Development's Security: A New Perspective on International Security

By Kherbi, Amine | Harvard International Review, Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

Development's Security: A New Perspective on International Security


Kherbi, Amine, Harvard International Review


For the past several decades, the need for international security has developed alongside the global economic order that characterizes international relations today. Since the early 1970s, with the New International Economic Order and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, countries have been banding together to face security and development challenges, growing global threats, and military antagonism. Despite these initial efforts, however, cooperation must be further strengthened. Given the increasingly interconnected nature of countries' political, economic, and social spheres, such coordination is growing ever more significant.

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International security must be based on mutual trust among the countries involved. When nations view themselves as individuals as they work to counter security threats, they ignore the dangers of leaving developing countries to fend for themselves. As a result, there must be an element of trust to allow countries to act as a unified front against global security issues. Trust-based strategies would give the international community powerful leverage over weak global regulations and would also help to reduce disagreement on collective security and development issues. Subsequent attempts to tackle economic development and security would take into account the capacity of individual countries to participate in global regulations and discussions. There has always been a divide between developed and developing nations because of institutional capability, but if international policies are to be based on trust, these institutions must be fluid. Trust-based systems would allow developing countries to participate in responses to security challenges, but would not push them beyond their economic capacities.

We must recognize that global security is undeniably entwined with national development. This reality presents challenges for developing countries, and a new security system will have to address such issues. In addition to overcoming individual differences in order to create a unified front, a new security system should also bolster the development of participating states in the interest of security. This system must reflect a set of shared normative values, which will be defined and promoted through dialogue and support from the international civil society. International consensus on issues such as the fight against transnational terrorism, combined with a more comprehensive framework for a new collective security system, must be discussed and founded in a setting that nurtures a culture of peace through economic development. Instituting such a plan necessitates constant assessment and adjustment to account for differing nations' capacities. But it is only by taking such an approach that the international system will be able to effectively face the emerging security challenges of a globalized world.

Security Weaknesses of Developing Countries

In a traditional sense, a country defines security as the absence of military threat. Previously, security imperatives required that nations build, individually or within the framework of alliances, security apparatuses that were adapted to well-defined threats. While menaces of such character remain important, we are now exposed to an additional array of areas in which risks manifest themselves. This profusion has increased the difficulties of determining threats, not to mention those of responding to them. In order to surmount these risks, new international initiatives must help developing countries adapt to the changing nature of security breaches.

Lesser-developed countries are not equipped to combat the multidimensional security problems that are evolving today. Security policies develop in a fluid and evolving environment. States, therefore, must also constantly adapt their means of protection. A tangible example of the changing character of security challenges is the end of the traditional war-peace pattern. …

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