The end of the “Cold War” and disintegration of the countries that followed caused almost tectonic changes in international relations at the turn of the millennium. On the one hand, new hotbeds of crises were created, terrorism was in full swing, and the clash of civilizations could be perceived.
On the other hand, there were new integration processes, both between the “natural” and “unnatural” allies.
Civil wars in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999, terrorist attacks in the United States (2001), Beslan, Madrid, London, Boston, Paris, Brussels and Sri Lanka, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, “Arab Spring” and civil wars in Syria and Ukraine, operations of Islamic State, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab – all this shows that the world after the Cold War has entered a new and more intense phase of confrontation, to the extent that the outstanding question is whether the Third World War has already started!
Security threats in the modern world are determined by the global trends in the first half of the 21st century. The world community is and will remain extraordinarily violent, with the overall economic development that leads to the widening of a gap between rich and poor, between countries and within themselves. The development of the global economy and its complete interdependence creates new forms of vulnerability and the need for security measures.
Resolution A 59/565 of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) from 2004 identifies six categories of modern, global security threats: (1) economic and social threats, including poverty, infectious diseases and environmental degradation; (2) interstate conflicts; (3) internal conflict, including civil war, genocide and other serious crimes; (4) nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons; (5) terrorism and (6) transnational organized crime.
Each of these categories of threats represents a generator, i.e., a potential source of conflict that can have different and often unpredictable forms, levels and developments.
A detailed analysis of all categories of threats is beyond the scope of this paper. Therefore, I will point out only the visible conflicts the modern world is facing.
After the Second World War, the world was faced with several interstate wars which took many victims. According to the available data, after the Second World War, 248 wars were waged or still are, of which 179 interstate. It is estimated that in these wars over 23 million people were killed, of which 10-15 percent soldiers and 85-90 percent civilians.
It is hard to believe, but since its founding in 1776 until today, in 243 years of its existence the USA has spent 225 years waging wars! Except for the period of the Great Depression from 1935 to 1940, the USA did not have a single decade without participating in a war.
If we consider only the period from the Second World to the present days, the USA has officially waged 19 wars: the Korean, the Vietnamese, and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The total number of casualties left by US troops in those wars exceeds nine million.
It is ultimately worrying that the ratio between the dead soldiers and civilians in wars since 1945 was about 1:7, while in the Second World War the ratio was 1: 1.35, i.e., from the total of 48.2 million dead, 20.8 million were soldiers and 27.4 million were civilians.
The respected “Jane’s Defence” has come to an indicator that the total allocation for the defense at world level in 2018 amounted to 1.776 billion USD, which is higher than spending on health care or education.
NATO member states are “locomotives” of this growth due to an increase of 5.8 percent of their defense budget. NATO member states’ spending in 2019 will exceed one trillion, compared to $ 989 billion in 2018.
In 2018, the US alone increased its defense budget by $ 46 billion, which represents an increase of seven percent and the largest increase since 2008. The USA defense budget for 2019 amounts to $ 716 billion.
The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China are well behind the USA in terms of the military budget. China set aside $ 151 billion in military spending in 2018, while Russia in 2018 had nearly 14 times less than the US military, i.e., only $ 47 billion.
Asian and Pacific countries also increased their military budgets in 2018 by 3.6 percent, which is less than global trends. However, their budget reached a record of $ 465 billion.
Defense budgets in Latin America increased 10.4 percent in 2018 to reach $ 62 billion, while Brazil’s expenditures alone total $ 29.9 billion.
Internal conflicts-civil wars
After the Second World War, in the world were waged or still are 69 internal conflicts, i.e., civil wars.
According to the analysis of the magazine “National Geographic”, in the world is currently ongoing 12 active conflicts whit more than 1,000 victims a year. According to the characterization of the United Nations, this classifies them as wars.
In addition, in the world is currently ongoing many minor skirmishes. The majority of currently waged wars have an average duration of 8.8 years, which is comparable to the average over the past 120 years. The United States, China, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union, have participated in the largest number of wars and had more than 20 interference in the conflicts.
