The Third World and Security Studies by Acharya Amitav

Amitav Acharya – The Third World and Security Studies by Acharya Amitav

 Source: ‘The periphery as the core: the Third World and security studies’, in Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams (ed.) Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), pp. 299–328.

The periphery as the core: The Third World and security studies

War period was marked by a preoccupation of security studies scholars with issues and problems of a particular segment of the international system. As with other key concepts of International Relations, national security assumed a Eurocentric universe of nation-states and dwelled primarily on the responses of Western governments and societies, particularly the United States, to the problem of war.The issues and experi- ences within the other segment, collectively labeled as the Third World, were not fully incorporated into the discourse of security studies. Because the international system as a whole was seen as a “transplantation of the European territorial state,” the concept of national security was taken to be a general model, “reflecting the univer- salization of the competitive European style of anarchic international relations.”1HIS CHAPTER LOOKS at another, less pronounced but ultimately more significant, reason why a redefinition of security is called for. The Cold This exclusion of the Third World from the Cold War security studies agenda was evident in both policy and academic arenas.2 […] In the academic literature, what was considered mainstream focused on “the centrality of the East-West divide to the rest of global politics.”3 Attention to problems of regional instability in the Third World was given only to the extent that they had the potential to affect the superpower rela- tionship. Not surprisingly, therefore, […] “regional security issues (apart from Western Europe) […] received inadequate attention,” a fact attributable to “ethno- centric biases” resulting from “the development of security studies in the United States more than in other countries.” 4

The tendency of security studies to focus on a particular segment of the interna- tional system to the exclusion of another is ironic given the fact that it is in the neglected arena that the vast majority of conflicts have taken place.5 Moreover, the security predicament of the Third World states challenges several key elements of the national security paradigm, especially its state-centric and war-centric universe. The Third World’s problems of insecurity and their relationship with the larger issues of international order have been quite different from what was envisaged under the dominant notion.6

[…] [A]s security studies adapts itself to post-Cold War realities, the security predicament of Third World states provides a helpful point of departure for appreciat- ing the limitations of the dominant understanding and moving it toward a broader and more inclusive notion of security. This redefinition is crucial to understanding the problems of conflict and order in the post-Cold War period. […]

National security, regional conflicts, and the emergence of the Third World

The emergence of the Third World challenged the dominant understanding of secur- ity in three important respects:

  1. Its focus on the interstate level as the point of origin of security;
  2. Its exclusion of nonmilitary phenomena from the security studies;
  3. Its belief in the global balance of power as the legitimate and effective instrument of international.

During the Cold War, the vast majority of the world’s conflicts occurred in the Third World. Most of these conflicts were intrastate in nature (antiregime insurrections, civil wars, tribal conflicts, and so on). […] Many of them were cases of aggravated tensions emerging from the process of state formation and regime maintenance.The proliferation of such conflicts reflected the limited internal sociopolitical cohesion of the newly independent states, rather than the workings of the globally competitive relationship between the two superpowers.

The roots of ThirdWorld instability during the ColdWar period were to be found in weak state structures that emerged from the process of decolonization, that is, structures that lacked a close fit between the state’s territorial dimensions and its ethnic and societal composition. The concept of national security is of limited utility in this context. Udo Steinbach points out that “the concept of ‘nation,’ introduced by colonial powers or by small élites who saw in it the prerequisite for the fulfilment of their own political aspirations, materialized in a way which went against territorial, ethnic, religious, geographical or culto-historical traditions.”7 As a result, to quote Mohammed Ayoob, most Third World states lacked a “capacity to ensure the habitual identification of their inhabitants with the post-colonial structures that have emerged within colonially-dictated boundaries.”8 The most common outcome of this was conflicts about national identity, including separatist insurgencies whose peak was recorded in the 1960s.

