Civil CitizenSearching for an alternative to current international conflict managementVolker von Prittwitz (August 28, 2014)
Current conflict resolution goes wrong: Even in phases of cease-fires, the Israel-Palestine conflict is a lasting heavy burden, encumbering and threatening both sides. After many decades of peace in Europe, the war in Eastern Ukraine has deeply worsened the relations between the Western states and Russia - with high risks of further deterioration. Everyday terrorism and war seem to be unavoidable scourges in the region from Middle and East Africa until Afghanistan - with the previous climax in Northern Iraq where a fundamentalist gang of terrorists has killed thousands of people and terrifies a whole region. Although meanwhile some efforts are made to protect refugees and to support Kurds in their fight against Islamic state, a straightforwardly concerted international action against IS(IS) has not yet come about. That’s why thousands of people have been killed, and still kids, women and men in a huge area in Syria and Iraq are in the hands of anachronistic fighters without any civilian touch - a historic disaster of regional and international politics.This bad mark of international conflict resolution politics has to be extended looking at the other armed conflicts: The hitherto usual ways of handling those conflicts - calling on the involved parties to stop violence, initiating and fostering negotiations between war parties, hoping on the USA, militarily strengthening the individual enemies of the current bad guy - obviously do not work sufficiently. In the contrary:Tactical jumping from case to case, the role of the U.S. as world policeman, and the unclear structure of the processes often work worsening the situation. A basic weakness of the hitherto used policies on conflict management results from having no clear attitude towards warfare. Indeed, the charter of the United Nations (particularly Articles 2 and 6) from the year 1945 comprises explicite shall not formulations against any offensive war. About 70 years after this declaration has been enacted, however, warfare still belongs to legitimated routine activities. Carl von Clausewitz’ phrase War is nothing but a continuation of politics with other means is routinewise cited without any critical reflection in many countries, amongst them many OECD countries. Belligerent states, corporate, and private organizations as well as countries that export weapons simply do whatever they want to do or they even praise their activities as necessary in the interest of their nation, according to norms of their religion, or whatever. In some cultures, having and using weapons is supposed to be an integral part of male respectively cultural identity. And warfare games are the predominant content matter of game industry to be exported and disseminated all over the Earth. Against this background, it comes as no surprise that international politics operates without having a clear idea and a clear order against war and violence.Ambivalent world policemanParticularly the role of a world policeman (respectively world fire fighter) has distinctly ambivalent impacts: Indeed, the USA often constitutes the main actor and not seldom the only one to react fast and energetically. The diffuse combination of proclaimed public goals, vested interests, and regular under cover activities, that is meanwhile characteristic for the U.S. policy, however, has often produced horrible political outcomes. So, the military invasion of Iraq under the leadership of the United States might have been the most significant cause of the following mess in the region (destabilizing of Iraq and other states, burgeoning of Al-Kaida and other islamistic groups in the region, practically fostering militant groups). The way of going out of the Iraq without having brought about an inclusive political solution multified the problems. Also the lowly reflected and diffuse U.S. policy towards Syria reinforced the problems more than to cope with them. Misunderstanding authoritative religionsAnother main reason of the deep crisis international security politics is confronted with results from misunderstanding the character of authoritative religions: In contrast to civil religions, that align themselves into pluralistic frameworks of their home states, authoritative religions do not accept any instance over or even besides them. Therefore, they strive after extending their influence up to getting absolute power wherever they are. That’s why war-like situations up to concrete war occur once a religion of that type a) has got enough power to concretely strive after absolute power, b) encounters at least one other authoritative religion or a pluralist state. Considering authoritative religions as nothing but organizations of private believes, therefore, practically means strengthening war-like attitudes.Sending troops into the afflicted region according to the pattern of a world firefighter seems to be unavoidable, but it does not reduce the reproduction of the problem. On the contrary, since military action corresponds with the one-dimensional logic of absolute power, it reinforces the self-understanding of any authoritative organization, amongst them religiously motivated organizations. That’s why hitherto usual international security policies focussing on military means on the one side and bargaining patterns amongst relatively weak states on the other fail. Concerning these constellations, current international politics is without any realistic orientation to open up chances for general peace and well-being. Need of reorientationFacing this situation, a fundamental re-orientation of world politics on peace-making appears to be overdue. A not far to seek core idea of such a reorientation consists in what is called rule of law in the United Nations. This idea mainly goes back to the institution of international law, that is well-known for centuries. It is complemented through the development of a bundle of international regimes in different issue-areas, such as security, trade and environmental policy. In a more systematic way, it can be analyzed as passing from a one-level system to a two-level system of bound governance: In a one-level system, simply power decides - leading to war if several actors claim to enforce their absolute power. In contrast, in a two-level system, jointly accepted and therefore binding procedures are crucial. In bound governance systems, these procedures are fair, that is on equal terms, and free, implying the respect of any other involved actor. In sum, bound governance enables free, fair, and peaceful conflict solving - stabil and suitable preconditions that motivate everyone to render his/her best possible performance. That, again, finds its expression in increasing well-being and stabil peace (see figure 1).
