Hannah Brock 

1 February 2012

Acknowledgements: This paper has been the result of a collaborative writing process. We would like to thank Dr Priscilla Adoyo (Centre for Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation, Kenya); Amira Armenta (Transnational Institute); Aryaman Bhatnaga; Abdul Ebrahim Haro (Practical Action); Dr Mallika Joseph (Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, India); Professor Gilbert Khadiagala (University of Witswatersrand, South Africa); Antionia Porter (Centre for Conflict Resolution, South Africa); for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Any errors or inadequacies are the authors’ own.


The current security paradigm adopted by most governments and their defence forces is based on the premise that insecurity can be controlled through military force or containment, thus maintaining the status quo. This has been termed the ‘control paradigm’ and is ‘self-defeating in the long-term’ (Abbott et al, 2006). Oxford Research Group (ORG) argues that a new way of approaching security is needed, one that addresses the drivers of conflict: ‘curing the disease’ rather than ‘fighting the symptoms’.

One alternative is the concept of ‘sustainable security’. The sustainable security approach is inherently preventative (where the ‘control paradigm’ is reactive), in that it addresses the likely causes of conflict and instability well before their effects are felt.

Oxford Research Group aims to encourage in-depth, original thinking amongst decision-makers and civil society around sustainable responses to long-term trends in global security that we have identified as likely to cause unprecedented international tension and loss of life in the coming decades. Perhaps the four most important underlying drivers of insecurity are:


  • Climate change
  • Increasing competition over resources
  • Global militarisation
  • Marginalisation across much of the ‘majority world’ [1]


The sustainable security framework aims particularly to highlight the interconnected nature of these triggers of insecurity. [2]

This is the second in a   series of four papers [3] (see respective links at the bottom of this publication), each of which examines one of these four potential drivers of insecurity, and the ways in which each trend (in this case, marginalisation) may engender local and international discord.

Each paper is the result of long-term collaboration between Oxford Research Group and partners across the ‘Global South’. [4]  This collaborative network – made up of activists, analysts and academics from a range of think tanks, civil society organisation and research institutes – have recommended background reading, provided expert review and written illuminating case studies commissioned for this paper.


The Importance of North-South Engagement

The likely future drivers of insecurity do not respect national boundaries, and will not be sustainably addressed by unilateral approaches. For example, as competition over energy resources increases with depleting supplies of fossil fuels, it will become more vital that positive collaboration between consumer nations in the West and resource-rich nations in the South occurs. [5]

In a globalised world, in which no nation’s security is independent of their region or of the wider international community, the opinions of the majority world can no longer be neglected by the major powers, who seek to dictate global security policies.

The sustainable security approach posits global justice and equity as key requirements of any effective response to global insecurity. Voices from the Global South remain on the periphery of discussions around global political and security issues, and particularly at the negotiating tables of international institutions. [6]  The implementation of a newly egalitarian approach to international relations can begin with a close engagement in Western organisations with majority world thinking. Security analysts and policy-makers must continue to engage and collaborate with counterparts in the Global South, ensuring that the sustainable security project puts into practice the idea of a truly inclusive global politics.

Many future security problems, and also the solutions, will be found in the Global South, within the very populations whose marginalisation has resulted in much contemporary insecurity. Whilst climate change, for example, will hit the poorest communities hardest, [7]  it is with emerging economies like China, India and Brazil that the West must engage, if mitigating climate chaos is to have any success at all. These non-Western perspectives must be recognised and addressed in concrete policies in the powerful countries of the Global North. Such policies should be focused on transforming tensions at their root rather than solely attempting to control violent conflicts once they have already broken out.

Our hope is that this series of research papers will contribute towards ‘North-South’ communication, giving Western decision-makers greater reasons and resources with which to engage with their colleagues in the majority world to build a genuinely sustainable global system.


The Pressing Threats to Global Security in the Twenty First Century: Marginalisation of the Majority World

Divisions between the rich industrialised North and the ‘majority world’ are a key and intensifying driver of global insecurity. While overall global wealth has increased, the benefits of this economic growth have not been equally shared. The rich-poor divide is growing, with a heavy concentration of growth in regions of North America and Europe in particular, and the ‘majority world’ of Asia, Africa and Latin America (UNDP, 2009: 35). These Western states, and small elites in Southern states, are attempting to maintain political, cultural, economic and military dominance in a world where emerging economies are gaining power.

Deepening oppression and political exclusion amongst communities in the South combine with poverty and discrimination to present an increasingly dynamic threat to national and international stability. The sense of increasing marginalisation is more keenly felt as improvements in education and modern technologies allow those ‘at the margins’ to witness the wealth and opportunities of elites (both in the North and in their own Southern nations). This leads to an increased likelihood of radicalisation and political violence.

Current responses to this radicalisation are in line with the control paradigm’s approach (dealing mainly with publically visible and immediate threats such as the al-Qaida movement), and sometimes actually work to increase support for extremist and violent groups.

This paper will explore the latest thinking on the relationship between poverty, political and social exclusion, the political marginalisation of Southern states, and insecurity. We will also examine a number of policy changes that could address these concerns.


Poverty and Inequality

Poverty and the ‘Control Paradigm’

Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. It is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom. It is inability to exercise democratic rights and being unable to voice concerns.’(Bett and Kimuyu, 2008: 2)

Poverty, inequality and the consequent scarcity of resources have a combined destabilising impact on political stability (Draman, 2003). Marginalisation from mainstream political society and frustration at inequality render such radical solutions increasingly appealing. For example, in Pakistan, those regions most economically and socially depressed have witnessed a rise in extremism (Akhtar, 2009) [see Marginalisation Cultivating Radical Ideologies, below]. Whilst this extremism partially impacts upon local security, it is also designed to make waves in the wider international community. For example, chronic food insecurity in Baluchistan (Pakistan) has ‘aggravated the sense of marginalisation’, encouraging the rise of insurgency groups. In 2009, the   Baluchistan Liberation Union Front [8]  kidnapped John Solecki, Head of the Local Office of the UN High Commissioner of Refugees. On his release he was given a message from his kidnappers saying they had intended to ‘highlight the miseries of their people to the international community’ (Suleri, 2010: 81).

Security policies have responded with attempts to control such threats, for example through the ‘war on terror’. Both the rhetoric and the strategy of this campaign have often been counterproductive, actually increasing support for movements such as the al-Qaida network (Rogers, 2003). Traditional methods aiming to control threats with military force have been used; these traditional methods of counterterrorism ignore the underlying socio-economic realities that encourage support for radical movements.


Communicating Marginalisation

While there is a ‘transglobal elite’ spread across the ‘West’ (primarily in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Oceania), as well as many nations in the South (particularly Brazil, China, India and pockets in Africa), the world’s poor are principally located in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. In these nations, there has recently been a significant increase in literacy, alongside growing access to radio, television, mobile phones, and the Internet. Even if many parts of the South are still data poor, some areas have ‘leap-frogged’: halting the development of nation-wide traditional telephone infrastructure, and instead investing in and facilitating private companies in internet and mobile phone networks (Nyabiage, 2011). For example, cable-optic provider   Seacom  have installed a high-speed internet capability covering Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda and Djibouti, which is soon to be expanded to Somalia, Southern Sudan and Burundi (ibid.).

