can be understood as a
security arrangement in which all states cooperate collectively to
provide security for all by the actions of all against any states
within the groups which might challenge the existing order by using
force. According to Inis Claude's article "Collective Security
as an Approach to Peace"
collective security is seen as a
compromise between the concept of world government and a
nation-state based balance of power system, where the latter is
seen as destructive or not a good enough safeguard for peace, and
the first is deemed unaccomplishable at the present time. And while
collective security is possible, several prerequisites have to be
met for it to work.
founder of the BahÃ¡'Ã Faith
prescribed collective security as a means to establish world peace
in his writings during the 19th century:
The time must come when the imperative necessity for
the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be
universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs
attend it, and, participating in its deliberations, must consider
such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world's
Great Peace amongst men. Such a peace demandeth that the Great
Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquillity of the
peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves.
Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly
arise and prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world
will no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of
preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining internal
order within their territories. This will ensure the peace and
composure of every people, government and nation.
Basic principles of Collective Security
- First: almost every state, especially all
major states, have to be in the collective security arrangement and
committed to it for it to work. The League of Nations faced major problems
with this given that the United States, a leading international
power, did not join nor give its support to the organization.
Similarly, when Italy invaded Abyssinia, Britain's and France's
governments were more committed to blocking the rise of Germany,
and hence did not seriously chide Mussolini, who they saw as a
potential ally against Adolf Hitler in
- Second: no one state can block the decision
making process. This was a major issue with the League of Nations,
as it gave every state veto power, as well as with the UN, which
gives it to 5 powerful nations. Should vetoes be allowed, the
collective security arrangement will be greatly weakened as one
country can subvert a democratic decision.
- Third: for sanctions to work, the
international economy has to be sufficiently interdependent such
that sanctions harm the intended country enough, but do not harm
the countries doing the sanctioning. And for sanctions to work,
universality of their application is especially important for them
to have an effect.
- Which leads to the fourth prerequisite; that
for countries to trust collective security, they have to know it
works well enough to safeguard their security. But at the same
time, unless countries trust it, it's less likely to work. And
while it is possible for collective security to start off with a
small number of states and gradually have more adopt the idea, the
first three issues need to be addressed in the first place,
especially the second with regards to the UN's allocation of veto
power and permanent seats.
Collective Security in the League of Nations
Collective security can be understood as a security arrangement in
which all states cooperate collectively to provide security for all
by the actions of all against any states within the groups which
might challenge the existing order by using force. This contrasts
with self-help strategies of engaging in war for purely immediate
national interest. Another example of the failure of the League
of Nation's collective security is the Manchurian Crisis, when Japan occupied
part of China (who was a
After the invasion, members of the League
passed a resolution calling for Japan to withdraw or face severe
penalties. Given that every nation on the League of Nations council
had veto power, Japan promptly vetoed the resolution, severely
limiting the LN's ability to respond. After two years of
deliberation, the League passed a resolution condemning the
invasion without committing the League's members to any action
against it. The Japanese replied by quitting the League of Nations
A similar process occurred in 1935, when Italy invaded Ethiopia.
Sanctions were passed, but Italy would have vetoed any stronger
resolution. Additionally, Britain and France sought to court
Italy's government as a potential deterrent to Hitler, given that
Mussolini was not in what would become the Axis alliance of WWII.
Thus, neither enforced any serious sanctions against the Italian
government. Additionally, in this case and with the Japanese
invasion of Manchuria, the absence of the USA from the League of
Nations deprived the LN of another major power that could have used
economic leverage against either of the aggressor states. Inaction
by the League subjected it to criticisms that it was weak and
concerned more with European issues (most leading members were
European), and did not deter Hitler from his plans to dominate
Europe. The Ethiopian monarch Emperor Haile Selassie I continued to
support collective security though, having assessed that impotence
lay not in the principle but in its covenantors commitment to honor
active and articulate exponent of collective security during the
immediate pre-war years was the Soviet foreign minister Maxim Litvinov, but after the Munich Agreement in September 1938 and
Western passivity in the face of German occupation of the remainder
of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 it was shown that the Western Powers
were not prepared to engage in collective security against
aggression by the Axis Powers together with the Soviet Union,
Soviet foreign policy was revised and Litvinov was replaced as
foreign minister in early May 1939, in order to facilitate the
negotiations that led to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with
Germany, signed by Litvinov's successor, Vyacheslav Molotov, on August 23 of that
The war in Europe broke out a week later, with the
German invasion of Poland
on September 1.
Cited examples of the limitations of collective security include
the Falklands War
. When Argentina invaded the islands, which are overseas territories of the United Kingdom, many UN members stayed out of the issue, as it did
not directly concern them. There was also a controversy about the
States role in that conflict due their obligations as a
Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (the "Rio Pact") member.
However, many politicians who view the system as having faults also
believe it remains a useful tool for keeping international
The role of the UN and collective security in general is also
evolving given the rise of internal state conflicts since the end
of WWII, there have been 111 military conflicts world wide, but
only 9 of which have involved two or more states going to war with
one another. The remainder have either been internal civil wars or
civil wars where other nations intervened in some manner. This
means that collective security may have to evolve towards providing
a means to ensure stability and a fair international resolution to
those internal conflicts. Whether this will involve more powerful
peacekeeping forces or a larger role for the UN diplomatically will
likely be judged from a case to case basis.
Current Military Alliances
The concept of "collective security" forwarded by men such as
Michael Joseph Savage
, Immanuel Kant
, and Woodrow Wilson
, are deemed to apply interests
in security in a broad manner, to "avoid grouping powers into
opposing camps, and refusing to draw dividing lines that would
leave anyone out." Tenets of collective security continue to be
behind many famous current and historical military alliances, most
term "collective security" has also been cited as a principle of
the United Nations
, and the League of Nations
before that. By
employing a system of collective security, the UN hopes to dissuade
any member state from acting in a manner likely to threaten peace,
thereby avoiding any conflict.
Collective defense (also collective defence) is an arrangement,
usually formalized by a treaty and an organization, among
participant states that commit support in defense of a member state
if it is attacked by another state outside the organization.
NATO is the best
known collective defense organization.
Its now famous
Article V calls on (but does not fully commit) member states to
assist another member under attack. This article was invoked after the
September 11 attacks on
States, after which other NATO members provided assistance
to the US War on Terror in Afghanistan.
Collective defense has its roots in multiparty alliances
, and entails benefits as well as risks.
On the one hand, by combining and pooling resources, it can reduce
any single state's cost of providing fully for its security.
Smaller members of NATO, for example, have leeway to invest a
greater proportion of their budget on non-military priorities, such
as education or health, since they can count on other members to
come to their defense, if needed.
On the other hand, collective defense also involves risky
commitments. Member states can become embroiled in costly wars in
which neither the direct victim nor the aggressor benefit.
First World War, countries in the
collective defense arrangement known as the Triple Entente (France, Britain, Russia) were pulled
into war quickly when Russia started full mobilization against
Austria-Hungary, whose ally Germany subsequently declared war on Russia.
- pgs. 289-302
- p. 248
- p. 149