This brings us to the second tension and source of confusion. There is a paradox at the heart of human rights law, which again is revealed most forcefully in relation to economic and social rights. On the one hand, the very manner in which human rights are expressed signifies a breach with the tradition of absolute sovereignty, according to which each state could treat its own citizens as it pleased, and no other state had a right or responsibility to interfere. On the other hand, human rights law is also the product of an era that still thought largely in terms of stable populations sitting tight behind their borders and subject only to national political and economic forces. On the obligations side of human rights law there is a heavy assumption that every state has specific obligations to its own citizens, or at least the individuals under its jurisdiction, which go very much beyond obligations to the citizens of the rest of the world. It is when it comes to obligations to the citizens of the rest of the world (‘extraterritorial obligations’ in legal jargon) that international law becomes most nebulous and controversial. This finds expression in the debates surrounding humanitarian intervention, for instance, but it is also a contentious issue when it comes to the obligations of rich states in relation to the economic and social rights of the citizens of poor states. The notion that non-state actors, including inter-governmental organisations, transnational corporations or non-governmental organisations (NGOs), might have legal human rights obligations is even more underdeveloped. The state-oriented way of thinking about obligations has the advantage of legal certainty, and it is in this area that many recent victories, described in this chapter, have been achieved. However, the exclusive reliance on obligations of the state towards its own nationals is also increasingly felt to be inadequate for addressing social justice issues in a globalised and privatised world.

Diminishing violence through a new theory and practice of power

…Politically speaking, it is insufficient to say that power and violence are not the same. Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance. This implies that it is not correct to think of the opposite of violence as non-violence; to speak of non-violent power is actually redundant. Violence can destroy power; it is utterly incapable of creating it. (Arendt 1969: 56)

Gender and the transmission and reproduction of violence in time and space

The literature on violence tends to divide violence into various ‘forms’. People differ as to the exact categories, but Philippe Bourgois’ categories outlined above are sound examples of the broad consensus: Political, Structural, Symbolic and Everyday. Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois also argue for a ‘continuum’ between these violences (2004: 1), and the WHO study on violence as a public health issue also points to evidence of:

links between different types of violence. Research has shown that exposure to violence in the home is associated with being a victim or perpetrator of violence in adolescence and adulthood. The experience of being rejected, neglected or suffering indifference at the hands of parents leaves children at greater risk for aggressive and antisocial behaviour, including abusive behaviour as adults. Associations have been found between suicidal behaviour and several types of violence, including child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, sexual assault and abuse of the elderly. In Sri Lanka, suicide rates were shown to decrease during wartime, only to increase again after the violent conflict ended. In many countries that have suffered violent conflict, the rates of interpersonal violence remain high even after the cessation of hostilities – among other reasons because of the way violence has become more socially acceptable and the availability of weapons. (WHO 2002: 15)

Like Bourgois, work in my own country played a strong role in opening up new questions about violence. The riots that took place over 12 hours in Bradford on 7 July 2001 involved hundreds of young Pakistani males. These males come out of rural Asian and mostly Muslim socialisation cultures (although the vast majority were second-generation immigrants), in which male honour is one of the most dominant socialisation norms. These traditional cultural norms have been fertilized with Western cultural portrayals of masculinity so that the rioters described their violence in language from film and television; it was, they said:

like a mission…James Bond.’…a ‘fight to the finish…a battle…A game…I’m in the middle of a war zone’…’My head went…I don’t take shit off nobody…I am angry…I’ll take him out before he takes me out’…’It does mek yer feel strong, cos yer done it with a load guys and lads. (Bujra and Pearce 2005: 11)

