Options for Canada’s Future in Euro-Atlantic Organizations
Professor Frédéric Mérand
Nicola Contessi, PhD
Jérémie Cornut, PhD
Dominika Kunertova, M.A.
Université de Montréal-McGill University, CEPSI
Prepared for the International Security Research and Outreach Programme
International Security and Intelligence Bureau
The International Security Research and Outreach Programme (ISROP) is located within the Defence and Security Relations Division of The International Security and Intelligence Bureau. ISROP’s mandate is to provide the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) with timely, high quality policy relevant research that will inform and support the development of Canada’s international security policy in the areas of North American, regional and multilateral security and defence cooperation, non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament. The current ISROP research themes can be found at: www.international.gc.ca/arms-armes/isrop-prisi/index ISROP regularly commissions research to support the development of Canadian foreign policy by drawing on think-tank and academic networks in Canada and abroad. The following report, Options for Canada’s Future in Euro-Atlantic Organizations (2013-2030), is an example of such contract research.
Disclaimer: The views and positions expressed in this report are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade or the Government of Canada. The report is in its original language.
Le Programme de recherche et d’information dans le domaine de la sécurité internationale (PRISI) fait partie de la Direction des relations de sécurité et de défense, qui relève elle-même de la Direction générale de la sécurité internationale. Ce programme a pour mandat de fournir au Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Commerce international (MAÉCI), en temps utile, des études stratégiques pertinentes et de haute qualité qui permettent d’orienter et de soutenir l’élaboration de la politique canadienne en matière de sécurité internationale concernant la coopération nord-américaine, régionale et multilatérale en matière de sécurité et de défense, ainsi que la non prolifération, le contrôle des armements et le désarmement. Les thèmes de recherches actuels du PRISI figurent à l’adresse suivante : www.international.gc.ca/arms-armes/isrop-prisi/index.aspx?lang=fra
Le PRISI commande régulièrement des études à des groupes de réflexion et à des réseaux d’universitaires au Canada et à l’étranger afin d’appuyer l’élaboration de la politique étrangère canadienne. Le rapport sommaire suivant, intitulé Options pour l’avenir du Canada dans les organisations euro-atlantiques (2013 à 2030), est un exemple de ce type d’étude.
Déni de responsabilité : Les vues et opinions exprimées dans le présent rapport sont exclusivement celles de l’auteur, et ne reflètent pas nécessairement la position du Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Commerce international, ou celle du gouvernement du Canada. Le rapport est présenté dans la langue de rédaction.
- Over the next 20 years, the empowerment of individuals and new information and communication technology will reverberate in the security field with implications such as the growth of cyber-terrorism and the spread of nuclear technology to non-state actors. Power will be diffused among states and from states to informal networks, leading to a less Western-centric globalization. Demographic patterns and a growing demand for resources will have adverse consequences on defence spending and energy security.
- Among Euro-Atlantic states, there is broad agreement on the nature of future threats: proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, regional conflicts, and cyber attacks. Russia is alone in identifying a Europe-specific phenomenon, the expansion of NATO to the East, as one of the main external military threats to its national security.
- While no major new conflict is predicted to arise in the Euro-Atlantic area, there will be no shortage of crises originating from outside this area, especially in the Middle East and in North Africa, requiring a response from Euro-Atlantic organizations.
- In the Euro-Atlantic area, it is expected that Russia will reclaim its traditional sphere of influence by intensifying efforts to strengthen regional organizations, sometimes in cooperation with China or smaller states. The Arctic may become one of the new geostrategic hotspots.
- A relatively cohesive club, NATO remains the most successful military alliance in contemporary history. As an inclusive, regional, and crosscutting organization, the OSCE is less central to key Canadian interests, but it provides a fairly low-cost means to establish a diplomatic foothold and contribute to building a security community in Eurasia.
- While NATO and the OSCE are expected to remain the pillars of the Euro-Atlantic order, one important question that underlies this report is why Euro-Atlantic-based organizations are necessary to deal with global risks. NATO’s civil-military focus is likely to become more central as future multinational interventions place increasing demands on NATO capabilities. Predictions for the OSCE are more difficult to make given its protracted impasse, but the need for confidence building among disagreeing powers remains present.
- While Canada should not reconsider its membership in these organizations, it should support planned reforms and initiatives that will make them more relevant. Both NATO and the OSCE are moving in the right directions by taking seriously transnational, including cyber-threats. Applying lessons learned, they are likely to continue to improve coordination of civilian and military capabilities to address new risks. Energy security is also likely to move up the agenda of both organizations.
- To address the shift in global power, and in particular the renewed assurance of Russia, the OSCE must renew its original focus on confidence building, including through multi-track initiatives. Eschewing enlargement for the time being, NATO would be well-advised to nurture its relationship both with Russia and with new partners through political and technical cooperation.
- In times of austerity, both organizations will have to do more with less. Administrative reforms such as results-based management should be encouraged. At NATO, Smart Defence provides interesting opportunities for Canada to streamline defence procurement and optimize capabilities.
- Au cours des 20 prochaines années, l’autonomisation des individus et de nouvelles technologies de l’information et des communications entraîneront un certain nombre de conséquences pour le secteur de la sécurité, comme l’intensification du cyberterrorisme et la prolifération de la technologie nucléaire au profit d’acteurs non étatiques. Il en résultera une dispersion du pouvoir entre les États et, dans certains cas, celui ci passera des États à des réseaux informels, ce qui donnera lieu à une mondialisation moins centrée sur l’Occident. L’évolution démographique et une demande en ressources naturelles de plus en plus forte seront également préjudiciables aux dépenses de défense et à la sécurité énergétique.
- Les États euro-atlantiques s’entendent largement sur la nature des menaces qui se profilent à l’horizon : la prolifération des armes de destruction massive, le terrorisme, les conflits régionaux et les cyberattaques. Par contre, la Russie est le seul pays qui considère un phénomène propre à l’Europe, à savoir l’élargissement de l’OTAN au profit des pays de l’Est, comme l’une des principales menaces militaires externes pour sa sécurité nationale.
- Même si aucun nouveau conflit important n’est prévu dans la zone euro atlantique, de nombreuses crises ayant leur origine à l’extérieur de celle ci sont à prévoir, notamment au Moyen Orient et en Afrique du Nord, face auxquelles les organisations euro-atlantiques devront intervenir.
- Dans la zone euro-atlantique, il est prévu que la Russie reconquerra sa sphère d’influence traditionnelle, en intensifiant ses efforts pour renforcer les organisations régionales, parfois en coopération avec la Chine ou de petits États. Il se peut aussi que l’Arctique devienne l’un des nouveaux points chauds géostratégiques.
- L’OTAN, qui forme un groupe relativement cohérent, est l’alliance militaire la plus efficace de l’histoire contemporaine. L’Organisation pour la sécurité et la coopération en Europe (OSCE), du fait de sa nature inclusive, régionale et transversale, revêt une moins grande importance pour les intérêts canadiens, mais fournit un mécanisme relativement économique pour établir une présence diplomatique et contribuer à la création d’une communauté qui œuvre en faveur de la sécurité en Eurasie.
- Même si l’OTAN et l’OSCE devaient rester les piliers de l’ordre euro-atlantique, l’une des questions importantes qui sous-tend ce rapport consiste à se demander pourquoi les organisations à vocation euro-atlantique sont nécessaires pour s’attaquer à des risques mondiaux. Il est probable que l’importance accordée par l’OTAN à la coopération civilo militaire s’accentue, à mesure que des interventions multinationales nécessiteront une plus grande mobilisation de ses capacités. Il est cependant plus difficile de prévoir l’avenir en ce qui concerne l’OSCE, en raison de l’impasse à laquelle celle ci continue d’être confrontée. Toutefois, il demeure nécessaire de renforcer la confiance entre les puissances ayant des points de vue divergents.
