Open-access of International Security Cooperation
I consider it a special privilege to address this distinguished gathering today.
As we look around the world, we see several challenges before us that threaten to destabilize the international system, undermine peace and slow development. Taken individually, these events --- like the attacks we are seeing on civilians around the word --- can shock and disturb us. Combined together, they fundamentally impact our global security.
There has arguably never been a more important time for the major world powers must work together to try and address these challenges.
At the same time, the political world order is seeing major transformations. This brings both challenges, and opportunities.
In my presentation, I will describe the security challenges facing the world today --- and the ways in which we can work together to forge a more stable, peaceful world.
But first, let me take some moment to describe the global power shifts we are seeing.
The geopolitical norms we knew for decades are changing. How we adapt to them will determine the course of our future --- and that of our children.
Much has been said of the “Thucydides Trap”. To quickly recap, this warns that when new powers rise --- and alter the status quo --- the risk of conflict increases. While I believe this can be prevented, it deserves our careful attention to prevent any escalation.
It is only natural that the political order installed after the Second World War is set to change.
Asia --- and China --- are at the centre of this tectonic shift. The economic growth emanating from China, and its progressive economic policies, has been a vital factor in promoting peace, prosperity and stability in the region. We have seen remarkable improvements in global standards of living. If I could give you one vital statistic to illustrate how far we have come --- the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day has been reduced from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015, according to the United Nations.
However, many countries have signalled they are not comfortable with China's ascendance.
My experience in and out of government has taught me --- a multipolar world is better than a unipolar one. The existence of new world powers could be a source of strength for all nations.
Now, let me take some time to summarise what I see as some of the threats we collectively face as a world, which cannot be resolved with a unilateral approach.
For this discussion, I would like to highlight 5 areas where the risks we face are increasing --- and where much more needs to be done.
Firstly, let me talk about terrorism. It is clear that whatever we have been doing just is not working. Last week’s Bastille day attack in France was the latest in a series of horrific incidents across the world.
We must devise an effective strategy to overcome the threat posed by international terrorism, which has multiplied into a myriad of problems. Terrorism knows no borders, and cannot be tackled by one country alone. The recent wave of attacks has repeatedly illustrated the need for all the major world powers to work together.
We must ask ourselves, what were the intelligence failures that allow groups like ISIS to spread regionally and recruit globally? We must find who is funding these non-state actors, who is supporting and who is encouraging them.
It is important to recognize our failings --- we still have not developed a successful counter-strategy. This is something which needs global coordination, intelligence sharing and joint security and military action. We must also deal countries directly affected by these elements as well as those who may be backing them.
We must address the root causes of terrorism. Terrorism and extremism are both factors of poverty and deprivation. What do I mean when I talk about deprivation in this context? We must understand that it can manifest itself in many ways. Deprivation can be:
- Lack of income
- Lack of opportunity
- Lack of human rights
- Lack of a voice
- Lack of resolution of disputes
It is when deprivation reaches a stage where people they feel they are not heard that they can become increasingly vulnerable to being converted to extreme causes.
It is important to stress that terrorism knows no borders or religion. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance and the majority of Muslims are peace-loving people. But, increasingly, Islam is misunderstood and misrepresented in the West owing to the actions of fanatics. We must therefore challenge such a thesis --- and promote inter-civilizational harmony and understanding through dialogue and engagement.
With all this in mind --- how can we tackle the spread of extremism? There is need for building bridges, giving opportunities, jobs --- and a stake in society and its prosperity. We must address longstanding conflicts afflicting the Islamic world, such as in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Kashmir, which have caused anger and frustration among people across the world. In addition, we need to redouble our efforts to develop sophisticated intelligence sharing capabilities and cross-border coordination.
But also, we must look beyond politics --- beyond religious and ethnic prejudice and preconception --- and approach the task with humanity.
