Wednesday 15 November 2006, by Burgess Peter
International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)
11-12 September 2006
Jointly organized by CHALLENGE, COST Action 24 and the Research Council of Norway,
Considerable attention was attracted to the conference in the Norwegian research and diplomatic communities. In addition to the members from the COST Action, Challenge and PRIO, 86 external people registered which included diplomats, journalists, academics and students.
The academic keynote address was a lecture by the security specialist Ole Waever on religion as an international security issue. It served to introduce a particularly important aspect of the current debates on terrorism, and security more generally, that we have not dealt with in our action so far. In line with the way we have been working on the subject of terrorism, this lecture focused on the general structuring of security questions in contemporary world politics, within which clandestine violence has a prominent presence. The opening address was followed by a roundtable in which three speakers representing DG Research of the European Commission, the European Science Foundation, and the Research Council of Norway, introduced and discussed different framings of and aspirations for future research on security in Europe.
The afternoon session featured papers on the construction of dangers and threats in the wake of 9/11 and the construction of European identity in contexts of insecurity, ending with a general discussion in which the questions of identity and security, and religion were broadly discussed. The second day continued with two panels on the changing notions of war and the specific nature of managing insecurities, and especially clandestine violence and terrorism, as risk. The panels looked at a variety of securitizing agencies, the effects of the fight against terrorism on industry and insurance, and the way in which discourses on and techniques of governing war and risk sustain the construction of insecurity. The final panel dealt with gender dimensions of insecurity. The papers focused on what a gender focus contributes to understanding the political and social construction of insecurities.
The conference linked directly with Work package 11 Fears, unease and threat/risk society/risk management and an assessment of vulnerabilities of different social groups and acceptance and resistance to exceptionalism (http:/www.libertysecurity.org/rubrique21.html) and Work package 6 Accountability, Responsibility and Transparency in an Enlarged Europe (http://libertysecurity.org/mot65.html) as well as with a number of CHALLENGE activities related to risk and identity research, such as: «The passenger at risk» http://www.libertysecurity.org/article915.html and ‘The Politics of Fear’ http://www.libertysecurity.org/article478.html (only for Challenge members)