IMAGERIES OF HUMAN SECURITY
This chapter deconstructs the representations of Canadian human security (CanHS) and Japanese human security (JapHS) in the mainstream narrative. For the representation of CanHS, three central signifiers are analysed: the portrayal of Canada as a country with a “Middle Power” tradition; the centrality of a “David vs. Goliath” discourse concerning the relationship between global civil society and state governments in what has been said to be the flagship of CanHS – the campaign to ban antipersonnel landmines; and, finally, Canadian governmental discourse on the need to replicate and spill the lessons of the landmine case into other cases, i.e. a signifier of a more “ambitious human security”. As for the representation of JapHS, there are also three central signifiers examined: the representation of Japan as a “pacifist Civilian Power”; the portrayal of “human security” as a “progressive foreign policy”; and, finally, the juxtaposition of “universal political values” and “Asian cultural values” as the unique factor determining the nature of JapHS. What follows is a critical meta-analysis of the two synoptic imageries. The orthodoxies deconstructed here differ from the conceptual framework presented in the previous chapter in the following ways: they represent CanHS and JapHS in the way which is not supported by a systematic analysis and adequate conceptualisation; they attempt to characterise CanHS and JapHS according to available governmental document which are used to structure one’s understanding of these human security articulations; and, finally, the orthodoxies prevent to study human security articulations in a non-cliché, process-oriented way which pays attention to contingent
development and messiness of human security-related discourses and practices. Thus, the mainstream imageries of CanHS and JapHS simulate – rather than analyse - human security. It is in this context that they must become what they are: empirical material rather than main conceptual categories.
Normative Imagery of Canadian Human Security
The following part deconstructs a synoptic imagery related to the Canadian human security. In concrete terms, it examines three key discursive signifiers through which policy-makers and academics have been able to create and reproduce a certain image of CanHS. It is shown that the mainstream image of CanHS has been built upon the popular and well-sedimented discourse on Canada being a middle power with progressive societal-turned-political values. As the section makes clear, it has been through this connection that the “Canadian ownership” of the campaign to ban antipersonnel landmines has been explained. Subsequently, the image of Canada as a middle power which is able to cooperate with NGOs and champion “new humanitarianism” (landmines) has been used to legitimise further expansion of the country’s human security portfolio.
Canadian Middlepowerhood as the Central Signifier
Existing analyses of CanHS policies emphasise the country’s sedimented tradition as a middle power which has served an important role in the post-Cold War diplomatic
conduct, the so-called “new diplomacy” (Chapnick 2005; McRae and Hubert 2001; Ungerer 2000). How can one understand the notion of Canadian middlepowerhood and what has been its relevance for CanHS? The answers to these questions are connected to the discursive prominence of middlepowerhood and new diplomacy in the context of analyses of CanHS. The association of Canada with the category of middle power has a long and interesting history. The notion came into being as WW2 was coming to an end: it was a Canadian diplomat, Hume Wrong, who introduced the functionalist principle which stressed active internationalism and the belief in U.N.-based multilateral practices to Canadian diplomatic statecraft:
Functionalism was the organizing principle behind the government’s approach to representation in international organizations. The fundamental idea was that decision-making responsibility had to be shared and that it should be shared by those who were most capable of making a contribution. The government had indicated its willingness to take on greater responsibilities. In return it wanted recognition and influence (Keating 1993: 28-29; also cf. Cooper 1995: 1-13).
The notion was subsequently incorporated by the then Canadian Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, into his own concept of middle power (Chapnick 2005: 3). In 1945, the Canadian government unsuccessfully sought to insert a reference to a special category of middle power into the U.N. Charter at the San Francisco Conference. Despite the absence of formal recognition, the category of middle power became the bedrock of the Canadian Golden Age in foreign and security policy (1945-1957) (Chapnick 1999: 73-82).
