The United Nations building in New York. (Credit: palinchak/Bigstock)
The United Nations building in New York. (Credit: palinchak/Bigstock) (via: bit.ly)

From its very beginning, the system of collective security established under the United Nations Charter has been dysfunctional.

In the post-World War Two era, global consequences of this systemic failure were mitigated due to the bipolar balance of power that implied mutual deterrence. Under circumstances of unipolarity, however, the statutory privilege of the five permanent members of the Security Council has made the reality of power politics painfully obvious: namely, that enforceable legal constraints on the use of force only exist for the actions of the Council’s non-permanent members, provided the permanent members agree.

This statutory framework cannot be qualified as a system of ‘collective’ security. Unilateral uses of force – since the end of the Cold War – by the world’s most powerful actor (and its allies), with devastating consequences for regional and international security, are ample proof of this.

The security architecture at the global level must not be seen in a vacuum. It is not unenforceable legal norms (such as a general ban on the use of force) but an effective balance of power that is crucial for peace among sovereign states. Too much is at stake in the nuclear era. In a situation where the threat of nuclear activity by an otherwise weak state, fearing for its survival, can offset the entire geopolitical balance, the community of nations must undertake credible efforts towards solving disputes in regions (e.g., the Middle East, South or East Asia) where nuclear weapons may be seen as insurance for national survival.

The security architecture of the future must, therefore, be based on effective regional arrangements, alleviating the security concerns of smaller states, and on a multipolar balance of power among the global regions.

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Hans Koechler

Gründer und Präsident der International Progress Organization (IPO),

Dr. Hans Köchler ist Professor an der Universität Innsbruck (Österreich), wo er die Fachbereiche politische Philosophie und Philosophische Anthropologie leitet. Er ist Gründer und Präsident der International Progress Organization (IPO), einer NGO mit Konsultativstatus bei den Vereinten Nationen und Mitglied des internationalen Koordinationskomitees des World Public Forum „Dialogue of Civilizations“. Dr. Köchler ist Autor und Herausgeber zahlreicher Artikel und Bücher, darunter: Democracy and the International Rule of Law; Global Justice or Global Revenge? International Criminal Justice at the Crossroads; World Order: Vision and Reality. Er ist Herausgeber der Reihe „Studies in International Relations“ und Redaktionsmitglied verschiedener Fachzeitschriften, z. B. „Wisdom and Philosophy“ (Teheran) und „Journal of Politics“ (Indien). Im Jahr 2000 wurde er von UN-Generalsekretär Kofi Annan als internationaler Beobachter an den schottischen Gerichtshof in die Niederlande berufen (Lockerbie-Prozess). Dr. Köchler wurde vielfach ausgezeichnet und geehrt, so erhielt er Ehrendoktorwürden der Mindanao State University (Philippinen) und der Armenian State Pedagogical University (Armenien) und eine Honorarprofessur der Pamukkale-Universität (Türkei).