Transforming Global Governance with Middle Power Diplomacy: South Koreas Role in the 21st Century

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What is a chaebol?

Under the original sense of the term, a middle power was one that had some degree of influence globally, but did not dominate in any one area.


However, this usage is not universal, and some define middle power to include nations that can be regarded as regional powers. According to academics at the University of Leicester and University of Nottingham :. The traditional and most common way is to aggregate critical physical and material criteria to rank states according to their relative capabilities. Because countries' capabilities differ, they are categorized as superpowers or great powers , middle powers or small powers. More recently, it is possible to discern a second method for identifying middle power status by focusing on behavioural attributes.

In this way middle powers are countries that use their relative diplomatic skills in the service of international peace and stability. All middle powers display foreign policy behaviour that stabilises and legitimises the global order, typically through multilateral and cooperative initiatives. However, emerging and traditional middle powers can be distinguished in terms of their mutually-influencing constitutive and behavioural differences. Constitutively, traditional middle powers are wealthy, stable, egalitarian , social democratic and not regionally influential.

Behaviourally, they exhibit a weak and ambivalent regional orientation, constructing identities distinct from powerful states in their regions and offer appeasing concessions to pressures for global reform. Emerging middle powers by contrast are semi-peripheral, materially inegalitarian and recently democratised states that demonstrate much regional influence and self-association. Behaviourally, they opt for reformist and not radical global change, exhibit a strong regional orientation favouring regional integration but seek also to construct identities distinct from those of the weak states in their region.

Another definition, by the Middle Power Initiative: "Middle power countries are politically and economically significant, internationally respected countries that have renounced the nuclear arms race, a standing that give them significant international credibility. Although there is some conceptual ambiguity surrounding the term middle power, middle powers are identified most often by their international behavior—called 'middle power diplomacy'—the tendency to pursue multilateral solutions to international problems, the tendency to embrace compromise positions in international disputes, and the tendency to embrace notions of 'good international citizenship' to guide Middle powers are states who commit their relative affluence, managerial skills, and international prestige to the preservation of the international order and peace.

Middle powers help to maintain the international order through coalition-building, by serving as mediators and "go-betweens," and through international conflict management and resolution activities, such as UN peacekeeping. Middle powers perform these internationalist activities because of an idealistic imperative they associate with being a middle power. The imperative is that the middle powers have a moral responsibility and collective ability to protect the international order from those who would threaten it, including, at times, the great or principal powers. This imperative was particularly profound during the most intense periods of the Cold War.

According to international relations scholar Annette Baker Fox , relationships between middle powers and great powers reveal more intricate behaviors and bargaining schemes than has often been assumed. Rather, 'middle power diplomacy' is defined by the issue area where a state invests its resources and knowledge. Middle Power States avoid a direct confrontation with great powers, but they see themselves as 'moral actors' and seek their own role in particular issue areas, such as human rights, environment, and arms regulations.

Middle powers are the driving force in the process of transnational institutional-building. Characteristics of middle power diplomacy include: [6]. Through MPI, eight international non-governmental organizations are able to work primarily with middle power governments to encourage and educate the nuclear weapons states to take immediate practical steps that reduce nuclear dangers, and commence negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons.

Middle power countries are particularly influential in issues related to arms control, being that they are politically and economically significant, internationally respected countries that have renounced the nuclear arms race , a standing that gives them significant political credibility. Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent , for example called Canada "a power of the middle rank" and helped to lay out the classical definition of Canadian middle power diplomacy. When he was advocating for Canada's election to the United Nations Security Council , he said that while " Suez Crisis , was not a former colonial power and therefore neutral in anti-colonial struggles, worked actively in the United Nations to represent the interests of smaller nations and to prevent the dominance of the superpowers often being elected to the United Nations Security Council for such reasons , and because it was involved in humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts around the world.

In March , Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd defined his country's foreign policy as one of "middle power diplomacy", along the lines of similar criteria. Australia would "influence international decision-makers" on issues such as "global economic, security and environmental challenges". The overlaps between the lists of middle powers and great powers show that there is no unanimous agreement among authorities. Nations such as China , France , Russia , the United Kingdom and the United States are generally considered to be great powers due to their economic, military or strategic importance, their status as recognised nuclear powers and their permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.

Some academics also believe that Germany and Japan are great powers, but due to their large advanced economies and global influence as opposed to military and strategic capabilities. Zbigniew Brzezinski , consider India to be a great power too. As with the great powers, there is no unanimous agreement among authorities as to which countries are considered middle powers.

