Human Security and the Challenge of Terrorism
Friday, 16. August 2002

A Canadian professor and politician today warned of 'a serious regression in the level of civilized behaviour and the receding of hope of a more peaceable, secure world'. Professor Lloyd Axworthy, who is the Dean of the Liu Center for the Study of Global Affairs at the University of British Colombia, and a former Foreign Minister of Canada, was giving the final Caux Lecture of the summer conference season at the international centre for Initiatives for Change, in Caux, Switzerland.

The Canadian strongly attacked a purely military response to terrorism. 'We must apply the lessons, common sense and pragmatism of a human security approach,' he said. Military attack alone might 'momentarily restrict the activities of terrorist organizations', but would at the same time 'feed the anger, poverty and rhetoric which create and sustain terrorism,' Axworthy continued. He spoke as 'a neighbour to the biggest kid on the block and an appreciative ally', as well as 'the survivor of twenty-seven years in elected politics, twelve as a minister, and close to five as Foreign Minister'.

Terrorism could be diminished, but not eliminated, he went on, 'by addressing the causes: poverty, despair, disenfranchisement, religious fanaticism, an absence of effective and meaningful democracy'. 'New navigational tools' were needed to break the conventional wisdoms; 'flexing the biceps and going it alone' would not work. 'National security is insufficient to guarantee people's security,' he said.
He expressed pride in the 'Ottawa process' that had lead to the treaty banning land-mines, and the role that he and his country had played in the move towards the International Criminal Court, as well as the campaign against the proliferation of small arms and the promotion of children's issues. For him, 'it was quite revolutionary, challenging deeply held precepts of national rights with the notion of human rights'.

The International Criminal Court, he stressed, was not a threat to Americans 'but one of the most effective tools to meet the challenge of modern day criminality - including terrorism'. It was the first new international institution of the new century, 'a living example of an initiative for change that is your commitment'.
Professor Axworthy's speech comes at the close of six weeks of conferences that have brought together 1,450 participants from every continent, and from a wide range of the world's trouble spots as well as 1'000 day guests on the overall theme of 'Globalizing Responsibility for Human Security'. This year also marked the centenary of the Caux-Palace Hotel, which a group of Swiss, in a private initiative, turned into an international conference centre in 1946.

This year, seven conferences have seen young people from the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe exploring the theme of 'service, leadership and responsibility'; citizens from the great cities of the United States and Britain working for 'reconciliation and justice' in building the spirit of multi-racial community, and actors in the economy have discussed the problems of globalization; artists have taken 'the road to renewal'.
In August experiences of peace-building initiatives and good governance have been exchanged; there has been a dialogue between the great faith traditions. A highlight has been the Great Lakes of Africa Round Table, with fifty participants from the conflict region. There were also groups from Angola, Sierra Leone and Somalia, working to forward the fragile peace processes and national reconciliation.

Christoph Spreng, Andrew Stallybrass