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UNIT-2 Contemporary Global Issues Notes

Following topics are covered into this article -

A. Ecological Issues: Historical Overview of International Environmental Agreements, Climate Change, Global Commons Debate

B. Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Narayan Roy 63

C. International Terrorism: Non- State Actors and State Terrorism; Post 9/11 Developments

D. Migration

E. Human Security

A. Ecological Issues: Historical Overview of International Environmental Agreements, Climate Change, Global Commons Debate

Global Environmentalism

  • Rachel Carson's work Silent Spring in 1962 brought attention to the harmful impact of human activities on the environment, leading to the growth of environmental movements.

  • International bodies, such as the United Nations, also took an interest in environmental protection.

  • Climate change is a global problem affecting food production, water availability, rising sea levels, and global warming, among others.

  • The United Nations Conference on the Environment, held in Stockholm in 1972, established the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and put the protection of the global environment on the official agenda of international law and policies.

  • The conference also exposed a rift between industrialized countries and developing countries, with the latter demanding the right to development.

  • The concept of sustainable development has been a constant feature in environmental diplomacy, recognizing the intricate link between development and the environment.

Approaches: Ecocentrism and Anthropocentrism

  • Two approaches to environmental problems: ecocentric (valuing the environment for its own sake) and anthropocentric (valuing the environment for its benefits to humans)

  • Ecocentric policies are exemplified in international conventions such as Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Wildlife Protection, and Biological Diversity.

  • Sustainable development is an anthropocentric approach to environmental protection, aiming to bring human development without long-term negative effects on the environment.

  • Some international laws with ecocentric values include the ENMOD Convention, which prohibits the destruction of the environment as a strategy of warfare, and the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention, which prohibits means of warfare that cause damage to the natural environment.

  • The most prominent anthropogenic environmental framework is the UNFCCC, which seeks to protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind.

  • Understanding the environmental attitudes of policymakers is important as it can influence their values and behavior towards the environment, leading to different international negotiation processes and environmental regimes.

Major Themes in Climate Change Debates

So let's examines some of the major themes in environmental debates and negotiation processes.

1. Development

  • Global environmentalism became central after the Stockholm Conference in 1972.

  • Developing countries and environmentalists argued that industrialized nations were mainly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Developed countries demanded the active participation of major emerging economies like India and China, citing their high national emissions due to development projects.

  • Environmentalists Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain challenged this demand, arguing that emissions should be based on a per capita basis.

  • The per capita basis is a fair method for accounting and making national emission inventories.

  • India's national emissions are relatively low due to its large population.

2. Climate Justice and Equity

  • Climate justice argues for differentiated responsibilities based on the historical contribution, wealth, vulnerability threshold, technology, and climate responsibility between global North and South

  • There is a power dynamic within the global South itself, with richer developing countries like India and China differing from poorer developing countries like Bolivia and Tuvalu

  • These different political positions create and reinforce climate inequality in climate change negotiations, not just in emission cuts but also in proportioning adaptation funds among vulnerable states.

3. Global Commons

  • Negotiation processes aim to identify gaps in climate change response and examine power relations to achieve climate justice and equality.

  • Negotiations should be guided by the idea of "global commons," which refers to shared earth resources like the atmosphere, oceans, and space.

  • Countries cannot indiscriminately pollute the air, water, and soil.

  • Polluting countries should be held responsible for their contributions and bear the burden to address climate problems.

4. Gender

  • Gender gaps and absence of indigenous voices in the texts of UNFCCC and other international laws have been reflected in the debates for future climate negotiations.

  • Representation of different voices, including non-state actors such as civil societies, women, and indigenous societies, is crucial for the successful implementation of environmental policies.

  • National states, civil societies, women, and indigenous societies occupy different political positions in the climate change regime which gives them different capacities to negotiate and bargain in the climate regime.

  • The Paris agreement, which came out of the Conference of Parties meeting in December 2015, acknowledged their roles and rights as stakeholders in the climate change negotiation.

  • Further research and better gender analysis can be explored to address gender gaps and ensure the inclusion of indigenous voices in the climate change discourse.

5. Power Relations

  • Power politics is an important element in international negotiation processes, including climate negotiations.

  • Powerful groups can align public expectations with elite interests to maintain the existing hegemonic structure.

  • Weaker states may have to compromise during negotiations, reflecting power imbalances.

