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Working together for a new vision of security

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

9 October, Hebden Bridge Town Hall, 13.30

There will be a free, public meeting in Hebden Bridge Town Hall on Sunday 9th October from 1.30-4.30pm to discuss what security means for us, for society and for our planet.

Concerns about food, health, conflict, the environment, community and economics come together when we look at the future and the need to generate new thinking on human security and how to create it. This is urgently needed in the face of climate change, growing inequality, competition over resources and continuing high levels of militarisation. And our political leaders show little sign of understanding or willingness to do so.

Meeting called by Hebden Bridge Quakers

Hebden Bridge Quakers, inspired by an article entitled Security for the future: in search of a new vision in, published online by Open Democracy by the Ammerdown Group of professional peacebuilders, decided to call this meeting.  The Group were frustrated by the disastrous effect of global militarist policies on local peacebuilding work and came together to discuss how to generate new thinking on security and how to create it (*key points listed below).

Open speakers

Two of those involved, Paul Rogers, professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford and Celia McKeon until recently responsible for grant making on Peace & Security and Northern Ireland with the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, will open the discussion at the meeting in the Town Hall.  Then people will be able to discuss together in small groups to reflect on this, look at policies needed and opportunities for action.

The discussions will be facilitated by playwright and performer, Sarah Woods, whose work on social change has been produced by the RSC, BBC and many UK theatres. Light refreshments will be available.

*Some key points from the Ammerdown group article:

  • We all want to feel safe and secure in our beds at night, but the news is dominated by tension, conflict and violence across the world.
  • The word 'security' comes from the Latin se and cura, meaning 'free from care or anxiety'. One definition used by the United Nations is freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom to live in dignity. This suggests societies in which we, our children, and their children have access to decent work, food, health care and education, a safe place to call home, and communities of people who help each other in times of need.
  • It is a simple vision and perhaps most people would share it, but opinions differ sharply on how to realise it.
  • It is likely that risks to our wellbeing will intensify worldwide in the coming years. Industrialised societies with consumer economies are dangerously altering the global climate, damaging the earth's ecology, and rapidly depleting vital natural resources. Governments have been unable or unwilling to tackle these problems, which are now disrupting societies across the world.
  • Our common desire for security faces another severe challenge: the widening cleft between the world's 'have-mores' and 'have-nots'.
    In 2001 the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan pointed out that a safer world is only a vain hope when conditions are hostile to justice and wellbeing. "We cannot be secure amidst starvation, … we cannot build peace without alleviating poverty, and … we cannot build freedom on foundations of injustice," he said.
  • If governments do as they have done before, they will try to control a worsening situation by force of arms.
  • A shift is urgently needed in the way we imagine that security is achieved. A long-term approach would focus foremost on tackling the causes of insecurity through greater social, economic and ecological responsibility. Rather than conceiving of security as mainly military defence by the state, we can envisage it as an ongoing task that involves us all in responsibilities that are local, national and global. And rather than projecting power to control and dominate the global environment, security will depend increasingly on how well power is used to cooperate with others – and not just with the powerful – for the sake of our common interests.

The 'Human Security' framework focuses on citizens' experiences of insecurity and places their welfare and wellbeing at the heart of how decisions are made.

Seven spheres of importance to the security of citizens

It identifies seven spheres of importance to the security of citizens:

  • Economic security – an assured basic income, usually from work.
  • Food security – physical and economic access to nutritious, sustainably-produced food.
  • Health security – protection from and treatment of disease.
  • Ecological security – protection from natural threats and care for natural ecology.
  • Physical security – protection from physical violence, from any source.
  • Community security – healthy relationships within and between communities.
  • Political security – guaranteed human rights, fundamental freedoms, political participation.

You can download here a much longer, later discussion paper with more details.