The independent resource on global security

Introduction. Global security after 11 September 2001



I. Introduction

II. Global terrorism and global responsibility

III. The change of perception

IV. The new nature of the threat

V. New security building blocks

VI. SIPRI findings

VII. Concluding remarks


Read the full introduction [PDF].


The 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the USA marked a watershed in the international security process. The policies and mutual relations of the USA, Russia and many other states have changed. Combating terrorism has become a matter of the highest priority. However, the transatlantic community is confronted with a disagreement over the main aim: whether to focus on disrupting and defeating the al-Qaeda network or eliminating the roots of terrorism with a broader range of policies.


The International Security Assistance Force Operation was launched on a British initiative on the basis of a UN mandate. The operation was envisaged to last 6 months. Some 4700 military personnel from 17 European countries and New Zealand are taking part. The operation is under the command of the UK, which is to hand it over to Turkey in June 2002. At various stages of the operation, more than 30 states have made military contributions.


In spite of the many declarations and UN Security Council resolutions, expectations of a global response on the prevention of terrorism fell flat—both globally, in the United Nations, and regionally, in NATO. Although the issue concerns domestic and external security, the need for common responses in the security field has not been accepted globally. The interventions in Kosovo and Afghanistan reflect the new aspiration to establish international rules for protecting and defending respect for the basic principles and norms of international order. However, there is a lack of internationally recognized legal instruments to effectively tackle situations in which states have traditionally exercised their discretionary power and/or justified their actions as self-defence.


Four premises are of key importance in shaping a new global security system. The first is that the development and spread of the technologies of ‘the network age’, particularly information technology, are a part of the process of globalization. The second is that a growing number of states are too weak to control developments on their territory; consequently, they have become a base and an asylum for international crime and terrorist networks. The third is the blurring of the distinction between domestic and external security. The fourth is the growing importance of non-military aspects of state security.


The phenomenon of failed states has various causal factors: the emergence of new states after the collapse of multinational federations; the exposure of poor states to globalization and modernization processes; and higher standards of governance called for by the international community. The stability and efficacy of the state and respect for the norms and rules of law are more important to the maintenance of international order than a state’s military potential.



Professor Adam Daniel Rotfeld (Poland) is Director of SIPRI and Leader of the SIPRI Project on Building a Cooperative Security System in and for Europe. He has participated in many multilateral negotiations and served as the Personal Representative of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) Chairman-in-Office to examine the settlement of the conflict in the Trans-Dniester region (1992–93). In 2001 he was appointed by the President of Poland to Poland’s National Security Council and as the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs with responsibility for international security (2002– ). He is the author or editor of over 20 books and more than 300 articles on the legal and political aspects of relations between Germany and the Central and East European states after World War II (recognition of borders, the Munich Agreement and the right of self-determination), human rights, confidence- and security-building measures, European security and the CSCE/OSCE process. He has written chapters on global and regional security systems and European and transatlantic security structures for the SIPRI Yearbook since 1991.