Soirée de clôture MUNICE 2018
M. Richard Narich, Secrétaire Général

Dear all,

 

I very much appreciate the invitation I received from your organizational committee to deliver a speech at your Model United Nations today and I am delighted to be here with you today in a city where I did part of my studies and that I like very much.

 

My presentation will be in English because I understand that some of you do not speak French.

 

I)  Firstly I will make some remarks on the topics you have chosen for your debates during this MUN that I unfortunately did not have the opportunity to attend.

 

First point. You have tackled two subjects related to human rights: the situation of the Rohingyas in Myanmar and human trafficking. I would like to remind you in connection with this choice that this year will be celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted in Paris in December 1948.

 

 My second point is about nuclear proliferation you also dealt with.

 

The Iran and the North Korean cases are definitely very important and have to be tackled.

 

 But it must not make us forget that the United States have recently decided to produce “mini-nukes”, i.e. small nuclear bombs, and that Russia is modernizing its nuclear programs and has developed a new generation of ballistic missiles (Mach 4) which will not be easily intercepted by ant-missiles weapons.

 

There is also a risk, as an expert said bluntly at the Munich Conference on Security this year, that “for the first time in five decades no negotiated agreements will be regulating the US-Russian relationship” in 2021, which is the date when the Start treaty expires, if the US Congress does not accept its extension. It remains to be seen what it will decide at a time when the relations between America and Russia are extremely strained.

 

Moreover, the INF treaty (Intermediate-range nuclear forces), signed in 1987, has been put in jeopardy because of the implementation by the USA of anti-ballistic missiles sites in Poland and in the Czech Republic.

 

Third point. The crisis in Venezuela and the reconstruction process in Iraq you also studied are good examples of multifaceted challenges governments have to face more and more and solve in our complicated contemporary world.

 

II)I will now try to share with you some general observations on contemporary security issues and geopolitics, starting from 9/11 which is considered as being a landmark, a turning point in geopolitics as was the end of the Cold War in the 1990’s.

 

1)It was a turning point – and this was the first reason - because these attacks were a real shock for the United States and the Western World, even more so that they came after the euphoric period that followed this collapse.

 

In fact, the world was not in a “such a good shape” between 1991 and 2001. The collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and their disintegration produced terrible side-effects. The loosening of control the 2 super-powers exerted in their respective zones of influence produced new wars in Bosnia, in the Caucasus, in Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia). India and Pakistan gained access to the atomic bomb, etc.., Islamic radical movements started attacking American interests and targeted military installations outside of the USA. French citizens were also killed in Algeria and France.

 

But, for some American politicians and academics, the end of the Soviet Union was considered as the advent of a “unipolar world,” “the end of history”, I.e. the irrevocable triumph of liberalism and free enterprise; it represented the triumph of capitalism on communism. And the space for capitalism and free enterprise definitely expanded. This is what was called by the name of “globalization”.

 

A new kind of colonialism also emerged with the theories of the British diplomat and academic Robert Cooper. He advocated in his book “the post-modern state” the right and the necessity of the Western World to maintain the order and intervene if necessary in a country or a region in trouble, while the concepts of “rogue state” (i.e. a state that does not behave) and “failed states” became more and more used, the first by the Americans and the second by the international community. And, as I said earlier, the contrast between this irenic perception and the Americans being attacked on their own soil for the first time since Pearl Harbor by terrorists with such devastating effects, left them absolutely stunned.

 

 

2) But 9/11 was also and more importantly a turning point for three other reasons:

 

-First reason: the world suddenly realized that it was entering into a new era, more complex, more unpredictable and more fragile as a consequence of globalization and of the digital revolution, a world where the “uncertainty threshold” became definitely higher due to the number of parameters which had to be taken into account. Governments had to struggle now with these so called “new emerging security issues”, not only terrorism and transnational crime but also new threats like epidemics, hurricanes like Katrina in 2004, electrical black-outs, digital failures, etc... These threats were not so new in fact, but that people had not been sufficiently aware of previously. In that sense 9/11 triggered that new awareness.