In 2017, internal wars killed some 40,000 casualties, most of them in Syria, where a total of 36,000 people have been killed in the civil war since 2011, including 20,000 children and 13,000 women.
The largest number of victims in internal conflicts occurred in Rwanda in 1994. Officials of the UN Secretariat had failed to submit to the Security Council a timely warning of extremist plans to kill thousands of members of the Tutsi and moderate members of the Hutu tribe. When the genocide began, the number of “Blue Helmets” engaged in that country was reduced to only 270 people, and the UN and the Security Council, due to pressure from the USA, failed to respond. The result was about 1,000,000 victims!
When we talk about the civil war, an unavoidable topic is the wars in the former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1995 that have resulted in about 130,000 victims, including 240 peacekeepers of the United Nations.
The causes of these wars are numerous and depend on the parties to the conflict which represents them. In any case, if the emotions give way to scientific thinking, the main cause of these wars was the surge of nationalism (and not the “awakening of the national consciousness” as some say), primarily Albanian, Croatian and Muslim in Bosnia and Herzegovina which was wholeheartedly supported by several powerful Western and Islamic countries, but also the unwillingness of the leaders of the Yugoslav republics to reach a peaceful solution for the problems in the functioning of the Yugoslav Federation through dialogue and compromise.
Terrorism attacks the values that lie at the core of the United Nations Charter: respect for human rights, the rule of law, the rules of war that protect civilians, tolerance among people and nations and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
The “World War” against terrorism, which under the leadership of the USA began after the terrorist attacks on the USA on 11 September 2001, did not bring the expected results. The regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan quickly succumbed under military pressure from the USA and its allies, but not the bearers of terrorism in these countries. It is safe to say that the military action in Afghanistan and Iraq caused the overflow of terrorists outside the borders of these countries to Syria, Pakistan, etc.
Terrorism, in one way or another, has always existed! However, for the past ten years, it has been a serious threat to world peace.
According to the State Department annual report on global terrorism from 2015, the number of terrorist attacks around the world has increased by 35 percent between 2013 and 2014, and the number of people killed as much as 81 percent.
The report states that in 2014, around 33,000 people were killed in nearly 13,500 terrorist attacks in the world. For comparison, in 2013 was killed about 18,000 people in 10,000 terrorist attacks.
The large increase in the number of people killed in these attacks, the USA State Department connects with the fact that they had become more and more deadly. Only in 2014, 20 attacks were carried out with mass casualties, and in each one was killed at least 100 people, while in 2013 only two such terrorist attacks were recorded.
In 2014, terrorist attacks occurred in 96 countries, but they were concentrated in the Middle East, South Asia and West Africa. Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Syria, and Nigeria account for about 80 percent of those killed in the terrorist attacks.
According to the 2017 Report, the number of terrorist attacks in 2016 dropped by nine percent from 11,774 to 11,072. At the same time, 13 percent fewer people were killed in those attacks, i.e., 25,621.
However, although the number of victims of terrorist attacks decreased in 2017, the number of attacks on European soil did not. The number of jihadist-inspired attacks has more than doubled.
The Islamic State is considered responsible for the highest number of deaths in terrorist attacks in 2015, followed by the Taliban, Somali militant group Al-Shabaab and the Nigerian Boko Haram.
The attacks of terrorists on four continents in the last fifteen years showed that Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and groups that have joined them, represent a universal threat to the modern world.
The overflow of terrorists after the defeat of the Islamic Republic, from the Middle East primarily to Europe, represents a particular problem which is not adequately addressed.
Modern terrorism is not conducted by a single person, one political regime, or a religion. Modern terrorism represents premeditated violence that is politically motivated and mainly carried out on the civilian (non-military) targets by terrorist groups or individuals.
Those who apply terrorism, regardless of their secular or religious goals, seek to undermine the rule of law and to impose change through violence and fear. Roughly speaking, terrorism is trying to be a sensation which is best evidenced by the execution carried out by the Islamic State.