The relatively brief time available to Third World governments for creating viable political structures out of anticolonial struggles as well as conditions of poverty, underdevelopment, and resource scarcity limited their capacity for pursuing develop- mental objectives in order to ensure domestic stability. Moreover, domestic conflicts in theThirdWorld were often responsible for a wider regional instability. Revolutions, insurgencies, and ethnic separatist movements frequently spilled over across national boundaries to fuel discord with neighbors. Ethnic minorities fighting the dominant élite rarely honored state boundaries, often seeking sanctuary in neighboring states where the regime and population might be more sympathetic to their cause. Weak states were more vulnerable to foreign intervention, as outside powers, including the superpowers, could take advantage of their domestic strife to advance their economic and ideological interests.

These general patterns of regional instability were compounded by the particular insecurities of the ruling élite in Third World states.9 Most Third World societies exhibited a lack of consensus on the basic rules of political accommodation, power sharing, and governance. Regime creation and regime maintenance were often a product of violent societal struggles, governed by no stable constitutional framework. The narrow base of Third World regimes and the various challenges to their survival affected the way in which national security policy was articulated and pursued. In such a milieu, the regime’s instinct for self-preservation often took precedence over the security interests of the society or the nation. […]

As a result, the nature of national security as an ambiguous symbol is more pro- nounced in Third World societies than in the industrial North.The Third World expe- rience challenged the realist image of the state as a provider of security. […]

Another way in which the emergentThirdWorld challenged the dominant under- standing of security relates to the place of nonmilitary issues in the latter. […]To date, the dominant understanding of security resists the inclusion of nonmilitary phenom- ena in the security studies agenda.10 […]

But the logic of accepting a broader notion of security becomes less contestable when one looks at the Third World experience. From the very outset, resource scar- city, overpopulation, underdevelopment, and environmental degradation were at the heart of insecurity in the Third World. These essentially nonmilitary threats were much more intimately linked to the security predicament of the ThirdWorld than that of the developed countries. Economic development and well-being were closely linked not only because “a semblance of security and stability is a prerequisite for suc- cessful economic development,” but also because “it is also generally understood within the Third World that economic development can contribute to national secur- ity; an economically weak nation can be exploited or defeated more easily by foreign powers and may be exposed periodically to the violent wrath of dissatisfied citizens.”11 While problems such as lack of sufficient food, water, and housing are not part of the national security agenda of developed states, they very much hold the balance between conflict and order in the Third World. […]

The vulnerability of Third World states to […] [the above] threats was com- pounded by their lack of material, human, and institutional capacity to deal with these problems […] [let alone] enjoy[ing] little influence over the international context within which these problems arise. […]

Finally, the Third World’s emergence challenged the legitimacy of the dominant instrument of the Cold War international order. The principal anchor of that order, the global superpower rivalry, was viewed with profound mistrust throughout the Third World. […] The role of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in demanding a speedy completion of the decolonization process, opposing superpower interference in the Third World, and advocating global disarmament and the strengthening of global and regional mechanisms for conflict resolution testified to the collective resistance of Third World states to the system of international order resulting from superpower rivalry.12 While the NAM’s record in realizing these objectives has attracted much criticism, it was able to provide a collective psychological framework for Third World states to strengthen their independence and to play an active role in international affairs.13 Membership in the NAM provided many Third World states with some room to maneuver in their relationship with the superpowers and to resist pressures for alliances and alignment.14

The Third World’s collective attitude toward superpower rivalry has important implications for realist international theory. A structural realist understanding of International Relations (as developed by Ken Waltz or John Mearsheimer) would credit the Cold War and bipolarity for ensuring a stable international order. But this perspective was misleading insofar as the Third World was concerned. The Cold War order, instead of dampening conflicts in the Third World, actually contributed to their escalation. Although rarely a direct cause of Third World conflicts, the Cold War opportunism and influence seeking of superpowers contributed significantly to the ultimate severity of many cases of incipient and latent strife in the Third World.15 It led to the internationalization of civil wars and the internalization of superpower competition.16 It also contributed to the prolongation of regional wars by preventing decisive results in at least some theaters, including the major regional conflicts of the 1970s and 1980s in Central America, Angola, the Horn of Africa, Cambodia, Afghanistan, and the Iran-Iraq War.17

