Human security and the war in Ukraine

A new world order is in place where perpetual violence has become the norm. So-called new wars, or “forever wars”, are not tied to contests over national territory. But the war in Ukraine has reignited debates about wars in the 21st century and their consequences on human security and international order.

Join #KAPTalks with Professor Mary Kaldor, of the London School of Economics, to address current geopolitical events in the region, based on her research on conflicts and security.

Hosted by National School of Political Studies and Administration, Bucharest, Romania.

The event will be opened by Ms Mara Roman, Deputy Head of Representation of European Commission in Romania.

When: 2nd October 2023 at 12:00 EEST / 11:00 CET 

Where:  National School of Political Studies and Administration, Bucharest, Bdul. Expozitiei, Nr. 30A, Amphitheatre 2

You can join the lecture by:

  • coming to the event 
  • joining the event online on Zoom – register here
  • following livestreaming from the event at
  • asking your questions to Mary Kaldor via Twitter using #KAPTalks hashtag

Human security in the age of geopolitics, terrorism and new wars

We are living through a period of transition, which is characterized by competing conceptions of power and competing ways of doing security. In contrast to the Cold War and indeed the whole period of modernity, the combination of new wars and the war on terror in places like Syria, DRC, or Yemen is undermining many of the norms and laws of war associated with traditional geo-politics – bombing schools and hospitals, long distance assassination, the use of poison as a weapon or beheadings and sexual slavery – and producing large-scale forced displacement.

Against this background, the Kapuscinski Development Lecture with Professor Mary Kaldor argued that the European Union potentially represents a new form of political authority – a model of global governance in contrast to traditional states like the US, Russia or China. This is illustrated by its security culture as represented by the European Union Global Strategy on foreign and security policy. The Global Strategy aspires to a form of Liberal Peace that is based on human security rather than national security. The evolution of the EU, she argued, depends to a considerable extent on whether the EU adopts a closed-in traditional inside-outside bordered approach to security or alternatively whether it pursues a global human rights-based approach and is able to respond effectively to its crisis-ridden neighborhood. To this end, the promotion of sustainable development in its economic, social and environmental dimensions will be of vital importance.

Kaldor, daughter of famous economist Nicholas Kaldor, described the 1990ies – following the collapse of communism – as a period of hope and optimism, while the world currently passes through a turbulent period of fear and pessimism with phenomena like refugees drowning in the Mediterranean sea, the deliberate bombing of hospitals and schools, killing people with lorries or air planes, using hideous weapons, that are prohibited by international law or the reintroduction of sexual slavery. For the European Union it is particular important to crucial to analyse thoroughly the powers contributing to this kind of “new wars” and to develop a strategy to deal with it. At the same time, the rising of xenophobia, racism and right-winged populism in in the United States, Russia, China, and India as well as in European countries can be observed.

To find out what could be done to reverse the described situation Kaldor introduced the concept of „security culture“ as a way of doing security, a combination of narratives, tools, practices and infrastructure, which embed certain styles of doing security. During cold war, there was only one way of doing security nationally, shaped by geopolitics, with a sharp distinction between external and internal security. Kaldor attested competing security cultures at present time that blur the difference between inside and outside security.

Kaldor developed her concept due to a „security gap“, she had recognized. Starting with the question: why do millions of people live in conditions of insecurity and the military security forces don’t address the problems they face but often make them worse? she became influenced by the term of „strategic culture“ of strategic studies literature from the 1950ies to explain why countries do security differently. She outlined four types of security culture: 1. Geopolitics, with the objective of national security. 2. New wars, meaning contemporary wars can be understood as a culture rather than a political contest. 3. Liberal peace, associated with intergovernmental institutions, emerged as an alternative to geopolitics. The goal of 'liberal peace’ is stability that provides peace between states. 4. War on terror, representing an evolution of geopolitics to something new. In contrast to geopolitics, the war on terror is a war of manhunt, involving special forces as well as drones.

