The coronavirus pandemic has already become the main event of the leap year, relegating other dramatic news of recent months to the background. It also turned out to be the most severe stress test for the global economic and financial system, for many international organizations and public administration mechanisms in individual countries. This test is far from complete since the peak of the pandemic is still far away, and the repercussions of the global spread of 2019-nCoV (aka SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19) have yet to be assessed. Nevertheless, some preliminary conclusions can already be made. Unfortunately, these findings are disappointing.
Most experts, journalists and politicians focus on the economic and financial impact of the pandemic. How will the coronavirus affect global trade and investment? What will happen to international supply chains? How will global financial markets respond? How will the geography and scale of cross-border migration flows change?
All these questions are, without a doubt, fundamental. And not only for “them”, i.e. governments, top multinational companies and financial holdings but also for “us”, i.e. ordinary people in all corners of the planet. It is already clear today that for a lot of people, life will be divided into “before” and “after” the pandemic: some will have to give up their travelling hobby, some will not be able to get a raise, and some will switch to remote work or be tempted by the possibility of downshifting.
Nonetheless, we should not forget about the political, or rather political and psychological, consequences. They are not as noticeable, but no less important, both for “us” and “them”. Indicators of global political trends and sentiments today are as alarming as are the indicators of global economic trends. The preliminary results of the coronavirus test on humanity reveal clear signs of a political and psychological immunodeficiency or, if you like, an absence of the instinct that is inherent in any biological species to protect one’s own population.
All for One or Each for Themselves?
All epidemics, from the Athenian or so-called Thucydidean” plague (430 BC) to the Ebola epidemic (2014–2015), ultimately ended one way or another. Sooner or later, the current coronavirus pandemic will also be under control. However, different epidemics affected the course of world history in different ways. Some of them could be compared to what programmers call a bug: a random error in a computer program that leads to an unplanned and undesirable result. Others took on the character of a feature, i.e. became an organic property, essential aspect, characteristic trait, permanent function and even “additional functionality” of the program.
The first scenario (bug) is likely if humanity or an individual population that has been affected by the epidemic is able to draw the necessary conclusions from the disaster and prevent it from recurring in the future. The second scenario (feature) is inevitable if appropriate conclusions are not drawn, the lessons of the disaster are forgotten, and the epidemic does not lead to any changes in the usual political priorities, management approaches, psychological attitudes and the old way of life. A bug is perceived as a problem, a feature is seen as an inevitability. You fix a bug, but you live with a feature. Let’s examine the specific case of the current coronavirus pandemic.
Logic suggests that the population should rally against a common threat, especially when it comes to the homo sapiens species, which is at the top of the evolutionary ladder. Man, as we all know, is a social being. Putting aside internal disagreements and group conflicts – at least for a while – mankind should focus on finding a solution to a truly universal problem.
And what are we seeing now, when humanity is faced with a progressing pandemic? Political leaders are remarkably reluctant to make significant changes to their international agendas. The spread of coronavirus neither prevented the recent exacerbation of the situation in Syria nor the breakdown of ceasefire agreements in Libya. Iran’s transformation into one of the leading centers of the pandemic did not prompt Washington to attempt even a symbolic easing of its economic sanctions against Tehran. Nor did the pandemic become an incentive for Russia and Saudi Arabia to make mutual concessions during the OPEC+ negotiations, which could have prevented the collapse in oil prices and the subsequent panic on global financial markets. In each of these and in many other cases, the universal interests of the self-preservation of the human population have invariably been pushed into the background for the sake of opportunistic political, economic or other group interests.
Moreover, the pandemic itself has started to be perceived as an opportunity to strengthen one’s position in geopolitical and economic competition. United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Louis Ross is optimistic that the coronavirus epidemic “will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.” A number of Western economists were quick to announce that the pandemic would spell the end of the “Chinese era” in global manufacturing and the final victory of the United States in the economic confrontation with Beijing. Of course, the fact that China was the first victim of the coronavirus presented an excellent opportunity to talk about the inefficiency of authoritarian systems in preventing epidemics, about the redundancy of the restrictive measures taken by the Chinese authorities, to reiterate concerns about the human rights situation in China, and so on.
In recent weeks, U.S. officials have not once missed an opportunity to refer to the culprit as the “Chinese” (“Wuhan”) virus. In turn, Chinese officials have speculated that the virus may have been brought to Wuhan by the U.S. military, who had participated in the Military World Games held in the city last October.
All in all, we must admit that four months after the start of the pandemic, the world continues its everyday squabbling over momentary disagreements, petty vanity and tactical gains and losses. In other words, the pandemic is perceived not so much as a global bug that needs to be fixed at all costs, but as a new feature of world politics that can be used to advance your interests and counter those of your opponents and competitors. Paraphrasing the famous saying by King Frederick William I of Prussia, modern statesmen may well say: “A pandemic is a pandemic, but the war should be on schedule.”
