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Third Annual Security Conference: Security Risks and Transformation -Euro-Atlantic and Regional Perspectives
Sofia, 19-20 November 2005

New Security Risks and the Role of Public-Private Partnership

Opening remarks by Dr. Ognian Shentov, CSD Chairman

Mr. Prime Minister,
Ministers and Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s conference of the Center for the Study of Democracy is dedicated to international security in the context of the national, regional and global aspects of transformation. The dynamics and the evolution of the new security threats pre-empt or at least seriously challenge the development of the institutional infrastructure of international security. In the past years, non-conventional security risks have substantially increased worldwide and now threatening not only states but the life of ordinary citizens is exposed to these. The immediate dangers of terrorism and religious extremism are having a deep impact on our understanding of the 21st-century challenges, which, in turn, influences the new international security system.

Bearing this in mind, I would like to raise two, it seems to me, key issues:

First, there is the necessity to radically rethink the existing concepts of security allowing a stronger emphasis on the social and economic origins of insecurity.

The interests of terrorists, drug smugglers and organised criminals could perilously overlap which requires closer international coordination to forestall the emergence of potential “unholy” alliances. This is crucial here in the Balkans where there is a strong symbiosis between corrupt politicians and domestic organised crime, on the one hand, and national and transnational criminal networks, on the other. The expansion of the grey and black markets of drugs and illegal labour in Western Europe indubitably strengthens the position of international criminal networks and is at the basis of the latter’s financial power. Bearing this in mind, the economic and social determinants of the new threats should receive a much higher priority in our security concepts.

Second, we need a new, more adequate vision regarding the international security threats.

The new security thinking faces a dual challenge: it has to be innovative but at the same time consensual, daring but also accommodating, provocative but responsible. If innovation is the order of the day in all sectors of the economy and social life, it must be so also in the field of security. A new vision would require the use of modern analytical instruments and methods, which could perform, for instance, a damage and threats assessment, a financial and economic analysis, the modelling and prediction of various social processes, an evaluation of the measures taken to combat crime, and so on.

In this sense, it is very important to understand that dealing with new security threats at various levels of governance could and should not be limited to the use of conventional military and police force. This new vision aimed at reduction of the harms of these threats, requires the use of new social technologies including the use of civil society expertise. Such social technology is the public-private partnership in the field of security.

Partnerships between the public and private sectors, between government and civil society have proved their usefulness in a variety of areas; it is now the turn of the security sector. The dynamic nature of the threats this sector is dealing with makes it imperative to expand the range of institutions contributing to enhanced security, including by employing the resources the private sector and civil society. This is exactly what we are aiming to achieve through our annual security conferences.

I hope that today’s meeting would be another milestone on road of effective public-private partnership in the field of security.
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