- Même si le Canada ne devrait pas remettre en question son appartenance à ces organisations, il doit plaider en faveur de réformes et d’initiatives planifiées qui les rendront plus pertinentes. L’OTAN et l’OSCE sont toutes les deux engagées dans la bonne voie en prenant au sérieux les menaces transnationales, y compris les cybermenaces. En appliquant les enseignements tirés à ce jour, il est probable que celles ci continuent à améliorer la coordination des capacités civiles et militaires pour s’attaquer à de nouveaux risques. Il se peut également que la sécurité énergétique revête une plus grande importance dans leur ordre du jour.
- Pour s’adapter au changement des rapports de force à l’échelle internationale, et en particulier pour rassurer la Russie, l’OSCE doit de nouveau veiller à la poursuite de son mandat initial, qui consiste à renforcer la confiance, y compris par des initiatives à plusieurs volets. En reportant l’élargissement pour l’instant, il serait préférable pour l’OTAN de veiller à la poursuite de ses relations à la fois avec la Russie et de nouveaux partenaires, par la voie d’une coopération politique et technique.
- En période d’austérité, les deux organisations devront faire plus avec moins. À cet égard, il convient d’encourager les réformes administratives, telles que l’adoption d’une gestion axée sur les résultats. À l’OTAN, le concept de « défense intelligente » fournit d’excellentes occasions, selon le Canada, de rationaliser les acquisitions de défense et d’optimiser les capacités existantes.
|The future of Euro-Atlantic security institutions: key issues|
1. Value added (NATO: military alliance / OSCE: regional organization)
2. Security debates (broad agreement on security threats / disagreement over the type of response)
3. Future roles (NATO: global role / OSCE: forum for dialogue)
4. Division of labour between OSCE and NATO (functional / strategic)
|Future trends||Security challenges in the Euro-Atlantic area||Coming Challenges for NATO and the OSCE||Recommendations for Canada|
|New Risks||1. Empowerment of individuals|
2. Growth of middle class
3. Spread of ICT
|1. Terrorism and cyber-terrorism|
2. Threats to integrity and confidentiality of information infrastructures
3. Proliferation of WMD
|1. OSCE: politico-military aspects of security gain more importance over human security|
2. NATO: countering global terrorism, cyber security risks, piracy
|1. OSCE: coordination and analysis on transnational threats|
2. NATO: development of cyber-security and civil military approach
|Global power shifts||1. Diffusion of power|
2. China’s economy surpasses US economy
3. Emerging powers
|1. Russia reclaims its old sphere of influence|
2. Scramble for the Arctic
|1. OSCE: absence of trust between members|
2. NATO: nuclear deterrence, BMD, globalization
|1. OSCE: promote Track 2 and multi-track initiatives|
2. NATO: communicate more effectively with Russia on BMD, develop political and technical partnerships
|Societal pressures||1. Demographic patterns (aging, migration, growing urbanization)|
2. Demand for resources
|1. Cut in defence expenditures|
2. Energy security
|1. Downsizing budgets of the organizations|
2. How to address energy issues
|1. OSCE: promote evaluation and audit of field missions, discussion of energy security initiatives|
2. NATO: Smart Defence, protection of critical energy infrastructures
|Old and new conflict zones||1. Most threats outside euro-Atlantic zone|
2. Areas with particular risks: North Africa and the Greater Middle East
|1. Stability in the Middle East North Africa and Sahel|
3. Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia
|1. OSCE: development of instrument of conflict prevention and crisis management|
2. NATO: development of expeditionary capabilities, comprehensive approach, Afghanistan post 2014
|1. OSCE: acknowledge success but lower expectations|
2. NATO: lessons learned, Comprehensive Approach
Although their history, mandate and membership differ, the overarching role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is to ensure collective security in the Euro-Atlantic area. Twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, small conflicts remain frozen in the Caucasus but the pacification of Europe has been achieved, including in the Balkans. The most preoccupying zones of conflict are now located well outside the region. This leads the United States (U.S.) government to move progressively its military capabilities toward the Pacific and the Indian oceans, downsizing the U.S. contribution to NATO. As a result, and as in the early 1990s, a growing number of voices are asking whether the current shape and restricted geographical scope of Euro-Atlantic organizations respond to the task of improving the security of their members. Some even advocate Canada’s withdrawal from the OSCE and NATO, while others consider that these institutions are important elements of Western and Canadian security and defence policy.
In the meantime, the OSCE and NATO are actively engaged in addressing future security scenarios. For these organizations, the challenge is threefold: (1) Adapting to 21st Century transformations in the strategic environment; (2) Coordinating their actions among themselves and with other international actors such as the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) to avoid wasteful duplication; (3) Overcoming internal divisions between members and partners about organizational means and purposes. While several NATO and OSCE leaders and member nations are aware of the challenge, these organizations are beset by institutional rigidities and political disagreements that are slowing down change.
Broadly speaking, NATO can pursue two distinct paths to reform. On the one hand, it can become a more political organization and include countries that do not belong to the Euro-Atlantic area, such as Australia and Japan. On the other hand, it can become a more technical organization, with greater emphasis put on interoperability and pooling of resources. These two futures are not incompatible, but they have different implications in terms of missions, partnerships and priorities. As far as security issues are concerned, the OSCE presents a limited interest for Canada. Yet, it is a useful and rather inexpensive forum to discuss important issues with OSCE members, particularly Russia, engage distant countries, and promote values that Canada supports. The objective of this report is to identify long-term trends that are likely to affect Canadian foreign policy interests in this area over the next two decades. The report first identifies global changes in the international security environment that resulted from the end of the Cold War and the post-September 11 context, with a focus on the Euro-Atlantic area. It then looks at issues fundamental to the future of Euro-Atlantic security institutions, and at the challenges that they face in the coming decades. Lastly, it outlines Canada’s options in these organizations and makes a number of recommendations.
- Security challenges in the Euro-Atlantic Area
Today’s international security environment is characterized by dynamics that began with the end of the Cold War. Despite frequent references to uncertainty and volatility, recent U.S. and European strategic reports concur that it is possible to identify three major trends. These trends have already emerged today but they will likely grow stronger over the next 20 years.
First, the empowerment of individuals will continue along with the growth of the middle class, due to poverty reduction, greater access to education, the spread of new information and communication technologies (ICT), and health care developments. For the first time in history, the majority of the world’s population may be lifted out of poverty, and the middle class, expanding both in absolute and relative terms, will become the most important group socially and economically. The growth of internet use will continue to be exponential. The diffusion of ICT, new manufacturing and automation technologies, security of key resources, and new health technologies will present significant challenges for governments and societies. On the one hand, social networking will provide citizens with a powerful mobilizing tool (the Arab Spring being a recent example). On the other hand, such technologies will allow both authoritarian and democratic governments to monitor their citizens more efficiently. In addition, individuals may have the ability to cause large-scale violence – a capability usually connected to the states’ monopoly of force – as they will have greater access to harmful and disruptive technologies.
Second, the diffusion of power among states and from states to informal networks will cause “the emergence of a more polycentric world characterized by a shift of power away from states and growing governance gaps as the mechanisms for inter-state relations fail to respond adequately to global public demands.” The changing balance of power will result into a world with no hegemonic power. Asia will have outgrown North America and Europe in terms of global power. China alone will probably have the largest economy, surpassing that of the United States a few years before 2030, as several reports project China to become a great power in both economic and military terms. Moreover, the West will witness the restoration of Asia’s influence on the global economy. Analysts talk about “the Asian century” as emerging markets’ share of financial assets is expected to almost double by 2020. In 2030, 34 percent of the global economy will be generated by China and India which will become the first and fourth largest world economies. If they were to act together, these countries could manage to alter the rules of international order in a direction that would favour the developing world. Other regional players such as Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Turkey will also gain more important positions in the global economy.