Thus, superpower rivalry, while keeping the “long peace” in Europe, served to exacerbate the problems of regional conflict and instability in the Third World. […] While nuclear deterrence prevented even the most minor form of warfare between the two power blocs in Europe, superpower interventions in regional conflicts else- where were “permitted” as a necessary “safety valve.”18 […]

Similarly, the Third World security experience during the Cold War explains why mechanisms for international order that reflected (and were shaped by) superpower balancing strategies were of limited effectiveness in promoting regional security. Steven David argues that for a balance of power approach to be effective, “the deter- minants of alignment [must] come overwhelmingly from the structure of the interna- tional system, particularly from the actual and potential external threats that states face.” But in the Third World, it is the “internal characteristics of states” that usually influence alignments.19 Thus, no superpower-sponsored mechanism for international order could be effective unless it would be able to address client states’ internal (including regime security) concerns. This factor explains the failure of outward- looking regional security alliances such as the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), and the relative success of more internal-security-oriented regional security arrangements such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). […]

Security in the post-Cold War era: the relevance of the Third World experience

The above-mentioned features of insecurity in the Third World constitute a highly relevant explanatory framework for analyzing the major sources of instability in the post-Cold War era. To begin with, they aid our understanding of the emergence and escalation of conflicts and instability in the new states of Europe and Central Asia, which now constitute some of the most serious threats to the post-Cold War international order. […]

In a broader context, the Third World security experience suggests the need to view the majority of the post-Cold War conflicts as a product of local factors, rather than of the changing structure of the international system from bipolarity to multipo- larity. Some observers have suggested that the ColdWar had suppressed “many poten- tial third-world conflicts”; its end will ensure that “other conflicts will very probably arise from decompression and from a loosening of the controls and self-controls” exercised by the superpowers.20 But such a view obscures the unchanged role of essentially domestic and intraregional factors related to weak national integration, economic underdevelopment, and competition for political legitimacy and control in shaping Third World instability. […]

The view of regional conflicts as “essentially local expressions of rivalry” also underscores the need to rethink structuralist ideas that tend to analyze regional secu- rity in terms of systemic factors. […]

There is sufficient empirical evidence to support Fred Halliday’s view that “since the causes of third world upheaval [were] to a considerable extent independent of Soviet-U.S. rivalry they will continue irrespective of relations between Washington and Moscow.”21 In Africa, which the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency rates to be “the most unstable region in the Third World,”22 recent outbreaks of conflict (as in Rwanda and Somalia) are rooted in old ethnic and tribal animosities.23 In Asia, the end of the two major Cold War conflicts (Afghanistan and Cambodia) leaves a number of ethnic insurgencies and separatist movements. In South Asia, the problems of political insta- bility and ethnic separatism continue to occupy the governments of India (Assam, Kashmir, and the Punjab), Pakistan (demands for autonomy in the Sind province), and Sri Lanka (Tamil separatism).24 The Southeast Asian governments face similar prob- lems, especially in Indonesia (Aceh, East Timor, Irian Jaya), Myanmar (Karen and Shan guerrillas), and the Philippines (the New People’s Army). In the more econom- ically developed parts of the Third World, the primary security concerns of the ruling regimes derive from what Shahram Chubin calls the “stresses and strains of economic development, political integration, legitimation and institutionalization.”25 A good example is the situation in the Persian Gulf, where despite the recent attention to interstate wars (for example, the Iran-Iraq War and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait), the threat from within remains a central cause of concern about the stability and survival of the traditional monarchies. […]

There is another reason why the Third World security experience is highly relevant to post-Cold War security analysis. Conflicts in the post-Cold War era are likely to become even more regional in their origin and scope because of the changing con- text of great power intervention. The post-Cold War era is witnessing a greater regional differentiation in great power interests and involvement in the Third World. […] This will render conflict formation and management in these areas more local- ized, subject to regional patterns of amity and enmity and the interventionist role of regionally dominant powers. The diffusion of military power to the Third World is enabling some regional powers to exercise greater influence in shaping conflict and cooperation in their respective areas.

