Transforming Security and Development in an Unequal World

Edited by: Robin Luckham with Niagale Bagayoko, Lucia Dammert, Claudio Fuentes and Michael Solis

March 2009
Volume 40 Number 2

Wide gaps have opened between a vision of a prosperous and secure post-Cold War world and the realities of violent conflict and chronic poverty experienced by much of the world’s population. These gaps reflect failures of understanding, conflicts of interest, resource constraints, and poor implementation.

Security, like development, is seen as something the North delivers through its policy interventions and aid programmes, rather than as the product of changes in the developing South, reflecting the priorities and interests of those most at risk.

This IDS Bulletin aims to redress this imbalance. Re-thinking security demands innovative yet rigorous empirical analysis of the sources of insecurity in a world divided by profound inequality and ongoing conflict. It should identify spaces existing for change to empower and protect those most at risk. In a first step towards such an analysis, contributors re-think security from the point of view of the most vulnerable, excluded and insecure. Security (and peace) is a global as well as a national public good, with large externalities and diffuse benefits.

This IDS Bulletin provides inspiring examples of how active citizens, civil society groups, media and social movements have mobilised to challenge accepted definitions of security and to work for the rights of the vulnerable and oppressed. But the issue remains of how such efforts can be aggregated to construct an embryonic global public able to ensure security is truly treated as a public good, rather than managed as if it were an asset of powerful states and global capital.