The third trend incorporates demographic patterns together with growing demand for resources (or food-water-energy nexus) and stresses the challenge of sustainable development, compounded by the consequences of climate change. In 2030, the total number of living humans on Earth will have reached 8.3 billion people (up from 7.1 billion in 2012; the United Nations estimates). Several demographic factors will shape the economic and political context of relations among countries: aging; a shrinking number of youthful societies and states; migration; and growing urbanization. Due to an increase in the global population and its changing structure, demand for commodities within the food-water-energy nexus will grow by 35, 40, and 50 percent respectively. As both rich and developing countries will suffer from workforce shortages, it is expected that migration will become more globalized. Consequently, population displacement is likely to be connected with the circulation of risks.
As a result of these transformations, most 21st Century security challenges either originate outside of or are not directly connected to the Euro-Atlantic area. Among the great powers, Russia is alone in identifying a Europe-specific phenomenon, namely the expansion of NATO to the East, as one of the main external military threats to its national security. Elsewhere, multiple, unpredictable and combined threats are believed to characterize the security environment. OSCE countries and China consider the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), terrorism, climate change, regional conflicts and organized crime as major challenges to their national security. Given the regional dimension of combined threats, areas considered as the most unstable with high conflict potential are North Africa and the Greater Middle East (including South and Central Asia as well as the Mediterranean).
Considering these trends, countries in the Euro-Atlantic area should be aware of four kinds of concerns: new risks, global power shifts, societal pressures, and old and new conflict zones.
In terms of risks, the Jihadist phase may be over by 2030, but terrorism is unlikely to disappear completely. The empowerment of individuals will bring about new forms of terrorist activity. Criminals who are experts in cyber systems might offer their services to terrorists whose focus would change from causing mass casualties to creating widespread economic and financial disruption. This new criminal activity will be used to exploit modern societies’ growing reliance on information and communication. As a result, any traditional military operation will be accompanied by another conflict dimension: the enemy’s military ICT infrastructures and ability to communicate with the local population. Indeed, according to the Information Warfare Monitor Report 2009, an unclassified computer located at NATO headquarters was one of the envisaged cyber-attack victims. The recent investigation of Chinese hackers’ activities, known as the Mandiant Report, has found evidence of links to government-sponsored entities.
Not surprisingly, cyber-security is becoming increasingly politicized and perceived as one of the most significant security priorities of Western states. Both the U.S. and the EU have already developed high-level cyber-security strategies that refer to the maintenance of the integrity and the confidentiality of information infrastructures. Moreover, both actors have begun developing their own cyber-defence capabilities. In the Pentagon, cyber is addressed as a fifth “domain” of warfare and the U.S. Cyber Command says it would welcome rules of engagement for cyber-conflict. The establishment of a new competitive dynamic of offensive and defensive cyber-capabilities is a likely outcome. For example, it is expected that cyber-capabilities will become a key component of U.S. Air Force weaponry by 2030. As to the EU, it has recently launched the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) which aims at improving operational capabilities to combat cybercrime and protect crucial cyber-assets through a civilian-military approach. The EU’s strategy calls for a dialogue on the complementarity of its and NATO’s efforts to secure governmental, defence and information infrastructures.
According to the National Intelligence Council’s 2008 report, the risk of nuclear weapon use is projected to be greater over the next decades than it is today. Even though this risk remains low, there are strong concerns that the spread of nuclear technologies and expertise can lead to the potential emergence of both new nuclear weapon states and terrorist groups possessing nuclear materials. These concerns about the proliferation of WMD relate to the isolated Communist regime in North Korea, ongoing low-intensity clashes between India and Pakistan, and the obscure Iranian nuclear program which can possibly cause further proliferation in the Gulf. Such nuclear-related events might escalate and involve external actors, considering the empowerment of non-state actors and the difficulty involved in containing them. In particular, the development of long-range missiles with the potential of carrying nuclear weapons can threaten Euro-Atlantic area directly. Continuing concerns about the military dimension of nuclear programmes and state-sponsored terrorism are further nurtured by a sometimes hostile rhetoric towards the West.
In terms of the diffusion of state power, a less western-centric globalization is expected. At Europe’s doorstep, Russia will reclaim its old sphere of influence by intensifying efforts to strengthen regional organizations in post-Soviet area, Central Asia and Far East. In addition, the Arctic, located in the Euro-Atlantic area, may become one of the new geostrategic hotspots. There is overwhelming evidence that sea ice and permafrost are melting at unprecedented rates. Some reports project that by 2030, the packed ice in the Arctic will have disappeared. The melting of the Arctic will open the possibility for new shipping routes and make natural resources accessible. And because growing environmental stress creates an entirely new regional situation, there are also several reasons to consider the changing Arctic as “the first climate change induced constellation of insecurity.” Five potential sources of insecurity can be mentioned in that regard: first, environmental degradation (loss of unique biodiversity); second, resource claims (the prospects for natural resources exploitation regarding oil and gas and also fisheries); third, contested transportation routes (e.g. Canada considers the Northwest Passage as part of its internal waters vs. the U.S. and other states who refer to the Passage as an “international strait”); fourth, territorial claims (disputes over maritime frontiers and the extended continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean between coastal states ); and fifth, militarization of the Arctic (some of the coastal Arctic states are trying to strengthen the capacities of their armed forces and coast guards to operate in the harsh environment).
A scramble for the Arctic and its resources is likely to cause tensions and might create new geopolitical constellations. The Russian flag on the seabed at the North Pole presents a symbolic demonstration of its priorities. Although China has not published its Arctic strategy and despite its legal status as an ‘Arctic outsider,’ it is keen to participate in the creation of the Arctic order and influence discussions on how the Arctic should be governed. Chinese firms have started to invest in the region and government has increased funding for Arctic research. The EU, a major destination of resources and goods from the Arctic region, emphasizes that Arctic policy should be based on sustainable development and calls for international cooperation in order to ensure that economic opportunities do not collide with the preservation of the unique and fragile Arctic environment. The overall constellation of territorial claims challenges Europe’s ability to effectively secure its trade and resource interests in this region.
In terms of societal pressures, an aging population will change the structure of state expenditures (and public administration in general), a phenomenon which can negatively affect the budget of defence ministries. Rising welfare demands will mean more competition for public resources. The coming era of defence austerity may impede security-related technological progress and capability development among Western states while other players like China or India will be catching up. Between 2001 and 2010, Canada’s defence expenditures increased continuously both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of GDP. However, spending was kept under 2% of GDP, not meeting NATO’s target. At the present, a 5% decrease in the defence budget is projected for the fiscal year 2014-15. Regarding Russia and China, military expenditures are around 4% and 2% of GDP respectively, and are projected to rise in the next few years. Although the U.S. has the highest military expenditures in absolute numbers, it will not avoid cuts in its defence budget. Negative budgetary trends are also predicted in the UK and in France although both British and French defence budgets will remain above or close to 2% of GDP. The likelihood that defence spending will remain uncoordinated – together with divergent threat perceptions – within Europe suggests that the EU will not become a major military player by 2025. This may weaken European support for and contribution to NATO. In fact, as a European Council on Foreign Relations report observes, member states continue to cut their spending “without much NATO or ESDP coordination.“
Finally, a number of regional issues will remain on the agenda and have an impact on Euro-Atlantic security. Stability in the Middle East will depend on the evolution of the current crisis in Syria and the long-lasting Israeli-Palestinian conflict. North Africa and the Sahel will face political instability due to the disputed role of the military and Islamist parties in emerging democracies. In addition, a severe reduction in food and water resources, together with rising demand could lead to economic stagnation, social discontent, and weakened political authority in this area. It is also probable that states will show uncooperative behaviour over the use of transboundary water resources. Another challenge is posed by the situation in Afghanistan. Taking into account the geographical fact that there is 2,000 km of common border between the OSCE region and Afghanistan, the security situation in this country will influence the Central Asian neighbourhood. Finally, although a stable outcome may be found, longstanding conflicts in Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh or South Ossetia will likely not be resolved.
