The international system is once again in flux. The East-West conflict, once the dominant concern, has been replaced by regional conflicts and worldwide security problems. While these have a defining influence on the international system as a whole, their effects are felt regionally. Hence there is an increasing need for regional approaches to tackle the problems. I am very pleased, therefore, that we are meeting here today to discuss the experiences and opportunities of regional cooperation.
One way in which this change in the international system is manifesting itself is that “governance” is increasingly becoming detached from the context of the nation-state. The history of European integration serves as an illustration of how tasks that were once the province of the nation-state are increasingly being performed by regional organizations.
International organizations play three roles in this context. They:
- are instruments of political governance,
- provide a platform for conflict resolution, and
- act increasingly as autonomous players.
Regional cooperation: the example of Europe
What lessons can be learned from European experiences? Regional cooperation is more than a matter of understanding and cooperation in the area of security policy. Regional arrangements, with corresponding institutions and international rules, in the economic, social and environmental areas, as well as the judicial system and human rights, are equally important. Observance of procedures, principles and standards was a key factor paving the way for European integration. The commitment of the states of Europe to the law is at the core of peace in Europe.
The European experience also shows that regional organizations, using a variety of measures, are better able than single states to prevent violent conflicts and resolve ongoing conflicts. Regional and interregional cooperation, moreover, is urgently needed to meet security challenges. This applies both to tackle the causes of security risks and to averting acute threats.
However, this does not mean, that “regional security architecture” needs to be defined immediately in the form of permanent institutions; rather, it should be understood as a process. Institution building can develop slowly, beginning with security-policy dialogues on confidence-building measures. As it progresses, the process can ultimately transform relations between states. At the same time it can help to bring about internal change within states.
The EU as a player in international politics
The European Union is also emerging as an increasingly strong player in international politics, not only in the area of financial and economic policy, but increasingly in foreign and security policy. The so-called Solana Paper which appeared last year, for example, was the first instance of the Union formulating and adopting a common foreign and security policy strategy.
The aim of the EU’s policy on Asia is to strengthen the political and economic presence of the EU in the entire Asian region. The very fact that it is possible to refer to an EU Asia policy is also proof of how far the process of European unification has progressed in terms of integration.
The EU and the Asian countries make a contribution to conflict prevention and crisis management in each other’s regions. Europe, for example, participates in ARF and KEDO, as well as the UN missions in Cambodia and East Timor, while peacekeeping troops from East Asia are deployed in the former Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR and UNMIBH).
Europe’s attractiveness for East Asia currently lies first and foremost in the area of monetary cooperation. In Asia the euro is regarded as the real success story of European integration. The European concept of the social state could also serve as a model for Asia.
Karl W. Deutsch and the concept of the security community
In terms of form, European integration can be described as a “security community”. The term was coined by Karl Wolfgang Deutsch in 1957 in his much quoted standard reference work, “Political Community and the North Atlantic Area. International Organization in the Light of Historical Experience, New York 1957”. Deutsch fled from the National Socialists in 1938 to settle in the United States.
According to Karl W. Deutsch, the key characteristics of a “pluralistic security community” are that
- within its frame, states no longer resort to force as a means of asserting their respective interests (non-violent problem solving),
- the members of the community hold the same basic political values (mutually accepted values),
- the members of the community behave in a way which the other members can predict (dependable expectations).
This has the effect of civilizing dealings between states.
Hence, security communities are close, institutionalized relations between states which are based not only on mutual interests but on mutual sympathies. Their members are bound together by closely interlinked interests, communications and organizations. Security is understood as a collective good. The possibility of armed conflict becomes unthinkable.
In addition to the “pluralistic security community”, Deutsch identifies the “amalgamated security community”. The difference between the two is that pluralistic security communities consist of several sovereign states, while amalgamated security communities consist of a single state or state-like unit with centralized power. According to this definition, the European Union today is more than a pluralistic security community but not yet an amalgamated security community.
In the context of developing a regional security architecture in Asia, the question that needs to be asked is whether all the members have to be democracies in order to establish a security community. Or to put it another way: is a democratic system simply a sufficient but not a necessary condition for forming a security community?
If one applies Deutsch’s list of criteria, it becomes clear that his three criteria might be enough. If one looks at the former military dictatorships in Greece and Portugal within NATO, one could even argue that belonging to a security community can actually accelerate the process of social participation. Nevertheless, participation, social justice and legal certainty can promote the process of regional integration, because the socializing function of institutions is all the greater, the more members of the community are democracies. Democracies, therefore, are more likely to form security communities than non-democracies.
Is (Southeast) Asia moving towards a pluralistic security community?
I believe that, as things stand, it is possible to identify only the beginnings of pluralistic security communities in Asia. ASEAN is best placed to form such a security community if it actually implements the goals it announced last year. Defining binding norms and values for all members could increase ASEAN’s stability. But this does not yet make ASEAN a pluralistic security community. Further reforms are needed, as well as a strong sense of community and strong institutions, if the ASEAN of today is to develop into a community.
There are many factors standing in the way of the creation of an Asian security community. One major problem is that some countries still have critical internal[intörnel] trouble spots to deal with and are therefore not yet receptive to multilateral solutions. This lack of political will is also manifested in the rejection of regional institutions which could make joint political decisions more transparent and reveal a real will to achieve integration. In some East Asian countries, on the other hand, questions about human rights, the rule of law and democracy continue to be regarded primarily as inappropriate “interference in internal affairs”.
Unresolved regional areas of tension continue to be a key factor in East Asia. These include the divided nations of China and Taiwan and North and South Korea, as well as territorial conflicts in the China Sea, and concealed power rivalry between Japan and China.
A further factor which could complicate the establishment of a security community is the inclusion of regional Asian powers. China and India could take the view that they do not need a security community. Similar behaviour was displayed recently by a world power, the United States, towards its European allies.
The already intensive economic interlinking of the East Asian economies is a factor likely to further deepen interstate cooperation in East Asia. Set against this on the negative side are the strong reservations regarding sovereignty displayed by some societies in the region, and their nationalist reflexes. East Asia will have to overcome these limitations and adopt a far more receptive attitude to regional and international cooperation. Regional cooperation continues to offer an opportunity to civilize international politics. It will take courage and intelligence to use this opportunity.
Speech on the "II. Shanghai Workshop on Global Governance", 23.06.2004