Edited by James Sperling
Chapter 12: South America
On several occasions South American heads of state have officially declared the region to be a zone of peace. A significant number of academic publications have also conceived South America as a ‘pluralistic security community’ (Deutsch et al. 1957; Dom'nguez 2007: 111–12; Hurrell 1998; Jervis 2002: 9; Kacowicz 1998: 121, 2000: 216; Oelsner 2003), that is, a transnational region comprised of sovereign states that have dependable expectations of peaceful change. This proposition is predicated on the idea that the threats affecting the region are of a military nature and stresses the absence of militarized interstate conflict since 1995 (Peru–Ecuador). Traditionally, the concept of security has generally been addressed in the context of ‘national security’ and ‘public security’. National security involves the defense of sovereignty, including the legitimate defense of territorial boundaries, internal order and sufficient political and economic stability to permit functioning of state institutions. If considered in this light, South America could possibly be regarded as a zone of peace. Although this proposition is not false, it is certainly incomplete, and is so for three main reasons. First, the original premise only considers interstate conflicts. The regional integration processes have contributed to the cementing of regional norms of cooperation, at least among the South American foreign policy elites. Interstate violence has declined dramatically and the only post-Cold War interstate conflict was the one between Peru and Ecuador. A narrow focus on militarized interstate conflicts excludes intrastate armed conflicts as a source of regional insecurity.
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