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Coordinating Global Priorities Amidst the Financial Crisis

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With today’s tough financial reality, the international community is hard-pressed in meeting both national security and global development objectives as policymakers around the world attempt to do more with fewer resources. Security and development issues inform and reinforce each other, but there is a growing gap between the two as countries continue to view these challenges through separate, one-dimensional lenses. Thus, the crucial link between global security threats such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and humanitarian and development problems like poverty, absence of rule of law, and substandard public health conditions are left unexplored. In order to move beyond this myopic approach, it is crucial for the international security community to engage in political discourse that recognizes the intimate interconnection between these two spheres.

On April 28, 2011, The Stimson Center hosted Coordinating Global Priorities Amidst the Financial Crisis, a discussion that explores innovative ways in which security and development in the Global South, most notably the Eastern African region, can be addressed simultaneously through international security assistance. The event highlighted Stimson’s international assistance model which utilizes nonproliferation instruments such as United Nations Security Council 1373 and 1540 to aid low-income states build capacity and tackle region-specific needs while strengthening global nonproliferation efforts.

Mr. Simon Limage, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Nonproliferation Programs (ISN/NP), called the Stimson program an “excellent example of unconventional thinking” which uses a “holistic framework that enables governments to find connections between security and development.” Other esteemed panelists also recognized Stimson’s “dual-benefit” approach as one of the most progressive advancements in identifying the security-development nexus.

Some highlights include:

  • Semhar Araia, Horn of Africa Regional Policy Advisor, Oxfam International, reiterated that the root causes of security threats in Africa are linked to poverty and local conflict. Thus, terrorism and WMD proliferation need to be addressed in a language that is translatable to African interests, and that the Global North and South “need to establish a common understanding of security.”
  • Alistair Millar, Executive Director, Center for Global Counterterrorism Cooperation encouraged donor and recipient countries to identify new “entry-points” for discussions on security and development so that financial resources, particularly those concerning counterterrorism, can be used in creative and cost-effective ways.
  • Julie Fischer, Senior Associate for the Global Health Program at Stimson Center, examined the consequences of looking at development issues – specifically public health infrastructures – through a “security threat logic.” She recommended renewed dialogue that would engage both security and development that would mutually benefit both issues.
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