Challenges and solutions to International Peace and Security

Summary of the inputs to call by the United Nations' Independent Expert on a Democratic and Equitable International Order.

Papers / 15.6.22
Challenges and solutions to International Peace and Security

In the framework of a call for inputs from the United Nations’ Independent Expert on a democratic and equitable international order, the Fundació Josep Irla and Coppieters Foundation have put together a policy report, drafted by Professor Jaume Lopez. The paper aims to point out some of the current challenges to international peace and security and a concrete proposal to manage territorial sovereignty conflicts.

International peace and security are the result of complex processes with multiple causes and factors with greater or lesser direct effects at different levels. The achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda will no doubt also have an indirect impact on global peace and security. Attention must also be paid to those elements most directly associated with the prevention of latent, detectable conflicts—even though they may not yet have been triggered—as well as to the resolution of more or less violent conflicts that have already emerged.

We must draw attention to the conflicts that might be described as intra-state territorial conflicts of sovereignty understood as disputes in which a significant part of the citizens of sub-state political communities, bereft of sufficient recognition by the State of which they are constituent, call for the capacity to decide upon their political status in a democratic manner, including the prospect of such territorial communities constituting their own sovereign States.

Such conflicts occur throughout the world. In fact, these may be considered one of the most widespread sources of many forms of violence(s) that exist, tension and political conflict, beyond those that involve the aggression of one state upon another, which are fortunately less common today.

These conflicts are generated by the lack of an adequate response by the states to the democratic demands of a political community to decide on its basic institutional structure, its level of self-government, and ultimately its possible existence as an independent sovereign state with the chance of a seat in the United Nations General Assembly.

These conflicts do not derive exclusively from processes of decolonization, nor are they exclusively conflicts of developing countries or confined to a specific region of the world.

They are universal. They are not residual conflicts, nor are they anchored in past claims.

They are conflicts generated by legitimate demands, in many cases arising from local democratic majorities that are opposed to other democratic majorities in the state they pertain to, where they lack legal and democratic channels for resolution.

The absence of these channels often causes tensions to increase, hampering deescalation, and tends to lead to entrenched positions detrimental to the political community in question, to the state as a whole, and often to the entire region and the international community.

Although these conflicts may not spill over the borders of the state in which they are developing (though still impacting on the global levels of conflict on the world arena), they may at other times be a trigger of international disputes.

In the 21st century, the right to internal and external self-determination must be considered a continuum. Regarding the possibility of democratically deciding on secession from a state, such a right must overcome the narrow conventional margin that associates the right to external self-determination exclusively with pending processes of decolonization.

We will otherwise find that many conflicts will be deprived of the opportunity of being addressed peacefully. We will also make the setting of borders a blind spot for democracy, as there are no peaceful and democratic procedures for their modification based on the determination of the peoples directly affected, including both those of the sub-state communities and those of the of the states as a whole. If the international community does not offer a regulated procedure to channel these conflicts in a democratic and political manner, it will implicitly be stating that any border change must be the result of war or violent conflict. Such a conclusion must be considered totally unacceptable in this day and age.

One of the main challenges in ensuring international peace and security is to provide a comprehensive response to such conflicts in accordance with the inspiring principles of the Charter of Nations. Such conflicts are possibly the most common and dangerous kind in the international arena today.

. . .

This contribution to the call for input from  is a join initiative of Fundació Josep Irla and Coppieters Foundation.

. . .

This paper is financially supported by the European Parliament. The European Parliament is not liable for the content of the paper nor the opinions expressed by its author.

. . .

Photo by João Marcelo Martins on Unsplash

. . .

Thank you for following our activities over the past few years. We hope our updates have been useful to you. We would like to keep informing you about upcoming events, new publications, summer schools, and job vacancies. Subscribe to our newsletter to hear from us in your inbox.