In your opinion, which are the most important issues to increase security?
Increasing security starts by questioning our own assumptions about this concept: what type of security and whose security are we talking about? Research shows that applying a human security (or ‘people-centred security’) approach is key to build sustainable peace. This means focusing attention on the diverse perceptions and experiences of security by various parts of the population in conflict-affected areas, rather than just on state security. In addition, increasing human security in these regions (and thereby in Europe too) requires addressing the root causes of violence through long-term conflict-sensitive engagement.
What kind of positive development have you recognized in the field of security during this year and what kind of development are you expecting from upcoming years?
This year I was particularly encouraged by the mobilisation of civil society and other experts in doing research and writing about the limitations – and often counter-productivity – of hard security approaches in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Some existing security responses can indeed exacerbate conflict risks and undermine other efforts to tackle the root causes of violence. I hope that these efforts to explain why alternative security responses are needed and what they could look like will bear fruits in the upcoming years, including at EU level.
What kind of a Christmas present to improve peace and security would you give and whom?
I would send all Heads of States and Ministers of Foreign Affairs, including European ones, a short video: the Tedx Talk “Reimagining security” by Celia McKeon, to encourage them to reorient their efforts on human security.
Anna Penfrat is a Senior Policy Officer at the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO), the independent civil society platform of 39 European NGOs, networks of NGOs and think tanks which are committed to peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict. Anna started working with EPLO in 2012 to support the ‘Civil Society Dialogue Network’ project and EPLO’s work on EU-Africa relations. She currently coordinates the work of EPLO on EU institutions and policies, looking in particular at ways to improve the EU’s Integrated Approach to Conflicts and Crises, including the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). She also leads EPLO’s advocacy work on the proposed ‘European Peace Facility’.
More information on EPLO: eplo.org