Lists are often the subject of much debate and tend to place comparatively large countries e. Argentina alongside relatively smaller ones e. Australia , while others could very easily be considered small powers e. In short, complex diplomacy is a truncated version of the full potential of networked civic diplomacy that exploits the full capacities for cross-border activities of civil society and local governments in the ROK.

Indeed, civic diplomacy puts city and local governments at the forefront of foreign policy along with civil society organizations, including transnational religious organizations, in place of governments and corporations. The history of regional civil society organizations stretches back to at least the s in Japan, the ROK, and China. It accelerated in the s due to the emergence of ROK civil society after the end of the military dictatorship in and the end of the Cold War, which opened many possibilities for trans-border communication and cooperation in the region.

These early efforts by ROK civil society organizations contributed to regional human rights networks, to the removal of nuclear weapons on forward-deployed American warships and bases in the ROK and Japan, and to various anti-colonial and anti-pollution struggles in the region, especially in the island states of the Pacific. At the same time, as global and regional problems accelerated and became far more challenging at the end of the Cold War, so the same globalization processes that fractured and displaced local communities and sometimes whole nations demanded networked responses that only civil society organizations could supply — not states or corporations.

Editor's note

Thus, it is noteworthy that the long-lasting networks we will examine below were not initiated by the ROK state as part of its foreign policy. Instead, the networks had roots outside of the state, often well before the rise of official complex diplomacy, and, because of this disparate origin, they frequently have the stamina to operate across borders for decades whereas diplomatic strategies may fade after a few years. In Japan, civil society is most advanced in its key characteristics of autonomy, social capacity, and ability to supply critical services either uniquely or more efficiently than the state or the market sector.

On foreign policy and security issues, the institutions of the central state are largely insulated from direct participation by most Japanese civil society organizations, although a set of elite private institutions serve as think tanks, sounding boards, holding shelves, and gatekeepers to the external world. In many respects, the most critical aids offered by Japanese civil society to collaborative problem-solving by regional civil society networks are financial and technical resources to sustain long-term efforts in partnership with sister organizations in China, Japan, the ROK, Russia, Mongolia, and even the DPRK.

Consequently, their membership is weak, endowing them with relatively small resources compared to their Japanese counterparts. They also tend to revert to large-scale, mass mobilization based on oppositional stances rather than undertake routine, policy-oriented work in alignment with state agencies or corporations. Rizal Sukma and James Gannon have documented how civil society organizations in the region have responded to five urgent regional security threats: piracy, disaster relief, human trafficking, health, and climate change. Table 6.

Contribution to Transnational Civil Society. Trans-local cooperation, partnerships with local governments. Social movement mobilization, personal connections with officials. Intellectual contribution, ability to work with government agencies, policy makers. Limited ability to circumvent central government controls by concert with local agencies in ROK or Japan.

Civil society-based organizations use networks for many reasons, including to:. Create sustained relationships with counterparts trapped or hidden inside structural holes, who are otherwise incommunicado due to isolation or partisan alignments, and build bridges between those living in a structural hole and third parties with whom no other connectivity exists for example, between the United States and the DPRK.

This ability rests on relationships with counterparts in structural holes; but these relationships must be based on trust to work and, in turn, require time and investment to establish, nurture, deepen, and activate them when needed. That is, although weak or even inactive for long periods, these links are long-term and are not available in crisis if they are not already well established. Inspire distributed participants across borders with a common vision, understanding, or shared image of the future, which serves as a guide to concerted but distributed action.

The networks thereby create an epistemic community based on common understanding and shared discourse, including cross-generational and cross-cultural lessons and norms to guide future orientations on key issues dividing nations and peoples. Mobilize large numbers of individuals and propagate an interpretation of current events by social media, mass media, and direct communication using virtual means with key players in many organizations by simultaneously swarming in very large numbers either on the ground or virtually for example, social media events in China.

Identify multiple pathways or solution strategies that can be implemented separately or jointly to ensure that fallbacks exist when tension increases or failure occurs in one strategy — that is, to realize complex, multiple solutions at the same time, as opposed to the operation of singular, sequential, problem-solving strategies. Convene key players to address specific problems without a central command authority, to implement joint strategies relying on distributed coordination capacities, and to deliver solutions in the absence of states — especially in disaster relief and humanitarian crises.