- The future of Euro-Atlantic security institutions: key issues
The future relevance of the OSCE and NATO depends on how these institutions tackle the complex issues identified above. This section identifies four key themes that will determine the future architecture of Euro-Atlantic security: (1) The value added of these two organizations; (2) Security debates among their members; (3) Their future roles; (4) The division of labour between them.
Though their role in Euro-Atlantic security often leads to conflating and confusing their respective contributions to regional security governance, the OSCE and NATO are two very different organizations. Resting on different principles, they also pursue different objectives. In the light of future security challenges, these institutions would achieve greater effectiveness by leveraging their specific mandates.
As highlighted in articles 4, 5 and 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO is first and foremost a military alliance. Though it is highly institutionalized and operates within the principles of the United Nations, it is not quite a regional arrangement in the sense of Chapter 8 of the UN Charter. NATO is primarily geared towards operational military cooperation in adherence with its mutual defence provisions. With its focused mandate, it embodies a club logic requiring a degree of political and especially ideological coherence (see art. 2) and by setting up benefits from which non-members are excluded. Its institutional and organizational dimension is designed primarily to enable it to operate as a military instrument, rather than to promote broad based cooperation. NATO can maximize state interests by further developing in that direction, through initiatives like Smart Defence, pooling and sharing, the special operations command, joint intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities. With regards to threats, NATO is likely to develop its deterrent potential and retain a role as a coalition for interventions, intelligence gathering and analysis, and operational support like logistics and transport.
Conversely, the combined provisions of the founding documents of the OSCE affirm a model of common, cooperative and comprehensive security, which stands in contrast with NATO’s club approach. As such, the OSCE is geared towards the maintenance of universal peace and security, through common security, dialogue, cooperation, trust and confidence building. In terms of structure, membership and methods, it is a regional organization rather than a defence mechanism. For this reason, the same level of coherence that blesses NATO is neither likely nor needed. Somewhat relaxing this expectation could be beneficial for the future development of the organization, particularly to achieve the goal of a security community under the Helsinki+40 agenda, laid out by the Irish chairmanship during 2012. At a minimum, the OSCE is likely to continue to act as a provider of technical assistance for those members in need of consolidating state capacity, setting standards and coordination parameters on a wide range of issues, notably on security. In the light of the security outlook for the Euro-Atlantic area, the police, border management, and new threats components are other areas for growth.
These differences should be kept in mind to ensure that the inevitable tensions that can arise between the two mandates can be, at least in part, softened. Moreover, recognizing these differences is critical to ensure benefits for member states, and an efficient division of labour between the two.
Security Debates in the Euro-Atlantic Area
There is overall agreement among the main players of the two overlapping institutions on the nature of future security threats and challenges. Terrorism still ranks high on the agenda of most countries, including France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, and the U.S. With different degrees of urgency, nuclear stockpiles and proliferation, with a particular eye to Iran and North Korea, are a key priority for France, the UK, the U.S. and Russia, though Russia’s defence policy places greater emphasis on the pursuit of strategic superiority by leading powers, i.e. the U.S., than on the aspirations of rogue states. Threats from cyberspace, or international information security, are also a concern for Euro-Atlantic states. NATO Secretary-General A. Fogh Rasmussen has suggested that the Alliance should improve “cyber resilience.” Similarly, the security of energy supplies is a key concern for all states. Lastly, attention is given to the impact of violence resulting from regime transitions such as the ones witnessed recently in the Middle East and North Africa. There is agreement on the localization of regional hotspots, including Afghanistan, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Sahel.
In spite of this broad agreement on security threats, the type of response proposed is far from being consensual. In this regard there is a fundamental disagreement between Russia and the United States hinging primarily on the nature of the political measures to be promoted and the overall strategic outlook. As Vice-President Joseph Biden admitted at the 2013 Munich Security Conference:
The United States will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. We will not recognize any nation having a sphere of influence. It will remain America’s view that sovereign states have the right to make their own decisions and choose their own alliances. All that remains the U.S. position; it will not change. But in the meantime, other clear differences have emerged as well. It’s no secret that we have serious differences on issues like Syria, missile defence, NATO enlargement, democracy, human rights. These differences are real.
With regards to the Arab Spring, the two countries also have diverging views. Russia highlights the importance of not “imposing an outside value scale, while supporting the democratic reforms in states undergoing transformations, but acknowledging the variety of development models.” Conversely, the U.S. emphasizes the promotion of good governance structures and democratization in partnership with European partners, but also more broadly the strengthening of state capacity in the developing world.
Another area of disagreement is missile defence, a debate that has engaged NATO since 2012. This represents one of the U.S.’s key military projects for the coming years, which is meant to provide strengthened deterrence capabilities against “regional adversaries.” Vice-President Joseph Biden’s words at the Munich Security Conference have further underscored this position. But for Russia, NATO’s “plans to promote military infrastructure close to its borders” is a major irritant and will remain unacceptable. However, due to the developments in North Korea’s nuclear policy, the U.S. abandoned the final phase of the U.S. European Missile Defence programme. Although missile batteries are to be established in Poland and Romania by 2018, instead of upgrading the deployed interceptors in Poland (the so-called SM-3 IIB) the U.S. will bolster additional 14 interceptors in California and Alaska by 2017.
Another sticking point pertains to NATO’s role in world politics. The Alliance may be gearing up for a more active global role following the withdrawal from Afghanistan, with the goal of responding to crises “whenever and wherever the Allies judge their security interests are at stake”. The planned strengthening of NATO’s Response Force further underscores this direction. However, judging that NATO seeks to ensure its security at Russia’s expense, Moscow considers unacceptable NATO’s assumption of a global role and perceives the current Euro-Atlantic security architecture excessively NATO-centric. Russia is keen to develop relations with NATO to strengthen Euro-Atlantic security, but they are to be based on equality and conditional on NATO’s acknowledgement of Russia’s interests. Connected to this is the issue of NATO’s enlargement, a goal likely to remain on the agenda for the coming years, with Georgia and the Balkans tagged for future membership. Russia considers the bloc’s expansion a threat to its national security.
The last contentious issue is the perceived “Western capture” of the OSCE, with the resulting “excessive” emphasis on the human rights dimension. While not opposed to cooperation in the three dimensions (political-military, economic/environmental, and human), Russia wants decision-making to be guided by the principle of the balance of interests. To ensure this, Moscow favours the decision-making supremacy of the organization’s intergovernmental bodies and their “prerogatives” in policy formulation. Nevertheless, the OSCE is seen as a platform for dialogue and partnership among cultures, reflecting Russia’s interests as a multinational and multiconfessional state.
As this overview suggests, at the heart of several disagreements between Western states and Russia is the nature of regional order in the Euro-Atlantic area, and the role of NATO and the OSCE in it. These disagreements, which are also rooted in the different goals pursued by these two institutions, have tended to have a negative impact on Euro-Atlantic security governance. The OSCE has typically been the main battleground where Russia, lamenting the neglect of what it sees as its legitimate interests, expresses its frustration towards NATO by obstructing undesired OSCE activities. Although Russia regularly calls for the overcoming of a “bloc mentality” and Cold War analogies, the nature of the strategic issues involved and of NATO/Western preferences is likely to remain unaltered. This will result in the continuation of this basic cleavage in the Euro-Atlantic area. The implications for regional security governance, however, will depend partly on the domestic political trajectories of Russia and of its partners among the OSCE’s Eastern members.
