Potential Global Strategic Catastrophes

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SYMBIOTIC REALISM: A Theory of International Relations in an Instant and an Interdependent World

Potential Global Strategic Catastrophes
Balancing Transnational Responsibilities and Burden-sharing with Sovereignty and Human Dignity 

This book is the result of a Symposium on Potential Global Strategic Catastrophes, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland in 2008. The catastrophes chosen do not include remote and less immediate events. Only those with the potential to produce multiple cascading strategic dilemmas for states and the international system were selected. These dilemmas include balancing the sovereign rights of states with human rights, transnational responsibilities and burden-sharing under occasional geopolitical uncertainties.

The book deals with the theoretical foundations of coping with catastrophes and the relevant inter-state and organisational paradigms. Other sections address specific catastrophes and their potential consequences: pandemics, water crises, global warming, nanosecurity, nuclear catastrophes, financial meltdown, cyber crises, demographic imbalances and forced migrations, state failure and war, massive conventional terrorist attacks and threats to energy supply.


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“The tremendous power of globalisation unleashed some two decades ago demonstrates in fact how fragile the planet is. Never in history has man faced simultaneously seemingly unlimited opportunities and equally unlimited daunting threats and challenges. Potential Global Strategic Catastrophes is a remarkable publication based on the collective thoughts of some of the world’s leading thinkers covering a broad spectrum of reality, the catastrophes that might ensue and the strategic implications. It is an excellent map for the 21st century.”

Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Professor of International Political Economy, IMD and Founding Director of The Evian Group, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Ambassador Dr. Fred Tanner
Part I

1. Balancing Transnational Responsibilities and Burden-sharing with Sovereignty and Human Dignity
Nayef R.F. Al-Rodhan

2. Catastrophes as an International Challenge
Adam Roberts

3. International Relations Theory, Catastrophes and the Need for a New Paradigm
Graeme P. Herd

4. Managing Global Strategic Catastrophes: A New Dimension of the Transatlantic Partnership
Bengt Sundelius
Jesper Grönvall

Part II

5. Introduction to Part II 
Lisa Watanabe

6. Pandemics and Bio-catastrophes
Peter Clevestig

7. International Freshwater Problems 
Thomas Bernauer
Anna Kalbhenn

8. Global Warming
Tomas Ries

Part III

9. Introduction to Part III
Lyubov Nazaruk

10. Designing Nano Systems for a Safer Tomorrow
Giovanni De Micheli

11. Nuclear Catastrophes
Bruno Pellaud

12. Financial Meltdown
Arturo Bris

13. Crisis in Cyberspace
James Lewis

Part IV

14. Introduction to Part IV
Sara Kuepfer

15. Demographic Imbalance and the Prospects for Mass Migration
Sophie Nonnenmacher

16. State Failure, Anarchy, War and Genocide
Dan Plesch

17. Massive Conventional Terrorist Attack as a Threat to Critical Infrastructure Security
Ekaterina Stepanova

18. Threats to Energy Supply
George Joffé

Part V

19. Potential Global Strategic Catastrophes: A Postscript
Alyson Bailes