One of the impacts of access to such networks of communication, along with welcome improvements in education and literacy, is that far more people have an awareness of their own marginalisation.

The access to new media will inevitably affect the young most, in their schools and social networks. Children and the young are also predominant in the poorest income groups: Every second child is living below the poverty line (UNICEF, 2005). The number of children and young people, particularly in Africa, is also growing. The average fertility rate for the developed world is 1.5, with 5.5 for the developing world and about 6.0 for Africa (Draman, 2003: 10). Draman calls this a “youth bulge” with ‘serious social and security implications’ (ibid.).

In Pakistan, half the population are under the age of twenty, and 66% under the age of thirty (Akhtar, 2009). In the Federally Administered Territorial Area in Pakistan, employment opportunities are severely limited, with 60% of its population living below the poverty line. This low economic development has allowed the Taliban to ‘exploit’ the youth (ibid.).

Many under-25s across the Global South face ‘lifetimes of unemployment, underemployment or low pay’ (Rogers, 2009: 11), and at the same time have a growing awareness of ‘the far more comfortable lifestyles and prospects of the elites’ through the media, for example, making an inclination towards radicalisation not unpredictable (ibid.). This, we have seen with the ‘Arab spring’ [see Young People and the Arab Spring, below].


Disparities of Wealth and Opportunity

Despite improvements in development in a number of areas, this has not equated to a reduction in relative inequality. Although poverty in itself can be a security concern, inequality can also be ‘socially inefficient and divisive’ (Bett and Kimuyu, 2008: 14), increasing involvement in radical movements [see Marginalisation Cultivating Radical Ideologies, below], crime [see Crime and Local Security, below], political dissent that may become violent, competition over economic assets, and labour disputes.

The global financial crisis since 2008 has driven inequality further, [9]  and the economic policy responses from some governments threaten to worsen this (Bornay-Bomassi, 2009). For example, many Asia-Pacific countries were on course to meet the Millennium Development Goals, but following the economic crisis this is no longer the case. Fewer employment opportunities worldwide mean less remittances [10]  and deeper local poverty that primarily affects the vulnerable, landless and dispossessed, contributing to insecurity (ibid.). When economic recession combines with population stresses, leading to competition over access to resources, there is worrying historical evidence pointing to a high likelihood of violent conflict, e.g. in Liberia, East Timor and Sierra Leone. This risk is particularly enhanced when combined with resentment towards corrupt governments (ibid.).


Crime and Local Security

Visible inequality can encourage criminal activity; firstly as a result of need (poverty), secondly through the visibility of wealth, making targeting easy, and finally, through increased anger and resentment at the disparity in security, opportunities and wealth between elite and deprived communities. This is particularly true where poverty and wealth sit side by side in close proximity, which is increasingly the case in ‘mega-cities’ such as Rio de Janeiro and Lagos.

In some areas, the response to high crime rates and fear of crime has encouraged the foundation of ‘gated communities’ (sometimes known as ‘fortified enclaves’ or ‘enclosed neighbourhoods’). These communities are becoming increasingly common in East Africa – Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania – and also in South Africa and Brazil - nations with acute inequality issues (Landman and Schonteich, 2002:72). Caldiera calls this a form of ‘spatial segregation’ (1999: 114); communities are ‘privatised, enclosed, and monitored’ – and one could conduct most of one’s life in them, as they provide for ‘residence, consumption, leisure and work’ needs (ibid.).

In Brazil, the risk of violent crime is unequally distributed over geographical areas and social groups, with a concentration in urban and metropolitan areas, and within groups who are living in poverty. It is in these areas that the ‘problems of poverty, unemployment and the lack of adequate housing and basic services, including health, education, transport, security and judicial services, are most acute’ (Landman and Schonteich, 2002: 76). This is partly a result of rapid urbanisation, occurring in Brazil from the 1960s onwards, where communities transferred themselves “en masse to the cities”, creating conditions of “deprivation, exploitation and poverty” (former Security Secretary Luiz Eduardo Soares, quoted in Phillips, 2007: 58).

In these contexts, it can be tempting to withdraw into situations of ‘total security’. However, the danger is that residents embrace stereotypes, automatically labelling different social groups as ‘dangerous, to be avoided and to be targeted by the police and private security officers’ (ibid., p. 82). This behaviour will only further embed the feelings of resentment that drive crime and insecurity.

Frustration at inequality can be acute in situations where the income from visible natural resources is not shared amongst the surrounding communities. This has been particularly the case in Nigeria, where the Niger Delta region has been subject over the last decade to internal tension – sometimes labelled ‘fighting for freedom’, sometimes as ‘criminality’ (Nwozor, 2010: 32) – as a result of the exploitation of their oil reserves by large multi-national corporations.

Dissatisfaction is engendered particularly where valuable local resources serve only the ‘privileged elites (…), companies and their shareholders and Western industrialised countries’ (Bainomugisha et al, 2006: 3). In Nigeria, despite a ballooning of revenues from oil, poverty more than doubled between 1970 and 2006, [11]  rising to 70% (Akpan, 2009), and environmental degradation alienated people from their traditional livelihoods - farming, fishing and hunting (Nwozor, 2010). Such inequities have led to the foundation of a range of insurgent and splinter groups in the affected Niger Delta region, e.g. the   Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta  (MEND). MEND has been linked to attacks on extraction operations, theft, property destruction, and the capturing of many foreign oil workers, demanding ransom for their freedom. Support for MEND comes primarily from young people and ‘impoverished peasants’, whose farm lands and fishing creeks – their sole source of livelihood – have been destroyed (Okonta, 2006).

In Urabá, Colombia, crime and conflict have arisen where poverty, landlessness, a weak state, and a new ‘resource-rush’ combine. Amira Armenta explores the case of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó in the following case study.


Marginalisation of the Majority World: Crime and Insecurity in Colombia

In Colombia, there are many regions where poverty and the absence, or weak presence, of the state has facilitated the emergence of violent armed groups. Among these, are the Afro-Colombian communities of the Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó in the Urabá region.

The Urabá is located in the Northwest of Colombia, near the border with Panama. It is a region of great biodiversity, rich in minerals, oil, water, and timber, amongst other natural resources. Urabá is also one of the regions with the highest poverty rates, and lowest rates of schooling in the country. Many indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians, who are the traditional owners of hundreds of thousands of hectares of land, inhabit the region. Collective ownership of these territories is supported by Colombian Law 70 of 1993.

With the rise of drug trafficking in the country in the 1980s, the region became a point of export of illegal narcotic drugs. At the same time, the illegal import of weapons soared to meet the growing demand of Colombian armed groups. Various increasingly powerful criminal groups (known as ‘paramilitaries’) began to invest money earned from their illegal activities in profitable lawful sectors such as the agribusiness - palm oil, bananas and cattle. In a few years, Urabá went from being a marginal and sparsely populated region to a place where settlers converged, and multinational corporations and armed groups of all stripes were vying for control of territory and a stake in the business.