This leads me to my next point, which is that --- fundamentally --- too many countries have made the mistake of treating terrorism as a security --- or military --- matter. It is a matter of hearts and minds. It is necessary to touch the people --- not just their leaders. This would involve generating hope and promoting interfaith harmony as well as inter-civilizational and inter-cultural dialogue. It is time to resort to a more holistic and broad-based approach, which addresses the threat of terrorism along with its related effects.
Another issue we collectively face is the spread of disruptive technology. While it may not directly affect our security, its social implications --- if not managed correctly --- can have great long-term impact.
Disruptive technology affects the entire world, and, while it can lead to undoubted benefits in quality of life and efficiency of running a business, it can also bring mass unemployment as more and more work is done by machines.
On top of this, technology is being successfully used by non-state actors to recruit and communicate across the world, vastly expanding their reach --- and our response has so far been far behind.
The third serious --- and growing --- global threat stems from the technological revolution we have seen. As our world has moved online, our vulnerability to cyber attack has increased too. We must develop dedicated task forces to tackle the threat of cyber crime.
Fourthly, let us not forget that some of the biggest issues we collectively face are economic. Global powers must address the growing problem of inequality and focus on encouraging equitable growth. The collapse of world oil prices, the impact of economic shocks - most recently, of Brexit --- risk leaving millions of people worse off. If left unattended, these issues can lead to feelings of anger and resentment --- and, as we have already seen across the world, play into the hands of more radical political movements and even extremists.
Finally --- to conclude my overview of the global security threats we face --- migration has become an increasingly pressing issue. We have already seen its repercussions in Europe. Any rapid rise in migration --- whether humanitarian or economic --- requires strong, capable leadership to get the necessary buy-in of its people, as well as the ability to successfully integrate the migrants into society.
I would now like to focus on Asia. It is undeniable that Asia will be the focal point of geopolitics in the 21st century, as evidenced by the continent’s demographics, economic strength and increasing importance on the world’s political stage. The continent is already an engine of growth for the world economy --- with China fast becoming its centrifugal force.
We must recognize that the global political order installed by the Western powers after the Second World War has been changing and will continue to develop in the years to come. Asia must be properly represented, and have a seat at the table, of all global institutions.
It is natural that China’s geopolitical influence is on the ascent, in response to its growing economic stature.
Following on from this point --- China’s defence capability should rise too. This should not be a source of worry for the world. China must have the capacity to protect its interests --- and those in the region, if necessary. Sustainable peace in the region should be pursued through strength --- not weakness.
Boosting China's military capacity would also allow it to become one of the main peacekeepers to the world --- building on its leading work in the UN’s peacekeeping missions.
It is not possible to talk about global security without discussing the Middle East. The political turmoil there has been affecting people far beyond its borders.
It is time for the major world powers --- the United States, China, Europe, Russia --- to re-assess their approach to conflict. As we have seen from repeated examples in the Middle East, regime change is not the answer.
In recent history, the military interventions of the Western powers in certain countries have left dangerous power vacuums. These interventions were done with no clear exit strategy. Removing a leader --- no matter how strong the case against them it --- without having a clear and cohesive plan for the country you leave behind will not help.
In the power vacuums left behind, sectarian, ethnic and tribal divisions have been exploited by extremist elements. We have seen the troubling growth of sectarian bloodshed --- in the Levant, in the Arab world as a whole --- affecting the communities of countries across the Middle East and South Asia.
Instead, they should focus on building linkages and interdependencies, which are the true guarantors of peace in the world. This includes trade and energy cooperation, developing a framework for intra-regional cooperation, technology and intelligence sharing. At the same time, existing tensions and conflicts should not be ignored and require attention, diplomacy and leadership.
It is these economic linkages and interconnectivities that are the true drivers of peace. Trade, economic cooperation, people-to-people contact --- they will all help secure a more peaceful future.
As well as developing a new architecture for global cooperation, we must also resolve long-standing tensions and differences --- and manage any potential hot spots through careful diplomacy. This involves:
Working to diffuse tension over disputed areas, such as those in the South China Sea. Focusing on areas where diplomacy and dialogue can be developed will help establish a working relationship.
We must promote reconciliation between North Korea and South Korea. The peninsula remains a potential flashpoint, with nuclear capability.
