Speech at the Ambassador Jaakko Iloniemi¡¯s 80th Anniversary Conference EUROPE AND GLOBAL CHALLENGES, 8.6.2012, Finlandia Hall

When Jaakko Iloniemi was born in 1932 the world¡¯s population was 2 billion. When I was born in 1946 it was 2,3 billion. When Iloniemi entered the diplomatic service in 1961 it was 3 and when he retired in 1999 it was 6. Today it stands at over 7 billion. This figure will grow to 9 or even 10 billion before reaching its peak.

Many of you will have heard me quote these figures before. You will also no doubt hear me repeat them in the future too, because to my mind, this population growth is the single most important factor for understanding how the world has irrevocably changed.

Historians, economists, politicians and diplomats can tell us how we have managed, or mismanaged as the case might be, our affairs in a world inhabited by a few hundred million or even a couple of billion people, but no-one can tell us how we have done it in a world of seven billion people.

Population growth has had and will have profound consequences for mankind. Most obviously this is crucial for how we arrange our existence with our natural environment.

In only a few hundred years time, since the beginning of the industrial revolution, we have developed even more efficient and wondrous ways of extracting natural resources, transforming them into products for our use and in doing so have let ever growing amounts of waste, emissions and poisons into our environment. It is only relatively recently that we have become aware that the way we have used and depleted natural resources has been unsustainable.

The undeniable advance of global warming and climate change has been the most striking wake-up call for us. We know that even the international community¡¯s stated goal of limiting global warming to 2¢ªC on average will not be achieved. With the accelerating loss of biodiversity and other ongoing changes we may, at best, have only a few decades time to reach ecologically, socially and economically sustainable development.

No-one can be certain that we can do this, or even if it is possible at all. We may be able to estimate this with slightly less uncertainty in three weeks time when we know what results, if any, the Rio+20 Conference has given us.

Population growth and globalization are the driving factors for why we are living in an increasingly interdependent world, in things both good and bad. This interdependence is a fact that no country, be it a super power with nuclear weapons or a small island micro-state, can escape irrespective of its desires.

Interdependence in a world of 7 billion people has profoundly changed the way that states and nations have to act with each other. The Westphalian world order which was created with the Treaty of Westphalen in 1648 and was based on sovereign rulers and later on sovereign states as the sole and sovereign actors in world politics, was never as determinant as it was made out to be, but the concept of unlimited sovereignty became already in the 20th century increasingly outdated.

In parallel we have also seen how traditional power politics has become increasingly unworkable. Leaving aside all moral and ethical considerations, threatening with and using military force can have been a workable instrument with which countries could further their national interest at the cost of other countries, even for relatively long periods, but this is no longer the case.

It is tempting to think that only Great Powers have resorted to power politics, but this is not true. Smaller nations cannot claim any moral superiority in this respect, for even if they have less frequently initiated the use of force it is mostly due to the fact that they have had fewer opportunities to do so. In the run-up to the Second World War many Central and East-European small countries were happy to participate in carving up their less fortunate neighbours, before their own turn came to be swallowed by stronger dictators.

The increasing irrelevance of power politics today is due to many reasons. To begin with weapons of mass destruction and the arrival of the nuclear age after Hiroshima have changed the nature of war and power politics. WMD may at best be useful tools for exerting your influence – bullying others – but only as long as they are not used. Even traditional conventional warfare has changed so that the military are better protected than civilians in today¡¯s conflicts. The vast majority of casualties in World War I were soldiers in uniform, in today¡¯s world they are almost all civilians. In former times war was about gaining land, resources and subjugating conquered peoples. Today conquering land and raw material sources and using slave labour may actually be counterproductive and will not in any case bring lasting welfare benefits comparable to those that open borders, peaceful cooperation and free markets can do.

We should also remember that two countries which had the most spectacular recovery and economic success after the Second World War were Germany and Japan, the two losers who were prevented by the winners from squandering their resources on arms.

