The era of (in) security: urgent matters and self-defeating prophecies
Madrid, Spain | 22 – 24 November 2019
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In an era of increasing securitization and its opaque implications, a range of actors beyond the traditional nation-state compete for legitimacy, framing societal, technological, economic and environmental dangers. Since these same agents eventually define the collective conditions of risks and hold the control in a true regime of security, it is essential to analyze the scope of securitization: who claims ownership of it, why this rhetoric is built and how, and which audiences remain objects or willing participants in the language of security and de-securitization. In particular, it is key to examine the political strategies of power underlying narratives and counter-narratives such as terrorism, corruption, climate change, economic crash and migration, and how these narratives are coopted by the security field in order to manipulate, dominate and regulate public opinion and policy.
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After the end of the Cold War, countless dangers were tackled by experts, politicians and citizens. In some cases, advances were made. In others, either strong lobbies or so-called entrepreneurial solutions delayed confrontation with the hard facts. We certainly must acknowledge the interconnectedness and competition of transnational influence and power, in everything from the weaponization of advancing technology (i.e. privacy policies, big data or criminalization of whistle-blowers) to the exploitation and dominance of the ecological limits of our world (i.e. global warming), or the current relations of nation-state powers (i.e. geopolitics, energy matrix and lawfare phenomena) and how it impacts the common interest (i.e. veracity of information).
At the same time, to an extent potential danger is being constructed, as safety is being jeopardized in a negative arch: these discourses and their ensuing policies only further exacerbate pressures on the issues, thus creating self-defeating prophecies; this means spreading the discourse of security to generate less security. At this point, violence is not even a requisite to enjoin securitization, as calls for border security and migration control rely on imagined, unfulfilled threats, or access to the environment is limited and exploited in the name of emergency.
Consequently, the conference will approach securitization from the perspectives of its intended and unintended construction and prevention; its realities, potentialities and virtualities within a global citizenry. Ultimately, it will also consider how a society that seeks a common good could pursue progress and positive frameworks in light of this change: whether and if the security narrative can be leveraged for this, or if it should be reformulated altogether.
OPENING PUBLIC – 1st SESSION
Threats to universal rights in an era of security
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A part of the march of globalization and the challenges of transnationalism, questions as to autonomy and authority and the terrains on which they operate arise. Struggles for power take place in the domains of technology, the environment and geopolitics. Meanwhile, human and universal rights are often compromised or exploited as a result of these contestations for dominance, and the most vulnerable are imperiled further still. This panel explores how the Era of Security has affected human and environmental rights to engender increasing inequalities; it then questions how to redirect this regression and create pathways to solidarity and the common good.
Moderator: Juan Luis Cebrián
OPENING PUBLIC – 2nd SESSION
Contestations over space: from securitization to activism
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Security depends upon insecurity, and the projection of threat can be used to govern society, populations, and the spaces we occupy, to the detriment of the common interest. One of the most obvious ways in which our common spaces have been restricted or controlled are in the militarization, border security and states of emergency, leveraged via a rhetoric of crisis and threat. This second panel initially explores how narratives of fear and insecurity are employed, particularly touching upon geopolitics and militarization. At the same time, it also argues for how this rhetoric and maneuvering can be redirected via activism for the benefit of the global citizenry: taking control of our common spaces, physical and virtual, using the same channels of technology and information utilized by the power structures and interests perpetuating insecurity.
Speakers: David Vine – Qing Wei – Valeska Teixeira
Moderator: Amanda Third
OCTAGON – 1st SESSION
The political language of security: militarization and geopolitics
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When considering the theme of securitization, often the preliminary reference that comes to mind includes geopolitical contestations and how militarization and criminalization are employed. Citing factors from terrorism to corruption, the mechanizations of securitization are no longer limited to nation state actors, but can include corporations and other apparatuses that use or reproduce a language of security, and employ accompanying measures, in order to pursue their desired outcomes. In this session, our participants will discuss how this has been conducted in recent years by various regional, national and global actors, and how it impacts our society. Going beyond this, however, the discussion will seek to understand the origins and outcomes of such securitization rhetoric and action, in order to conceive of how to combat the cycle.
