"Peace, Security and Good Governance"
Address by Gareth Evans to EU-UNU Tokyo Global Forum: Governance Across Borders – National, Regional and Global, United Nations University, Tokyo.
Governance and Government
There is no great mystery about what the mass of people want, in every country in the world, from those who make decisions that affect their lives, whether those decisions are made at local, national, regional or global level. From my own long experience of politics and government, both domestic and international, I would put it at these five basic things:
- national security – or freedom from the fear of military conflict;
- community security – or freedom from the fear of violence: with law and order, and a decent justice system;
- personal security – freedom from the fear of want: with income and employment, housing, health and educational opportunity;
- environmental security - freedom to enjoy decent physical conditions in which to live and work and play; and
- personal liberty – freedom to move, and speak and assemble; to live in dignity and without discrimination; and to participate in the political process, at least of selecting those who make the decisions that affect our lives.
The capacity and will to deliver these things is what we call good governance. At local and national level, ‘good governance’ is effectively synonymous with ‘good government’. At regional and global level, by contrast, where institutions of government with genuine executive authority are much less well developed, and look like remaining so for a long time yet (with the authority of the UN Security Council, and of certain decision-making processes of the EU, being exceptions rather than the rule) we have to settle for the terminology of ‘good governance’ alone. But the idea is essentially the same – good global governance is that which helps deliver for states and their peoples security from military conflict, community security, personal security, environmental security and personal liberty.
There are many different ways of expressing these basic needs or interests. At least in public discourse, in different parts of the world some of the items or sub-items in my five point list – particularly in relation to liberty – would be given different weightings and priorities: sometimes no priority at all. But whether openly acknowledged or not, it’s hard to argue at the level of ordinary, individual human beings that all these things are not universal aspirations.
These core ideas, involving different kinds of security and liberty, recur over and again in discussions of global governance. Early ones like Roosevelt’s 1941 “world founded upon four essential human freedoms” - of speech and expression, of worship, from want and from fear. And more recent ones, like the Group of Lisbon in 1996 conceptualising what was required for good global governance in terms of four quasi-contractual international “pacts” : a basic needs pact, a culture pact, a democracy pact and an earth pact. Or the Carlsson/Ramphal Commission in 1995, in fact drawing their inspiration from Immanuel Kant’s vision of ‘Perpetual Peace’ in the late 18th century, defining the three core elements necessary for effective global governance as states constituted under the rule of law, a body of international law with regulative force, and the universal recognition of human rights.
Good Governance and Peace
The link between good governance and peace made by Kant two centuries ago is so obvious as to hardly require spelling out. People who feel secure and free, governed by the rule of law and not of men, are much less likely to go to war with each other - either within or across borders – than those who don’t.
The argument has been most strongly developed and documented in the literature on democratic peace – the notion that democracies don’t fight each other. That literature remains overwhelmingly supportive of the link between good democratic process and the disposition to resolve disputes and problems (at least with other democratic entities) by non-violent means. The democratic peace argument has its critics, and has been plausibly contested, in particular, in its applicability to those countries which are formally democratic but still in political transition: but that if anything reinforces the point, because transitional societies - almost by definition - are those where good governance in all the dimensions I have mentioned is not yet firmly established.
There are examples all round us of peace and security being at risk when governance breaks down. That’s why my own organisation, the International Crisis Group, makes governance at all levels a central theme in all our conflict prevention reporting and recommendations. That’s why aid agencies around the world are devoting a higher and higher proportion of their resources to trying to improve national governance (not always very effectively, but that’s another story). That’s why the EU model - incomplete though it still is - of subsuming national differences, and burying the half a century of military conflict they had generated, in a larger regional organisation, continues to have such resonance around the world, although nowhere else yet developed to the same extent. And that’s why so much effort and energy goes into trying to improve global governance by right minded governments (and there are a few of them left, if not for the moment my own), by right-minded NGOs and by right-minded academics, not least in conferences like this.
There is more to good governance than just institutions and processes. As the successive horrors of the 2oth Century showed us over and again, there are always causes of potential conflict lurking in even the most politically developed societies – usually based on greed or grievance or some combination of the two. The trappings of good governance – institutions and processes formally committed to providing security and liberty in all their relevant dimensions – are not necessarily enough, in the real world, to ensure continuing peace. A huge amount depends on the quality of individual leadership: whether a country gets - at the times that critically matter, when things hang in the balance – a Mandela or a Milosevic, a Sharon or a Rabin. And that’s not something that can always be rationally planned for or worked for: it’s the luck of the political draw.