Considering their scope and interrelated nature, no state is able to tackle future threats and challenges alone. Regional organizations constitute an integral pillar of global security governance between national and international levels. Dealing with global threats at the regional level can allow better and more rapid responses to emerging threats that may raise conflict sensitivity in a region. On the other hand, regional organizations can help to prevent regional threats from escalating to a global scale. Institutional changes lie ahead for the two organizations, primarily stemming from within the Euro-Atlantic region. For NATO, challenges include the implications of further enlargement to countries in the Balkans and the Caucasus, such as Georgia. They could entail geopolitical costs in terms of further alienating Russia and leading it to antagonize NATO and the United States. Moreover, the BMD project will pose technological and financial challenges. For the OSCE, the main challenge will be to find ways of overcoming the East-West cleavage, particularly as it embarks on the Helsinki +40 agenda, which aims to set up a security community.
As far as NATO is concerned, its quality as a defence organization is poised to become ever more central. The ISAF experience has been a turning point in strategic thinking within the Alliance and has highlighted needs, weaknesses and gaps in crisis management and cooperative security. NATO’s future evolution will build on lessons learned from Afghanistan and other operational theatres to achieve the two goals of operational readiness and capability optimization. The first goal goes under the NATO Forces 2020 and Connected Forces initiatives, including the development of special operations capabilities, notably through the further expansion of the NATO Special Operations Headquarters. The second goal is aimed at ensuring adequate equipment, particularly as austerity pushes governments to pool military resources through the Smart Defence initiative. In addition, efforts will be directed at building up NATO’s deterrence potential. Its ability to own, deploy or lease assets will increase, and these heightened capabilities, together with the promotion of partnerships and its expanded deterrence objectives are likely to give it a greater profile in international security. Taking stock of these various undertakings and inferring from current trends, the Alliance is poised to take on a global role, as the Greater Middle East, south and southwest Asia, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific present more pressing security concerns than do Europe and North America.
In this regard, and in spite of the challenge of burden sharing, the ISAF experience suggests that NATO has the potential to gather countries with similar values, and interests in joint endeavors. For this reason, as heralded by the New Strategic Concept, strategic partnerships will play a key role in overcoming the exclusively trans-Atlantic character of the Alliance’s membership, replacing the previous practice of short-term ad hoc relations. Partnerships can be seen as a response to shrinking defence budgets and capabilities in NATO countries. Interoperability will be a key consideration in the conclusion of partnerships. More formalized dialogues will be developed with countries that have the ability to make comparable commitments such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore. The pursuit of ties with Brazil has also been among NATO’s options for some time, as well as links with regional organizations such as the African Union. The challenge will be to tailor these partnerships to the specific needs and interests of potential partners. Note that the expansion of partnerships might irk some third countries like Russia or China.
Predictions for the OSCE are more difficult to make given its protracted impasse. The Helsinki+40 agenda sets a course for the organization’s evolution towards a security community. At a minimum, the OSCE is likely to remain a forum for dialogue, a role that may appear suboptimal, but which should not be underestimated from a political point of view. The utility of such a forum is to let contrasting opinions be voiced and reconciled. In particular, through its confidence-building mechanisms, the OSCE can offer a platform to address conflicts emerging in the Euro-Atlantic area, such as the ones resulting from NATO’s pursuit of its mandate and objectives. Conversely, if the deadlock endures, less controversial dimensions such as socio-economic and environmental cooperation are likely to become more prominent.
Broadly speaking, the OSCE’s role will also have to consider the way that EU and NATO enlargement shape up. It goes without saying that there will be little need or justification for maintaining OSCE assistance to countries that have found a home in one or both of these organizations. Therefore, the OSCE is likely to proactively engage the organizations and the countries concerned to lay out variable road maps for a progressive division of labour aimed at the eventual phasing out of its assistance.
Division of Labour
Inconsistencies between NATO and the OSCE occasionally result into negative interdependencies. Their capabilities, character and membership are different, and both have their own raison d’être. In the logic of a future division of labour, their differences should be underscored in order to identify possible synergies or at least minimize inconsistencies. How the two organizations can build on each other’s strengths has yet to be determined. However, two criteria could inform a possible division of labour between the two Euro-Atlantic organizations.
The first criterion is functional (i.e. based on issues). Broadly speaking, NATO is likely to retain its operational role in responding to crises, conducting operations, joint defence, and other tasks, while the OSCE can provide a framework for cooperation, the means for delivering technical assistance and building capacities in member countries. The OSCE’s comprehensive and multidimensional nature, cutting across various dimensions (baskets), gives it an edge in addressing multifaceted threats such as terrorism, drug trafficking or border security. With regards to conflict management, NATO and the OSCE could develop synergies in the following way: The OSCE limits its interventions in its regional zone, while NATO intervenes worldwide, the OSCE intervenes in mid and long term crisis while NATO tackles acute crises, and the OSCE intervenes in state-building, including human rights and electoral issues, while NATO focuses on stabilization operations. While the European Union’s external policy may lead to overlaps with the OSCE, the EU should be increasingly regarded as an actor in its own right. In this light, its activities do not pose a challenge for the OSCE. However, a systematic division of labour may be difficult, given that the two organizations respond to different logics and stakeholders.
The second criterion is strategic (i.e. based on member state interests). From this perspective, the OSCE can act as a forum for dialogue, engagement, socialization, threat reduction, and coordination of security policies through its intergovernmental venues like the Forum for Security Cooperation or the Permanent Council. The OSCE can also be used to help reconcile differences between Russia and NATO. Conversely, through the pursuit of Smart Defence and NATO Forces 2020 initiatives in particular, NATO can generate savings, and maximize defence options while reducing costs for member states. NATO’s nature as a military alliance provides a framework for member states to spearhead defence initiatives and leverage their influence.
- Coming challenges for the OSCE and NATO
This section looks at what the evolution of security challenges in the Euro-Atlantic area means for both organizations. Like the recommendations that follow, it is structured around the four major concerns in the security environment that we have identified in Section 1: new risks, global power shifts, societal pressures, and new and frozen conflict zones.
While NATO’s combat role in Afghanistan draws to a close, new security threats, many of which are non state, are emerging in the Middle East and in Africa. A handful of NATO members remain fixated on Russia and the application of Article 5 to the Euro-Atlantic area construed in narrowly geographical terms. Yet, theory following practice, crisis management is now widely accepted by members as one of NATO’s core tasks and countering global terrorism has been put on NATO’s agenda. NATO has adapted to the new international context, especially the emergence of unconventional threats such as terrorism and cyber-terrorism. The new Strategic Concept adopted in Lisbon states that the organization will “enhance the capacity to detect and defend against international terrorism, including through enhanced analysis of the threat, more consultations with partners, and the development of appropriate military capabilities, including to help train local forces to fight terrorism themselves”.
Yet, NATO has not reached a point where its skill set matches the security environment. In the coming decades, NATO will probably continue to create common Allied tools to actively fight global terrorism, building on the existing Defence Against Terrorism Programme and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence task force. It will also pay a great deal more attention to cyber security risks, providing member states with information sharing tools and developing prevention programmes. Undertaking an advanced research and development program in cooperation with allies will be vital for the success of future military operations. According to the Atlantic Council, “establishing the framework for such a coordinated cyber approach is a critical step for the transatlantic nations.” NATO has already taken steps in this direction. Its Policy on Cyber Defence has been at the forefront of institutional initiatives regarding cyber defence and cyber-attack prevention through the NATO Computer Incident Response Capability and NATO Communications and Information Agency, which aim at providing centralized interoperable protection and IT services to all NATO bodies.
In parallel, as criminal networks gain prominence they will acquire a greater ability to disrupt global trade. Piracy has proven to be particularly challenging, representing a new area for NATO’s involvement in recent years. As maritime trade is likely to grow further in the coming years, NATO’s counter-piracy operations and the activities of its Shipping Centre are likely to receive additional support. Moreover, the OSCE covers an area that is particularly exposed to drug trafficking. Central Asia is the main transit route for Afghan opiates directed to Europe and Russia, as well as a significant source itself. The Balkans remain an important hub for heroin transhipment and growth of cannabis. Drug trafficking will therefore be an important area in which the OSCE is likely to take a greater role, by training security and border services, promoting alternative livelihoods and insertion for those involved, and so on.
