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Article

Refugee Protection, Securitization, and Liminality  

Yvonne Jazz Rowa

The existing scholarship has widely examined security vulnerabilities and challenges within the forced migrant context. A myriad of factors along the complex trajectory of pre- and post-flight have contributed to a dire state of human security. Notably, the protection system has played a major role in the institutionalization of liminality and securitization, and inadvertently intensified refugees’ preexisting vulnerabilities. The literature on global institutions of protection within an evolving global migration landscape exposes the systemic securitization entrenched in the international instruments of protection; for the most part, the protection mechanisms are intrinsically exclusionary. There are also challenges and dilemmas of disentangling security from migration that render conceptual conflations and resultant mechanisms of institutionalization inevitable. Essentially, the architecture of the instruments of protection informs the mechanisms for response. The systemic contradictions within these regimes are therefore likely to be reflected and replicated in their operationalization. The overall dynamics expose humanitarianism and security first, as oppositional imperatives, and secondly, as enduring dilemmas that institutions of protection continuously reconciliate.

Article

International Relations of the Pacific Islands  

William Waqavakatoga and Joanne Wallis

The Pacific Islands region occupies 15% of the world’s surface, yet there have been relatively few analyses of the international relations of the Pacific Island countries (PICs). Existing analyses tend to view the region through the lens of the interests of major and metropolitan powers. They consequently focus on how geopolitical competition between those powers is likely to develop in the region but afford little consideration to the agency of PICs to shape how that will occur. This article reimagines the international relations of the Pacific Islands to capture how Pacific Island countries are exercising their agency in pursuit of their interests and to manage the behaviour of great and metropolitan powers. This reimagining involves three analytical moves. First, it subverts stereotypes of “smallness”, “weakness”, and “fragility” which tend to dominate the policy and academic literature of metropolitan powers about the region. Second, it better recognises the agency and activism of Pacific Island countries captured by the concept of the “Blue Pacific”. Third, it accounts for the dynamism and diversity of the nature and interests of the entities and actors that make up, and are involved in the Pacific region.

Article

Historical Approaches to Security/Strategic Studies  

Constantinos Koliopoulos

One can treat the terms “security studies” and “strategic studies” as synonymous and as pertaining to the study of the interaction of policy ends with military and other means under conditions of actual or potential conflict. This definition means that security/strategic studies can be a fairly broad field. Moreover, this broadness applies not only to the subject matter of the field, but to its time span as well. The study of strategy is arguably as old as war itself, and certainly far older than the formal establishment of strategic studies as an academic discipline in the aftermath of World War II. In this vein, one may well regard works like those of Thucydides and Clausewitz as belonging to the broad field of strategic/security studies. Although the study of war and strategy would often go hand in hand with military history, from very early times there have appeared treatises on strategy (actually on “the art of war”) that are clearly distinguished from historical treatises and thus from the very beginning set strategic/security studies on a clearly distinct track. Be that as it may, the historical approach to strategic/security studies has always been and still remains a very powerful analytical tool—provided it is handled with the necessary care. Beginning with Thucydides, and continuing with such luminaries as Vegetius, Clausewitz, Delbrück, and Corbett, the historical approach to strategic/security studies has provided the field with some of its most brilliant treatises. This venerable tradition continued after World War I and until well into the Cold War, including historically minded gems such as those by Fuller and Brodie. However, the advent of nuclear weapons and the consequent preoccupation of strategic/security studies with nuclear strategy led by and large to the loss of the field’s earlier historical bearings. Though never completely shelved, the historical approach was relatively subdued. It began to stage a comeback during the 1970s, aided by scholars like Howard, Luttwak, and Gray and further bolstered by the renewed interest in classical strategic theory. The end of the Cold War found the historical approach in terrific shape. Thus, not only does it once again tap the huge reservoir of ancient history, but it has also harnessed the newly available tools of quantitative research and the academic rigor of the social sciences. Since the end of the Cold War has definitely not brought about the end of history and the obsolescence of historical experience, it seems safe to conclude that the historical approach to strategic/security studies will fully retain its validity well into the 21st century.