During the Cold War and throughout the 1990s, the traditional image of Canadian middlepowerhood was linked to Canada being the peacekeeper par
excellence. The imagery of the so-called “Golden Age” of Canadian foreign and
security policy (CanFSP) was constituted ex post (cf. DFAIT 2005). During the period which this label denotes – the mid-1940s to the1960s – commentaries on the Golden Age were few and far between. The event which has famously been associated and linked with the Golden Age was the solution to the Suez Crisis of 1956. The following account of the event is now common: it was Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson who, with the U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, devised the idea of neutral peacekeeping and consequently won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957. The prize, according to this account, gave the idea of Canadian peacekeeping a lot of attention and it was embraced by the Canadian public. The early 1960s represent a time when a major transformation within the discourse on CanFSP took place. Henceforth, it would be peacekeeping as constituting the core of middlepowerhood that would be invoked in the discourse on CanFSP, symbolised by the only statue to peacekeeping in the world, located in Ottawa.
Middle-power peacekeeping came to represent the key foreign-political activity in the discourse on CanFSP, and as peacekeeper par excellence Canada almost automatically participated in every single peacekeeping mission the U.N. could devise until the 1990s. References to the Canadian middlepowerhood were readily being used to demonstrate the allegedly objective existence of Canadian societal values and their consequent projection onto the realm of CanFSP. Jack Granatstein described the discourse on peacekeeping well when he said: ‘The Yanks fought wars, Canadians said, [...] while Johnny Canuck kept the peace. [...]
Peacekeeping was so popular [...] primarily because it was something we could do and the Americans could not’ (Granatstein 1996: 350, 352). In addition to creating a Canadian “island” of difference in North America, it also grouped Canada with other middle powers, such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Australia and the Netherlands. The discourse on Canadian peacekeeping and middlepowerhood remained visible, both within and outside Canada, and it carried an appealing, but also slightly simplistic and perhaps even naïve message: Canada became an active and leading player in the discipline of peacekeeping because as a multicultural, federal society, Canada had something to offer the world – namely its experience and expertise in accommodating ethnic and regional differences. Yet, at the time of the Suez Crisis, there were no signs of such an inside-out explanation. On the contrary, the majority of Canadians at that time opposed the Canadian reaction to the Suez Crisis and regarded it as a betrayal of Great Britain, its ally and imperial partner. In the 1958 federal election, the Nobel Laureate-led Liberal Party was badly routed, and Diefenbaker’s Progressive Conservatives would form the largest ever majority government in Canadian history.
CanFSP has had as its distinguishing feature a notable discrepancy between political discourse, which has given the impression of linear and continuous progress, often achieved by references to the Golden Age and middle power, and practical policy-making as conducted by each Canadian government since WW2 onwards. It is the discursive continuity that has helped to form the perception of Canada as a country with a distinctive foreign and security policy, imbued with a normative ideal of middlepowerhood. The suggested discrepancy between the linearity of discourse and the variability of policy-making concerning CanFSP is an important finding with respect to the approach one can choose to examine middlepowerhood. Initially, it
highlights the futility of examining Canadian involvement in world politics against the normative ideal of a middlepowerhood that is immutable in time. However, it also suggests that the dismissal of the category of middle power altogether is not a productive approach either, since middlepowerhood has played an important legitimising function in the introduction of the country’s various practices – most recently the new diplomacy based on advanced liberal governmental rationality – thereby preserving the semblance of continuous and linear development. Thus, the approach used in this chapter avoids both the pitfalls of the normative-idealist view of middlepowerhood, as well as the temptation to reject it altogether. Middlepowerhood can be understood as a political category constructed by relatively autonomous decision-making circles immediately after WW2 (Pratt 1983-4), with its importance stemming from positive endorsements by both the Canadian public and international society. The category of middle power is thus considered an empty
container which has been refilled again and again, hence Cox’s (1989: 827) assertion
that ‘the middle power is a role in search of an actor’.