However, maybe we should blame the whole thing solely on unscrupulous politicians, insatiable defense corporations and irresponsible financial fraudsters? Unfortunately, I cannot agree with this statement. The current pandemic often exposes unseemly features of the human character, not only in the abstract “them” but also in the very specific “us”. All these politicians, corporations and banks turn out to be just as irresponsible, unscrupulous and short-sighted as allowed by the existing social demand.
“You Die Today, and I Die Tomorrow”?
It is natural for the human consciousness (or rather the subconscious) to reject negative scenarios. We are even less willing to consider such scenarios as directly affecting ourselves and our loved ones. This is especially true for countries and even entire continents that have enjoyed peace and the absence of obvious threats to personal security for several generations. Hence the numerous instances of the frivolous attitude to the pandemic at its initial stages, especially in European countries, where we saw a defiant unpreparedness and unwillingness to follow recommendations and even direct orders from the authorities. “They went on doing business, arranged for journeys, and formed views,” wrote Albert Camus in his novel The Plague. “How should they have given a thought to anything like the plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views. They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.”
At the service of infantile optimists is a whole army of experts who urge us not to dramatize the situation. They inform us that the number of people killed by the new virus over the course of the entire pandemic is comparable to the number of people dying of tuberculosis in the world every day. They remind us that even ordinary flu leads to more deaths today than the coronavirus has managed to cause. They tell us that in the United States, for example, car accidents claim more than a hundred lives every day, and yet no one in America is thinking of banning cars because of that.
When, finally, ordinary people are forced to open their eyes to the true extent of the problem, they often act no better than the cynical and selfish politicians. Of course, the pandemic has already provided many examples of human solidarity, civil initiative and true heroism. And yet.
In the relatively prosperous south of Italy, agitated activists refused to accept refugees from the disadvantaged north of the country, and in some places this reluctance even led them to block roads and railway stations. In the Poltava region of Ukraine, local residents threw stones at buses with fellow citizens evacuated from Wuhan. Fearing the spread of the virus on the African continent, the public in many African countries remained deaf to the requests of their compatriots to help them with their evacuation from Wuhan. In the United States, the federal government was forced to accommodate potential carriers of the virus at military bases. Also telling is the case of the Westerdam cruise ship, which, under pressure from the public, was not allowed to moor in the ports of Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand for two weeks, until, finally, the passengers were able to go ashore in the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville. All of this was despite the fact that not a single infected person was found on board.
Historical experience suggests that the victims of any epidemic or natural disaster are invariably those social, economic, ethnic and religious groups that were the most disadvantaged even before the emergency. These groups are most vulnerable to the threat of the dissolution of traditional social ties, lack of quality medical care, increasing unemployment and other problems. These groups are also the ones that are most often blamed for the consequences of disasters, such as the Jewish pogroms that rolled over Europe during the famous Black Death epidemic of 1348–1351. Under extreme conditions, the processes of social and cultural polarization tend to accelerate, and the much-needed social cohesion in the face of a common threat becomes extremely difficult to achieve.
Carrying this general pattern over to the international level, it would be fair to conclude that, in the event of a global pandemic, the least vulnerable and least wealthy states and territories will ultimately be the most vulnerable. It is one thing when the virus spreads throughout affluent Europe or the effectively managed China. It is an entirely different matter if, for example, the epicenter is Afghanistan, Idlib in Syria, South Sudan or the Gaza Strip. It is hard to imagine the scale of consequences a pandemic may have in places with ravaged infrastructure, numerous hotbeds of political radicalism and extremism and constant outbreaks of armed violence.
What is easy to imagine, though, is how right-wing populists in Europe or extremists in the Middle East will use this situation to strengthen their positions. In fact, they are already exploiting the pandemic heavily, because for them the coronavirus is definitely a feature, not a bug, a novel opportunity, or a new threat. In Europe, the pandemic strengthens the arguments of the right-wing parties in Italy, France, Spain and Poland, who demand that borders be closed and the flow of international migration stopped. One interpretation that arose in the Middle East is that the coronavirus was cast upon the Chinese as a punishment for oppressing Muslims. In Russia, the virus works for those who espouse total isolationism, prophesize the irreversible downfall of the West and preach eschatological optimism.
What about the social responsibility of the media? The pandemic is becoming a source of endless speculation, opportunistic propaganda and misinformation. Conspiracy theories have flourished: the virus is declared to be a product of secret laboratories, and its distribution the diabolical plan of powerful dark forces nesting either in Washington, or Beijing, or Jerusalem, or possibly even Moscow. Fears of the pandemic, fueled by politicians and journalists, are nourishing dark instincts, stirring up the muddy waters that are inevitably present at the bottom of any national identity. Demand for various “horror stories”, in turn, stimulates the supply – and the shabby inventions of countless conspiracy theorists are snapped up by the townsfolk just as soap, salt and matches were swept from the shelves during previous epidemics.
