Puheenvuoro Global governance: Problems and Prospects -symposiumissa, Helsinki, 1.6.2006

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to open this symposium that has been organized on the occasion of the establishment of the Centre of Excellence in Global Governance at the University of Helsinki.

We live in a world that is getting smaller in terms of how we define the burning issues and how we see the possible solutions. The threats and challenges we face are increasingly often of a global nature. The European Security Strategy of 2003 mentioned terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts, failed states and organised crime as threats to Europe and, at the same time, as threats that are increasingly global and interconnected in nature. The UN Summit of 2005 acknowledged the interdependence between security, development and human rights. This understanding can now be seen as a part of the acquis of the UN reform efforts.

The world has shrunk before. The 20th century lived through two world wars, the nineteenth century saw the peak of colonialism. Living in the first decade of the 21st century we have taken an unprecedented step in acknowledging that none of the new challenges can be solved by national might alone, however big the national ambitions. This may be evident for small countries, which often have been in the forefront when it comes to compliance with and implementation of international norms and obligations. The UN Summit, however, reflected a general consensus on the existence of a situation where no single nation can efficiently deal with global challenges such as the eradication of poverty, pandemics, natural disasters, the proliferation of WMD and global terrorism. Effective multilateralism and greater efforts to bring about a rules-based international order are necessary to achieve progress in countering global threats.

International terrorism is a paramount example of the new threats. The terrorist attacks directed against the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, claimed a larger number of victims than any other single terrorist operation in history. The unprecedented scale of the destruction made it possible for the international community to equate the strikes with an armed attack in the meaning of the UN Charter. The largest and best-known of the new kind of terrorist structures, Al Qaeda, reportedly operates in more than 60 countries. Compared to the “first generation” of international terrorists that emerged in the 1970´s, it is the first truly multinational terrorist structure in the history.

While also ”counterterrorism has gone global”, to quote the first chairman of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorist Committee, Sir Jeremy Greenstock of the UK, and has received unprecedented support with all UN member states reporting to the Committee on their national measures to implement the UNSC resolutions, it is clear that much work remains to be done before all states are in compliance with their international obligations. An elaborate legal framework to combat terrorism is in place in the form of the thirteen UN Conventions and Protocols to combat terrorism, three of which were completely renewed last year. Universal ratification and full implementation of these instruments is a key to the effectiveness of international cooperation to bring terrorist offenders to justice.  Technical assistance to strengthen the legislative and administrative capacity of states to combat terrorism is a new area of international coordination and cooperation, both among individual donors and among international and regional organisations.

International terrorism is also an example of the interconnectedness of the threats to peace, security and well-being of the world today. Regional conflicts, bad governance, state failure and real and perceived humiliation of disadvantaged groups are generally recognized as factors that may provide breeding ground for recruitment into terrorism. Efforts to resolve conflicts and to promote good governance, in addition to developing state capacity to prevent terrorism, are therefore at the heart of a sustainable long-term strategy to fight terrorism. Equally important is to broaden our understanding of the factors and conditions that are conducive to violent extremism. The Strategy to combat Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism that was adopted by the EUI Council in December 2005 is a step in that direction.

Another large issue that underlines the importance of global governance is the increasing demand for natural scarce resources, such as clean water and oil. While resource wealth can also lead to conflicts, the problems related to, in particular, the scarcity of the vital resource of clean water can be expected to give rise to disputes in the future. It is therefore necessary to find ways to manage natural resources effectively and sustainably in a just manner. Attention should be paid to the management of natural resources especially in countries that are at risk of conflict. Moreover, specific problems arise in regard to the natural resources that are located in the territories of two or more neighbouring states, such as groundwater resources that cross territorial borders.

How can we act to prevent or at least to reduce the number of such conflicts and to develop mechanisms to resolve them? It is difficult to offer one viable resolution to so many different local questions. International arrangements should therefore be flexible enough to allow necessary adjustments at the regional level so that the local characteristics can be taken into account. International instruments should aim at encouraging states to develop regional solutions and to build up mechanisms to manage natural resources effectively and sustainably.

Violent conflicts pose a serious challenge to development, human rights and global governance. Most armed conflicts have emerged from instability and violence within States rather than from inter-state friction. Widespread and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been prevalent. Large-scale violations of rules protecting civilian populations are typical in situations where the state’s judicial system and central institutions are not capable to work, of where they may themselves be party to human rights violations under the guise of defending the state against terrorism. The existing human rights law is not well equipped to handle such situations. Essentially based on the rules concerning state responsibility, the protection of human rights become diffuse in failed state situations where it is not always clear how the responsibility may be enforced. The protection of civilians and the enforcement of the rules of international humanitarian law has become a main concern to the international community. The UN Summit of 2005 recognized, for the first time, that the international community has a shared responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Internationalisation of criminal law has been a major development during the past decade. Just as the codification of international humanitarian law – and the creation of the United Nations itself – took place in the wake of the horrors of the Second World War, the devastating civil wars during the last decade have sensitivised the international community to the need to strengthen human security and to advance the rule of law. It has been recognized that there are crimes of concern to the international community as a whole and that there needs to be accountability for such crimes.