  • Different forces of power are at work in international environmental movement, including material power (visible in North-South debates), normative power (indigenous and women's struggles for recognition), and discursive power (institutionalization of specific environmental norms).

  • The Paris Agreement accommodated many of the issues and interests of non-state actors.

6. Information

  • Understanding the nature of climate negotiation process is important in challenging climate injustice and inequality

  • Power relationships play a significant role in the climate negotiation process, and weaker states often have to compromise during negotiations

  • Different forces of power are at work in the international environmental movement, including material, normative, and discursive power

  • The Paris agreement accommodated many of the issues and interests of non-state actors

  • Cyberspace plays a significant role in fighting climate injustice through online advocacy by organizations like and Avaaz

  • Information has a 'performative' power and can be used to expose inequality and fight for justice

  • Modern technology, including geo-engineering, is inseparable from climate talks and raises concerns about its impact and lack of extensive research

Major International Environmental Agreements

  • First Climate Conference held in 1979 in Geneva, sponsored by WMO in collaboration with other international bodies

  • Conference was primarily scientific but captured attention of international political community

  • Led to creation of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988 by WMO and UNEP

  • IPCC responsible for producing scientific reports on climate change, made first assessment report in 1990

  • Second Climate Conference held in 1990, more political in nature than first conference

  • Envisioned a global climate treaty, despite limited success

  • Transition from scientific discussion on climate change to political debates on policy making for addressing environmental problems and making it part of mainstream political agenda

1. Montreal Protocol

The discovery of the ozone hole in the 1980s led to the establishment of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, which monitors and controls the use of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that deplete the ozone layer. The protocol is considered one of the successful environmental policies. This discovery inspired the scientific community to conduct more rigorous research on environmental issues, which led to the collection of climate data, reports, and monitoring of the earth's climate system. Climate science is the basis on which climate policies are formulated, and it can give direction to the right policies.

2. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was established in 1994 with the aim to improve the condition of affected ecosystems, combat desertification and land degradation, promote sustainable land management, and contribute to land degradation neutrality. Its objectives also include reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience of the environment, contributing to sustainable use of biodiversity and climate actions.

3. Convention on Biological Diversity

  • UNCED or 'Earth Summit' held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 was a watershed moment in environmental history.

  • The summit resulted in the adoption of two outcomes, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

  • CBD is a legally binding multilateral treaty for the protection of biodiversity and other natural resources.

  • The CBD also outlines environmental impact assessment as tools for biodiversity protection and preservation.

4. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

  • The UNFCCC laid down guidelines for financial and technical support, procedural process, climate measures, and institutional development to combat climate change.

  • The convention took into account the debate on the principle of historical responsibility and included the principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC) in its framework.

  • The Conference of the Parties (COP) became the ultimate authority on matters of the convention under the aegis of the UNFCCC.

  • COP meetings are conducted regularly among member states to review progress and development of climate change actions and make relevant policies.

  • COP meetings have produced landmark agreements such as the Berlin mandate, Kyoto Protocol, Paris agreement, among others.

Berlin Mandate

  • COP meeting held in 1995

  • Proposed a legal binding agreement for GHG emission cuts directed towards developed countries

Kyoto Protocol

  • Introduced in 1997

  • Legally binding emission cuts for developed countries

  • Divided climate responsibilities between Annex I and non-Annex parties

  • Clean Development Mechanism and Joint implementation allowed for carbon credit trading

Copenhagen Accord

  • COP15 meetings held in 2009

  • Not legally binding

  • Emphasized financial assistance for developing countries

  • Conceived voluntary commitments to emission cuts, which faced opposition from developing countries

Paris Agreement

  • Signed in 2015

  • Voluntary contributions towards emission cuts by both developed and developing countries

  • Principles of equity and CBDR weakly applied

The Architecture of Climate Change Agreements

1. Equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) Developing countries often argue that the principles of equity and CBDR have not been sufficiently applied in climate agreements. They feel that developed countries, being responsible for most of the historical emissions, should bear the majority of the burden for reducing emissions and providing financial and technological support for adaptation and mitigation efforts in developing countries.

2. Legal Binding Agreements

Some countries have been resistant to entering into legally binding agreements for climate action, preferring voluntary commitments instead. This makes it difficult to enforce emissions reduction targets and creates a lack of accountability.

3. Financing for Climate Action

Developing countries require significant financial assistance to fund climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts, but there has been a lack of agreement on how much funding should be provided and by whom.

