Friday, September 24, 2010

Experts urge nimbler global response to crises

William Maclean in Reuters: …Specialists in disaster response say that nations are almost completely unprepared for the likely emergence of so-called convergent crises with the potential to plunge markets and regions into prolonged turmoil. In these multi-faceted disasters, strains like a shrinking Arctic ice cap, theft of nuclear materials, oil or water shortages or cyber crime would worsen tensions among nations over traditional issues such as trade, territory and resources.

"Old" and "new" tensions would feed off each other, spurring nationalistic stances in world capitals. Losing faith in collective action, nations could blunder towards conflict. "Diplomatic practice has not kept up with these complex threats," said Pauline Baker, president of the Fund for Peace, a non-profit group that seeks to prevent conflict. "We need a new international architecture of crisis prevention and response."

…In a news-driven era where local crises can spread globally in minutes or hours, world leaders are still too parochial in their security planning and must be ready to act much more nimbly and closely to coordinate a response, analysts say. Yet with the exception of progress in tracking pandemics and tsunamis, global crisis management is inadequate "everywhere", said Greg Austin, Vice President for Programme Development and Rapid Response at the EastWest Institute think tank.

...With larger, more complex crises in prospect, hurried Cold War-style "hotline" consultations between a handful big powers will be inadequate, experts say. But few would relish the prospect of handling the cacophony of a G20 conference call….

An illustration by Eugene Chaperon, date unknown, Wikimedia Commons

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