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How to Deal with a Global ChallengePosed by Non-State Actors

Speech by FCO Minister of State, Peter Hain, at the RUSI/GuardianConference ‘New Policies for a New World’, at the Royal United ServicesInstitute, London, Tuesday 30 October 2001. Source: FCO, London.

Meetingin San Francisco in 1945, the drafters of the Charter of the United Nations setas its first objective ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge ofwar’.

Butthey could not have anticipated the very different sort of conflict which weface today. Not a state or an alliance of states in war. But a global networkof terrorists, given support and shelter by a militia, not recognised by theUnited Nations, but which controls something like 90 per cent of the territoryof Afghanistan.

Thisis a new kind of war. These terrorists did not attack a country with a view toacquiring territory by conquest. On September 11 they attacked a building, agroup of people and – much more than these – a set of ideas: New York, theultimate multicultural society; the World Trade Centre, the symbol of globaltrade. The ability of ordinary people to live their lives at ease and free fromfear has been jeopardised. September 11 was an attack on democracy, on trade,on tolerance and multiculturalism, and on the essence of modern civilisation.

Sucha threat presents a new set of challenges to us all: how to deal with a globalchallenge posed by non-state actors; and how to put in place a positive andconstructive vision to challenge the nihilistic destructiveness of theterrorists.

Pursuing Interests that Transcend National Borders

Ourconcepts of stability and security can no longer be defined purely in terms ofthe balance of power between states. On the contrary, the malevolent stressesmodern human life puts on the environment, the distribution of the world’sresources, huge international disparities in wealth and income, the governanceof individual states and their treatment of minorities - these issues, and manyothers, are equally significant.

AsTony Blair said, ‘there is a coming together. The power of community isasserting itself. We are realising how fragile are our frontiers in theface of the world’s new challenges.’

That reminded me of the epigraph to my FabianSociety pamphlet ‘The End of Foreign Policy?’, published last January, andtaken from Howard’s End, where E.M. Forster wrote ‘Only connect…live infragments no longer’.

I argued in the pamphlet that we now live in aworld where stability and prosperity at home depend above all on the ability ofthe international community to act together in pursuit of interests thattranscend national borders and traditional notions of sovereignty.

Following the World Trade Centre attacks, I ammore convinced than ever that this holds good. Our goals cannot be pursuedseparately from each other. The fight against terrorism cannot be separatedfrom the fight for justice.

Of course we have first to address the immediatethreat posed by Usama bin Laden and his Al Qa’ida organisation.

We all want peace. But sometimes there can be nopeace until we have fought for it. I understand the fears which military actionevokes. We all share them. But this action is designed to make the world safer,not more dangerous. By far the greater danger would be to leave the threat ofterrorism unchallenged, and to let it strike over and over again.

The people of Afghanistan have been the biggestvictims of the nexus formed by Al-Qa’ida and the Taliban regime, in suppressionof their human rights, brutal treatment of women, complete absence of anystrategy for economic development, and callous obstruction of humanitarian aid.

As Jack Straw said in his speech last on 22October, our message to the Afghans is this: ‘In the past, we have let youdown. We will not turn our backs on you again. We will work with you to build abetter future for you and your children’.

Resolving Key Conflicts

But we should not forget the other essential partof our strategy. Unless we help resolve key conflicts, they will continue to becynically exploited by the terrorists to gain some purchase with ordinaryMuslim opinion, and undermine our credibility with progressive opinion in theWest.

Our efforts to secure a just, lasting andcomprehensive settlement in the Middle East are now more important than ever.Peace between Israel and the Palestinians will only come through a politicalprocess. It must implement ‘land for peace’, bring security for Israel withinrecognised borders, bring an end to occupation and allow the emergence of aviable, democratic and peaceful Palestinian state, committed to co-existencewith Israel and recognised and respected by Israel.

Each side must recognise that a concession whichhelps secure a lasting peace for the children of the region is not a concessionat all, but an immense gain.

The war against terrorism is unlike other wars,because we cannot wait until the war is over to win the peace. Winning thepeace is part of winning the war. We must not only uproot and destroy the binLaden network and its allies and analogues around the world. We must also removethe fertile soil of disaffection and distress in which the seeds of terrorgrow.