4. Technology Transfer

Developing countries require access to affordable and sustainable technology for climate action, but there has been a lack of agreement on how technology transfer should be facilitated and financed.

5. Transparency and Accountability

There has been a lack of agreement on how to ensure transparency and accountability in reporting emissions reductions and implementing climate action plans. Without effective monitoring and reporting mechanisms, it is difficult to ensure that countries are meeting their commitments.

B. Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

What are we going to cover in this section?

  • Nuclear proliferation refers to the spread of nuclear weapons, technology, and fissile material to countries that did not previously possess them.

  • The first use of nuclear weapons was during World War II when the US dropped two bombs on Japan, leading to the era of nuclear diplomacy.

  • The political and military relationships between states have transformed due to the development of nuclear technology.

  • The proliferation of nuclear weapons has become complex due to concerns about safety, the possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands, and the emergence of transnational trade in nuclear materials and technology.

  • Some scholars argue that the proliferation of nuclear weapons can lead to a state of stable deterrence and induce stability in conflict-prone matters.

  • Efforts have been made to constrain the spread of nuclear technology, including the establishment of the NPT, CTBT, MTCR, IAEA, and NSG.

  • New measures and approaches are needed to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation due to changing global relationships and the evolving nature of nuclear technology.

  • The objective is to constrain the proliferation of nuclear weapons and ensure the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Why to have nuclear power??

  • USA used nuclear technology as a weapon during World War II.

  • Strategic, Political and Prestige rationales motivate states to invest in the development of nuclear weapons.

  • Nuclear weapons were seen as a war-winning weapon and later played a vital role in deterrence during the Cold War.

  • Possessing nuclear power gives a political advantage and prestige to the state.

  • Today, in a globalizing world, many states prefer not to be a nuclear power or declare their area as a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.

  • This has led to a debate between Nuclearization and Denuclearization.

1. Nuclearization and Denuclearization

  • Denuclearization means removing nuclear capacity

  • Some countries have moved away from nuclear power and established Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ)

  • NWFZ bans the development, manufacturing, control, possession, testing, stationing or transporting of nuclear weapons in a given area

  • NWFZ strengthens global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament norms and consolidates international efforts towards peace and security

  • Nuclearization means acquiring nuclear warheads to enhance military power

  • Uncertainty and fear related to nuclear power led to the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons movement.

2. Anti-Proliferation Treaties, Convections and Measures

  • The first use of nuclear weapons in August 1945 introduced the world to their destructive capacity.

  • The United Nations Commission for Conventional Armaments introduced the category of 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' in 1948 to distinguish them from traditional weapons.

  • While some tried to spread awareness about their destructive effects, many states were attempting to acquire nuclear weapons.

  • Global efforts to constrain the spread of nuclear weapons began after World War II, including the proposed UN Atomic Energy Commission to eliminate nuclear weapons and promote peaceful use of nuclear energy.

  • In 1953, US President Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" speech highlighted the benefits of nuclear energy for non-military purposes and started a debate on regulation.

  • This led to the establishment of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1957 and the implementation of many treaties and measures to constrain nuclear weapon acquisition.

Antarctic Treaty System

  • In 1959, 12 nations signed a treaty to demilitarize the Antarctic continent.

  • The treaty aims to preserve the continent solely for scientific research.

  • The treaty prohibits activities like establishing military bases, carrying out military maneuvers, testing any weapons (including nuclear weapons), or disposing of radioactive waste in the area.

  • Parties to the treaty are empowered to conduct inspections to ensure compliance.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

  • IAEA was created in 1957 to address rising fears and concerns related to nuclear technology

  • It is an UN agency that works for international cooperation in the field of nuclear energy

  • The agency promotes peaceful uses of nuclear technologies and functions independently

  • Its major functions include administering safety guards, promoting peaceful uses, and applying mandatory safeguards

  • IAEA has three chief areas of work: safety and security, science and technology, and safeguards and verification

  • The agency adopted an Additional Protocol in 1988 to ensure peaceful use of atomic energy

  • The protocol provides the agency with power, access, and authority to verify nuclear declaration

  • IAEA is helping humankind achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by ensuring peace, security, and peaceful use of atomic energy.

The Hotline Agreement 1963

  • Hotline is a technology that establishes a secure and fast communication link between the Heads of the Nation.

  • It ensures direct and instant communication to minimize the possibility of danger and avoid it.

  • The first of this type of communication was established between the USA and USSR.

