As Rethinking Security enters the final stages of the Alternative Security Review and we look towards the publication of our Human Security Strategy for the UK, we begin a webinar series on Weds 8th Nov to explore why this is necessary and what human security looks like globally, for communities and for individuals. Read on to find out more and register via our webpage.

A “dangerous and unstable” future

Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, said recently that “humanity has opened the gates of hell”, that we are headed towards a “dangerous and unstable” future of 2.8°C global heating. The UN disarmament committee’s recent discussions on the threat of nuclear war and the weaponisation of emerging technologies further highlight the multiple ways in which all our security is threatened.

The Westminster consensus on ‘national security’ – in which ever more money is funnelled to projecting UK conventional and nuclear military force ever further around the world – needs urgent interrogation. Not only has it failed to create a more equal, just and secure world, but it is increasingly failing even on its own terms to preserve an international ‘order’ dominated by the UK, US and their allies. It is increasingly unsustainable, not least in contributing to the breakdown of the ecological systems on which our food, health and economic security depend. 

We desperately need to push for an alternative approach to security for the UK that puts people and the planet at the centre and does not rely on military prestige or coercive power to maintain the UK’s position in the world.

The webinar series will challenge the established, bipartisan consensus about what security is and how it is best created. It explores the importance of reclaiming definitions of security from militarism and what a difference it would make for global, community and individual security. Contributors will set out alternatives, rooted in human and common security.

Towards a Human Security Strategy for the UK

These webinars have grown from the connections we’ve been building over the last couple of years in the research and evidence gathering phase of the Alternative Security Review (ASR). Whilst our research partners at Coventry University have been asking ordinary people what security means to them, we have been hearing from civil society groups in the UK and beyond.

In the UK, we held a series of roundtable discussions to ask what the current status of human security is in the UK, and what it could or should look like in the future. We covered a range of topics over nine roundtables in 2022 that you can read about on our blog, summarised in articles on humane alternatives to security policy, elitism and inequality, and climate change.

Is was an illuminating process, hearing from diverse sections of civil society about what global, community and human security mean to the participants and the struggles that all sectors are facing under a government and system that defines security according to the interests of a privileged few and focuses on maintaining an unjust status quo via coercive measures.

Regrettably, British political and media discourse so far in the 2020s confirms a bipartisan consensus against prioritising human security over national influence and ‘strategic advantage’. Military expenditure has risen at the expense of international development, international law is flouted, and migrants are increasingly scapegoated. Within the smaller parties, and within the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales, there is greater openness for dialogue on alternatives. At this time of heightened global tension it is all the more important to continue to develop these conversations in public and policy spaces.

“Believe in peace”: Offering alternatives

Despite the terrible events in the Middle East, ongoing war in Ukraine and Yemen, and many other deadly conflicts there is and must always be a space to talk about a different kind of security.

Recording our final podcast episode, Anna Sundström of the Olof Palme International Centre and an author of the Common Security Report 2022 said the most important thing we can do is to “believe in peace.” 

To believe that a different, fuller version of security is possible, and that this must be informed by the hopes and fears of ordinary people, not least those facing the greatest vulnerability and insecurity, is the work of the ASR.

Join us in discussing with experts what different approaches to security look like. From the need for a planet-centred climate security, to health, counter-terror and immigration, we will be opening up discussion about how and where we can advocate for new approaches to peace and security that are built on sustainability, justice, equality and inclusion.

The first webinar is Wednesday 8th November and monthly thereafter. Register via the webpage and find out more about the series.

For background, check out the Centring Human Security podcast.

Joanna Frew is Outreach Coordinator for Rethinking Security .

The views and opinions expressed in posts on the Rethinking Security blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the network and its broader membership.