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UNIT-3 Contemporary Global Issues Notes | Global Politics BA Hons Political Science SEM 4

A. Ecological Issues: Climate Change, and International Environmental Agreements


  • Complex Relationships: Human-nature interactions have become complex due to unsustainable economic activities.

  • Threats: These activities endanger the environment, prompting campaigns for protection.

  • Commitment: States are committed to environmental protection, especially regarding climate change.

  • Climate Change: Poses threats to human security, food, energy, and biodiversity, requiring mitigation measures.

  • International Agreements: Formulated to address these challenges.

Global Environmentalism

Origins and Development:

  • Rachel Carson: "Silent Spring" (1962) raised awareness about pesticide impacts.

  • United Nations: Established the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in response.

Environmental Incidents of the 1970s:

  • Awareness: Incidents like mercury poisoning raised public awareness.

International Environmental Efforts:

  • Stockholm Declaration: Guided environmental protection after the First World Conference on Environment (1972).

  • UNEP: Coordinates global efforts to address environmental challenges.

Ecocentrism vs. Anthropocentrism:

  • Ecocentrism: Advocates for the environment's intrinsic value.

  • Anthropocentrism: Views the environment's value in relation to human benefits.

Major Themes in Climate Change Debates:

  • Global Commons: Require collective responsibility.

  • Development: Debate revolves around developed and developing nations' responsibilities.

  • Climate Justice and Equity: Advocates for fairness in mitigation and adaptation efforts.

  • Power Relations: Powerful nations often shape climate change negotiations.

  • Gender: Gender mainstreaming seeks to address gender inequalities in climate change impacts.

Information and Technology:

  • Role of Cyberspace: Used for environmental advocacy and information dissemination.

  • Geoengineering: Raises ethical and environmental concerns, requiring careful regulation.

Actors in Global Environmentalism:

  • State Actors: Governments play a crucial role in setting environmental policies.

  • Civil Society: NGOs and grassroots movements raise awareness and advocate for policy change.

  • Media: Shapes public opinion and influences government and corporate actions.

Major International Environmental Agreements:

  • First Climate Conference (1979): Led to the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988.

  • Montreal Protocol (1987): Aimed at protecting the ozone layer by controlling the use of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

  • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (1994): Focuses on sustainable land management.

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - Earth Summit (1992): Address biodiversity conservation and climate change.

  • Kyoto Protocol (1997): Set emission reduction targets for developed countries.

  • Copenhagen Accord (2009): A political agreement acknowledging the scientific case for limiting global temperature rise.

  • Paris Agreement (2015): Aims to limit global warming and pursue efforts to limit temperature increase.

Architecture of Climate Change Agreements:

  • Commitments to Mitigation: General commitments encourage comprehensive climate change policies.

  • Adaptation: Focuses on enhancing the resilience of communities and ecosystems.

  • Technical and Financial Assistance: Addresses unequal access to technology and finance.

  • Emission Trading: Introduces emissions trading as a market-based mechanism.

  • Reporting and International Review: Requires regular reports on emissions and actions.

  • Compliance System: Ensures parties meet their obligations, promoting compliance through dialogue.


  • Anthropogenic Activities: Have significantly altered the environment.

  • Globalization: And increased economic activities have accelerated environmental degradation.

  • International Attention: Environmental issues gained global attention in the 1960s, leading to major international environmental agreements.

  • Climate Change: Is the most discussed environmental problem, affecting all aspects of life.


B.  Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in Post- Cold War Era


  • Nuclear Proliferation: Spread of nuclear weapons and technology to new countries.

  • Nuclear Diplomacy: Emerged after WWII, shaping political and military relations.

  • Evolution of Nuclear Weapons: Impact on global dynamics and security.

  • Motivation for Acquisition: Strategic, political, and prestige reasons drive states.

  • Cold War Influence: Nuclear weapons as deterrence, motivating non-nuclear states to seek nuclear capacity.

  • Globalization's Role: Some states move towards denuclearization.

  • Latin American Example: Treaty of Tlatelolco (1967) establishes nuclear-free zone.

