Former Minister, Government of Nepal
Executive Member of Nepal Council of World Affairs ( NCWA)
Each country has primacy as an object of security because its existence is a necessary condition for the realization of any individual or collective value in an international system. Adopting the qualitative research design, this study aims to explore the national security threats due to the geostrategic locations of Nepal. Document analysis was made for the primary sources of data. The study reveals that the country having complex geostrategic location faces multiple challenges, such as financial threat, political instability, high vulnerability, and unforeseen internal and external threats. To overcome the threats, the study recommends adopting a balanced foreign policy harmonizing the relations with the neighboring countries, and using soft power to meet the national interest.
National security, geostrategic locations, globalization, power relations.
Security is a predominant theme today (Tripathi, 2008, p. 28) in the globalized world which is primarily concerned with the security of human beings, security of the nation and the security of the region and the world, in general.
More specifically, security concerned with the protection of the nation in which one is able to counteract perceptible threats against the existence of someone or something with a reasonable expectation success.
The strategic geography of the state has a direct impact on national security and it also has an impact on foreign policy. The concept of security is as old as the origin of civilization (Baral, n.d., p. 15).
So, it is a developmental concept. In this sense, security is concerned with development.
It is not only concerned with military hardware but also involves the overall development of nations’ well being -social, economic, geographic, and human security.
According to Capie and Paul (2002) “security” is a multidimensional concept- that security must be conceived in broad terms to include economic issues as well as military threats.
It stressed the linkage between common security and common prosperity (as cited in Bhandari, 2021, p. 92).
The geostrategic locations play a vital role in national security.
Countries with access to the seas make it an important part of national power (Mishra and Singh, 2008).
Landlocked countries, however, have no access to open seas have inferior geographical positions. Such countries need to adopt a balanced foreign policy for national security.
Being a state in a landlocked geostrategic location, it may face multiple challenges despite globalization.
Hence, with the technological improvements in transport, landlocked developing countries continue to face structural challenges to accessing world markets.
As a result, landlocked countries often lag behind their maritime neighbors in the overall development and external trade.
While the relatively poor performance of many landlocked countries can be attributed to distance from the coast. (Michael, McArthur, Sachs and Snow, 2004).
The foreign policy of the landlocked countries should keep balanced relations between the neighboring and other counties.
In fact, the landlocked counties have no other choice but to adopt yielding strategies towards their transit or coastal neighbors. This power relation is visible comparing the foreign policy options of landlocked counties and their neighbors (Idan & Shafer, 2001).
Landlocked countries are considered militarily weak even in comparison to ‘middle-rank powers. Furthermore, such countries suffer from feeble bargaining power against their neighbors.
National security planning has a significant role to minimize security threats of the state.
There are some key reasons for the countries to have an integrated and detailed national security plan to ensure that the government addresses all threats in a comprehensive manner; to increase the effectiveness of the security sector by optimizing contributions from all security actors; to guide the implementation of policy, to build domestic consensus and to enhance regional and international confidence and cooperation.
On the verge of “How does geostrategic location impact national security?”, this study is made aiming to explore the impact of geostrategic locations in national security.
It is also objected to discovering the components of national security of landlocked countries like Nepal.
The national security policy, in a similar vein, is a framework for describing how a country provides security for the state and its citizens.
Data and Method of Analysis:
This study is purely a qualitative study.
According to Best and Kahn (1993) “qualitative research focuses on in-depth investigative) interviews, observations and document analysis” (p. 204).
Here, the researcher has employed documents to review and conduct analysis for the primary data of the study.
For Frey (2018), document analysis is a form of qualitative research that uses a systematic procedure to analyze documentary evidence and answer specific research questions.
Moreover, document analysis is a form of qualitative research in which documents are interpreted by the researcher to give voice and meaning to an assessment topic (Bowen, 2009).
The primary sources of data were collected from the foreign policies and procedures of Nepal, the Constitution of Nepal, and other relevant studies and reports of international relations.
Results and Discussion:
Nepal’s geostrategic location requires a balanced relation with neighboring and extended countries.
The public policies with the foreign policy of the state must employ harmonious relations with the diplomat nations for the sake of national security.
In this condition, national security is a relatively desirable condition to be obtained through public policies. It provides the main justification for the exercise of sovereignty.
Internal and External Threats:
The state with landlocked geostrategic locations suffers from both internal and external threats.
The internal threat would be the problematic notion of subversion (systematic use of violence to force social, political, and legal changes).
For the last three decades Nepal is suffering from multiple kinds of threats such as organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorism including some organized violations in the name of different groups.
On the other hand, being the state in between the two mass lands suffers from the security threats like military aggression, spying, covert operations, territorial invasion and economic blockade as vital external threats.
Including Nepal, countries like Rwanda, Mali, Afghanistan, and Armenia have faced lasting conflicts and insecurity which have played a role in severe security conditions of their respective regions (Mahdi, 2016).
Political stability is a key to national security.
That is, in democratic states, political stability is a must to demystify security threats.
