Building Global Security
   ·   01 Apr, 2012   ·   117    ·    Special Report

Text of the Keynote Address, delivered during the IPCS-KAS led Indo-German Dialogue titled Building Global Security
Building Global Security
Mr Ranjan Mathai Foreign Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India


Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I would like to thank the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Institute Of Peace and Conflict Studies for the opportunity to address this distinguished gathering in New Delhi. This event brings together two well known and reputed think tanks from India and Germany. The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) has been making a valuable contribution through its research on nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, and other related subjects ever since it was set up in 1996. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung provides a platform for study of peace and security in the world. Through its very name KAS reminds us of the great achievements of this Chancellor of West Germany from 1949 to 1963, “Der Alte”, as he came to be known, led Germany through a period of transformation at the end of which it emerged not just as an industrial giant but as a democracy, with stability, the respect of the international community and a growing impact on world affairs as the axis of a new Europe. When he started Germany was not only divided between the East and West but with occupation zones – within the Western Zone. Here it was said jokingly that “US got the scenery, France got the wine and British got the ruins” When Der Alte finished Germany had got the scenery and wine back, while the British were pondering the ruins of staying out of the ECM.

2. This collaboration gains significance, as India and Germany are celebrating the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations in 2011-2012.  India and Germany have had an instinctive feeling of respect for each other – through ties of culture, trade & technology and travels and diplomacy. Just think of Max Mueller. (Or as Mr. Chandran told us we should remember also Wassmuss and others who rattled the railings of the British Empire.) After the Second World War, India was among the first nations to recognize the newly formed state of Germany. Diplomatic relations were established with Germany as early as in 1951, but the Cold war politics pervading the globe, complicated the growth of relations between the two countries.  Nonetheless, the two countries signed the Indo-German Development Co-operation Agreement some fifty years back, and the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce which remains a successful model, added to the pace for Indo-German industrial co-operation. The scenario changed more rapidly as the 1991 economic reforms undertaken by India coincided with the unification of Germany and the emergence of the European Union. This has helped to deepen and expand our relations with newer possibilities of interaction through political and strategic consultations and in the spheres of long term investments, bilateral trade and technical and scientific co-operation. The Agenda for German-Indian Partnership in the 21st Century was adopted by the Foreign Ministers of the two countries in May 2000. India and Germany entered the phase of strategic partnership in 2001. Germany has become India’s largest trading partner in Europe and the 5th biggest trading partner in the world with  $ 18.37 billion in trade (though this level is below the potential). It also stands as India’s second largest technology partner.  You have heard about Germany’s constructive role in helping India move towards participation in the NSG and our move away from technology denial.

3. The current range of issues in Indo-German dialogue reflects in a sense the theme given to me today – Building Global Security. We are members together in the G-20  and look to German leadership in resolving the Eurozone crisis. We are in the G-4 as aspirants for UNSC permanent membership, we speak about terrorism and piracy, we plan together to facilitate investments, development of hi-tech, energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and so on. There is great pragmatism in the theme chosen by Germany for the year of German celebration viz. “Urban Spaces”, which is particularly relevant for a rapidly urbanising India. We will respond with a mix of cultural and technological presentations in the “Days of India” which will be formally launched in Hamburg where India has been chosen as the Partner Country for the 823rd birthday celebrations of Hamburg Port. Successful transfer of German skills for Industrial Training Institutes would enhance our relations and I believe add to not only our economy but to our security.

Global Security

4. What do we mean by Security? As a concept security implies freedom from apprehension, anxiety, or care. It leads to confidence of safety and hence, assurance and certainty. Security is the much- valued product of freedom. These are all psychological states of mind. For the diplomatic practitioner, this is too wide-ranging a definition. The NSA in a recent speech suggested a more concise way of handling the definition of security. I quote: “From a Practitioner’s point of view I find it better to distinguish between security issues amenable to the application of hard power, those less so, and those which are not. Along this continuum, non-traditional security challenges would be those that require the mixed application of hard and soft power, where solutions are not so clear as victory and defeat, and where problems mutate into more benign forms. They would also include those which do not respond to the application of hard power, such as food security.
Another similar and largely overlapping way of looking at the problem is to distinguish between zero-sum challenges are those like terrorist threats, espionage and other state-security threats, and traditional military threats. These respond to the application of hard power. Non-zero sum challenges are those like energy, water, maritime security and others. And there are those which overlap both categories, like cyber threats, space and nuclear threats. These are domains where the combination of intent and capability mean that the nature and definition of the threat is necessarily subjective, and perception management becomes an extremely important part of both the challenge and the response.”


