Home l A2 Index l BBC Essays for Unit 6

These essays are good introductions (as are the AS ones). The BBC obvious found that there is considerable overlap in Route D, so it divided these essays into Units 5 and 6 (they did not produce a Unit 4 set). If you can't find what you are looking for here try the Unit 6 link above.
Regional Conflict
Unit 5D: Issues in International Politics Andrew Williams Professor at the Department of Politics and International Relations at University of Kent writes for BBC Parliament


There has been a marked rise in regional conflicts since the end of the Cold War.
Before 1990 or so most conflicts were linked to the ongoing Cold War, with both Superpowers using local warlords as their surrogates, whether that be in Latin America, Asia or Africa.
Since 1990 conflicts have returned to many of these areas but the reasons for them have changed.

The main flashpoints have been in Central and Eastern Europe (Former Yugoslavia and parts of the former Soviet Union) and in Africa (The Great Lakes Region around the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi, as well as in the Horn of Africa).
The effect on regional stability has been very marked in all of these areas.
Causes of the conflicts
The reasons for these new conflicts have been to do with what can be termed identity issues, around religious, racial and national desires for self-determination within and across existing national boundaries.
In many case this has been exacerbated by the persistence of old colonial boundaries, ones that did not respect tribal or ethnic borders but rather respected the administrative convenience of the colonial powers.
In Central and Eastern Europe the immediate causes have been due to the break-up of the Soviet 'Empire' and the state of Yugoslavia.
In both these areas the uniting principle of communism has been replaced by the divisive principle of nationalism.
The Serb minority in Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina felt that its identity was being challenged by the setting up of new states where previously there had been one -Yugoslavia.
And the Chechen national group within the Russian Federal republic has been demanding its independence, often using very violent means.
In the Middle East and Pacific states regional conflicts have often been linked to the rise of Islamic 'fundamentalism', which has also served to mobilise those opposed to what they see as outside dominance.
The response to these demands has been equally violent and horrible wars have resulted, in many cases leading to massacres, 'ethnic cleansing' and the use of rape as a weapon of war.
Looking for solutions
An important question is how these conflicts should be resolved in the short and long term.
In the short term resolution will require a multiple approach using military force, a willingness to bring the conflicting parties into discussion and, in some cases a pressing need to reconcile former enemies.
In the long term many point to the kinds of structure created in Western Europe since 1945 in what is now known as the European Union.
Many Central and Eastern European states see their long-term salvation in terms of integration into the EU.
This, it is argued, will bring about political, security and economic stability.
Whether the model is exportable to other parts of the world is a moot point although African states have just changed the name of their regional organization to that of the 'African Union'.
It might also be suggested that there is a need to replace both communism and nationalism with a more all-inclusive and tolerant form of democratic government
© Prof Andrew Williams 2004 Department of Politics and International Relations University of Kent
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/2580917.stm
Published: 2004/11/04 13:37:27 GMT
© BBC MMVII

International Intervention
Unit 5D: Issues in International Politics Andrew Williams Professor at the Department of Politics and International Relations writes for BBC Parliament

From the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 until the end of the Cold War there was a semi-formal commitment by most of the international community to the idea of human rights.
But in practice there was a difficult debate between those states that felt that either civil and political rights should take priority and those who believed in the centrality of economic and social rights.

Broadly speaking all states believed the main guarantee of any rights was through state sovereignty and the norm of non-intervention.
Since the end of the Cold War there has been a growing tendency for civil and political rights to be stressed over economic and social rights.
There has also been a corresponding decline in the belief in the overriding importance of state sovereignty where the rights of the individual person were being abused, as in the many conflicts under way around the globe.
This has had two important knock-on effects, the first stressing the need for an ethical (human rights based) foreign policy and the second the need for liberal democratic states to defend the rights of those in states not so fortunate.
Legitimizing the use of power
The term most used in the implementation of foreign policy by liberal states and by the international community is "humanitarian intervention".
The essence of this is that under certain circumstances it is legitimate for the international community to intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign states.
A key question posed is to what extent humanitarian intervention should be allowed as an exception to the rule of sovereignty and non-intervention.
Then there are motives and practicalities, as witnessed in the Middle East (Iraq) Africa (Somalia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone for example), and in the Former Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Kosovo).
Different responses
There are hard and soft versions of the doctrine, the one usually called 'solidarism' that urges a cosmopolitan response to an objectively horrible situation.
Conservative or realist thinkers see humanitarian intervention as usually wrong and misguided as it damages the basic sovereignty norm of the international system.
Some have argued that the Charter of the United Nations is a clear statement that force should not be used unless a state poses a threat to international peace and security, yet since 1990 force has often been used by the United Nations to defend human rights.
This has meant that the Article 2(4) that underpins this "norm of non-intervention" has had had to be modified in practice so that certain regimes are seen as "illegitimate" so they lose the right of sovereignty and protection against the use of force.
There is now in effect a balance that has to be struck between the needs of international security and those of justice.
In some instances (like Former Yugoslavia) the need to defend human rights is generally accepted to have been effective and justifiable.
Many would argue that in the case of Iraq and Somalia the justification is not so evident.
© Prof Andrew Williams 2004 Department of Politics and International Relations University of Kent
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/2580945.stm
Published: 2004/11/08 16:50:36 GMT
© BBC MMVII