After the return to the government in 1993, the Liberal Party of Canada refilled the empty container of middlepowerhood by discursively linking it to CanHS. The country’s post-Cold War human security policies were put on a par with the country’s (mainly Cold-War) peacekeeping tradition. The chief advocate of CanHS and the related “new diplomacy”, the former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lloyd Axworthy, readily referred to alleged similarities between his diplomatic conduct and the diplomatic practices of Lester Pearson, the main protagonist of the “Golden Age”. Human security joined peacekeeping in defining Canada’s middlepowerhood. Indeed, anyone familiar with the nature of Canadian neo-liberal governmental rationality and diplomacy as its carrier in world politics
will immediately reject such a parallel. Pearson’s diplomacy drew its strength from its exclusivity and secrecy, whereas Axworthy’s was exactly the opposite: media- oriented, with radical public speeches, and definite openness as well as the involvement of non-governmental actors in both domestic-consultation processes and international negotiations (Cooper 2000: 9-10). In line with the suggestion that a self- constructed status matters, it does appear that the category of middle power has in the Canadian case served a useful, albeit contingent, function, as a kind of discursive cement between completely disparate political practices associated with very different governmentalities. Axworthy’s intention was, in fact, to use the category of middle power, which had been highly popular among the Canadian public and the international community, as a legitimising factor for a radically new exercise of human security, what he preferred to call soft-power style “new diplomacy”. As Axworthy’s former ministerial colleague pointed out, however, his publicly ventilated opinions often stood in contrast to his more conservative views expressed during governmental meetings (personal interview with a former Minister in the Chrétien government, April 19, 2006, Ottawa).
Civil Society “Wins” the Landmine Case
The democratisation of CanFSP has been seen as one of the cornerstones of Canadian exercise of post-Cold War soft power (Axworthy 1997; Axworthy and Taylor 1998; and, for critical assessments, Nossal 1995; Neufeld 1999; Hampson and Oliver 1998). The idea of expanding the foreign and security policy-making process and making it more accountable to citizens dates back to 1993, with its first
manifestations already discernible as early as 1985. According to the mainstream understanding, this argument reflects Canada’s deep liberal internationalist commitment: citizens express their political preferences regarding CanFSP, the government translates them into a set of coherent policies, and it implements them internationally together with NGOs. According to Axworthy (1997), the entire democratisation life-cycle of CanFSP, including the use of NGOs as carriers of certain aspects of it, can be considered as a way of projecting Canadian soft power. Axworthy does not forget to emphasise that an application of the inside-out logic of soft-power projection was only made possible by the implosion of the Soviet Union and by an escape from the ‘grip of superpower rivalry’ (Ibid: 183). It is here that the reference to the notion of middle power is made: in Axworthy’s opinion, one can speak of middle-power diplomacy. The soft-power projection of Canadian influence is seen as the latest manifestation of Canadian well-recognised middle-power status, and a call for Canada to renew her golden internationalist past. The key role in solidifying a discursive connection between Mike Pearson’s golden era middlepowerism and Axworthy’s soft-powerism has been played by the Canadian mass media (e.g., Gwyn 2000).
The principal case for demonstrating the empirical possibilities of Canadian soft power has almost invariably been the campaign to ban anti-personnel landmines (APLs). Eventually codified by the so-called Ottawa Convention, the campaign successfully resulted in their complete ban in 1997. Instead of recycling the mainstream discourse on the projection of soft power by both the Canadian government and Canada-based NGOs, a discursive analysis of the literature on the landmine case is in order. Accounts of the landmine case can be found at three levels of discourse: (i) accounts by direct participants/observers; (ii) academic reflections
on the landmine case; and (iii) accounts linking the landmine case to the literature on global civil society. In regard to the first level, these narratives originate predominantly from NGO personnel and, to a lesser extent, from governmental officials and scholars. These accounts acquired a Biblical status, largely due to an anthology entitled To Walk Without Fear: The Global Movement to Ban Landmines (1998), edited by Maxwell A. Cameron, Robert J. Lawson, and Brian W. Tomlin. In their chapter, Stephen Goose and Jody Williams, formerly the Co-ordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL, a transnational advocacy network composed of hundreds of NGOs) and Nobel Laureate for Peace, argue that the landmine case is said to represent ‘the compelling story behind the global humanitarian crisis and the “David vs. Goliath” nature of NGOs taking on governments and militaries to ban a weapon used by armies for decades’ (Williams and Goose 1998: 23). When we look outside the volume, other existing narratives from participants/observers confirm this understanding (Williams and Goose 2004; Williams 2000; Clegg 1999). In addition, this was the context in which Williams portrayed the ICBL as a ‘new kind of superpower’ in her Nobel Prize speech (Williams 1997), as it makes use of soft-power strategies such as information technology and partnerships with middle powers, most notably Canada.