Some of the problems the modern world is facing in countering terrorism are: (a) many countries have not yet acceded to the international conventions to combat terrorism; (b) insufficient financial funds for the functioning of the authority of the Security Council and the assistance to states for the implementation of their anti-terrorism program; (c) the lack of a single definition of terrorism; (d) the existence of double standards in the approach to terrorism, etc.
It should be said that the world organization has not yet come to a unique stand regarding the understanding, i.e. defining terrorism. It has taken five years after the terrorist attacks in the United States for the UN to adopt The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
Attempts to build peace in the modern world
Undeniably, world peace is a prerequisite for overall development. In the peacebuilding process take part individuals, non-governmental organizations, governments, international institutions, etc.
In reality, the question arises in what kind of peacebuilding individuals can participate if the modern world is faced with poverty and infectious diseases, which are the primary questions of life for every inhabitant of the planet.
The above-mentioned claim is best illustrated by the following facts:
868 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished (FAO 2012)
2 billion people lack access to essential medicines,
738 million people do not have safe drinking water (MDG Report 2012)
6 billion people do not have adequate housing (UN Special Rapporteur 2005),
6 billion people are without electricity (UN-Habitat, “Urban Energy”),
5 billion people do not have adequate sanitary conditions (MDG Report 2012)
796 million adults are illiterate (www.uis.unesco.org), and
218 million children (from 5 to 17 years) work as soldiers, prostitutes or servants (mostly in agriculture, construction and textile industries)
every year nearly 11 million children die of hunger, and more than half a million women die during the pregnancy or childbirth,
in sub-Saharan Africa, the average life expectancy in the last 20 years was reduced from 50 to 46 years,
whereas in developed countries less than one in 100 children dies before the age of five, in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa this ratio is one child of 10, and in 14 countries, even one of 5.
A special role and responsibility for world peace have the wealthiest countries in the world and international organizations.
If this is so, which we do not doubt, it is reasonable to ask why the most powerful world powers do not unanimously and in praxis devote themselves to building world peace.
For example, the G-7 Group (the USA, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, France and Great Britain) which possess about 65 percent of the global net wealth, can unquestionably invest more resources in underdeveloped countries in the world which would be a direct way to improve a state of peace in the world.
It is an undeniable fact that the backwardness in development, poverty and lack of literacy directly causes conflicts. If we look at the geographical map of the world at regions where are currently intense conflicts, it is clear that these are parts of the world, i.e., countries with poverty or the developing countries (Libya, Syria, Ukraine).
The conclusion is obvious!
If the rich countries had invested more in the overall development of these areas, the conflicts between them might not be eradicated, but their number and intensity would have been certainly lower.
The United Nations, unquestionably, does a lot for peacebuilding and the maintenance of international peace and security. Examples of this are many, but as the most impressive can serve the fact that at this point in the world is being realized 14 peacekeeping operations in which are engaged 102.736 persons, according to official UN figures from the end of March 2019.
Besides, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the same period has deployed 2,100 officers in 28 field offices and 25 advisory teams in 26 countries.
Also, it is significant to point out the following:
7 of the 14 current peacekeeping operations are carried out on the African continent,
in peacekeeping operations in Africa have been engaged more than 80 percent of uniformed personnel under the blue flag,
the highest number of “Blue Helmets” (about half) comes from Africa, and
in 2018, 34 peacekeepers (26 soldiers and 8 civilians) lost their lives in UN missions.
In order to take part in the restoration of world peace, the European Union has been currently realizing six peacekeeping operations in which 2,535 persons are engaged. At the very least, it is interesting that out of these six, only one of the EU operations (EUFOR – Althea) is realized on European soil in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In addition to peacekeeping, the European Union has also implemented 10 civilian operations. From 10 civilian operations, only 4 (Ukraine, Moldavia, Georgia, and Kosovo and Metohija) are carried out on European soil, and the rest on the non-European territories populated mainly by the Muslim population. In civil missions and military operations, 5,000 people are engaged.
The African Union is implementing two peace operations (Somalia and the Congo) in which are engaged 25,000 people.