  • In 1963, leaders of both countries signed a Memorandum of Undertaking, known as the hotline treaty, to set up a communication link between the USA and Soviet counterpart.

  • The objective of the hotline treaty was to reduce the possibility of a nuclear war/attack by any of these superpowers.

The Limited or Partial Test Ban Treaty

  • PTBT/LTBT is the abbreviation for Limited or Partial Test Ban Treaty.

  • It was signed in 1963 with two objectives: to slow down the arms race and prevent environmental damage due to testing nuclear weapons.

  • The treaty permanently forbids conducting, permitting, or encouraging any nuclear explosion in the atmosphere, outer space, or underwater.

  • The treaty prohibits/bans the testing of nuclear weapons in the Earth’s atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater, except those conducted underground.

  • The treaty was signed by the leaders of Britain, USA, and Soviet communist bloc.

  • After ratification, the treaty came into force on October 10, 1963.

  • LTBT is the first-ever effort made by the superpowers in the direction of arms control.

  • The effectiveness of the treaty can be easily concluded, as there was a steep decline in the amount of radioactive particles in the atmosphere after its ratification.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 1968

  • The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed in 1968 and came into force in 1970.

  • The treaty recognized five countries as nuclear-weapon states (NWS) and authorized them to possess nuclear weapons, while also enforcing non-proliferation norms for non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS).

  • Non-nuclear weapon states pledge not to acquire nuclear weapons in exchange for a pledge by nuclear weapon states not to assist their development, and to facilitate information for peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

  • The treaty has three main objectives: non-proliferation, disarmament, and the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

  • Many western countries have ratified and supported the treaty, while some non-nuclear weapon states like India have criticized its provisions as having structural flaws.

  • Three states (India, Pakistan, and Israel) have not signed the treaty, and North Korea has withdrawn from it.

  • As of June 2003, all members of the UN except India, Pakistan, and Israel have accepted the treaty.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group

  • The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is an international body comprised of nuclear supplier countries

  • Its aim is to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons by regulating the export of materials, products, technology, and equipment that are used for nuclear weapons development

  • The NSG was founded by the nuclear weapons states after India's first nuclear tests in May 1974

  • The first seven members of the group met in November 1975 to regulate the supply of nuclear material and technology

  • The NSG has set guidelines for the export of nuclear material to ensure that it is used only for peaceful purposes and not for military use

  • NSG members are expected not to have trade in nuclear material and equipment with governments that do not subject themselves to scrutiny at an international level

  • The main objective of NSG is to regulate and control the trade of nuclear material, technology, and equipment, and each member must inform about the supply, import, or export of any nuclear-based product.

The Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) 1996

  • The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) aims to ban all nuclear explosions everywhere on Earth, including the atmosphere, underwater, and underground.

  • The treaty obligates signatory countries not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.

  • The treaty seeks to prevent countries from developing nuclear weapons for the first time or from developing more destructive and powerful nuclear bombs.

  • The treaty establishes a verification regime that includes an International Monitoring System (IMS) to detect nuclear explosions, a global infrastructure for satellite communications from IMS stations to an International Data Center (IDC), and on-site inspections.

  • A Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) was established to promote the CTBT and to monitor compliance with the treaty.

  • The verification system is built around a network of over 325 seismic, radionuclide, infrasound, and hydro-acoustic monitoring stations.

  • The CTBT was opened for signature in September 1996 and has been signed by more than 90 non-nuclear weapons states, including the USA and the UK.

The International Convention for the suppression of acts of Nuclear Terrorism 2005

  • The UN General Assembly adopted a convention to suppress acts of nuclear terrorism on April 15, 2005.

  • The convention aims to criminalize acts of nuclear terrorism and promote cooperation among police and judicial authorities to prevent, investigate, and punish such acts.

  • The rising threat of terrorist organizations obtaining and using nuclear weapons led to the need for this convention.

  • Terrorism has become a major threat to international peace in the post-Cold War era, and the development of Weapons of Mass Destruction has increased this threat.

  • Various measures have been taken to address the issue of nuclear terrorism and prevent the use of nuclear weapons by terrorist groups.

C. International Terrorism: Non- State Actors and State Terrorism; Post 9/11 Developments


  • The term ‘terrorism’ comes from Latin words meaning "to tremble" and "to frighten".

  • There is no universally accepted definition of terrorism, but it generally involves the use of violent tactics to undermine the legal authority of a government or state.