5. Let me now start with terrorism, which in our age has become a primary concern of civilized societies. Terrorism is often used not just to impose a political agenda but to force unacceptably backward codes of life and governance on democratic societies. It invariably translates into meaningless and horrific incidents of violence.  The 2008 Mumbai attacks were symbolic, striking at everything India has been able to achieve – economic success, openness to the world, freedoms, conventional defence capabilities and pluralism in society.  The targets were carefully chosen.  Fortunately despite killing 164 people and wounding at least 308, the terrorists could not blow India off its path or diminish our international exposure. Recently, the United States has announced $10 million for information leading to arrest of Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed and Abdul Rahman Makki under the Rewards for Justice Programme. We welcomed the notification as it sends a strong signal to LeT and its patrons that the international community remains united in combating terrorism.

6. Building Global Security requires the international community to come together and forcefully combat the use of terror as state policy by countries as well as root out safe havens for terrorists. This requires action at the global level through a CCIT and through multilateral cooperation in every region affected by terror. There must be concerted action by security forces, and political consensus that terrorism as a means is not justified by any ends. Improved governance is a common goal of all of us but ending terrorism has to take priority in operational terms.

7. Afghanistan is currently in the process of transition and transformation in a region which is the epicenter of world terrorism. Virtually all dangerous acts of terrorism in the world recently, can be traced  back to the Af-Pak region. Any perception of lack of will on the part of the international community to deal firmly with terrorist groups will risk Afghanistan sliding back to being a safe haven for terrorist and extremist groups that threaten the region and beyond. During his visit to Afghanistan in May 2011, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh announced additional assistance of US $ 500 million, over and above the existing commitments of US $ 1.5 billion. India’s assistance programme is spread across Afghanistan and spans almost the entire gamut of economic and social developmental activities from schools and hospitals to trade, power lines and hydro-electric projects. Construction of Afghanistan's new Parliament building, a symbol of the common commitment of both countries to pluralism and democracy, is also progressing.

8. We believe the international community must remain engaged with Afghanistan in the decade ahead. External Affairs Minister, Shri S.M. Krishna led our delegations to the two International conferences organized on Afghanistan in Istanbul and Bonn in November and December, 2011 respectively. These conferences were aimed at generating international and regional consensus for long term engagement of the international community - and the region - with Afghanistan, in the backdrop of the announcement of withdrawal of NATO forces from a combat role in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. While the “transition dividend” did not emerge clearly in these conferences, there will be further opportunities in Kabul and Tokyo to ensure continued support for modernization and stability in Afghanistan. We recognize that regional economic cooperation involving all the countries of the area also has a role to play. But we expect that Germany and EU as a whole will remember that there can be no compromise with terrorism and its sponsors. We need to be clear where the danger is emanating from and what we can do about it.  Otherwise as Adenaueur said, “the one sure way to conciliate a tiger is to allow oneself to be devoured.”

9. The AfPak region is faced with problems not only of conventional terrorism but also the danger of proliferation and nuclear security.  So let me take Nuclear Security as a second item. On 26-27 March 2012, 53 countries and four international organizations, namely the UN, IAEA, EU and NATO, attended the Second Nuclear Security Summit at Seoul, South Korea. The Summit focused on one of the foremost challenges of our times; the danger of nuclear explosives, materials and technology falling into the hands of terrorists. The Final Communiqué of the Summit listed nuclear terrorism as one of the most challenging threats to international security. Prime Minister of India attended the Summit in Seoul, as he did in Washington D.C. in 2010. During the Seoul Summit, Prime Minister emphasized that nuclear terrorism and clandestine proliferation continue to pose serious threat to international security. He announced a contribution of $ 1 million for IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund. Clandestine Nuclear proliferation is one of the gravest threats to global security as it enables this greatly destructive technology to fall into the hands of irresponsible actors. India shares and supports the non-proliferation objectives of the international community. We have an impeccable non-proliferation record and have in place a stringent export control system in line with the highest international standards.

