Speech ”Global and Regional Perspectives – Consequences of the Geopolitical” at the Seminar Changing Security Environment – Challenges in the North, 12.4.2012, Hanasaari, Helsinki

Sometimes change is easily identified with a series of events or even a single event after which the world is not the same as it was before. One can argue that August 6th 1945 (when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima), November 9th 1989 (when the Berlin wall fell) or the 11th of September 2001 (when the Twin Towers of the WTC were attacked) are such dates.

At the same none of these events came out of the blue and, at least in retrospect, they could have been predicted on the basis of all preceding trends and events. More importantly, some of the most important world-changing trends can never be linked to a single event or date.

This applies obviously to the world mega-trend called globalization. It is important to recognize, that the consequences of a global market, the growth of multinational corporations, the internationalization of capital markets and the increasing flows of transnational financial transactions, all of which lead to a growing interdependence between countries and peoples, is not a new phenomenon. This kind of internationalization has taken place for centuries, even if it has not always progressed evenly – remember the over 30 year setback after 1914.

Nevertheless I think that it does make sense to talk about globalization as something, or at least somewhat distinct from the internationalization we have known for centuries. Already the accumulated quantitative changes in terms of trade interdependence, transnational investment and money flows have certainly transformed into qualitative change. And whereas the former forms of internationalization occurred in a pre-industrial or industrializing world, we are now living in an increasingly post-industrial world where the influence of new information and communication technology  (ICT) has in many ways changed our societies as well as the nature of  transnational exchange.

If I had to choose the most powerful factor behind the fall of the Soviet Empire and the collapse of communism I would say it was the micro-chip.

The old bogey of the power wielded by large scale corporations has also receded, as we are witnessing the emergence of truly global companies, not only in terms of their trade and production but also in terms of ownership. And even those companies who still have a clearly identified home country are progressively less able and interested in resorting to the resources of their home governments to safeguard and further their interests.

But resorting to gunboat diplomacy or other instruments of traditional power politics is no longer a viable way of furthering either company or indeed any so-called national interest. Transnational companies today, except for those directly involved in arms production or selling so-called security services, tend to abhor strife and wars, what they want is the same as most people: peace, stability and predictability to go on minding their own business. Not only are conflicts bad for business, so is having your company associated with human rights abuses or environmental irresponsibility, particularly if you have to safeguard the repution of a brand, which are increasingly vulnerable to adverse consumer reactions and NGO campaigns.

Last but not least I want to point to the decisive way in which population growth has changed the world. During my own lifetime I have seen the growth of the world’s population from 2, 3 billion people to over 7 billion today. And even if the rate or growth has started to decrease this figure will have reached at least 9 or even 10 billion before a levelling off will occur.

This has obviously had enormous consequences for the relationship between Humankind and our environment. With the accumulation of centuries of waste and pollutants into our environment we cannot even know for certain what all the consequences will be, but it is safe to assume that we cannot hope to have more than a few decades at best to change the nature of Man’s interaction with his environment to meet the requirements of socially, economically and ecologically sustainable development.

Likewise population growth has also had vast implications for how human societies – states and nations – interact and work with each other. The option of going it alone with disregard for the interests of others is no longer available. Interdependence has, for better or worse, made this impossible.

This is testified not only by climate change, the number one challenge in today’s world, but also diminishing fresh water resources, vanishing biodiversity and other environmental issues. Already it is difficult to discuss these without talking about the economy and social issues, but tomorrow we will be talking also about security – including hard military security – in connection with global environmental issues.

People of our generation grew up in a world where it was easy to think of the world as being divided into the rich North and poor South. This is still partly true but we should not overlook the fact that within a few decades hundreds of millions of  people have been lifted out of abject poverty and living in the shadow of recurring famines, particularly in China and India and elsewhere in Asia. Huge progress has also been seen in Brazil, which can point to the best results in poverty reduction the world has seen during the last decade.

This would not have been possible without taking advantage of the global markets created and opened by globalization, for which the driving force were the industrialized countries of the Western world.

         For an Ever Broader Concept of Security

It is usual today to talk with a note of concern about the rise of the new emerging countries called the BRICS and contrast this with sluggish growth, financial crises and aging populations in Europe and North America.

While we should rightly be concerned about the mostly self-inflicted problems Europe is facing, there is no cause for grudging the BRICS and other for their progress which is, after all, what we have wanted to see when we were concerned about poverty and underdevelopment in the world.

Of course this also calls for the restructuring of global governance to better reflect the realities of today’s world. Most of the present institutions for global governance were set up after World War II and continue to reflect the then prevailing balance of power in the world, which is most skewed in the composition of the UN Security Council and in the Bretton Woods institutions.

The emergence of the G 20 outside the framework of the older institutions is a recognition that global governance needs to be addressed in new fora.

The change underway is more profound than what can be explained by economics or by the theories of geopolitics. Understanding and governing the world on the basis of the Westphalian world order established with the Treaty of  Westphalen back in 1648 with national sovereignity as its foundation is no longer workable.

The interdependence nurtured by globalization, population growth and technological, demographic and environmental developments, together with ever more demanding consumer habits, are changing the world with a pace unforeseen in modern times.

A change of this magnitude has to reflect fundamentally in how security is defined and what is done to achieve it. This is centrally relevant to arguments about the relative merits and efficiency of hard and soft power.

Sustainable and secure future requires first and foremost multilaterally agreed rules and their implementation. Upholding and strengthening multilateralism and international law is now more important than ever as the global economic and political dynamics are changing.

In today’s world, existential security solutions are global. This emphasizes the role of the UN system, but stresses the need to reform the UN and improve its decision-making ability. The problems relating to the decision-making at the UN Security Council are well known, the case of Syria being a timely case in point.