In this context, poor rural communities such as Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó were sucked into the violence unleashed between the different armed groups. As the collective ownership of land was an obstacle to the economic interests of the new sectors (farmers and landowners whose fundsoften had an illicit origin), these groups used threats and harassment to banish the native people and appropriate their land. This violence and banishment was possible given the state of marginalisation of the population, totally unprotected by the central government. Large palm oil plantations installed since then in the area have been financed largely with the laundered drug money. They use land violently obtained by the forced displacement.

Since the 1990s, the Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó communities have specifically been the target of violence and subsequent displacement. They have lost their few belongings and have helplessly seen the powerful economic groups systematically seize their land.

The Colombian government has recently begun a process of returning land to the inhabitants of the river basins of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó and reparation for victims of violence. The move is encouraging, but it might not be enough to solve the problems. The history of violence can repeat itself any moment, as long as the causes that led to the banishment and violence are not addressed and those responsible are not punished. Justice should be done, not just to those still operating outside the law, but also to those who now operate legally but whose past is murky.

Whilst the Colombian government fails to bring social development programs (including education, health and infrastructure) and sustainable economic development policies to communities, the people of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó will remain poor, uneducated, vulnerable, and at risk of losing their territories once again.

Amira Armenta, Transnational Institute 


Migration, Health and Poverty

Poverty impacts upon all parts of life. In the Niger Delta, the collapse of the rural agrarian economy results in food and employment shortages. This has triggered rural-to-urban migration, providing the context for an increase in sex work that increases peoples’ vulnerability to HIV (Udoh et al, 2009: 567). Labour migration is a key driver of the spread of HIV, with the movement of predominantly male unemployed adolescents and adults, and similarly unemployed women and girls, being more likely to use prostitution as a form of income (ibid, p. 568). ‘HIV follows poverty, infiltrating regions where hunger, unemployment, and conflict prevail’ (ibid).

The economic destruction rendered likely by the continuing spread of HIV/AIDS and the large number of expected deaths (including primarily the generation who work and who parent families) may overwhelm social and medical structures in many African countries. The orphaned children may be more vulnerable to recruitment by rebels, terrorists and criminal gangs; furthermore, in some African countries as many as 50% of new military recruits are HIV positive (Sarin, 2003: 17). This has implications for ‘military readiness’, as some states have been hesitant to engage in peacekeeping missions for fear that soldiers deployed may further spread the virus, or bring it back to their local communities when demobilised (ibid., p. 17).

Economic migration has been greatly affected by the global economic downturn. More people find it necessary to move for work, and conversely, people who have moved for work are more at risk of losing their jobs (Bornay-Bomassi, 2009). In 2009, it was estimated that Singapore repatriated up to 200,000 foreign nationals, Indonesia up to 400,000, and Bangladesh up to 70,000 (ibid.). This will seriously affect those families reliant upon remittances, and those nations who have an influx of returning workers, now looking for work in their home states.

Urban and rural divisions can be strata along which national and regional hierarchies and insecurities are drawn. Sometimes urban areas can be seen as sites of affluence, but likewise rural areas may be the places where the elite withdraws to secure safety and seclusion [see Crime and Local Security, above]. Resentment has precipitated conflicts in Angola and Mozambique, for example, where rural communities’ anger at the urban elites’ control of political and economic power structures was a factor in the conflict (Bett and Kimuyu, 2009: 24). Urban and rural separation is also drawn along ethnic lines; for example, in Angola and Mozambique some of the urban elites were mixed race. In a number of Latin American countries, for example, the   mestiso  (mixed ethnicity) populations, are often confined to cities e.g. La Paz, while the indigenous populations lives in rural, and often underdeveloped, areas.


Marginalisation Cultivating Radical Ideologies

Both local and international marginalisation feed into dissatisfaction at the vast inequities of power and wealth at a global and regional level. Such dissatisfaction can be channelled into positive community development and campaigning, and can also lead individuals into a deeper analysis of the economic and social paradigms under which they live. This, coupled with economic poverty and political marginalisation, has, over recent decades, led to support for ideologically driven counter-culture movements, and the election of pro-poor and pro-indigenous parties in some nations. Such disenchantment is at its height during a global economic downturn (such as we are currently experiencing), as perceptions of unfairness, and the feeling there is ‘nothing to lose’ has repeatedly triggered social and political violence (Bornay-Bomassi, 2009).

Latin American nations have expressed their disenchantment with neo-liberalism at the ballot box: electing populist parties in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia [12]  (Bello, 2011). In a number of Global South nations, local uprisings, sometimes militant, have been sustained in their opposition to the establishment over decades – most notably the Naxalite revolts in India and the Zapatistas in Mexico.

Naxalite uprisings, which originated as a communist peasant uprising in the West Bengal village of Naxalbari in 1967, have recently evolved into ‘an insurgency across much of India’ (Rogers, 2009), driven by the experience of deprivation and exacerbated by the expropriation of land for new industrial or mining projects (ibid.). Since the 1960s, the movement has been taking hold in areas of ‘weak central-state control’ (Rees, 2009), kidnapping Indian security personnel, ‘maintaining authority in rural areas by setting up parallel administrations, administering summary justice and extorting money and resources from local businesses’ (ibid.).

The radical Maoist group was described by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006 as “the biggest security challenge ever faced by our country” (Ramana, 2008). The group’s mainstay of recruits has come from ‘literate and poverty stricken tribals’ (Rao, 2010) for whom ‘the struggle for existence is acute’ (ibid.). As Indian National Congress President Sonia Gandhi put it: “What is most worrying is the high degree of convergence between areas that are mineral and forest-rich and areas that are the arenas of tribal deprivation and left-wing extremist violence (ibid.).” The following case study explores the movement more deeply.


Marginalisation of the Majority World: Naxalite Rebellions

‘Naxalism’ is the broad term used to describe the militant agrarian and tribal movements in India, which are based on the Maoist ideology and seek power through armed resistance. The Naxalites, initially launched as an anti-landlord movement, call for a complete transformation of the political system and the creation of a new social order that would put an end to what they see as an exploitation of the most vulnerable communities. Named after the village of Naxalbari, where the first of such movements had emerged in 1967, it has since assumed the status of India’s biggest internal security challenge, affecting nearly 200 districts spread over 18 Indian states - an area known as the ‘Red Corridor’.

