Time to rethink national security

Activists and academics met today at a groundbreaking conference in London. “Rethinking Security" found energy, passion and positive thoughts for new approaches to national security.

Keynote speakers, including Professor Paul Rogers of University of Bradford, put human rights at the heart of security. The event was hosted by Quakers in Britain in Friends House,

In her keynote speech, writer, comedian and broadcaster, Shaista Aziz referred to the number of young people suffering insecurity globally. One teenager in Afghanistan had said to her, “My life is full of stress. I don't know if I'm alive or dead." She spoke about racism in the UK and urged none 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.

Speakers covered a myriad of topics. They included:

Molly Scott Cato of the Green Party, Asad Rehman, War on Want, Aisha Phoenix, SOAS, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International UK, Freed Voices and Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network, Richard Reeve, Oxford Research Group, Rebecca Johnson, Acronym/ICAN and Ann Feltham, Campaign Against Arms Trade, Marissa Conway, Emily Webster and Nina Sofie Pedersen of Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy.

Workshops explored practical steps:

  • Envisioning a new agenda for security (with Celia McKeon, Rethinking Security) Influencing media (Andrew Smith, CAAT)
  • Peace education (Rhianna Louise, Forces Watch and Ellis Brooks, Quaker Peace & Social Witness)
  • Movement-building: getting involved (Diana Francis, Rethinking Security)
  • Building political support for rethinking security (Ann Feltham, CAAT and Ryvka Barnard, War on Want)

The conference aimed to explore the impact of current approaches to national security on agendas for peace, justice and environmental sustainability. And to consider what a different approach could look like, and how to bring about change.

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