Director at CONCORD Europe
What makes us feel safe when we leave our homes in the morning? The prospect that kilometers away thousands of guards are patrolling barbed-wire fences and walls on our borders? The sight of an increasing number of police cars passing by us on our way to work? The assurance that cyber surveillance and CCTV detect and record any event around us? One might actually argue that the opposite could be the case: being shown and told on a daily basis that a vast apparatus of defensive security is needed to protect us from invisible threats rather puts us in a constant state of alarm. It makes us look inward, isolate ourselves, with each one looking out for his or her own safety. Does this really help us go about our daily business without fear?
Now, what would really make us feel safe goes way beyond attempts to erase physical threats. Security is knowing that when we leave our homes, we are headed to a fulfilling jobs with decent conditions which will keep a roof over our heads and food on our tables. It is knowing that, should we have an accident, fall ill, or simply take some wrong decisions, a social safety net will help us through tough times and provide us with a second chance. It is having access to health care, quality education for our children, and a well-deserved retirement. Security is also being able to breathe clean air, being free from constant noise pollution, and being able to enjoy unspoiled nature. All these examples are signs of a society of solidarity, of people working together, caring and empathetic for each other and their surroundings. The security we really need to feel safe is human security.
Human security, as defined by the United Nations, calls for “people-centered, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-oriented responses” to ensure a “world free from fear, want and indignity.” It puts its priority on human beings in their socio-economic situations. When working for human security, we strive to make sure that all people have access to food, water and housing, as well as education, training and employment. On this basis, each and everyone should be equipped to make their own choices. Human security is enormously difficult to achieve. But it is the security we deserve.
The European Union has a significant role to play in this, both within its own Member States and around the world. The EU should build fair partnerships on eye level, sign trade agreements that respect local realities, and stand up for social security measures which ensure no one is left behind. Reaching out to those most in need by showing solidarity with all people is the only way to provide human security worldwide.
Human and defensive security are not separate entities, however. Living in a world free from fear, want and indignity, a world in which everyone has his or her fair chance, will certainly reduce our needs for defensive security, while not removing them entirely. In light of that, we need to ask ourselves whether the creation a European Army is really the most important topic to discuss right now. In a time when external threats cause reactionary policies within the European Union, we have to look beyond protecting the walls at our borders. We need to look out for each other. Show solidarity worldwide instead of stoking fear. Only through achieving global human security will all of us feel safe when we leave our homes in the morning.
As NGOs specializing in development cooperation, achieving human security is what drives us every day. So when we go to the polls this weekend, let us choose those politicians who are willing and ready to work for a fair, progressive system which provides the human security we all deserve!