Finally, Kaldor argues, that the security concept, the European Union will develop, will be profoundly shaped by the kind of institution the EU will become in the future. In her view, the EU could evolve into a new type of institution, she calls a ‚model of global governance’. Since the EU is not a state, it could restrain the worst aspects of statehood (war and oppression) and could instead address global challenges like climate change, inequality and financial speculation.

In the following broader discussion on what could constitute the EU foreign security policy panellist Ulrich Brand, Professor of political science, international politics and political ecology at the Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna and an expert on Latin America, first commented Kaldor’s lecture in three aspects. The concept of human security is an excellent critique for a too narrow understanding of security. Besides its focus on individuals, every day practices and vulnerability it is very important to underline that it is against a pure market driven agenda, as the state should play a key role. It criticizes the current re-militarisation of politics. Brand raised the question to Mary Kaldor what the vision of a peaceful world could be. Second, he asked why she downplays the root causes of insecurity. Obviously, there are universal tendencies, for instance racism, patriarchy, capitalist market economy or the destruction of the environment, which all go hand in hand with an enormous violence. It is not sufficient to acknowledge these violent practices, it calls for a thorough analysis. The liberal peace in the Global North has a precondition elsewhere, in the Global South and is a cause of insecurity and violence. In his final comment Brand then argues, that Kaldor’s outline of the EU as a global leader for these global governance issues is too positive. The EU should be understood as an imperial power in competition with other imperial powers, in securing free trade, resource imperialism, and not only a model of global governance. To him, the EU is a power driven, class structured, agenda driven and elitist project. What we would need, is a selective disintegration to create space for initiatives to enable human security.

Peace Education: Change Starts Here

Dawn Engle, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the The PeaceJam Foundation, shares her experience with encouraging young people from all over the world to work for their local communities.

Dawn Engle – a tireless peace campaigner – has created a network of 13 Nobel Peace Prize winners who now pass their spirit, skills, and wisdom to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities, and the world. More than 1.2 million young people from 40 countries have participated in the PeaceJam Program to date. 

Speaking at the University of Warsaw, Dawn tells the story of starting the „One Billion Acts of Peace” Campaign – an international global citizens’ movement designed to tackle the most important problems facing our planet. Her efforts inspired young leaders across the globe to perform 15 million (so far and still counting) “simple acts of peace” that include: improving access to clean water, tackling poverty, promoting women and children rights to name just a few.

The lecture focuses on presenting inspiring methods of youth education and creating sustainable, lasting global change through educational activities.

From war to development – women leading the nation

Violence is the order of our world. The « Wars in our World website listed 584 militia groups globally a few months ago. Now there are 56 countries in the world in armed conflict and 676 militias, anarchy and resurgency groups. Africa has the most countries in crisis (25 countries and 197 armed groups); there are 8 countries and more than 200 armed groups in Middle East: Mexico accounts for more than 10,000 deaths per year due to drug trafficking and related violence. The US at war with itself due to mass shootings. Is there any hope ? In West Africa, the problems are systemic. HIV, security, refugees, exploitation of natural resources and mining… these are now characteristics of West Africa. The burden of the Liberian civil war was borne by women: rape, keeping the community together, gathering food amidst a rain of bullets. But this also occurred in other countries. Women knew that despite suffering and rape, if these countries were to leave those terrible states and go from war to development then we needed to step in. Most men didn’t know why they were fighting. War started, they had guns, it was fastest route to economic gain. Women needed to intervene to stop the killing.