OCTAGON – 2nd SESSION
Security and environment: a struggle for ownership
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In an era of climate change, humanity must reconsider its former approach to the environment, world resources and ownership. Not unlike other areas discussed in this conference, the multiple concerns regarding the environment have become securitized via rhetoric or in a very real competition for resources that has been influenced by a trajectory of capitalist and neoliberal trends. Debate regarding climate security encompasses access to food, water, livable environments and a host of resources that have always been grounds for contestation. Given how our shared resources have been commandeered and exhausted, bioeconomy offers a new way forward in seeking sustainable use of biological resources and building the networks in order to develop a new system that serves the commons, rather than the interests that exercise the most power and authority to the detriment of our planet.
OCTAGON – 3rd SESSION
Democracy and whistleblowing: confronting the era of security
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Governments and private entities manipulating recent technological advances at the expense of human rights and democracy have received public attention and attracted controversy, but there has not been sufficient activism to truly address the problem and violations. Monopolies are increasingly permitted, and corporations even align with government organizations in the name of security, eroding rights, privacy and freedoms purportedly guaranteed in liberal democracies. Whistleblowers attempt to flag these breaches, including those implemented under the guise of cybersecurity, but the media’s manipulation and role in this concern is also a key factor and bears consideration. Finally, this type of securitization translates to exclusion, in that extensive virtual and physical boundaries are created between communities. This is not only manifested in increasing trends of crimmigration, but also in the manipulation of identity and solidarity, affecting how humans relate to one another in the new digital age.
OCTAGON – 4th SESSION
Digital inequalities, citizenship and security
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In follow up to the previous panel, the use and misuse of big data raises questions about technology and privatization, who truly benefits from these transforming economic systems, and the continued exacerbation of inequalities that result from current economic models. In this privatization, and with the new tools of globalization in the hands of a powerful few, access to natural and virtual resources, as well as mobility, become key issues; the welfare of populations is jeopardized. Citizens question how purchasing power parity is even a relevant measure of their own wellbeing. This session seeks not only to identify concerns as to how we have reached this point, but also to explore why we have come to use technology the way we do and how it affects us as individuals and a collective. It will especially explore how certain groups and populations, including our youth, participate and interact differently both politically and socially as a result of this change. Finally, this discussion consists in seeking alternative systems and ensuring that our evolving human interaction benefits the common interest.
Juan Luis Cebrián
OPENING 1st SESSION
Juan Luis Cebrián is a Spanish writer and journalist. He was the founder and first editor-in-chief of El País. Recently, Juan Luis Cebrián was named Honorary President of El País.
OPENING 1st SESSION
PhD in Physics, Maysoun Douas is an innovation and entrepreneurship expert. An ecosystem builder for the innovation Hub LaNave in Madrid (2017-19) and European Commission Evaluator for the H2020 program, she currently serves as councilwoman at the Madrid City Council.
OPENING 1st SESSION
Baltazar Garzón is a jurist and former judge on Spain’s central criminal court. He is renowned for his high-profile Spanish corruption investigations, and is current Director of the International Legal Office for Cooperation and Development (ILOCAD).
OPENING 1st SESSION
Jo Guldi is Professor at Southern Methodist University and former Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. She is an expert in history of land and water ownership and how it shapes current ownership, displacement and the climate change narrative.
OPENING 2nd SESSION
Amanda Third is Principal Research Fellow in Digital Social and Cultural Research at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. Her research focuses on the socio-cultural dimensions of young people’s technology use.
OPENING 2nd SESSION
Valeska Teixeira serves on Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s legal defence team. Co-founder and Executive Committee member of the Lawfare Institute, she is also a member of the Brazilian and International Bar Associations.
OPENING 2nd SESSION
David Vine is Professor of Anthropology at American University, USA. Author of «Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World,» he recently won the University of California Series in Public Anthropology International Book Competition.
OPENING 2nd SESSION
Qing Wei is the national Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft China and has worked as GM of Windows Business Group and Chief Marketing Officer of Microsoft Consumer Group. He is a public speaker and coach specialized in digital transformation methodology and related technologies.
Wadah Khanfar is the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Common Action Forum. Former Director-General of the Al Jazeera Network, he was named one of the «Young Global Leaders» in the 2008’s World Economic Forum and was first in Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2011.
