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Enhance Global Security Governance

Mar 01, 2023
  • Han Liqun

    Researcher, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

Despite their differing positions, countries in various camps today share one unspoken basic consensus: The world is in a critical period of profound change full of security challenges. Whether a country can properly cope with these challenges will not only determine its own future but will also influence the world.

The Interim National Security Strategy the Biden administration published in October, for one, began with the observation that the world is undergoing profound change, and the following decade will be of decisive significance. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed in his State of the Nation address on the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine crisis that the world is going through irreversible major changes. The tense atmosphere of major power competition and geopolitical games at the recently concluded Munich Security Conference was an unsurprising footnote.

Escalation of various global and regional security issues, deterioration of relations, political confrontation and the emergence of military conflicts are direct outcomes of those conspicuous global changes and will deeply influence — even determine — their ultimate orientation. Globally, the present-day international community faces many significant contradictions and conflicts, with all kinds of political and security problems mushrooming and security threats continuously diversifying.

Many countries’ reasonable concerns about national sovereignty and territorial integrity have yet to get their due response. The basic choice of a development path and political system that fits their own characteristics have yet to receive due respect, and basic demands for equal rights in development, discourse and governance have yet to be effectively guaranteed. Some countries base their own security on others’ insecurity and ignore others’ reasonable security concerns in pursuit of their own absolute security. The global security framework has become unbalanced and ineffective, and the reasonable security concerns of the weak have been neglected for a long time. Security contradictions have accumulated rather than eased, which can easily result in extremist actions and worsen contradictions and conflicts.

Such imbalances and ineffectiveness is present not only in the security frameworks of traditional military and homeland security structures but is increasingly seen in such non-traditional security areas as the economy, science, technology, information, culture and climate.

Facing such strife, some countries brush aside dialogue and consultation as well as peace negotiation, either threatening others with the use of force or inciting others to resort to force to resolve conflicts. They choose sabotage for selfish motives when opportunities for dialogue and consultation arise; or they employ double standards on security issues, wantonly resorting to such means as unilateral sanctions, “long-arm jurisdiction,”  and “decoupling,” worsening disputes, deepening discord and undermining efforts for peaceful resolution.

The division of labor, as well as the mutual dependence created by economic globalization are being weaponized by some countries to pursue selfish gains and suppress other countries. The impressive progress and mutual integration brought by deepening cultural pluralism has been used by some countries to instigate confrontation and create turbulence. Efficient communication and convenience of expression facilitated by accelerating application of information technologies has been exploited by some countries to conduct ideological infiltration and subversion.

Such fields as climate, space, deep oceans, polar areas, biology and anti-terrorism, all of which should have been realms for international cooperation, are being quickly politicized and militarized. Such behavior is doing serious and sustained damage to international peace and regional stability, resulting in profound changes in the contemporary connotations of war, peace, security and development and bringing severe challenges for peace and development as the main theme of our time.

Many of these problems could have been resolved through increasing trust and eliminating suspicion via dialogue and consultation at an early stage, eased by means of political communication and external assistance after they broke out and brought under control and prevented from a repeat by establishing long-term mechanisms after they are eased. Political confrontations, military standoffs or bloody sacrifice are never inevitable.

The occurrence and escalation of these kinds of security issues can be linked, to a great extent, to the absence of global security governance. They are the outcomes of some major countries’ irresponsibility, even sabotage, or stubborn obsession with backward and narrow-minded security outlooks. They are the “security deficits” in global governance.

It is dangerous to neglect inadequate global security governance and the ballooning global security deficits of our time. The constant increase in security deficits is eroding the foundation of global security governance at an accelerating pace, undermining the stable environment for global development and exhausting the welfare of people in all countries. Intentionally sabotaging the global security governance framework and looking on while minor issues become major ones — that is, as regional issues turn global and political contradictions transfer to military ones, and as domestic issues spill over to become global burdens — may very likely push the world back onto the old path of seclusion and confrontation and throttle some significant feats of globalization.

Amid the great changes, countries should proceed with the fate of humanity in mind, adhere to fairness and justice, update their security outlooks, strengthen security governance, effectively prevent global security deficits from arising and create a better security environment for the world’s progress. China has thus put forward its Global Security Initiative and issued a corresponding concept paper in which it identifies 20 main fields of cooperation, along with five cooperation platforms and mechanisms, to set a practical example for all countries. The purpose is to call on all parties to adapt to the profound adjustments in the international order in a spirit of unity. It suggests that the world should cope with complex security challenges, eradicate the root causes of international conflict and improve global security governance with win-win thinking.

Of course, addressing the security deficits is a painstaking job that entails strenuous effort. Embracing openness and innovation is a basic principle of the Global Security Initiative. All countries and peoples in the world that value peace and happiness should join hands to cope with all traditional and non-traditional security challenges, and safeguard world peace together.

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