A group of UK peacebuilding professionals invite you to participate in a new civic conversation about alternatives to the current approach to national security. Here they outline their concerns about the existing model, and offer a different vision for the future, welcoming input from anyone who wishes to engage in this debate.
May 2016: Rethinking Security: a discussion paper
How do we best build long-term security for people in the UK and worldwide?
- Across the world, insecurity is growing, affecting everyone, especially the world's poorest but also people in rich countries like the UK.
- Responses to insecurity, centred on offensive military power and restrictions on civil liberties, are proving ineffective and generating greater insecurity.
- The greatest threats to our security - climate change, inequality, scarcity, militarism, and violent conflict - are not being addressed.
- Security is often described as a national duty, but is better seen as a common right. It cannot be gained in one place at the expense of another, nor is it built on dominance, but on the health of our societies. Principles such as these could help to shape better responses to insecurity now, including immediate risks, while also helping to develop the conditions of lasting security over the long-term.
- But the conversation about 'security' is too narrow: it is dominated by a small and exclusive group, supported by business interests that benefit from the status quo. Building a safer world needs a new approach - and it needs all of us.
We all want to feel safe and secure in our beds at night, but the news is dominated by tension, conflict and violence across the world. At home, financial worries and concerns about our changing society are widespread. Internationally, the horrifying violence in the Middle East and beyond is a source of great alarm, while global perils, such as climate change, are deepening a common sense of uncertainty about the future.
Research suggests that levels of anxiety in the UK have increased, particularly among young people, and that we believe the world has become a more frightening place. Is a less anxious, less insecure world possible? What does ‘security’ really mean? What roles might citizens and governments play to achieve it? These are among the most pressing questions of our time.
As a group of people who share experience of working with conflict and building peace, we are increasingly concerned that the world’s governments have yet to grasp the emerging challenges to our common security. We would like to begin a public conversation about this in the UK, asking how best to build long-term security for people in this society and worldwide. We hope people from all backgrounds and communities will join this discussion, sharing their own ideas in hope of a safer world for our generation and those to come.
To spur on this conversation, we have set out below some initial reflections of our own. These thoughts are not a complete response to the very difficult questions we are trying to answer. We intend them as one contribution among many possible others; perhaps some ideas could be developed further, others left behind. Given the scale of the security challenges that the world as a whole faces, we think that only a wide-ranging, public conversation is capable of finding, in time, the new way forward that is so clearly needed.