 

-Second reason: Fighting terrorism and more precisely Jihadist terrorism became a governmental priority in the United States and later in Western Europe ( the “war on terror”) , provoked huge geopolitical changes in the Middle East ( in Afghanistan and Iraq) and destabilized this region and lead to other conflicts ( ISIS).

 

-Third reason: Governments and international organizations elaborated concepts, put in place institutions, crisis management procedures, methodologies in order to cope with this new security landscape where terrorism is just one aspect, although the most sensitive one for the public opinion. The approach became global, taking into account “All Hazards” ( ie, crime, terrorism, technological failures, sanitary or climatic issues, etc..), and relying on integrated operational approach ( crisis management procedures are to a certain extent common to all kinds of risks and threats), a common institutional framework ( ie an increasing interdependence between sectors within the same country, cooperation between public and private sectors, national and international organizations, etc..), and finally a response that involves all forces within society. Be these approaches called Homeland Security, Global Security, Resilience or Societal Security they have all in common these characteristics.

 

 

3)Let us take now some examples of security risks and threats which are dealt with today. They are tackled at all levels, national, regional and international. But we will limit ourselves to the United nations.

 

-Terrorism. Resolution 1373 (2001) sets the general framework of the actions which are requested to be taken by governments to combat terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. It was completed by the adoption of a counter-terrorism strategy in 2006. A Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee was also established in 2001, which is assisted by a Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate. Finally, a Counter-terrorism Implementation Task Force was put in place in 2015 and endorsed by the UNGA in 2016.

 

-Protection of critical infrastructure. The Security Council adopted in February 2017 Resolution 2341 asking governments to take the appropriate measures in order to protect their critical infrastructures from terrorist attacks because of their importance for their national security and for their possible regional impact. This was the first time the Security Council tackled this issue.

 

-WMD (  Weapons of Mass Destruction) .The use of WMD by terrorist groups has been very limited up to now, but the situation could evolve. This is why the United nations adopted Resolution 1540 (2004) in order to try to stop their proliferation by preventing their illicit traffic and imposed on governments to establish domestic controls. Other conventions were adopted with the same aim: UN Resolution 1373 (2001) limiting terrorist movements and financing; UN International Convention on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism.

 

-Cybersecurity. The United nations has been struggling for years now to try to regulate cyberspace. A UN governmental experts group “on development in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” was created in 2004 by the Secretary General. A consensus was almost reached in 2016. But the Russians and the Chinese did not agree on the US proposals fearing that they would lead to a militarization of the cyberspace. The Secretary General is pushing for resuming the contacts.

 

-Environmental security. There is a general consensus now on the risks of climate change for the stability of some fragile regions or countries have already led to internal conflicts and could even lead to external conflicts. The General Assembly adopted in June 2009 a Resolution on “climate change and its possible security implications”. More recently, the Security Council recognized for the first time in Resolution 2349 “the adverse effects of climate change on the stability in the Lake Chad region”, climate change being a “ threat multiplier.” But there is still some resistance to discuss this issue in  the Security Council , some countries preferring  the General Assembly.

 

III) I would now like to conclude by stressing three points that moderate and bring some nuances to my previous observations.

 

- crisis management cannot be just technical even when dealing with “new security issues”. Take as example the migrations issue, where crisis management is clearly linked with political approaches. Also, the classical mediation systems, humanitarian diplomacy, international protection, etc.. are more valid than ever.

 

-the management of the “ new security issues ”has now been integrated by many countries into their national security strategies, giving more coherence to their policies . Everything is linked : political , military, humanitarian aspects and management of “new security issues”. The example of the Sahel region is particularly clear in this respect.

 

-the tendency today is to put the stress more on classical geopolitical issues that have to be confronted than on the “new security issues” for obvious reasons, contrary to 10 years ago when it was the reverse. Tensions increase everywhere: sanctions against Russia, in the Middle East; in South East Asia ( North Korean nuclear program, Chinese  ambitions in the China sea); offensive American policy on the Iranian and North Korean cases; etc…

 

I hope these few observations together with the MUN you have followed will give you the desire to get more involved in these subjects which are important for the understanding of the world in which we are living and which can open professional possibilities in the future.

 

I thank you for your attention.

© AFNU: ASSOCIATION FRANCAISE POUR LES NATIONS UNIES