In an environment characterized by the empowerment of individuals, authoritarian regimes in the OSCE area are likely to tighten their grip on power and repress dissent. Conversely, political successions in the Eurasian members will create growing demand for electoral assistance and elections monitoring, even though this role might be challenged by Russia. Therefore a continued role for the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is anticipated. Unless these countries undergo democratic transitions, this is likely to raise political tensions among members. Without neglecting the themes dear to the Western democracies, the 2010 Astana Declaration gave voice to the organization’s Eastern component spearheaded by Russia. The coming years could see the politico-military aspects of security including the so-called new threats take a bigger place in the organization over the human dimension. The establishment of a new Transnational Threats Department in January 2012 appears to pave this way.
From this perspective, and in line with the Astana Declaration, the OSCE’s contribution to the stabilization of Afghanistan may receive greater impetus as the NATO-led coalition withdraws its troops in 2014. Activities that are presently undertaken by OSCE field offices, such as the one in Tajikistan, are likely to continue in the following years, and may be the object of initiatives to better integrate so far relatively uncoordinated efforts. The Strategic Police Matters Unit could be more extensively used to train the Afghan National Police. Lastly, the 2012 violence in the Gorno-Badakhshan region of Tajikistan and the wave of terrorist attacks in Kazakhstan in the fall of 2011 demonstrate in different ways these regimes’ vulnerability and their exposure to spill-over from Afghanistan. The OSCE is therefore likely to continue and expand its role in the area of terrorism through the Anti Terrorist Unit (ATU), as a way of assisting its members in counterterrorism. Whether this body will take on more operational responsibilities remains unknown.
Global Power Shifts
In the new security environment, NATO and the OSCE remain the pillars of the Euro-Atlantic order. However, they are also exposed to the evolution of the global distribution of power, at the same time reflecting it and catalyzing it. Despite its economic weaknesses, Russia in particular will continue to be a major player in the area, sometimes in cooperation with China or smaller states.
A great deal has been done to guarantee that NATO remains the most powerful military alliance in the world. In the face of the evolving security environment, NATO enlargement has a compelling rationale: it enlarges the sphere of influence of the organization and provides new resources to its members. It also plays a fundamental role of support to emerging democracies and countries in transition. But it is not clear that it will continue given Russia’s growing assertiveness and enlargement fatigue in Europe. Functionally, however, each of the three “strategic concepts” adopted by NATO since 1991 has expanded the mandate of the organization to include new tasks. The last one was endorsed during the 2010 Lisbon Summit. It states that NATO has three essential tasks: collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.
This new Strategic Concept reaffirms the importance of the Atlantic Alliance’s historical task of defending its members, including through nuclear deterrence. Three NATO countries possess nuclear weapons: the U.S., the UK and France. The protection of the Euro-Atlantic area will remain a fundamental task for NATO in decades to come: although the attitude Russia will adopt vis-à-vis NATO is still unclear, tangible new threats include not only terrorism, but also failed states and nuclear proliferation. This new context may require an adaptation of NATO’s nuclear doctrine. The Deterrence and Defence Posture Review that was released at the 2012 Chicago Summit is a first step in this direction. Due to their diverging assessment of the threat posed by Russia, NATO members have diverging views on nuclear doctrine. By 2030, three trends are likely: a reduction of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe (for economic reasons), a replacement of aging delivery means, and an arms control agreement with Russia. One of the major debates of the past few years has been about the creation, now approved, of a ballistic missile defence (BMD) capability. In a context of proliferation of WMDs, member states will have to be protected from countries that may have acquired WMDs and intercontinental ballistic capabilities, such as Iran and North Korea. By 2030, the BMD program will be operational in Europe.
Since 2000, the growing assertiveness of Russia has led this country to engage in the contestation of some of the OSCE’s fundamental principles – democracy and human rights – by rallying a new “political East” around itself. The resulting impasse has plagued the organization’s functioning and effectiveness, and was quite openly acknowledged during the 2010 Summit in Astana, where members agreed on the need for reform. Following up on the Astana Declaration, the Helsinki+40 agenda is oriented towards the creation of a security community. However, a security community rests on trust, the agreement on values and principles and a shared identity. If the quarrel over values is well known, the absence of trust has recently been identified as a further source of tension. In this regard, NATO’s BMD plans will continue to represent an important irritant for Moscow. These ongoing frictions will inevitably reflect on the OSCE’s governance, preventing the agreement on its strategic orientations. In this sense, the ambitious goal of a security community could prove difficult to realize.
However, the next few years will inevitably see a number of political successions in those countries, including in Russia, with possible repercussions on their regimes’ ideological coherence and their foreign policy orientations. These transformations could possibly change the balance for the organization, weakening or consolidating the Eastern bloc. Two complementary approaches may improve the conditions in the two spheres of disagreement. As far as values are concerned, a sustained dialogue on the three baskets aimed at finding a politically acceptable deal for both Eastern regimes and Western democracies, while not backtracking on the existing OSCE acquis in this regard, could represent a temporary solution. Its utility would be to avoid the mere hollowing out of the already weakened human dimension, prolonging the organization’s impasse. As far as the absence of trust is concerned, a rediscovery of the OSCE’s original functions in the post-Cold War era could be beneficial, particularly its confidence-building and reassurance aspects. Unless a balance of interests in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian spaces is restored, Russia will continue to perceive that its strategic and normative goals are overlooked within the OSCE.
Finally, we observe a highly interdependent system where decisions taken within NATO produce tensions within the OSCE, as in the case of NATO enlargement and other eastward activities, or its decision on the antimissile defence system. Although it is not an OSCE or a NATO text, the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty constituted the main confidence building instrument in the Euro-Atlantic area in the aftermath of the Cold War. Highlighting the inherent tension between NATO and the OSCE, Russia suspended its observance of treaty obligations in 2007 to denounce NATO’s BMD project, underscoring a fundamental problem of trust within the Euro-Atlantic area. The Astana declaration also acknowledges the need to consolidate trust among the member states. The OSCE’s 2011 Vienna Document represents a possible starting point to rebuild confidence in the OSCE area, as a way of reviving the arms control regime.
Times of economic austerity have spurred initiatives aimed at creating leaner security organizations in which nations get more bang for their buck. With regular budgets of almost $2 billion and $148 million respectively, NATO and the OSCE have become obvious targets for reform. Downsizing headquarters is only the tip of the iceberg. Ten years since the Prague Summit that launched a radical transformation of the military command structure, NATO still maintains 13 military headquarters on the European continent, including its massive Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium. Several member states have retained their pre-Cold War force structures, and almost all seem intent on keeping national armies, navies and air forces. As for the OSCE, while its budget has been going down steadily over the past decade (from $260 million in 2000), the organization still deploys 3000 field officers in 16 operations, some in countries where NATO, the Council of Europe and the EU are also heavily involved (Balkans), others in countries and frozen conflicts where little progress has been forthcoming (Caucasus and Central Asia). This is why the Vilnius Ministerial Council of December 2011 tasked executive structures “to increase financial, technical and political efficiency and burden-sharing, reduce unnecessary duplication and promote the best use of available resources.”
In fact, there is consensus within NATO on the need to rationalize the organization as defence spending can be expected to decline everywhere. At the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, NATO allies agreed to significantly cut expenses on the military command structure. At the Chicago Summit in May 2012, they debated the tricky issue of burden sharing. The new guiding concept then adopted, Smart Defence, aims at encouraging more efficient cooperation and synergies among allies. NATO’s ambition is to nudge member states into cooperating more closely together in developing, acquiring and operating modern defence capabilities. In particular, it is expected that member states that cannot maintain the full spectrum of capabilities will find ways to pool and share them. In decades to come, member states will have an even greater need to reduce defence costs, due to a shrinking work force and rising costs to acquire advanced technology in defence equipments. Even though the label of “smart defence” might change by 2030, the necessity to do more with less will still be there. This makes all the more indispensable a pooling of the defence capacities between member states. Some states might be reluctant to an extensive pooling, for fear of losing part of their sovereignty. They could decide that they want to maintain their autonomy and therefore keep independent defence capacities. This solution would be costly and imply duplications.