10.   The more fundamental problem is the one which deals with the issue of nuclear weapons themselves. India has also been steadfast in its support for the goal of universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons, leading to global disarmament in a time-bound framework. The then Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi had put forward the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan of 1988 which offers a comprehensive plan to take this process forward. In a 2006 working paper on nuclear disarmament in the UN General Assembly, India made specific proposals towards achieving this goal, including negotiating a Nuclear Weapon Convention. We believe the goal of nuclear disarmament can be achieved by a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework that is global and non-discriminatory. The issues in Iran and DPRK need to be seen in this context as well as in the framework of tackling proliferation. These are major subjects with would require a separate address. Suffice it for me to say today that we support the P5 + 1 dialogue with Iran and the Six-party engagement with DPRK. We feel there is vital need to find diplomatic solutions conforming with relevant UN resolutions with the overriding need for these countries to keep to commitments taken on by them themselves in the past.

Security on the Seas

11. Piracy on the high seas is as old as the history of seafaring itself. Piracy is a resurgent threat which has come to the fore in recent times. Concerns over maritime security have been not only centered around piracy in the Gulf of Aden, but also in the Malacca Straits and the Mozambique Channel. Somali pirates, by far the greatest global piracy threat, have increasingly pushed farther off the Somali coast. They have moved deeper into the Indian Ocean.

12. Today’s pirates are not swashbuckling raiders of the past but trained fighters aboard speedboats, equipped with satellite phones and global positioning systems, armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades. According to the International Maritime Organisation almost 90% of world trade is transported by sea. The continuing threat of piracy raises the cost of trade directly and indirectly. Examples of direct effects are robbery and ransom payments, losses of ships and cargo and additional pay for crews. Indirect effects are the security costs incurred in the fight against piracy and higher insurance premiums in the dangerous areas. The cost of trade is further pushed up by the need to take longer alternative routes to avoid pirate infested sea-lanes and the need for convoys and naval protection. The threat posed by piracy attacks to maritime traffic and seafarers continues to be a major problem. As a result of these challenges, many ships have begun to hire armed guards as a deterrent for would-be attackers. However, there is not yet a process or an internationally accepted regulatory framework for regulating these guards, creating legal complications. Presently, there are around 27 Indian seafarers in the captivity of pirates. Their well-being and early release is a priority for our government. The numbers are not surprising as one out of every 10-12 merchant mariners, on any ship, is an Indian, irrespective of the flag of the ship. Some countries believe the problem is limited to Somalia and the waters nearby and insurance companies don’t seem to be complaining.  As Adenauer said “wir leben alle unter – dem gleichen Himmel aber wir haben nicht alle den gleichen Horizont” (We all live under the same sky but do not have the same horizon or perspective). But the seas are open and everybody is getting affected; recent incidents have highlighted the need for international cooperation to evolve a common strategy to combat the global scourge of piracy at sea. The international community has of course taken a number of steps to tackle piracy since Somali pirates emerged as a threat to international maritime security four years ago. In 2008, the UN Security Council passed a series of measures targeting Somali piracy, culminating in the unanimous approval of US-led Resolution 1851. The move authorized states with navies deployed in the Gulf of Aden to take action against pirates and armed robbers within Somalia. India has committed its full support to international anti-piracy efforts. Our Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since October 2008. Our naval ships provide security escorts to both Indian and foreign flagged ships. We participate actively in the anti-piracy efforts of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. We believe that a more robust strategy is required to effectively deal with the problem of piracy. Such a strategy should involve an UN-led anti-piracy force to conduct naval operations. This would help in greater coordination of anti-piracy operations by various naval forces. The shipping industry and national governments must coordinate their response better to combat this resurgent threat of sea piracy.