Sustainable and secure future also requires the ability to share in opportunity and prosperity. European Union shows the way. Deepening integration and the enlargement process have been a historical success story in bringing peace and stability in Europe. Today, it is of strategic importance that the EU continues the enlargement process with Turkey and other candidate countries, according to the defined criteria. Other strategic tasks for the EU are maintaining and improving its capability to lead global processes by own example as well as forging closer relations with its neighbours and partners.

Without the EU, many key processes may not have started or produced results. Take for example the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, the International Criminal Court, the upholding of international efforts in the Middle East peace process, or the launching of the Doha Round at the WTO. European Union is also working to influence Iran’s decisions on the nature of its nuclear programme. These are relevant examples also because they need sustained and reinforced efforts.

                Strengthening EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy

While lack of progress in these international issues certainly cannot be blamed on EU, unfortunately we have to recognize that the leadership shown by the EU is weaker today than it has been at best and in relation to what is needed. Clarity of vision is needed on how the EU intends to make coherent use of its various instruments to advance its goals and how the EU intends to make use of the possibilities brought along with the Lisbon Treaty. Among other things, the strengthened role of the High Representative and the new European External Action Service need much more support from the member states to meet the increasing expectations.

As part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, also the Common Security and Defence Policy of the EU needs to be strengthened in a way that is commensurate with the challenges of our time. 

While military build-up and the use of armed force as means to political ends are extant in the global security environment, growing interdependence has come to truly govern international relations. Issues and solutions are increasingly other than military, and in democracies, this is gradually changing expectations of citizens towards their representatives and policy-makers.

Although the need for territorial defence has not disappeared for Europe, the EU and NATO both assess the threat of a conventional attack as low. Among security challenges that are assessed as growing in importance are proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction; regional conflicts; failing states; terrorism; extremism; cross border crime; cyber attacks and threats to communication, transport and transit routes. 

As security problems continuously grow more diverse, less visible and less predictable, tackling them effectively necessitates increased international co-operation. This has to be taken into account also in national defence planning and in civil emergency planning. Civil-military co-operation needs strengthening both home and internationally. And as the importance of international crisis management, international interoperability and security of supply continue to grow, we need proportionately more attention to be paid to these areas of work. Capabilities for receiving and providing international assistance are needed in each European country, regardless of, and without prejudice to, the choice of the national defence solution.

In this situation, defence forces in Europe face a double challenge: growing budgetary pressures ad adaptation to the changing security environment with requirements growing in some areas of work.

To facilitate this situation, national defence forces should increase multinational development of capabilities, or  ”pooling and sharing”. More efficient ways of building European capabilities need to be identified and encouraged. 

This will require a systematic way of co-operating on the long-term basis, which brings up the issue of multinational solutions requiring a high level of trust. Nordic countries are a close community capable of such co-operation, along with the wider international frameworks provided by the EU and NATO.

      Strengthening the stability in Europe through wide co-operation

The security environment in Europe is conducive to deepening and widening co-operation. Work done in different organizations, groups and processes should be mutually reinforcing and complementary.

Europe has a well-functioning security architecture with the EU, OSCE, Council of Europe, NATO and the various partnership and cooperation arrangements, notably with Russia.

There are also valuable possibilities for contributions in the Nordic-Baltic Co-operation, Council of the Baltic Sea States, EU’s Northern Dimension and the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM).

For Europe and the Nordic area, developments in Russia are an important factor. It is of crucial importance that the situation in Russia remains stable and the democratic reform process continues along with strenghtening the rule-of-law. Without this Russia’s leaders cannot expect to achieve their goal of modernization.   

As interdependence between the EU and Russia continues to grow, one of the top priorities in these  relations is to get forward in the negotiations on a New Agreement. A comprehensive framework for is needed for EU-Russia co-operation in all sectors, with special attention to the implementation of Russia’s WTO commitments

                       Adding value with Nordic contributions

In conclusion I will also say some words on Nordic cooperation which in my opinion is again gaining in relevance.

Nordic countries are strong contributors to international security, pulling well over their weight. There is an international demand for them to keep up the work and continuously look for possibilities where they can make a difference. 

In the broad global and European context, the Nordic model of a welfare state is equally relevant today as it was in the 20th century. It is based on combining economic competitiveness and ability to reform with stability, equality and social well-being, which has led to all five Nordic countries to be found in the top ten of most international beauty contest measuring lack of corruption, competitiveness, educational achievement, environmental responsibility or even happiness.

Nordic countries also have long and successful traditions of staunch supporters of multilateralism and active contributors in the UN system, including their contributions to UN peace keeping and crisis management which held in high esteem by all concerned.  Finland as a candidate for a seat at the Security Council for 2013-2014 needs to be ready to consider how we can increase our support to UN-led operations, in addition to the participation decision that has already been made regarding the UNIFIL.

In the work for international peace and security, Nordic countries have certain areas of world-class expertise due to their model of society. Examples include cyber security, peace mediation, comprehensive approach to crisis management and promoting gender equality also in the context on international peace and security.

Nordic countries also have a lot to contribute to the various questions relating to the increasingly important Arctic and Northern areas, where we are dealing with both huge economic opportunities as well as ecological challenges. The contractual framework for Arctic cooperation has to be updated to ensure that any disputes will be dealt with in a rules-based multilateral framework, the agreement between Norway and Russia showing an example to follow.   

Foreign and security policy in the Nordic countries has been based on pragmatism; on values but not ideologies; and on openness to international co-operation. This has been successful and could well be replicated in the wider European level and globally.