Article

Risk and Security in International Relations  

Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen

Considerations of risk are pervasive in the contemporary security environment. A risk is a scenario followed by a policy proposal for how to prevent the scenario from becoming real. When policy makers approach security questions in terms of risk, they no longer seek to address specific and calculable threats like the Red Army during the Cold War. Instead, they focus on trends that give a future significance to present challenges—trends that give future significance to present challenges include (a) the personalization of risk, (b) the establishment of political community based on risk, and (c) existential risk where the fate of humanity is at stake. In his 1958 book War and Industrial Society, Raymond Aron claimed that industrial society had shaped not only the way in which war was fought in the 20th century, but also the expectations of what force could achieve and how peace could be made. A number of sociologists argue that the industrial society described by Aron is changing into what Ulrich Beck terms a risk society. Risks are associated with a decision. Risk is inside politics, not outside—both internationally and domestically. Risk studies therefore often focus on the difficulties and dilemmas confronting policy makers as they struggle to provide security in a post-secure society. Risks are continuously identified by scenarios pre-empted by military actions or other acts of security—only for the results of these actions to produce, in turn, new risks. The article seeks to explain why risk studies have never coalesced into a coherent research program, as perhaps some of the scholars engaging with risk theory hoped it would. Having concluded that risk theories remain fragmented and more engaged with particular subfields than with each other, it makes sense to deal with the substantial contribution of risk theory by focusing on particular trends in security policy in which the risk perspective has something important to say.

Article

Empire and Order in International Relations and Security Studies  

Tarak Barkawi

International relations (IR) and security studies lack a coherent and developed body of inquiry on the issue of empire. The central focus of IR situates discussion of imperialism and hierarchy outside the core of the discipline, and on its fringes where scholars from other disciplines engage with IR and security studies literature. Similarly, security studies focus on major war between great powers, not “small wars” between the strong and the weak. The general neglect of empire and imperialism in IR and security studies can be attributed to Eurocentrism, of the unreflective assumption of the centrality of Europe and latterly the West in human affairs. In IR this often involves placing the great powers at the center of analysis, as the primary agents in determining the fate of peoples. Too easily occluded here are the myriad international relations of co-constitution, which together shape societies and polities in both the global North and South. In 1986, Michael Doyle published Empires, a thoughtful effort to systematize the historiography of empire and imperialism with social science concepts. It is rarely cited, much less discussed, in disciplinary literature. By contrast, the pair of articles he published in 1983 on Kant and the connection between liberalism and peace revived the democratic peace research program, which became a key pillar of the liberal challenge to realism in the 1990s and is widely debated. The reception of Doyle’s work is indicative of how imperialism can be present but really absent in IR and security studies.

Article

Poststructuralism and Security  

Lene Hansen

Poststructuralism is an International Relations (IR) theory that entered the domain of Security Studies during the Second Cold War. During this period, poststructuralists engaged with power, security, the militarization of the superpower relationship, and the dangers that the nuclear condition was believed to entail. Poststructuralism’s concern with power, structures, and the disciplining effects of knowledge seemed to resonate well with the main themes of classical realist Security Studies. At the same time, the discursive ontology and epistemology of poststructuralism set it apart not only from Strategic Studies, but from traditional peace researchers who insisted on “real world” material referents and objective conceptions of security. The unexpected end of the Cold War brought challenges as well as opportunities for poststructuralism. The most important challenge that arose was whether states needed enemies. The terrorist attacks of September 11 and “The War on Terror” also had a profound impact on poststructuralist discourse. First, poststructuralists held that “terrorism” and “terrorists” had no objective, material referent, but were signs that constituted a radical Other. They viewed the actions on September 11 as “terror,” “acts of war,” and “orchestrated,” rather than “accidents” committed by a few individuals. The construction of “terrorists” as “irrational” intersected with poststructuralist deconstructions of rational–irrational dichotomies that had also been central to Cold War discourse. These responses to “the War on Terror” demonstrated that poststructuralist theory still informs important work in Security Studies and that there are also crucial intersections between poststructuralism and other approaches in IR.

