The Influences of Post-2001 “War on Terrorism” on Global Environmental Governance


This essay will focus on investigating the influences of Post-2001 “war on Terrorism” on global environmental governance (GEG). GEG is defined as “the sum of organizations, policy instruments, financing mechanisms, rules, procedures, and norms that regulate the processes of global environmental protection” (Najam, Papa, Taiyab, 2006). 9’11 is a great historical event at the beginning of the 21st century. It has enormous impacts on the process of international security and politic relationship, foreign policies and economies in the world. It has dramatically changed the old order and the balance of current world. Accordingly, it inevitably influenced the current GEG.

The research on the influences of post-2001 “war on terrorism” will predict the future development trend of international global environment, and have important practical significance for the society.

  1. Introduction

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, four American flights were hijacked to crash into several important buildings including the World Trade Center at New York and the Pentagon in Virginia. This attack was regarded to be led by Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, the leaders of radical Islamic organizations. This event resulted in the War in Afghanistan on Oct 7, 2001and later the US invasion of Iraq (Hoffman 2002).

However, 9’11 event is neither a beginning nor an end for international terrorism. After 9’11, two very important changes took place in the world. First, the nature of the terrorist threat is not only a threat to a country, but rises to an unprecedented height: its overall impact of the entire international community. That is, the problem of terrorism has upgraded as an international relations in the entire international community and the international relationship become one of the most important factors.

  1. The influences of post-2001 “war on terrorism”

The influences of post-2001 “war on terrorism” on GEG have multi aspects shown as follows,

In the first place, it causes the focuses of many developed countries such as the US, Canada, and European Nation (EN) from economical issues into the international relation issues and military. Since 9’11, the counter-terrorism activities became a focus for these countries, and they cannot concentrate on the economical development and environment improvement. Generally, 9’11 event will affect the GEG in positive and negative aspects.

In the aspect of international relation, 9’11 event has negative impact on the GEG. During ten years’ counter-terror activities, the US has spent huge money in the Afghanistan war in 2001, Iraq war in 2003, and Libya in 2011 (Peterson 2002). In Iraq war, the US did not realize the expected purpose (Hackett 2010; Moore and Oppel 2008); the war in Libya did not finish (PBS 2011). On the one hand, these counter-terror activities have largely enhanced their influences on the Middle East and North Africa. To some extent, counter-terror activities enlarged the US territory in Political geography. Moreover, since both Iraq and Libya have rich oils and gases, the invasion to these two countries will help the US catch more natural resources and better increase its economic development.

In the domestic market, 9’11 has caused the Western countries such as the US and the EU to reduce their investment in the domestic economy, education and science. Therefore, 9’11 escalated the break of telecommunication technology bubbles and the following economy recession originating in 2008 to some extent. Gradually, the US have largely unrivalled its military power in the world.

In contrast, post-2001 “war on terrorism” broke the existing balances between the developing and developed countries. Presently, in Europe, EU were looking to play a global role even though they have strong connections in politics with the US and are not completely independent; Russia was returning to economic power, based on its oil resources. Furthermore, some Asian countries, especially including China and India, moved to increase their military power and increase their economic share in world economy.  For example, to satisfy its need, China is searching for oil and other resources in Africa and South American. Similarly, the Brazil in the South America attempted to improve its foreign influences in the world.

These changes have affected their GEGs in the world. First, the US lost its absolute position of “world police”. For example, the US has played a lead role in some instances previously (for example, Montreal Protocol 1987) and actively attended 1992’s Biodiversity Convention. But in 2011 the US did not signed and ratified the protocol (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2011). Moreover, in 2011 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the US did not support this claim. (Xinhua Press 2011). Second, the emerging countries such as China and Brazil have improved their influences in the GEG. For instance, in 2011 UNFCCC, China criticized in public the unreasonable and irresponsible behaviors of some western countries and gained applauds from some developing countries  (Xinhua Press 2011).

In the second place, the war on terrorism after 9’11 caused the increasing polarization of the politics in the world. For example, it ignited the conflicts between Muslims and the Western countries. Therefore, all involved countries had to adjust their foreign policies and this change has been reflected on the environmental policies. For example, the US and other Western countries, such as Canada, Australia, and the UK, have collaboratively worked in dealing with the issues in the world. They actively attended the wars in Iraq and Libya. Furthermore, they has worked together to overcome the economic recession and European Debt crisis issues. Similarly, this circumstance also causes some small developing collaboration to protect their resources and interests. For example, in the 2011 UNFCCC some countries criticize and acclaim the developed countries should take more responsibility.

Next, since the 9’11, the US and EU has reduced their interventions in some local reigns such as the Far East, Africa, and the South American. In short of these external interventions, some potential armed conflicts such as China-Japan conflict, North Korea-South Korea issues, and escalated India-Pakistan issues have escalated. For example, the China has reduced its export quotas of rare earth metals to hurdle Japan’s economic development due to the escalated territorial conflicts between two countries (China’s Ministry of Commerce 2011).

In addition, some organizations have demonstrated their influences in the world politics. These organizations contain ones created by states to address problems that they cannot solve by themselves. For example, these organizations include 2008 G20, International Telegraphic Union 1865, The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1947, and The World Trade Organization (WTO) 1995.

Last, in last ten years, with the scarcity of oil and water, global competition for these resources has generated some environmental consequences, and perhaps potential armed conflicts. Some countries have realized this point. Therefore, while the competition for diminishing water supplies may generate potential politic conflicts, it may lead to increased international cooperation for them. Food scarcity and associated price increase, associated with growing global population, is another environmental issue with potential world politics implications. All of them will push the countries collaborate in GEG to look for new energy and food such as wind energy and solar energy.

III. Conclusions

In this essay the influences of post-2001 “war on terrorism” on GEG have been analyzed in details.  The influences have multi aspects and the factors among them are interacted each other: on the one hand, the war may help the developed countries exploit more resources such as oil and land, and improve their countries powers. But on the other hand, it will reduce the investment in their domestic market and damage their economies. Besides, with the decrease of economies of the US, the EU and some developing countries are expanding their powers by looking for multilevel collaborations and resources in the world.


  1. References

China’s Ministry of Commerce (2011), “notice on reducing the quotas for rare earth exports,” Retrived from

Hackett, James (ed.) (2010). The Military Balance 2010. International Institute for Strategic Studies;  London: Routledge. ISBN 1857435575.

Hoffman B.(2002), “Rethinking terrorism and counterterrorism since 9/11,”  Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Taylor & Francis.

Moore, Solomon; Oppel Jr, Richard. (2008). “Attacks Imperil U.S.-Backed Militias in Iraq”. The New York Times.

Najam, Adil., Papa, Mihaela.,  Taiyab, Nadaa.( 2006), Global Environmental Governance: A Reform Agenda, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg, Canada.

PBS. (2011) “A Visual Look Back at the Libyan Revolution”.  Retrieved  from

Peterson, Peter (2002), “Public Diplomacy and the war on terrorism”, Foreign Affairs.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2011), “Status of Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol”. Retrieved from

Xinhua Press (2011), “China open to talks on binding emission cut”. China Daily. Retrieved from 8 December 2011