  • Terrorism has historically arisen from grievances and feelings of oppression by rulers.

  • There is no global consensus on the definition of international terrorism.

  • The 9/11 attacks by Al-Qaeda led to a hardened approach towards the prosecution of terrorists and condemning terrorism.

  • Post-9/11, international terrorism became more diffuse and widespread, leading to universal condemnation of terrorist acts.

  • The "Global War on Terrorism" marked a turning point in history, with nations coming together to formulate a collective response.

Genesis of International Terrorism

  • Terrorism is not a new phenomenon and has been a part of human civilization for centuries.

  • There is no international consensus on what constitutes terrorism.

  • Many justifications have been given for the use of violence by terrorist groups.

  • International terrorism is unpredictable and has undergone a paradigm shift after the 9/11 attacks.

  • International terrorism can be categorized into state-sponsored, right-wing, left-wing, religious, and global terrorism.

  • Possible causes of international terrorism include domestic political instability, failed state, ideological and psychological factors.

  • It is difficult to determine what causes people to engage in terrorist acts.

Non-State Actors and State Terrorism

  • State sponsored terrorism involves a state encouraging and supporting terrorists to commit acts of terror against another state.

  • The state may directly sponsor terrorism or allow terrorist groups to operate within its territory.

  • Taliban in Afghanistan is an example of state sponsored terrorism.

  • Asylum to hijackers of civilian aircraft is also considered state sponsored terrorism.

  • State sponsored terrorism is a form of surrogate warfare that involves less risk and is relatively inexpensive.

  • Post 9/11, the USA identified Iran, Cuba, Sudan, and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism and imposed economic and military sanctions against them.

Non-state actors ?

  • Non-state actors refer to any actor other than a sovereign state on the international forum

  • They are not members of the United Nations

  • Non-state actors can include inter-governmental organizations, NGOs, and individuals

  • Law-abiding non-state actors include organizations like Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders

  • Illegal non-state actors include groups such as the Mafia, Colombian drug cartel, and terrorist organizations like Hamas and Al-Qaeda.

Counter Terrorist Measures and United Nations

  • The "United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy" was adopted in 2006.

  • It was the first global strategic framework adopted by the United Nations.

  • The "Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force" was established in 2005 to coordinate counter-terrorism measures.

  • Sixteen legal instruments were adopted by the United Nations to provide a legal framework for multilateral actions against terrorism and criminalize specific acts of terrorism.

  • The legal instruments include resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council.

Post 9/11 Developments

  • The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Pentagon towers, often referred to as 9/11, were a series of coordinated suicide attacks by the Islamist terrorist group Al-Qaeda under the leadership of Osama bin Laden.

  • The magnitude of the terrorist attacks was felt worldwide, causing extensive death and destruction and prompting a universal wave of abhorrence for terrorism.

  • The Bush administration expressed their objectives of evicting out the terrorists from Afghanistan and declared the "Axis of Evil" (Iraq, Iran and North Korea) as the next enemies of the civilized world, leading to the War on Taliban and Afghanistan.

  • Post 9/11, terrorists began to expand their networks and activities and the theater of violence targeting westerners continued, with Bali Bombings of 2002 and London tube bombings in 2005 being some examples.

  • Due to geopolitics, USA designated Pakistan as a rogue state but remained as a front ally of the USA in the "Global War on Terrorism (GWOT)."

  • In 2003, USA invaded Iraq under the newly launched War on Terrorism, deposing President Saddam Hussein who was suspected of producing weapons of mass destruction.

  • In 2011, a commando raid under President Obama's administration killed bin Laden in Abbottabad, but it did not end the threat of international terrorism.

  • Post 9/11, Jihadi terrorism has been on an upward trajectory, making the USA and other nations rethink the world order and the threat posed by an unspecified enemy. The worldwide response to the attacks was astounding, and massive international support was extended for deposing the Taliban from Afghanistan.

  • The 9/11 act of terror gained unprecedented prominence and illustrated the dark side of globalization and technological advancement, warfare through the internet, hi-tech aeroplanes, etc.

  • The tragic events of 9/11 ushered in the "war on terrorism," and the September 11 attacks were a turning point in the history of world affairs that painfully demonstrated that even superpowers remain vulnerable and challenged.

Global response to terrorism Post 9/11

  • Prior to 9/11, global response to terrorism was not a priority and domestic acts were often legitimized by states.

