New approaches to national security

Friends House hosts 'Rethinking Security' conference

Friends House in London hosted a conference last week to explore new and current approaches to national security. ‘Rethinking Security’ on 15 June brought together a wide range of academics and activists determined to put human rights at the centre of the security debate.

The aim, according to Britain Yearly Meeting, was ‘to explore the impact of current approaches to national security on agendas for peace, justice and environmental sustainability’. The conference also sought to ‘consider what a different approach could look like, and how to bring about change’.

Keynote speakers included Paul Rogers, of the University of Bradford, and Shaista Aziz, a writer, comedian and broadcaster, who spoke about racism in the UK. She urged people not to be apologetic for speaking out for human rights.

Mary Kaldor, of the London School of Economics, raised the challenges of rethinking security in practice.

She cited the work of Andrew Feinstein, the writer and campaigner, and said: ‘The arms trade is increasingly a source of political finance. African dictators buy weapons not because they need them but because corruption allows them to build private political budgets.’

Patrick Corrigan, director of Amnesty International Northern Ireland, said at the event: ‘We have a conflict resolution model in Northern Ireland, which can be used in other contexts. But the UK government seems to set that model aside when its strategic interests are involved in places like the Middle East.’ 

There were several workshops. One, on peace education, was led by Rhianna Louise of Forces Watch and Ellis Brooks of Quaker Peace & Social Witness.

See the article: Building partnership and trust

You need to login to read subscriber-only content and/or comment on articles.