NATO, as the most powerful military or political-military alliance in the contemporary world, is currently engaged in 6 peacekeeping operations, 2 on the territory of Europe, 2 in Africa and 2 in Asia.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), through missions, offices, centers and coordinators is currently present in 15 European countries to reduce tensions and prevent conflicts.
At first glance, one might say that international organizations and member states of these organizations make an effort to maintain peace in the world. But is this true? We will take into consideration only one example.
Since the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring, and especially since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, Europe is gripped by the largest migrant crisis in the recent history of the world. The question is why the most powerful organizations and countries of the world did not predict and mitigate the migrant crisis during which, only in 2015, more than one million people from the Middle East and North Africa went to Europe.
Let me remind you that according to the Resolution 836 of 4 June 1993, the UN Security Council established the five “safe areas” in Bosnia and Herzegovina where the population was protected from the war in this former Yugoslav republic.
Why the UN, with the help and support of the most powerful organizations and richest countries in the world, could not establish one or more such zones in Syria, Iraq, and other countries in which Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram has committed the horrendous crimes?
Besides, the establishment of a demilitarized “safe area” could have prevented the overflow of terrorists in other, mainly European countries, raise the level of health protection of affected populations, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian help, organized the educational process and the like.
Globalization has produced new security threats which became increasingly non-military and asymmetric and therefore totalitarian. Thus, there was a request for global security cooperation with the United Nations as an irreplaceable actor.
Besides, the number of wars currently waged in the world, with the constant threat of terrorism in every part of the planet and other threats we are facing, undeniably point to the question whether the Third World War has already started.
Ways to ensure world peace are numerous and the most responsible for finding them are the rich and powerful countries and international organizations, whereas the UN has a particularly important role.
Everything that was done to reform the UN should produce the framework for modern international relations and opposition to new security threats. Therefore, the insistence of the UN General Assembly on the continuous monitoring of security threats in the international community from socio-economic and transnational organized crime has its full meaning.
Finally, the idea of universal peace and cooperative security based on cooperation is far from attainable reality, and the UN has to establish its strategy on the Huntington’s thesis that the paradigm of a harmonious world is too far from reality.
At the same time, we must not forget that the UN is not created to take mankind to heaven, butto save humanity fromhell.
The Republic of Serbia is a small country, but its seven million people are committed to peace and progress in all areas. The Serbs are a small population, but diligent, honorable and peaceful people.
During its millennial history, Serbia has never led a war of conquest except in one fatal case. However, the geopolitical position of my country was the cause that the war roads of the greatest powers like Turkey, Austria-Hungary and Germany ran through its territory.
It is not without reason that a distinguished Serbian scientist of the 19th century Jovan Cvijić said: “Who is to blame that we built our house in the middle of the imperial road.”
Please, allow me to remind you that in the First World War, Serbia lost about one million people or 29 percent of the total population. In the Second World War our losses were more than 1.6 million people, and finally in the illegal NATO bombing in 1999 were killed around 3,000 people, while the damages amounted to billions of dollars.
Besides the above-mentioned, the civil war in Yugoslavia at the end of the last century, years of international sanctions and the global economic crisis were the reasons Serbia had economic problems for years.
The 111 years of fruitful diplomatic relations between Egypt and Serbia can serve as a good example for other countries.
In addition to traditionally good political relations, especially during the establishment and operation of the Non-Aligned Movement, the relations between our two countries in the fields of culture, tourism, sports, economy, etc., are improving every day. Let me remind you that during 2017, exports from the Republic of Serbia to AR Egypt amounted to $ 30 million and imports amounted to $ 39.3 million.
I cannot but emphasize on this occasion the fact that Egypt was abstention in voting on the admission of the so-called Republic of Kosovo to UNESCO, although it recognized the independence of that quasi-state.
Finally, I would like to thank once again the organizers for the opportunity to give today’s lecture at such a significant institution as the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs.
 Director of Institute of International Politics and Economics, Belgrade, Republic of Serbia.the lecture has been delivered before the Members of ECFA at its venue in Sept. 18th ,2019.