An Epidemic of Minds, Not Bodies
Mankind’s readiness for collective action in the fight against common challenges – be it epidemics, natural disasters or man-made disasters – is generally declining. The systematic cultivation of nationalism and national exclusiveness, the implicit or explicit promotion of xenophobia, the arrogant disregard for international law, the prioritizing of tactical interests over strategic ones – all these features of world politics that we have observed in recent years will not pass without consequence.
Just a couple of decades ago, the willingness for international cooperation was much higher. When the so-called “bird flu” epidemic broke out at the beginning of the century, U.S. epidemiologists immediately came to the aid of their Chinese colleagues in identifying the virus (H5N1). As a result, the extremely dangerous bird flu outbreak (its mortality rate reached 60%) was nipped in the bud, and only several hundred people fell victim to the epidemic. Of course, those were the blessed times when the United States still had no restrictions on scientific cooperation with China, and the People’s Republic was not at all considered an implacable foe of the United States.
Throughout the many years since the deadly epidemic of the Ebola virus, authoritative epidemiologists have time and again proposed a wide variety of measures to bolster international cooperation in combating dangerous infectious diseases. But the new pandemic demonstrated the weakness and fragility of international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO). Who in the world today believes that the WHO can become a truly effective global headquarters for the fight against coronavirus? Judging by the amount of resources provided to the organization, almost no one: the WHO’s total budget does not exceed the budget of a big American hospital. This is despite the fact that the organization’s outstanding experience in countering dangerous diseases is beyond doubt: just recall the global eradication of smallpox and the undeniable successes in the fight against polio and malaria.
Societies in most countries of the world have ceased to trust international organizations, no longer seeing them as reliable mechanisms to counter epidemics and other threats. Even in the European Union, the most important decisions regarding the coronavirus today are made in national capitals, and not in Brussels. But societies do not trust their own governments either, suspecting them of concealing the true extent of the pandemic, as well as of using the pandemic for their narrow political purposes. Governments, for their part, do not trust each other, and that applies not only to potential adversaries and competitors, but also to allies and partners. As a result, a vicious circle of total distrust is emerging, which is an ideal breeding ground for any epidemic.
It appears that the upcoming G20 Summit in Riyadh in November 2020 will be mainly devoted to the problems posed by the imminent global recession, by new challenges to the global financial system and by the coronavirus. But can humanity wait until November, in the meantime confining itself to helpless attempts to stop the pandemic in each individual country? Is it worth hoping that a miraculous vaccine will be invented in the coming months, or that the coronavirus will not spread during the hot summer period? Should we convene an emergency G20 meeting to discuss the current pandemic?
It appears that without unrelenting pressure from the public, governments will not be willing to take collective action, still perceiving the coronavirus not as a bug, but as a feature of world politics. Such an approach will inevitably doom homo sapiens to degradation and, ultimately, to extinction. And this does not only include the abstract “them” such as governments and corporations, but also the very specific “us”. If not today, it could be in ten or fifty years. If not from coronavirus, it could be from climate change or global nuclear war. What other signal does humanity need to finally wake up the self-preservation instinct that is inherent in any biological species?
From our partner RIAC
Looking for safety in security studies: Is it relevant to discuss climate change’s impact on UNSC?
In December 2021, Security Council failed to adopt the draft resolution to integrate the climate security-related threat into the United Nations conflict-prevention strategies. The resolution was aimed to help the forum facing the risk of conflict that will escalate because of social issues affected by climate change such as, drought, flood, soil degradation, and sea level rising that create social-security problems such as water and food scarcity and large-scale people displacement (United Nations, December 2021).
Through that resolution, it is expected that the concern of climate change and social-security issues that are affected by it would start to be seen as intersectional and contributing to conflict and affecting the security itself. As can be observed in the displacement and refugees issue in South Sudan that pushed 500.000 Dinka ethnic people from their homes and escalated the ethnic conflict between Dinka and Nuer. Other phenomena such as sea level rising also affect island state and their neighbor state which will get affected by refugees that try to get into their country.
Even though the climate-related threat is classified as a multiplier factor, its impact on the social security issue is real and has the potential to escalate the conflict that risks the security of thousands of citizens. Nevertheless, by the rejection of those draft resolutions from India and Russia, and abstain from China, Security Council then must reject the resolution because of the votes of a permanent member. India, as the member that rejects the draft, bases its rejection on the functionality of the Security Council which is to deescalate the conflict and discuss the climate impact is not a proper forum because there is another forum that has focused on that issue already (Security Council Report, 2021). But, is it necessary to discuss climate change and its impact on Security Council? Is it relevant for climate issues to be discussed in a security forum?