As clear as the irrelevance of or at least the limits of power politics as a means for furthering your national interest or achieving welfare gains has become, it is not however recognized by everyone. There are still too many would-be emperors and believers in the sword around. No-one can therefore ignore the possibility that power politics can still attract some users and that we have to be prepared for such a possibility and even keep some sort of deterrence against it, even if resorting to armed attack has become much more unlikely to be used in any kind of traditional wars.

Meanwhile new threats to human security have become more visible and likely. I need not dwell on these as they are well-known and acknowledged. It must, however, be stressed that while military force may sometimes be necessary in confronting some of these threats, it is never alone sufficient or effective in dealing with them. On the contrary: dealing with new threats to security in an interdependent world calls for a wide variety of very different instruments for conflict prevention, civilian crisis management, human rights, rule-of-law, poverty reduction, women¡¯s rights and empowerment etc., and for using these in global multilateral cooperation.

Security is not only – or even primarily – about dealing with threats. It is about fostering a rules based international system, strengthening of international law, and building of international cooperation. It is about constructing and strengthening the conditions in which people can live their lives without insecurity, fear and the need for continuously looking over their shoulders. It is important to stress this positive security agenda in light of the post 9/11 tendency to ¡°securitize¡± almost all aspects of foreign policy in many countries.

So where does all this leave Finland? For some people the answer is, right where we have always been, i.e. next door to Russia. For them this is both the beginning and the end of Finland¡¯s foreign and security policy, and the rest is merely icing on the cake.

For reasons I have tried to present earlier this thinking is anchored in a past world that no longer exists. But the fact that this thinking still exists means that we cannot completely ignore it and that it will inevitably be reflected in our foreign policy as well, sometimes leaving us open to charges of inconsistency in our policies and difficulties in interpreting them.

Take, for example, the Nato question. Here we can employ the fourfold table much beloved by sociologists.



I will not attempt to fill in the squares, which everyone here can do for themselves. I will only note that there will be here and in the public at large enough variety to fill every square.

If Finnish foreign and security policy is to be based on consensus, which has been the case and which should continue be cherished, it has to accommodate people in all the squares. Even those who support membership in Nato have been accomodated to the extent that, even if membership or preparations for membership are excluded for the foreseeable future, the option to reconsider this remains available. This is what we have written in previous Finnish Security and Defence Policy reviews and I expect will be written into the next review as well.

For us cooperation with Nato is a pragmatic question and certainly not something that could threaten anyone else. We decide ourselves on where we want to cooperate, based on our own interests, but also with the aim of retaining our attractiveness as a cooperating partner.  Crisis management is the most important case in point.

It is easy to predict, that anything and everything that will be said or written about Finland and Nato will also in this context always be subjected to a political breathalyzer test by two groups of people with totally opposing views on whether Finland should join Nato. They will always want to interpret all events and statements in view of their own hopes or fears as a move in a grand game designed to make Finland a member of the military alliance.
Meanwhile some important real changes and developments are taking place, which will be reflected in the coming Policy review, namely a closer defence cooperation in the European Union and even more so between the Nordic countries. There is a strong desire in the EU to move further in developing Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), also supported by Finland, but which in reality refers mostly to crisis management as no-one, particularly Nato-member states, entertains the idea that the EU could, in the foreseeable future, replace Nato as the source of hard security for their country, so long as the concept of hard defence based on a nuclear deterrent is not recognized as obsolete.
Nordic cooperation is about crisis management, but also about developing general defence capabilities with cooperation in training, procurement, exercises, surveillance and the like. An obvious motive is the necessity to achieve more cost-efficiency and savings, but it has also been enhanced by developments which have removed most of any political reservations for developing  defence cooperation between the Nordic countries. We are not aiming at any new comprehensive treaties, let alone any Nordic military alliance, but will develop this on a very pragmatic and non-dogmatic basis.

All issues of traditional security have to be adequately and credibly dealt with in our Security and Defence review. However, the real challenges will be in how we deal with all the truly global challenges to security in today’s interdependent world. Here, too, Nordic cooperation and the Nordic Model will have an important role to play.