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Anticipate possible discontinuities and radical failures of institutions or state agencies and develop adaptive strategies that increase resilience in the face of uncertainty, especially by creating multiple pathways to solve the problems that are in play simultaneously. In addition to exhibiting the network attributes outlined above, civil society organizations fulfill societal roles in which they have proven to be efficient and often far more equitable in their delivery of services than states or corporations. Viewed functionally, networked civil society organizations can realize the following:.

Middle Powers and the Multilateral Pivot

Address simultaneously many peace, security, and sustainability issues in detail and on a highly disaggregated basis, thereby creating a new diversity of social responses that supplements and sometimes supplants the relatively limited repertoire of big state and market-based organizations, adding resilience to the societal response to complexity. Provide early warning of local developments — disasters, conflicts, and less challenging surprises such as cross-border crimes, epidemic breakouts, etc.

Mobilize resources contributed by private citizens on a massive scale, sometimes exceeding that of governments in response to disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. Develop and advocate for constructive policies to be adopted by governments, state agencies such as climate change policies or policing policies related to human trafficking and for corporations such as codes of conduct and certification schemes.

Deepen public understanding and support for value-based policies via publicity, outreach, and education programs. Provide technical assistance and expertise to implement direct for example, humanitarian assistance to refugees or survivors of wars or natural disasters or contracted government food assistance aid programs, or to build local capacity by training and providing funds and equipment for local development or environmental projects.

Participate directly in governmental delegations to international conferences and meetings, or advise corporations directly in the revision of their strategy and standards. Innovate in terms of lifestyles, technology, and hybrid identities that enliven communities and build bridges across borders of all kinds.

The antecedents of this conjunction stretch back to the early 20th century, as documented by the Union of International Associations. Although states have continued to accrete power and influence, they have also become dependent upon civil-society and non-government-driven network strategies to succeed in solving cross-border problems, especially complex global problems. In spite — or perhaps partly because of — the regressive nature of the DPRK, as well as the desire to position itself as a convening state high in the ranks of developed countries, the ROK has been exceptionally willing to bear the financial burden of hosting events of transnational importance like the Summer and Winter Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, and the G20 Summit.

However, this development did not happen overnight. Among them, the decade following the end of the Cold War is of great importance, especially when it comes to understanding the contemporary political and social landscape. Because the ROK was on the ideological frontline during the Cold War, the impact of its end was great although the Peninsula remained divided. Talk of global issues advocacy, such as human rights, was seen as seditious and harmful to development, ergo the national interest, and was discouraged by the authoritarian government in Seoul.

The DPRK became, for the most part, just another country. With roots in the liberalization policies of President Kim Young-sam commonly referred to as saegyehwa , South Korea began to diversify its international trading relationships and to rebrand itself regionally. However, this state-based networking model of middle power proved insufficient when it came to implementation.

Although the state has been eager to portray itself as concerned with global issues such as climate change, such concerns in the ROK have been primarily a reaction to bottom-up pressure from an emerging civil society. Whether these networks will endure or be replaced by new ones remains an open question, however. Civil society in the ROK is still young and relatively underdeveloped, and many of its regional and cross-border initiatives continue to rely on the ingenuity and drive of individuals.

The first case study depicts the networked civil society response, led by South Koreans, to respond to and supplant regressive Japanese history textbooks by producing the book A History to Open the Future. The second case study looks at how South Korean non-governmental organizations addressed deforestation and food scarcity in Northeast Asia, especially in China and North Korea. The fourth case study reviews the networking experience of a private initiative, the Jeju Peace Forum, and its evolution from a network focused on a peace initiative to solve the North Korea problem into a multi-issue network of networks.

The fifth case study traces the creation and influential intellectual role of the East Asia Institute. The sixth case study explores efforts by the most recent of these civil society initiatives — the Asan Institute for Policy Studies — to build global networks and the implications such efforts have for global community building and cosmopolitanism.

South Korea as the Middle Power of the 21st Century - Tun-jen Cheng [4 / 4]

When weak links are activated or strengthened, civil society can go beyond the creation of common knowledge. It can inspire a common vision and understanding of the future based on a shared discourse drawn from mutual learning that spans many generations. By using networks skillfully, civil society is able to mobilize large numbers of people to promote strategies or solutions to urgent problems. No clearer example of this capacity — and its relative advantage compared to slow, ineffective, and politicized state agencies — may be found in Northeast Asia than the work of the Japanese-Chinese-Korean Committee for Common History Teaching Materials of the Three Countries.