Article

International Relations and Outer Space  

Dimitrios Stroikos

Although the study of the international politics of space remains rather descriptive and undertheorized, important progress has been made to the extent that there is already a growing literature examining certain aspects of space activities from an International Relations (IR) theory perspective, reflecting the broader surge of interest in the utilization of space for civilian, military, and commercial purposes. In this regard, this is the first systematic attempt to outline this emerging and vibrant multidisciplinary subfield of IR. In doing so, it covers a substantial body of research on the politics of space that builds on realism, liberalism, constructivism, Marxism, critical theory, poststructuralism, feminism and gender studies, postcolonialism, and eclecticism. The study also discusses a distinctive approach concerned with examining the process of space policy decision-making at different levels of analysis, what can be called “Space Policy Analysis (SPA).” The study concludes by briefly considering possible avenues for future research.

Article

Security Council Resolution 1325  

Charlotte Graves Patton

Resolution 1325, adopted by the United Nations Security Council (SC) on October 31, 2000, reaffirms the important role of women in conflict resolution as well as in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. Res 1325 urges states to expand the number of women working in UN peacekeeping, diplomacy, the military, and police, while rejecting impunity in matters of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, especially with reference to violence against women. It also calls for greater consideration of the needs of women and girls in conflict circumstances, including in refugee camps, and the different needs of female and male ex-combatants in disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR). Transnational networks, such as the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security (NGOWGWPS), played an influential role in the drafting of Res 1325y. The implementation of this resolution throughout UN agencies may be assessed using two theoretical perspectives, constructivism and neorealism. The NGOWGWPS’s published report, Five Years On Report: From Local to Global: Making Peace Work for Women, describes National Action Plans (NAPs) as a tool that member states could use to detail steps that they will take to fulfill Res 1325’s objectives. It is worth noting that 37 out of 193 member countries of the UN have or are establishing NAPs. However, the UN has been slow to “adopt, consume, and promote” the norms embodied in SC Res 1325. One way to address this is to include changes in national foreign policies actively supporting such norms.

Article

Intelligence Cooperation  

Timothy W. Crawford

Intelligence cooperation (or liaison) refers to the sharing or exchange of politically useful secret information between states, which may also work together to produce or procure such information. There are many important connections between the key concerns of intelligence cooperation and the cooperation problems and solutions illuminated in mainstream traditions of international relations theory (realism, liberalism, and constructivism), and work on bureaucratic and organizational politics. These are captured in a descriptive typology that breaks down intelligence cooperation relationships into four classes, reflecting the number of states and quality of reciprocity involved. Those are transactional bilateral cooperation, relational bilateral cooperation, transactional multilateral cooperation, and relational multilateral cooperation. Across these categories, the most important concepts, conjectures, and conundrums of intelligence cooperation are found.

Article

Non-State Actors and Conflict Management in Proxy Wars  

Daniela Irrera

The influence and impact of non-state actors, particularly humanitarian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in conflict management and in contemporary proxy wars, has been at the core of several scholarly debates. Peace research scientists developed knowledge about actors and conditions influencing conflict management and peacebuilding at the global and regional level. They have demonstrated that proxy wars survived the Cold War and developed new features. In particular, non-state actors like NGOs, private foundations, and non-profit associations, slowly but firmly entered the conflict management system, providing expertise and new input. International relations scholars investigate the main drivers of global humanitarian phenomena and give empirical reflections suitable for adaptive policymaking. It is commonly agreed that conflicts should be solved, human rights violations stopped, and the most inhumane implications reduced, but questions remain about the effectiveness of intervention and the legitimacy of some actors and tools. The relevance of non-state actors and their roles in conflict management have found in the international relations and peace research an ideal place to develop theoretical and practical implications. Scholars emphasized the various types of actors involved (NGOs, local community representatives, diplomats), and the diverse techniques and approaches developed within and beyond the “traditional” track diplomacy, to conflict transformation. Starting from the assessment of the state of the literature in the current international relations and peace research theoretical debate on civil and proxy wars, those actors who manage conflicts and the methods and techniques they use are explained further. In particular, it is first sustained that nongovernmental actors are engaged in the management of proxy wars in shared agency with governmental ones. Second, conflict transformation is introduced as an interactive technique to manage proxies.

