Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Moving towards sustainable security

Report by the Oxford Research Group

Since the horrific events of 9/11, Western leaders have held up
international terrorism as the greatest threat to world security.
However, it is not enough to simply insist that terrorism is the
greatest threat to the world, when the evidence does not support this
claim. In fact, our research paints a very different picture of the
fundamental threats that we all face, with these threats coming from
four interconnected trends:

1) Climate change -- Displacement of peoples, severe natural disasters
and food shortages, leading to much higher levels of migration,
increased human suffering and greater social unrest.

2) Competition over resources -- Competition for increasingly scarce
resources, especially from unstable parts of the world - such as oil
from the Persian Gulf.  [to add what is seldom stated out loud:
"unstable" BECAUSE of said race to capture and even control those
resources -ED]

3) Marginalisation of the majority world -- Increasing socio-economic
divisions and the marginalisation of the vast majority of the world's

4) Global militarisation -- The increased use of military force and
the further spread of military technologies (including weapons of

These factors are the trends that are likely to lead to substantial
global and regional instability, and large-scale loss of life, of a
magnitude unmatched by other potential threats.

Current responses to these threats can be characterised as a 'control
paradigm' - an attempt to maintain the status quo through military
means and control insecurity without addressing the root causes.

ORG argues that current security policies are self-defeating in the
long-term, and so a new approach is needed.

This new approach is what ORG refers to as 'sustainable security'. The
main difference between this and the control paradigm is that this
approach does not attempt to unilaterally control threats through the
use of force ('attack the symptoms'), but rather it aims to
cooperatively resolve the root causes of those threats using the most
effective means available ('cure the disease'). This approach provides
the best chance of averting global disaster, as well as addressing
some of the root causes of terrorism.

Governments will be unwilling to embrace these ideas without pressure
from below. NGOs and the wider civil society have a unique chance to
coordinate their efforts to convince government that this new approach
is practical and effective. However, this will mean a closer
international linking of peace, development and environmental issues
than has so far been attempted. Oxford Research Group recognises that
we are not experts in all the issues we have been exploring. Our value
lies primarily in developing the sustainable security approach and
promoting it to others in different fields who can apply it to their
own work at the same time as feeding their knowledge into the ORG

Another important aspect of our project is promoting this thinking to
a wider public audience. To this end, in April 2007 Random House
published a fully updated and revised version of our original report
on these issues, Global Responses to Global Threats, in a small book
format on their Rider list. As well as providing an update to the
original report, Beyond Terror: The Truth About the Real Threats to
our World highlights ways in which the reader can make a difference
and learn more about the issues discussed.

The report and the book will form a central part of our programme over
the next year, and will be key tools in raising awareness of the need
for a shift in security policies and priorities. Our planned work for
2008-09 includes the development of:

    1) Advisory Group on Sustainable Security
    2) UK Policy Group for Sustainable Security
    3) Regional sustainable security consultations
    4) Research and publications
    5) Media campaign
    6) Beyond Terror speaker events
    7) Website,
    8) Beyond Terror documentary film

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