2016 SECURITY JAM – Beyond conventional security challenges

Friends of Europe’s Security Jam is the only global online brainstorm on international security challenges. It unites some 50 VIP Jammers, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence and NGO leaders, and thousands of experts from around the world. Six topics including organised crime, violent extremism, conflict prevention, human rights and more are discussed in parallel to develop innovative solutions to global security challenges. Read the 2016 VIP Jammers’ biographies.


Start: 25 April – 14:00 CET / 8 a.m. EST

End: 28 April – 19:00 CET / 1 p.m. EST

Governments are often criticised for reacting to rather than preparing for predictable crises. Only a few specialised analysts foresaw the Arab Spring, the rise of Daesh and the EU’s massive influx of refugees. Not only in Europe but worldwide, their reactions were contradictory and even counter-productive. Natural disasters, too, can have a catastrophic global impact. Last year’s COP21 Paris Summit recognised the risks of climate change will exacerbate droughts and increase tensions, while water, food and energy security problems across Asia are paralleled by the demographic explosion in Sub-Saharan Africa.

How can improved early-warning mechanisms be built on information-sharing between intelligence services and crowdsourcing from citizens and social media? “Big data” analytics and the use of artificial intelligence will be important, but the means to access this information are often held privately actors and require much more effective public-private cooperation. The sensitive nature of intelligence makes regional, let alone global, cooperation a distant prospect, so how in practical terms can information sharing be improved? Is the multinational intelligence agency suggested by participants in the 2010 Security Jam feasible?

Can the risk analyses and contingency plans of academics and business analysts be fed into decision-making? What role should business and civil society actors play, and what incentives could encourage better information exchange? Is the 2010 Security Jam’s suggestion for an “International Crisis Preparedness Fund” to finance disaster response and a “scarce resources inventory” to predict future tensions still valid, and if so how could it be made operational? Would overarching security goals, similar to the UN’s MDGs and SDGs, do anything to prepare for future crises?


Governments are all too often at the root of violence, corruption and socio-economic underdevelopment that triggers conflict, radicalisation and the forcible displacement of millions of people. Security sector governance, on the other hand, demands the accountability of security services to the people, with parliamentary oversights and public scrutiny. These are not just problems in developing countries, for the growing confrontation between NATO and Russia now threatens the already fragile global security architecture.

Civil society actors, meanwhile, are able to bridge perception gaps and political divides. The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet recognised the importance of unofficial mediation efforts. But high-level (so-called track I) diplomacy is only effective when supported by tribal or religious authorities’ efforts (track II), and then at grassroots level too (track III). Excluding women from diplomatic processes weakens peace initiatives and also severely limits economic growth.

So how should governments better engage with non-governmental actors? What effects will the (re-)emergence of regional actors like Iran, India and China have on the UN and its Security Council? Can a global consensus be reached on helping failed and failing states recover? How should governments around the world assist each other’s Security Sector Reform (SSR) efforts? Will new technologies affect reform processes by improving knowledge exchanges? What mechanisms could lessen tensions between NATO and Russia that risk disrupting peace initiatives? What new roles should regional organisations like the EU, NATO, ECOWAS, the OSCE, the African Union or ASEAN be developing, and how can they overcome political hurdles through closer coordination and the development of much-needed joint approaches? Can the on-the-ground knowhow be better used in conflict prevention and post-conflict stabilisation? And how can gender equality and the interests of minorities be ensured?


Jammers recommended in 2014 the “creation of an Organisation for Security and Co-operation in the Middle East”, but since then the Israel-Palestine conflict has spilled over well beyond the immediate region and the Syrian civil war has killed many thousands and created millions of refugees. The important deal on Iran’s nuclear programme is criticised by some for fear of increased military capability, while tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia are heightening the risk of proxy wars escalating into open Sunni- and Shia-led conflicts. Further destabilisation is being caused by the free-fall of oil prices, the establishment of a Kurdish state in parts of Syria and Iraq and growing Western support for Kurdish factions fighting against Daesh.

Can these dynamics be interrupted so that economic development and prosperity are re-established? What are the prospects for a new security architecture, similar to the OSCE, capable of introducing confidence-building measures to the Middle East? Is some sort of “Marshall Plan” for the Middle East feasible, for example to help in the reconstruction of post-conflict Yemen? Do regional bodies like the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) or the Arab League offer a basis for ideas like this, and what lessons should other international actors be drawing?

What mechanisms could ensure that the nations now militarily involved in Syria reach the consensus needed to avoid an escalating proxy war? With what mandate should members of the international community deploy boots on the ground against Daesh, and is any role emerging for Elder Statesmen, such as those, who achieved the Oslo Accords?


Governments and their electorates around the world are no longer willing to engage in expensive, long-term missions with unclear goals. Maritime missions against piracy in the Gulf of Aden have enjoyed broad support, but the UN Security Council remains divided on the responsibility to protect (R2P) principle and the policy of non-intervention.

The changing nature of peacekeeping is giving rise to a wide range of tasks and capabilities which the military forces do not yet possess, requiring a rethink of the divisions of responsibility between civilian and military missions. Only few countries possess capabilities like aircraft carriers, air-to-air refuelling and high-tech surveillance technology with drones, to embark individually on missions. Joint operations also require military interoperability and strategic agreements on safe zones.