The establishment of the International Criminal Court is an example of a development that some have called ”the legalization of international relations”. While that particular term may be too ambitious, it is appropriate to speak of a gradual strengthening of the rule of law in international relations. International criminal law has been in the forefront of such a development. The Rome Statute of the ICC was adopted in 1998, it entered into force four years later, and since 2003, the Court has become fully operational. Four situations are under the Court´s consideration, the first arrest warrants have been issued, the first preliminary proceedings have begun, and the first suspect has been arrested. The referral by the UN Security Council of the Darfur situation to the ICC last year was a landmark in the integration of the ICC in the system of collective security and recognition of the contribution it can make to the maintenance of peace and security.

The International Criminal Court is filling a void in the system of international criminal law in the sense that it complements national courts when they fail to act. At the same time, and as an instance of last resort, the ICC encourages States to fulfill their obligations to bring to justice those responsible for atrocities.  In that way the ICC will strengthen the culture of accountability also indirectly leaving less safe havens for the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Let me mention in this context that the process of reviewing the provisions of the Penal Code so as to bring them into accordance with the ICC Statute is underway in Finland. 

There are many challenges related to the Court´s quest for universality – with one hundred ratifications the glass is only half full. A critical factor affecting the ability of the ICC to function effectively is state cooperation which is threatened by the recent emergence of a network of bilateral agreements prohibiting the surrender of the other party’s nationals to the Court. The Secretary-General of the UN has emphasized the expansion of the rule of law as the foundation of much of the social progress achieved in the past. He has also, very rightly, pointed out that much remains to be done to effectively establish the rule of law in international relations. To be effective, international law cannot rely on à la carte application. Commonly agreed rules must apply to all States. While deviation from the rules may serve national interests of States in the short term, it creates uncertainty and may undermine the legal standards on which multilateral cooperation relies.

A global approach does not, however, mean that there should always be comprehensive solutions; a panacea for all problems does not exist. Sectorial strategies and methods as well as issue-specific, even situation-specific rules are needed, but they should not be compartmentalized or undermine each other. Concern has been raised about the possibility that the sheer increase in the number of international legal instruments, or international adjudicative bodies with overlapping scopes and competences could lead to fragmentation of international law. This question has been extensively discussed by the UN International Law Commission, under the lead of Professor Martti Koskenniemi. He has held, on the one hand, that it is impossible in a globalizing world to do away with such normative conflicts altogether. On the other hand, specific rules must always be seen in the wider framework of general international law which is not a random collection of directives but a purposive system that can provide means for solving the conflicts.

My final comment on the challenges to global governance relates to the actors. Rule of law in international relations can only come about through the strengthening of multilateral institutions. However, governments, international organizations and donors are not the only relevant actors. Non-governmental organizations and business communities also have a role in combating resource scarcity, insecurity and inhumanity. It is quite telling that even the UN Secretary General´s new report on recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy contains an appeal to the civil society to join forces with the UN and its member states to dissuade disaffected groups from choosing or supporting terrorism as a tactic. 

Before concluding, I would like to say a few words of the particular project we have been invited to ”kick off”. The Centre of Excellency programmes in Finland are coordinated by the Academy of Finland which has defined their aims as follows: ”The national centre of excellence policy is aimed at raising the goals and quality standards of Finnish research and increasing its international competitiveness and exposure and the esteem of research.” Furthermore, ”[u]nits appointed to the programme are research and researcher training units that consist of one or more high-profile research groups that are either at or very close to international cutting edge in their own field of expertise.” It has been a timely and well-deserved decision to appoint a Centre of Excellence dedicated to research in international relations and international law.

Six different research areas have been identified for the Centre: 1) global political economy, 2) regulation and reform of world trade, 3) the internationalization of criminal law, 4) the reconceptualization of human rights, 5) non-state actors and authority, and 6) the limits of international law and the legitimacy of global governance. All these areas are equally relevant for the threats and challenges I referred to, and it may be expected that the different teams can benefit from each other’s work.

The Centre of Excellence in Global Governance Research incorporates three disciplines: international politics, international law and social anthropology. It promises to take a broad view on globalisation and questions of global governance making use of the perspectives of the different disciplines and seeking to integrate them in an innovative way. It also aims at broad co-operation with both international and national networks and political decision-makers. All this should be commended. The interdisciplinary approach as well as the open-minded search for dialogue with a broad range of actors involved in designing and implementing forms of global governance, or analyzing and testing the merits of different solutions is a good point of departure for successful research on research areas that are of such breadth and complexity as those I just mentioned.

One of the key objectives of the establishment of centres of excellence within the academic world has been to promote interdisciplinary research. When research programmes are composed of a number of closely related projects working in the same field of research, centres of excellence strive for greater exchange between different disciplines. Their goal can be to address a certain research area from the point of view of different disciplines which complement each other, or to aim at further integration so as to be able to raise questions from within the methods and the theoretical framework of one discipline to be answered by another, or even to create a joint theoretical frame. Even if the research problems are defined in terms of a single discipline, it is important to be able to see the interconnected nature of the global processes that are being analysed.

With these words I would like to open the symposium. I wish every success to the new Centre of Excellence in Global Governance Research, and hope you will have fruitful discussions today and tomorrow.

Thank you