EastWest Institute Conference Highlights Economic Security and Regional Issues

Commentary | October 03, 2011

Economic security is a core part of the international security picture, participants at the opening of 8th Worldwide Security Conference held in the World Customs Organization offices in Brussels said Monday.

"Economic security is really considered by everyone as very much part of security itself," said Christian Masset, Director General of Global Affairs, Development and Partnerships for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The government of France, in its capacity of chair of the G8 and G20, co-convened the conference.

The Worldwide Security Conference (WSC) is convened annually by the EastWest Institute (EWI), an international nonprofit policy organization based in New York and Brussels.
"Our discussions about international security this year are a lot less about militaries and terrorism and a lot more about economic security," EWI President and CEO John Mroz said.
Speakers emphasized that policymakers are only beginning to address these problems, in a reactive rather than proactive way. "It looks like we're running a global reaction policy," said EWI Vice Chairman Dr. Armen Sarkissian.
Prof. Yuri Pavlenko of the Russian Academy of Sciences emphasized the need for sustainable economic development. Because of rising energy prices, Russia has "economic growth without economic development," Pavlenko said.
"With the world population growing from six to nine billion by 2050, sustainability becomes one of the major global security issues," Mroz said. "Only a form of East–West, public–private partnership can address it."
Participants also addressed security issues in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the surrounding region.
Ikram Sehgal, Chairman of Pathfinder G4S and a member of the EWI Board of Directors, rejected the suggestion that the Pakistani government was behind the assassination last month of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani.
"The country that is most affected by Rabbani's murder is Pakistan," Sehgal said at a WSC press conference.
The WSC, which includes speakers from more than a dozen countries, will also address cybersecurity, U.S.–China relations, weapons proliferation and security in Southwest Asia on Tuesday and Wednesday.