With the end of the Cold War, some parts of the Third World are likely to experi- ence a shift from internal to external security concerns, while others will remain primarily concerned with internal stability. […] The more developed states in the Third World (such as the newly industrializing countries) are reshaping their defense capabilities from counterinsurgency to conventional warfare postures. […] A number of major ThirdWorld powers, such as India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Iran, are develop- ing extended power-projection capabilities, which is bound to alarm their neighbors into giving greater attention to external security.

In general, the end of the Cold War is not having a single or uniform effect on Third World stability. […] [I]t is [therefore] not helpful to interpret conflict struc- tures in the post-Cold War period as the product of a single structural or systemic realignment; a more differentiated view of the post-Cold War disorder is required.

Finally, the Third World security experience suggests the need to focus on eco- nomic and ecological changes that are giving rise to new forms of regional conflicts. The issue of economic development remains at the heart of many of these conflicts. Although economically induced instability in the Third World has been traditionally viewed as a function of underdevelopment, such instability is becoming more associated with the strategies for, and the achievement of, developmental success. […] Numerous empirical studies have established that the Third World is the main arena of conflicts and instability linked to environmental degradation.26 The view of the environment as a global commons should not obscure the fact that the scale of environmental degradation, its consequences in fostering intra- and inter- state conflict, and the problems of addressing these issues within the framework of the nation-state are more acute in the Third World than in the developed states. […] Moreover, environmental degradation originating in the Third World is increasingly a potential basis for conflict between the North and the South, as poorer nations demand a greater share of the world’s wealth and Third World environmental refugees aggra- vate existing group-identity conflicts (the problems of social assimilation of the migrant population) in the host countries.

The Third World security experience is helpful not only in understanding the sources of insecurity in the post-Cold War era, but also for judging the effectiveness of global-order-maintenance mechanisms. As during the Cold War period, the man- agement of international order today reflects the dominant role of great powers, albeit now operating in a multipolar setting. The sole remaining superpower, the United States, has taken the lead in espousing a “new world order,” whose key ele- ments include a revival of collective security and the relatively newer frameworks of humanitarian intervention and nonproliferation. But as during the Cold War period, attempts by the globally dominant actors to manage international order do not cor- respond with regional realities in the Third World. Moreover, these attempts have contributed to a climate of mistrust and exacerbated North-South tensions.

For example, former President George Bush’s vision of a new world order prom- ised a return to multilateralism and the revival of the UN’s collective security frame- work. But the first major test of this new world order, the U.S.-led response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, prompted widespread misgivings in the Third World. Although the UN resolutions against Iraq were supported by most Third World states, this was accompanied by considerable resentment of the U.S. domination of the UN decision-making process. […] The Gulf War fed apprehensions in the Third World that in the so-called unipolar moment, the United States, along with like-minded Western powers, would use the pretext of multilateralism to pursue essentially unilateral objectives in post-Cold War conflicts. Conflicts in those areas deemed to be vitally important to the Western powers will be especially susceptible to Northern unilateralism.

As with collective security, armed intervention in support of humanitarian object- ives has the potential to exacerbate North-South tensions.The use of the humanitar- ian label in justifying intervention in failed states (as in the case of Somalia or Rwanda) or against regimes accused of gross human rights abuses has created some serious misgivings in the Third World. Many Third World regimes view this as a kind of recy- cled imperialism, while those taking a more tolerant view worry nonetheless about the effects of such a sovereignty-defying instrument. […] A third area of North-South tension concerns the Northern approach to arms control and nonproliferation. In particular, supplyside antiproliferation measures developed by the North, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which seek to restrict the availability of military or dual-use technology to Southern states, have met with Southern objections. These objections focus on the selective application and discriminatory nature of the North’s antiproliferation cam- paign. Chubin finds that the North’s antinuclear policy “frankly discriminates between friendly and unfriendly states, focusing on signatories (and potential cheats) like Iran but ignoring actual proliferators like Israel. It is perforce more intelligible in the North than in the South.”27 […]