The goals and demographic nature of the Naxalite movement clearly highlights the underlying causes behind the genesis of this movement. The gross economic inequality and the concentration of wealth in a few hands, lack of economic development in these areas, and the denial of access to farmers and tribals to common resources like water and land, which are necessary for their livelihood and survival, has naturally caused a great deal of resentment, anger and a feeling of isolation among a large section of people. Economic development, which is insensitive to the needs of such sections of society, has led to a great deal of displacement and the reduction of the populace to a sub-human

 existence. In the case of tribes in particular, it has ended up in destroying their social organisation, cultural identity and resource base, which cumulatively makes them increasingly vulnerable to exploitation. The pattern of development and its implementation has increased corrupt practices of a rent seeking bureaucracy and rapacious exploitation by the contractors, middlemen, traders, and the greedy sections of the larger society, intent on grabbing their resources and violating their dignity.

Such a situation and populace, naturally, acts as a breeding ground for Naxalism. This has been accepted even by the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, who admitted that the Naxalite problem was “directly linked to problems of underdevelopment, exploitation, lack of access to resources, underdeveloped agriculture, lack of employment opportunities, and other factors.” The marginalised and affected groups, who perceive themselves as victims of injustice and came to believe that the government was doing nothing to redress their grievances, naturally supported and joined the movement with the hope that it would bring a significant improvement in their condition. Moreover, the Naxalites were seen as the only ones talking about their needs, rights and interests. It is the fact that the Naxalites are waging a “Peoples’ War”, which can explain the reasons behind the massive support of the populace. Their agenda includes struggles for tribal rights to land, common property resources, better wages, health care, education and housing. Many observers believe that Naxalite initiatives resulted in improved living and economic conditions for many tribal communities.

It is evident that the threat posed by the Naxalite movement cannot be resolved effectively as long as it is seen merely as a law and order problem. It is essential that the government seeks to address the socio-economic issues underlying the Naxalite movement in order to reduce the resentment, isolation and marginalisation of large sections of people.

Aryaman Bhatnagar


The Naxalite activities have had some success in terms of dissuading companies from investing (ibid.). While this could be seen as arresting economic development, author and prominent Indian activist Arundhati Roy describes the Maoist group’s struggle against mining companies as an epic battle between the powerful and powerless: “the poorest, most malnourished, waging a war against the corporates supported by all the institutions of the world’s biggest democracy” (Deccan Herald, 2010). “To a large extent, they have won in stopping the mighty corporates in their tracks,” she said (ibid.).

In India and surrounding states, rebellions stemming from socio-economic divisions [13]  have been dealt with primarily through ‘police control and military confrontation’ (Abbott and Marsden, 2008). These efforts are unlikely to succeed in isolation. As Sonia Gandhi argued, “protecting the rights of tribals and ensuring their livelihood are central to bringing about an end to their exploitation and sense of alienation” (Rao, 2010). Repressive and controlling policies must be complemented with diplomacy, dialogue and genuine attempts to address the root causes of the problem (Abbott and Marsden, 2008).

Even if it has been the ‘war on terror’ that has dominated international security conversations over recent years, it may be that these developments across Asia provide a more telling story with which to predict further developments. What is today a national security problem could be emulated on a scale that would make it a global security problem in the years ahead. The Chief of the UK Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, has described the Naxalite rebellion as an example of an insurgency that ‘has a sense of hopelessness and economic envy at its core. These are powerful instincts that today can be inflamed and communicated to other similarly dispossessed groups across the world at the touch of a button’ (Richards, 2011).


Religious Extremists

More prominent in the international policy arena has been the popularity of radical Islamist groups in the Persian Gulf and Middle East. In addition, the “Talibanisation” of Pakistan, for example, warrants particular media attention. They are portrayed as Islamic hard-liners, often linked to al-Qaida, who want to ‘implement a rigid version of Islam’ (Suleri, 2010: 79). However, many who join the Taliban are those ‘outraged by chronic hunger, endemic corruption, unfair courts, and the government’s inability to supply basic education or other services’ (ibid.). “Robin Hood” tactics such as land redistribution (including in the Swat valley) have earned the sympathy of the local community, making it easy for militant groups (religious, ethnic or nationalist), to build ‘parallel states’ within Pakistan (ibid.).

Religious groups have often been among those providing parallel services in the event of state absence. Provision of services, e.g. schools, hospitals, sports clubs, places of worship, from militant religious groups can provide direct access to young people, who may be impressionable. Moreover, it naturally builds sympathy for the political and militant aims of the radical religious groups.

Religious extremism may be provoked particularly in situations where ‘traditional’ values, considered intrinsic to the preservation of the faith, are disrupted. In recent decades this has led to the criticism of globalisation, and the concurrent spread of the ‘Western’ liberal values, particularly through the media. Ismail Abu Shanab, a former Hamas leader (killed by an Israeli missile in 2003), called globalisation “a new colonial system. It’s America’s attempt to dominate the rest of the world economically rather than militarily (…). America is trying to spread its consumer culture. These values are not good for human beings” (Stern, 2003: 40).

Finally, the Western incursions into the Arab world, and the discrimination (for example, a rise in Islamophobia in the US and UK), may lead many Muslims and the Arab diaspora to feel humiliated. Ayman al-Zawahiri, now a leading figure in the al-Qaida movement, then second-in-command, wrote in 2001 that the current world order is generally “humiliating” to Muslims, as Western forces attempt to dominate Islamic societies in a “new crusade” (quoted in Stern, 2003: xviii).

Stern argues, this humiliation is a major factor in the current wave of transnational Islamist terrorism. Therefore, until Western ‘counter-terrorism policies and practices avoid producing gratuitous humiliation in the Arab and Muslim world’, Islamic violent extremism is likely to persist (Porter, 2011).


The Impacts of Political Oppression and Corruption

The post-election violence in Kenya in the winter of 2007/08 is one recent example of the way, in which a public (or a section of it) that feels politically disenfranchised can regard violence and disruption as the only avenue for expressing discontent. Following the December 2007 election, large groups amongst the Kenya electorate, reinforced by media accounts of vote rigging, claimed that the incumbent’s supporters had committed electoral fraud.

Reports suggest that up to 1, 300 people were killed, and up to 650,000 people displaced (IDMC, 2010), in the riots, massacres and violent demonstrations that ensued. Some of the displaced households were still living in refugee camps in 2010 (ibid.).

The violence, triggered by the injustices of the election process, were driven by longer-term concerns that intersected in Kenya to provide an ominously ‘conflict-inducing’ atmosphere; these included inequality, ‘[inter-] ethnic hatred, perceived denial of political rights and the government’s incompetence in delivering economic growth’ (Bett and Kimuyu, 2008: 1).

The inter-ethic aspect of the conflict was part of an ongoing but latent tension between tribal groups. From the first independent President of Kenya - Jomo Kenyatta - there has been a perception that political power brings tangible advantages, through nepotism and corruption, to the premier’s tribe, and particularly their clan (Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence, 2008: viii). Much of this resentment is directed at the Kikuyu (the largest tribal group in Kenya), of whom Jomo Kenyatta, and also Mwai Kibaki (President of Kenya from 2002 – to date), is a member. The feeling amongst some Kenyans that the best way to access Kenya’s wealth and resources is for their tribe to win the Presidency, has led to a ‘deliberate denudation of the authority and legitimacy of (…) oversight institutions’ that could manage abuses of power, and promote accountability (ibid, 22).

