Relaunching openSecurity, reconciliation and conflict - new perspectives, new debates
In a world of global insecurities, how can we democratise our security options? War, which is often fought in the name of democracy, remains a prerogative of the executive in many countries that lay claim to the title. Access to information is denied for security reasons. "Our security" has justified infringements of liberty around the world since 2001. But do we feel secure?
This stems from the belief that there is an inherent tension, but not a mutual exclusivity, between openness and security, something reflected in our content. Recognising this entails recognizing that our security options cannot be limited to the military dichotomy between defensive and offensive.This year openSecurity, with the help of a new advisory, has taken an interest in processes of peacebuilding and reconciliation worldwide. We have three ongoing fields of exploration.
Peacebuilding from a Southern Perspective:
openSecurity added ‘reconciliation and conflict’ to its name to chronicle the emergence of the dynamic and diverse field of peacebuilding and its impact on the outcomes of political turmoil, sectarian violence or brutal repression. Many practitioners and policymakers in the west are recognizing that local political dynamics and local institutional forms are key to the success of any attempt to establish peace. But what if peacebuilding is never experienced as impartial? What does peacebuilding look like from the global south? We look to innovative and illuminating southern practitioners, policymakers and academic centres for their response.
Security Sector Reform:
Behind this contemporary motto of international organizations lie two different and arguably contradictory issues: how can the security sector been made more democratically accountable to people whose security is at stake? How can it be streamlined so as to cost less?
Hanne Røislien, in her seminal study of the place of Judaism in the IDF, meanwhile reminds us that behind any discussion of a “security sector”, we find people, whose attitudes and approaches to security are essential to consider.
Nowhere are issues related to Security Sector Reform more apparent than in the post-Spring Arab world. New security forces are rebuilt while previous ones ought to be made accountable for past abuse. Who are the main forces driving such reforms? How are they publicly debated in contexts of unruly democratic transitions? Such question also brings to light the complex role played by international organisations, such as NATO or the EU, in promoting their vision of Security Sector Reform.
Beyond enemy images:
“Who is the enemy other?” asked Jeffrey Murer in an openSecurity agenda-setting article. Identifying the ‘enemy’ lies at the heart of security policies and practices, and despite numerous indications that these constructions are generally stereotypical and misguided, this tendency seems impossible to overcome.
Both at the domestic and the international level, Muslims arguably fit into the definition of a proximate enemy, as lingering ethnic profiling and exceptionalism in counter-terrorism practices indicate. Imaginaries of a global jihad provide ground for hostile attitudes, as the Toulouse killings exemplified. Yet enemy images are also pervasive in international relations and diplomacy for instance in the case of Iran.
Thanks go to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their support.