Countries should invest in security while safeguarding basic human rights: Benedetta Berti

Acts of terrorism are scarring the soil of almost every nation. Men, women and children are falling prey to religious warfare. Art, culture and freedom of expression are being threatened by zealots. There are only a few who can make sense of this chaos, and fewer still are as qualified and recognised as Dr. Benedetta Berti, who is slated to speak at TedxGateway in Mumbai on December 5, 2015. With a focus on human security and internal conflicts, she is a foreign policy and security researcher, analyst, consultant, author and lecturer. A recipient of Order of the Star of Italy (order of Knighthood), Benedetta Berti is currently a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), a TED Fellow and a lecturer at Tel Aviv University. She also works as a human security and foreign policy consultant for political risk consulting firms, NGOs, international organisations as well as governments.

 Benedetta Berti

Here, in an interview with iamin, Benedetta Berti talks about terror, and the world struggling with security and post-conflict peace.

Following the Paris attack, do you think global terror now has a pattern?

The Paris attack is worrisome to many because it shows the group is investing in fighting the ‘far enemy’; in other words it has stepped up its efforts to attack its enemies abroad. The pattern of the attack is also worrisome because it shows a higher level of organisation and sophistication than the Charlie Hebdo one. The focus on targeting soft targets and on mass civilian casualties is also concerning and, seemingly, part of an emerging pattern.

The foreign policy of one nation may lead to internal conflict in another.

As we can see today in the case of the Syrian civil war, the conflict is internal but it is also a regional proxy confrontation, one where foreign parties are directly involved, thus fuelling the conflict.

There is paranoia gripping the world regarding terrorism. Will there ever be a full-proof security to collective, organised vendetta?

Worldwide, the number of civilians killed in acts of terrorism has increased in the past two years, with most casualties being in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. In turn, the rise in the number of terrorist attacks has generated more worry at the global level. This is understandable and the international community should come together to tackle this rise in global terrorism. At the same time, it is true that total security (i.e. absent of any threat) is likely unattainable, and even if it was the cost, in terms of rights and liberties, would be unbearable. So the focus should be on creating a reasonable balance between security and human rights concerns.

When it comes to security and national policy, there are chances of over-zealousness. Where do we draw the line?

This is an important question: each country should invest in security while keeping in line with safeguarding basic human rights and freedoms. Also, investing in security and solving global security challenges requires adopting a long-term and comprehensive approach, one that goes beyond military security and tackles the complex relationship between conflict, instability, lack of development and radicalisation.

Social media goes into an overdrive after any incident. Is it good or bad for the situation?

Both. The international community has shown strong solidarity with the victims of terror in the past week, from Beirut to Paris. But ISIS has also been using social media to market its operations and to brand itself, seeking to attract more supporters.

(Ms. Benedetta Berti will be speaking at the TEDxGateway, Mumbai, on December 5, 2015 at NCPA)

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