Nuclearization and Denuclearization

  • Denuclearization: Removal of nuclear capacity, establishing nuclear-free zones.

  • Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ): Bans on development, possession, and use in specific areas.

  • Nuclearization: Acquiring nuclear weapons, enhancing military power.

  • Preventing Proliferation: Efforts to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into wrong hands.

Atomic Bombings and "Weapons of Mass Destruction"

  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Demonstrated nuclear weapons' destructive power.

  • Creation of WMD Category: To distinguish these weapons from conventional arms.

Global Efforts Post-World War II

  • Awareness: Raised by scholars, activists, NGOs on nuclear weapons' effects.

  • Arms Race: Superpowers engaged in nuclear weapons development.

Establishment of UN Atomic Energy Commission

  • Purpose: To promote peaceful use of nuclear energy and eliminate nuclear weapons.

  • Challenges: Disagreements between superpowers hindered progress.

Atoms for Peace

  • Eisenhower's Proposal: Advocated for peaceful use of nuclear energy, led to IAEA establishment.

  • IAEA's Role: Promotes peaceful use, sets safety standards for nuclear facilities.

Important Anti-Proliferation Measures

  • Antarctic Treaty System (1959): Demilitarizes Antarctica, preserves for scientific research.

  • IAEA (1957): Promotes peaceful use, safeguards against military use.

  • Hotline Agreement (1963): Direct communication link between US and USSR leaders to reduce nuclear war risk.

  • LTBT (1963): Prohibits nuclear testing in atmosphere, space, underwater, limits to underground facilities.

  • NPT (1968): Aims to prevent spread, promote disarmament; nuclear-weapon states commit to disarmament, non-nuclear states commit not to acquire.

  • CTBT (1996, not yet in force): Bans all nuclear explosions for both civilian and military purposes.

  • Additional Protocol to IAEA Safeguards Agreements (1997): Enhances IAEA's verification ability.

  • UNSC Resolution 1540 (2004): Requires states to prevent proliferation of WMDs and their means of delivery.

  • Criticism and Challenges: NPT criticized for not achieving complete disarmament; challenges from states like North Korea.

  • NSG: Regulates export of nuclear materials, technology to prevent proliferation.

  • Seabed Arms Control Treaty (1971): Prohibits emplacement of WMDs on ocean floor.

  • Threshold Test Ban Treaty (1974): Prohibits nuclear tests exceeding 150 kilotons.

  • INF Treaty (1987): Eliminates intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles in Europe.

  • Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (1996): Bans all nuclear explosions.

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005): 

  • Criminalizes nuclear terrorism, promotes international cooperation.

  • Other Treaties and Conventions: SALT I and II, ABM Treaty, START I and II, Chemical Weapons Convention, New START.

  • Look Forward: Strengthen international cooperation, enhance verification, promote nuclear disarmament, address regional security, enhance security of nuclear materials, engage civil society.


C. Global Terrorism and Its Impact


  • Terrorism Definition: Strategy using violence to achieve objectives, challenging legal authority.

  • Post-9/11 Impact: Hardening approach, leading to a global war on terrorism.

Genesis of International Terrorism

  • Historical Instances: Religious and political movements throughout history.

  • Resurgence Post-Cold War: Rise of religious terrorism, especially among Islamist organizations.

  • Global Jihad: Intensifies threat globally.

Nature of International Terrorism

  • Worldwide Phenomenon: Uses violence to instill fear among wider audience.

  • Justifications: Linked to political, ideological, or religious objectives.

  • International Linkages: Many terrorist groups have established global connections.

  • Drivers: Factors motivating individuals to become terrorists are complex and varied.

Types of International Terrorism

  • State-Sponsored Terrorism: Governments supporting non-state actors engaged in terrorism.

  • Right-wing and Left-wing Terrorism: Rooted in differing political ideologies.

  • Religious Terrorism: Motivated by absolute beliefs in violence sanctioned by higher power.

  • Global Terrorism: Transcends national boundaries, targeting easily accessible locations.

Causes of International Terrorism

  • Domestic Instability: Civil wars, low political and economic development contributing factors.

  • Failed States: Breeding grounds for terrorism due to conflict, political instability, human rights abuses.