Shame, honour and pride: socialisation, men and violence

…male sociodocy owes its specific efficacy to the fact that it legitimates a relation of domination by inscribing it in a biological which is itself a biologized social construction. The double work of inculcation, at once sexually differentiated and sexually differentiating, imposes upon men and women different sets of dispositions with regard to the social games that are held to be crucial to society, such as the games of honor and war (fit for the display of masculinity, virility) or , in advanced societies, all the most valued games such as politics, business, science, etc. The masculinization of male bodies and feminization of female bodies effects a somatization of the cultural arbitrary which is the durable construction of the unconscious. Having shown this, I shift from one extreme of cultural space to the other to explore this originary relation of exclusion from the standpoint of the dominated as expressed in Virginia Woolf’s 1927 novel To the Lighthouse. We find in this novel an extraordinarily perceptive analysis of a paradoxical dimension of symbolic domination, and one almost always overlooked by feminist critique, namely the domination of the dominant by his domination: a feminine gaze upon the desperate and somewhat pathetic effort that any man must make, in his triumphant unconsciousness, to try to live up to the dominant idea of man. Furthermore, Virginia Woolf allows us to understand how, by ignoring the illusion that leads one to engage in the central games of society, women escape the libido dominandi that comes with this involvement, and are therefore socially inclined to gain a relatively lucid view of the male games in which they ordinarily partake only by proxy. (Bourdieu and Wacquant 2004: 273)

These gendered spatial constructions have become so normal that the question is rarely posed: how does violence (and power) get transmitted from private to public and back to private, and what role does gender play in that transmission? Could the differentiated socialisation process between men and women be a transmitting mechanism? As Doreen Massey (1994; 1999) and others have reminded us, space is a ‘product of interrelations. It is constituted through interactions, from the immensity of the global to the intimately tiny’ (Massey 1999: 28). Gender hierarchies are just one of the interrelationships within social spaces, but there is a remarkable consistency across culture, time and space in the power men have been able to exercise over women within a range of spaces. Women almost universally enjoy less participation and power in the public sphere, and the constructions of masculinity in the intimate or domestic private space are able to condition the character and use of power and violence outside of it and then ‘double back’ to reinforce the gendered relationship in the home. There is no longer a ‘starting point’ for explaining this as such, although the ‘home’ and the intimate is arguably the formative space for gender socialisation and the most dynamic force for replenishing the circulation and flow of power and violence over time and space.


It has always surprised me how contemporary studies of violence recognise ‘private (or domestic) violence’ as a serious phenomenon but rarely address the possibility of connections between violence in private and public spaces or the specific contribution gender socialisation processes make to the reproduction of violences in and between those spaces and over time. Most violent acts are carried out by young men between the age of 15 and 44 on young men between the age of 15 and 44, including self-directed violence; men commit much more violence than women do – homicides, suicides and even ‘accidental’ violence, such as road crashes (WHO 2002). But also:

historically and cross culturally, they make war. Men are soldiers and, as politicians and generals, those who instigate and lead the fighting. Men also engage in extreme violence: they are (mainly) the concentration camp guards, the SS, those who perpetrate genocide, mass ethnic rape, pogroms, torture, and the murder of children and old people. (Chodorow 2002: 252)

Perhaps we should then reflect not only on terror and the ‘state of war’ but also on the ‘war of the state’ – namely, the nation state as a source of terror. With its scientific achievements applied to military industries, modernity led to total wars in which the distinction between violence and civility, soldiers and civilians, was increasingly obliterated. The ‘new wars’, including terror and the ‘war on terror’, are conducted by networks of state and non-state actors, and the main victims are civilians (Kaldor 1999). These new forms of violence developed as a way round massive concentrations of conventional military force. Because battles, that is, direct confrontations, even those between ‘asymmetric’ forces like the Israeli state and Hizbollah, or the US armed forces and Iraqi insurgent groups, have become so destructive, and the value placed on individual soldiers’ lives so high that they are rarely risked, warring parties fight either by directly attacking unarmed civilians or by attacking at long distance through terroristic air strikes, which inevitably cause civilian casualties.

The question that arises is how these concepts came to be distorted by militant Islamic groups in total contradiction to the long-established and authentic traditions of Islamic jurisprudence (Lumbard 2004). This is not just a matter of theology. The Islamic heritage includes not only the religious sciences, as some scholars have rightly observed, but a wealth of rational sciences that are not considered as opposites or mutually exclusive (Nasr 1999: 217–41; 2002: 235–84). Likewise, we also need to ask how the language of the ‘war on terror’ has instrumentalised both Christian and secular traditions of ethical thought about war and peace.