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This legacy includes many centuries of Chinese hegemony, two centuries of Western imperialism, Western and Japanese colonial occupation, and more than a decade of regional and world war, related sexual slavery, and concentration camps. It also includes the immolation of whole cities by fire bombing, the annihilation of cities by nuclear bombing, atrocities committed by the militaries of all states in the region upon their own people as well as subjugated populations, full-scale civil wars, externally imposed national divisions, political and military dictatorships, political assassinations, and the use of terror and surveillance to control populations.

Capping this legacy was four decades of Cold War and the threat of nuclear annihilation. The scale, frequency, and international nature of these horrific events increased with the accelerating expansion of the territorial scope and integrative political, economic, and military capacities of imperial and non-imperial nation-states in Northeast Asia. Thus, historical dimensions of national and personal identity are increasingly intertwined with the twin themes of cruelty and irony, the victimization of and by the other especially the outsider.

Today, historical memory contributes to the complexity of international affairs in the region at every level.

What is a chaebol?

It is one of the most critical dimensions of regional affairs, affecting as it does subjective and national identity in ways that make Northeast Asia more of an anti-region than a nascent regional security community. Every aspect of this violent history is contested, often from multiple angles. Even the meaning of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August is fractured. For many Japanese, these bombings were such a radical rupture with the past that they represented a new crime against humanity that must never be repeated, whatever prior atrocities led to the attacks. However, in many regions of acute conflict, states have managed to produce jointly shared histories, including textbooks that have nurtured political and cultural reconciliation between many former warring states and their peoples.

Textbook revision is the subject of considerable intellectual and pedagogical effort in many post-conflict contexts. Thus, official and private attempts in Japan to whitewash its military atrocities in Korea, China, and Southeast Asia are monitored closely and evoke powerful responses at the state and societal levels. In turn, these scars on the collective historical memory exacerbate strongly nationalist responses that overwhelm efforts to create a shared basis for aligning states and societies to communicate, cooperate, and collaborate to solve common problems.

When the Japanese Ministry of Education approved it for use in Japanese schools in , it triggered a strong reaction from the region. Of the many countervailing efforts, those arising from civil society are particularly significant in that they broke new ground, both intellectually and politically, in the production of shared history in the region. The trilateral history writing committee had 53 members 17 from China, 13 from Japan, and 23 from South Korea — mostly professors or scholars from national research institutes, although teachers participated from South Korea and Japan. It not only transcends typical one-sided victor-victim narratives, it also adopts a reflective narrative that suggests structural causes of tragic conflicts.

To avoid an over-emphasis on structure, it highlights the suffering of ordinary people in all three countries throughout these historical events. An epilogue outlines seven issues judged critical for building peace and a shared future in the region: compensation to victims of aggression, the comfort women, history textbooks, the Yasukuni Shrine, youth exchange, peace and citizen movements, and reconciliation and peace-building in Northeast Asia.

Nonetheless, the authors left some contentious issues alone. For instance, who started the Korean War, and what was the role of the Chinese Communist Party in the war against Japanese imperial forces? Much remains unaddressed on trilateral relations among the three countries, not to mention the introduction of North Korean, Southeast Asian, and other views on the history of Northeast Asia.

In , the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform announced it planned to publish its New History Textbook for junior high schools in , attacking existing textbooks for their portrayal of comfort women and the Nanjing Massacre. Diverse civil society groups had made sporadic but very active campaigns to demand an apology from the Japanese government and compensation for the victims, starting with the Asian Solidarity Conference on Japanese Military Sexual Slavery Issues 61 held in Seoul in The co-research on topics of history, politics, economics, culture, and North Korea was carried out between and with support from the Japan-Korea Cultural Exchange Fund and the Korea-Japan Cultural Foundation.

The findings were published in fifteen volumes between and both in Korea and Japan. The official Japan-South Korea Joint History Research Project was established in March and held forty-five subcommittee meetings and six joint meetings in Tokyo and Seoul over three years. However, the outcome of this official process was limited mostly to reaffirming divergent historical perspectives on critical historical issues dividing the two countries.

In contrast, although not actually a textbook, A History to Open the Future sold well in all three countries, with over quarter of a million sales by The book was not only read widely, but it also stimulated a campaign starting in August in which local civil activists in South Korea and Japan developed sister-city campaigns to put pressure on Japanese education officials to refuse the New History Textbook. This campaign began in when Japanese civic groups visited South Korean sister cities. Twenty South Korean civic groups and fourteen Japanese groups participated.

But A History to Open the Future established a standard that will endure of an open-ended history, of a multinational historical text that is amenable to reflection and revision based on mutual research and dialogue, and can serve as the foundation for common memory — in turn, the basis for the formation of community. They are also among the most difficult to address due to their transnational nature.

