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Civil Society and National Security

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ESRCfrontcoverThe Role of Civil Society in a National Security State: an interdisciplinary enquiry

Over a period of two years from 2005 to 2007, we conducted a series of seminars to consider the proper role, if any, of non-governmental personnel in the handling of national security issues within the state. This investigation was made possible with funding from the New Security Challenges Programme of the Economic and Social Research Council.

The objective of the series was to develop a dialogue between government and non-governmental actors on the management of issues related to national security. Our purpose was to facilitate the forging of an approach to the subject which achieves the right balance between officials and others on the one hand, and between principles (relating to security and to democratic and legal accountability for example) on the other. On a strictly non-attributable basis, we brought together senior figures from the government, the judiciary, the bar and the media, as well as academics and campaigners, to discuss the handling of security issues within a state.

The success of the seminar series prompted us to devise a further event devoted to structured thinking and highly-focused discussion on the challenge posed to human rights by terrorism and by counter-terrorism law. Again with support from the ESRC we conducted a full day conference, run on the same non-attributable basis and involving many of the same participants. As with the seminar series our aim was to break through the divides that lie between the various actors engaged in the field of terrorism and human rights thereby fruitfully to address the issues of concern to each in a frank and confidential environment.

In March 08 the Centre produced a new report: 'Human rights, civil society and the challenge of terrorism', commenting on the inter-relationship between terrorism law and human rights and reflecting on the seminar series  and conference.

Download the report, 'Human rights, civil society and the challenge of terrorism' here (PDF)

Seminar Reports

Read the press release announcing the programme.