical Security Studies and World Politics.” Bouler London, 2004, p. 116

[2] Arnold Wolfers, “Discord and Collaboration Essays on International Politics,” Chapter 10, National Security as an Ambiguous Symbol. Baltimore 1962, p. 148.

[3] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and a Discourse on Political Economy,” Third Edition, 2005,p. 40

[4] David Baldwin, “Neorealism and Neoliberalism: the Contemporary Debate,” Columbia University Press, 1993, Neoliberalism, Neorealism, and World Politics, p.3-28.

[5] Dan Caldwell, “Seeking Security in an Insecure World,” Second Edition, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, p. 5.

[6] Joseph Grieco, “The Maastricht Treaty, Economic and Monetary Union and the Neo-Realist Research Programme,” International Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Jan., 1995), pp. 21-40

[7] Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye, “Power and Interdependence,” Foreign Affairs, Vol 77, No 5 (Sep-Oct 1998), p. 86

[8] Derek Reveron and Norris Kathleen Mahoney, “Human Security in a Borderless World,” Published by Westview Press, 2001, Chapter 1, p. 5

[9] Roland Paris, “Human Security: Paradigm Shift or Hot Air?” International Security. Vol. 26 No. 2 (Autumn, 2001), pp. 88

[10] Thomas Weiss and Danielle Kalbacher, The United Nations, chapter 22 in the book “Security Studies: an Introduction,” Edited by Paul D. Williams, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York. 2010, p. 325

[11] The nine cases are presented by Mark A. Weisburd in his article “The War in Iraq and the Dilemma of Controlling the International Use of Force,” Texas International Law Journal 521. 2004, p. 524

[12] Roland Paris, “Human Security: Paradigm Shift or Hot Air?” International Security. Vol. 26 No. 2 (Autumn, 2001), pp. 97

[13] Dan Caldwell and Robert Williams, “Seeking Security in an Insecure World,” Second Edition. Maryland, 1992, p. 2

[14] Boutros-Ghali 1992 in the book “Development, Security, and Unending War: Governing the World of Peoples,” By Mark Duffield, first Edition, 2007, p.121

[15] Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh, “Human Security: Concepts and Implication with an Application to Post-Intervention Challenges in Afghanistan,” Center d’etudes et de Recherches International. Les Études du CERI. No. 117-118- Septembre 2005, p. 11

Available at

[16] Human Development Report 1994, “New Dimension of Human Security,” Published for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Oxford University Press, 1994, Chapter 2

Available at

[17] Ibidem, p. 23

[18] Nicholas Wheeler, “Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society,” Oxford University Press. 2000, Introduction

[19]Nicholas Wheeler, “Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society,” Oxford University Press. 2000.

[20] Nicholas Wheeler, “Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society” Oxford University Press. 2000, p. 287

[21] Idibem, p. 295

[22] Andrea Kathryn Talentino, Military Intervention after the Cold War: the Evolution of Theory and Practice, Ohio University Press, Athens, 2005, p. 52 and 53

[23] Vaughan Lowe, “International Legal Issues Arising in the Kosovo Crisis,” The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 49, No. 4. October 2000, p. 934- 943, Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, p 935

[24] Ibidem, point 67 Chapter I. Achieving peace and security

[25] Michael Pugh, Peace Operations, Chapter 27, in the book “Security Studies: an Introduction” Edited by Paul D. Williams. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York. 2010, p 408

[26] The Responsibility to Protect, International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) Available at

[27] Hedley Bull, “The Grotian Conception” p. 63 cited in the article “Hedley Bull’s Pluralism of the Intellect and Solidarism of the Will,” By Nicholas J. Wheeler and Timothy Dunne, International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), Vol. 72, No. 1 (Jan., 1996), pp. 91-107

[28] Annan, Kofi A. Secretary-General, Secretary-General presents his Annual Report to the General Assembly, 20 September 1999. Statement.