The violence was most prominent in impoverished areas, including Coast province, and informal settlements in Nairobi; therefore the brunt of the suffering was also borne by ‘poor people, living in low income neighbourhoods’ (Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence, 2008: 203).

At the time of writing, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is proceeding with the prosecution of six people, it alleges, organised the campaigns of post-election violence. Kenya’s government have appealed to try the six men in Nairobi, rather than through the ICC in The Hague; this appeal was unsuccessful. Kenya’s parliament has also voted to withdraw Kenya from the Statute of Rome – the treaty that established the ICC (Shiunda and Mathenge, 2010). The Chair of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said that Parliament is ‘telling the international community “Kenya is not serious” about fighting impunity’ (ibid.).

Although the violence of 2007/8 was particularly grave, it is not unheard of. Since the early 1990s, violence has been used as a tool by politicians hoping to gain power in Kenya (ibid, p. 22). Such struggles will not be prevented until corruption is eliminated in free and fair elections, which are publicly accountable and visible.

Nigeria also witnessed post-election violence after the April 2011 Presidential elections, when Goodluck Jonathan (the existing President) was re-elected. The success of Jonathan, a Christian candidate from the South, prompted violence in the North, where the President is unpopular. The governor of Nasarawa state claimed that the violence was primarily the result of ‘poverty and unemployment’ (Joseph, 2011), and triggered by dissatisfaction of the result.


Minorities: Gender, Youth, Indigenous and Separatist Movements

The exclusion of minority groups (who are not necessarily small in number, but marginalised in terms of power relations, hence the inclusion of women in this category) is both damaging in terms of human welfare, and likely to inspire struggles, affecting internal and regional instability, in the future. This is by no means a new phenomenon; minorities have often been excluded from economic, social and political structures along ethnic, religions, cultural, tribal and political lines. Recently, however, we have seen one such minority - youth movements across the Arab world – acting as the driving force behind the ‘Arab uprising’, the wave of political uprisings that have thus far affected Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco and Oman.


Young People and the Arab Uprisings


Photo Credit: Jonathan Rashad
Photo Credit: Jonathan Rashad

Whilst the main factors underlying these revolts are familiar - ‘dictatorship, oppression, nepotism, social inequality, structural poverty and demographic changes’ (Adib-Moghaddam, 2011) – a new characteristic was that it has been primarily young people who have filled the streets in these nations, ‘demanding freedom and democracy’ (Alpay, 2011). They had reached a stage of fury at which some felt it was “better to die for a cause than to live without dignity” (Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim, quoted in Bello, 2011).

The Arab world’s demonstrations of popular opinion have been largely nonviolent in their tactics (with Libya being the main exception), though many have been met with repressive resistance from governments.

Even though more hard-line forms of Islam have often been seen as embracing authoritarianism, and stifling pluralist democratic culture, analyst Arshin Adib-Moghaddam argues: The myth that a ‘hybrid religion can be reduced to a monolithic political ideology’ is coming to an end, with ‘massive demonstrations (…) held after Friday prayers, prayer-rugs (…) laid out in front of tanks [and] nationalist sentiments and slogans (…) permeated by Islamic symbols’ (2011). He contends that support for the radical Islamism espoused by al-Qaida is failing. If accurate, this moment could be a key one in building more trusting relations between America and its allies in the ‘war on terror’, and the Arab world (Alpay, 2011).

There have also been protests in Iraq, amongst people disappointed by the unfilled expectations of the government - with mismanagement of the country’s significant oil revenues (Iraq is said to have the second largest oil reserves in the world), corruption, 1 in 6 living in poverty, and almost 40 per cent of the 30 million strong population under the age of 15 (Arraf, 2011). [14]

The large and diverse ‘Arab Spring’ movements have been aided by the use of new communications technologies, social networking sites in particular. These innovative media tools have been utilised by young people in particular as an immediate way of spreading campaign messages. Cyber-activism, which is primarily grassroots and unrestricted, has met with repression. Iran, in some ways the ‘homeland of cyber-activism’ (Alavi, 2011), has seen the foundation of a ‘vast internet-police system, whose rigorous censorship and surveillance of cyberspace has led to harassment, imprisonment and even executions’ (ibid.). The government attempts to hold back the flood of popular feeling, reacting with authoritarian censorship at the wave of opposition.

Dissent is not confined to the young, however; repressive and undemocratic rule can meet resistance in many spheres of the population – not just the marginalised. In Iran for example, Nasrin Alavi describes a dissenting mood being shared not just by those on the streets, or the young, or those in the capital Tehran, but also by more moderate religious leaders; as Alam al-Hoda’s recent sermon put it, after the disputed 2009 elections, the “movement of sedition” is evident “in the seminaries” (2011).


Gender Justice

Gender inequality is a real and urgent issue. While the political and social marginalisation of women has not often resulted in violent rebellion, in many nations, movements are building to challenge exclusion and discrimination. Should responses to such movements be reactionary, rather than dialogue-based, deeper and more complete marginalisation is likely.

Such discrimination feeds into other socio-economic issues such as health (particularly HIV/AIDS [15]), poverty (for example, where widows and single women are unable to work), and female infanticide. Where women suffer, so often do female-headed households and female children.

Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress, asserted women’s relative vulnerability and invisibility in contemporary social problems in a recent lecture, claiming that topical climate change debates have been “gender-blind”, i.e. that women have less access to “resource technology and credit in the global economic downturn” and that inattentive urban planning is a factor in women’s vulnerability on the streets (2011).

There are areas of backlash against sexism however; Shadi Sadr, an Iranian publisher, lawyer and journalist, under arrest after a protest in 2004, wrote: “Today Iranian women (...) have imposed themselves on a male-dominated society which still believes women should stay at home. Perhaps nobody sees us, but we exist and we make our mark on the world around us. I assure you that if you look around carefully, everywhere you will see our footsteps” (quoted in Alavi, 2007). The challenge for those women now is to make an impact upon the Iranian   majlis  (parliament) that they often protest outside (ibid.).

Women played a major role in the recent Arab revolts [16]; Lilia Labidi, Tunisia’s minister of women’s affairs, said that in the demonstrations “women were not side-lined but marched amongst men” (Rostad, 2011). There have since been calls for a new ‘parity resolution’, which would guarantee ‘an equal number of male and female candidates for each party in Tunisia’s…elections’ (ibid.). Progressive steps such as this may be more possible in an increased public spirit of ‘political pluralism’ (ibid.). However, such participation will not be productive or liberating if it is merely an add-on (‘add women and stir’, as Harding has put it [Beneria, 1995: 1840]). It must represent a substantial shift in political and economic power relations. Moushira Khattab, former Minister of Family and Population for Egypt, has made this point relating to Egypt; arguing that ‘women’s participation in public demonstrations and disseminating information to the media “has set the stage for a paradigm shift in the rights of citizens”’ (ibid.).


