The Failure Of The State As The Primary Referent Object For Security Studies

2127 words - 9 pages

The belief that the State should be the primary referent object for security studies has for many, become outdated. With the failure of the Westphalian system in the late 20th century , under which States were the primary institutional agents, international debate sparked over issues of sovereignty and the State became less relevant as the primary referent object. The world was changing and as Dr. Javier Solana, Secretary General of NATO said in 1998, humanity and democracy, two principles at the fore of international debate, and essentially irrelevant to the original Westphalian system, now serve as guideposts in crafting a new international order, one better adapted to the security realities, and challenges, of today. The Westphalian system essentially gave the international community an effective method to divide territory and recognize the boundaries of States and In the Westphalian system the goals of the State and what were thought to be in the best national interest and were considered to out way any needs of individual citizens or groups.
However, in the interconnected world in which we live today and with the advent of technologies linking people across the globe with the click of a button, traditional identities and the roles of States as the primary referent object in security studies have failed. Non-traditional security threats have emerged over the recent decades and are increasingly accorded more attention and importance than some traditional security threats because they threaten the people and the nation itself, as opposed to traditional threats directed solely against the State. This essay will discuss the debate over traditional and non-traditional security threats as viewed in the schools of realism and liberalism and at the decline of the State as the primary referent object in security studies. Lastly it will briefly examine China and the blending of the two schools and the Chinese application of both realism and liberalism in addressing issues of the State and of the people.
Whether deliberately or not, the term 'nation' is used widely to describe the people of the world and link individuals not just to geographical places and countries, but to larger systems, ideals and beliefs. It is the unique and the shared qualities and attributes of nations that define them as well as defining the States that they are associated with. We often here the term 'nation-State' because it allows a depth and character to be recognized as a quality that the State possesses, and it is because of such human qualities that compose nations themselves that are they have become the primary tags that identify countries. The United Nations is an organization to which only States can belong, but it is not called the United States to reflect this, as the term 'State' in context with UN membership refers to governments. The 'United Nations' encompasses an association with the people of the world that communicate with each other through their...

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