Technology & Trade

South-South Models for Preventing Proliferation

in Program

By Brian Finlay – Today’s interconnected global economy has eased the ability of
more people in all corners of the globe to be part of to the weapons of mass
destruction supply chain than at any other time in history. Criminals and
terrorists alike can undertake proliferation and related activities as
effectively in Luanda as they can in Los Angeles. As a result,
two decades after the end of the Cold War, while the risk of a nuclear
confrontation between states has gone down, the risk of a nuclear incident
itself is going up.

Yet, while the threat of proliferation may be growing into
new spheres of concern, the global financial downturn has caused a dramatic
shift in countries’ spending priorities. Consequently, major nonproliferation
donors have reduced, or at minimum, flat-lined appropriations to international
assistance programming, including nonproliferation assistance to the G8 Global
Partnership. In light of these budget reductions, however, some governments in
the Global South have begun instituting more savvy approaches to prevention.  Their innovative concepts seek to satisfy international
obligations to the global nonproliferation regime while also meeting higher-order
local priorities, ranging from human security to economic development.

Consider this:

  • Detecting
    and responding to a biological weapons incident requires a functional
    disease surveillance network and a robust public health infrastructure;
  • Trade
    expansion and business development cannot occur unless borders and ports
    are safe, efficient, and secure-also a key component to prevent the
    physical movement of WMD materials and technologies; and
  • Preventing
    trafficking and illicit trade of humans, conventional arms, and drugs
    relies upon many of the same resources and capacities needed to detect and
    prevent nuclear proliferation and combat terrorist activities.

Thus, developing nations are able to stretch limited
financial resources toward not only building a more stable and secure
environment for development but also fulfilling security obligations to the
global community. The result is a more sustainable nonproliferation programming
that ultimately costs less. More importantly, it has yielded an array of unique
South-South partnerships that indicate an emerging bright spot for global
efforts against the proliferation threat.

To date, at least three broad categories of partnerships in
this discrete security space are evident across the Global South. They are
categorized as:

  1. Initiatives of
    “incipient global leaders,” where governments of regional powers work with
    neighboring countries to address security challenges. For example, beginning in
    2010, Argentina launched a
    bilateral cooperation initiative with Peru that not only includes
    commodity identification training, interagency cooperation across the
    Ministries of Defense, Industry, Foreign Affairs, and Justice, but also targets
    the training of Peruvian police and border personnel;
  2. Collaborations among the
    “resource challenged,” where nations with limited funds work together in order
    to pool resources toward greater overall security. For instance, in 2007, the
    Caribbean Community proposed an innovative collaboration to share regional
    implementation capacity for nonproliferation implementation as well as facilitating
    the hire of a single coordinator to manage each government’s implementation
    program; and
  3. Cooperative programs instigated by the
    “strategically motivated,” where nations with economic incentive for regional
    security provide the means and coordination to create safe trade routes and
    improve overall regional security. For example, Croatia, in a direct effort to
    promote its admission to the EU, has launched an aggressive campaign to not
    only highlight its compliance with the global nonproliferation regime but also
    to share these capacities with other states-in-need, including Pakistan, Qatar,
    Belarus, and certain African states.

Rather than considering these partnerships challenges to the
traditional Western-oriented approaches, proponents of nonproliferation should
welcome these developments as positive advances. In short, countries in the
Global South increasingly find themselves to be links on a potential
proliferation supply chain. As such, unique South-South partnerships provide a
look at how nonproliferation programming might be modernized to address these changing
proliferation realities across the developing world.

For a more detailed discussion of
innovative South-South partnerships see: Brian D. Finlay, “Proliferation
Prevention: Bridging the Security/Development Divide in the Global South,” Global Studies Review volume 7.3 (Fall
2011), which can be accessed here.

Photo Credit: DVIDSHUB, Flickr:

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