chapter  4
29 Pages

The Proliferation Security Initiative

In this chapter, we assess a rather different case of cooperative attempts at managing global security risks: the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). As with the FATF, the PSI has no formal treaty mandate, but it goes one step further and represents a somewhat different and even looser variant of an informal multilateral effort in the ‘other’ war on terror. The PSI adds a further layer of global governance that intersects and overlaps with a variety of other multilateral and universal anti-proliferation regimes in order to control proliferation risks. More specifically, as a global risk management strategy, the PSI works to reduce the likelihood of terrorists obtaining WMD materials, through increasing layers of difficulty for terrorists to succeed, identifying vulnerabilities and reshaping terrorist operating environments by constraining their freedom of movement. The PSI policing the oceans is in some ways an ideal case for examining the development of global security governance structures. The global maritime transportation infrastructure by its very nature presents problems for traditional territorially defined and hierarchically structured forms of government, and at the same time is identified as posing vulnerabilities to terrorist exploitation. Outside territorial waters, the reality of maritime affairs has always more reflected a state of anarchy than hierarchy. Hence it is a prime case for global governance. As we shall see in the discussion of the evolution of the law of the sea, earlier attempts to regulate and govern sea traffic have relied on national responsibility, denoted by the flag of the vessel in question, or in certain limited circumstances to bilateral or multilateral agreements. Resistance to a more comprehensive global treaty arrangement has been strong on the basis that state (and non-state) actors have been reluctant to accept any potential infringement on the right of ‘innocent passage’. The ideas of Beck and recent developments in global governance literature again help us in our assessment of the PSI as a global governance mechanism in the World Risk Society. It represents an innovative

attempt by what Beck would call a ‘cosmopolitan realist’ state in the form of America as it responds to new global risks and creating a global governance structure that preserves existing rights while addressing the very real risk of weapons trafficking to terrorists, but at the same time avoids the rigidity of treatybased solutions. In touting proliferation as a global risk, it is banking on ‘riskcosmopolitanism’ to generate a new consensus on new informal forms of governance and cooperation, particularly in arriving at agreed best practices as well as capacity-building of partners. As a form of ‘institutionalised cosmopolitanism’, it has tried in its outreach attempts to be as inclusive as possible, working to build capacity with its partners, consulting with the private sector and also engaging with dissenting parties. Once again, it repeats a common theme in global governance literature: the role of private actors. However, whereas the PSI exhibits similar rationales with the FATF in its creation, it also shares the shortcomings we have identified in Chapter 2. Despite it being touted as a flexible cooperative arrangement for new times and new concerns with non-state proliferation risks, once again it cannot escape the subjective nature of risk and the divergent perceptions that result. The role of power in the social construction of WMD proliferation risk and the development of practices to regulate that risk further undermines the ‘cosmopolitan’ (again, in Beck’s sense of the word) nature of the endeavour. Indeed, many partners such as Russia and Japan are lukewarm at best towards the PSI for their own particular ‘national’ reasons. As we shall show, ‘WMD’ as a concept itself is also constructed and states need to be convinced of the problem as well as the solution touted. Much of the difficulty it faces stems from its image as a vehicle of American hegemony in the service of narrow American self-interests, rather than ‘cosmopolitan solidarity’ on a global shared risk. As if the list of litanies were not enough, there are also concerns over the PSI’s legality and the discriminatory nature of its focus as well.