Available at

[29]Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities, Presidential Study Directive/PSD-10, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, August 04, 2011

Available at

[30] Marco Schlesiger, “Human Security vs. Collective Security: an Empirical Study of Security Council Resolutions,”  VDM Verlag Dr. Müller. Germany 2008 Saarbrücken, p. 27-53

[31] ibidem, p. 49-52

[32] John R Searle, “The Construction of Social Reality,” London, Penguin, 1995, in the book Wheeler, Nicholas, “Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society,” Oxford University Press. 2000, Introduction.

[33] W Nickel James “Is Today’s International Human Rights System a Global Governance Regime?” The Journal of Ethics, Vol. 6, No. 4 (2002) pp. 553-371. Springer, p. 369

[34]Human Security Report Project, “Human Security Report 2009/2010: The Causes of Peace and the Shrinking Costs of War.” New York, Oxford University Press, 2011.

Available at

[35] Paul Battersby and Joseph Siracusa, “Globalization & Human Security,” Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, United States, 2009. Chapter five:  Human Rights and Human Security: Pragmatic Perspectives on Human Rights, p. 148.

[36] James W Nickel, “Is Today’s International Human Rights System a Global Governance Regime?” The Journal of Ethics, Vol. 6, No. 4 (2002) pp. 553-371, Springer, p. 6

[37] Michael Sheeham, “International Security: An Analytical Survey,” Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. United Kingdom, 2005, Chapter three, Security Communities and Democratic Peace, p 33

[38] Ibidem, p 33.

[39] Felix Dodds and Tim Pippard, “Human & Environmental Security: An Agenda for Change,” Stakeholder Forum for Our Common Future, UK and USA, 2005, p. 207

[40] Our Global Neighborhood, the Report of the Commission on Global Governance, Oxford University Press, 1995, Chapter One “A New World”.

Available at

[41] Klaus Dingwerth, and Philipp Pattber, “Global Governance as a Perspective on World Politics,” Global Governance, 2006, p. 185-203

[42] Ibidem, p. 197.

[43] The Gauteng Declaration, Johannesburg, 2002, p. 3, Governments participant: Australia, Spain, Germany, Argentina, United States, Brazil, and United Kingdom among others –the list of regional government and the Declaration is available at

[44] Mark Malloch Brown, Human Development Report 1999, Published for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), New York, Oxford University Press, Foreword.

Available at

[45] This data was extracted from Waschuck Roman, Chapter Nine The New Multilateralism, In the book “Human Security and The New Diplomacy: Protecting People, Promoting Peace,” Edited by Rob McRae and Don Hubert, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001, p. 216

[46] Darryl Robinson and Valerie Oosterveld, The Evolution of International Law, in the book “Human Security and the New Diplomacy: Protecting People, Promoting Peace,” Edited by Rob McRae and Don Hubert, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001, p. 161.

[47] Paul Battersby and Joseph Siracusa, “Globalization & Human Security,” Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, United States, 2009, Chapter five, Human Rights and Human Security: Pragmatic Perspectives on Human Rights, p. 148

[48] Robinson, Darryl and Oosterveld Valerie. “The Evolution of International Law.” In the book “Human Security and the New Diplomacy: Protecting People, Promoting Peace.” Edited by Rob McRae and Don Hubert. McGill-Queen’s, University Press, 2001, p. 163

[49] On 17 July 1998, the international community reached an historic milestone when 120 States adopted the Rome Statute, the legal basis for establishing the permanent International Criminal Court four years later.

[50] Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 5, 1 July 2002.

[51] Darry Robinson, “The International Criminal Court: Case Study.” In the book “Human Security and The New Diplomacy: Protecting People, Promoting Peace,” Edited by Rob McRae and Don Hubert, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001, p. 171

[52] Report of the International Criminal Court to the United Nations for 2010/2011, Sixty-sixth session, Item 75 of the provisional Agenda. 19 August 2011.

