Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon book coverOn October 18 the NYU School of Law’s Institute for International Law and Justice welcomed Lieutenant Colonel Shannon Beebe, senior Africa analyst in the U.S. Army, and Mary Kaldor, director of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Introduced by Robert Howse, Lloyd C. Nelson Professor of International Law, Beebe and Kaldor discussed their new book, The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon: Human Security and the New Rules of War and Peace, which advocates a “human security” approach focused on protection of the individual and communities rather than a nation. Human security requires a blend of military and civil forces, Kaldor said, with the objective of protecting people rather than defeating the enemy, as in the old model.

Kaldor, a longtime peace and human rights activist, and Beebe, a military officer, both reached an ideological turning point during the war in Bosnia. Kaldor decided that abolishing ethnic cleansing required the use of force, and Beebe questioned whether aircrafts and tanks were the best tools to protect civilians. The human security model allowed the two to meet in the middle.

Beebe acknowledged it could be a difficult paradigm shift. “We can only achieve those things for which we have words, and right now in our security narrative we do not have the vocabulary, we do not have the context to discuss security in 21st-century terminology.”

Joanne Mariner, director of Human Rights Watch’s Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program, and Global Visiting Professor Eyal Benvenisti served as commentators in the discussion.

Watch the full panel (1 hr, 51 min):

Posted October 25, 2010