  • 9/11 brought a major shift in global response to terrorism, leading to condemnation of such acts and a united front against terrorism.

  • Major collective counter-terrorism measures adopted after 9/11 include Operation Enduring Freedom, counter-terrorism legislations, new global counter-terror institutions, actions to check nuclear proliferation, and policing the cyber space.

  • To combat terrorism, popular opinion against terrorist groups must be galvanized and international treaties and instruments must be strengthened.

  • The world is currently facing the threat of terrorism and the ongoing pandemic, and nations must come together to fight both.

  • The credibility of the newly appointed President Biden's administration will depend on how they effectively deal with the threat of terrorism and other global challenges.

D. Migration

Understanding Migration

  • Human migration refers to the movement of people from one place to another for the purpose of settling down either temporarily or permanently.

  • There are different nature of migrations, such as internal, external, emigration, immigration, return migration, and seasonal migration.

  • People who migrate can be categorized as emigrants, immigrants, and refugees.

  • Regular migrants are recognized as legitimate members while irregular migrants enter the host country without proper authorization.

  • Voluntary migrants leave their parent country by choice while involuntary migrants have to forcefully leave their parent country.

  • Economic migrants fall within two broad categories - those who have permission to enter a country to work and live there and those who do not.

  • Irregular or illegal migrants are more vulnerable to human rights violations.

  • States have taken positive measures to address human rights concerns of migrants such as decriminalizing irregular migration and ensuring public service providers remain autonomous.

Migration Drivers

  • Migration is influenced by macro-, meso-, and micro-level factors that interact in complex ways.

  • Multidimensional differences between places generate a driving environment in which people consider migration as a viable alternative.

  • Economic, political, social, cultural, demographic, and ecological factors are key features of migration drivers.

  • Migration drivers' functionality depends on circumstances, ways and modes, and extent to which sets of driving factors influence migration decision-making and processes.

  • Migration is a highly context-dependent behaviour and specific migration drivers' functionalities are context-specific.

  • Predisposing drivers define the largest, most fundamental layer of opportunity structures.

  • Proximate drivers downscale and localise broader structural dispositions, bringing them closer to potential migrants' immediate perception and choice domains.

  • Ultimately triggering elements of migration serve as the actual reasons why people opt to migrate, such as joblessness or job offers, marriage, threats or persecution, asset loss, and other comparable situations.

Migration and Human Rights

  • Human rights are universal and apply to all individuals regardless of their nationality or legal status.

  • International human rights law prohibits discrimination and ensures access to fundamental human rights for all individuals.

  • Human rights are important in ensuring that migrants are not marginalized and become the focus of migration policies and actions.

  • Host countries have a responsibility to protect the lives and freedom of forced migrants who cannot return home due to risks.

  • Forced displacement and development are linked and should be considered in developing progressive and constructive approaches to handling such cases.

  • It is important to identify the root causes of forced displacement, such as flawed development or undemocratic governance, to create a more secure environment for affected individuals.

Why Migration is a Problem?

  • The modern world consists of sovereign states with defined borders and territory.

  • States exercise the power to decide who can stay in their territory and for how long.

  • Migration becomes a problem when the state feels that there is a violation of their sovereignty.

  • States impose restrictions on free movement of people between states due to security concerns and the cost of immigration.

  • Welfare states may limit immigration to provide healthcare and other facilities to their citizens.

  • Conservatives and native groups may demand limiting immigration to preserve cultural integrity.

  • Some groups favour open immigration on humanitarian grounds and to preserve individual freedom.

Migration at the Global Level

  • There has been a steep rise in international migration since the end of the 20th century.

  • Reasons for the increase include the dissolution of USSR, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, population growth, technological development, cheap and easy transportation, and improved communication.

  • According to the International Organization for Migration, 150.3 million people were labor migrants and 4.8 million were student migrants till 2015 and 2016 respectively.

  • 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced by the end of 2017 due to various reasons.

  • India is the country with the highest number of migrants (18 million) followed by Mexico, China, Russian Federation, and Syrian Arab Republic.

  • United States is the top destination for migrants (51 million) followed by Germany, Saudi Arabia, Russian Federation, and United Kingdom.

South Asia and Migration

  • Southern Asia is a densely populated sub-region that includes nine countries and 1.94 billion people.

  • The region is a major location for international labor migrants and refugees.

  • Historical events, conflicts, and political instability have had a significant impact on migration movements in the region.

