Comprehensive Approach to Security Centers on Local Engagement – Caitlin Dearing Scott
Caitlin Dearing Scott, MAC
March 14, 2014
In remarks delivered on his behalf at the 31st session of the Arab Interior Ministers Council on Wednesday in Marrakesh, King Mohammed VI called for a new approach to security to better meet today’s security challenges.
He noted, “The concept of real security is much broader then the narrow meaning it is usually given. Security primarily means putting the citizen at the heart of public policy, capitalizing on an effective social partnership in which the State and the citizens mutually supplement and reinforce one another—a partnership in which security imperatives, development requisites, and respect for human rights go hand in hand.”
Toward this end, the King advocated a holistic approach to security on two levels. On the conceptual level, he stressed the need to view democracy, development, security, and stability closely intertwined.
On the operational level, he advocated solutions involving citizen engagement, national measures, and regional and international cooperation.
This expanded definition echoes what security experts and governments alike have long acknowledged—confronting security threats requires cooperation at all levels to promote development, human rights, and citizen empowerment.
In light of the continued turbulence in the region, the too-often violent confrontations that mark the transitions ongoing across much of the MENA region, and the unfinished business of political empowerment, the King’s message challenges Arab leaders to continue efforts to actively partner with citizens in efforts to achieve security.
Which brings me back to the concept of operational engagement at the local level that was an important part of the King’s speech. While he praised the partnership of joint Arab action (which the Council called for and adopted in the “Marrakesh Declaration of Struggle Against Terrorism”), the King specifically detailed the role of the citizen.
He noted, “successful security policies and effective pre-emptive measures hinged on the involvement and contribution of the citizens, who fully realize their constructive role in ensuring security and serenity, in the same way as they plan an active part in the development process and in creating the right conditions for investment and the achievement of progress.” It was for this reason that Morocco has embarked on a political reform process to devolve power and empower citizens at the local level.
By empowering citizens, Morocco is not only improving people’s lives, but engaging those people as a tool in promoting stability—and fighting insecurity across the country. Security threats begin at the local level and it makes sense that the fight to confront them begins there as well.
To me this means proactively challenging the status quo by improving quality of life, generating jobs, making social services accessible, encouraging equity, and defining citizenship in terms that leave no one in society marginalized or reliant on benefactors for their rights.
Security for King Mohammed VI is closely tied to human dignity and empowerment; that is certainly the way forward to build confidence in the new social contract that is emerging.
Caitlin Dearing Scott is Senior Vice President of Research, Projects and Programs at the Moroccan American Center.