Khairy Jamaluddin is a Malaysian politician who has served as Youth Chief of the United Malays National Organization. He has also served as Minister of Youth and Sports and a Member of Parliament.
Nurul Izzah Anwar
Nurul Izzah Anwar is a Malaysian politician, and a human and civil rights activist. She is currently a Member of Parliament for the Permatang Pauh. She has also served as Vice-President of the People’s Justice Party.
Rafael Heiber is the Co-Founder and CEO of the Common Action Forum. Geographer and Climatologist with a MSc in Territorial Planning and a PhD in Sociology, his expertise includes the political links between technology, space and citizenship. He participates in academic activities and publishes in the international media.
Agnes Callamard is a French international human rights expert and serves as Special Rapporteur on summary executions for the United Nations, as well as Director of Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression Project.
Alfredo Aguilar is Chairman of the Bioeconomy Task Force of the European Federation of Biotechnology. He has been at the European Commission, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation since 1986, promoting knowledge based bioeconomy in Europe.
Andrés Lomeña holds degrees in Journalism and Literary Theory, as well as a PhD in Sociology. He is a philosophy professor whose publications include Ficcionologia (2016), El Periodista de partículas (2017), Rescoldos Mentales (2018) and the script of the awarded short-movie Psicopolis. He is also a regular contributor at Huffington Post.
Arlene Clemesha is a renowned academic, TV commentator and professor at the Centre of Arab Studies at São Paulo University. She has written several books on the Middle East and is a member of the Coordination Committee of the UN International Coordinating Network on Palestine (ICNP-UN).
Ayo Obe is a legal practitioner and Co-Vice Chair of the International Crisis Group. She was President of the Civil Liberties Organisation and Chair of the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy.
Bilaal Hoosein is current Director of Programmes for Al Jazeera English. With a background in political science, he has nearly two decades of experience as a journalist, producer and an international broadcast market sales and acquisitions expert.
Colleen Boland holds a PhD in Sociology of Migration at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. She formerly worked as a Managing Editor of an international public health quarterly at Johns Hopkins University, USA. She obtained her MA in Middle East Politics from SOAS, University of London.
Cristiano Zanin is a Brazilian lawyer who currently serves on President Lula’s legal defence. He specializes in civil procedural law and has taught as a professor on the subject. He is co-founder and Executive Committee member of the Lawfare Institute and a member of the Brazilian and International Bar Associations.
Eduardo Barcesat is an Argentinian jurist, UNESCO expert on human rights and Professor at the University of Buenos Aires. He is also a founding member of the American Association of Jurists.
Emad Shahin is Dean of the College of Islamic Studies (CIS), Hamad bin Khalifa University, Qatar Foundation and a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University. He formerly served as Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics.
Gabriel Chamorro is professor at the University of Buenas Aires and the University Institute for the Federal Police. He is Director of the Center for Political Studies on State and Society.
Gaspard Estrada is Director of the Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean at Sciences Po, France. His research focuses on political communication, electoral campaigns and French foreign policy in Latin America.
Javier López Casarín
Javier López Casarín is the Chairman and founder of the Fundación Reinventando a México (FRaM). An established entrepreneur in the financial, technology and telecom sectors, he has devoted his career to promoting the social and economic development of Mexico.
Jessé Souza is a Brazilian professor and sociologist who formerly served as President of Brazil’s Institute of Applied Economic Research. He is renowned for his work in social theory, Brazilian social thought and inequalities.
John Ralston Saul
John Ralston Saul is a Canadian award-winning philosopher, novelist and essayist, and author of The Collapse of Globalism, which predicted the 2008 economic crisis. He is Co-chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and President Emeritus of PEN International.
José Escribano Úbeda-Portugués
José Escribano Úbeda-Portugués is a Spanish academic. He holds a PhD in International Studies and in European Studies, he is a professor at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. His main areas of research include Terrorism and Organized Crime; Human and Environmental Rights; and General Studies of the EU, the US, and Latin America.
Laura Basu is a writer and researcher affiliated with the Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Utrecht University and Goldsmiths, University of London. She is co-founder of Amsterdam-based project Good Societies, and openDemocracy’s ourEconomy Europe Editor.