[53] James Goldstone, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, The Guardian News and Media Limited, 2012

Collective Security⇒ Global Community (Our Responsibility = KONY 2012)

11 Apr

In 1995,  Charles and Clifford Kupchan advocated for a theory of collective security based on military power as a main feature of international system in which the key to enhancing stability  depended on  the management of military power. For them,  enhancing stability is equal to manage properly military power through international organizations, According to that, collective security could be defined as follows:

“States agreement to abide by certain norms and rules to maintain stability and band together to stop aggression”  (Charles Kupchan and Clifford Kupchan: 52)

The above definition captured the collective security’s essentials: (1) reliance on legal norms; (2) rejection of individual action; and (3) the purpose of stopping aggression. Thereby, the bedrock of collective security is the idea of institutionalizing the legal use of force to reduce the negative effects of anarchy and its major advantage “is that it provides form or effective balancing against aggressors and that it promotes a more cooperative international environment, thereby making inter-state rivalry and aggression less likely” (Charles Kupchan and Clifford Kupchan: 52). Thus, collective security assumes that: (1) all members are equally committed to balance the aggressor, (2) war are likely to occur and to be prevented (3) its member will agree on which nation is the aggressor, (4) the cumulative power of its member will effective and sufficient to defeat the aggressor, (5) the aggressor will modify its behavior, so inter-states rivalry will less likely.

Collective security is thereby all about institutionalized balancing –the notion of all against one in which states are deprived of the legal right to use force at their own discretion. Consequently, within the international system institutions are better than no institutions. Institutions fosters an environment in which aggression is less likely to take place because collective security  help states to define their national security in ways that contribute to both international stability and mitigate the inter-state hostility.

However, the mandate of collective security is  problematic, it believes that states will loyalty agree on the identical moral appeals, so by underestimating state perceptions, collective security assumes states will accept responsibility in the same way. It seems to me that it is the major shortcoming of collective security, quoting Claude Jr. “The operation of a collective security system must always be unstable unless there is belief that what is good for world peace is necessarily good for the nation and is deeply engrained in governments and peoples.”[1] So, it is possible to assert that collective security relies on the ideal that states will equally commit to take action against the aggressor; this assumption is  challenging, naïve, and dangerous.

The institutional origins of collective security may be traced back to the efforts of the European powers to maintain peace and security within an international system called “the Concert of Europe.” However, by exploring the history, we can conclude that this system gradually collapsed in the same way as the League of Nations did, due to the lack of a decision-making procedure capable to materialize state actions and sanctions against aggressor (e.g. League of Nations’ inability to prevent Italy from invading Ethiopia in 1936).

Surprisingly, the renewed effort to realize the idea of collective security after the Second World War, the United Nations, trying to overcome the deficiencies of the League of Nations keeps certain elements of balance of power such as  the five permanent member of the UNSC. According to Claude Jr. The veto provision “renders collective security impossible in all instances most vital to the preservation of world peace and order.”[2]

Summing up, collective security has been limited throughout its history.  Until the UN does not be equipped with a representative decision-making organ, collective security will remain idealistic.

From my point of view, the last resource to save the essentials of collective security system is  understanding it in a more extensive way. We cannot deny that collective security has allowed to think that cooperation is possible even when “bad apples” want to control the international system. So, its major contribution has been the development of a sense of global responsibility in which human beings rather than states are both able and willing to confront threats through a global community formed by individuals responsible for protecting themselves using collective actions. we cannot deny that we live  in a  unique and privileged moment in which people of the world can see each other and want to protect each other…  A clear example, is  the global campaign, initiated by the organization Invisible Children that pursues a specific security goal in order to stop the action of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LAR).  Please take few minutes for watching the video and get involved  in an unique collective action opportunity this Friday, April 20th.