Habermas has drawn attention to the important role that language plays in masking political interests with apparently sophisticated concepts such as the ‘clash of civilisations’. Violence, he indicates, can be the result of distortion in communication and the misuse of concepts, such as war, to describe military acts against terrorism. He argues that the rhetorical use of such terms makes it difficult to retain any definite meaning. It also obscures structural forms of violence that are embedded in the modern condition and that are rarely addressed. These structural forms of violence make communication within the public sphere and across public spheres in inter-cultural relations extremely difficult, blocking any fruitful dialogue that might contribute to the construction of a common language. Indeed, Carl Schmitt’s (1932/1990) definition of politics as self-assertion against the Other has actually gained more currency, resulting only in more violence (see Box 1.2). Hence violence can be seen as a form (or a manifestation) of distorted communication. As a result, Habermas sees language, and communicative and practical legal and political arrangements that foster a notion of shared humanity, as essential to achieving peace (Habermas 2003: 35–43, 63–9).

Framing the debate: some methodological considerations

There are important methodological and philosophical issues at stake when thinking about the concepts of war and peace, violence and civility. These require extensive elaboration beyond what can be done in this chapter. However, we can at least outline some of the directions of thinking that might be fruitful to develop.

There is a striking parallel with the arguments used to justify terror and the ‘war on terror’. The Bush administration defined the attacks of 9/11 as an act of aggression. The ‘war on terror’ is thus defined as a war of self-defence. Because terrorists do not fight by the rules, because they can attack anywhere and everywhere using every conceivable technique, because they are not swayed by deterrence, ‘the only way to deal with the terrorist network is to take the battle to them. That is in fact what we are doing. That is in effect self-defense of a preemptive nature’ (US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, quoted in Crawford 2003: 12). Moreover, because the terrorists began the war, they are responsible ‘for every single casualty’. The terrorists also justify their actions in terms of self-defence. They are defending Muslims against occupation whether in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan or Chechnya. Because they do not have access to sophisticated weapons and because they do not have the capacity to defend themselves against American, Israeli or Russian attacks, they also have to take the battle to the enemy. The technique of suicide bombing against civilian targets is the only way that this kind of pre-emptive defence can be carried out, they assert. Thus, one of the British suicide bombers, in a video recording made before 7 July 2005, described himself as a ‘soldier’.

Those who make the case for justifying Israel’s response do so within a discourse of war, in which Hizbollah’s attacks are treated as foreign aggression. In fact, even within the discourse of war, the response can be criticised on grounds of disproportionality, although the Israelis can argue that this is a case of ‘military necessity’; indeed, international lawyers have asserted that the attacks violate the principle of proportionality in international humanitarian law (the ‘laws of war’). But no justification of Israel’s response is possible within the discourse of human rights; such attacks are completely unacceptable by the standards of human rights. And this exposes the shortcomings of the language of war in today’s world: the human rights regime (human rights law underpinned by global norms) is increasingly coming into conflict with the rules that govern what is called ‘war’. In a global era, when the lives of individual human beings are considered to have equal value whatever their nationality or religion, violent actions such as that carried out by Hizbollah should be dealt with through recourse to international law, which addresses individual responsibility for crimes, not by launching a war against a whole population.


On 12 July 2006 Hizbollah militants crossed the border into Israel and ambushed a group of Israeli soldiers; eight were killed and two were taken hostage. Israel responded by imposing an air and sea blockade of Lebanon. In the following days, hundreds of civilians, including children, were killed by air strikes; Lebanese civilian infrastructure was destroyed; and hundreds of thousands of ‘non-combatants’ were displaced. Hizbollah retaliated against Israeli targets and also killed civilians. For Israel, this attack by Hizbollah is defined as an act of aggression and the Lebanese government is held responsible; civilian casualties are regrettable but are ‘collateral damage’ – the Israeli government claims to be destroying the ‘infrastructure of terror’. In fact, Human Rights Watch (2006a) has suggested the pattern of attacks indicate deliberate targeting of civilians; the Israelis seem to regard everyone as a potential combatant. For Hizbollah, attacks on Israeli civilians are considered a way to attack the state of Israel (see Human Rights Watch 2006b). For a full month both sides were engaged in what they saw as war.