Academic reflections on the landmine case and its lessons are numerous, with the studies by Price (1999) and Matthew and Rutherford (2003) being the most theoretically developed. Price begins his analysis by highlighting his interest in showing what role transnational non-state actors play in security-related issues. These actors produce international norms that shape and redefine state interests. Soft- power characteristics are placed high on the list of the factors that helped the ICBL to change the behaviour of states. In concrete terms, Price stresses the role of
technological change. He explains that the use of the Internet allowed pressure to be exercised steadily by the ICBL network, eventually leading to its gaining access to the policy-making process (Price 1999: 626). Matthew and Rutherford’s analysis also examines the global nature of the movement to ban AP mines. They use Rosenau’s
Turbulence in World Politics as the theoretical plane upon which to unfold their
argument. In this study, Rosenau (1990: 5) makes the distinction between ‘the two worlds of politics’, i.e., the world of transnational politics and the world of states, which were separated by macro global structures. Matthew and Rutherford (2003: 32) use this conceptualisation as their point of departure and argue that the landmine case ‘could be read as an example of the increasing dominance of the nonstate realm.’ They add that ‘[eventually] the nonstate realm would emerge victorious’ (ibid.: 40–52). In this light, assertions made by other academics, such as Brem and Rutherford (2001: 171), who maintain that NGOs played a ‘critical role . . . in instigating and facilitating the landmine ban’, or by Warkentin and Mingst (2000: 246), who depict the landmine case as a ‘victory’ of global civil society, are not surprising.
The above two levels of accounts are closely linked to the global civil society literature. Besides Rosenau, one of the most influential global civil society-oriented scholars on the landmine discourse has been Paul Wapner, who maintains that global civil society ‘is constituted by . . . transnational social movements . . . [and] such organizations clearly transcend the self-regarding character of states. . . . [F]or this reason, normative thinkers consider many of them promising agents of progressive social change’ (Wapner 2000: 14). It is no surprise, then, that Wapner imposes ideas from his global civil society scholarship on the landmine case to substantiate his abstract claims and back them up empirically. He uses already-existing participant
accounts to reaffirm that the Ottawa Convention ‘would never have been considered, let alone signed, if it had not been for the ICBL and other active NGOs’, and that the landmine issue is ‘a paradigmatic case for studying the role and effectiveness’ of global civil society (Wapner 2004: 252).
Towards A More Ambitious Human Security
The use of soft power by the Canadian government in the Ottawa Process is usually connected with a broader paradigm of human security. The reasons are obvious: people-centred security dovetailed well with the concept of anti-personnel landmines as a humanitarian issue in which the suffering individual assumed the central position. Indeed, the early formulation of human security, both in the U.N. context and in the Canadian context, meant that issues traditionally viewed as military problems could be successfully reframed as humanitarian problems (UNDP 1994; DFAIT 1995). What is more, the fact that the human security agenda was used in Canadian decision-making circles as an important facet of CanFSP identity showed how closely the notions of soft power, middle power, and human security have been interlinked. According to Roland Paris:
the idea of human security is the glue that holds together a jumbled coalition of “middle power” states, development agencies, and NGOs—all of which seek to shift attention and resources from conventional security issues and toward goals that have traditionally fallen under the rubric of international development. (Paris 2001: 88)
The distinction between middle powers as followers during the Cold War and middle powers as leaders after it has been used to explain why the Canadian government embarked on more ambitious foreign and human security policy initiatives only after the end of the Cold War (Cooper, Higgott and Nossal 1991). The use of human security as a diplomatic and political agenda, within which the Canadian government has forged partnerships with both like-minded states and NGOs, can therefore be considered an ostensible example of what Andrew Cooper (1997) calls niche diplomacy. Indeed, Cooper’s theoretical analysis of niche diplomacy and Axworthy’s practical conduct of soft-power diplomacy are connected precisely by the niche of human security.
While the importance of the Canadian government’s early articulation of human security for the success of the landmine ban has been widely discussed, comparatively little has been said about the reverse dynamics, that is, about the impact of the Ottawa Process on the re-articulation of the human security paradigm. On the one hand, the human security agenda played the role of a structural condition