Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 01/2010

Creating Multilevel Security Governance in South America

Daniel Flemes, Michael Radseck

December 2009

German Institute of Global and Area Studies


South America’s security agenda demands the simultaneous management of domestic crises, interstate conflicts and transnational threats. Though located at different systemic levels (national, international, transnational), the three conflict clusters are often interrelated and tend to overlap in the region’s border areas. The region’s policy makers, aware of this highly complex agenda and in spite of their striking differences, have tended to build regional structures of authority that coordinate, manage and rule collective responses to these threats. In addition, the unilateral, bilateral and multilateral structures and the region’s capabilities to solve conflicts have become more important than the respective inter-American bodies over the past decade. Given this shift in the management of regional security affairs, we ask if a multilevel approach on the part of an overarching security architecture is more effective than separate governance schemes regarding each specific security threat. Since neither the traditional models of power balancing and alliance building nor the security‚Äźcommunity approach can sufficiently explain the region’s security dynamics, we assume and provide evidence that different systems of security governance overlap and coexist in South America.