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Wednesday, 22nd April 2009

From Within and Without: Sustainable Security in the Middle East and North Africa

From Within and Without: Sustainable Security in the Middle East and North Africa
Source: Oxford Research Group

As in much of the world, the current security discourse in the Middle East and North Africa is dominated by what might be called the 'control paradigm': an approach based on the premise that insecurity can be controlled through military force or balance of power politics and containment, thus maintaining the status quo. The most obvious global example of this approach has been the so-called 'war on terror', which essentially aims to 'keep the lid' on terrorism and insecurity, without addressing the root causes (an approach that has negatively impacted on the region). Such approaches to national, regional and international security are deeply flawed - particularly if not complemented by diplomatic efforts - and are distracting the world's politicians from developing realistic and sustainable solutions to the non- traditional threats facing the world.

In contrast, this report explores an alternative approach, that of 'sustainable security'. The central premise of sustainable security is that you cannot successfully control all the consequences of insecurity, but must work to resolve the causes. In other words, 'fighting the symptoms' will not work, you must instead 'cure the disease'. Such a framework must be based on an integrated analysis of security threats and a preventative approach to responses.

Sustainable security focuses on the interconnected, long-term drivers of insecurity, including:

  • Climate change: Loss of infrastructure, resource scarcity and the mass displacement of
    peoples, leading to civil unrest, intercommunal violence and international instability.

  • Competition over resources: Competition for increasingly scarce resources - including food,
    water and energy - especially from unstable parts of the world.

  • Marginalisation of the majority world: Increasing socio-economic divisions and the political,
    economic and cultural marginalisation of the vast majority of the world's population.

  • Global militarisation: The increased use of military force as a security measure and the further
    spread of military technologies (including CBRN weapons).

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