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Defending the right to security



Traditional approaches to the moral justifications for individuals and groups responding to security threats have focused on two accounts: self-defence and national-defence. In practice, this is manifested in the separation of the domestic paradigm (broadly understood as cases which happen within the boundary of a state where law enforcement is the governing framework) from the war paradigm which is governed by just war theory and, in the legal sphere, International Humanitarian Law. However, this narrow focus fails to adequately address the occasions in which people resort to various means of violent and nonviolent resistance to reduce or eliminate security threats. For example, certain uses of force in modern combat, especially those seen in the so-called ‘War on Terror’ such as drone strikes or the deployment of teams of special forces, cannot readily be classified as either acts of war or policing.

We, then, need to ask whether the strong distinction between war and international policing can yet be maintained in the current security context. Should we, for instance, follow Walzer (2006) in creating a special ‘in-between zone’ for violent measures which do not fall into either the war or policing models or should we resist such a move? The outcome of the debate is crucial to how we ought to think about the ethics of contemporary conflicts.

Furthermore, the means with which people resort to in defence of their right to security are not limited to violence. Measures such as peaceful civil disobedience (as in the case of the Standing Rock movement, and legal routes (or lawfare as in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) are increasingly being used by individuals or groups in response to serious transgression of their rights. This calls for further inquiries into the nature and ethics of these means of nonviolent resistance.

Last but not least, measures such as economic and/or financial sanctions that aim to protect the security of others under the Responsibility of Protect, or R2P, are often overlooked by scholars when considering the justness of state actions in interventions. Despite the fact that these measures are often the first to be considered, or used in response to serious violations of human rights by other states or groups of non-state actors, the existing literature fails to address adequately both whether there is a responsibility to employ these options as a first resort, prior to resorting to military measures, and what ethical rules ought to govern these economic sanctions.

The Defending the Right to Security workshop invites papers addressing these themes, broadly construed, to apply to the workshop. In particular, we would be interested in papers addressing the ethics of either nonviolent means of resistance (such as lawfare, civil disobedience, sanctions, international policing, etc.) or military means of defending security (such as counterterrorism warfare, insurgencies, military interventions, conventional warfare, etc.).