During the research phase of the Alternative Security Review, we held a series of roundtable discussions with representatives of UK civil society groups to learn more about what human security might mean in a UK context, what insecurities exist, what organisations are doing to address these insecurities, and what they would recommend for a Human Security Strategy for the UK.
The discussions acted as consultations, comparable to those that the government carries out for security and other reviews. However, our aim was to invite representatives of groups who experience insecurity or do not have automatic access to policy-making spaces in order to develop an understanding of the insecurities faced by people in the UK that often go unheard in elite circles.
The collective message from these roundtable discussions is that, across all sectors, human and environmental security is not prioritised by government. Instead, traditional ideas about national security prevail, as does a commitment to neoliberalism and the built-in insecurity that creates for many.
The key finding were that:
- The definition of security used by government is narrow but appears in many public bodies to counter ‘threats’, while at the same time the use of security to define positive rights has been withdrawn.
- Even in a democratic society, foreign and security policy can feel like particularly closed and elitist worlds, whilst elitism also damages wider participation and inclusion in politics.
- The profit motive undermines any progress towards environmental security, in all its forms, particularly in key sectors such as food and energy.