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Conference on Destabilizing Factors and Trans-National Threats - Rome, 23-24 April 2009 - Talking Points (Amended)


Conference on Destabilizing Factors and Trans-National Threats - Rome, 23-24 April 2009 - Talking Points (Amended)
  • There is no question that the transnational challenges being discussed at this meeting require new and more intense levels of international cooperation and coordination. 
  • Governments are having to appreciate as never before, (particularly in the Western world), that social and political problems elsewhere have a reverberation in their own societies and cannot be ignored.  There is a growing acceptance that one country’s security is directly affected by another’s insecurity
  • As a consequence of this growing realization we are seeing a greater willingness on the part of the developed world to get involved in capacity-building in what might be termed the security field, (law enforcement, border control and so on).   
  • This is a positive development but we have to be careful and not fall into the trap of failing to appreciate fully that these trans-national threats are not only de-stabilizing, they also grow out of societies that have themselves been de-stabilized by other factors – persistent conflict, massive discrimination, natural disasters and so forth.
  • If we build capacity in the security field but ignore other aspects of the country’s social dynamic, economic situation etc, the assistance given is very unlikely to be unsuccessful in the long term.
  • What we need to be doing is better integrating our security assistance into a broader approach that also addresses what the UN calls the ‘conditions conducive to terrorism’. 
  • In donor countries, the security people need to be talking and coordinating with the development people.  Actually my experience is that the security community is sometimes more willing to communicate and cooperate than the development community is.   In many donor countries, and in the UN system, development agencies are often wary of getting involved in capacity-building in the security sector.
  • This might indicate a certain ideological rigidity on the part of development professionals, since one could argue that if a country faces serious security challenges, it is hardly likely to be able to implement a successful economic and social development program.  In short, often security is a pre-condition to development.
  • But to be fair, there have been concerns about human rights and security forces; about bias in national budgets towards the military and law enforcement; of governments that put too much money into their security apparatuses at the expense of addressing other issues of concern to people.  The skepticism of the development community is probably well-placed in some situations.
  • This meeting is an opportunity to open a dialogue between the two communities on this sensitive subject.  We need to reconcile the different perspectives.  We have to be able to address security shortfalls in capacity in a way that avoids exacerbating problems arising from poor governance and abuse of authority.
  • The way to do this, in my view, is to ensure that the technical assistance provided to law enforcement agencies and the capacity that is being built is grounded in the rule of law, that workable oversight mechanisms are established and above all, that the training constantly emphasizes the importance of respect for the dignity and rights of the citizenry.



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