Why should it be UNSC, as a security Forum, to discussed it?
As a forum and institution in the UN that has been mandated to keep the security and peace, the advocacy of climate adaptation policy the have several urgencies to be integrated into UNSC talks. First, quoting from the UNSC mandate in chapter IV, “The Security Council may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute, in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security (United Nations, n.d.).” Even though that mandate is written in the ‘Pacific Settlement of Disputes’ section, those article is not referring to clauses that limit the situation contribute to the conflict on human activities directly, such as the impact of climate change. Therefore, the impact of climate change should be addressed by the Security Council forum to prevent disputes from escalating into a real conflict that threatened the social-security issue.
Second, regarding the hierarchical decision-making in United Nations, Security Council has the authority to enforce more binding and interventionist resolutions than other forums such as General Assembly that the socio-economy issues with more loose output. Connecting the dots, the conditions which have been faced by climate change issue in international meetings is slower than what should be expected in creating an assertive and ambitious response, especially when the issues are in intersection with other issues such as conflict escalation. Regarding this situation, the Security council, as the dominant institution that establishes the dominant discourse on international security, has a central role in directing the climate change urgency in international society, since the security discourse is always paramount in international relations.
UNSC as a dominant discourse-maker in security studies
It can not be denied that United Nations is an organization characterized by monolithic production of power in the implementation of its agenda, with human rights and human security as the dominant narrative in its every decision-making process (Shepherd, 2008, p. 392). This character could be seen through the UN Charter in 1945, particular in article 24.1, “Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf” (UN 1945, Article 24.1). Those article referring Security Council as the highest authority institutionally and legislative in the UN through its resolutions. And in the name of security, Security Council has extensive authority in drawing the objective of every resolution and mission. Even though it needs to be questioned on what purposes those objectives are being directed.
The power that Security Council had in concepting how security will be achieved in international relations could be reflected to what Buzan (1998) wrote as the process of securitization. Regarding Buzan, the creation of the security concept is the key to legitimizing the use of force, mobilizing international society, and using the special means to intervene in other states’ business in the name of handling existential threats which threaten the existence of states and their sovereignty (Buzzan, 1998). To put it simply, labeling a situation as security will frame that situation as emergency and apolitical. As the implication, issue that had been labeled as a security threat will get punctuation and urgency to exterminate the threat at the institution level, such as the different perspectives of the member which will get in the way of its agenda realization. In this process of securitization, the problem of climate change creates a great leap in its progress to meet its drives the securitization process.
Nevertheless, the discourse-making of security above is still limited to traditional security conception which refers to the military aspect of security. This limitation can be seen through the articulation of security and its threat by permanent members of the Security Council. India, Russia, and China reject the discussion of the draft resolution because they are afraid that international society will intervene their sovereignty, as what could have happened in Chapter VII (Security Council Report, 2021). In addition, the uncertainty of scientific research about climate and the connection with security means also become another narrative from the three countries to reject the draft.
The traditional security approach that still dominates shows the failure Security Council, as a security forum for states, to recognize the issue to create a safe environment for its people. All this is due to, first, traditional security studies, on the basic level, are not trying to solve the root of the disputes and war, however, it only focuses on how to avoid the damage that could be achieved by parties involved in the disputes (Walt, 1991, p. 212). Second, the traditional security studies too focused on keeping the concept of the states and its existence, so that it becomes oblivious about the people within the states as the constituent of the state also gives the legitimacy to the state’s sovereignty (Waltz, 1991, p. 213). Those two characteristics of traditional security studies show how security is too limited in the military aspect and lost its ability and orientation to keep the people feel safe.
Stepping out of the old conception
It can not be denied that the impact of climate change is getting worst every day, even if it is affected the most in several conflicts and disputes in international relations. The urgency for the Security Council to discuss the impact of climate change on conflict escalation is the embodiment of awareness of the need for safety than the conception of security itself.
As a disclaimer, of course, there is risk and compromise in states’ sovereignty when we try to securitize the climate issue in a security forum. Last time, when international society try to securitize human right issue, US used those narratives to disarm and intervene in the oil field of Iran in 2002. This threat is evident and inevitable because security is the paramount issue in international relations, and every issue that is labeled as a threat of it will expand the authority of states’ to get rid of it, even if it violates others’ sovereignty.
The only way for security studies to avoid the worsening failure in addressing the issue of security that have been affected by climate issue is to step out of the traditional conception of security, and its rigidity in the game of tough-man through its war-game strategies, while failed to see the essence of the states and the security that we try to create and establish, is the safety of people within the states.
Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as New Instrument in Nuclear Disarmament Process
On June 21–23, Vienna will host a historic event in the field of nuclear disarmament – the First Meeting of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
The entry into force of this treaty in January 2021 became a long-awaited signal that demonstrated the determination of the UN member states to take concrete measures to outlaw nuclear weapons.
This was a significant moment for Kazakhstan, which in the past experienced detrimental consequences of nuclear tests. As President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev noted in his speech at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, “today Kazakhstan is an example and a role model for the whole world as a responsible state that voluntarily abandoned its nuclear-missile arsenal and closed the world’s largest nuclear test site.”
For half a century, our land suffered atmospheric, ground, and underground tests. This impacted the health of about 1.5 million Kazakhs living near the test site with an area of more than 18,000 square kilometres. The consequences of radiation are felt to this day.
On the initiative of Kazakhstan, the closing date of the Semipalatinsk test site – August 29 – was declared in 2009 by the UN General Assembly the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Emphasizing the symbolism of this date, in 2019 Kazakhstan submitted to the UN Secretariat an instrument for ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
Kazakhstan voluntarily abandoned the 4th largest nuclear arsenal in the world, which it inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in 1993 joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a state that does not possess nuclear weapons. Let me note, that the TPNW was developed in support of the NPT and fully complements its objective of strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, the peaceful use of atomic energy and wider international security.
In fact, TPNW reflects the dissatisfaction of most UN member states with the disregard by nuclear countries of their obligations on nuclear disarmament, enshrined in several international treaties and documents, including Article VI of the NPT. For this reason, we believe that the treaty should be mentioned in the Final Document of the forthcoming NPT Review Conference in August 2022.
The Treaty establishes several mandatory legal initiatives in the field of nuclear disarmament. For example, nuclear weapons are considered illegal for the first time in human history. Secondly, the production, testing, acquisition, transfer, storage and deployment of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use of threats to use them, are prohibited.
A nuclear-weapon country can join the TPNW if it agrees to destroy its nuclear weapons in accordance with legally binding, verifiable, time-specific plans. Similarly, a country hosting nuclear weapons can join if it agrees to remove them. The Treaty does not prescribe specific timeframes or disarmament measures, as they are planned to be approved by the member states following the First Conference of the TPNW.
Kazakhstan’s active participation gave impetus to the organisation of the First Conference of the TPNW. The most important contribution of our country to this process was acting as a facilitator of substantive solutions. In particular, at the initiative of Kazakhstan and Kiribati (which suffered 39 American and British nuclear weapon test), a working group was created to develop proposals on the issue of positive obligations in accordance with Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty related to providing support for victims of nuclear testing and use of nuclear weapons, as well as environmental rehabilitation.
The positive obligations under the TPNW refer to the nodal aspects and are focused on eliminating damage from the use and testing of nuclear weapons in the past, as well as preventing possible damage in the future.
The medium-term goal of this initiative on the adoption of positive obligations is to establish an International Trust Fund to finance projects related to victim assistance and environmental restoration.
A specific mechanism is being discussed for identifying sources of funding (from TPNW member-states and non-member states, NGOs, philanthropists, and individuals) for work that requires special knowledge, materials, and equipment. It is important to note that this proposal has found support among the expert community and academic circles.
I would like to note that with the financial support of Kazakhstan and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, Kazakh people affected by nuclear testing and the youth representatives from Pacific Island countries will be able to participate in the First Conference of the TPNW and share their stories from a high international rostrum to draw attention to how deplorable the consequences of the use/testing of nuclear weapons can be.
The TPNW positive obligations are of practical value for Central Asia. In accordance with Article 7 of the TPNW, states may request the assistance of other parties to the Treaty and international structures to implement the abovementioned provisions. Considering the existing problem of uranium tailing ponds in several countries of our region, this initiative would help to attract donor funds from other states and international organisations for the reclamation of tailing ponds and the implementation of preventive measures to help the population near uranium mines.
Therefore, Kazakhstan, as the only state in the CIS region that has acceded to the TPNW, is conducting systematic work in accordance with Article 12 on the universalisation of the document to expand the membership of its participants, primarily from among the countries of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ).
Let me remind that CANWFZ, established by Kazakhstan jointly with its regional neighbours through the 2006 Semipalatinsk Treaty, is the first and currently the only such zone in the Northern Hemisphere. A key addition to it was the Protocol, containing negative security assurances, which stipulates that countries possessing nuclear weapons undertake not to use them on the parties to the Treaty. In this regard, we are grateful to the United Kingdom, China, Russia, and France for completing the ratification of this important document. Last year, the foreign ministers of the states that are parties to the Treaty – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – made a joint statement on its 15th anniversary, in which they reaffirmed their unshakable commitment to its provisions and called on the United States to ratify the above-mentioned Protocol as soon as possible.