Three examples :

First, the Wajir in Kenya : women negotiated with different actors to start a mediation committee to end the conflict. The Wajir Peace and Development Committee was formed. Now, these women have established a Trust and University of Peace. Second, in 2000 the Somali Peace Talks were organized around clans and this excluded women from the peace process. In response, Somali women developed a sixth clan- the clan of the women- and they were given a seat at the table. This led to representation in Parliament in Somalia. Third, in 2003 Liberia was in its 14th year of civil war- one observer called the Liberian situation from bad to worse to ridiculous for 3 reasons :

1) Liberia had one of worst dictators in Africa

2) It was a police state

3) Liberia hit rock bottom in the14th year of war

Liberian women started the peace movement with 10 dollars in resources. The movement started a letter-writing campaign, spoke with foreign delegations in Liberia, and confronted perpetrators. It was able to bring peace. Women bringing Africa from war to development is not a new phenomenon, we just never stopped to write our stories so they have not been heard. In 1929, the Aba Women’s riots in Nigeria occurred. 25,000 women participated; 50 were killed ; 50 more were arrested protesting colonialism. However, the women won and showed the ruling power that they must be accounted for. These women were powerless but determined.

Moving back to modern times, in 2003 Liberian women brought peace and were told to relax. However, these women refused because they decided that they were never going back. They knew that the fight did not end with peace. For example, domestic violence is prevalent in peace-time through the objectification of women. When Ms. Gbowee began as a social worker, she worked with child soldiers- a 16 year old said that he never raped a woman because he did not understand what rape is. Now, through the work of the peace movement and through the work of women lawyers, Liberia has one of strongest rape laws in the world. It also has laws protecting indigenous wives who are commodified through property law.

This journey also needs to take advantage of moments of opportunity. Following the end of civil war and the establishment of free elections in Liberia, we began a campaign to register women to vote. People ask: How did Liberia get a female president ? It is not rocket science – more women are registered to vote than men in Liberia. We cannot separate peace from politics and development. This is an error of the development community. Now women’s issues are treated like pieces in a puzzle in development. Instead, women need to be part of the solution in war time, transition and development agendas. We now have the Sustainable Development Goals: How do we begin to implement them? In Syria, peace is considered too complicated for women. In South Sudan it is the same. If war and peace are considered too complicated for women, how do you expect them to lead development? Peace is part of transition from war to development. Women active combatants in war when they are raped and suffer, they are not observers. Why should they be limited to observers in peace processes?

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 is pathetic because all of the funding for women, peace and security is tied to counter-terrorism. However, if a women has seven children and cannot pay for their education, who do you think will be the first recruits in terrorist organizations and militias? Women need to be considered as active participants in peace and development processes. Donors, like Luxembourg, should give any development funding unless women are active parts of the solution and not simply restricted to being observers.

From crisis to stability

„We live in turbulent times.” With these words Carl Bildt, a former prime minister and foreign minister of Sweden, began his speech entitled „From Crisis to Stability” at the Department of Joumalism and Political Science at the University of Warsaw. The lecture was organised in partnership with the Faculty of Joumalism and Political Science of the University of Warsaw, and the Ronald Reagan Foundation in Poland. The event was held within the European Year for Development 2015 agenda.

In his opening remarks, Carl Bildt expressed that the world today is defined less by globalisation, and more by resurgences in geopolitical aggression and terrorism, which stand as the most significant obstacles to securing peace in the contemporary world. He discussed how conflict in the world is particularly far-reaching, and therefore requires extensive intervention on the part of the United Nations or European Union, efforts which may be diplomatic, military, or political.

Referencing his involvement in mediating a resolution at the close of the Bosnian War in 1995, he detailed the challenges of both preventing war and fostering long-term stability in war-tom regions, citing several examples which illustrate how disagreement within the international community can vastly undermine any peace-making efforts. Recounting these past experiences, MrBildt outlined several important lessons for state-building efforts in the future:

