The world order insecurity and the call for reforms: Africa’s position

Manifestations of conflicts remains a threat that is perilous and virulent to International peace and security as it continues to cause fear, insecurities and uncertainties in the global peace and security. Thomas Hobbes and Niccolo Machiavelli argue that conflicts are mainly a result of competition for power.

By Tovimba Dube, University of Zimbabwe student

The English School Theory (EST) as enunciated by an academic Barry Buzan envisaged that power politics in the international system is the cause of conflict and insecurity. The EST also discovered the international society as conceived by Hugo Degroot (Grotius) on the pretext of institutionalization of shared norms and identities where aspects like democracy and security are adopted.

The moral view in pursuit of order and justice in international society is through tolerating institutions like diplomacy, international law and sovereignty in an endeavor to sustain social solidarity.

The EST further discovered that the world society where actors like individuals (or global populace) and the non-states (NGOs) through the lens of philosopher Immanuel Kant where aspects of revolutionism and cosmopolitanism influence the universal change.

The EST if combined with the ideals of Kenneth Waltz and Susan Strange can help in analyzing the world order insecurity. Kenneth emphasized the need for cross sectional levels of analysis of actors while Susan suggests the power structures in international political economy. A theoretical framework to determine Africa’s position will be guided by the Decoloniality school of thought on tenets like power, knowledge and being.

The United States of America (USA) emerged from World War II (WWII) a hegemony in both military (the hard power) and economic (the soft power) spheres of influence in the crafting of the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The birth of the UNSC organ and the BWIs that is the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) marked the contemporary world order. The ‘international system’, ‘international society’ or ‘world society’ is what makes the world order.

The BWIs were created to solve the international payments system and assist in reconstructing Europe. The UN replaced the League of Nations that had failed to prevent WWII.

Multilateral action is needed to ensure lasting reforms are adopted. In support of Susan Strange’s power structures in international political economy the UNSC (the security structure) and the BWIs (the finance structure) in the contemporary world order seem an extension of US policy. The tariff battles across the globe are a threat to international peace and security.

The China – US trade wars where by each respective state threatens the other to impose higher trade tariff, a sign of economic insecurity and the world order insecurity.

The US unilateral surgical bombings in Iraq and Libya in violation of article 2(4) of the UN Charter a sign that the global security structure need be reformed.

The Crimean war adventure by Russia is also evidence that new actors must be represented in the Security Council not just the Permanent Five (China, Russia, France, Britain and the USA). As highlighted by the EST’s international system (a system of states), the international society (institutions tolerance) and the world society (evolutionary) I believe states must cooperate in goodwill of the humanity and the cosmos.

The US foreign policy machinations in pursuit of its doctrines while flouting international norms, the greatest world order insecurity. America has no permanent friends or enemies but only interests as revealed by an American diplomat Henry Kissinger.

The Monroe doctrine plunged the US in numerous Latin America interventions which was a threat to international Peace and Security. The US Containment doctrine brought the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Bush doctrine on the war on terror perpetuated the US unilateralism to another level.

Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) was a sign that nuclear deterrence help in the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), however the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in the hands of many actors like North Korea and Iran a world order insecurity that warrant reforms.

The proxy wars by both the US and Russia in Vietnam, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan and Cambodia were threats to international peace and security. The US interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya as was revealed by some scholars it was in pursuit of oil interests. Killing people for the sake of siphoning oil hence an illicit blood oil trade.

Conflicts in Niger Delta, Nigeria, Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic republic of Congo are about resources. The issue of blood diamonds and blood oil an insecurity and threat to world order. The manifestations of conflicts like the Korean War (1950 -1953), the Cold war (1947 – 1990), Iraq invades Kuwait (1990), Humanitarian crisis in Somalia (1992), Genocide in Rwanda (1994), NATO invades Kosovo (1999), Terrorists attack Twin towers in New York and Pentagon (2001), and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) uprisings (2010 -2012) an indicative of insecurity.

Basing on Susan Strange’s four (4) International Political Economy (IPE) structures that is the trade, finance, security and knowledge, states preserve or change the rules of the structure depending on their interests and values. From a closer analysis, some people may argue that whose trade is the trade, whose finance is the finance, whose security is the security and whose knowledge is the knowledge.

Those at the center of power benefit most whilst those at the periphery of power suffer. The global North is at the center of power controls the rules of the game in the contemporary world order and the global South is at the periphery of power. It should be noted that the call for reforms emanate from the marginalized periphery.

The world trade order insecurity mainly come from issues like the free market trade policies and the protectionist trade barriers by states. In the context of international trade norms, the interests of those at the center of the trade structure and those at the periphery tend to conflict and determine the world order insecurity.

