Societal Security in the Baltic Sea Region: Expertise Mapping and Raising Policy Relevance

The Latvian Institute of International Affairs in partnership with the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and the Centre of International and Regional Policy is pleased to announce that within the project:  “Societal Security in the Baltic Sea Region: Expertise Mapping and Raising Policy Relevance” a long-awaited collection of articles is coming out this spring!

As the book project "Societal Security in the Baltic Sea Region: Expertise Mapping and Raising Policy Relevance" is growing in volume (with contributions from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Belarus), a number of preliminary conclusions can be made. Firstly, the concept of societal security is slowly gaining recognition in the eyes and approaches of security stakeholders of all levels, despite governmental actors still clinging to terms, such as resilience, total defence, emergency preparedness, human security or variations of the term (societal safety, safety of the society). This means that major problems of translation still prevail; yet, the concept of societal security has entered the vocabulary of the multiplicity of the Baltic Sea Region languages - for instance, samfunnssikkerhet (in Norwegian) and kerksus (in Estonian). 

Secondly, the main societal security narratives vary across the region - from "soft" issues, related to national identities, interethnic tensions and fragile media/cyber environments (and therefore echoing the definition of Wæver), ecological threats, the economy, the welfare system, infrastructure and services, gender-based violence, to more conventional conceptualizations, related to military defense, civilian defense and psychological defense. It is, however, clear, that the issues falling into the category of societal security require a whole-of-society approach - which is also a common point in the thinking of the governmental and non-governmental in the Baltic sea region. 

Thirdly, there is a great number of stakeholders, involved in the activities related to security in the region. The most striking difference lies in the highly centralized models, such as the ones in Belarus and Russia, to decentralized/horizontal ones, such as in the case of Sweden; and the "whole of government" models, with one or more coordinating nods, such as in the cases of Latvia and Estonia. It also seems that the non-governmental sector (often companies and firms, related to infrastructure) and its level of engagement is largely determined by the amount of attention the governmental structure pays to the given sub-sector of societal security. On the flip side, in cases such as Latvia and Lithuania, the expertise of societal security as a way of approaching security is only slowly emerging in the academic space (various think tanks and research centres), therefore, the official approaches remain to be formulated.

Stay tuned for the full collection of articles this spring!

The “Societal Security in the Baltic Sea Region: Expertise Mapping and Raising Policy Relevance” project will seek to learn from Nordic best practices in societal security research and develop non-Nordic research and expertise on this issue, contributing to more informed political and expert debates on societal security in the Baltic countries, Poland, Northeast Russia and Belarus. It will also provide recommendations for policy-makers and experts for continued work on this issue.

More about the project read here.

The project is carried out by the Latvian Institute of International Affairs in cooperation with the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA), Finland and the Centre of International and Regional Policy (CIRP), Russia. It is supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Publicēts 28. februāris, 2018