Foreign Minister Tuomioja: Global Security, International Crisis Management and Finland

Speech by Mr Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the 50th anniversary of the Association for Promoting Voluntary National Defence in Finland Helsinki 5 April, 2001

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to start this address by congratulating the Association for Promoting Voluntary National Defence which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Association’s work to the benefit of the national defence has been significant in a period of time which has been characterised by major changes in the world and Europe, such as post-war reconstruction, Finland’s evolution into a wealthy European welfare state, the end of the Cold War, and the expansion of the concept of security which now covers an increasingly wide range of aspects and is capable of responding to threats which are more and more often of a non-governmental nature.

I intend to speak about security and the efforts to resolve related problems in our interdependent world. Finland’s security has to be strengthened nationally and in relation to our neighbouring areas, but also more widely. By participating in the prevention of international crises and efforts to resolve them and by dispatching crisis management troops to discharge international duties, we promote also the security and defence of our own country.

Increasing internationalisation and globalisation have led to greater interdependence. A number of factors, many of which cross national borders and are even of non-military nature, influence the security of states and their citizens. As a result of this internationalisation and globalisation, international crises have more far-reaching effects than before. On the other hand, in this international world, it should be more easier to resolve them.

Finland is affected even by crises which have erupted beyond our neighbouring areas. If an armed conflict breaks out on the other side of our continent or further south, the repercussions are easily felt in Finland, too. Both immediate and indirect effects are possible. To begin with, crises often involve the risk of escalation, and quelling them at source is in the interest of everyone. Many local crises would have become uncontrollable if the international community had not - sooner or later, sometimes even unnecessarily late - set about to address the issue and resolutely started to limit and thwart it, if required using even the means of military crisis management. But even crises which remain fairly limited in scope may have an effect on Finland - concrete repercussions include, for example, inflows of refugees and economic ramifications.

The fact that military crises violate the generally recognised rules of conduct between states crumbles and undermines the foundation of international security. This applies, in particular, to conflicts where a party renders itself guilty of gross violations of human rights, such as have taken place in the Balkans. From Finland’s point of view, it is of major importance that the set of norms applying to interaction between states is recognised and appreciated, that is, the rules of the game function effectively. This is one of the central objectives of international crisis management that Finland has reason to support. It is also in the interest of small countries.

Being one of the countries which bear joint responsibility for international security, Finland can naturally require that others would do the same in the unlikely situation that a crisis broke out in Finland’s immediate vicinity. In the increasingly global world, security is composed of a number of aspects but military defence capability continues to be one of the important factors. The Finnish Defence Forces obtain such valuable experience from participation in international military crisis management as will help them carry out their main function, the defence of Finland.

On account of Finland’s membership of the EU, our international position has significantly changed. As a Member State, we are involved in the development of the EU’s common security and defence policy. Finland is expected to contribute also in this sector. Finland has been active in the UN peacekeeping operations for decades. In the 1990s, developments in Europe required increasingly active participation in demanding crisis management duties. At the moment, we participate in two Nato-led crisis management operations in the Balkans, SFOR in Bosnia and KFOR in Kosovo. A total of 943 Finns serve in these duties. In addition, we continue to be active in the UN UNIFIL operation in the Middle East and in a number of observer functions within the UN.

Today, Finland’s security policy line comprises three main aspects:

- maintenance and development of an adequate defence capability
- military non-alignment and
- participation in international crisis management cooperation.

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The impacts of globalisation on international security are complicated. The fact that globalisation and the end of the Cold War took place in parallel makes it even harder to find out the underlying reasons. It is clear, though, that the unveiling of the ideological juxtaposition of the Cold War has led to a fall in the number of weapons of mass destruction and, as concerns the doctrine governing their use, the threshold to resort to these weapons has become higher. The end of the juxtaposition has improved security in many ways. At the same time, as the nearly global alliance and client-supplier relations were pulled down, conflicts have become increasingly uninhibited and even if conventional weapons are used, the crises are, nevertheless, very bloody.

Conflicts occuring in the era of globalisation typically originate from problems within states. The state structure itself may be out of order or totally broken up. Indifference toward the rule of law related to wars is another typical characteristic, which is why civilians become victims or primary objects of violence.

New kinds of conflicts and the open and real-time communication, which has become possible through modern information technology, have in many ways influenced the foreign and security political conduct of states in the western world. The atrocities committed towards members of US troops by Somali clans in front the cameras of the CNN made the USA withdraw from active involvement for a few years and, at first, slowed down the US participation in finding a resolution to the Bosnian war.

When the conflict in the Balkans aggravated and became protracted and the former Yugoslavia broke up into separate states and warring ethnic groups, Nato, which had primarily made preparations for the defence of its own member states, embarked upon large-scale crisis management operations in the Balkans. At the same time, parties within the EU manifested determination to develop new crisis management instruments. For the EU, improvement of the crisis management capacity is also closely related to the integration process. The UN, which maintains extensive peacekeeping operations, has also tried to adjust to the change which has to be met on account of modern management of crises without prior consent by the parties to the conflict in question. The so-called Brahimi report of last summer comprises a coherent operational concept of the change.

Those participating in the present discussion, conducted within the UN, on a more comprehensive idea of crisis management have tried to learn from the experiences of the past few decades. For example, Finland has long advocated clear and feasible mandates by the Security Council. The Brahimi Report also recommends improvement of the UN’s capability to prevent crises. According to the Report, peacekeeping operations need to be complemented by peacebuilding efforts. These measures would help societies which are ravaged by conflicts to rebuild their institutions, social infrastructure and economic capacity to be able to, more often than today, manage conflicts prior to their escalation into armed conflicts. This is a demanding challenge for the UN system and other international institutions.

