Nuclear Weapons | Report

Beyond Boundaries in the Andean Region: Bridging the Security/ Development Divide With International Security Assistance

Brian Finlay, Johan Bergenas, and Esha Mufti | August 2012


At no other point in history have people worldwide lived longer, had greater access to health services, or had more opportunities to acquire a basic education. Global poverty rates have markedly decreased in the last half-century. Yet, even among this progress, wild geographic disparities still exist in virtually every economic, social, and political measure. Not everyone has benefited equally in this new era of improvement in the human condition. The Andean region is one such geographic area that has seen marked progress in the human condition; and yet, “soft” security concerns—such as public health scourges, lack of access to clean water, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and the existence of armed nonstate actors—continue to plague the region.

While these soft security concerns and underdevelopment issues dominate discourse in the Andean region, Western audiences are often more concerned with issues of “hard” security, such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons (especially to nonstate actors) and terrorism. Often these concerns absorb a disproportionate share of the political discourse and capacity response. It was against this backdrop that the UN Security Council passed Resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004). Promoted as part of a broader tapestry of formal and informal mechanisms to prevent terrorism and proliferation globally, the resolutions were seemingly ill connected to the more pressing challenges facing much of the world.

Asking developing nations of the Global South to divert attention and resources from more immediate national and regional challenges—from public health to citizen security—to the seemingly distant threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) terrorism on Western targets is not only unreasonable but also unlikely to succeed, if not from a lack of political will, then from a sheer lack of implementation capacity in many of these countries. The growing interconnectedness and interdependence between these traditionally siloed threat portfolios suggest that mutually addressing regional security and underdevelopment challenges is key to preventing them from metastasizing into international security threats. Therefore, our first objective must be to better understand the priority concerns of partners across the Global South. Subsequently, we can identify the capacity building available, be it official development assistance or WMD nonproliferation resources.