The Unraveling of Island Asia? Governmental, Communal, and Regional Instability

By Bruce Vaughn | Go to book overview

11

Secur(itiz)ing the Environment: Unraveling Environmental Security in Pacific Asia

LORRAINE ELLIOTT

Environmental security has been part of the international public policy lexicon since the late 1980s. Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze called for the creation of a UN Environmental Security Council in his address to the 43rd General Assembly in September 1988. In Toronto in the same year, governments met to consider the implications for global security of the changing atmosphere, a conference that helped to mobilize international debate on the challenges of climate change. As a normative concept, environmental security has come to illuminate debates about what security means in a post–Cold War world—security for whom and from what—and about the kinds of strategies and policies that will ensure that security. There is a widely held perception that states and their citizens are increasingly vulnerable to a range of nonmilitary threats. A suite of problems (or “risk environments”) are now being defined as possible sources of violence and instability, intrastate and interstate conflict, transgression of state borders, and threats to international peace and security. Environmental degradation is one of those nonmilitary insecurities.

The connections between traditional security and environmental security (or insecurity) are now accepted, in principle at least, in international law and to some extent in strategic doctrine. Principle 25 of the “Rio

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