Article

Disaster Diplomacy  

Carmela Lutmar and Leah Mandler

Almost every disaster brings up hope that natural disasters can somehow open up space for peaceful diplomatic interaction between parties in conflict, be they warring states or warring domestic factions. Advocates of “disaster diplomacy” argue that while earthquakes, floods, windstorms, and tsunami result in human tragedies, these events also generate opportunities for international cooperation, even between enemies. While quantitative research focusing on disaster and conflict clearly shows the connection between the two phenomena, the causal effect is not always straightforward. Certainly, conflict-prone zones suffer from higher vulnerability and risk than places where people reside in peace, just as frequently disaster-stricken areas provide more opportunities for conflicting parties to clash. However, the chicken-and-egg question remains to be clarified as most disasters in conflict zones are complex, long-term disasters exacerbated by human activity. At the same time, more detailed case studies of individual disasters substantiate the claim that natural disasters sometimes encourage diplomacy, but also emphasize significant differences in circumstances and conflict characteristics among others.

Article

International Competition and Cooperation in the New Eastern Mediterranean  

Zenonas Tziarras

In the 21st century and particularly during the 2010s, the Eastern Mediterranean acquired unprecedented attention and significance as a distinct geopolitical space with new international and security dynamics. This “new” Eastern Mediterranean geopolitical order was largely “constructed” by global and regional power shifts as well as local developments, such as the trajectory of Turkish foreign policy and the discovery of offshore hydrocarbon reserves. The result was a change in the region’s patterns of interstate conflict and cooperation. On the one hand, countries such as Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Israel became part of an emerging network of cooperation and security architecture. On the other hand, owing to its problematic relations with these states, Turkey remained an outsider wanting to “deconstruct” this new state of affairs and change it to its own benefit. As such, the new Eastern Mediterranean was ushered in during a period of geopolitical polarization that is more conducive to crisis rather than peace and stability and often transcends its boundaries.

Article

Israeli Foreign Policy  

Aviad Rubin

The main principles of Israeli foreign policy emerged during the pre-state period and were shaped by Zionist ideology and the lessons of the Holocaust. The primary goal of this policy was, and still is, to secure a sovereign Jewish state in the land of Israel, and a safe haven for world Jewry. Another dominant factor in the shaping of the foreign policy of Israel was the need to encounter the country’s challenging geostrategic situation—small territory; lack of natural resources, until the discovery of natural gas depots in water in the Israeli exclusive economic zone during the last decade; fragile Jewish communities around the world; and a hostile neighborhood. Combined together, these considerations are the issues that rank high on the agenda of Israeli foreign policy and affect Israel’s relationship with the international community, ranging from the global superpowers to third world countries. After maintaining a relatively steady foreign policy program throughout the 20th century, in the 21st century the state made some significant policy shifts, especially under Benjamin Netanyahu’s consecutive governments. These included a halt in Israeli–Palestinian negotiations for peace; a high-profile campaign against Iran’s nuclear weapons program; more emphasis on the maritime domain; and strengthening ties with illiberal leaders around the world. In 2021, the seeming epilogue of Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister leaves an open question about the relative weight of structural and ideational factors vs. powerful political agents in the design of Israel’s foreign policy.

Article

Foreign Policy of Colombia  

María Catalina Monroy

The study of foreign policy of Colombia has traditionally followed a path of thick description of specific events and generalizations that have transcended from one generation to another. There is a tendency to claim that Colombia’s foreign policy is presidentialist or personalist, of low profile, and excessively pro-American. These are just a few examples of the conventional wisdom that has defined the study of Colombian foreign policy. Although the field of foreign policy analysis is only in its preliminary phase in Colombia, there is a growing interest among students and scholars to analytically examine foreign policy decision-making through multiple levels of analysis. The foreign policy of Colombia is best understood by tracing the direction and alignment of specific foreign policy decisions into respices, meaning “look at” or “upon.” The fact that Colombia has traditionally “looked upon” a foreign entity to formulate foreign policy poses different questions regarding how autonomous foreign policymaking in Colombia really is. On the one hand, the essence of Colombia’s foreign policy has traditionally been found in a juxtaposition of the country’s interests alongside those of the United States. On the other hand, as a consequence of the articulation of this foreign policy partnership between Colombia and the United States, security has been the most recurrent topic in Colombia’s foreign policy agenda-setting, given the problems of illicit drugs, armed conflict, terrorism, and, more recently, peace.

