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Globalisation and Security in the Asia-Pacific: An Initial Investigation

Christopher W. Hughes

CSGR Working Paper No. 61/00

November 2000




Globalisation and security vie individually for the status of the most important, yet least well conceptualised, of issues for academics and policy-makers. Moreover, despite the growing sense of its significance, the interconnection of globalisation and security, or globalisation-security nexus, is also understudied and poorly conceptualised. Finally, the differential impact of the globalisation-security nexus upon the various regions of the world is also understudied. This working paper is an initial attempt to fill these gaps in our knowledge by investigating the globalisation-security nexus in both generic conceptual terms and in relation to the specific impact of globalisation in the Asia-Pacific region. The first part of the paper demonstrates how globalisation as a qualitatively new phenomenon is capable of transcending territorial and sovereign space, exploits potential divisibility between the security interests of sovereign states and their citizens, and has thus challenged us to extend our conceptions of security and to interlink domestic and international security issues. The second section of the paper then argues that globalisation requires a vertical extension of security in terms of the looking below the level of the state and at alternative security actors, including societal groups, individuals and TNCs, which are also capable of consuming, denying and supplying security to others. The horizontal expansion of security is needed in terms of broadening the security agenda away from the traditional military dimension and towards economic, environmental and societal security issues which have come to the fore under conditions of globalisation. The third section of the paper then moves on to demonstrate how globalisation has had a differential impact across regions in accordance with the ability of sovereign states, the existing unit for ordering social space, to resist the impact of trans-sovereign problems. In the case of the Asia-Pacific, this paper argues that the twin processes of decolonisation and bipolarisation have placed relative limits upon this ability for states, left them systemically vulnerable to globalisation as a process which emphasises the divisibility of state and societal security interests, and hence enabled globalisation to exacerbate existing military, economic and environmental security problems in the region.

Keywords: Globalisation; security; sovereignty; state; human security; Asia-Pacific.

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