That said, there is a lot that can be rationally planned for, and a lot to be learned from the multiple failures of governance that have contributed to conflict in recent memory. So far as individual countries are concerned, there are problems of which the world is now acutely aware with failed states like Somalia and Afghanistan – where the lesson seems to have at last been painfully learned, even in Washington, that if the object is peace and security, there is absolutely no alternative to a serious, sustained and systematic effort at nation building.
But the problems also extend to weakly governed states of the kind that Indonesia has now become. The work that ICG has been doing in Indonesia on the causes and remedies of separatist conflict, as in Aceh and Papua, and communal conflict – as in Maluku and Kalimantan and Sulawesi and elsewhere – tells us over and again that the core problem is not the inherent incompatibility of Islam and Christianity or anything else so exalted. It is rather persistent failures of governance at multiple levels: political leadership, constitutional structures, judicial system administration, micro-economic management, civil-military relations and the internal operation security sector institutions (not least that the military and police have to find two-thirds of their income from non-budgetary sources such as business enterprises and protection rackets – not exactly calculated to instil professional discipline).
Regional institutions, despite the faith that has been invested in them as the hope of the future by many writers on governance, for the most part have not been able to date to play a significant role in addressing security problems within their own memberships, either because of limits of jurisdiction or limits of will. There are some positives to report. As with the EU, ASEAN’s very existence, and the summitry and patterns of consultation that go with it, has certainly reduced the inherent volatility of interstate relations in South East Asia (though it is much further away from the EU in developing any kind of operational Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP); the OSCE’s High Commissioner on National Minorities has done some excellent unsung work in finding political and structural solutions for ethnic-based grievances in post-Cold War Europe; the OAS and OAU have dipped their toes into conflict prevention at the continental level in Africa and Latin America; and ECOWAS has engaged in some more or less successful interventions in defence of embattled democracies in West Africa.
But against that, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has failed to live up to hopes and expectations in its response to the outrages currently being perpetrated by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe; IGAD in North East Africa has been intensely disappointing as a peace negotiator in Sudan; SAARC has played no visibly useful role at all in addressing the many peace and security problems of South Asia; and the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) has been struggling to live up to the modest hopes of its founders – including me – that it would by now have an established track record in confidence building and preventive diplomacy, if not actual conflict resolution, in the Asia Pacific region.
At the global level, the most obvious failures of governance in recent memory are those by the UN (and the key member states which call its shots) in the early and mid-90s. We can all recall with some despair the way in which the hope generated by the united international response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and the general success of the peace making and peacekeeping operations in Cambodia, Namibia and Mozambique, gave way to the debacle of the international intervention in Somalia in 1993, the pathetically inadequate response to genocide in Rwanda in 1994, and the utter inability of the UN presence to prevent the murderous ethnic cleansing in Srbrenica in 1995. These are in fact the failures which led to the creation of the International Crisis Group, in the hope that we could do something to avoid them in the future.
Throughout the 1990s the global community seemed utterly unable to deal in any systematic or coherent fashion with the whole question of humanitarian intervention, ie coercive action conducted against a state for the purpose of protecting its own people from catastrophe. In Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia in particular, though these were not the only cases, the interventions which occurred , even if their moral justification was beyond dispute, were too little too late, misconceived, poorly resourced, poorly executed - or all of the above. NATO's intervention in Kosovo in 1999 brought matters to an intensely controversial head. Security Council members were divided; the legal justification for military action without new Security Council authority was asserted but largely unargued; the moral or humanitarian justification for the action, on the face of it much stronger, was clouded by allegations that the intervention triggered more carnage than it averted; and the means by which the NATO allies waged the war continue, justly or not, to be much criticised.
What to Do?
So much for the failures. What can be done to improve the quality of governance – the capacity and will of decision makers at all levels to provide both security and liberty for their peoples? As always with public policy problems, analysis and prescription doesn’t take one very far without the will and the resources to take the necessary action. But it is the necessary starting point, and I would suggest that there are four key themes that should determine the approach of policy makers.
