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The concept of security is at the very heart of the Nation-State; the idea of the state emanating from Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, is one where people traded freedoms for collective security. In a rapidly globalising world, this theory of security is under threat as ideas of and challenges to security spill and flow across borders, provoked by a multitude of insecurities. The United Nations, in the 2004 report A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, argues that “The United Nations was created in 1945 above all else “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” — to ensure that the horrors of the World Wars were never repeated. Sixty years later, we know all too well that the biggest security threats we face now, and in the decades ahead, go far beyond States waging aggressive war. The threats are from non-State actors as well as States, and to human security as well as State security.”
In the 21st Century, Nation-States are being confronted by a multitude of threats, ranging from terrorism, illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, to fraud, cyber attacks and organised crime. Conceptions of national security, always of key importance to Governments and officials, are shifting to newer, more pervasive threats which increasingly overlap with other policy areas. National security is now not only a military concern, but one of crime prevention, economic stability, border control, counter-terrorism and cyber security.
Ideas of security have been further challenged by the Arab Spring. Policies of security and stability resulted in imbalances of securities, and have been overturned as obstacles to democratic movements. Providing physical security has not consistently led to development as previously thought, but rather, in some areas, to economic, social and political insecurity.
Increasingly, the predicament for policymakers is to balance the many competing conceptions of security; food and environmental securities are areas especially pressuring national and economic security interests. To respond to the myriad threats with clarity and efficiency is a profound challenge. Different conceptions of security need to be delineated and their connections understood, and ideas of national security need to be repositioned to fit a globalised and interconnected world.
The International Centre for Parliamentary Studies (ICPS) carries out a substantial amount of work to support administrations across the world in their efforts to bring about change and reform, providing a range of different services: