Facing New Realities: Assuring World Security in the 21st Century
We have clearly reached a turning point in world affairs where long-established ideas, policies and structures are proving inadequate to manage the array of economic, social, environmental, development and security issues which threaten the future. The problems we face are profoundly interconnected, they are on an unprecedented scale and they are evolving fast. And they cannot be resolved through ad hoc, incremental measures taken by individual nations. We cannot in fact resolve the systemic challenges of the 21st Century with the strategies and tools of the 20th. This is particularly true in the field of national security. Nation states must now function in a diverse and interdependent world, where economic growth, social progress, employment and welfare in any country depend on complex networks of trade, finance and cooperation and on the decisions of other countries. The welfare and happiness, the prospects and life opportunities of citizens are now impacted by an array of new security challenges which cross national boundaries, such as: terrorism, piracy and crime; the impacts of climate change; the rising pressures of migration; the international transmission of disease; assuring the availability of vital resources; the maintenance of competitiveness; and the stability of the financial and economic systems on which growth and employment depend.
These new security challenges have two common features. First, they are essentially interconnected: threats to world security will arise not only from trends or events in one field but from the interaction of developments in different but connected fields. Second, they cannot be resolved by military means alone. The diversity and complexity of relations between nation states today is such that a balanced range of diplomatic, military and other channels and measures is needed to manage the diffuse threats to security and peace in the modern world. In this perspective, long-established concepts and policies for national security are now being reconsidered. They are being revised to meet the new realities of the modern world and to anticipate emerging risks so as to avert a broad range of threats to the future. It is, for example, increasingly clear that current policies and organizational frameworks – and the $1.5 Trillion of annual military expenditures across the world – are not only failing to achieve security and peace but actually run the risk of aggravating confrontation and conflict.
In many countries, there is vigorous debate on the goals, strategies and policy instruments which may assure national security in a changing world. This debate has been intensified by the urgent need to reduce public deficits and to achieve longer-term stability in public finances. Defense expenditures are now exposed to scrutiny and, in some cases such as the UK, they are being severely cut as part of the review of national priorities and expenditures. Thus, two critical questions now arise: first, what are the new strategies and measures which will assure world security in the 21st century? And second, how can this security be made affordable, recognizing the real human, social and economic costs of military expenditures and competing priority demands on the financial, human and other resources available?
It is in this perspective that the W. P. Carey Foundation and the EastWest Institute have decided to sponsor an international conference to be held in Washington DC in Spring 2012, on the topic: “Affordable World Security.” The W. P. Carey Foundation, based in New York City, is dedicated to strengthening education as a means to promote economic and social progress and international understanding. The EastWest Institute, also based in New York, is committed to Track II diplomacy, while seeking to inform public debates on peace and security issues and global governance, including a re-think on how leadership burdens and responsibilities in this field can best be shared.
The Conference will bring together around 40 world class speakers, including leading personalities from government, business and civil society, distinguished scientists, academics and experts and leaders of major international institutions. Some 250 personalities from the United States and across the world will participate in the Conference. The Conference will be held at the “Newseum” on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC. (newseum.org).
The Conference will help to elucidate the issues which will define world security in the new realities of the modern world. It will show how they relate to one another and suggest practical, affordable means to address them. The main objectives of the Conference are:
- To undertake a clear, dispassionate and authoritative appraisal of the wide range of critical economic, social, environmental, development and security issues – both present issues, many of which are urgent, and emerging issues – which must be managed to assure world security.
- To explore how new concepts and strategies can be introduced to meet emerging challenges to security at affordable cost in an interconnected world.
- To suggest key elements of a coherent strategy to build a secure and prosperous world for future generations.
Outputs from the Conference
The Conference of notable public figures and experts will, itself, be of value through the expert contributions and debates on new concepts and strategies to achieve affordable world security. However, it is only a step toward the solution of the problems. We have therefore emphasized the “outreach” of the conference. To that end, we have engaged a major public relations firm to assist in bringing it to the attention of governments, public officials, businessmen, journalists, teachers and students throughout the world. • The Agenda is arranged to make possible the streaming of the presentations and debates on the web so as to make them accessible to a wide public during the conference and thereafter.
Presentations, discussions and interviews with participants will be recorded and made available immediately to news organizations and on the web; subsequently, we plan to provide DVDs and printed materials to teachers, students, researchers, public affairs groups and governments throughout the world. In this way, the issues and insights of the Conference can be made available to the new generation of leaders and thinkers who will be called upon to manage the emerging issues of world security and peace.
We view this conference as the beginning of a process that hopefully will be followed by meetings in other regions of the world where experts and leaders can apply the results and insights of the Washington conference to their own affairs.