Separatist Movements and Ethnic Minorities

The exclusion of ethnic minorities, for example indigenous or state-less peoples, has triggered the launch of ‘insider’ civil groups, such as separatist movements (some of which are militant), that can be a threat to internal stability. In Asia, these have included the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Southern Philippines, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in India, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, and in Eurasia, militant Chechen separatists, fighting for independence from the Russian Federation. Of the groups that utilise violence as a tactic, many are contained to nationally-based attacks; however, some have attacked international targets, and have links with global security issues, e.g. the suggested links between Chechen militants, Pakistani intelligence forces and Saudi financiers (Raman, 2010).

In Sri Lanka, the state has been accused of marginalising Tamil communities since the 1940s. Poverty and frustration have been the fruits of policies that neglect and discriminate against Tamil language, religion and identity as Sri Lankans. Whilst there have been many youth groups prepared to use violent means to gain equal opportunities and recognition, the LTTE were particularly critical in proposing a separate Tamil state. Anti-terrorism policies designed to counter the LTTE’s militarism have been repressive and often counter-productive, affecting the Tamil minority and building support for the extremist tactics of the LTTE. [17]


Marginalisation of the Majority World: Human Security in the Mandera Triangle

‘Human security can be said to have two main aspects. It means, first, safety from such chronic threats as hunger, disease and repression. Secondly, it means protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life – whether in homes, in jobs or in communities.

The “Mandera Triangle” is a tri-border region of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya that exemplifies, in a microcosm, a complex and chronic humanitarian crisis that transcends national boundaries. The resident Somali pastoral population is highly vulnerable to periodic droughts and floods, high levels of poverty, long-term disruption to the traditional systems of livelihood, ongoing inter-clan conflicts and border tensions between states.

Violence in the Mandera triangle is often viewed purely as a symptom of inter-tribal conflict over cattle and other common property resources. This line of thinking is questionable, given that an important issue in understanding insecurity among pastoralist groups is their distant and often oppositional relationship to the state. As with other peripheral groups, pastoralists in the region have suffered systematic marginalisation by central authorities and have a history of rejecting the authority of the state, which they view as threatening to their distinct nomadic way of life. Pastoralist violence must therefore be situated in terms of mutual opposition and exclusion, as well as the struggle for control of resources. Pastoralists do not partake in nations’ so-called ‘public goods’. They are often denied government services and the state seldom plays a role in guaranteeing their security. When they do become an object of state interest and intervention, it often involves forced settlement and other coercive efforts that only strengthen their resolve to remain apart.

The human security dimensions of the pastoralist plight are now more clearly understood as being attributable to a combination of population growth, immigration, conflict and specific government policies. An adequate conceptualisation of human security for Mandera triangle states and other states in Africa must ‘link human security with human development’. Economic development will have to be at the top of the institutional agenda, since development and security are ‘two sides of the same coin’ (Mandaza, 1995).’

Adbul Ebrahim Haro, Practical Action


Abeyratne argues that the ethnic tensions in Sri Lankan society have been an important ‘mobilisation device’ in ‘gaining momentum and continuity in one facet of the conflict’ (2004: 24), but that the ‘fertile ground for political conflict' was provided by the exclusion of individuals and groups from the development process. In the following case study, Abdul Haro explores the condition of pastoralists in the Mandera triangle, who are similarly excluded from national priorities.

In the case of the Kenya/Uganda border, while pastoral conflicts have always been assumed to be purely arising from competition over scarce resources, Mwaura argues there are broader social, economic and political exclusion issues that are neglected in most analysis (Mwaura, 2005: 2). With the state largely absent from remote border areas, the main experience pastoral communities have of state intervention is the ‘indiscriminate and aggressive military response’ to conflicts (ibid.), further alienating tribal groups from identification with the state. Consequently, their own capabilities in protection, particularly through arms, becomes extremely important (ibid.).

Discrimination against ethnic groups can be particularly apparent in emergencies, such as natural disasters. For example, during India’s severe monsoon floods in 2007, three minority groups – Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims – were hit worst. There were many reasons for this. Firstly, many Dalits live in vulnerable homes outside main villages, leaving them particularly exposed. In some cases relief workers were not aware of their presence, and in others, dominant groups took control of aid distribution and did not give these groups priority (Baird, 2008). As climate change develops, more ‘climate crises’ can be expected; in these situations it is vital that relief be non-discriminatory.


Environmental Limits, Resource Competition and Marginalisation

Climate Change and Climate Justice

The worst effects of climate change will fall first and foremost on the majority world (Adow, 2009). [18] Climate change will further entrench the multiple-index poverty of the ‘bottom billion’. For example, developing nations with extensive coastlines such as Bangladesh, and island states like the Maldives, are most likely to be devastated as sea level rises. Many people therefore perceive climate change as principally an issue of justice. As Kofi Annan has put it “the countries most vulnerable (…) contribute least to the global emissions of greenhouse gases. Without action, they will pay a high price for the actions of others” (quoted in Patwary, 2011). President Museveni of Uganda went as far as calling climate change ‘an act of aggression by the rich against the poor’ (Masood, 2007).

With women being more likely to live in poverty than men, climate change is also not gender blind. Women represent 70% of those people living in poverty, and generally have less access to resources, technology and credit (Gandhi, 2011). In families living in poverty, adaptation to a changed climate will drain money away from other priorities, such as the education of children. As with these families, so will governments be forced to reallocate funds from other fields as a response to climate change adaptation measures.

Social and economic deprivation enhanced by climate change may trigger radicalisation. The extra pressure that climate change puts on already fragile states may mean that the government can no longer deliver services to its people. In such cases, militant and insurgent groups often fill the vacuum, as has already occurred in Lebanon (Patwary, 2011).

Finally, the groups most vulnerable to climate change are also not necessarily those at the most risk in terms of direct physical impacts. Vulnerability is actually largely ‘determined by poverty’; not just income poverty, but a poverty of power, where countries are marginalised from policy debates and therefore from the ability to influence decisions (Tacoli, 2011). Hence, the way environmental change impacts on communities is not automatically and proportionally determined by the degree of environmental change, but via their level of resilience, which in turn is a result of power structures. To put it simply, even if, for example, Western countries were hit harder by climate change than poorer Southern countries, citizens in the West would still be likely to be less affected due to a far greater capacity to adapt to climate change. For citizens in poorer countries, already a smaller impact could mean life or death. It is non-environmental factors, therefore, which really determine the level to which communities will be affected by climate change.

While climate change will hit the poorest hardest, it will also affect minority indigenous groups disproportionately. These groups are often amongst the poorest, because many indigenous groups have such a close relationship with the environment (Baird, 2008); for example in the Niger Delta, those ‘already marginalised by their social status’ are the most disadvantaged by environmental degradation, as they are dependent for their immediate survival on local ecologies and nature-related trades, e.g. fishing, forestry, farming and hunting (Wapmuk, 2010).