We should strive to find a solution to the Kashmir issue, which has been languishing for decades with no solution in sight.
Overall, focusing on areas where diplomacy and dialogue can be developed will help establish a working relationship.
China has already set the tone in this respect, with its “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which seeks to build connections along old and new trade routes between Central Asia, South Asia, China, Russia and Europe. There is a great opportunity for other world powers --- the US, Russia and the European countries --- to build on its progress and focus on developing cooperation, collaboration and connectivity.
We must develop more country-to-country linkages. Pakistan has recently seen a major benefit from the ‘One Belt One Road’ policy, which includes $46 billion being deployed in Pakistan over several years. This includes infrastructure development, energy generation, and other mutually agreed projects which will lead to substantial job creation, improved infrastructure --- and a positive fallout on growth and income levels. It will be a real game-changer for Pakistan --- and the prosperity and security of the region as a whole.
In addition, I would point out that the US-China relationship which will be crucial to the 21st century. These two global powers --- along with Russia and Europe --- should find new ways to engage each other in a constructive and peaceful way, while giving sufficient space to each other.
The willingness of countries around the world to subscribe to the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank is an encouraging sign, which showed there is a space for a modern global institution to play a role. Still, the multilateral institutions created after the Second World War --- the UN Security Council, the IMF and World Bank --- require considerable reform to be effective and relevant in today’s world.
One of the challenges all major powers face will be how they navigate between two diverging new paradigms:
Firstly, the traditional paradigm of power and rivalry:
This has been witnessed through: the recent move towards building strings of alliances and consolidating old relationships; through the way countries have been redeploying their navy in the Pacific; and through increased economic rivalry.
Secondly, there isthe emerging paradigm of interdependence and common interest:
What do I mean by this? The interdependence paradigm has been gaining grass roots support in most major powers --- within civil society, business, the media, academia and in international organizations. Given the growing evidence of global challenges, and the compulsion to cooperate for survival and stability, it is possible that the 21st Century may witness a historic shift from strategic competition to global collaboration.
At the present stage of history, both paradigms coexist uneasily, as evident in the seemingly contradictory behavior of states. This is a new trend which requires close attention over the next few years.
Despite their strategic competition, all major powers have a common interest in containing and resolving the growing plethora of inter-state and intra-state conflicts that rage across Asia and the Middle East.
The present challenge for the main stakeholder nations is how to manage the current transition. Crucially, they must be able to live with each other.
This brings me to my main point about the challenges we face. The major global threats --- of terrorism, security failures, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks and natural disasters --- cannot be solved unilateraly. They all require cooperation and working together on a wider scale.
No country can today stand on its own and address these dangers. No one has an exclusive on wisdom. We need to share information. We need to coordinate our responses. We need to build a reserve of trust so that --- when crises do arise --- we can work effectively, and not run the risk of escalation through misunderstanding.
Let me conclude by taking a few moments to talk about leadership.
Today, the world suffers from a leadership deficit. While there are able leaders, there are not enough that can show forward-thinking leadership. Across the world, many politicians and decision-makers are too often preoccupied with the next election and do not take a long term strategic view.
What makes a strategic leader? They must be change-makers, not incrementalists. They must have the vision and ability to think beyond the political cycle --- even, sometimes, at their own cost.
Any reforms or ambitious initiatives, both on a domestic and multilateral level, require effective and strategic leadership to guide them. We cannot afford to spend time hesitating and slowly adapting to the new world order.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, only far-sighted, strategic leadership can truly help us manage this period of change and guide us through the security challenges we face.
Finally, let us remember that --- whoever they are and wherever they may be ---something unites us all. People want a better future for themselves and their children. It is up to the main stakeholders of the world to work together and to give them the bright future they deserve. Only then can we begin to create the conditions for a durable and lasting peace --- only then can we provide an enabling environment for development.
Cooperation --- rather than Confrontation --- should be the guiding principle in tackling complicated relationships at the regional and global levels. This is the true safeguard for peace.