The national attempt requires to ado the agenda in bringing security, defense, intelligence, policing on public and foreign policy.
Internal political changes in a country change the intentions and diplomatic and military capacity of the country in the international environment, changing the distribution of power in the international system.
In turn, a structural feature of the international system produces consequences for the behavior of the system units. That is, self-help mechanism or self-defense mechanism, which in turn affects groups and individuals in the countries.
An important step in advancing the security discussion can be evaluating two recent attempts to overcome the impasse of security.
First, the proactive actions to resolve the tension between secure statehood and individual security through the strictly juridical and normative way.
There should be a typical liberal position in the international debate. It contributes to limiting inevitable risks to democracy caused by complex geostrategic locations of the state to strengthen intelligence for national security.
Second, the attempt to resolve the moral ambiguity of the concept of national security through the use of the concept of human security.
The critique of this attempt will allow a more accurate assessment of the risks of loss of efficiency in the operation of the armed forces and intelligence services, especially due to the excessive expansion of the array of defensive and informational requirements that have emerged from the adoption of the concept of security as a parameter for planning security policies (Mahdi, 2016).
In addition to a loss of efficiency, a possible anchoring of the missions of the armed forces and intelligence services in the concept of human security poses additional risks for democratic politics by “securitizing” issues and problems unrelated to the potential use of force (i.e., education, environment, health, etc.).
Harmonizing Foreign Policy:
The geostrategic location of a country matters in the power relations between a state and its neighbors, in most cases, putting landlocked countries in an inferior position.
The economy is impacted due to landlocked locations.
Landlocked countries’ foreign policies have three main characteristics: special policies towards the transit states (including concession towards the maritime neighbors), multi-directional foreign policies, “which entails refraining from joining exclusive alliance systems and maintaining cooperation with competing alliance systems” (Idan and Shaffer, 2001) and promoting the transportation issue to the level of a priority in foreign policy (Mishra and Singh, 2008). So, for financial sustainability, the state needs to adopt a peacekeeping foreign policy.
Harmonizing and peacekeeping foreign policy of a landlocked country may benefit from the developed neighboring countries too because the countries are dependent on neighbors to access the international markets, use their infrastructure, and go through their costume and tariff processes (Chowdhury and Erdenebileg, 2006).
Thus, landlocked countries need their neighbors’ cooperation, follow a special foreign policy, and show concessions towards neighbors (Idan and Shaffer, 2001).
Furthermore, landlocked countries are not just affected by being dependent on their neighbors’ transit routes, but also upon their security and infrastructure.
Dependency Creates Threat:
Security relations are inextricable between the different levels of analysis of international relations.
Landlocked states in an inferior power relationship vis-à-vis their maritime neighbors (de Blij and Glassner, 1989) for a number of reasons.
First, it can make them dependent economically if trade in a country rests on the whim or capacity of its neighbors. Second, potential attacks, invasions, or military turmoil in a maritime country disproportionately affect its landlocked neighbors because security alternatives are further reduced and their economic impacts are more pronounced (Mahdi, 2016).
Landlocked countries like Nepal can manage a cordial relationship with their neighbors to protect sovereignty over their territory.
For Nepal, the corrosive force does not work while dealing with other countries.
Due to weak state power and permanent inferiority (de Blij and Glassner, 1989), a country is not in a position to use corrosive force.
Ultimately, dependency on business, education, and trade remain unwinded and create a threat. Landlocked countries inherit inferior geographical position in relation to their neighbors (Mishra and Singh, 2008).
In relation to national security for the landlocked country, they are vulnerable to their own landlocked status as well as to the well-being of the neighboring countries (Mishra and Singh, 2008).
Landlocked countries are heavily dependent on their neighbors’ infrastructure, cross-border political relations; neighbor’s peace and stability, and administrative procedures (Faye, McArthur, Sachs, and Snow, 2004).
The complex geostrategic locations create security threats within the country and its people. The country has to face multiple challenges which have a direct impact on national security.
The security measures must retain proportionality in relation to perceived threats to the existence, effectiveness, and autonomy of the state.
The proportionality requirement serves mainly to find the notion of safety as an absolute condition.
For national security it is crucial that there is a need for collective and individual protection of the members of the state against threats to their survival and autonomy.
The government, as a state must take the right actions for the security of the people.
Geostrategic location plays an important role in determining a state’s national interest.
The foreign policy needs to be adopted as per the geographic locations of the country since it plays a significant role to run the government.
The complexities in modern contexts depend on the geographic territories of the state.
So, the states having geostrategic locations like Nepal need to be reasonably capable of neutralizing vital threats through negotiation, obtaining information on capabilities and intentions, through the use of extraordinary measures and the range of options adopting balanced relations.
Text courtesy: Nepal Council of World Affairs ( NCWA) Annual Journal, 2022.
Journal received through the kind courtesy of Buddhi Narayan Shrestha-the Vice President of the NCWA.
# Thanks the distinguished author Dr. Malla and the entire NCWA executive team.
Our contact email address is: [email protected]
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