If we do not pursue this with the same vigour ofthe allies’ anti-terrorist action, we will not be able to preserve theextraordinary coalition that has come together in support of our efforts. Weshall win neither the war nor the peace.

And yet, as Tony Blair said, ‘this is anextraordinary moment for progressive politics….The kaleidoscope has beenshaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do,let us reorder this world around us.’

How can we make sure that the kaleidoscopesettles in a way that makes the world a safer, better place? This will be thedefining question for the next generation of diplomats and servicemen andwomen; for politicians like me, for newspapers like The Guardian, and for thinktanks like RUSI.

A Global Campaign

The first lesson we must draw from the nightmarethat began on 11 September is that the war on terror – like the wars onpoverty, hunger, and drugs – must be a global campaign. Our adversary knows nofrontiers and will run rings around any response that remains bound by frontiermentalities.

It must also be a comprehensive campaign. It mustbe fought on all fronts and with all the resources at our disposal. It is notjust a war for governments alone, but for all who want to banish the nightmare,and for whom security and stability mark the way to democracy, freedom andprosperity.

That is why we need global coalitions, both towin the war and to secure the peace. Never before has such a broad anddisparate group of nations acted so steadfastly together in pursuit of a commoninterest. We must keep the coalition together as we address the underlyingcauses of terrorism. But we must extend it, beyond the issues with which it iscurrently dealing, and beyond governments to include others who can helpdeliver the solutions we need, from business to civil society.

No Such Place as Abroad

The second lesson is that in this war there is nosuch place as abroad. The front line and the home front are interchangeable.The grievances that motivate Al Qa’ida may have their roots in the Middle East;but their consequences reach right to your doorstep. As we have seen in theUSA, the global postal network could suddenly be transformed into a silentdelivery system for the anthrax bacillus, with a ready made connection to everyhousehold on the planet.

We need a new concept of security that can defendus not only against missiles and armies, but also against the disruption andabuse of the systems we normally take for granted in the conduct of our dailylives. The computer in your office, which can be invaded by a virus sent overthe internet from anywhere. The bank that may be settling your bills with moneyfreshly laundered by terrorists. The plane that suddenly turns into a guidedmissile.

Interconnection ofEvents

The third lesson is a consequence of the second.Vaclav Havel drew attention the other day to ‘the profound interconnection ofevents’.

Look at who finances the Taliban. A significantproportion of its revenue comes ultimately from the sale of drugs on Europeanand American streets. From countless consumer choices made here in our midst.So a sale of heroin in one part of our backyard can help pay, via the terroristcamps in Afghanistan, for a hijacking in another. Look at who finances BinLaden: amongst others, individuals made wealthy by the very forces ofglobalisation he struck at in the World Trade Centre.

This connectedness – not just a consequence butfor me the essence of globalisation – means the events that shape our lives areincreasingly remote from their original causes. The actions we take to dealwith those events have to be carefully targeted at the real source of theproblem. Sometimes – as in the case of heroin – it can be closer to hand thanwe like to think.

Three simple lessons. Global problems need globalsolutions provided by global coalitions. You can’t be secure at home in aninsecure and unstable world. Globalisation links our destinies together in newand complex ways.

Removing Grievances

The campaign to win the peace will also be aboutremoving grievances so strong that they corrode even the most basic moral principlescommon to all faiths, creeds, and civilisations leaving only hatred and theurge to destroy. Grievances like poverty, injustice, intolerance, envy. Thebitterness of life on the margin. The all too often frustrated desire for avoice in the decisions that shape the daily struggles of the disempowered.Cycles of conflict and violence.

This is not a new agenda. What is new is therealisation that those who enjoy the fruits of globalisation can never be trulysecure until those fruits are within the reach of all. The price of opportunityis the responsibility to ensure that it is shared – what I called in mypamphlet the globalisation of responsibility; what Tony Blair has called thepower of community and its application to combine globalisation with justice.