The first is to recognise the continuing centrality of the role of sovereign states. Whether we like it much or not, and whether it has been diminished by globalisation or not, the Westphalian system is going to be around for a good while yet. It is the perceived interests of individual states that more often than not determines the behaviour of intergovernmental organisations, and it is the behaviour of individual states toward their own citizens and others that will for a long time yet go on being the primary determinant of the degree of security and liberty that the world’s people’s enjoy.
The second theme is to recognise, all that said, that there are limits to state sovereignty, and the primacy that it should be accorded. Those limits take the form of both overreach and underreach. Overreach is when sovereign states wage aggressive war on other countries in defiance of the UN Charter, or fail – through ill will or inability – in their responsibility to protect their own people. Underreach is when states run up against the reality, which even the mightiest of them these days have to acknowledge, that they can’t solve by themselves every kind of problem which affects their own interests –and that in dealing with terrorism, international crime, health pandemics, unregulated population flows, a good many environmental problems and a good deal much else besides, a little bit of cooperative multilateralism is unavoidable.
The third theme is not to be too unrealistically ambitious about what is achievable institutionally in building global governance. While there are some institutional changes – as, for example, in the composition of the Security Council to reflect contemporary realities, not those of fifty years ago – which are absolutely worth continuing to push for, the truth of the matter is talk of global parliamentary assemblies and even more optimistic variations on this kind of them is to have political leaders reaching if not for their revolvers at least their earmuffs. An unhappy consequence of the enthusiasm of the Carlsson/Ramphal report for recommendations of this kind is that it resulted in many of its most valuable analysis and insights, for example about the role of civil society and the non-govermental sector as critical players in global governance, being ignored or discounted.
The fourth theme, when considering the kind of structural and institutional and behavioural changes necessary to improve governance, is to put much greater emphasis on improving the capacity for prevention rather than reaction. Strategies which anticipate catastrophes, whether violent conflict or anything else, are infinitely more cost effective than those devoted to resolving them after they occur. These days the rhetoric of prevention is all but universal, but effective implementation lags way behind.
Let me conclude by giving two examples of these principles in action:
The Fight Against Global Terrorism
The critical necessity is to recognise that the first line of international, as distinct from internal, defence must be in the countries of origin of the terrorists themselves. In curbing Osama bin Laden, the CIA, FBI and US military can never be as good as the Taliban, should it have chosen to be, or Saudi Arabia or Sudan before them; Mossad and the Israeli Defence Force – as tough and competent as they may – can never be as effective as the Palestinian Authority in cracking down on the fanatics of Hamas and other extremist groups; neither the Indians or anyone else could possibly be as good as the Pakistani government and military in curbing, if it chose to, the terrorist fanaticism that continues to tear apart Kashmir.
To strengthen these international defences you have to build the capacity and above all the will for these countries and authorities to act, both internally and in close cooperation with the wider international community: cooperation in the sense of supplying intelligence, breaking financial supply lines broken, offering logistic support, and systematically pursuing common strategies over time. In other words, the issue of fighting terrorism comes down, above all else, to creating and maintaining effective and committed governance
A whole number of other policy prescriptions follow from this which there is no time to pursue in detail here. But among them are these.
- Be careful about the external resonance of your internal security measures: crude racial and religious stereotyping can be very counterproductive in winning international cooperation.
- Be extremely careful about how you conduct your punitive and retaliatory enterprises – in terms of the evidence on which you rely, the collateral damage you cause along the way, and the way you handle the trial of those captured (with international tribunals much to be preferred to anything savouring of victor’s justice).
- Recognise that you must be seen by the governments in question, and more particularly their streets, to be willing to address the underlying political, economic, social and cultural grievances on which terrorism feeds and thrives: to do so is not to reward terrorism, but simply to address its reality. It is not so much a matter of removing the motivation for individual terrorists: we can never be sure of what they are. Rather it is to improve the capacity and will of front line governments to act effectively, both internally and internationally.
Intervention for Human Protection Purposes
A major attempt has been made to map the way forward on this issue in the just published report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, sponsored by the Canadian Government, which I co-chaired with Mohamed Sahnoun. There are several good reasons why this Commission may have been able to add value to what had become a rather sterile and set piece debate.
