ACSS Senior Leaders Seminar: The Link Between Security and Development

By Africa Center for Strategic Studies
Updated: 07/06/2012

(Editor’s Note: Nations worldwide, including those in Africa, are grappling with issues of both security and development, and increasingly recognizing the complex linkages between them. Thus, “Security and Development” was the featured topic of a June 20, 2012, plenary session for the 14th annual Senior Leaders Seminar sponsored June 18-29 by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. The seminar took place in Arlington, Virginia, and was attended by 70 security sector professionals and other government leaders from 40 Africa nations.  Academic discussions at the Africa Center are conducted under a strict policy of non-attribution to allow free and open discussion. However, several presenters agreed to allow portions of their presentations to appear on the record in order to promote a wider exchange of ideas.)

In the fourth Plenary Session of the 2012 Senior Leader’s Seminar, Dr. Paul Williams of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and Dr. Assis Malaquias of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies presented on the topic of security and development.

Dr. Williams aimed to give a “bird’s eye view” of the security and development relationship.  He described how, within the last ten years, security and development have begun to be considered together, rather than separately. He called this new paradigm “the security and development nexus.”  Based on research for the recent book Security and Development in Global Politics (Georgetown University Press, 2012), however, he pointed out that there are many ways of thinking about both security (e.g. human, ecological, national) and development, which have implications for the exact relationship between the two. A view of security and development as separate and distinct produces a zero-sum relationship, in which policymakers face the classic trade-off between guns and butter. The view that prevails within government now, according to Dr. Williams, is of a hierarchical relationship, where security concerns come first and development choices are structured around them.

Dr. Williams’ own view is that there is “no single or simple relationship between them,” but that the human security model of security complements the nexus concept best, even though the national security paradigm still dominates. He closed by noting the danger of securitizing every issue, as it leads to overly militaristic solutions.

Dr. Malaquias, meanwhile, concentrated his share of the session on Africa’s relationship to these issues. He spoke at length on development, noting that it must not be confused with growth, which is only a precondition for development. While many African countries are growing economically, fewer are developing, which can be defined as undergoing improvements in qualitative welfare. Dr. Malaquias remarked that Africa must still have its “missing revolutions”—agricultural, industrial, knowledge, and service.

As a defense economist, he then asked the questions of how to allocate Africa’s current scarce resources between security and development, and whether security spending can actually hurt development. On the one hand, it reduces savings and investment; on the other, like any government spending, it boosts aggregate demand — in this case by stimulating security related sectors of the economy.

A minimum amount of security is always necessary to fulfill the responsibility of government to defend its territory and protect its people. He thus concluded that the key for African countries is to determine an efficient balance of spending between both.

Summary prepared by Elizabeth Casano, economics major at Northwestern University. Ms. Casano is a 2012 summer intern at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

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