The members of nuclear-weapon-free zones around the world are at the forefront of the nuclear disarmament process. The main goals and objectives of establishing these zones are in line with the principles of the TPNW. This means that a state party to the Semipalatinsk Treaty can accede to the TPNW without assuming additional obligations. Besides, if a state that is party to the Semipalatinsk Treaty has already adopted relevant national regulatory legal acts to implement the provisions of the Semipalatinsk Treaty, then this will probably be sufficient to fulfil the obligations that the state will assume by joining the TPNW. This is confirmed by leading international NGOs and experts in the field of nuclear disarmament.
It should also be emphasized that the TPNW is gaining global popularity thanks to the efforts of civil society, which encourages governments and parliamentarians of their respective countries to accede to the Treaty. Kazakhstan welcomes the decision of several European countries (Switzerland, Sweden, and Finland), including the declared intention of NATO members (Germany and Norway), to participate as observers in the First Conference of the States Parties to the TPNW.
The Treaty is another effective platform for our efforts to build a world without nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan will continue to show an example of high responsibility to the present and future generations of humankind.
In this context, it’s worth noting the UN Universal Declaration on the Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, adopted at the initiative of Kazakhstan at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in 2015. The Universal Declaration calls for the total elimination of nuclear weapons as the only guarantee against their use or threat of use. Last year, the resolution received a record number of 141 votes from UN member states, indicating its positive momentum. Particularly noteworthy was the support from India and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which possess nuclear weapons, as well as from Iran, which was among the co-sponsors of the resolution.
If nuclear weapons are declared to be outside of international law, the call for nuclear-weapon states to take urgent steps in the field of nuclear disarmament will increase significantly. To this end, Kazakhstan continuously encourages dialogue between nuclear countries and the TPNW supporters in order to align their views and strengthen trust between them, which is especially important given current geopolitical conditions. Such work is also being carried out within the framework of the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament and specialised platforms within the UN, including the First Committee of the General Assembly, where our country will take over the chairmanship during the 77th session.
The possibility of signing the TPNW and its entry into force have given many countries additional hope for a safer and rational world, which is currently in a serious crisis. As noted by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, with about 13,400 nuclear warheads around the world, the possibility of using nuclear weapons is more real than in the darkest days of the Cold War. The current military confrontation in Ukraine, discussions about proliferation of nuclear weapons and mutual threats to use them, raise the question about the collective vulnerability of humanity and the urgent need to ban and eliminate the deadly weapons.
The practical contribution of Kazakhstan to nuclear disarmament encourages us to continue calling on nations and governments to redouble their efforts to rid our planet of the threat of nuclear self-destruction by strengthening mutual trust. With that in mind, Kazakhstan has nominated its candidacy for the position of Vice Chair of the First Meeting of the TPNW in 2022 and Chair of the Third Meeting for 2024–2026.
We call on all states, including nuclear-weapon powers, to develop a phased plan for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, to the centenary of the UN. The proposals and agreements to achieve this goal could be reflected in the final documents of both the First Conference of the TPNW and the NPT Review Conference.
Kazakhstan realizes that there are many political and technical obstacles on the way to achieving this noble and ambitious goal. We consider it necessary to embark on a practical work in this direction.
Ukrainian Crisis – End of the International Order?
Three months have already passed since the Russian ‘special operation in’ or ‘invasion of’ (depends which sources you are citing) Ukraine began. As the international community tries to grasp this ‘denazification and demilitarization’ event, its causes and consequences, much has been talked but little understood about war’s potential to fundamentally change the world order—and about the way it illustrates already ongoing shifts. Yet, every aspect of the planetary balance of power, security architecture, geo-economic and geopolitical dynamics is challenged by this looming conflict.
On May 20, the Habibie Center addressed this topical issue witin its Public Lecture Series. In an event titled ‘The Ukraine Crisis and its Implications for the Global Political Chessboard’, the Jakarta-based think tank hosted Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic (Vienna, Geneva, universities of) for a public lecture on the war’s repercussions, both globally, as well as for the Asian continent and its Southeastern theatre.
Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic framed his thorough analysis of the conflict by alluding to the usual pattern of “critical insight formation” around an international crisis. The ‘problem’ and its ‘solution’ are presented as two halves of the singular picture. Within this picture, the lights and shadows consist of the ‘costs’ associated with the problem, and their ‘cost distribution’. The multi-dimensional nature of Ukrainian crisis can be understood that way, too. Depending on where the problem’s centre of gravity is located—the rise of new threats in a multipolar order, the global energy crisis, the deterioration of European security structures—different costs can be identified for various stakeholders.
Clearing points at the entrée, professor stated: “the way we formulate the problem will inevitably determine our answer/s and lead the course of our action”. Hence, “today I will concentrate only on setting the questions we must ask to answer what this crisis is about”, explained professor before getting into a 40-minute questions elaboration.