There is no safe haven for NGOs, working for or against states. In Afghanistan in 2005 the UN’s World Food Programme Afghanistan (2005) reported it was working through 196 local and international NGOs while facing major security problems. An organisation such as CARE, with 12,000 staff worldwide collaborating with state agencies in conflict zones, lost one worker, Margaret Hassan, to murder in Iraq in 2004; had another, Clementina Cantoni, kidnapped in Afghanistan in May 2005; and had its Kabul offices demolished in a riot on 29 May 2006. Being for or against state solutions cannot protect civil society organisations nor absolve them from adopting their own explicit policies and procedures for dealing with violence and its justifications, as Mary Kaldor and Heba Raouf Ezzat show in Chapter 1.

This international system, aided by and part of the Cold War, helped introduce a system of conflict management. To be sure, power continued to play a crucial role, closely linked to resource availability and legitimacy, as well as to the potential of inflicting violence and the deployment of military means. Conflicts, be they violent or not, are a clash of power, a pushing and pulling, giving and taking. In this balancing process of powers confronting each other, the capabilities of those involved vary and may shift. In other words, conflicts are dynamic and rarely static. With the end of the Cold War and a weakened system of international governance, many conflicts were ‘freed up’ and became re-energised, and new ones engendered.

If the legitimate monopoly on acts of violence asserted by a governing agency gives rise to a civil sphere of life, that monopoly has never extended to all violence, as Jenny Pearce shows in her account of the gendering of violence in private and public spaces in Chapter 2 of this volume. Legitimate violence has not been confined to modern state agencies. The right to bear arms and to use them in self-defence is fervently asserted in both strong and weak states, in the United States as much as in Afghanistan.

Civil society and violence in historical perspective

We want to emphasise the mutually defining nature of violence and civility in social life which renders our ‘apparent ironic alternation’ possible. Even in its absence, violence always threatens to occupy the space that civility vacates. Thomas Hobbes viewed violence as primordial. Life in his state of nature was ‘nasty, brutish and short’, peace being secured in civil society. Modern experience has taught us to be less confident. We know that the simplest societies can manage conflict, while conversely the potential for violence is ever-present in the most modern societies.

However, in such a war the casualties are not just buildings destroyed and people maimed and killed. The debate that rages among activists and policy analysts in many countries today is about the balance between security and liberty, and its implications for the very future of transnational civil society. Central to this debate is the complex role of civil society in the ‘war on terror’, the events it triggered, and the developments it spawned. George Soros (2006), billionaire financier and philanthropist, is one of many social commentators who have written in scathing terms about the ‘war on terror’ as a misplaced metaphor. It envisages a war on an abstraction, which intrinsically can never be ‘won’, and places the United States and large parts of the international community it seeks to dominate or influence on a permanent war footing.

In the Global Civil Society yearbook series (Kaldor and Muro 2002; Glasius and Kaldor 2002; Kaldor, Anheier and Glasius 2003) and elsewhere, Mary Kaldor (1999) has pointed to the contrast between old wars and new wars, between wars of nation-states and violent conflicts conducted across boundaries or within failed states by non-state actors. Escalating violence in the new wars poses immense challenges to states and their established military. To none are these challenges greater than to the United States, which has responded to the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City and the attack on the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on 11 September 2001 by declaring the ‘war on terror’.

Only climate change has come to equal violence recently as a threat to the continued existence of human society. In each case it is the advance of technology that has brought us to stare this prospect in the face. The existence of nuclear weaponry raises the risks in great power confrontations to the point where they include the end of life as we know it on this planet.

Such advocates argue that the constraints on press freedom arise from new anti-terrorism and official secrets laws, criminalisation of speech judged to justify terrorism, criminal prosecution of journalists for disclosing classified information, surveillance of communications without judicial authorisation, restrictions on access to government data and more strict security classifications. ‘All these measures can severely erode the capacity of journalists to investigate and report accurately and critically, and thus the ability of the press to inform,’ according to WAN (2007: 1).