  • Quota systems and discriminatory laws for Asian migrants were abolished in Canada, the United States, and Australia in the 1960s, leading to increased migration from the region.

  • The GCC countries have long been a popular destination for migrant labor from the sub-region, with many working in semi-skilled or specialized roles.

  • Southern Asia is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, with a high number of people at risk of being displaced due to natural disasters.

  • The pandemic has had a significant impact on the region, with India being the most affected country in terms of infections and deaths.

  • The South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the most prominent forum for cooperation in Southern Asia, embracing political, economic, social, and cultural cooperation among member states.

Migration and Security

  • Southern Asia is a densely populated sub-region that includes nine countries and 1.94 billion people.

  • The region is a major location for international labor migrants and refugees.

  • Historical events, conflicts, and political instability have had a significant impact on migration movements in the region.

  • Quota systems and discriminatory laws for Asian migrants were abolished in Canada, the United States, and Australia in the 1960s, leading to increased migration from the region.

  • The GCC countries have long been a popular destination for migrant labor from the sub-region, with many working in semi-skilled or specialized roles.

  • Southern Asia is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, with a high number of people at risk of being displaced due to natural disasters.

  • The pandemic has had a significant impact on the region, with India being the most affected country in terms of infections and deaths.

  • The South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the most prominent forum for cooperation in Southern Asia, embracing political, economic, social, and cultural cooperation among member states.

Why Migration should not be a Problem

  • Migration is not a new phenomenon, but it has become a point of consideration due to changes in the way migrants are viewed and treated by host countries and states.

  • Migration can benefit host countries economically by providing cheap labor, enhancing productivity, and adding skill to the workforce, but it can also become a security concern.

  • Migration can cause internal unrest, rivalry, and violence by increasing competition between migrants and locals for jobs, housing, food, medical care, and other resources.

  • Migration is associated with social disorder, crime, and terrorism.

  • Gender dimensions of migration can be seen in human trafficking, where women are the majority of those who are trafficked, and their categorization as illegal migrants, prostitutes, or victims determines their treatment in the host country.

  • The European states used to take immigration as a positive phenomenon in terms of added workforce, but since the late 1960s, the issue of migration started being politicized, which transformed into an issue of securitization during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

E. Human Security


  • The concept of security has been traditionally associated with the state in International Relations, and state security has been prioritized over other types of security.

  • Realism, the dominant theory in IR, prioritizes state security over other types of security, and views peace in a narrow sense as the absence of war.

  • Critical security studies emerged as a reaction to the state-centric militarism of traditional IR and called for broadening and deepening the security agenda.

  • Broadening refers to expanding the analytical horizon of security beyond the military to include environmental, economic, political, and societal spheres.

  • Deepening refers to extending the referent object of security beyond the state to include other actors, such as institutions, individuals, and groups, and even the biosphere.

  • Critical security studies prioritize individual humans over the state and introduced the idea of "security with a human face," focusing on the well-being and welfare of individuals over the protection of states exclusively.

Human Security

  • Human security redefines the referent object of security from the state to the individual/people.

  • It is a normative approach that focuses on ethical responsibility to associate security with the individual to meet internationally recognized standards of human rights and governance.

  • There are four different threads of human security: broad development-oriented, focused on armed conflict and repression, an umbrella for non-traditional security issues, and integrating human security into security studies.

  • The concept of human security has been conceptualized and evolved in different spheres with various interests, and its theoretical contributions have developed successfully in its engagement with policy.

  • The UN brought a lacuna in the traditional concept of security by focusing on protection from daily life insecurities such as disease, hunger, unemployment, crime, social conflict, political repression, and environmental hazards, which were neglected in the state/nation-centric approach to security.

  • The state itself can become the biggest danger or enemy for its own people in the post-Cold War world.

Linking Development and Security

  • The concept of human security was defined by UNDP in 1994, which includes seven elements: economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, community security, and political security.

  • Human security aims to ensure that all individuals have the right to exist free of threats, regardless of their sovereign status or individual identity.

  • Underdevelopment and lack of resources have resulted in war and conflict within developing and underdeveloped countries, leading to poverty and insecurity.

  • The concept of human development emphasizes expanding people’s choices and capabilities in terms of income, health, education, environment, and employment.

  • The Human Development Index, developed by UNDP, measures development in terms of income per capita, life expectancy at birth, and educational attainment.