  1. „It is imperative to establish a secure environment very fast.” This goal requires not on1y disarming rival groups, but also compelling them to participate in a peaceful settlement. Intervening governments must be willing to escalate their military presence in the event of further hostilities because, without security, humanitarian workers will not be able to provide aid for the civilian population. These consequences became most obvious following recent wars in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Africa.
  2. „The central challenge is not economic reconstruction, but state building.The framework of a state must already be in place before focusing on projects such as physical reconstruction. Without a political solution, any efforts to rebuild will be for naught. By achieving a negotiated political settlement on the form of the state, there will at least be an opportunity for interested parties to establish cooperative relations.
  3. „To build a state, you need to know what to build.” The decision must be made early in the process, and it must be definitiv In a deeply divided society, state building should involve constitutional protections for all threatened groups, whether ethnic, religious, or otherwise. Competing sides also must be able to compromise in order to achieve a permanent arrangement.
  4. „There must be an early focus on the preconditions for long-term growth.” The future of a fledgling state is predicated onhaving early conditions that would enable economic Sanctions have historically been counterproductive because they drive away the middle class and enable black markets to form. Moreover, sanctions against governments only maketheir societies more economically fragile, more dependent on humanitarian, and more resentful.
  5. „There has to be a benevolent regional env” For a state to become stable, it requires stable regional neighbours that are capable of putting aside their own hostility. Regional governments must recognise the negative consequences if a neighbouring state fails.
  6. „The greater the international support, the easier the process.” Disagreement among foreign governments can serve to galvanise rival groups within a post-war territ Therefore, the UN as a whole, and the Security Council in particular, can avoid prolonged civil conflict by agreeing to a common approach, although this remains an enormous challenge due to the disparate interests within the international community.
  7. „Nation building takes a longer time, and requires more resources, than most initially believe”. Overseeing a state’s initial post-war period requires a vast amount of patience and commitment. Unfortunatelypeace-keepers around the world are limited because of the manrecent conflicts that require their involvement. A much greater volume of personnel are needed not only for security, but also for political and economic development, which further confirms the need for achieving an international consensus in solving these types of crises.

To illustrate the aforementioned points, Carl Bildt named a number of recent examples in which the international community failed to recognise or address the needs of states that had been devastated by war, ranging from Bosnia to Afghanistan, as well as the more recent conflicts in Syria and Libya. He emphasised that the international community must act decisively in order toprevent states from failing because the consequences may be felt anywhere in the world, as we have witnessed from the ongoing terror campaign by ISIL and the accompanying Syrian refugee crisis. He closed the lecture by asserting how urgent issues such as climate change and overpopulation make it even more crucial for governments to take a proactive approach in solving global issues together.

Response to crisis in changing world

The event was open by the Rector of Sofia University Prof. Ivan Ilchev, who underlined the significance of the issue of development for Bulgaria and the world as a whole.

After the opening words Commissioner Georgieva delivered a lecture on the topic: “Influence of the Changing World Over the European Reaction to Crises”. She presented the current trends of economic development around the world with an emphasis on the growing risks of instability fueled by natural and social cataclysms in Middle East, Africa, and some areas in Southeast Asia and Latin America. The Commissioner analyzed the ongoing conflict in Libya as a case study and explained the measures undertaken by the European Union such as:
– Evacuation of the European Citizens,
– Humanitarian operations,
– Coordination mechanisms.

She paid special attention to the increasing number of natural disasters in the world in 2010, mainly connected with climate issues (90%), among which several mega disasters, as well as large-scale industrial accidents. Apart from climate change, the other major factor for the growth of crises worldwide appeared to be the growth of population and the resulting high levels of unemployment. The third outlined factor is growing urbanization.

Complex crises were discussed as well. In response to the complex crises, Georgieva presented a complex model for counteraction based on humanitarian aid networks, uniform system for reaction, complex risk prevention, and aid aimed at development.

Following Mrs. Georgieva, Sir Simon Maxwell made a short outline of the works of Ryszard Kapuscinski. He stressed on contemporary humanitarian risks and their impact. Given the complexity of the interconnected risk factors, Maxwell suggested a global partnership for development based on open and stable trading and financial systems, special attention to the least developed areas especially concerning their debts, access to medications and new technologies. In the framework of such partnership, Europe has a comparative advantage. In conclusion, Sir Maxwell presented the attitudes of European citizens towards the provision of foreign aid and the future benefits for the world from providing aid for sustainable development.
The third speaker, Mr. Andrey Kovachev, MEP, presented the role of Bulgaria in the process of development as well the tasks the country should undertake in that field.