Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 11/2012

Securing the State: National Security in Contemporary times

Sir David Omand GCB

November 2012

S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies


This lecture draws lessons from the experience of the first decade of the 21st century about how best to think about national security in modern times. Two related themes are identified. The first theme explores the connections between how we define the risks – both threats and hazards - to national security in human terms, how we use approach of risk management to maintain adequate public security, and as a result how we need to invest in modern intelligence to help in that task of risk management. The second related theme is about what can be learned specifically about maintaining security against terrorism and political violence since 9/11, and the connections that need to be made between public security, civil liberties, and human rights and the limits of counter-terrorism policy in a democracy.