  • The development-security nexus or development-conflict nexus highlights the interdependency between military and non-military threats to security, as underdevelopment can lead to conflict and vice versa.

  • Violent conflicts in Africa exacerbate poverty, political instability, and the risk of violence, causing the deaths of not only conflict-related deaths but also deaths resulting from war-related disease and malnutrition.

Human Security Debates

  • The concept of human security is not precisely defined, and there are debates about its meaning and scope.

  • There is a debate about whether human security should have a narrow or broad interpretation. The narrow interpretation focuses on protection from violence and conflict, while the broad interpretation includes protection from a wider range of threats, such as poverty and environmental degradation.

  • There is also a debate about the relationship between human security and state or national security. Some argue that states play an important role in providing human security, while others argue that they are often part of the problem.

  • Another debate centers on the shift from prevention to intervention in the realm of human security, particularly in the context of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle. This principle states that states have a responsibility to protect their citizens, and if they fail to do so, other states can intervene to protect them.

  • While the R2P principle has been praised and endorsed by some, it has also been criticized for potentially undermining state sovereignty and leading to unintended consequences.

Security Development Nexus

  • Underdevelopment perpetuates poverty, which creates conditions for political instability and conflicts within the state.

  • Insecurity resulting from conflicts hinders development, perpetuating poverty and creating a vicious circle.

  • Development is a guarantee of security, and underdevelopment causes insecurity, making underdeveloped countries a threat to security.

  • Scholars in critical security studies find policies and practices enacted in the name of human security to be insufficient in fulfilling the normative, progressive potential of the idea.

  • The idea that underdevelopment is a security concern justifies continued surveillance and extensive new modes of governing in global peripheries from the global north.

  • The liberal development complexes embrace UN agencies, international NGOs, governments, military establishments, private military companies, and business interests, all of which have a common motive of spreading the idea that liberal governance encourages peace and economic liberalism encourages development.

  • The politics of development channeled by the global north reflects a new security framework within which the modalities of underdevelopment have become dangerous.

The Gender Dimension

  • UN Inter-Agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality identifies five aspects of gender and human security: violence against women and girls, gender inequalities in control over resources, gender inequalities in power and decision-making, women's human rights, and women (and men) as actors, not victims.

  • Women are often victims of violence, including rape, torture, and sexual slavery, during conflicts, and the increase in domestic violence and human trafficking in war-affected areas.

  • Women and children make up a disproportionate percentage of refugees.

  • Women participate in conflicts, including combat and support functions, to legitimize their cause and attain social consensus and solidarity.

  • Women's participation in peacekeeping missions improves access and support for local women and makes male peacekeepers more reflective and responsible.

  • The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000 directed a review of the impact of armed conflict on women and the role of women in peace operations and conflict resolution, revealing that women were still a minority in participating in peace and security negotiations and receiving less attention than men in post-conflict agreements, disarmament, and reconstruction.

International Community and Its Role

  • It is difficult to identify specific human security policies among the actions of the international community.

  • Multilateral actions include the establishment of War Crimes Tribunals, International Criminal Court (ICC), and Anti-Personnel Landmines Treaty.

  • The ICC exercises jurisdiction over the most serious crimes of international concern, including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

  • The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines bans the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer, and use of anti-personnel mines and requires signatories to destroy their existing stockpiles.

  • UN peacekeeping and peace-building measures have worked towards declining conflict and strengthening human security.

  • The UN Peacebuilding Commission was established in 2006 to assist in post-conflict recovery and reconstruction, institution-building, and sustainable development.

  • The UN has been a main propagator of the idea of humanitarian intervention, a central policy element of human security.

  • Specialized agencies of the UN promote human security, including the UN Development Programme, World Health Organization, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UN Children's Fund, and UN Development Fund for Women.

  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) act as sources of information and early warning about conflicts and provide assistance in relief operations to ensure human security.


  • National security is still considered more important than human security.

  • Many countries prioritize military spending over social and economic development.

  • State sovereignty and territorial integrity are given more importance than the security of individuals.

  • Imposed western territorial nation-states can lead to separatist movements and conflict within states, which can result in violations of human security.

  • Authoritarian rule and restrictions on civil liberties can inhibit the achievement of human security.

  • The war on terror has led to the reemergence of national security language and has resulted in violations of civil liberties.

  • Emancipatory politics focused on inclusion and the concept of human security can provide an alternative space for individuals to realize their freedom, autonomy, and agency.

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