Introduction. International security, armaments and disarmament
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The research and findings in SIPRI Yearbook 2011 highlight three important security-related themes that have stood out in recent years: intensifying non-state influence; the emergence of global and regional powers; and increasing institutional inefficiency, uncertainty and weakness.
The security governance system—the institutions, agreements and processes intended to manage the challenges of global and regional security, armaments and disarmament—is under mounting pressure from within and outside. Many organizations that promote peace and security find it increasingly difficult to generate the political will and financial resources that are required to meet their mandates or to establish needed governance mechanisms.
World security is becoming more dynamic, complex and transnational, with intensified and increasing flows of information, people, capital and goods. States continue to be the dominant security actors, but SIPRI Yearbook 2011 underscores the growing importance of non- and quasi-state actors in shaping the global and regional security scene. While non-state actors could contribute more to peaceable outcomes, some have had a debilitating effect on peace and security. An important step forward would be partnerships and other forms of cooperation with non-state actors, although such steps are difficult to realize.
Powers that previously took the lead to bolster security governance at global and regional levels are less able to do so and have been weakened by the global financial crisis. While commentators on the international security situation frequently remark on the continued expansion of the role and impact of ‘new powers’ at global and regional levels, SIPRI Yearbook 2011 provides a factual and analytical basis to inform those discussions and looks ahead to the implications. The global and regional security governance institutions need to accelerate the equitable integration of these powers. Such steps could include an expansion in the permanent membership of the UN Security Council and a more active security-related role for the Group of 20 (G20) major economies.
In light of these challenges, the world is likely to face a difficult period of growing uncertainty and fragility, and a diffusion of risks and threats. SIPRI and the SIPRI Yearbook will continue to diligently observe and analyse these and other developments related to international security, armaments and disarmament.
Dr Bates Gill (United States) is Director of SIPRI.