First, because it is the most representative and consultative exercise yet attempted in this area. The Commission was evenly divided between North and South in its composition. From the South there was Mohamed Sahnoun, Fidel Ramos, Cyril Ramaphosa, Eduardo Stein and Ramesh Thakur; from the North, in addition to me, there was Lee Hamilton, Gisele Cote-Harper, Michael Ignatieff and Klaus Naumann; with, in addition, Vladimir Lukin from Russia, and the former head of the ICRC Cornelio Sommaruga, whom our Chinese friends might describe as a Northener with Southern characteristics. The Commission met in Asia and Africa as well as North America and Europe, and held roundtables and other consultations in Latin America, the Middle East, Russia and China. One of the most fascinating findings from these consultations was that there was far less anxiety about the misuse of power by interveners than we expected – and far more concern about the failure of the majopr players in the international community to act when the circumstances cried out for it.
Secondly, because the exercise has been very comprehensive in scope - addressing not just the legal and moral dilemmas which have been at the heart of most of the academic and policy debate about coercive intervention so far, but operational and political issues as well. It has taken into account and tried to build upon all the best work done in the past, with our Report having a substantial accompanying volume containing newly commissioned research and an annotated bibliography of previous writing.
Thirdly, because the whole exercise has had a sharply practical political focus. None of us want to see the report disappearing from sight soon after its release, having no other life than in classrooms. We have recommended that its conclusions be debated in the UN General Assembly, and picked up and adopted by the Security Council – and the Secretary General has indicated his willingness to take the report forward in this respect.
But above all, fourthy, we hope the new Commission's report will add value by being innovative - bringing some genuinely new ways of thinking about the issue into the debate, and bridging the divide evident in General Assembly debate so far. We have dropped some of the terminological baggage the debate has been carrying, by using the neutral expression "intervention for human protection purposes" rather than the loaded one "humanitarian intervention", which annoys humanitarian relief organisations and a lot of others as well.
The Commission's most important single contribution, however, may have been to reconceptualise the core concept of the right to intervene, with "the right to intervene" becoming rather "the responsibility to protect". This immediately puts the focus where, arguably, it always ought to be - not on the countries throwing their weight around, for better or worse, but on the victims of conflict, who need the assistance of others if they are to be protected from suffering.
We argue that the primary responsibility for that protection lies with the sovereign state. But if that state is unable or unwilling to protect its population, or is itself the cause of the threat, the international community of states has a residual responsibility to take action to protect that population.
But the Commission did not see the responsibility to react, including through military intervention, as the only way to fulfil the responsibility to protect. There is an initial and overriding responsibility to prevent the risk to the population arising in the first place, both through longer-term development assistance or shorter-term political, diplomatic or economic responses. And if a more coercive intervention has to take place, then there is also a responsibility to follow through and rebuild, with the time and effort necessary to ensure that the original problem does not recur.
If military intervention does, however, become necessary, we argue that every reasonable effort should be made to obtain the authorisation of the UN Security Council. Failing that, endorsement by the General Assembly is a realistic alternative option – as is action by regional organisations within their area of jurisdiction, subject to getting subsequent approval by the Security Council.
The threshold for military intervention must also be high: large-scale loss of life or ethnic cleansing, actual or apprehended. Moreover, the intervention should always be carried out in a principled way, and the principles of right intention, proportional means and reasonable prospects should always apply.
The report does not seek formal changes to the Charter, or new formal instruments, but it does argue for some fundamental changes in practice, including the adoption of a set of guidelines by the Security Council for dealing with military intervention for human protection purposes, and a code of conduct for exercising the veto in these situations. It also argues for the General Assembly adopting a declaratory resolution laying out the relevant principles of action.
We argue, finally, that the Security Council should take into account in all its deliberations that, if it fails to discharge its responsibility to protect in conscience shocking situations crying out for action, concerned states may not rule out other means to meet the gravity and urgency of the situation – and that the stature and credibility of the UN may suffer hereby.
Neither our Commission, nor this conference, is going to make an enormous impact on the huge array of governance problems that now confront us in the international community. But the role of the policy community as so well represented here today is crucial in at least the threshold task of setting the agenda for action. With the talent assembled here I think we can take that process some distance forward this week, and I feel privileged to have been invited to contribute to these deliberations.