In today’s era it is impossible to make sense of world politics without referring to security because it matters the most before engaging in any interaction especially after world wars security became the chief goal for all nations and every state wanted to protect themselves from the internal or external threats and maintain global peace. However the centuries of experiences so far in the international efforts for finding global peace has shown that the traditional concepts of security does not provide adequate solutions for the current challenges of inter-state conflict and regional instability. Therefore in the first years of the 20th century we witnessed a new approach in politics i.e. the idea of collective security. This idea proclaims that the peace of international community can be maintained through a obligatory and predetermined agreement to take collective measures or actions to preserve it. The idea ‘all for one and one for all’ of collective security surely is impressive in its simplicity but practically it has been made possible for some regions, areas or state of this world.
George Schwarzenberger defines collective security as machinery for joint action in order to prevent or counter any attack against an established international order. So collective security system guarantees the security of each state of the world against any war or aggression which may be committed by any state against any other state. It is like an insurance system inwhich all the nations are obliged to protect the victim of an aggression or war by neutralizing the aggression or war against the victim. It is currently regarded as the most promising approach to international peace as it is designed to protect international peace and security against war and aggression in any part of the world.
However this system can successfully operate when all nations agree on the definition of aggression and are united under powerful organization with permanent peace keeping force. From the 20th century and onwards many organizations wereformed to fulfill this purpose. We can trace out the formation and evolution of those organizations through the history of theconceptual and institutional forms of collective security.
In ideal terms, collective security can be traced back to various schemes for everlasting peace proposed by William Penn, Abbéde St. Pierre and Immanuel Kant. Penn’s Essay Towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe in 1693 and Abbé de St. Pierre’s Projet pour render la paix perpetuelle en Europe (Project to Render Perpetual Peace in Europe) in 1713 each advocated, for example, a legal organization of European powers in a League comparable to modern international organizations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations. A century later, Kant’s famous essay, On Perpetual Peace in 1875 argued that peace was an aim that mankind could realize, but only incrementally. In each of these works, the essential ideas of collective security began to take shape, that in the absence of a central authority for the enforcement of law and maintenance of peace, it was necessary to provide a substitute solution; a substitute can only be created by organizing the common defense of all states against the illegal use of force; and the rights of states to use of force as a form of self-help or law enforcement must be reduced to a minimum or limited to an interim measure. These ideas drew on deeper currents and shifts set in motion by the classicism born in the wake of the 1648 “Peace of Westphalia” which sought to normative order by building on equal right to sovereignty and independence of states. Between the sixteenth and seventeenth century, there was the emergence of the “liberal doctrine of politics” in international legal thought. In this process, just war doctrine was transformed from ethical to formally legal as the use of force was recast in legalistic terms as self-help remedy of the last resort.
The institutional origins of collective security may be traced back to the efforts of the European powers to maintain peace and security within the nineteenth century international system called “the Concert of Europe”. The Congress System or Concert of Europe comprised of a Holy Alliance between Austria, Prussia and Russia and the Quadripartite Alliance between Austria, Britain, Prussia and Russia, with France entering in 1818 via the Treaty of Aix-laChapelle. The Concert provided not only for the common defense against external dangers in the classical form of a defensive alliance, but also for collective action by the European Great Powers against any potential enemy within their own ranks. As this structure gradually collapsed, the peace movement began to advocate at the turn of the century for renewed conceptions of collective security. Walter Schucking, for instance, was a prominent advocate institutionalized peacekeeping machinery which, “he visualized as a universal organization of states for the purpose of collective action and responsibility of maintenance of international peace and security”. While it was intended to be a collective security arrangement, the League was in reality closer to a balance of power arrangement as it lacked a coordinated, centralized decision-making procedure capable of applying sanctions against aggressors internal to the system itself.