In the absence of greater understanding between the North and the South, there is a definite risk that the organizing principles of order devised and enforced by the dominant actors of the international system will have a limited impact as instruments of international order. In this context, regional security arrangements, developed by the Southern actors themselves, could theoretically provide greater opportunity and scope for regional autonomy and help the maintenance of international order.28 […] The end of the Cold War is reinvigorating and reshaping the role of Third World regional groupings toward conflict control, peacekeeping, and preventive diplomacy functions. […]

But the peace and security role of regional groupings remains limited by their lack of the institutional structures required for conflict resolution or a collective mil- itary capacity needed for complex peacekeeping operations. Moreover, wide dispari- ties of power within many existing ThirdWorld regional groupings create the risk that collective regional action will be held hostage to the narrow interests of a dominant member state.TheThirdWorld’s continued adherence to the principle of noninterfer- ence undermines the prospect for effective regional action with respect to internal conflicts.29 In addition, regional security arrangements in areas that are deemed to engage the vital interests of the great powers have limited autonomy in managing local conflicts. In these areas, the dependence of local states on external security guarantees (hence frequent great power intervention in local conflicts) will continue to thwart prospects for regional solutions to regional problems.30 […]

Nonetheless, regional approaches to peace and security face fewer systemic con- straints in the post-Cold War era. They could provide a way of ensuring a greater decentralization of the global peace and security regime, which has assumed greater urgency in view of the limited resources of the UN in the face of an ever-ex- panding agenda of peacekeeping operations. They are also a means for achieving greater democratization of the global security regime, an important challenge in view of the Third World’s resentment of the dominant role of great powers in the UN Security Council. Thus, the post-Cold War era contains an opportunity for a more meaningful division of labor between universal and regional frameworks of security in promoting conflict resolution in the Third World. […]

There are three principal reasons why the notion of a Third World retains analyt- ical value. First, the existence of North-South divisions continues to be widely acknow- ledged among scholars and policy makers from Washington to Kuala Lumpur. It has become commonplace to find observations that the end of East-West conflict has left the North-South divide as the main challenge to collective international order. […]

Second, despite their diversity, the Third World countries continue to share a number of common features in the security and economic arena. These include the primacy of internal threats (as weak states) and a dependence on external security guarantees (as weak powers). Moreover, while the collective bargaining position of the Third World over international economic regimes and the redistribution of wealth might have collapsed, the economic predicament of Third World states, marked by poverty, underdevelopment, resource scarcity, and dependence, remains as a general feature of many of the states that emerged in the post-World War II period. […] The diversity of the South or the disunity that has afflicted all its major platforms cannot be denied, but these features are nothing new and by themselves should not negate the Third World’s claim for a collective label. Indeed, the Third World states have never pretended to be a homogeneous lot. If economic and political differentiation is accepted as the basis for rejecting the notion, then the analytical relevance of similar notions (such as the “West”) should also be questioned.

Third, it should be remembered that the term Third World was not originally intended to denote a political bloc between the East and the West. Instead, the term was coined by French authors by analogy with the “Third Estate” of prerevolutionary France to refer to social groups other than the most privileged groups of the day, the clergy and nobility. In James Mittleman’s view, the relatively inferior position of Third World states within the international system still holds true, especially as a large part of the Third World is facing greater marginalization after the Cold War. In this sense, the term Third World did and continues to refer to “the marginalized strata of the international system.” […]

The end of the Cold War has dramatically shifted the empirical focus of security studies.Today, regional conflicts – conflicts (intra-as well as interstate) in the world’s less developed areas, including the new states that emerged out of the breakup of the Soviet empire – are widely recognized as a more serious threat to international order. […]

[…] [T]he understanding of regional conflicts and security in the post-Cold War period […] requires conceptual tools and methodology beyond what is provided by orthodox notions of security developed during the Cold War period. […]

