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The Discursive Construction of the EU''s Policy Responses towards North Korea''s WMD

Open Panel

Abstract

Security is usually referred to as an ‘essentially contested concept’. As such the social construction of security policy and practice constitutes a very interesting area for scholars associated with the so-called ‘linguistic turn’. This paper contributes to this literature by exploring the evolution of the EU’s policy towards North Korea’s WMD. The paper focuses on the period that followed the collapse of the ‘Agreed framework’ in 2003, which led to the freezing of the EU-nascent North Korean rapprochement and eventually to the imposition of sanctions in 2006. The puzzle that the paper tries to address is: why has the EU adopted such an assertive approach towards North Korea, despite the fact that it is neither the only, nor the more advanced ‘clandestine’ nuclear proliferator? The paper is part of a major collaborative project that investigates the role of the EU as an international security actor (http://www.eugrasp.eu). The framework of the project, which has been conceived by Christou et al. (2010), brings together three ‘language-based’ approaches to security: the ‘Copenhagen School’ (securitisation theory), the ‘Paris School’ (insecuritisation theory) and the ‘Welsh School’ (emancipation theory). The combination of these approaches is very illuminating: securitisation theory provides the methodological toolkit to explore how the EU discourse inflated the North Korean threat by constructing the DPRK leadership as irresponsible, inherently aggressive and duplicitous; the Foucauldian lens of insecuritisation theory enables us to go beyond the notion of security policy as ‘breaking free of rules’ and thus capture the interplay of the different logics through which the EU performed security (technical cooperation, high level troika visits, coercive action etc.). Finally emancipation theory assesses the internal coherence and contradiction of the EU security discourse and practice and therefore incorporates a potential for an alternative policy that draws on the CSCE/OSCE experience.