2014 SCID Symposium – Phil Wilkinson – Holistic Security: A Practitioner’s Perspective

In this presentation, Phil Wilkinson reflects upon over four decades of operational experience to argue that national security should be dealt with ‘holistically’. Additionally, this Chapter argues that sustainable security is the essential prerequisite for social and economic development and that, more generally, security and development are interdependent. A number of lessons and observations useful for the practitioner or student of post-conflict recovery are made. Not least among these is the recommendation that security should be viewed as a relative term, which means different things to different people in different places and contexts, who have different interests and motivations. These multiplicity of meanings, along with the competing demands and interests of different actors, complicate efforts to understand and build holistic security. Nonetheless, this should detract from the need to avoid treating elements of security in ‘stove-pipes’ and as independent of development issues. Moreover, while the complexities of post-conflict environments prevent the development and application of a holistic security template, it is essential that security is dealt with comprehensively and in recognition of its interdependent relationship with development. To do otherwise, it is argued, would undermine efforts to support places recovering from conflict.

Phil Wilkinson OBE has spent 32 years in the British Army with the Royal Artillery, Parachute and Commando Brigades and Special Forces, including 6 years in Northern Ireland. He is author of UK’s and NATO’s Peace Support Operations doctrine manual. Subsequently, he was Senior Research Fellow at the Conflict, Security and Development Group at King’s College, London helping to develop the concept and practice of Security Sector Reform (SSR). He has also been SSR/governance advisor/practitioner in Bosnia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq.

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