Accordingly, the main historical drives, politico-military aspect, legal aspect, economic aspect, and Ideological aspect (deeper meanings) related to the war were briefly explained. In addition, questions from participants of the lecture were raised regarding future outcomes and implications on RI, and analytical conclusions were drawn making emphasis on being logical and reasonable in studying the case scenario closely. This article will present the details of the discussion following the above-mentioned points.
The first point of the discussion focused on the main historical drives attributed to the long-lasted tension between Russia and Ukraine. Starting with the concept of Competing Universalisms which rather is not Venus Vs Mars competing between the two Marses, mentioned here included the Great Schism which was in the 11th Century particularly in the year 1054 resulted in a distinction between Kyiv Russia and Rimo-Catholic Ummah and how Christianity was a tool for operationalization of religion for ideological pursue (the struggle of the center of interpretation and its peripheries. Secondly, the formation of the Political West at the age of anthropo-geographic inversion/Grand discoveries expanded and projected itself internally but also demographically. Thirdly, attributed to the Napoleonic wars, the Hitler coalition ( ‘Barbarossa’ via Ukraine) and smaller episodes such as Crimean War which lasted from 1853-56 fought between Ottomans, France, UK, and Piedmont-Sardinia Vs Russia, European Interventionism in the years 1918-22 and the Russo-Polish humiliating war in the years 1919-21 for the Isolation of Russia as a historical constant or ad hoc policy was discussed. Finally, in this category is the three dissolutions in Eastern Europe which made Russia a last huge resource to be conquered and split.
The Second point of the discussion focused on the Politico-military aspect beginning with the astonishing lack on the side of the ‘Collective West’ critical insight about Russia’s reasons, capabilities, intentions, outreach, and lasting effects, the dangerous security experiment of conflict escalation through antagonization of Russia supported by state Adventurism univocally by European elected politicians and cheerleading intellectuals. Secondly, the ambiguity in explaining if the conflict is solely Russo-Ukraine or is it NATO and the Russian federation indirectly in addition to the periodic unclarity of the start of the tension whether it is from 2014 or 2022 supported by the question of whether it is a local conflict that escalates or global conflict that is localized? What the spillover potential or length of the extension is and notably, the US proxy war to save the Dollar’s global position or a new imperial quest of the post-soviet Russia were questions raised for a deeper analysis of the case.
Thirdly, the peculiar nature of military actions such as the historical and political background of Ukraine from Kyiv Russia to the Soviet Republic, the Ethnic, Linguistic, and Religious composite of Ukraine with the alarming GINI Index showing a high gap between the rich and poor, the increased organized crime, depopulation, regressive ta policy and poor labor and environmental standards, change of ethnic composition together with forced migration and the promise made by President Zelensky during the election on the Donbas peace reintegration pledge which had no western/US support were pointed out for further analysis. Fourthly, the huge role of media in terms of censorship, Frenzy, destruction acceleration as coined by the term ‘Pornography of number’- deeper psychologization of issues and using fear as a currency of control, boosting emotional charge, personalization, and further escalation of the conflict by feeding the negative spiral and the link between media compliance and external/sovereign national debt were mentioned.
Lastly in this section was the singularization of foreign aid to Ukraine which lacks the transparency of donors and receivers, quality and configuration of military aid, environmental hazard for fertile soils and underground waters in Ukraine, security risk for the Black Sea theatre, and Europe from diverted stockpiles were explained.
The Third point raised was the legal aspect in the eye of; firstly, the UN Charter and its spirit of collective security and indivisibility the notion of a common European home, the Geneva talks- Détente-Helsinki accord Decalogue/CSCE-(1994 Budapest summit for) OSCE in active peaceful coexistence. Secondly, the Gorbachev-Reagan talks of the 1980s disarmament and security non-expansion guarantee constant western rejection of every politico-military initiative of the post-soviet Russia, the NATO defensive alliance with the 30 years of offensive history which has 9 rounds of enlargements, the less formal but lasting partnerships with formerly neutral Eurasian states, its intervention in Europe, Asia and MENA and the continued dismissal of Russian security concerns were indicated. Thirdly, the Ukrainian neutrality and nuclear disarmament dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the Minsk accord I and II at the maidan event of 2014, and the referendum were discussed. Fourthly, the provocation of NATO/US-Ukraine Military Cooperation with equipment, training, exercises since 2014, Bio-lab activities, the presidential statement made at the Munich Security Conference in February 2022 about accession, and the credibility of ‘Unprovoked invasion of Ukraine’ Vs ‘Unprovoked invasion of Iraq’ mantra, the capacity and willingness to honor agreed international treaties. Lastly in the legal aspect was the question of war crimes which is highly selective and comprehensive.
