national security: can non-military security play a role?

by Campaign ~ May 18th, 2010. Filed under: News.

conscience held a debate on non-military security, its viability and government spending in London last June. Please watch our video with highlights of the event.

The event picked up on a key theme of the work of the Peace and Security Liaison Group (PSLG), of which conscience was a founder member. The topic for discussion drew upon the policy conclusions of the PSLG’s two-year series of roundtable meetings with the previous government. These are summarised in the document Securing Peace. The event will brought together many members of the peace community and those working within security and defence issues.

All of the organisations which made up the PSLG would agree that non-military solutions are the way forward in ensuring security and bringing about peace. Many have argued that non-military solutions – especially conflict prevention – are both more effective and better value as forms of security.

There is also an increasing recognition across all political parties of the importance of non-military security and the belief that more needs to be done to promote and make use of non-military solutions to violent and potentially violent conflict internationally.

We believe that the change of government last May was a key opportunity to begin a public discussion on the need for change in security policy. Furthermore, with the ‘troop surge’ in Afghanistan and continuing public frustration over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a growing climate at all levels for discussion about alternatives to military intervention and their viability. Given this situation, the meeting tried to address the question:

If non-military solutions to conflict and potential conflict are generally considered to be the way forward in terms of security, why do governments so quickly turn to military intervention; in addition, why does military expenditure still make up the vast majority of security spending, while conflict prevention and peacebuilding is under-resourced?

Speakers included:
Professor Anatol Lieven, author, journalist and policy analyst, from the Department of War Studies, Kings College London.

Paul Ingram, Executive Director, British and American Security Information Council (BASIC), London and Washington.

As an organisation, conscience aims to bridge the gap between academic research, practical peacebuilding and peace activists and the general public. We see the event as a way to bring together academics, peace sector experts and speakers from the voluntary sector, to show the depth of expertise which already exists in the field and its need to be brought into mainstream public conversation.

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