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Research Report

Regional security and global governance:: A Proposal for a ‘Regional-Global Security Mechanism’ in Light of the UN High-Level Panel’s Report

Kennedy Graham
Tânia Felício
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2005
Published by: Egmont Institute
Pages: 50
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 3-4)
    Kennedy Graham and Tânia Felício
  2. (pp. 5-6)

    These two quotes, one by the UN Secretary-General, the other by one of his counterparts from a regional organization, capture the essence of the security challenge facing the world in the early 21st century. One offers a vision of a future security system that is holistic and global in nature, emphasising the concept of legitimacy that can come ‘only from the United Nations’. The other critiques the Security Council for alleged inconsistency in its political judgements, tagging the future vision with a prerequisite of greater consistency and impartiality on the part of the global body. The essential themes implicit –...

  3. (pp. 7-10)

    Throughout history human societies of every size and type have sought, above all, to ensure their own security and safety. The building of what has become termed an ‘architecture of peace’ has been the institutional aspiration through which humanity might avoid warfare and live together. In the modern Westphalian era of the past four centuries, nation-states have sought, in various ways, to construct that ‘architecture of peace’.

    Prior to the 20th century, regional security represented the height of political statecraft and diplomatic strategy. Global security – the notion of the world acting as one unit for its own safety and...

  4. (pp. 11-13)

    The structural relationship between the Security Council and the regional organizations is fundamental to the success of a future ‘regional-global security mechanism’. The construction of such a mechanism in the multilateral era is best understood as comprising three distinct periods: shaping the constitutional relationship (1919-45); building the institutional network (1946-91); and developing a framework for co-operation (1992-2004). The constitutional, institutional and co-operation phases of the development of the mechanism bring us to the present time – a third ‘moment of opportunity’.

    The fundamental relationship between universalism and regionalism in security doctrine has been slowly shaped in the two formative moments...

  5. (pp. 14-16)

    The development of the ‘regional-global security mechanism’ is hampered by an array of complexities. These pertain to uncertainties over the meaning of the central concepts of ‘region’, ‘agency’ and ‘arrangement’; the structural duplication of regional agencies and other organizations (involving overlapping of membership); contention over the area of application of their functions; and ambiguity over their objectives (involving, inter alia, improvised and occasionally competing mandates).

    The UN Charter does not define ‘region’, its framers having decided, after much fruitless effort, against any self-restricting ordinance of that kind. A definition advanced during the San Francisco Conference however, gives as good a...

  6. (pp. 17-21)

    If the Secretary-General’s vision of a ‘regional-global security mechanism’, endorsed by both the Security Council and regional organizations, is to have real meaning, the shape of that mechanism will need substantive content. This requires, as a prerequisite, some analytical clarity. The essential concept in that mechanism is ‘regionality’. The first requirement, therefore, is to reach a common understanding over the concept of ‘region’ for the purposes of international peace and security – that is, to develop a structure for identifying ‘security regions’. The three dimensions mentioned earlier (membership, focal area and mandate) lay the basis for analysis of the regional...

  7. (pp. 22-29)

    Attaining a balance between flexibility and consistency in a future ‘regionalglobal security mechanism’ can be achieved if the underlying forces that shape global security today are fully comprehended. Three dimensions characterising the distinguishing features of regional security that support global security can be identified: cultural, political and legal. At bottom lies the cultural dimension: the need to understand the cultural factors that drive political perceptions and decision-making from country-to-country and region-to-region. Superimposed on societal cultures is the political dimension to regional security - the behaviour of the major powers within both the global security structure (the UN Security Council) and...

  8. (pp. 30-31)

    In 1945, the provisions of the UN Charter gave a ‘mild discouragement’ to regional agencies in the international ‘architecture of peace’. Six decades later, the President of the Security Council acknowledges the evidence of the contemporary era – that it is addressing ‘one of the main issues in modern thinking on international relations’ when it focuses on the role of regional organizations. This does not mean that the Charter is to be rewritten – regional security councils supplanting the central body in power and influence. What it does mean, however, is that a balance will be sought in which regionalism...

  9. (pp. 32-39)

    For the purpose of clarifying the ‘regional-global security mechanism’, two fundamental concepts are advanced for consideration – the identification of ‘security regions’ for the maintenance of peace and security; and the identification of a ‘chapter VIII regional agency’ for each ‘security region’, with roles derived from chapter VIII of the UN Charter. If these two innovations are developed, they are likely to have implications for UN Security Council reform.

    For the purpose of constructing a ‘regional-global mechanism’ that can be effective in the area of peace and security, it might be useful to arrive at a common understanding of a...

  10. (pp. 40-41)

    Nine recommendations are advanced with respect to ensuring greater constitutional clarity in the UN-regional organization relationship, refinement of the ‘guiding principles’, and reformulation of some doctrinal precepts of the global security system.

    1. Identification of ‘Security Regions’

    The General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Security Council, could identify specific and separate ‘security regions’ for the ‘regionalglobal security mechanism’ – that do not overlap and which encompass virtually every UN member state.

    2. Identification of ‘Chapter VIII Regional Agencies’

    The General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Security Council, could identify one ‘responsible regional agency’ for each ‘security region’ whose membership is...