Reform of UN Security Council

13. International security is a function of the measures taken by nations and international organizations, such as the United Nations, to put in place systems which ensure respect for concerns of countries and lead to mutual survival and safety. These measures include military action and diplomatic agreements such as treaties and conventions. International and national securities are invariably linked. International security is national security or state security in the global arena. In the UN, the Security Council enjoys the unique position among the principal organs of the UN, as it is devoted to the objective maintaining and preserving global peace and security.  It is also bestowed with the unique authority to undertake actions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression to maintain and restore international peace and security.  However, the Security Council has hardly changed since the establishment of the UN in 1945 though the membership of the UN has grown from original 51 members in 1945 to 194 in 2011. Its non-representative character and somewhat opaque working methods have been criticized by the wider membership of the UN. The efforts for the Security Council reform have, however, been thwarted by the lack of consensus which has been thwarted by the veto powers enjoyed by the Permanent Five members over the UNSC reform process and the high procedural bar for reform involving Charter amendments and their subsequent ratification.

14. India is seeking an expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent membership of the Council and permanent membership of an expanded Security Council. It has also called for an improvement in the working methods. India in collaboration with Brazil, Japan and Germany (together known as the G-4) has proposed expansion of the membership of the United Nations Security Council from fifteen to twenty-five by adding six permanent and four non-permanent members.

15.  India’s claim for permanent membership is based not only on its strong credentials and factors, such as its population, size, GDP, economic potential, civilizational legacy, political system but also contribution to the activities of the UN and its profound conviction that a more representative Council can genuinely contribute to global security.

G-20 and Reform of International Financial Institutions

 The financial crisis of 2008 which has grown into a global economic crisis clearly impacted on global security – through decreased confidence and a boost to protectionist instincts. The G-20 has thus evolved into an institutional mechanism which can contribute to global security. We believe that the G-20 needs to retain its focus on economic issues and conditions for ushering economic growth worldwide. While the Eurozone difficulties need attention, in the long term it is the recovery of growth worldwide and the reform of international financial institutions that can contribute to a global architecture of governance which enhances security. The creators of the Bretton Woods multilateral system had designed an international economic architecture to deal with the causes of the global financial breakdown in the 1930s and with the economic and security problems they thought would follow World War II. The policy prescriptions of the IMF, be it the Structural Adjustment Programme or the so called “Washington Consensus” as coined by the economist John Williamson in 1989, with the focus, amongst others, on Fiscal policy discipline, Tax reform, Trade liberalization, and aggressive Deregulation often ended up exacerbating the situation in the affected borrowing countries. Many of the painful financial crises in Africa, Latin America, East Asia, Russia, and Turkey have been attributed to the above measures. It has been argued that a greater voice to the developing world in International Financial Institutions would have allowed for modulating policies, which would have been in consonance with the requirements of developing countries. Reform of the Bretton Woods Institutions, by enhancing the voice and participation of the developing world in these International Financial Institutions would, we believe, make an important contribution in building Global Security.

India’s role and collaboration with other developing countries

17.India stood shoulder to shoulder with the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America as they fought for political freedom from colonial yoke. Once this fundamental freedom was attained, India shifted focus aiding fellow countries in their social development and capacity building, even within the constraints of India itself being a developing country. Towards this end, the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme was instituted by a decision of the Indian Cabinet on 15 September 1964 as a bilateral programme of assistance of the Government of India. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who also served as the External Affairs Minister, was the main architect of the ITEC programme though it actually came into being after his lifetime. After their independence, the most important task facing the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America was the promotion of social and economic advancement of their people which had been retarded and in most cases reversed during the years of colonial rule. Skilled manpower and experts, financial resources and transfer of technology were the bottlenecks to be overcome. To meet the challenges of socio-economic development, cooperative efforts of the developing countries were as important as assistance from developed countries and international organizations. India has made substantial progress and gained useful experience in industrial and technological development after it regained its freedom in 1947. It has extended assistance for infrastructure, industrial, agricultural and capacity building, programmes in other developing countries particularly in South Asia. These projects along with the wider ITEC schemes are an earnest attempt by India to share the fruits of its socio-economic development and technological achievement with other developing countries. It is about cooperation and partnership for mutual benefit. We hope that such cooperation between countries will go a long way in promoting prosperity and enhancing security in the developing world. We are now seeking to improve the quality of India’s assistance program by creating a separate agency within MEA to give specialized attention to the task.

