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6.2 Collective Security

Comparison between Collective Security and Balance of Power.

Collective security is an alternative to BoP. It is a liberal approach. Though it is alternative to BoP, it is based on the idea of BoP. Both balance of power and collective security are the methods of management of power. Both the concepts are based on the view that Greater power is antidote to power. In both the concepts, sovereignty of the states is treated as sacred and war is seen as a means to ensure the sovereignty. We can say, collective security as ‘institutionalized form of ‘balance of power’.

Balance of power acts in the state of anarchy whereas collective security can come into existence only when some international organization exists. It is operated through international organization like League of Nations or United Nations.

Balance of power is a Ad-hoc concept whereas collective security is a institutionalized concept. There is a uncertainty in balance of power but there is a theoretical certainty in collective security. e.g. When Napoleon was destroying the Westphalian world order, Balance of power as a principle did not emerge automatically, it took long time for countries to check the rise of Napoleon. Hence there is uncertainty as to whether Balance of Power will emerge or will not emerge.

Balance of Power may be more relevant for great powers but collective security is highly useful for smaller and poor countries. They can get escape from Arms Race or the necessity to form alliances.

Collective security is conducive for peace because it reduces arms race. Collective security as a concept continues to be seen as too idealistic. Neither under League of Nations nor under United Nations it could be operationalized successfully. It has not been successful in ending the arms race. Lack of faith in collective security led to go for countries acquiring nuclear weapons.

Collective Security and Collective Defence.

Collective security should not be confused with collective defence. NATO is an example of collective defence.
Collective security is universal, enemy is not predefined. Any country can approach UN. Collective defence is regional, it is meant only for the members and enemy is known in Advance.

Views of India
India always opposed collective defence pacts but India always supported collective security. For India, collective defence pacts undermines the faith in collective security.

Views of USA
There is no contradiction because collective defence is practical way to operationalize collective sec. It does not contradict UN charter, which allows countries right of self defence.

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Working of collective security

Under League of Nations.

It could not be operationalized because of following reasons .
1_USA was out, Russia was also out.
2_Britain and France had no faith.
3_Countries followed the policy of appeasement of fascist powers as they considered communism as a bigger threat.
4_Collective security was a new concept and there were flaws in the way it was conceptualized. In League of Nations, all countries had veto powers. It was practically not possible to get consensus of all countries.
5_Collective security as such is based on false assumptions. It assumes as if international peace is the aim of the states. It forgets that national interest is the aim of states. Just because one state committed aggression, on the other state, it does not mean that all countries will commit their forces or forget their long term interest.

Collective Security under United Nations.

1_UN Charter does make some improvement in the procedure of operationalization. Under UN consent of only 5 states, P5 is needed. However the practical experience show that even that is not possible.
2_The collective security under UN remained paralyzed because of ‘east west conflict’.
3_Countries continue to give primacy to the national interest over justice, peace or order.
4_There are only two occasions when collective security could get operationalized under UN. 1) 1950 Korean Crisis. Even in Korean crisis, it was not operationalized in ideal sense. How? Korean crisis itself was the reflection of cold war. North Korea was aggressor . North Korea was supported by China and Russia. South Korea was under the influence of USA. USA was supposed to punish the aggression by North Korea. USA was successful in getting the permission of collective security action from UN only because Russian representative was absent. Russia was boycotting the UNSC on the issue of the permanent seat for Communist China. The moment Russian representatives came to know about the resolution, it came back, used Veto. It has stopped collective security. However USA innovated a new concept. Acheson Plan aka Uniting for Peace resolution. (UPR) What is it ? In case there is a deadlock in UNSC, general assembly can authorize collective security by 2/3 majority.  Russia never accepted the legality of UPR because it has not been the part of UN charter. Later on USA could not get support for most of the resolutions and hence even this route could not work. 2) Gulf War I of 1989, when Iraq invaded Kuwait. More than 30 countries participated in UN operation under leadership of US.

It was the failure of collective security that the then secretary general Dag HammarSkjolda proposed the concept of peacekeeping to keep the role of UN relevant in its primary purpose.
It is to be noted that peacekeeping is not a part of UN Charter. It is a extra constitutional growth.

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What is a difference in collective security and peacekeeping?

Peacekeepers are sent only with the consent of the parties in conflict, there is no such requirement in case of collective security operations. Peacekeepers can use force only in self-defence.
The main objective of United Nations is to prevent wars, UNSC could not fulfill the obligation, hence the only way UN’s role remained relevant was through peacekeeping. It is to be noted that India has made unparalleled contribution towards peacekeeping under UN. India’s contribution in peacekeeping efforts is one of the strongest basis to demand permanent seat for India in UNSC. It needs to be emphasized that if there is any country whose actions kept UN relevant in its core objectives, it is India. Hence it is a paradox if India is not a permanent member at UNSC.

Read more about India and Peacekeeping here.

Test Your Knowledge!

1] “Consider the following Statements regarding the Balance of Power and Collective Security.
Balance of Power is adhoc concept whereas Collective Security is an institutionalized concept.
There is uncertainity in Balance of Power”
a) 1 only correct
b) 2 only correct
c) Both 1&2 correct
d) Both 1&2 incorrect

Show Answer

Ans: c) Both 1&2 correct

2] “Consider the following statements regarding India’s stand on Collective Defence and Collective Security.
Generally India supported Collective Defence Pacts and opposed Collective Security.
Collective Defence pacts undermine the faith in Collective Security.”
a) Statements 1&2 both are correct and Statement 2 is the reason of statement 1
b) Both the statements are incorrect
c) Only Statement 1 is correct
d) only statement 2 is correct

Show Answer

Ans: d) Only statement 2 is correct. India opposed Collective Defence pacts and supported Collective security

3] Which of the following is an example of Collective Security?
b) UN

Show Answer

Ans: b) United Nations Organisation is an example of Collective Security

4] Which country innovated Acheson plan?
a) Russia
b) UK
c) US
d) China

Show Answer

Ans: c) US

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Yash Chauhan

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