  • Ideological and Psychological Factors: Moral values, radicalization play significant role in motivating individuals.

Ways to Combat Global Terrorism

  • NATO's Collective Defence: Invoked after 9/11 attacks.

  • UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001): Aims to combat terrorism, impacting human rights.

  • UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy: Emphasizes respect for human rights, rule of law.

  • Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF): Aims to exchange recommendations, good practices.

  • Madrid Memorandum: Ensures immediate, effective assistance to victims of terrorism.

  • Addressing Root Causes: Resolving conflicts, reducing discrimination, improving governance crucial.

Non-State Actors and State Terrorism

  • State-Sponsored Terrorism: State's active support, control of terrorist activities, often as surrogate warfare.

  • Who are Non-State Actors?: Entities other than sovereign states operating on international stage.

  • Status of Non-State Actors: Rise in numbers, often receiving extensive financial, technical assistance.

Counter-Terrorist Measures and United Nations

  • UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (2006): Comprehensive framework to address global threat.

  • Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (2005): Ensures overall coordination of measures.

  • Legal Framework: Sixteen universal legal instruments to provide framework for multilateral actions against terrorism.

Post 9/11 Developments

  • Impact of 9/11 Attacks: Turning point in world history, highlighting vulnerability.

  • Understanding 9/11: Coordinated hijackings, involvement of Al-Qaeda, global impact.

  • Global Response: "War on Terror," military interventions, increased security measures.

  • Challenges: Despite efforts, terrorism remains complex, persistent threat, requiring continued vigilance, cooperation.


  • Defining Terrorism: Complex, influenced by vested interests.

  • Nature of Terrorism: Involves unlawful violence, challenges legal authority.

  • State-Sponsored Terrorism: Blurs lines between state, non-state involvement.

  • Post-9/11 Impact: Significant shifts in global dynamics, counter-terrorism efforts.

  • Al-Qaeda's Ideology: Radicalization of violence, ongoing challenge.

  • Global Response: Reflects need for continued vigilance, cooperation.


D. Migration


  • UN Convention of 1951 and 1967 Protocol: Defined refugees and set international standard for migration policy.

  • Global Migration Trends: Continuous growth, with approximately 272 million international migrants globally as of June 2019.

  • 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Recognizes migration's contribution to sustainable development, with 11 of 17 SDGs containing relevant targets and indicators.

  • Challenge of Migration: Despite growing migration, countries remain reluctant to meet the challenge, highlighting the need to address both migrants' needs and push factors.

Understanding Migration

  • Historical Perspective: Movement of people for various reasons such as tourism, employment, seeking safe environment, or better life prospects.

  • Human Migration Categories: Internal, external, emigration, immigration, return migration, and seasonal migration.

  • Voluntary vs. Involuntary Migration: Voluntary migrants leave by choice, involuntary migrants are forced to leave their country.

Categories and Rights of Migrants

  • Regular Migrants: Enter with authorization, recognized as legitimate members.

  • Irregular Migrants: Enter without proper authorization.

  • Refugees: Leave due to discrimination or insecurity, seeking asylum in another country.

  • Human Rights Implications: Importance of human rights in migration policy, particularly for irregular migrants facing exploitation and exclusion.

Migration Drivers

  • Factors Influencing Migration: Economic, political, social, cultural, demographic, and ecological factors.

  • Economic Migrants: Those with permission to work and live in a country vs. illegal or undocumented migrants.

  • Impact of Rights Protection: Migrants whose rights are protected can contribute economically and socially compared to irregular migrants.

Migration and Human Rights

  • Universal Nature of Human Rights: Apply to all individuals regardless of nationality or legal status.

  • Forced Displacement: Host countries have responsibility to protect individuals in cases where returning home is not an option due to risks.

  • Complexity in Refugee Protection and Migration: Requires progressive and constructive approach from states.

Migration at the Global Level

  • Rise in International Migration: Significant increase attributed to dissolution of states, population growth, technological advancements, and globalization.

  • Categories of Migrants: Labor migrants, migrant workers, and students.

  • Forced Displacement: 68.5 million people forcibly displaced by end of 2017.

