|WIT's World Ecology Report - Vol. 07, No. 3 - Critical Issues in Health and the Environment (WIT, 1995, 16 pages)|
What role for the military in a world where the concept of national security is profoundly changing?
This question was at the heart of a two-day symposium set up by UNESCO and the Organization of American States (OAS) at the Inter-American Defense College (IADC) in Washington, DC, that explored what constitutes security in the post Cold War world. The IADC is a college for senior officers from North America, Latin America and the Caribbean that studies inter-American defense issues.
"Democracy is the only way to build peace," said Director-General Federico Mayor, in stressing to the military officers that UNESCO seeks to create "a new alliance" with them against "intolerance and violence. The biggest victory is not to win a war but to prevent one."
One of the key points of the symposium was that major threats to security now come from within countries in the form of illiteracy, poverty, joblessness, environmental degradation and social exclusion, which are in turn breeding grounds for crime, terrorism, drug-trafficking, and political radicalization. And the deep-rooted causes of social conflict do not lend themselves to military solutions. Rwanda, Somalia and former Yugoslavia were often sited as examples of this.
Democracy is still a fragile sapling in much of the Americas, where the relationship between the military and the civil society is very much in transition. And though it was not stated outright, the political indoctrination of the Latin American military in the importance of upholding democracy and accepting civilian authority was one of the symposium's main purposes.
UNESCO has embarked on a significant and necessary mission - one where in its role as the intellectual arm of the UN system, it will have a lot to offer just by bringing civil-military relations into the international arena and opening the way for a new, joint approach to the issue of global security.
SOURCE: Andrew Radolph, UNESCO #69,
"There is no formal system for disease surveillance on a global scale, yet we will have to deal with some of the consequences of climate change; for example, ebola virus or the resurgence of tuberculosis right now today."
Vice President Albert Gore,