The OSCE budget has diminished consistently since 2008 hitting a low of $148 millions in 2012. Austerity policies being likely to continue over the next 5 years, any further reductions could weaken the organization’s operational capabilities, and the persistence of the budgetary crisis could invite certain states to question the criteria for the allocation of contributions. For example, Russia has already expressed its desire that the OSCE adopt a mechanism based on “ability to pay” to calculate contributions, as is the case at the UN. Therefore, the present situation imposes a reflection on ways of maximizing resources while minimizing costs to states. Moreover, as political conditions in the Euro-Atlantic area improve, as exemplified by Croatia’s EU accession in 2013, the coming years will call for the rationalization of the organization’s field activities. The resources that may be released through this exercise could then be redistributed among the remaining field offices, or extended to regions nearer conflict spots such as Afghanistan, with residual tasks being transferred to the EU. In the context of its Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU is progressively developing its crisis prevention and civilian crisis management capacity. As a consequence of the EU’s security strategy adopted in 2003, the agendas of both organizations are increasingly overlapping. There are already many exchange and cooperation programmes between OSCE field missions and EU Delegations. In the future, the EU could for example replace the OSCE in developing national electoral institutions in the Western Balkans.
As demographic pressures also increase the need and competition for energy resources, the OSCE has developed since the 2003 Maastricht Strategy Document a focus on energy security. Bringing together the producer and consumer states of Europe, Eurasia, and North America, the OSCE is an ideal forum to deepen dialogue and cooperation between producers, consumers and transit countries. Since 2006, the Energy Security Dialogue has represented the OSCE’s main venue for addressing energy issues and can be expected to acquire even more relevance, including in the area of critical infrastructure and the development of alternative energy sources. NATO’s involvement in energy security is more recent resulting from the 2008 Bucharest Summit, but is likely to increase as Allies pool together intelligence through intelligence fusion arrangements and seek to protect critical infrastructures. Reliable energy supply (mostly oil and natural gas) and safe energy routes will continue to be fundamental requirements for NATO and OSCE member states. Transit countries should be protected and stabilized so that energy supply will always be guaranteed. Terrorist attacks against critical energy infrastructures and disruptions of a commercial or political nature are some of the most important threats. It is likely that both organizations would therefore include energy issues in future roles and planning.
New and frozen conflict zones
Political transitions in the OSCE area could have an impact on the evolution of frozen conflicts, mainly in the Caucasus, calling for new roles for the organization, requiring enhanced monitoring, analysis and early-warning capabilities, and adequate means of response. Since the end of the Cold War, the OSCE developed early-warning capabilities to prevent eruptions of violence. It created in 1992 new structures and instruments (such as the High Commissioner on National Minorities) to strengthen early warning. Even today, the role of the High Commissioner on National Minorities is to “identify and seek early resolution of ethnic tensions that might endanger peace, stability or friendly relations between OSCE participating States”. When tensions escalated after a failed mediation, he could issue an “early warning” to the OSCE. This has been the case for example in Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. Instrument of conflict prevention and crisis management will be needed in the future, and the OSCE will probably continue to develop them: preventive diplomacy to solve political issues and observer mission deployments are new tools that the OSCE could develop to avoid violent conflicts. Regarding Transnistrian, the Nagorno-Karabakh and the South Ossetia conflicts, a solution could prove difficult if Russia continues to perceive that its interests are not acknowledged. The OSCE will have a role to play in promoting reconciliation policies, notably building on the momentum created during the 2012 Irish chairmanship. Yet, in spite of these efforts, the most likely scenario is that these conflicts will remain frozen for the decades to come.
Political transformations in post-Soviet OSCE member states could also have repercussions on the stability of the regimes in question, resulting in social, civil or ethnic turbulences, which in turn could require the expansion of the current tasks of some of the OSCE’s field offices in order to monitor and accompany those changes. As the main vehicle for conflict prevention, the Conflict Prevention Centre, which supports field operations at all stages of the conflict cycle, can be expected to see its role boosted significantly. As the World Bank has recently warned, the Balkans remains a region of concern in light of the impact of the economic crisis, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Central Asia, the Fergana Valley remains a hotbed of instability, as the factors that led to the 2010 events worsen. Although the OSCE has not been particularly effective in dealing with the crisis when it erupted, it is an issue of which the organization will remain seized. Polarized socioeconomic conditions are also cause for preoccupation, and the environmental situation, particularly around the Aral Sea and the Amu Darya and Syr Darya water basins, could spark serious conflicts in the region. If current environmental conditions remain unchanged, the OSCE is likely to be asked to play a greater role in the management of water resources, building on isolated initiatives over the past years.
As with the OSCE, there is no consensus among NATO member states on how the organization should adapt to the emerging security environment. Managing crises have become part of NATO’s core tasks. In fact, NATO’s Strategic Concept adopted in Lisbon considers that one of the alliance’s essential tasks is to manage crises before they escalate into conflicts. Still, as mentioned, some member states insist that the organization should go back to its core Article 5 mandate of collective defence. For them, NATO is first and foremost an organization whose aim is to protect the Euro-Atlantic area – and not a tool of international policing that must develop its capabilities to conduct robust operations of peace enforcement “out of area.” In this conception, NATO should remain a military alliance able to deter enemies, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities.
Yet there are reasons to think that several future multinational interventions will use NATO capabilities, on the model of the 2011 military intervention in Libya. In a context where members of the Security Council disagree and the UN lacks adequate resources, NATO needs expeditionary capabilities to conduct worldwide interventions and peace support operations outside the Euro-Atlantic area – probably in the Middle East or in Africa, due to the security risks in the region. Yet, in an evolving global security environment, expectations should not be too high. Opportunities, risks and costs of out of area operations have to be assessed better. Expeditionary operations could become more and more frequent, creating unruly and unstable countries in low-intensity conflict zones. Chronic instability in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya after foreign intervention should serve as a warning. In fact, military success is not enough: it remains to be seen how the long-term political and social situations of targeted countries will be improved by NATO’s interventions. Over the past few years, NATO has invested considerable efforts in developing a comprehensive approach involving political, military and civilian instruments for crisis management. This approach, applied in part in Afghanistan, may have allowed NATO to find a new raison d’être. But although it can build on its experience with civil-military cooperation (CIMIC), NATO’s thinking is still in its infancy, and will need to be developed if the organization wants to be able to perform both collective defence and out-of-area operations with the aim of exporting security.
The Arctic is another potential conflict zone in the decades to come. So far both the OSCE and NATO have only marginally focused on challenges facing this area. Building on the broad definition of security adopted by the OSCE, the organization could be a forum to discuss resource exploitation, protection of the environment, Arctic routes, fishing zones, terrorist threats, arms control or even nuclear demilitarization. NATO could provide situational awareness and pool defence capabilities in the area, as well as support civilian operations through search and rescue missions and natural disaster response. The Arctic region is also an area where NATO and Russia can cooperate through training exercises and joint operations. Yet a greater role for the OSCE and NATO in the Arctic faces numerous challenges. The first problem concerns the role of the Arctic Council, which already tackles environmental issues. The value-added of the OSCE’s implication remains unclear. The fundamental issue is whether Arctic countries have an interest in letting non-Arctic countries be involved in the area. Disagreements between member states are another problem. Today Canada, contrary to Norway, considers for that reason that NATO should not be involved in the Arctic. This lack of consensus is presumably the reason why Arctic security was mentioned neither in the 2010 Strategic Concept nor in the 2012 Chicago Summit Declaration.
