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Conference "Social Dimensions of Soft Insecurity"

The Centre for Security Studies, in cooperation with the Swedish Government, organised a two-day international conference “Social Dimensions of Soft Insecurity” on 22–23 October in Belgrade.

The conference gathered professionals, including the leading professionals in the field, from Serbia and the region to address the strategic issues of anti-organised crime policy within a context generated by CSS’s long standing cooperation with SIDA in working within this area. The aim of this conference was to discuss issues of immediate relevance both to Serbia and to the region, as soft security has shaped up as a prime policy issue in the transitional and post-transitional circumstances in this part of Europe.

Soft security threats, including but not limited to organised crime, corruption and terrorism, while replacing the traditional Cold War style hard threats that included the use of military force, have not changed the subjective perceptions of security in the European democracies for the better. Where once fear of a global nuclear confrontation was the most pronounced limitation to the citizens’ feeling of security, today reign fear of terrorism, of violent crime and frustration arising from rising corruption, especially in the transitional states on the Eastern and Southern borders of Europe.

Much of the conditionality built into Europe’s Stabilisation and Association process that relates to its Eastern border targets corruption and problems in the integrity of public service in the aspirant and candidate countries. However, there are aspects of soft insecurity (a concept similar to human security, which is another term that was “officialised” by the 1994 UN Development report) that cannot be fully appreciated by taking only the external perspective of conditionality that seeks institutional reforms, or the internal perspective that is predominantly normative and based on the idea that good regulations and legal repression could reduce soft insecurity. Important aspects of soft insecurity are social, and not legal, in the same way in which the causes of crime as a legal phenomenon in themselves are not legal, but predominantly social, economic and psychological.