Enhancing global security partnerships to address new risks and challenges

Enhancing global security partnerships to address new risks and challenges

Can Öğütçü*
The need for new institutional structures, dynamic processes and confidence-building measures is urgent in today’s conflict-ridden world in order to effectively respond to emerging new security risks, threats and challenges that recognize no boundaries and traditional concepts we have become accustomed to date. 

Yes, we have serious problems across the world that set us apart, but there are even more tragedies that force us to act in collaboration and unity. The proxy wars in Yemen and Syria, escalating violence in Africa (Sudan, Burundi), the latest human tragedies due to illegal immigration in the Mediterranean through failed states (i.e. Libya) and the devastating earthquake in Nepal have shown the pressing need for constructive global security partnerships.

The security environment in which we live is dynamic and uncertain, replete with numerous unknowns.

There is talk of a new era called “Cold Peace” with a re-sharpening of the polarization between the U.S., the EU, China, Russia and other major G-20 powers. Religious terrorism and fanaticism represented by al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Hindu, Buddhist and other extremist religious groups as well as proxy wars fuelled in the Middle East, the Gulf, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), South East Asia and Africa create grave global concerns.

We also suffer from a range of asymmetrical cyber-attacks, ecological and natural disasters and contagious diseases such as Ebola and AIDS, giving much pain and despair. Information security is under attack.

Organized crime for drug trafficking, money laundering, prostitution and gambling has not abetted a bit.  

Transnational problems that once seemed quite distant - such as resource depletion, rapid population growth, environmental degradation and refugee migration - are now with us. Energy and critical infrastructure security remains a prime concern, as they have become increasingly fragile. The latest deterioration of relations between the U.S., the EU and the Russian Federation and attacks on energy infrastructure are vivid examples of such risks.

Yet, on the positive side, this is also a period of great promise. The core values of representative governance, market economics and respect for fundamental human rights have been embraced by many nations around the world, creating new opportunities. Former adversaries now work with each other. The dynamism of the global economy and new technologies are transforming commerce, culture, communications and global relations.

No single nation can defeat this complex array of unique dangers alone. Dealing with such problems and opportunities, we need effective international mechanisms that will focus not on divergence of interests but rather on commonly shared priorities and concerns that affect us all, wherever we might be living.

The existence of too many global and regional organizations with overlapping agendas and missions is not helpful to achieve the task of addressing these serious challenges with resolution and the utmost efficiency. The U.N. Security Council, NATO, the OSCE, the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia and the like are just some of the security bodies that spring to mind.

They need to be mobilized to counter the worsening security environment and take vigorous action rather than staying merely as “talking shops.” There is an underlying rationale for many partners or competing security organizations to achieve cross-fertilization, synergy and avoid duplication of efforts including, inter alia, on energy security, refugee floods, cyber-security, contagious diseases, environmental degradation, terrorism, money laundering, drug trafficking and other commonly accepted threats to our societies.

Such an engagement requires the active, sustained support of all regional security organizations. Our international leadership should focus on five priorities, which form the roadmap to security, peace and prosperity into the next century:

▪   Foster a peaceful, undivided, democratic world.

▪   Build a new, open trading and investment system for the twenty-first century that benefits the world.

▪ Keep the U.N. as the world’s leading force for peace but work closely with other regional security organizations on commonly identified threats and risks.

▪   Increase cooperation in confronting security threats that disregard national borders.

▪   Strengthen the diplomatic and military tools and intelligence sharing required to address these challenges.
International co-operation to combat these transnational threats will be vital for building security in the next century. Faced with these circumstances, we cannot set objectives for separate and distinct foreign and domestic policies, but rather for economic and security policies that advance our interests and ideals in a world where the dividing line between domestic and foreign policy is increasingly blurred.

Global security partnerships, particularly among G-20 nations, but also by including all other stakeholders in constructive work steams and close contact, are the way forward for effective responses.

*Can Öğütçü is an international staff member with the Energy Charter Secretariat in Brussels