The sovereign state system in Northeast Asia and elsewhere is not conducive to resolving complex transnational issues of this sort. At the same time, environmental problems do not recognize state borders. The most powerful nation-state cannot resolve even one of the many global and regional environmental problems afflicting the region, let alone all of them at the same time.

No single actor can unilaterally make the region ecologically sustainable. Trans-boundary environmental issues are many in number and include:. The Russian Far East is a zone of high biodiversity that links with habitats in Korea, China, and Mongolia, but it is also the transit point for a vast trade in endangered species, as well as a lumber extractive industry that threatens the biodiversity that sustains the region. This yellow sand has grown in scale since the late s, and scientists agree that it is getting more serious.

In the middle of this region of environmentally deleterious yet compellingly dynamic economic activity is North Korea. The nation-state perpetually threatens to tip itself and the broader region into instability through its failure to guarantee the minimum food security of its population. This lack of food security stems from poor agricultural decisions over decades, acidified soil, moribund machinery, shortages of fertilizer, fuel, and spare parts, 74 and its inability to trade exported goods and services for food imports.

Yet doing so necessitates first overcoming political tensions that exist between the states in the region. Those who exploit forests can extract short-term gains, but only by foregoing far greater benefits over time. Key figures in South Korea who have driven environmental conservation activities in Northeast Asia for the last two decades understood this basic tradeoff earlier than many others and had the motivation, ideas, and financing to do something about it. This laid the foundations for nascent South Korean civil society to enter the broader region.

Forestry was chosen during this period of economic contraction, driven by the goal of economic recovery after the financial crisis. The government asked civil society groups to help initiate this movement. The money was from the state, the action was civilian, and the link between the two was the Korea Forest Service. Moon went on to pursue the creation of domestic, forestry-based civil society networks. Park Dong Kyun, then employed by a private forestry company. By combining the financial resources of South Korean commerce with civic drive and the administrative resources of state, FFL drove not only the adoption of forestry as an important element in domestic policy, but it also envisioned a transnational network encompassing the entire region.

International forestry networks in Northeast Asia would not have come into being so rapidly had it not been for this South Korean leadership. Jamsram Tsogbaatar. With South Korean civil society leaders serving as network conveners and activating weak links in these nascent networks when needed, a transnational network emerged that coordinated distributed activities and led to new forms of collaboration at a regional level.

According to Dr. Without Mr.

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Moon and Drs. Lee and Tsogbaatar, not to mention Dr. Park himself, the network would not have been intellectually possible. Equally, without South Korean social and financial capital, the network would not have emerged, at least not as effectively. The emergence of an actively hostile inter-Korean relationship following the election of President Lee Myung-bak in late and a number of North Korean acts of violence, at Mt.

The NGO movement in Korea is still in its infancy and therefore must be nurtured with broader public participation. China is also emerging as the new dominant player in civil society movements in the modern age, a role borne of overwhelming financial strength. In , the DPRK embarked on a participatory agro-forestry pilot project, sending expert study tours to Thailand , China annually from , and Nepal The pilot project involving eighty-seven plots in north Hwanghae province began in and was first evaluated only in This case, however, illustrates a general point about the role of civil society networks.

Creating multiple channels that enable solutions to complex problems in a structural hole such as the DPRK may create a synergistic effect inside the hole, and also provide resilience in case one channel becomes blocked. As a result, the burden of supporting a high percentage of them falls predominantly on countries that are geographically adjacent to these sources. Yes—Save my other items for later. No—I want to keep shopping.

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Transforming Global Governance with Middle Power Diplomacy: South Koreas Role in the 21st Century Transforming Global Governance with Middle Power Diplomacy: South Koreas Role in the 21st Century
Transforming Global Governance with Middle Power Diplomacy: South Koreas Role in the 21st Century Transforming Global Governance with Middle Power Diplomacy: South Koreas Role in the 21st Century
Transforming Global Governance with Middle Power Diplomacy: South Koreas Role in the 21st Century Transforming Global Governance with Middle Power Diplomacy: South Koreas Role in the 21st Century
Transforming Global Governance with Middle Power Diplomacy: South Koreas Role in the 21st Century Transforming Global Governance with Middle Power Diplomacy: South Koreas Role in the 21st Century
Transforming Global Governance with Middle Power Diplomacy: South Koreas Role in the 21st Century Transforming Global Governance with Middle Power Diplomacy: South Koreas Role in the 21st Century

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