Resilience for One Guyana

After World War II, the State is considered to be the main actor in creating security to ensure the welfare of its people through the provision of economic benefits, social service, health, education, law, order, jobs, and infrastructure. Thus, the State continues to maintain its main role in the economic, political, social and cultural life for its citizens. Security comes from the Latin “securus” which means freedom from danger, fears and threats. There are two approaches to define security: the first is the traditional definition, namely the security of a State that can be secured by military forces from other countries and must be protected by the country with its military power. In this approach, the State is both a subject and an object in creating security; the second is the non-traditional definition, namely security which is focused on the security needs of non-State actors.
In the past decade, the concept of resilience is increasingly being used in conjunction with national security. The term has evolved from a purely academic and engineering interest to dedicated incorporation in national and international security policies. One example of the former is Bulgaria’s 2016 cybersecurity strategy “Resilient Bulgaria 2020”. The resilience-based approach to cybersecurity, where resiliency is defined as “the ability to anticipate, withstand, recover from, and adapt to adverse conditions, stresses, attacks, or compromises on systems that use or are enabled by cyber resources, is turning into a de-facto standard guiding both systems engineering and the search for adequate organisational arrangements. The United Nations embraced the concept at the beginning of this century. In 2005, the World Conference on Disaster Reduction adopted the “Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015”, which placed the focus on strengthening the resilience of nations and communities to disasters.
The uncertainty and the unpredictability of the security environment are another reason to embrace the concept of resilience. Given the broad spectrum of threats and security challenges, the proliferation of conventional and unconventional conflicts, the fuzzy boundaries between military, asymmetrical and hybrid threats, and the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, NATO for instance, turned to the need to enhance the resilience of each member state and the alliance as a whole.
Once the nature of resilience and policy goals are determined, consideration must be given on how to actually foster the type of resilience that one wants. Clearly, different expressions of resilience and the resilience of different elements of society (people, communities, infrastructure, companies, the economy, etc) require different resilience-building tools. Therefore, broad security policy focused on the need for resilience will only be as successful as the speci?city and application success of resilience-building tools targeted at the various resilience sub-elements in a social system, whether social, technical, economic, military, or environmental.
In Singapore, for instance, building community resilience has become a fundamental objective in the national security discussion. The national approach to security through resilience is encompassed by the “Be As One” (2009-2011) concept and the Government’s “Let’s Stand Together” Facebook page, suggesting the importance of collective action in the prevention of threats. In deploying the resilience approach for “a cohesive society” and “an engaged people”, Singapore projects a central role for the citizen in addressing threats to the nation. This national security programme is overseen at the ministerial level, but is largely operationalised at the community level through a wide range of engagement and risk-communication resources.
The key commonality of most resilience approaches is that there is an emphasis on a role for the citizen based on the need to act as a “responsible” member of society. This “responsibilisation” of the population re?ects several driving factors: experience with disruptive events like terrorist attacks and natural disasters, coupled with an insuf?cient State emergency response; the inability to know and predict dangers, and prevent them from happening; the increasing costs of disasters; the privatisation of critical infrastructure; and lastly, there is a growing desire within civil society to be involved in managing and mitigating risks.
These concerns should become part and parcel of the Government’s “One Guyana” vision which ineluctably will have to deal with our resilience.