Competition over Natural Resources

Communities in the South that face income poverty are those most vulnerable to resource scarcity. Increasing competition over natural resources is expected as supplies of energy deplete, and as the effects of climate change impact on food and water insecurity. [19]

In regions where natural resources are widely available, frustration has resulted in crime and regional insecurity in areas where the economic benefits of these resources have not been shared (see Crime section, above). This is particularly true where there is not adequate space for ‘civil political opposition as a means of changing or influencing society’ (Von Kemedi, 2006). For instance, the   Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force  has found recruitment to their armed force easier as the ‘disaffected’ feel unrepresented. As the economy in the Niger Delta is not expanding, an army of youths are simply gathering every day on the streets or at the jetties waiting for something to do. Unfortunately, what they are offered these days is membership of an armed group. Some join to improve their self-image, as a response to perceived injustice or simply to survive’ (ibid.).

Competition over resources increases marginalisation and deprivation in ways likely to engender radicalisation and militancy. In some areas of Pakistan, the ‘anti-elite’ feelings of food insecure people have been used by ‘religious forces’ to incite violence, including suicide bombings (Suleri, 2010: 80). According to the Pakistani Interior Minister, suicide bombers can expect to be remunerated before their deaths, leaving their families up to $12,000 (Suleri, 2010: 82). This is enough to give all their dependents a decent life and be freed from water and food insecurity, as they now have the assets with which to acquire increasingly scarce supplies. In such circumstances, terrorism might seem like the economically expedient path.


Political Marginalisation of Southern Nations

Voices from the Global South are often found on the periphery of global political and economic dialogue, particularly at the negotiating tables of international institutions. This has already been subject to debate over many decades.

Though many African and Asian colonies gained independence from the 1940s onwards, their political and economic relationship with former colonial powers, managed by the ‘Bretton Woods institutions’ (the World Bank (WB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)), was often one of dependency. This resulted in the adoption of policies that many people now perceive as damaging to the welfare of the poor of the poorest nations; for example, through reducing the amount of money a state can spend on health, education and development, as debt repayment has to be made the priority (Shah, 2010). Most prominently, the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) – loans offered on the condition of the enforcement of free-market policies, such as the reduction of trade barriers.

Since the 1990s, these have been superseded by Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), [20]designed to be more participatory and driven by national governments (rather than the IMF/WB).

Such measures have still attracted criticism from more radical voices, including the Jubilee-Zambia campaigner, Jack Jones Zulu, who asks ‘is it possible for governments to be accountable to their own people rather than the IMF and World Bank when the whole process was initiated and is to be largely funded by the [World] Bank and [International Monetary] Fund?’ (2003: 1). [21]

In political terms, the United Nations is also a source of considerable tension around the issue of representation. No nation from Latin America, the Middle East or Africa, are permanent members of the UN Security Council. Country delegations (both for UN meetings, and the conferences of all other significant international bodies) can also vary in size dramatically, with Northern nations bringing a large group of dedicated diplomats and legal advisors, compared to the one or two-person teams representing a Southern state’s interests. Moreover, multilateral blocs such as NATO and the G8, represent exclusively Northern interest groups, who exert enormous control over international affairs.

This disparity in capacity and influence makes the efforts of groups that bring together, or speak on behalf of, a collection of Southern states, all the more important. These include the South Centre’s   Global Governance for Development  programme and more informal and reactive mechanisms such as the Global Governance Group (3G). 3G are an informal group of small and medium-sized non-G-20 member states that have recently come together to assert the need for ‘more effective global governance mechanisms’ that recognise the impact of G-20 decisions outside of G-20 countries, and engage all nations in decision-marking on issues of global concern (Statement by Ambassador Vanu Gopala Menon   Strengthening the Role of the UN in Global Economic Governance, June 2010).

The sense of powerlessness experienced by Southern states, in comparison with their Northern counterparts, can frustrate governments in the Global South, hampering cooperation, and resulting in policies fashioned exclusively by those who already hold power.

The examples of the COP15 and COP16 climate change negotiations in Copenhagen and Cancun are noteworthy. The ‘Copenhagen Accord’ that came out of the December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen has been criticised for being constructed by the major powers without any genuine engagement with key voices from the developing world, who will in fact be most affected by climate change (Ranawaka, 2010). At Cancun, there were accusations of ‘a catalogue of bribes and bullying tactics used by developed countries to buy the support of developing countries’ (Blagojevic, 2010).

Photo Credit: Greenpeace, Finland

The perceived failure of recent climate talks, particularly the ‘undemocratic actions’ taken by some nations in Copenhagen (Ranawaka, 2010), has contributed in some cases to North-South hostility – even a ‘diplomatic freeze’ (Patwary, 2011).

Various non-governmental organisations have been established in an attempt to counter the power inequities within the global political and economic institutions. These include Independent Diplomat, the South Centre, and programmes of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development’s (ICTSD).

Independent Diplomat, founded in 2004 by Carne Ross, a former British diplomat, exists to ‘promote justice and conflict resolution by enabling governments and political groups disadvantaged or marginalised by lack of diplomatic capacity to engage effectively in diplomatic processes’ – achieving this by providing independent and confidential advice, and assistance in diplomatic technique and strategy (ID, 2011).

Similarly, the ICTSD’s   Dispute Settlement and Legal Aspects of International Tradeprogramme assist those stakeholders with least capacity for legal and diplomatic expertise to engage fruitfully in World Trade Organisation business, particularly by defending their trade rights, advancing their trade objectives (ICTSD, 2011), and in accessing justice through the dispute resolution processes.


Where Do We Go From Here?

Democratic Accountability

2011 has seen a transformation in organising techniques of political activism, exemplified by the use of social networking sites in the ‘Arab spring’. [22]  Messages spread immediately, which can be used to mobilise communities, but also to activate cyber-activism networks, such as   Avaaz. [23]  Never before has there been this ability to alert millions of people globally to human rights abuses, corruption, free speech violations and examples of environmental exploitation. Although started in the North, the techniques have spread, through the Arab uprisings, which are an outstanding example of the power of social movements. We now await the results of the political change, to see whether the ‘revolutionary democrats of the Arab world’ have the vigour to pursue the next stages of the democratic revolution (Bello, 2011).

There are past examples of the end of political marginalisation having a positive impact on radical militancy. In Turkey, the denial of Kurdish identity is slowly coming to an end, providing an environment much more likely to end the terrorism of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who have for over thirty years been demanding the recognition of Kurdish identity (Alpay, 2011). Now, the option of peacefully pressing for democratic demands, are increasingly open to the Kurdish people in Turkey (ibid.).


Inequality as a Security Concern

Poverty and marginalisation must be put firmly on the agenda of peace and security specialists. There must be a widespread acceptance of inequality as a driver of insecurity and conflict. The defence community must grow to see aid spending, redistribution of wealth and the reconfiguration of trade and political institutions, not merely as ‘soft power’ and ‘conscience-salving’ on behalf of old colonial powers, but as a critical step in making the world a safer place. In fact, they need to act as advocates for such steps.