The Fourth point was the Economic aspect, starting with an observation of the World’s most traded commodities number one being Crude oil then Natural gas and wheat on the third and fifth level respectively which the cost paid for their loss are compensated over peripheral countries and social segments within them. In addition, the temporary gain of military-industrial complex but loss for the overall world stability and security, among these were dismantling the obsolete or old military weaponry on the Ukraine soil free of charge, its replacement exclusively with the western military purchases and financed by Ukraine through its new loans, donations and lend-and-lease arrangements for which the US congress already discussed a 30 billion lend-and -lease arrangements with Ukraine on January 22, was before the conflict started. Furthermore, confiscation of overseas deposits and private property and the notion of secondary sanctions versus friendly and unfriendly nations made sanctions, fragmentation of the global monetary system for with the Petro-Ruble and Russia’s Foreign currency reserves increase and the yuan perceived as a world’s reserve currency, stagflation that is inflation with decreased industrial output and the end of the debt-driven economies lead to De-dollarization. Lastly, the economic aspects of energy security in terms of the Pan Euro Mediterranean (PEM) shift and the post-Paris treaty environmental concerns, preferential prices for the friendly countries competitive on the global market, and food security in terms of widening the gap, de-urbanization, insecurity and hunger, social unrest were indicated to have a collective impact on the current situation.
Coming to the deeper meanings was the Ideological aspect. Firstly, the crisis of capitalism if it is the west losing its intellectual capacity to offer and lead in organizational constructive ability en march towards the future self-realization metaphorically described as Instagram-isation of life and TikTok-isation of intellect. Secondly, the question of whether westernization of Eastern Europe is possible without de-anti-fascism and anti-Russian rhetoric was forwarded for analysis and in-depth thinking. Thirdly, answering the millenniums-long pattern of the history of mankind is seen as a story of eternal competition over territorial /material, all governed by the alienated ruler)i. Bolshevik revolution (rule of 99% attempt, non-territorial principle) with the formation of the Universal Organization 1945 and the NAM (Bandung 1955/Belgrade 1961) as furthering of the egalitarian and emancipatory non-territorial idea ii. Fascism/Nazism (Imperialism optimized the idea of material and territorial, while Nazism radicalized it) iii, Glasnost/Perestroika: Dismantling of Warsaw Pact/dissolution of USSR as a triumph of the idea of non-material and non-territorial, and the significant departure from the rule traditionally governing international conduct – might make right (Soviet Russians pulled back undefeated without a single bullet fired for over 2,000 km, dismantled its empire and recognized its former republics as sovereign states without preconditions, without any international conference nor big power written guarantees) iv, Transhumanism (Great Reset, Depopulation) – the territorial and material idea (of humans without the spiritual dimension, reduced on bio-hackable animal/Bionicle connected to a global IoT network for control and commercial end). Fourthly, the end of white man supremacy referred to the Anglo-German clash with Slaves leading to the fragmentation of the Slavic state and intra-Slavic Guernica. Lastly in this section was the western recession of democracy, its vitality, and future promise asking why the leading western intellectuals obey and the crisis of the leadership and the voters’ apathy.
Followed by the analytical questions left for the audience to further make logical and reasonable study and researching before speaking on the surface knowledge or relying on misinformation in different social and public media, predictions of the future outcomes and Implications for the Republic of Indonesia were discussed. Among points on the future outcome, an inquiry was put if this leads to global realignment or de-coupling and three possibilities were put as follows:
a. Destruction of Ukraine and the increasing possibility of nuclear war, or the sincere Peace talks; Statesmanship of the Metternich Concert of Europe vs. short-sightedness of the Versailles
b. Meanings for Asia-Pacific: Measuring the pan-Asia destabilizing momentum and RIC format – and outcome of its triangulation
c. Implication of Inter-Muslim debate (Islam and modernity): for the ‘core’ Muslim world MENA and Implications for the ‘peripheral’, non-Arab Muslim world.
Furthermore, the Implications for the Republic of Indonesia were tentative proposals for the MFA as to the urgent need to reform the UN, and ASEAN in aspects of neighborhood and border disputes. However, neutrality was not indicated to be a good thing as the country must always take sides according to the rule of international law, the Charter, and the Spirit of the Charter. And in the event of intra-Asian military escalation and/or other severe disruptions and asymmetric threats.
Summarized above in different aspects and future outcomes the lecture was entirely focused on showing directions and pointing out important intellectual and logical phenomena to analyze the ongoing war and the outcomes of the world order. Accordingly, a usual pattern with every crisis was discussed to follow which begins with Critical insight formation of both the problem and the answer to it. Analyzing costs of the crisis and distribution of the costs need to be sorted out to reach a conclusion and a solution.
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