Bound governance constitutes a core institution of civil citizenship.Civil citizenshipWhile in one-level systems average people usually are nothing but a usable means or even slaves of big power actors, in two-level systems they dispose at protected civil rights, such as the rights on life and integrity, nutrition and housing, mobility, free opinion, freedom of speech, free choice of religion and free worldview. That is, every citizen does have a civil status, independently from his/her race, gender, age, nationality, social structure, religion, culture or any other criterion. With this status, any citizen holds all civil (respectively human) freedoms as effectively protected and usable rights. Since these freedoms practically only exist as long as every citizen respects the freedoms of the others, the civil status also implies being bound to general procedures and norms of reciprocal respect. The civil citizen, in sum, is characterized through both, a) protected civil rights, b) being bound to the freedoms of the others. These civil rights are identical with human rights so far a bound governance system is globally in force, opening up civil rights for all human beings.War and already war-like behavior, in contrast, take civil rights away, particularly the protected right on life and integrity, but also other human rights, such as free mobility, free opinion and so forth. Therefore warlike behavior has to be clearly assessed as offense against human rights and against civil citizens.ObstaclesEstablishing and enforcing the transition from one-level systems (unlimited power and war) to two-level systems (bound governance) is no trifle: There are not only individual psychological patterns sometimes to prefer one-level patterns; also historical reports usually focus on one-level systems, such autocratic kingdoms and existential fights about power. In contrast, historically given two-level systems, such as historical regulations in economic, administrative and political fields, are hardly subjects of any historic report and analysis. Last but not least there are massive current obstacles, ranging from autocratic states over authoritative corporative organizations, such as authoritative religions, until big power states with their secret services, particularly the so-called super-power USA. Even though those actors could get some benefits from peaceful, productive and highly legitimated two-level systems, they predominantly induce and strengthen one-level systems because of their strong vested interests in preserving their superior power positions and because of capability failures to perceive advantages of the rule of law. Particularly in their regional environment, the USA, Russia, China, and sometimes also the European Union modify and impede a global establishing of the rule of law (bound governance) towards regulations in their individual interests. Therefore there is a fundamental tension between the - particularly by the United Nations issued - goal of establishing the rule of law (bound governance) one the one side and the structural reality and action of the called big power actors.Seven RecommendationsFacing the strategical failures of current conflict solving and the called obstacles, we recommend:1) Straight military measures against being slaved by anachronistically thinking and behaving actors is an urgent challenge of the whole community of nations. That’s why the fight against IS and other uncivilised organizations should be enacted in a strictly coordinated way, fast and energetically. 2) Success in sustainably overcoming aggressive premodern thinking and behaving cannot be based only on military action. It strictly requires also a clear political and value-based orientation. Core elements of such an orientation can be bound governance (rule of law) and civil citizenship.3) Freedom of religion underlies, as any effective freedom, the strict commitment of respecting other religions, world views and attitudes. Everybody is free to change or to leave his/her religion. Producing and spreading hate against other groups is illegitimate. It deserves no fostering at all and should be stopped as fast and as strictly as possible.4) In a world of almost eight billion people, everybody should have access to knowledge and skills of how to peacefully live together. Also knowledge of democracy - in terms of situation and context - helps orient oneself towards aggressive thinking. Therefore an international education program on these contents should be started as fast as possible. 5) Towards the hitherto existing mess of international security policy and conflict management, the United Nations should be gain more political weight and should be systematically strengthened:•All UN institutions, the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Secretariat, and the International Court of Justice, should be strengthened concerning their rights and their financial, technical, and personal capacities.•The General Assembly should particularly widened in its responsibilities and rights, including controversial security issues. Majoritarian decision-making should become possible. Ways of implementation by nation-states on behalf of the United Nations, particularly ways of enforcing measures, should be explicitely regulated and strengthened.•The Security Council, that goes back in its structure to results of the Second World War, should be fundamentally revised in its structure and ways of functioning. The crucial point of the Council’s work is the ability to act rapidly and energetically in terms of impartial interventions towards preventing crimes against humanity and towards fostering civil rights. 6) A particularly precarious challenge of bringing forward the rule of law (bound governance) results from the influence of big power actors that try to avert or to obstruct a transition to bound governance. Facing this challenge, any process of adaption to the general rule of law made by such actors should be appreciated and fostered. Any reduction of single superior powers fosters the general rule of law. If big power actors injure human rights or norms of international law they should be called to account as strict as possible. Because of the irrationality of any war option between big powers in times of nuclear weapons, injuries of big power states should be sanctioned in different issue-areas (such as economics, technology, sports, and so forth). At that, a one-sided view should be avoided in favor of a comprehensive analysis of possible injuries by different involved actors. 7) Trustfully communicating common problems and best policies in contrast to war and hate should be the main option of domestic as well as international politics.
IPAInstitute for Political AnalysisProf. Dr. Volker von Prittwitz