A word about Africa and our development partnerships there

18.With growing economic dynamism in India, India’s efforts have concentrated on enhancing economic development as the best antidote to poverty which is an issue connected to global security. Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, visited Ethiopia in May 2011 to participate in the Second Africa-India Forum Summit at Addis Ababa – Ethiopia, the seat of the African Union. The Addis Ababa Declaration and the Framework for Enhanced Cooperation, adopted in 2011, bring out clearly the striking convergence of views between India and Africa, not only on bilateral matters, but also on issues such as UN reforms, Africa’s place in world affairs, climate change, and countering of terrorism. It may be recalled that in April 2008, our Prime Minister hosted the first historic India Africa Forum Summit, in Delhi that heralded the commencement of institutionalized interaction with Africa, injecting new momentum into an old relationship. The political will and commitment to build ties afresh with Africa have thus been on display in abundance. I believe that the collaboration between India and countries in Africa will have a salubrious role in enhancing stability in both the regions and contribute to mutual security.

19.    India also draws upon it’s being the largest democracy in the world with a tradition of respect for rule of law, and its own experience in nation building to assist the UN in the maintenance of international peace and security in many of these countries.  India has contributed nearly 100,000 troops, the largest number from any country, participated in more than 40 missions and more than a hundred Indian peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice while serving in UN missions. India has also provided and continues to provide eminent Force Commanders for UN Missions. This is not just a contribution to the UN but draws policy drive from a general commitment to what is today called “the Global Commons”. Building rule based international systems, with improved international monitoring and control can contribute to building global security. In the same way our Election Commission is gearing up to help with capacity building for election management in newly emerging democracies. 20.   It is a fact of life that even in a world in which the UN has a greater role, the individual weight of nations will create polarities in the world order. It is our assessment that multipolarity would enhance global security. In the past we had non-alignment which started out as an attempt to preserve strategic autonomy but became an alternative center of activity in a bipolar world. Today, even as we speak of NAM 2.0, we are party to groups like BRICS which enhance multi-polarity. The original economic rationale put forward by Goldman Sachs in 2001 when they coined the term BRIC was the potential of these four countries to be drivers of global growth. However, the impact on global security due to the economic growth of the BRICS cannot be underestimated. The Fourth BRICS Summit was held recently in New Delhi on 29 March 2012. The Delhi Summit, which was the Fourth in the series so far, took place under the broad rubric of 'BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity'. What the five BRICS nations have in common is a focus on eradicating poverty, securing food and energy supplies, developing infrastructure and gaining new technologies. The BRICS countries seek political dialogue towards a more democratic multi-polar order, in a world that is undergoing major and swift changes that highlight the need for corresponding transformations in global governance. The BRICS are brought together by their shared capacity and will to engage with each other as well as with the rest of the world in the global quest for meaningful, sustainable solutions to contemporary challenges of regional as well as global ramifications.

21.    In another setting, India, Brazil and South Africa as democratic nations have created IBSA. The relative importance of these groupings may increase over time and it is unlikely they will remain exclusive.


22.Security remains an important prerequisite for supporting the freedom of our societies and in providing a just and equitable system for our people. I have looked at security through the prism of power but it cannot be so limited. While noting the caveats in NSA’s description, security cannot finally be seen in a narrow sense. Instead it should be embraced in the broadest possible way to include access to food, managing and arresting climate change, arresting the degradation of environment, and the need for the respect of harmony between human beings and the natural world. These are themes for another larger address; but it seems clear that a balance and harmonious existence between the two would go a long way in enhancing global security in our time and the ages to follow.

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