Terrorism, political manipulation, autonomous communication, social mobilisation, and political change: Spain, March 2004

On 11 March 2004, a Madrid-based, mainly Moroccan, radical Islamic group associated with Al-Qaeda conducted in Madrid the largest terrorist attack in Europe, bombing three suburban trains, killing 199 people and wounding over 1,000. The bombing was conducted by remote-control-activated cell phones. Indeed, it was the discovery of a cell phone calling card in an unexploded bag that led to the identification of the phone and the arrest of the culprits. Al-Qaeda took responsibility for the bombing later that evening. The attack took place in a very special political context, four days before the Spanish parliamentary elections, which were dominated by the debate on the participation of Spain in the Iraq war, a policy opposed by the vast majority of Spanish citizens. Yet the conservative party, Partido Popular (PP), was considered the likely winner of the election, based on its record on economic policy and its stand on Basque terrorism. However, in the last weeks before the election the young, charismatic Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero waged an impressive electoral campaign, so that on 10 March 2004 opinion polls rendered the result of the election too close to call one way or another.

First, characterising People Power II as non-violent and information-centred is to oversimplify it. The military was never a non-factor in the process. It was only after the armed forces sided with the protestors that Estrada retreated and was ‘escorted’ out of his presidential palace by military commanders. Moreover, the deadly synchronised explosions that killed 22 Manila residents and injured more than 120 took place only 17 days before People Power II. Given the sensitive timing in the middle of the impeachment trial, such a violent incident clearly threatened everyone – especially senator-judges – with an all-out civil war on top of the ongoing clashes with the Muslim rebels accused of perpetrating the 30 December bombing. Such a civil war was quite possible because, despite the corruption charges, Estrada had overwhelming support in the countryside and among the poor, as shown in his landslide victory in the 1998 election. In fact, in a seldom-told story on 25 April 2001, three months after People Power II, Estrada was formally arrested on charges of graft and corruption, soon after which ‘a crowd of perhaps one hundred thousand formed at Edsa and demanded Estrada’s release and reinstatement’ (Rafael 2003: 422). According to Vicente Rafael (2003: 422):

Unlike those who had gathered there during People Power II, the crowd in what came to be billed as the ‘Poor People Power’ was trucked in by Estrada’s political operatives from the slums and nearby provinces and provided with money, food, and, on at least certain occasions, alcohol. In place of cell phones, many reportedly were armed with slingshots, homemade guns, knives, and steel pipes. English-language news reports described this crowd as unruly and uncivilized and castigated protestors for strewing garbage on the Edsa Shrine, harassing reporters, and publicly urinating near the giant statue of the Virgin Mary of Edsa.

United Nations Emergency Service

A working group of peace activists and NGO leaders have been developing for some years a proposal for the creation of a UN Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS). The central idea is to have in being a small, highly trained, professional corps that would be available at short notice and with on longest possible geopolitical leash to prevent and contain humanitarian catastrophes, especially those with genocidal overtones. Undertakings of this sort were done on an ad-hoc basis during the 1990s but without sufficient political will on the part of major states, and thus without an appropriate definition of UN mission and without the provision of adequate capabilities. The UN thus often operated ineffectually in situations of humanitarian emergency, which discredited the UN and provided too little, too late for peoples being victimised. The genocide in Rwanda in 1994 remains a paradigmatic instance of UN failure, and the current feeble response to the mass killings and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of Sudan is a continuing reminder of how ill-equipped the UN is to discharge its ‘responsibility to protect’ even in response to extreme conditions. It is still relevant to recall the devastating critiques of the UN failures to protect vulnerable peoples in either Bosnia or Rwanda (Rieff 1995; Melvern 2000).