Article

International Organization and Health/Disease  

Kelley Lee and Julia Smith

Human history has been shaped by shifting patterns of health and disease. Many of the factors influencing those patterns have spanned national borders, such as human and animal migration, armed conflict, colonization, trade and investment, globalization, and environmental change. International studies scholars’ interest in health and disease has slowly evolved over time. After World War II, international health cooperation was accepted as a key function of the United Nations system, with the creation of the World Health Organization (WHO). However, health was deemed a largely technical field, alongside the activities of international health organizations. The limited scholarship produced during the postwar period was largely descriptive of technical and legal issues. It was not until the 1970s, when debates emerged about the appropriate forms of health development assistance, concerns about large commercial interests, and the role of WHO, that scholars began considering the politics of international health cooperation. The Declaration of Alma Ata on Health for All, Essential Drugs List, and International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes were expressions of discontent in international health with a status quo perpetuating inequality among states. These initiatives then spurred accusations of “politicization” of WHO’s technical mandate, accompanied by the freezing of the organization’s budget. The study of international organizations and health began to apply critical theoretical approaches, locating health and disease within the liberal world order. From the 1990s onward, the proliferation of new institutional arrangements for international health cooperation prompted studies of this increasingly complex landscape. The term “global health” was coined to reflect the interplay of state and nonstate actors amid globalization, alongside the concept of global health governance (GHG). This encouraged scholarly exchange across international studies, social policy, law, and anthropology. International organizations with health-related impacts, such as the World Trade Organization, and powerful nonstate actors, such as foundations and commercial interests, were incorporated into GHG scholarship. Concurrently, new theoretical approaches to understanding collective action for global health emerged, notably realist notions of global health security, and social constructivist approaches to the framing of problems and solutions. Major disease outbreaks since the early 2000s, including SARS in 2003–2004, Ebola virus in West Africa in 2014–2015, and COVID-19 since 2020, have intensified scrutiny of GHG. The sharp rise in noncommunicable diseases alongside the globalization of market capitalism also drew growing attention. Amid renewed debate about WHO reform, analyses have focused on the lack of coherence among global health actors, weakness of legal and ethical frameworks for collective action, and inadequacy of resources.

Article

Feminist Ethics in International Relations  

Brooke Ackerly and Ying Zhang

The study of feminist ethics in international relations (IR) is the study of three topics. The first is the feminist contributions to key topics in international ethics and the research agenda that continues to further that enterprise. Feminists have made important contributions to IR thought on central ethical concepts. They rethink these concepts from the perspective of their impact on women, deconstruct the dichotomies of the concepts and their constituent parts, and reconsider how the field should be studied. Next, there is the feminist engagement with the epistemological construction of the discipline of IR itself, by which feminists make the construction of the field itself a normative subject. Finally, there is the feminist methodological contribution of a “meta-methodology”—a research ethic applicable in the research of all questions and able to improve the research practice of all methodologists. The contention here is that ethical IR research must be responsive to the injustices of the world, hence feminists have also explored the connections between scholarship and activism. And this in turn has meant exploring methodologies such as participatory action research that engages one with the political impact of research and methods. Furthermore, contemporary challenges related to climate, globalization, shifts in people, and shifts in global governance are encouraging feminists to work from multiple theoretical perspectives and to triangulate across multiple methods and questions, in order to contribute to our understanding of global problems and the politics of addressing them.