Impact of International Organisations
Unit 5D: Issues in International Politics Andrew Williams Professor at the Department of Politics and International Relations writes for BBC Parliament

International organizations (IOs) like the United Nations (UN) have responded to the problems of international intervention by a series of major conferences and discussion papers to try and develop new and more effective techniques for dealing with the world's problems.
The most important of these was the UN Secretary General's "Agenda for Peace" of 1992, which changed the basis for the discussion of peacekeeping and Collective Security.

Some of the key questions it addressed were: How can it respond in a world where conflicts are as likely to be civil as inter-state wars?
Are regional or global solutions better, and should IO's intervene in the affairs of sovereign states if there is no obvious threat to international peace and security? What is the threshold for such a threat to be real?
Global security through regional cooperation
Regional IOs have gained in importance since the end of the Cold War, both in the development of a united Europe and in the development of regional security organizations, of which the best example is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The response of the international community to new challenges, organised in the UN or regional organisations, has been on occasion confused.
The first reason for this confusion is due to organisations often set up in Cold War conditions having to adapt very rapidly to new conditions.
Over the last dozen years a number of new priorities have emerged, the most obvious being an emphasis on human rights, rather than national sovereignty (see previous section).
And confusion also emerges over implementation, which needs large-scale military forces and resources.
The United States and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) have often undertaken such military actions, sometimes in the context of the United Nations, sometimes not, as in Kosovo in 1999.
Regional organizations like the OSCE and the EU have often then taken on the task of reconstruction in such areas.
Economic and social challenges
The UN and other IOs have also had to try and deal with the world's economic and social problems.
Since the end of the Cold War this task has largely been given to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
International Trade has been given a new impetus by the setting up of the World Trade Organization in 1995.
There has been an increased emphasis on the need to tie economic development into the principles of human rights and environmental sustainability.
This emphasis was underlined by the UN conferences in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and in South Africa in 2002.
Attempts to increase the profile of human rights in the UN have included the appointment of a High Commissioner for Human Rights and the conference in Durban, South Africa in 2001 on racism.
The clash between the emphasis on human rights and the need to maintain peace and security was highlighted by the detention of many Taliban prisoners without trial after the UN - sponsored attacks on Afghanistan in 2001 by the United States Government.
© Prof Andrew Williams 2004 Department of Politics and International Relations University of Kent
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/2580963.stm
Published: 2004/11/08 16:58:01 GMT

© BBC MMVII

Recommended Reading (Some of this stuff is old - especially the pre-9/11 books. Liam)

Chris Brown Understanding International Relations London, Palgrave, 2001
[A rare example of a very clear exposition of the links between international relations theory and practice.]
Chris Brown, Sovereignty, Rights and Justice: International Political Theory Today, Cambridge, Polity, 2002
[a rather more difficult but very worthwhile review of the major changes taking place in these vital areas of international relations]
David P. Forsythe, Human Rights in International Relations, Cambridge University Press, 2000
[An excellent overview of the international organisations that deal with human rights and the problems they deal with]
Hugh Miall, Oliver Ramsbottam and Tom Woodhouse, Contemporary Conflict Resolution, Cambridge, Polity, 2001
[An admirably clear and concise overview of regional and inter-state conflicts and ways of attempting to resolve them]
William Shawcross, Deliver Us From Evil: Warlords and Peacekeepers in a World Of Endless Conflict, London, Bloomsbury, 2000
[A bleak but very coherent view of conflicts in the post-Cold war world and the attempts of the United Nations to deal with them]
Paul Taylor and A.J.R. Groom, The United Nations at the Millennium, London, Continuum, 2000
[A comprehensive overview of the United Nations today by two masters of the subject]
Nicholas Wheeler, Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society, Oxford U.P., 2000
[An excellent overview of the problems involved in the spreading norm of 'humanitarian intervention']
David J. Whittaker, Conflict and Reconciliation in the Contemporary World, London, Routledge, 1999
[A very useful discussion on the nature of contemporary conflict and measures that have been tried to resolve them]
David J. Whittaker, The United Nations in the Contemporary World, London, Routledge, 1997
[A good overview of the United Nations difficult role in the Post Cold War period]
Andrew Williams Failed Imagination? New World Orders of the Twentieth Century, Manchester, Manchester University Press 1998
[A historical and theoretical overview of the rise of American power since 1918 and the 'New World Order' agenda that the United States has managed to get most the world to adopt]