During the Cold War, the exclusion of the Third World’s security problems from the mainstream security studies agenda contributed to its narrow and ethnocentric conceptual framework and empirical terrain. The analysis of regional conflict in the contemporary security discourse can benefit from a framework that captures the significantly broader range of issues – involving state and nonstate actors, military and nonmilitary challenges – that lie at the heart of insecurity and disorder in the Third World. In this respect, a greater integration of Third World security issues into international security studies will facilitate the latter’s attempt to move beyond its now-discredited realist orthodoxy. […]

[T]he end of the ColdWar should serve as a catalyst for the coming of age of Third World security studies.The true globalization of security studies should be built on a greater regionalization of our understanding of the sources of conflict and the require- ments of international order, with the ThirdWorld serving as a central conceptual and empirical focus.


  • The words used here are those of Barry While Buzan himself is a strong advocate of the broadening of the focus of security studies to nonmilitary threats and to the Third World, he assumes the larger inter national system to be based on the universal European model. Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991), 240.
  • The most important exceptions to the general neglect of Third World security issues are Mohammed Ayoob, “Security in the Third World: The Worm about to Turn,” International Affairs 60:1 (1984), 41–51; Mohammed Ayoob, “Regional Security and the Third World,” in Mohammed Ayoob, ed., Regional Security in the ThirdWorld (London: Croom Helm, 1986), 3–23; Bahgat Korany, “Strategic Studies and the Third World: A Critical Appraisal,” International Social Science Journal 38:4 (1986), 547–62; Udo Steinbach, “Sources of Third World Conflict,” in Third World Conflict and International Security, Adelphi Paper no. 166 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1981), 21–28; Soedjatmoko, “Patterns of Armed Conflict in the Third World,” Alternatives 10:4 (1985), 477–93; Edward Azar and Chung-in Moon, “Third World National Security: Towards a New Conceptual Framework,” International Interactions 11:2 (1984), 103–35; Barry Buzan, “The Concept of National Security for Developing Countries with Special Reference to Southeast Asia,” paper presented to the Workshop on “Leadership and Security in Southeast Asia,” Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 10–12 December 1987; Barry Buzan, “People, States and Fear:The National Security Problem in the Third World,” in Edward Azar and Chung-in Moon, eds., National Security in the Third World (Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 1988), 14–43; Caroline Thomas, In Search of Security: The Third World in International Relations (Brighton: Wheatsheaf Books, 1987);Yezid Sayigh, Confronting the 1990s: Security in the Developing Countries, Adelphi Paper no. 251 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1990); Mohammed Ayoob, “The Security Predicament of the Third World State,” in Brian Job, ed., The (In)Security Dilemma:The National Security ofThirdWorld States (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1992); Mohammed Ayoob, “The Security Problematic of the Third World,” World Politics 43:2 (1991), 257–83; Steven R. David, “Explaining Third World Alignment,” World Politics 43:2 (1991), 232–56. Caroline Thomas pro- vides a succinct overview of the place ofThirdWorld issues in international security studies in her “New Directions in Thinking about Security in the Third World,” in Ken Booth, ed., New Thinking about Strategy and International Security (London: HarperCollins; 1991), 267–89.
  • Hugh Macdonald, “Strategic Studies,” Millennium 16:2 (1987), 333–36.
  • Joseph Nye and Sean M. Lynn Jones, “International Security Studies: Report of a Conference on the State of the Field,” International Security 12:4 (1988), 27. Major theoretical attempts to develop an understanding of Third World regional conflict and security issues in terms of their local, rather than systemic or struc- tural, determinants during the Cold War period include Ayoob’s work on regional security in the Third World and Buzan’s work on “regional security complexes.” Contending that “issues of regional security in the developed world are defined primarily in Cold War terms (NATO versus Warsaw Pact, etc.) and are, therefore, largely indivisible from issues of systemic security,” Ayoob