Lorenzo Marsili is an author, political activist and social entrepreneur. Co-founder and Director of European Alternatives, he is one of initiators of the pan-European movement DiEM25, and is an active public speaker and commentator.
María Navarro is Lecturer in Philosophy at the Universidad de Salamanca. Dr Navarro has worked as a research fellow at several institutions; and as a guest professor at the UNAM. Expert in philosophy and participative processes, she carried out the project “Deliberative democracy and social capital in intercultural contexts” with the University of Oxford.
María Ángeles Gallego
María Ángeles Gallego is Tenured Researcher and Director of the Spanish Research Institution (CSIC)’s Institute of Mediterranean and Near East Languages and Cultures. She has taught at Saint Louis University, University of Alicante and Cambridge University.
Mi You is a curator and academic staff at Academy of Media Arts Cologne (Germany), where she lectures on media theory with a social-political perspective. PhD in Art and Media Studies, she is Fellow of Zentrum Paul Klee (Switzerland) and Independent Curators International (New York). Mi is also a member of the Academy of Arts of the World.
Murilo Komniski is the head of the Sector of Governance, Communication and Information, Administrative and Financial Affairs at the Permanent Delegation of Brazil to UNESCO. He has experience in multilateral affairs in the areas of human rights, South-South cooperation, defense, public security, combat of transnational illicit activities, Internet governance and ITC.
Patricio Cabello is Researcher at the Center for Advanced Research in Education at the University of Chile. He holds his PhD and MAs in Anthropology and Social Research Methods. Leading several projects, he has consulted for UNESCO and UNICEF.
Pedro Brieger is an Argentinian journalist and sociologist, and Professor of the Sociology of the Middle East at the University of Buenos Aires. He directs Nodal, an online media resource focused on socio-political and cultural news in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Peter Matjašič is senior program officer at Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE), part of Open Society Foundations, based in Barcelona. He works with citizen activism, including accountability through whistleblowing and right to protest, which links to civic space issues in Western Europe.
Pierre Sané is Founder and President of Imagine Africa Institute. He has served as UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences as well as Secretary General of Amnesty International.
Ramzy Baroud is an US-Arab journalist, writer, internationally-syndicated columnist, Editor of Palestine Chronicle and former Deputy Managing Editor of Al Jazeera. He is the author of «These Chains Will Be Broken» and other three books.
Renata Ávila is an international lawyer, expert in human rights and technology. Member of the legal team that advocates for the freedom of Julian Assange and Wikileaks as well as member of DiEM25, she serves on several boards, including Progressive International, Article 19, Creative Commons and CAF. She is currently the Executive Director of Fundación Ciudadanía Inteligente in Latin America.
Stéphane Grueso is a filmmaker and social activist. He worked in Berlin for TVE (Spanish Public Broadcaster). He directed several documentaries on social and political issues, such as ‘Copyright, or the right to copy.’ At the Associated Whistleblowing Press, he is responsible for FÍLTRALA (filtrala.org), a whistleblowing platform.
Talal Kanaan is the General Coordinator of the Al-Sharq Youth Network. He also advises UN agencies, as well as humanitarian and development organizations on the transitioning to renewable energy, with a primary focus on the MENA region. He received his Master of Engineering from the University of Toronto, and Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Nottingham.
Thembisa Fakude is a Researcher at the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies as well as a contributor and analyst for several newspapers. He is former Bureau Chief of the Channel’s Media Network in Southern Africa and former Chairperson of the Foreign Correspondents Association of Southern Africa (FCSA).
Irene López has a degree in International Relations and a Master’s in Human Rights. She has worked as chief of staff, analyst and consultant for political parties in both Spain and Ecuador. She served as an international aid worker in refugee camps and headed political advocacy at various organizations.
Tristán Torrejón has a degree in Literary Theory from the Complutense University of Madrid and a master’s degree in Cultural Management from the Carlos III University. With extensive experience in the organization of forums and high-level conferences, he was a program assistant at the diplomatic cultural center Casa de América.
Mercedes Bellavista has performed several roles, such as manager`s assistant, executive secretary, as well as project manager. She worked with international companies, consulting firms and foundations in Spain, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Photo gallery Octagon 2019