IICRR hosted a one day conference “Building Security: Trust or Fear” at the Helix, DCU Glasnevin Campus on Friday 20th April. The conference was jointly organised by IICRR, Dublin City University (DCU), Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA), and the Dublin Monthly Meeting Peace Committee. The event explored how the EU security environment has changed in recent years. New security challenges have emerged both inside and outside Europe needing new thinking around how to respond. In a Europe in which increased paranoia is used as a political weapon against the “outsider”, how do we play a role as citizens in defining a policy which will direct action to take us away from fear and return us to trust? In a changed scenario, what role do citizens and policy makers play? This conference brought together a diverse range of experts from academia, policy makers and civil society to discuss the new security environment and the changing roles and responsibilities.
The opening address was delivered by Prof John Doyle, IICRR Director. The first panel looked at how we define security in Europe and the role of the EU as a security actor. Speaking on the panel were Ian Anthony (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)) ; Anna Penfrat (European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO)); Girogio Porzio (European External Action Service); John Doyle, IICRR Director and Executive Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, DCU). The panel participated in an in-depth discussion with the audience exploring a range of issues such as the nature of security, the assumed relationship between military spending and peace, the framing of migration as a security issue.
The second panel examined the changing security environment and how new threats need new answers. Contributing to the panel were Murray T. Guptill (US Naval Forces Europe and Africa, NATO); Olivia Caeymaex (QCEA); Maria Mekri (SaferGlobe); and Prof Maura Conway (IICRR, School of Law and Government, DCU). The panel engaged in a question and answer session on a range of issues including the complexities of using private military companies in conflict, the social and economic tensions at the root of conflict, the dilemma that peace organisations face in cooperating with military actors and the unexpected role of social media providers as security actors in online violent extremism. Dr Ken McDonagh (IICRR, School of Law and Government, DCU) delivered the closing remarks. He highlighted the absence of gender considerations in many security policy decisions. He spoke on the baggage associated with applying the security label which brings with it a set of actions, interventions and technologies particularly in the EU response to problems of migration and terrorism. He concluded be reiterating that security is a continuance process needing constant revision, reflection and improvement and highlighted the importance of social values in ensuring better security outcomes.