On the central issue of global security, it is important for global civil society forces to unite behind the terminology and outlook of ‘human security’, thereby placing peoples and their concerns at the centre of security discourse. At this point, within UN circles, especially the Security Council, the notion of security, despite some willingness to acknowledge its wider reach, remains focused on war and violence as related to the security of sovereign states. Even with the greater willingness to discuss the responsibility of the UN to protect vulnerable peoples facing genocidal threats, the political will of the organisation depends on support from major states, and whether this support is forthcoming depends on national interests. The situation is more encouraging in the setting of natural disasters, exhibiting more sense of human solidarity, and a willingness of states, regions, NGOs, and international institutions to work together for shared humanitarian goals. The response to the humanitarian catastrophe produced by the Indian Ocean tsunami at the end of 2004 is illustrative of levels of cooperation and rapid response unimaginable in the context of a human rights crisis. It is instructive to compare the responses of the world to genocidal threats in Rwanda, Sudan, and even Bosnia with the response to the tsunami.

The High-Level Panel also endorses the approach to humanitarian intervention adopted by the International Commission on State Sovereignty and Intervention. This is not surprising considering that the earlier report had been so favorably received in international circles and that the forceful co-chair of the latter was Gareth Evans, who was also a member of the High-Level Panel (International Commission on State Sovereignty and Intervention 2001). In essence, state sovereignty is overridden if a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding within a state, but the political language of response is shifted from encroachment on the state to the duty of the international community to act. The approach is well-expressed by the High-Level Panel:

We endorse the emerging norm that there is a collective international responsibility to protect, exercisable by the Security Council authorizing military intervention as a last resort, in the event of genocide or other large-scale killing, ethnic cleansing or serious violations of international humanitarian law which sovereign Governments have proved powerless or unwilling to prevent. (UN 2004: 66)

UN reform from the perspective of global civil society

Aside from participation and influence within the UN system, or what is being identified here as ‘vertical reform’, the relations between the UN and global civil society, there is the overall concern with the future role of the UN: seeking to prevent aggressive war, to promote a more equitable and sustainable world economy, to respond more quickly and effectively to humanitarian and natural disasters, to uphold human rights and the rule of law, and to contribute to the emergence of a humane and democratic structure of global governance engages members of global civil society as world citizens. The foundation for such a discussion is provided by the report of the High-Level Panel convened by the Secretary-General issued under the title A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility (UN 2004b). The report is comprehensive, and can be discussed only selectively, in relation to its central concern with expanding the understanding of and approach to the core responsibility of the UN to facilitate collective security. The report is written from a statist standpoint, with issues of feasibility in mind, and only tangentially refers to or reflects the influence of global civil society perspectives. Civil society activists concerned with global policy should read this report both for its conceptual contributions and as an expression of the best intergovernmental thinking about the role of the United Nations in the twenty-first century and of how to depict ‘security’ as a central preoccupation. The strong endorsement of the findings of the report by Kofi Annan also makes its impact likely to be strong in relation to the discussions of UN reform at the 2005 session of the General Assembly dedicated to the implementation of the Millennial goals set five years earlier (Annan 2005).

The UN Secretary-General: balancing contending forces

The Secretary-General, as political leader and moral authority figure, has struggled to balance the contending forces and aspirations of the organisation. To gain help and support he constituted two prominent panels to study reform prospects, and to deliver reports in 2004. The first of these panels was composed of ‘eminent persons’, chaired by Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil, and charged with looking into the relations between the United Nations and civil society. It issued its report, We the Peoples, on 7 June 2004 (UN 2004a). It covers the subject matter comprehensively, offering 30 proposals for reform. The second initiative was charged with reconsidering the role of the United Nations with respect to peace and security. It was similarly constituted, chaired by Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister of Thailand, and submitted its report on 4 December 2004 to the Secretary-General (UN 2004b). The high-level panel report is exclusively dedicated to the substantive issues associated with the current global setting, and does not directly acknowledge the role or significance of global civil society, but its language and approach do reflect to some degree civil society perspectives, including especially its call for reconfiguring security as ‘human security’ rather than as either ‘national security’ or ‘collective security’. At the same time, both panels were chaired and composed of individuals whose qualifications were based on their statist credentials, having held high positions in governments or intergovernmental institutions; and their recommendations for reform are sensible but not bold or imaginative. The reports also reflect pressures to be geopolitically credible and balanced. For instance, the most interesting and widely noticed discussion in the High-Level Panel on Security is its acknowledgement that anticipatory self-defence may be justifiable in a post-9/11 world, but that the legitimacy of such a claim depends on Security Council authorisation, thereby acknowledging the substantive merits of the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war while reaffirming the UN procedural role in identifying appropriate circumstances. Credibility with civil society audiences is less crucial but not entirely irrelevant to the prospects for exerting influence.