The only universal framework for security, the Charter of the UN, firmly rests on the idea of collective security, that is, maintenance of international peace and security between sovereign states, based on the lessons of the First and Second World Wars. This model applies poorly to conflicts within states and civil wars because it is hard to find a reliable partner of dialogue from among the often several warring parties involved in such conflicts. This has made some parties feel pressurized to get loose of the UN framework in order to succeed in crisis management operations.

It appears that the concept of sovereignty has to be reformulated, should security thinking be developed so as to help the UN, through the regional arrangements authorised by it, better attend to prevention, early warning and management of internatl crises. State sovereignty and non-interference in internal issues are the principles that are turned to when there is a desire to limit the international community’s ability to interfere in violence, human rights offences or poor governance. In the past few years, discussion has been lively as concerns humanitarian intervention, that is, military intervention on humanitarian grounds.

It is clear that humanitarian intervention is a problematic issue. We cannot think that security thinking which justifies humanitarian intervention would exactly replace the provisions of the UN Charter, which are important for small countries like Finland. A more likely objective seems to be an expansion of the sovereignty thinking so that the UN could, in case the Security Council so decides, protect civilians in internal conflicts and to make sure that humanitarian assistance reaches its destination. However, the UN Security Council is capable of operation only if all its five permanent members, the Great Powers, are unanimous about the means of resolving the conflict in question.

Another feature characterising the development of concepts of security, which is related to the progress of globalisation, is a widening interpretation of security. When security is considered to refer to not only safeguards against violence but also the ability by individuals and communities to exercise influence, enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms in a healthy environment as well as to improve their economic position, the state’s role stands out again. Globalisation does not make a state old-fashioned but lays greater emphasis on the significance of good governance and correct political choices.

Only the state is capable in today’s world of safeguarding the rights of individuals and economic actors, which are necessary from the point of view of both extensive security and success in the globalised world. This does not mean that the role of the state should be expanded but calls for focusing on appropriate issues. It is good to notice that, in many studies describing the advantages gained from globalisation, the Nordic welfare states have been among the successful ones. The social expenses arising from globalisation, such as neglect of working life norms, human rights or the environment , seem to be greater in countries where the state mechanism is weak, non-representative and corrupted, and evades true responsibility for development.

To strengthen security and alleviate the adverse effects of globalisation, the international community should consider appropriate steps to reinforce and develop the state system in such countries. The requirement of good governance has been opposed in the same spirit as humanitarian intervention was opposed – as a form of interference in a country’s domestic issues. However, in the World Bank the discussion has now proceeded to the level of action, and even in the UN this debate is gradually gaining justification.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In Europe, the Balkan Peninsula is still restless, at the moment especially in Kosovo, on the border between Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. As we daily learn from the news, the situation is difficult in the Middle East, and the future of the peace process rests on an insecure foundation. South America still suffers from the reprecussions of its hard immediate history, and some of the countries have not yet managed to consolidate democratic systems.

Africa suffers the most. Several countries on the continent are in a state or on the verge of civil war, and the economic despondency across the continent further deteriorates the prospects of new well-being and consequent social stability.

The approach that the international community should take in response to crises is a constant subject of discussion. We should aim to bring about truly worldwide and equal crisis management cooperation. Unequal distribution of resources and the pronounced strength of one superpower can easily lead to the adoption of unilateral models of action. Europe plays an important role in contributing to the materialisation of an equal Euro-Atlantic partnership which is answerable to the international community. The remedy to the dominance of one single superpower does not lie in the construction of a European superpower but in work to the benefit of such world order where there is no room nor demand for the traditional superpower conduct.

The countries of Europe have invested in international crisis management tasks for a long time. Finland and many other countries have contributed by participating within the framework of the UN. Many big European countries have maintained an agenda of their own, which has often been based on their colonial ties. Nato’s crisis management troops include a considerable number of Europeans, especially in Kosovo.

The development of a common European crisis management capability has proceeded at a concrete level only in the past few years. The Union decided to set up crisis management troops composed of members of the Member States’ own defence forces. The troops have the potential of establishing a big army corps supported by sea and air force units, that is, 60,000 men, which can be deployed to work in a crisis area for one year. Member States have announced well over 120,000 names of individuals to be listed as troop members and made available a vast array of equipment. Finland’s share is to contribute 1,500 persons and one mine carrier to be in charge of a mine clearing department.

Like the UN and the OSCE, the Union has also started to invest more heavily on the development of crisis management. In the framework of the Union, four priority areas have been adopted: police operations, development of the rule of law and administrative structures within states, as well as rescue operations. Conflict prevention and related preventive action receive increasing attention.

Military and civil crisis management are different issues but should the occasion arise, seamless cooperation has to be possible. Finland’s experience of peacekeeping operations can well serve as an example. Finns who work in peacekeeping operations are reservists from a variety of civilian occupations, carrying with them wide experience and knowhow acquired in the civilian world and also able to take full advantage of their backgrounds, no matter wheather the skills of a carpenter or a basketball coach are required. Where the peacekeepers of a superpower army rather stay heavily armed in their tanks without any dialogue with the locals other than that which is based on orders, Finnish peacekeepers try, whenever possible and without sacrifying their military capability, to build up cooperation with the local inhabitants, based on confidence, and to establish bridges – sometimes even to the letter – between mutually suspicious and sulky and mutually hostile population groups. In this kind of peacebuilding, the boundary between military and civilian crisis management is at times as indistinct as a line on the water.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have addressed the solution to international crises in detail in order to place the Finnish national defence work into a wider international perspective and to tell you how Finland is defended not only at home but also beyond our national borders. These tasks are complementary and based on the same capabilities and the same idea of Finland’s security. Both are also founded on the notion of Finland as a responsible member of the international community.

I wish the Association for Promoting Voluntary National Defence every success in its important task also in the years to come.