Human Security and Peacebuilding (Part 2)

I’ve just completed my first residency in the Human Security and Peacebuilding MA program.

To date, the program has been fascinating and it had a great cohort comprised of Diplomatic, Disaster Management and Business Consultants, Military Officers, NGO leaders and a few recent graduates all of whom were delightful people. What they share most in common is that they all deeply care what happens to other people in the world and they all share very unique perspectives on the world, born of their unique experiences. I’m looking forward to working with each of them in the field of action and learning.

What did we cover? Dr. Hrach Gregorian took us through topics such as Globalization in it’s many dimensions, Economic, Logistics, Global Security and the Right to Protect (R2P), Food Distribution, Global Financial Institutions, Civil Society Institutions, NGO’s, the UN, World Bank, G8, G20, IMF, Businesses and others, outlining the theme of how interconnected the world is. We looked at how even the best laid plans to make things better have unintended consequences on Human Security due to the complexity of linkages.

We looked at how Aid sometimes did more harm than good, and at the various examples of Truth and Reconciliation commissions, the history leading up to them, how they did their work, and the outcomes.

An invited guest speaker Ambassador Jeremy Kinsman, shared with us a glimpse of his deep understanding and knowledge of civil society, the impact of democracy, how democracies are formed, and a few of the  requisites of democracy such as minimum standards of per capita average income and a basis of experience in civil society.

We looked at the definition of Human Security and how some countries regarded it in its’ very simplest form (i.e. ensuring adequate food, physical security and shelter) while the UNDP in its’ 1994 statement outlined Human Security in terms which made it much broader and more difficult to contain, and which forms a basis of society that looks beyond nationalistic borders.

And we looked at differing views on military spending and the strength of the military industrial complex. Some papers argued that it was a necessary deterrent and that it was supported by democratic votes, and, others argued, that military spending, especially on nuclear deterrents, but also on the build up of conventional weaponry, is both a flagrant and immoral use of huge sums of money which usurp the development of civil society; efforts to educate, feed and assist the masses of suffering souls. It undermines the support that would binds nations together in mutual security efforts.

If you’re interested in where I stand on the issue, I found the latter argument to be much stronger and better researched. Rather, than creating a more secure world, military spending assures the continuation of power struggles that keep nations apart. To be sure, some reasonable semblance of physical security and military strength must be maintained at the international level and R2P is a reasonable concept given that there are some ruthless rulers willing to destroy their own people in order to maintain power, but it is hard to argue that any one nation should maintain a constant threat over others, and, at very least, an effort should be made to begin reducing the military industrial complex in favor of increased research and development on other issues. Even a reduction of 10% of the world’s military budget if redirected to development efforts would solve most of the funding issues facing humanities efforts to develop civil society and ensure an adequate measure of other dimensions of Human Security for all nations. And the concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) enforced through possession of nuclear weapons makes no sense. No world leader, however outraged they may be, by an attack on their country, could ever morally drop a nuclear weapon on hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent people, most of whom don’t even support the aggressive governments who profess to represent them. Such an action could only be regarded as a war-crime. The military complex that continuously builds weapons and sells them to under developed nations only serves to assure the continued suffering of innocent people and guarantees the continuation of militaristic domination by the few. Those who would argue that militarization is brought about by democratic votes haven’t bothered to consult the countless billions who suffer as a result. (so much for my rant)

We also talked about the types of democracies such as representative democracies, each method of which has its’ strong points and flaws, as well as direct democracy, such as the California approach, where the state has been decimated by referendums, where the people can vote for increased spending with a 50% +1 vote, whereas additional taxation must pass by a 2/3rds (66.6%) vote. Imagine a system that allows the citizens to vote for spending increases far in excess of tax increases and allows the state to go broke and destroyed its’ own educational system, subjecting it to even greater challenges in the future.

We also looked at examples of the world in conflict and ways that we can contribute to reparation through the development of the economy through major industrial investments, micro-finance, and through commercial partnerships which provide agricultural and tourism based incentives to less favorable industries such as growing opium poppies, through anti-corruption programs for polices forces, through human rights training for army leaders,  and by the use of sports and other educational programs for developing skills and cooperation.

Dr. Robin Cox lead us through the process of gaining understanding of the world of being, Ontology, and of our own way of knowing and various ways of making meaning of the world, our Epistemology. And we looked methodology and the various methods used for doing both Quantitative and Qualitative research.  We also learned how to review scholarly works, to do a proper research proposal, to do literature reviews, to write research questions.

Colleen Hoppins gave a wonderful and very entertaining presentation on research Ethics that still has me chuckling when I think back on it.

And Retired Rear Admiral Roger Girouard shared his unique perspectives and challenged our thinking on other elements of Human Security as a precursor to the course he will be teaching later in the program.

Dr. Kenneth Christie, Head of the program, provided both the program overview and some insights into our second overseas residency in a post conflict country and our major project work which will require us to do six months of work overseas.

My personal project goal is to work with diplomatic or civil leaders on developing methods of principle based consultation, responding to civil input,  and developing  policies for engendering economic development as well as the development of civil society, food security, peace and sustainability. (Wow can you do all that in six months?) If any of my readers know of a contact in a country looking for this kind of assistance, please have them call me.

All in all, a very powerful immersion into the world that is Human Security and Peacebuilding. I’m looking forward to the rest of the program.

All the best,

Garth Schmalenberg

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