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The Conference “Humanizing” Security, held in Istanbul

 

“Human Security” means a life with dignity
Does security come with arms, or with peace and reconciliation? From whom and how an understanding of security that is trusted upon police, military and private security forces can save us from? Can there be a real feeling of security without social and economic rights, rights to food and ecological justice? What does it mean for the right to information being increasingly monopolized by states and private companies? Today, insecurities increasingly resonate with the discourse and apparatus of national security combined with unharnessed dynamics of vicious development eating away at our ‘commons’, and, imposing a public order for the security of the state/market. Up against this, human security means the protection of individuals and groups from a range of severe and pervasive harms which affect their ability to lead tolerable lives.

The Conference “Humanizing” Security was held on January 31 – February 1, 2014 in Istanbul as the first public event at regional/international scale of the project “Citizens’ Network on Peace, Reconciliation and Human Security”, objective of which is to raise public awareness and create social mobilization among citizens and policy makers on the centrality of human beings as the prime dimension of security. Activists and experts from organizations like United Nations, LSE and respective NGOs from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Montenegro have joined the event to share their experiences.

“Security does not mean just public order”
At the opening session, Ahmet İnsel from Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly described the larger meaning and aspiration of the project, referring to the need to break away from the common association of the concept of security with the state’s monopolistic drive for public order. Wolfgang Benedek from Graz University later gave an account of the inception and evolution of the concept of human security as an effort to humanize international relations since the beginning of 1990s, which was later put to bed with the changing priorities of the post 9/11 environment. In the final session, Mehrnaz Mostafavi, Chief of Human Security Unit of the United Nations, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), described the UN approach to Human Security and the re-launch of the concept in its various implementation areas.

“For Turkey the 3 critical Ts are: Truth, Transparency and Trust!”
In the next session, Alp Özerdem made some critical observations regarding the peace process in Turkey. Özerdem listed some of the fundamental paradoxes of peace agenda in Turkey, as follows; the acceptance of the popular saying in Turkey that goes “peace at home, peace in the world” without questioning of 30 years of ongoing war; increasing income differences between the top and bottom 20% of the population; Turkey’s ranking 92nd in human development index despite having the 17th biggest economy in the world; the coming into agenda of a judicial reform only when a corruption law case against government officials is opened; and the parallel increase in economic growth and prosecuted journalists. He mentioned that a successful disarmament is possible only with a human-centred approach, whereas a central state approach would limit the success of this process to only a decrease in the number of weapons. He also pointed out that given the current confident crisis in Turkey, the three most critical concepts for peace agenda in Turkey will be truth, transparency and trust.

Fields of project study: Community displacement, workplace security and youth
On the second day of the conference, presentations took upon some of the issues that will be tackled by the project across the region - that is private sector, community displacement and youth. In her presentation, Hale Akay deliberated on the issue of village guards and the problems of property tangled up with this in the context of Kurdish displacement and inter-group perceptions in Turkey. Akay stated that ambiguities stemming from the village guard system in the region have been leading to property related inter-group conflicts as the peace process moves on. On the same session, Mary Martin from LSE pointed out private sector as an important, but usually overlooked source of potential insecurities where civil society should be more active. Martin said that private companies occupy a large space in the day-to-day realities of the individuals, while little attention has been paid to them by civil society organisations. In the final talk of the session, Nebosja Petrovic from the Belgrade University talked about the needs and aspirations of youth in the context of war, peace and violence in the Balkans.

Insecurities experienced in the field
Parallel sessions were held under the title “Human Security and Civic Action”, with presentations and discussions by civil society representatives from Turkey and the Balkans. Among the session contributors were prominent peace activist Vehid Sehic of the Forum of Tuzla Citizens (BiH); Slobodan Tadic of the UNDP Bosnia Herzegovina; Hacer Foggo of European Roma Rights Centre (Turkey); urban planner and activist Erbatur Çavuşoğlu (Turkey); Valbona Bogujevci of the UNDP Kosovo; Leyla Şen of the UNDP Turkey; Zeynep Şarlak of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (Turkey); Yiğit Aksakoğlu of Conscripts Rights Initiative (Turkey); Veysel Eşsiz of hCa’s Refugee Advocacy and Support Program (Turkey);  Volkan Yılmaz of Social Policies Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (Turkey); Laden Yurttagüler of NGO Training and Research Centre (Turkey); Miralem Tursinovic of Tuzla Youth Centre (BiH); Igor Milosevic of Association for Democratic Prosperity (Montenegro), and Burak Arıkan of the Networks of Dispossession (Turkey).

 

 

 

 

 

    KULT BiH   SEEmotion
             
GEC Bosnia   PRONI Brcko   Transparency International   XY asocijacija
             
             
Omladinska mreža Bosne i Hercegovine - Youth network of Bosnia and Herzegovina - Омладинска мрежа Босне и Херцеговине