Security: A Multidisciplinary Normative Approach

Security: A Multidisciplinary Normative Approach

16-17 October 2008, hosted by the University of Oslo, Department of Public and International Law

The Department of Public and International Law  
General Information -- Guide to Oslo -- Contact Person -- Conference Overview -- Program -- Anthology

General Information

The conference will take place at the Voksenåsen hotel ( International guests will be lodged there as well.

Upon arrival at Oslo Gardermoen Airport, participants should take the airport shuttle train ("Flytoget" - see ) to Oslo Central Station (Oslo S) where they can take a taxi up to the hotel.

Oslo can be cold in October, so please bring warm sweaters and socks, overcoat, and good boots or shoes that can tolerate rain or snow.

Guide to Oslo

Contact Persons

Cecilia Bailliet
Phone: +47 90740305

Øyvind Henden
Phone: +47 97600690

Elisabeth Wenger-Hagene
Phone: +47 22850062

Conference Overview

Security is an all-encompassing term of art which is subject to diverse interpretations and understandings. It envelops notions of protection against trans-national threats, including terrorism, organized crime, narco-trafficking, refugee movements, environmental disasters and degradation, state failure, ethnic strife, poverty, infectious diseases, inter-state conflict, internal conflict, and proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The security debate also raises the issue of state sovereignty/non-intervention. Does our obligation towards human security, sometimes expressed as the “responsibility to protect”, justify an increase in military interventions not only in failed states, but in repressive states and states that are incapable of securing their citizens basic needs? What are the conditions justifying such interventions, and how should combatant status and obligations be understood when military personnel fight under the aegis of ‘protection’?

In the recent period, the UiO law faculty has recruited researchers to address various aspects related to the field of security, e.g. international criminal law, international humanitarian law, refugee law, human rights, environmental law, and ethics. All researchers have identified the need to explore issues pertaining to the legitimacy of practices pursued in their respective fields pursuant to the evolution of national, regional, and international norms and institutions seeking to maintain security.

We seek to stimulate dialogue and cooperation between the various researchers in order to measure the degree of normative evolution within the fields of law, political science, and ethics and its impact upon our current understanding of security.

We seek discussion of whether there are there normative gaps in our understanding of security in each of the respective fields of human rights, humanitarian law, refugee law, etc. Is there a lack of clarity/vagueness? Alternatively, is there normative overlap or congruity between the notions of security in each arena?

Similarly, what conclusions can we draw upon comparison of the normative standards pertaining to security at the international, regional and national levels? Is the context of various authorities rendering decisions pertaining to the recognition/response to security situations one which complicates the interpretation of the term? Further, what is the legitimacy of the institutions creating security related norms? What effect do these norms have on persons or areas beyond the traditional jurisdiction of the institution?

In response to the increased importance of Non-State or private actors in conflict and security operations, we invite identification of the special normative conundrums resulting from their participation. The identification of individuals and groups of individuals claiming rights to security (women exposed to violence) as well as exhibiting the power to impact the security of other individuals or even states, challenges the paradigms by which the right to security and the duty not to impinge upon the security of others is altered.

Further, we wish to explore how one measures the legitimacy of the application of the principle of security, as well as the legitimacy of the enforcement mechanisms.

Finally, human security means protecting vital freedoms. But appeals are commonly made to security as an alleged justification for setting fundamental freedoms aside. We will address the problem that appeals to security contain moral dilemmas, not least exemplified in the ongoing “war on terror”. Can security for political collectives justify setting aside fundamental rights of individuals? Is there a tension between state security and human security? A related question is how security relates to other important values, such as liberty and privacy. The notion of human security seems to encompass such values, whereas the narrower concept of state security seems, at least in practice, to conflict with it. Is the concept of security a normatively ambiguous term covering radically different and irreconcilable phenomena, or is there a common normative source from which all the various types of security are derived?


Thursday 16 October

08.00 Maxitaxi from Universitetsplassen to Voksenåsen

08:30 Coffee and registration

09:00 Welcome -  Associate Professor Cecilia Bailliet, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo

0915: Keynote address by Professor Marco Sassoli, University of Geneva, Switzerland:
“The Concept of Security in International Law Relating to Armed Conflict”

10:00 Coffee, Cookies & Fruit

10:15 Professor Marco Odello, Aberystwyth University, “International Security and Regional Organisations: Considerations under International Law”

11:00 Discussion. Chair: Arne Willy Dahl

1200: Lunch

Afternoon session - Approaching Security through the Application of International Humanitarian Law: A Review of Normative Gaps

13:00 Ulf-Peter Häußler, Bundeswehr, “General Principles of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law: A Tool to Overcome the War-and-Peace Divide in International Law”

13:45 Coffee Break

14:00 Professor Amos N. Guiora, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, “A Critical Decision Point on the Battlefield-Friend, Foe or Innocent Bystander”

14:45 Discussion. Chair: Arne Willy Dahl

15:15 Coffee, Cookies & Fruit

15:30 Research Fellow Kjetil Mujezinovic Larsen, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, “Removal of Anti-Personnel Mines and Explosive Remnants of War during International Peace Operations”

16:15 Associate Professor Gro Nystuen, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, UiO: "Towards a Ban on Cluster Munitions – the interplay between disarmament diplomacy and humanitarian requirements"

17:00 Discussion. Chair: Nobuo Hayashi, PRIO

17:30 End of Day 1

1900: Aperitif followed by conference dinner

2130: Maxitaxi from Voksenåsen to Universitetsplassen


Friday 17 October

08.00 Maxitaxi from Universitetsplassen to Voksenåsen

08:45 Coffee Cookies & Fruit

Topic 2: Conflicting Definitions of Security within the Realm of Ethics and Democracy

09:00 Associate Professor Cecilia Bailliet, University of Oslo, The “Unrule” of Law: Unintended Consequences of Applying the Responsiblity to Prevent to Counterterrorism: A Case Study of Colombia's Raid in Ecuador.

09:45 Post-doc. Researcher Lene Bomann-Larsen, University of Oslo:  “Private Security Companies in a Just War Framework”

10:30 Coffee & Discussion. Chair: Post Doc Researcher Jo Stigen, The Department of Public and International Law, UiO.

11:00 Professor Christopher Kutz, University of California at Berkeley, USA, "Democratic Self-Governance and Security”

11:45 Professor Larry May, Washington University, St. Louis “Global Procedural Rights and Security ”

12:30 Discussion. Chair: Postdoc Jacob Elster, University of Oslo Ethics Programme

13:00: Lunch

14:00 Researcher Frederique Petit, COT Institute for Safety, Security and Crisis Management “Security and terrorism: from multidisciplinary approaches to a clear and consistent counterterrorist practice.”

14:45 Coffee, Cookies, Fruit & Discussion. Chair: Professor Inger Johanne Sand

Topic 3:  Environmental Security

15:15  Post-Doc. Researcher Jo Stigen & Associate Professor Ole Kristian Fauchald, University of Oslo: “Environmental Security”

15:45 Discussion

16:15 Coffee break

16:30 Panel debate: The practitioners’ view

  • Fellow Sean Kanuck, National Security Council: ”Pragmatic Law for International Security”
  • Comment by Marie Collett Sælør, PST
  • Comment by Siri Frigaard

17:30 Closing remarks on the conference and the forthcoming anthology Security: A Multidisciplinary Normative Approach (M. Nijhoff, 2009) 
by Associate Professor Cecilia Bailliet (ed.)


Published Feb. 9, 2011 11:44 AM