Some of the challenges we need to grapple withmay be familiar. But we shall not build a safer world simply by acceleratingour current responses to them. The message from Al Qa’ida is that enhancedbusiness as usual will not be enough. We need a step change in the urgency withwhich we tackle the peace agenda, in the amount we invest in it – not onlyfinancially but in political will and ingenuity, and in the way we turn thatinvestment into real improvement in the lives of real people.

Those countries that are most successful atattracting investment are also those that do best at tackling poverty andenvironmental degradation, and they have certain features in common:

  • the rule of law;
  • universal access to impartial justice;
  • definable and defendable property rights;
  • transparent and easily accessible flows of information, on the internet and in the press;
  • accountable politicians;
  • incorrupt public administrations;
  • internal and external security, managed for the public good not private interest;
  • stable macroeconomic policies;
  • reliable public revenues managed transparently; and
  • rising numeracy and literacy.

In countries where these ten conditions apply,globalisation tends to benefit most people. Elsewhere, it tends to foster thealienation and disaffection that breed poverty, crime, disregard for theenvironment and other public goods…. and sometimes future terrorist recruits.

Signpsts for Winning thePeace

So let me suggest a few signposts for winning thepeace.

First, there is an international frameworkalready, but we need to use it better. This week’s talks on climate change inMarrakech; next week’s trade negotiations in Doha; next spring’s Financing forDevelopment Conference in Monterrey; next year’s World Summit on SustainableDevelopment in Johannesburg are all part of the same project and we should usethem accordingly, with a massive injection of political will, greater coherenceand a clearer sense of direction.

Too often that coherence is lost under the weightof special interest lobbying or narrow definitions of national interest. Wecannot fight poverty in Africa without open markets at home for Africanproducts. To appreciate the linkage, current agricultural subsidies in the richworld are equivalent to the entire Gross Domestic Product of Sub-SaharanAfrica.

Second we need to realise that the challenge nowis about delivery. We do not need new texts, new principles and treaties to winthe peace. What we need now is better implementation, to translate the texts wehave into better lives for real people. That is why our coalitions must extendbeyond governments. We need the innovation and market building that onlybusiness can provide; the analysis and legitimacy that can only civil societycan bring.

The solutions that win the peace will come fromfast acting partnerships coming together to deal with specific problems, inspecific sectors: how to roll back TB or malaria; how to fight AIDS, how toprovide renewable energy to African villages remote from grid electricity; andso on. These are the security challenges of the world after 11 September. Thegrand coalitions of the twenty first century will not be coalitions ofgovernments alone, because governments acting alone cannot provide solutions tothis kind of problem.

Third and in consequence we need to takedecisions in new ways, by what I have called convergent policymaking.

Convergent policies take account of theconnectedness of events by attacking problems from many different angles, justas we are doing in the war against the terror networks. They encouragepartnerships for better delivery with business, NGO’s and anyone else with acontribution to make. They therefore put a premium on transparency. They aim toprevent problems before they go critical.

Fourth, we must realise the enormous contributionthe European Union can make, through its engagement around the world: throughtrade policy; through the development funding it disburses; through its highlevel political engagements. As a global leader in sustainable development. Andnot least through the example it provides as the world’s foremost example ofpooled sovereignty in the collective interest.

Europe has a special contribution to make inAfrica. We have a moral imperative to do all we can, in partnership withAfrican leaders, to help build a stable, secure and prosperous future for thatcontinent. Because insecurity in Africa means insecurity in Europe.

We have a powerful network of engagement –through the EU itself, for example with its regional partnerships, and throughthe special links that member states such as the UK and France enjoy with keyAfrican countries. And in the New African Initiative – through which the Westhas offered investment and assistance in return for reform and good governance- we have a potentially historic political framework designed to put in placethose ten conditions for true security that I described earlier.


Next year, the spotlight will fall on Johannesburg,as leaders from around the world gather to revitalise the global effort forsustainable development. The events of the last 2 months have taught us thatthe investment we make in sustainable development world wide is as much a partof our security as the investment we make in our armed forces. Let’s make thatSummit our first big milestone in winning the peace and shaping a new worldorder.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).