It was not until the First World War, however, that an institutionalized system of collective security was realized by the formation in 1919 of the League of Nation. The creation of the League of Nations built on long standing efforts since the late nineteenth century to reduce the effects of war on belligerents and civilians alike by adopting new rules of humanitarian law and outlawing war and interstate aggression under international law. The League was effective in the 1923 Corfu crisis between Greece and Italy; Great Britain and Turkey over Mosul (in the British Mandate of Iraq); Greece and Bulgaria over border incursions by both parties; and Lithuania and Poland. The only deployments of the League of Nations forces were in 1935 Saarland Plebiscite and in 1933 – 34 Colombian force acting under League authority in the upper Amazon. However, according to H. McCoubery and J. C. Morristhese “successes were due, in small part, to the fact that the disputes were of relatively minor nature and either concerned two weak states which lacked powerful allies within the League Council, or alternatively involved one party with such a preponderance of power that the other had no practical alternative but to acquiesce in a settlement which the League felt able to endorse.” The inability of the League to prevent Italy from invading Ethiopia in 1936 provides the classic illustration of this deficiency. From this drawback we learned that centralized authoritative determination of whether an act of aggression has occurred or not, and of the measures to be taken against the act of aggression, collective security may not become effective.
After the League’s failure in the period before and during the Second World War, the United Nations emerged in a renewed effort to realize the idea of collective security. The United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, united in political terms as the victorious powers emerging from the war, sought to overcome the weaknesses of the League of Nations through two main innovations; first, through the drafting of a new Charter that completely prohibited the use of force except as a means of individual and collective self-defense; and second, by creating a new Security Council with the authority to determine whether an act of aggression had occurred and what measures ought to be taken by its member states in response. These improvements in collective security were soon diminished, however, by the onset of the Cold War and ensuing collapse of whatever political solidarity had previously existed between the Soviet Union and the West.
We can drive four observations from this brief history of collective security.
First, historical development of the idea of collective security can be variously be interpreted and is not a product of any simple or singular process. The development of international legal norms relating to collective security in Europe and more generally should be seen as a succession of responses to war crises with which existing ideal standards have adequately failed to cope. As McCoubrey and Morris observe, this process “may be traced historically through the traumas, inter alia, of the Thirty Years War, the French revolutionary and Napoleonic warsand the First and Second World War”. Thus, the most recent efforts of the United Nations reform are part of a far longer historical continuum of idealistic and institutional change occurring in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophe.
Secondly, even though the United Nations was intended to be a new collective security arrangement remedying the various deficiencies of the League of Nations, its structure retained elements of the balance of power paradigm. This is most clear in the veto rule which allows each of the permanent five Great Powers the capacity to prevent Chapter VII enforcement measures directed towards either themselves or any other state which may choose to support or protect, or in other case in which they prefer to participate or to have others participate in the enforcement measures under UN patronage. The veto provision Claude Jr. says “renders collective security impossible in all instances most vital to the preservation of world peace and order.” In this respect, the United States declared openly that, “if a major power became an aggressor the Council had no power to prevent war.” Claude Jr., suggests that the UN Charter is, “a curious amalgam of collective security, dominant in ideological terms, and a balance of power, dominant in terms of practical of application.”
Thirdly, the concept of global government has always figured as a distant and unrealizable ideal in articulation and realization of collective security. In this respect, World Federalists and advocates for other forms of supranational organization have long attacked collective security, Claude Jr. points out that this is “precisely because it neither anticipates nor promises to bring about the drastic reduction of the role of the nation-state in the international system.” Fourthly, the idea of collective security is premised at some level of efficacy of the idea of the rule of law in international relations.
Thus at the end we can say that the success of any system of international security depends on the strong and united leadership, the spirit of compromise as well as the decisiveness of its members to hold till the end. So far throughout the historystates has tried their best to avoid war, maintain peace and keep the aggressive states in check. But their purpose of preserving peace all over the world is still unachievable as the small or major conflicts are still prevailing in the region of Africa, Asia and other parts of the world.