Nothing in the preceding analysis suggests that either NATO or OSCE are in a state of disrepair, or that Canada should reconsider its membership in these organizations. NATO remains the most successful military alliance in contemporary history. Through its experience in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Libya, it has developed new skills and adapted to new risks. Yet NATO still contains untapped technical resources that could make armed forces interoperable, defence spending more rational, infrastructures more secure, and force projection easier. For this reason, initiatives like Smart Defence, Connected Forces, and the NATO Special Operations system are of paramount importance. Politically, NATO needs to do more to address global shifts in the distribution of power, by moving from an enlargement strategy to a partnership strategy that will bring greater strategic benefits and be less antagonizing to Russia.
While NATO’s main advantage is its strong identity and core mandate, the OSCE’s main potential benefit is the fact that it is a regional organization with a diverse membership. The OSCE will probably never bring definitive solutions to major Canadian strategic priorities. But it gives Canada a foot in the Eurasian landmass, historically a key geostrategic location but where Canada has a small diplomatic presence. While expectations should be lowered as to what a regional security organization can actually achieve and while the organization can certainly improve its management practices, it remains a fairly low-cost forum where Canadians can sit at the same table as Americans, build trust with Russians, and discuss a large spectrum of collective security challenges. Somewhere between $10 and 12 millions, Canada’s participation in the OSCE is relatively inexpensive.
One important question that underlies this report is whether a country like Canada should have an interest in maintaining two Euro-Atlantic-based organizations to deal with trends that are global in scope. We have argued that this puzzle makes it all the more important to specify the division of labour and future roles of NATO and the OSCE. Politically, NATO has already become a global actor, largely through its role in Afghanistan. Militarily, there is no equivalent that would allow the world’s armed forces to work together when, as the case inevitably arises, they need to; even though its membership is restricted, NATO’s interoperability standards and military credibility are a public good when it comes to deploying a multinational operation. As for the OSCE, its focus is as much on Central Asia and the Caucasus as it is on Europe. While this is not a region where Canada has huge strategic interests, it provides the basis of a security community of 57 countries and peoples, some of which are likely to play an important role over the next 20 years. While the OSCE has not solved conflicts, it has helped keeping them frozen. Its role in election monitoring should also be acknowledged.
Based on the evaluation, this section outlines specific recommendations for Canada’s future involvement in Euro-Atlantic organizations. These recommendations are organized around the four thematic trends that have been systematically explored in this report.
As we have shown, ICTs have produced a problématique of cyber-security, where individuals are likely to play a role as important as states, giving a new dimension to “older” transnational security threats such as terrorism, organized crime and piracy. While Euro-Atlantic countries largely agree on the nature of these risks, there is a need for better understanding their dynamics. The creation of the Conflict Prevention Centre and the Department for Transnational Threats at the OSCE are certainly a step in the right direction, as are NATO’s interest in developing cyber-security capabilities. Mindful of the fact that some OSCE members have been alleged to engage in cyber-activities against each other, the priority should be given to ensuring that analytical and material resources to address new transnational risks are well coordinated between the two organizations.
While cyber-security needs to be taken seriously, one should not neglect the advances that have been made over the past decade in developing a comprehensive, civil-military approach to security threats. Thanks to Afghanistan, NATO has gained some experience in that regard, and we should be careful that it is not lost with a shift back to continental European security. Terrorism, crime and piracy require that NATO, either alone or in cooperation with other organizations, be ready to deploy coordinated civilian and military capabilities. The OSCE is also moving in the right direction for example with the Strategic Police Unit. With its conceptual innovations and practices of “Defence, Diplomacy, and Development”, Canada has a lot to offer to these two organizations in that regard.
Global Power Shifts
In a global context of rising powers, we have argued that two power shifts are apparent in the Euro-Atlantic area: Russia’s renewed assurance and the scramble for the Arctic. Polarization between Russia and the West has made the OSCE increasingly unwieldy. Heeding the calls of the 2010 Astana Declaration, the Helsinki+40 agenda aims to set out a process for the eventual establishment of a Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community. The idea of a security community implies a transnational public opinion sharing similar values within its space. We recommend bringing together NGOs and civil society actors from the OSCE area and promoting opportunities for dialogue and discussion in contexts that are more politically neutral. For example, Track 2 and multi-track initiatives could build confidence among elites when political agreements are not possible.
Pressing geostrategic issues are better addressed through a direct NATO-Russia dialogue. NATO enlargement and ballistic missile defence have been a key source of tension over the past decade. Russia’s main objection is NATO’s neglect of its interests in spite of commitments reached in the NATO-Russia Council. Our analysis suggests that NATO should communicate more effectively with Russia about its planned BMD system and, where possible, share technical and other information to reassure Russia that the system does not jeopardize its deterrence policy but is rather meant to protect from rogue states. As for enlargement, while the experience has been positive for new members, the past two decades show that the process has seriously antagonized Russia. Enlargement to new members should be supported only when there are clear strategic advantages for the alliance. To sustain NATO’s globalization, the recent Strategic Concept shows the way forward through partnerships, either with like-minded countries (Japan, Australia) when it comes to political issues or with any country likely to deploy in a multinational operation (Russia, India, Brazil) on technical issues.
For NATO and the OSCE, the main consequence of upcoming demographic changes will be to strain their resources. In times of austerity, steadily decreasing budgets and financial capabilities call for creative ways to maximize existing resources. To enhance effectiveness and limit spending growth, both organizations should promote the evaluation and audit of field missions and operations in order to identify rationalization opportunities and advance results-based management. The reorganization of NATO into a more responsive and flexible security organization will continue in decades to come. In NATO, Canada will find it natural to promote pooling and burden sharing under the label of Smart Defence. Also building on the European Union’s own joint procurement and pooling and sharing plans, this initiative can provide a platform to spearhead joint military industrial projects and coordinate procurement to create economies of scale and ensure the interoperability of its forces via concrete multinational defence projects (e.g. Alliance Ground Surveillance programme). In line with the downsizing of NATO HQs in Europe, the shift of NATO assets and capabilities away from territorial defence and towards force projection and specialization can also alleviate the pressure on Canadian contributions to NATO’s out of area operations. At the OSCE, the evaluation and audit of field missions should release resources that could then be redistributed among the remaining field offices. Given the overlap that sometimes exists between EU and OSCE missions, residual tasks could be transferred to the EU on a case by case basis.
Turning to natural resources, the OSCE and NATO could develop a new set of tasks related to energy security. The OSCE’s multidimensional approach has the advantage of integrating broader issues of sustainability: environmental, social and political. Bringing together producers, consumers and transit countries, the OSCE is an ideal forum for the discussion and implementation of energy security initiatives. NATO should be more involved in energy security, especially the coordination of critical infrastructure protection, as far as transnational pipelines and electric grids, stocking ports and other interchanges are concerned. Moreover, NATO can play a greater role in the defence of shipping lanes and choke points.
New and frozen conflict zones
Over the past 20 years, NATO and the OSCE have acquired significant expertise in conflict prevention, crisis management, and stabilization. This expertise should not be wasted. Rather than heralding the end of NATO as pundits do at the end of each major engagement, the emphasis should be placed on lessons learned. For example, the comprehensive approach, the pooling of Special Forces capabilities and the NATO Forces 2020 project can reduce the cost and maximize the effectiveness of out of area interventions for the Allies. Our analysis remains open as to whether Canada should encourage NATO to develop its role in the Arctic region. As for the OSCE, it will remain mostly a platform for discussion and its actions will remain limited. Expectations should therefore be lowered as far as conflict management and direct interventions are concerned. The OSCE has so far ensured that conflicts in its area remain frozen. This partial success should be acknowledged. While progress that can be achieved on the ground is limited, stabilization efforts should be better linked to the renewal of existing processes for intergovernmental diplomacy within the OSCE, for example through Conflict Prevention Centre.
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