South Asia and Migration

Historical Context

  • Significant migration due to conflicts, political events, and decolonization.

Major Migration Flows

  • Labor migration to countries like Canada, United States, and Australia since 1960s.

  • Increase in female migrants working in domestic roles since 1990s.

Migration to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries

  • Popular destination for South Asian migrant labor, especially for construction projects.

Efforts and Organizations

  • SAARC, ARF, and BIMSTEC addressing migration issues through agreements and conventions.

  • Global initiatives like GFMD and Bali Process focusing on international migration and development.

Regional Cooperation

  • Colombo Process promoting safe, regular, and well-managed migration.

  • Budapest Process facilitating migration cooperation between Europe and Asia.

Impact of Natural Disasters

  • South Asia includes disaster-prone nations, leading to high number of people at risk of displacement.

Migration and Security

Evolution of Perception

  • Migration once viewed positively, now perceived as security threat due to changes in host countries' populations and state policies.

Socioeconomic Impact

  • Migrants can alter market dynamics and cultural identity of host countries, potentially causing internal unrest and violence.

Gender Dimension

  • Significant portion of migrants are women, many are victims of human trafficking.

Securitization of Migration

  • Migration transformed from positive phenomenon to securitized issue linked to terrorism, crime, and violence.


  • While states have right to control borders, restrictions on migration may not be justifiable on democratic grounds.

  • Freedom of movement is fundamental right, denying it contradicts principles of humanity, global justice, equality, and freedom.

  • Policy approaches should balance security concerns with human rights, seeking to address root causes of migration and promote safe, orderly, and regular migration channels.


E. Human Security


  • Traditional Security Focus: Historically, security has been associated with state protection, prioritizing state security over other forms.

  • Realist Influence: Realist thinking emphasized military issues, defining peace as the absence of war.

  • State-Centric Approach: Security studies traditionally prioritized state and people security, often involving force.

  • Critical Security Studies: Emerged as a critique of state-centric militarism, advocating for a broader understanding of security.

  • Human Security Emergence: Critical security studies contributed to the emergence of human security, prioritizing individual well-being over the state.

Evolution of Security Studies

  • State-Centric Approach: Prioritized state and people security, involving force.

  • Critical Security Studies: Critiqued state-centric militarism, broadening the security agenda.

  • Human Security: Prioritizes individual well-being, focusing on the welfare of individuals.

Human Security: Defining the Concept

  • Shift to Individual Security: Redefines security's "referent object" from state to individual.

  • Policy Orientation: Focuses on policy changes for people's welfare.

Human Security: Linking Development and Security

  • Conceptual Framework: Encompasses economic, food, health, and political security, aiming for well-being and dignity.

  • Development and Security Nexus: Highlights interdependency between military and non-military threats.

Human Security: Critical Debates

  • Definition Contention: Lack of consensus on the exact meaning.

  • Narrow vs. Broad Interpretations: Debate between protection from violence and broader well-being approaches.

  • State vs. Individual Security: Disagreement on states' role in providing human security.


Security-Development Nexus: A Critical Appraisal

  • Underdevelopment and Insecurity Linkage: Underdevelopment leads to poverty and instability, hindering development.

  • Critique of Development Practices: Some argue current policies fail to address root causes of insecurity.

  • Liberal Development Complexes: Development initiatives influenced by global North interests.

  • Gender Dimension of Human Security: Women disproportionately affected by violence.

Human Security: International Community and Its Role

  • Establishment of International Mechanisms: War Crimes Tribunals, ICC, and Ottawa Convention aim to address serious crimes.

  • Role of NGOs: NGOs provide early warning about conflicts and assist in relief operations.


  • Status of Human Security: Has not achieved equal status as national security.

  • Challenges from Imposed Nation States: Imposed territorial nation states lead to conflict.

  • Authoritarian Rule and Civil Liberties: Limit political space and civil liberties, hindering human security.

  • Impact of War on Terror: Emphasizes national security, leading to restrictions on civil liberties.

  • Moving Towards Emancipatory Politics: Requires creating alternative spaces for human freedom and agency.


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