[1] Claude, Jr., Swords Into Plowshares: The Problems and Progress of International Organization, 4th Ed., (New York: Random House, 1964) p. 251

[2] Claude, Jr., “The Management of Power in Changing United Nations,” International Organization. Vol. 15 (Spring 1961), p. 224

UNSC Reform: The Time Has Passed For Governments To Turn A Blind Eye To Violations Of Human Rights

30 Mar

 During 2001-2003 the hope of the nineties were broken down by three important events: the 9/11 attacks, the recognition of the failures of UN peacekeeping efforts, and the unauthorized used of force of the United States and the United Kingdom against the Iraqi regimen. These events challenged the idea of collective security and marked a new period in which the international commitment to collective decision was undermined. These fiascos and the position of the Bush administration –that did not share the idea that the world’s security problems can be dealt with multilateral or collective mechanisms- pushed the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi A. Annan, to appoint a High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change in 2003. This panel composed by sixteen men was in charge to “recommend ways of strengthening the United Nations to provide a collective security for the twenty-first century.” One year later (2004) the panel submitted a final report calling for a new vision of collective security. On March 21st, 2005, The UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his report titled  “In Larger Freedom: towards development, security, and human rights for all [1] invited country-members to do not miss the “historic opportunity” for wide-ranging UN reform.  The necessity to reform the UNSC is based on make it more genuinely representative as a way to achieve more credibility and authority; the reform proposals were discussed in the UN General Assembly on 6, 7, and 8 April 2005; the proposals debated included the following options:

  • The establishment of   “code of conduct” for the use of the veto. The idea essentially is that a permanent member, in matters where its vital national interests were not claimed to be involved, would not use its veto to obstruct the passage of what would otherwise be a majority resolution.
  • Model A: a UNSC with six new permanent seats, with no veto being created, and three new two-year term non-permanent seats, divided among the major regional areas: Africa; Asia and Pacific, Europe, Americas.
  • Model B: a UNSC without new permanent seats but with a new category of eight four-year renewable-term seats and one new two-year non-permanent (and non-renewable) seat, divided among the major regional areas: Africa; Asia and Pacific, Europe, Americas.
  • Enlargement of the UNSC adding Germany, Japan, India, and Brazil as permanent members with “rotating permanent seats.” Actually, these four member have formed an alliance to support each other’s candidacy for a UNSC seat know as G-4
  • Expansion of the UNSC by nine non-permanent seats: the candidates for such seats including Germany, Japan, India, and Brazil as well as Latin American and African countries.

            Sadly, any substantial change was achieved; the UNSC has been remained frozen with the same problematic structure since 1963 when the UN expanded its membership from 11 to 15.

           Summing up, we have a clear majority of UN members in favor of abolishing or at least restricting the veto right. On the other hand, the current five permanent members rejecting all the proposal of reform; important countries such as Germany, Japan, India, and Brazil are insisting on joining the UNSC in an equal footing with the P-5.  At the same time the United States is not prepare to concede veto right to Africa or Latin American developing countries.

            Nevertheless, we cannot forget that in 2010 President Obama endorsed India and Japan candidacy, which could be considered a kind US gesture.  This unusual American behavior alongside with the vulnerable position of UK and France, as European permanent members with veto right, could change the future of the UNSC. I think that these two countries due to their particular position can push for a UNSC reform; Europe is moving toward a common foreign security policy in which Europeans do not want to be represented by two individual countries. Furthermore, we need to consider that current global events such as Syria are proving the case for the UNSC reform. China and Russia’s decision to veto the global sanctions against Syria renders France, UK, and the United States guilty for being incompetent to stop the slaughter of civilians. We cannot just blame Russia and China for UNSC inaction because the responsibility to protect is COLLECTIVE. In our time,  the right to protect (principle that justifies UN human intervention in a country who kill its people) is demanding something else: Reforming the obsolete Security Council !

[1] In Larger Freedom: towards development, security, and human rights for all. Report of the Secretary-General of the UN for decision by Heads of States and Government in September 2005, available at


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