This is where global civil society comes in. The idea of human security can connect many of the global civil society activities described in this introduction, from social justice and climate change campaigns to disaster relief and campaigns against political violence. Because the concept applies to the community of human beings, it offers the potential for expressing a global precautionary principle. In Global Civil Society 2004/5 we redefined global civil society as the medium through which one or more social contracts are negotiated by individual citizens and the various institutions of global governance (national, international and local) (Kaldor, Anheier and Glasius, 2004/5:2; Held 2004) This is an ongoing process involving debate, argument, campaigning, struggle, pressure, information, and a wide range of groups and individuals. One scenario is the further instrumentalisation of global civil society as a partner in a top-down effort to contain risk. The alternative scenario is a combined effort to confront everyday dangers of poverty, insecurity and environmental degradation. Human security could be a powerful framework for global civil society in framing these risks in transformative ways.

One concept that brings together many of these concerns is that of ‘human security’. The term has been popularised by yet another report, that of the Commission on Human Security (2003), and is applied in the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. But although the term is beginning to be used in development discourse, its potential may not yet be fully realised. It is a term with which global civil society activists can confront the current preoccupation of governments and public opinion with terrorism, entering the security debate with strategies that go beyond repression. This could be more realistic and productive than just lamenting the current security paradigm.

The central concerns of the 2005 reports are poverty and security. Their key conclusions are summarised in the Box 1.4. Perhaps the most significant idea that comes out of the all the reports is the connection between poverty and security, between – to use the language of this introduction – dangers and risks. Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction are presented, in these reports, as ‘other tsunami’ in the sense that they are represented as a potential risk to us all. As in the case of climate change, connections are made between terrorism and inequality. But here the dominant argument is not that terrorism would hit the poor harder, but rather that inequality itself increases the risk of terrorism. Thus, the connection becomes one of self-interest, and is not the preserve of a radical social justice movement. It has become common ground, at least in the rhetoric if not in the policy of Western states, and expressed in these reports, that poverty and inequality are security risks, and poverty alleviation can therefore be a form of anti-terrorist policy.

Indeed, in much of the world the word ‘terrorism’ is rejected because of the way it has been politicised and captured by the rhetoric of the Bush administration and its allies. The word seems to be used to emphasise threats to Western citizens and to downplay the kind of political, criminal or just senseless violence that is the daily experience of many Colombian or Congolese citizens, for instance.

As Figure 1.1 shows, deaths and injuries from terrorist incidents have greatly increased since 2000. But the way in which terrorism is perceived varies greatly in different regions. Indeed, perhaps more than any other risk, terrorism is subject to manipulation, instrumentalisation, and reinterpretation.  The figures in the chart, which comes from a US funded source, refer only to non-state terrorism. This reflects the dominant perception in the US, where terrorism is seen as a threat to the US, akin to a foreign enemy like the Soviet Union or Germany. This is partly to be explained by the shock of 9/11, when more people were killed than at Pearl Harbour in 1941, which marked the start of US involvement in the Second World War. But it can also be understood in terms of the way this perception of terrorism chimes with a narrative about the role of the US in promoting and defending freedom – a narrative that is deeply embedded in the structures of government and is narrative, moreover, widely purveyed by the American media.

Finally, the public sphere requires the actors in it (to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the theorist) to be willing to abide by particular rules of process, and display a certain measure of respect for each other. At the minimum this would involve a rejection of using violence against each other. The nation state was to some extent capable of enforcing such respect, and excluding those who would not follow the rules of the process. In global civil society there is no such enforcement, and contributions to our book clearly show that conceptualisations of actually existing global civil society as prepared to voluntarilyy observe such rules are naïve. The National Rifle Association, discussed by Clifford Bob in chapter 10, may be willing to abide by rules of non-violent debate, even if its ultimate aim is to arm everyone, but for the producers and publishers of Jihad videos, described in the same chapter, violence itself is the means of communication.