convincingly demon- strated that “the salient regional security issues in the Third World have a life of their own independent of superpower rivalry.” Buzan similarly urged greater attention to the “set of security dynamics at the regional level” in order to “develop the concepts and language for systematic comparative studies, still an area of con- spicuous weakness in Third World studies.” His notion of a “security complex,” was designed to understand “how the regional level mediates the interplay between states and the international system as a whole.” It should be noted, however, that while both Ayoob and Buzan called for greater attention to the regional and local sources of conflict and cooperation, Ayoob’s was specifically focused on the Third World. Buzan’s approach is also more structuralist, emphasizing the role of sys- temic determinants such as colonialism and superpower rivalry (which he called “overlays”) in shaping regional security trends. This seems to undercut his earlier call for “the relative autonomy of regional security relations.” See Ayoob,“Regional Security and the Third World”; Buzan, People, States and Fear, 186; and Buzan, “Third World Regional Security in Structural and Historical Perspective,” in Job, ed., The (In)Security Dilemma, 167–89.
  • Evan Luard estimates that between 1945 and 1986, there were some 117 “signifi- cant ” Out of these, only two occurred in Europe, while Latin America accounted for twenty-six; Africa, thirty-one; the Middle East, twenty-four; and Asia, forty-four. According to this estimate, the Third World was the scene of more than 98 percent of all international conflicts. Evan Luard, War in International Society (London: I. B.Tauris, 1986), appendix 5.
  • To say that the Third World’s security predicament or experience has not been captured by realist analysis is not to say that the security behavior of Third World states has not followed the tenets of realism. On the contrary, there has been a mismatch between security analysis and security policy and praxis in the case of Third World states. Many Third World governments have pursued policies that enhance the security of the state and the regime while ignoring more unconventional sources of conflict, such as underdevelopment and ecological degradation.This state-centrism in security policy has, in turn, compounded the instability and violence in the Third World.
  • Udo Steinbach, “Sources of Third World Conflict,”
  • Ayoob, “Regional Security and the Third World,” 9–10.
  • Brian Job, “The Insecurity Dilemma,” in Job, ed., The (In)Security Dilemma.
  • Those who are skeptical of a broader notion of security or who caution against too much broadening include some of the leading contributors to the analysis of the Third World security Mohammed Ayoob, in his contribution to this volume, argues that “there are major intellectual and practical hazards in adopting unduly elastic definitions of security” and specifically calls for security analysts to “show greater discrimination in applying security-related vocabulary to matters pertaining to ecological or other global management issues.” In his view, for the latter to be considered as security issues, “they must demonstrate the capacity immediately to affect political outcomes.” I agree on the need for such caution. But even if one adopts Ayoob’s criteria; there remains a wide range of nonmilitary issues that create tension and violence within and between states and destabilize state-society relations.These (such as the conflict-creating potential of underdevel- opment or environmental degradation) should be considered as being legitimately within the purview of security studies.
  • John Rosenbaum and William G. Tyler, “South-South Relations: The Economic and Political Content of Interactions among Developing Countries,” International Organization 29:1 (1975) 243–74.
  • On the origins and role of the NAM, see Peter Lyon, Neutralism (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1963); W. Singham and S. Hume, Non-Alignment in the Age of Alignments (London: Zed Books, 1986); Peter Willetts, The Non-Aligned Movement (London: Frances Pinter, 1978); Satish Kumar, “Non-Alignment: International Goals, and National Interests,” Asian Survey 23:4 (1983), 445–61; Fred Halliday, “The Maturing of the Non-Aligned: Perspectives from New Delhi,” in Third World Affairs (London: Third World Foundation, 1985); Bojana Tadic, “The Movement of the Non-Aligned and Its Dilemmas Today,” Review of International Affairs 31:756 (5 October 1981), 19–24; A. W. Singham, ed., The Non-Aligned Movement in World Politics (Westport, Conn.: L. Hill, 1977).
  • Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, “NAM and Security,” Strategic Studies (Islamabad) 14:3 (1991), 15.
  • Mohammed Ayoob, “The Third World in the System of States: Acute Schizophrenia or Growing Pains,” International Studies Quarterly 33:1 (1989),
  • Edward Kolodziej and Robert Harkavy, “Developing States and the International Security System,” Journal of International Affairs 34:1 (1980), 63.
  • Shahram Chubin, “The Super-powers, Regional Conflicts and World Order,” in The Changing Strategic Landscape, Adelphi Papers, 237 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1989), 78.
  • In a comprehensive survey of 107 wars in the Third World between 1945 and 1990, Guy Arnold found that “many would almost certainly have been far shorter in dura- tion and less devastating in their effects had the big powers not intervened.” See Arnold, Wars in the Third World since 1945 (London: Cassell, 1991), xvi.
  • Ayoob, “Regional Security and the Third World,”
  • David, “Explaining Third World Alignment,” 233–55.
  • Jose Cintra, “Regional Conflicts:Trends in a Period of Transition,” in The Changing Strategic Landscape, Adelphi Paper no. 237 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1989), 96–97.
  • Fred Halliday, Cold War,Third World (London: Hutchinson Radius, 1989),
  • Testimony by Lieutenant General James Clapper to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 22 January 1992, in Regional Flashpoints Potential for Military Conflict (Washington, C.: United States Information Service, 1992), 5.
  • “Africa’s Tribal Wars,” The Economist, 13 October 1990, 50–51.
  • “Tribalism Revisited,” The Economist, 21 December 1991 – 3 January 1992,
  • Shahram Chubin, “Third World Conflicts:Trends and Prospects,” International Social Science Journal 43:1 (1991), 159.
  • For example, much of the evidence cited by Jessica Tuchman Mathews to support her arguments concerning redefining security is from the Third See Jessica Tuchman Mathews, “Redefining Security,” Foreign Affairs 68:2 (1989), 162–77.
  • Shahram Chubin, “The South and the New World Disorder;” The Washington Quarterly 16:4 (1993),
  • Regional security organizations may perform a variety of roles and may be based on different models such as collective security systems, alliances, or common security forums. Collective security systems should not be confused with alliance-type regional security arrangements such as the Bush administration’s idea of a “regional security structure” in the wake of Iraq’s expulsion from Kuwait. Collective security refers to the role of a global or regional system in protecting any member state from aggression by another member state. The inward-looking security role of a collective security system is to be contrasted with the outer-directed nature of an alliance that is geared to protect its members from a common external threat. See Ernst B. Haas, Tangle of Hopes (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1969), 94. For an appraisal of the strengths and limitations of regional security arrangements in the post-Cold War era, see S. Neil MacFarlane and Thomas G. Weiss, “Regional Organizations and Regional Security,” Security Studies 2:1 (1992);Tom J. Farer, “The Role of Regional Collective Security Arrangements,” in Thomas G. Weiss, ed., Collective Security in a Changing World (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1993), 153–86; Amitav Acharya, “Regional Approaches to Security in the Third World: Lessons and Prospects,” in Larry A. Swatuk and Timothy M. Shaw, eds., The South at the End of the Twentieth Century (London: Macmillan, 1994), 79–94; Paul F. Diehl, “Institutional Alternatives to Traditional U.N. Peacekeeping: An Assessment of Regional and Multinational Options,” Armed Forces and Society 19:2 (1993); Benjamin Rivlin, “Regional Arrangements and the UN System for Collective Security and Conflict Resolution: A New Road Ahead?” International Relations 11:2 (1992), 95–110.
  • MacFarlane and Weiss, “Regional Organizations and Regional Security,”
  • See Amitav Acharya, “Regional Military-Security Cooperation in the Third World: A Conceptual Analysis of the Relevance and Limitations of ASEAN,” Journal of Peace Research 291:1 (1992), 7–21; Amitav Acharya, “The Gulf Cooperation Council and Security: Dilemmas of Dependence,” Middle East Strategic Studies Quarterly 1:3 (1990), 88–136.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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