The world is in the midst of a profound change in the way that security is conceptualized and practiced. Up until 1989, security was largely viewed either as ‘internal security’ or as ‘national’ or ‘bloc’ security and the main instruments of security were considered to be the police, the intelligence services and the military. This traditional view of security fits uneasily with the far-reaching changes in social and political organisation that characterize the world at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
What we call the ‘security gap’ refers to the gap between our national and international security capabilities, largely based on conventional military forces, and the reality of the everyday experience of insecurity in different parts of the world. To some extent, public security capabilities are beginning to adapt to the changing nature of insecurity – with new doctrines or new military-civilian capabilities. But it is also the case that the gap is being filled by private agents – warlords, militias, private security companies, NGOs, for example – and, even though some new forms of hybrid security provision may improve people’s lives at least temporarily, this new market in security may have dangerous implications.
This conference will examine the relationship of law, justice, and in/security at the current juncture by focusing on two broad themes:
a) Is the international legal regime adapting to address the ‘security gap’ and how effectively?
b) What is the role of novel legal instruments, such as international justice and transitional justice, in relation to the ‘security gap’?
Security related law is undergoing fundamental changes with the growing importance of human rights law, international criminal law and transitional justice. These changes reflect the continuing adaptation and reformulation of legal rules and instruments, as well as the development of new ones. One example is the extension of responsibility for protection and prevention from states to individuals in cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The rules concerning state responsibility are also changing, such as the duty of the state to protect its population and the basis for other actors to fulfil this duty when it fails to do so.
Nevertheless, the current legal regime represents a mismatch of new families of law that extend internal notions of the rule of law, based on individual rights, beyond the nation-state, and classical international law that applies to states, such as international humanitarian law, as well as domestic law. The tensions, gaps and contradictions inherent in this regime raise a number of unsettled questions, for example what body of law should apply in situations like those associated with ‘new wars’ or the ‘war on terror’. The security implications of novel legal instruments, such as international criminal courts and various mechanisms of transitional justice, are also largely unclear, especially from the perspective of the security of individuals and communities rather than states.
‘Law, Justice, and the Security Gap’ is conceived as a forum for reassessing security related law and legal instruments and examining their relationship to contemporary forms of insecurity. The conference seeks to foster a multi-disciplinary discussion that draws on a wide range of approaches and intellectual resources in law and the social sciences and to engage both scholars and practitioners. Advanced PhD students and early-career researchers are also encouraged to apply. We invite theoretical and conceptual contributions as well as empirically focused case-studies.
The conference is convened in the framework of the research programme Security in Transition: An Interdisciplinary Investigation into the Security Gap, funded by the European Research Council at the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit, Department of International Development, London School of Economics & Political Science. Partial contribution to the costs of attendance may be available for accepted participants, depending on needs and resources.