The China-US trade wars, a sign of the world order trade insecurity. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is under pressure from various interest groups, the illicit global economy like smuggling, illicit arms trade and drug trafficking which determine the world trade insecurity. Some scholars may argue that whose trade is the trade, the ballooning number of states under US trade sanctions should not be viewed from a myopic point of view.

The world finance order insecurity emanates from issues like the global financial crisis whereby the un-deregulated financial markets resulted in the global financial crisis as in the 1990s and 2007-8. The hard or soft currency determines who has access to money and on what terms.

Those owning the hard currency (like the US dollar, the Chinese Yuan and the Euro) are at the center of the finance structure while those owning the soft currency (like the Zambian Kwacha, Botswana Pula and the Zimbabwe dollar) are at the periphery of the finance structure. In case of global financial crisis the hardest hit are the marginalized in the world order.

In 2009 China, France, Russia and Japan proposed moving away from the US dollar to a basket of currencies and gold though the US dollar remains the reserve currency. The world insecurity as supported by the Power Transition Theory (PTT), Steve Chan posits that a threat to international peace and security is likely to occur if a revisionist power contender is not satisfied by the world order rules.

The world security order insecurity has been escalated by threats and actions of other states and non-state (like terrorism) actors. Security is the basic need of all-encompassing the security of persons, states and international organisations.

The insecurity has been witnessed through the use of force by states like Russia and the USA which by accident or design ignored the powers of the UN Security Council intervening in the affairs other states. Some scholars believe that the feel of insecurity by states like Iran and North Korea caused them to possess nuclear weapons as deterrent tool against aggressors. The proliferation of WMD in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) a world order security threat.

International terrorism and the war on terror is threatening the world order survival. Cyberwarfare through attacks on ICT systems and infrastructure a threat to international peace and security for example the alleged Russian interference in 2016 US presidential elections. Some scholars may argue that whose security is the security, the Permanent five (P5) members of the UNSC can flout without fear.

The 4th industrial revolution has seen technology shaping the world in many sectors, bargains in security, trade and finance depends on Information and Technology Communication (ICT) knowledge, the knowledge structure as purported by Susan Strange.

The world order insecurity through knowledge has seen the increase in Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), guided missiles (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles). It should be noted that technologies of globalisation that drive the 4th industrial revolution include computerisation, satellite communication, fibre optics and the internet.

In the context of Information Society, ICT is the information highway and is utilised to improve people’s lives and work. The disparity between the global North and global South is marked by the gap called the digital divide separating center and periphery of power.

Some scholars may argue that whose knowledge is the knowledge, the ‘Internet Age’ was marked by the US military ARPANET project in 1969. As posited by the 2012 World Economic Forum (WEF) the Sub-Saharan Africa was not ready to embrace e-skills due to poverty many had no internet access.

The problem with Africa is that it lacks the capacity to enforce its policies. Africa has to reposition itself in the trajectories of dependency on the global North and that of lack of ideology. As put forward by the dependency theory 3rd world countries became impoverished through colonial domination and were forced in the world (system) economy. Despite ideologies like the Pan-Africanism (Nkwame Nkrumah), African Socialism (Julius Nyerere), African Humanism (Kenneth Kaunda) and Scientific Socialism (Robert Mugabe), Africa seem crawling for clear cut policies on the international arena.

At least there is hope, Thabo Mbeki’s African Renaissance envisaged. Lack of policy direction an insecurity.

The African Union (AU)’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as revealed by the ambassador of Lesotho in the Nordic countries Thekiso Khati, African leaders have realized that social, economic, political and security agendas must be determined by Africans. NEPAD encourages conflict resolution on conflict hot spots, basing on UN’s millennium goals Africa is appealing for debt cancellation by BWIs the IMF and the WB in order to eradicate poverty on the continent.

The unilateral surgical bombing of Libya by the USA is a constant reminder that the UNSC need be reformed. Africa is calling for BWIs’ reforms since they are a burden and the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) the basis for debt crisis. In the context of international trade through the WTO, Africa is calling trade barriers removal and encouragement of sale of manufactured goods instead of raw materials which is a massacre on African economies dating back to the Triangle trade. NEPAD also encourages good governance, an end to foreign aid mentality, and corruption.

The Decoloniality school of thought by scholars like Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni and Anibal Quijano point coloniality as the primary cause of global injustices under the contemporary world order. Decoloniality encourages a reasoning shift in geography and biography. Through coloniality of power Africans have lost control over issues like the means of production.

If Africans do not own the means of production they are insecure. Coloniality of knowledge, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni call it theft of history in which Eurocentric, Scientific and Intellectual exploitation are then used by those at the center of power.

On the aspect of coloniality of being the inherited systems also inherited the inferiority complex dating back from slavery and slave trade era. Reforming the BWIs and the UNSC is considered shallow by the Decoloniality school of thought if the global South (Africa) does not reform itselves in the context of power, being and knowledge. Africa is calling for reforms in the interest of international peace and security.