Article

Governmentality and Biopolitics  

Benjamin J. Muller

Governmentality and biopolitics has emerged as a chief source of scholarship and debate within contemporary international relations (IR), particularly among those involved in the sub-disciplines, Critical Security Studies and International Political Sociology. Governmentality, first and foremost, is a term coined by philosopher Michel Foucault, and refers to the way in which the state exercises control over, or governs, the body of its populace. Meanwhile, biopolitics, which was coined by Rudolf Kjellén, is an intersectional field between biology and politics. In contemporary US political science studies, usage of the term biopolitics is mostly divided between a poststructuralist group using the meaning assigned by Michel Foucault (denoting social and political power over life), and another group who uses it to denote studies relating biology and political science. The foci of literatures on governmentality and biopolitics are particularly agreeable to many scholars critical of traditional IR scholarship and its distinct articulation of “world politics.” The shifty nature of both concepts, as defined by Michel Foucault and the subsequent use by various scholars, presents challenges to setting any specific account of these terms; yet the blurriness of these concepts is what makes them productive, contrary to the zero-sum, rationalist accounts of power and behavior so central to much of conventional IR.

Article

Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration in the Middle East  

Zeynep Sahin

Since the second half of the 1940s, the Middle East has experienced intense migrations. In 2005 alone, the region received a total of approximately 6 million refugees. Migration flows to and from the Middle East have been linked to nationalist movements and ethnic conflicts. However, these relations have received little attention from scholars. Scholarly work on migration in the Middle East that has accumulated between the early 1950s and the late 1980s falls into two broad categories in terms of subject matter: Jewish migration to Israel and the Palestinian refugees, and migrations to labor-short countries of the Gulf and Europe. New trends in the literature on migration in the Middle East can also be identified, including those relating to the gender aspects of migration, population displacement and resettlement, return migration, and the relationship between migration and security. Although the field has made significant progress—the scope of the literature with respect to subject matter has broadened from the 1980s onward, and the methods used by scholars have become more sophisticated over the years—there are some shortcomings that need to be addressed. A number of important issues, such as citizenship or economic dynamics, remain unexplored. Since labor migrations to and from the Middle East are central to economic development, a focus on the evolution of migration may shed light on numerous relevant themes.

Article

Failing States and Conflict  

Kimberly Marten

As a response to the new policy problems facing the international community after the end of the Cold War, the security studies literature on weak and failing states and their relationship to various forms of conflict emerged. Two sets of events caused policy makers to focus on state weakness as a threat to international security. The first wave of research was generated by the new United Nations (UN)-sponsored peace operations of the post-Cold War era. The second overlapping wave of research followed the al-Qaeda attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, and the resulting perception that non-state terrorist groups were likely to use failed or failing states as their base of global operations. There has been no agreement among researchers about how to define the concept or varieties of state failure. As such, it has not coalesced into something that could truly be called a scholarly research program. Nevertheless, a vibrant literature has emerged on the political economy of “ungoverned territories.” Warlords are actors who use a combination of force, charisma, and patronage to control small slices of territory inside of what is purportedly a sovereign state. They usually profit from organized criminal activities that threaten both the peace and the legal institutions of the state, but can be used to help weak states to survive and reconstitute themselves in wartime. Meanwhile, scholars argue whether states should necessarily be reconstructed after they fail, given that many failed states were unnatural and authoritarian postcolonial creations.

Article

Geographic Insights Into Political Identity  

Emily Gilbert and Connie Yang

Moving away from the conventional geopolitical analyses of territory, states, and nations, geographical research is now focused on the ways that political identities are constituted in and through spaces and places at various sites and scales. Many geographers attend to how power gets articulated, who gets marginalized, and what this means for social justice. Poststructuralist theory problematized the fundamental premise that the literal subject is resolutely individual, autonomous, transparent, and all knowing. Feminist and critical race scholars have also insisted that the self is socially embedded and intersubjective, but also that research needs to be embodied. There are four prominent and inherently political themes of analysis in contemporary geographical research that resonate with contemporary events: nation states and nationalism; mobility and global identities; citizenship and the public sphere; and war and security. Geographers have critically examined the production and reproduction of national identity, especially salient with the rise of authoritarianism. Geographers have also focused on the contemporary transnationalization of political identity as the mobility of people across borders becomes more intensive and extensive because of globalization. Consequently, globalization and global mobility have raised important questions around citizenship and belonging. Rethinking war and the political, as well as security, has also become a pressing task of geographers. Meanwhile, there has been a growing attention to the political identities of academics themselves that resonates with a concern about forms of knowledge production. This concern exists alongside a critique of the corporatization of the university. Questions are being raised about whether academics can use their status as scholars to push forward public debate and policy making.