As Suleri points out, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States gave $11 billion to Pakistan in the form of budgetary support, economic assistance from USAID, military assistance, and Coalition Support Funds from 2002 to 2008. ‘This money, if spent judiciously and with political will, could have alleviated the suffering of millions facing extreme poverty and chronic hunger, thereby saving Pakistan from growing militancy. Alas, it was not’ (2010: 82). Redistribution of wealth can also mitigate conflict between different ethnic and social groups at a local level (Bett and Kimuyu, 2008: 1).

Resource security, particularly related to food and water access, is a critical part of the picture of poverty and marginalisation. While water-users at a local level are not blind to the social power relations that mediate water security, ‘power elites’ view water as a resource to be ‘deployed toward modernist economic development’; they ignore the ecological and social roles of this crucial resource (Mustafa, 2010: 2). This has to change in order to mitigate the extremism and insecurity that can occur as a result of frustration at growing resource scarcity.

In recent decades, Western governments and their military strategists have often regarded threats as stemming solely from the Global South (or from immigrants or proxies in the North). The South (particularly areas of strongly contrasting ideology) has therefore been seen as an area that needs to be controlled in the interests of Western security. This approach doesn’t recognise the ways in which economic and political marginalisation (that Western governments sometimes collude in) drives conflict, nor the interconnected nature of today’s world. As Paul Rogers puts it: “The castle gates simply cannot be closed (2009: 6).”

In order to create a more sustainable approach to security, the Western security policy community must lay down the tendency to see the majority world as a collection of weak or failed states that present a challenge to their power and safety from which their citizens need to be protected. Instead, the Global South must become a partner in creating a more peaceful world. This can begin with the reform of international institutions. The UN Security Council, for example, still lacks permanent members from Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Such partnerships need not be construed as an alliance, but they must be characterised by a genuine dialogue that understands and responds to marginalisation as a driver for criminal and violent activity, and therefore global insecurity.





[1] A note on terminology: ‘Majority world’ refers to the majority of the world’s population living in poorer nations. It also relates to the ‘Global South’, which denotes countries in the regions covered by our consultations: Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Australasia, the Middle East and North Africa (with some exceptions that are included in the consultations given their membership of poorer regional communities e.g. New Zealand, Japan). The ‘Global North’ relates to countries of Europe, North America and parts of Oceania, and the term is used interchangeably in public discourse with ‘the West’.

[2] The concept of Sustainable Security and the four drivers of insecurity were laid out in our book, ‘ Beyond Terror: The Truth About the Real Threats to Our World’ by Chris Abbott, Paul Rogers and John Sloboda, April 2007 (Rider).’ For more information on our Sustainable Security programme, please visit the  Sustainable Security programme section on our website.

[3] Each paper is published on the ‘ Sustainable Security and the Global South’ project pages of our website and also on our  Sustainable Security blog.

[4] This  series of papers follows a sequence of reports published between 2008 – 2010, which detail the result of  four regional security consultations that examined specific drivers of insecurity in regions of the Global South (one each covering Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, Asia and Australasia). Many of the security experts who attended one of these consultations have also been active in the development of these research papers. The reports of the consultations are all available for download on the ‘ Regional Sustainable Security Consultations’ pages of our website.

[5] Many ‘Southern’ energy-supplying nations have not had positive relationships with Western powers historically, including Iran, Venezuela and Libya.

[6] This has already been subject to much debate. For example, the Global Governance Group (3G) – an informal group of small and medium sized non-G-20 member states – recently came together to assert the need for ‘more effective global governance mechanisms’ that recognise the impact of G-20 decisions outside of G-20 countries, and engage all nations in decision-marking on issues of global concern (Ambassador Vanu Gopala Menon, 2010).

[7] The UK’s Stern Review recognises that ‘Climate change is a grave threat to the developing world and a major obstacle to continued poverty reduction across its many dimensions (…) Developing regions are at a geographic disadvantage: They are already warmer, on average, than developed regions, and they also suffer from high rainfall variability (…). Second, developing countries - in particular the poorest - are heavily dependent on agriculture, the most climate-sensitive of all economic sectors, and suffer from inadequate health provision and low-quality public services. Third, their low incomes and vulnerabilities make adaptation to climate change particularly difficult’ (2006: vi).

[8] The Baluchistan Liberation Union Front are part of a wider movement – some violent, some not - that for some decades been waging an anti-federalist war against the Pakistani government (partly as a result of perceived exploitation by neighbouring Pakistani provinces).

[9] Particularly hard hit by the global downturn are nations vulnerable to natural disasters, such as Caribbean economies prone to hurricanes, and affected by a reduction in their tourist industry and international oil price fluctuations (Joseph-Harris, 2011).

[10] The money ‘sent home’ to families from relatives living abroad.

[11] Meaning, in this instance, living on less than a dollar a day.

[12] Some of the nations – Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela – have joined with other nations from Latin America and the Caribbean – Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Dominica, Nicaragua and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – to form ALBA [ Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América/Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America], a regional alliance of socialist and social democratic nations with the aim of promoting cooperation and mutual economic aid. It was started as an alternative to the trade liberalisation proposed in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (an anticipated extension of NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement).

[13] Including the Naxalite uprising in India, rural protests in China, and the Maoist insurgency in Nepal (Abbott and Marsden, 2008).

[14] These protests have had some impact, with the government ‘delaying the purchase of American F-16 fight jets in order to put more money into the rations system and announcing more government jobs’, and the Prime Minister promising a review of underperforming ministries (Arraf, 2011).

[15] Including: a women’s capacity to determine her own access to family planning and healthcare; a woman’s capacity to earn a living to uphold her family when widowed through HIV/AIDS; the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS as a presumed STI. These issues do not exclusively affect women by any means, but women in many cultures feel the burden of such factors disproportionately.

[16] Yemeni journalist and politician, Tawakkul Karman, was the joint recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, awarded to three women jointly for their “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work" ( www.NobelPrize.org, 2011).

[17] The LTTE were ‘defeated’ by Sri Lankan security forces in 2009 (Wijayapala, 2009). It is alleged that the final stages of the armed conflict was marked by human rights violations, committed both by Sri Lankan government forces, and by the LTTE (see UN, 2009).

[18] ‘A wealthy minority of the world’s countries and corporations are the principal cause of climate change; its adverse effects fall first and foremost on the majority that is poor’ (Adow, 2009).

[20] Envisaged alongside the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) programme.

[21] Zulu claims the SAPs and PRSPs have three significant things in common: an over reliance on the trickle-down effect; failing to recognise the cost of growth in terms of the reduction in the social capital; setting targets that are heavily influenced by external funders and insufficiently influenced by the results of the public participation.

[22] Western nations have also witnessed an explosion of social media use by activists.

[23] ‘Avaaz’ [avaaz.org] means ‘voice’ in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages. An ‘online advocacy community’, it acts as a conduit for cyber activism, asking its members to sign petitions, contact and lobby elected representatives and organise offline protests (Avaaz, 2011). Its membership currently stands at c. 10 million (correct as of 19 October 2011). 




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