What does this mean in practice for future military and peacekeeping missions? Will the Security Council still be relevant and effective? What future awaits the African Union, the League of Arab States and UN peacekeepers? Given the state of Europe’s defences, what are the prospects for EU member states to increase their defence budgets and revive the EU Battle Groups? Should other regions adopt elements of the EU’s and NATO’s strategies on maritime security and develop similar action plans as part of a larger framework to secure shipping routes? How should nations improve interoperability between their civilian and military missions and make them more efficient and cost-effective, and what role is there for industry in ensuring greater operability? How can a whole-of-government approach ensure that the root causes of conflicts rather than the symptoms are addressed? Is military intervention becoming digital, as with the Stuxnet attacks on Iran, and will future military missions have a strong cyber component? Will drones replace manned aircrafts, and if so, how can civilian lives be better protected? Can the international community address in practical terms the risks of proxy wars and hybrid warfare tactics?


Forces around the world responsible for internal security are under pressure to adapt to new challenges, whether they are border guards responding to refugees or police forces confronted by violent extremists. Organised transnational criminal networks, that deal in anything from weapons to human beings, have the power to destabilise societies and corrupt governments, creating narco-states, like Colombia in the 1980s or Guinea-Bissau today. The destruction of criminal organisations demands national, regional and global cooperation, so what will be required of interior security forces by 2025, and must they adapt? Should they conduct forecasting exercises similar to their defence counterparts and to what extent will regional differences lead to differing roles?

How should cooperation between internal security and defence forces evolve at the strategic, tactical and operational levels? Should the military be deployed to combat traffickers, and what sort of legislative changes could improve international cooperation against organised crime? Can cooperation between NGOs and border guards or agencies such as Frontex be improved to enhance assistance for refugees while hitting human traffickers? How best should unarmed drones be used for border surveillance? Can citizens and civil society organisations aid police work while avoiding vigilantism? What impact will cybercrime have on police forces’ budgets? Must police forces cooperate with the private sector to fight cybercriminals, and with what impact on public liberties?


The rise of Daesh in Syria, Iraq and more recently Libya has had devastating consequences that range from the oppression of local populations to the rise of militant Islamism. The previously unheard-of wealth of the jihadist group, its state-like military capabilities and its attractiveness to the disillusioned worldwide has led to its rapid growth and its geographical spread. Groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabaab in Somalia and parts of the so-called “Caucasus Emirate” in Russia have declared their support to Daesh while others – most prominently the Afghan Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra – are engaged in intense fighting. Terrorist attacks in Paris and Istanbul that happened in spite of early warnings have strengthened criticism of intelligence services across Europe.

To defeat Daesh and others, so as to prevent the spread of violent ideology, military solutions will not be enough. Deterring with the promise of retaliation fails against non-geographical threats, leaving international actors often diametrically opposed over how to respond. What is clear, though, is that socio-economic inclusion and the societal integration of minorities will be crucial in addressing the root causes of radicalisation and preventing disillusioned citizens from joining violent extremist groups.

What lessons can we draw from past and current confrontations with violent extremism, such as the German Red Army Faction, the IRA in Ireland, the Red Brigades in Italy, the Afghan Taliban, Hamas in Gaza, the Sri Lankan LTTE or Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan and India? What are the key commonalities and differences? Can the root causes be addressed through a whole-of-government approach, and how should countries of origin prevent radicalisation and stop their citizens from joining groups fighting abroad? Could governments and businesses provide online services, and especially social media platforms, to counter Daesh’s online propaganda? What is the future for signals intelligence (SIGINT) to replace human spies (HUMINT) in the medium term, and how can citizens’ right to privacy be protected when threats to national security are considered so great? Can Daesh’s financial support be cut off?


Download the 2016 Security Jam brochure with the full list of VIP Jammers.
View the 2016 Security Jam programme with a schedule of VIPs and live-chats.


  • Wided Bouchamaoui

    2015 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and President of the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA)
    Wided Bouchamaoui is the founder of “The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet” - along with the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH) and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers - which was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution. She is the first female president of the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA) and has been awarded the ‘Best Business Woman of the Arab World’ by the G8 Deauville Partnerships.

  • Stéphane Dion

    Canadian Minister of Foreign and Global Affairs

  • Elisabeth Guigou

    President of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the French National Assembly and President of the Anna Lindh Foundation

  • Peter Hultqvist

    Swedish Minister of Defence

  • Marina Kaljurand

    Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs

  • Irene Khan

    Director General of the International Development Law Organization and former Secretary General of Amnesty International

  • Joanne Liu*

    International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

  • Bert Koenders

    Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs

  • Didier Reynders

    Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs

  • Michael Roth

    German Minister of State for Europe

  • Maria Zakharova

    Spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Lamberto Zannier

    Secretary General of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

  • Leila Zerrougui

    United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflicts

  • Carl Bildt

    Former Swedish Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trustee of Friends of Europe

  • Heraldo Muñoz

    Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs

  • Sir Adam Thomson

    UK Permanent Representative to NATO

  • Mara Karlin

    U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development


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Moderating partners

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Live chat hosts

Afghanistan Analysts Network
European Union Global Strategy
Gateway House – Indian Council on Global Relations
Igarapé Institute
The Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences
ISS Africa – Institute for Security Studies
WATHI – The West Africa Citizen Think Tank
WIIS Brussels – Women In International Security
WIIS Global
YPFP – Young Professionals in Foreign Policy

Media partners

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Jam coalition

Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA)
Austria Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES) 
Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE) 
Bertelsmann Stiftung 
Center for a New American Security (CNAS)
Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM)
DCAF – Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces
Digital Leadership Institute International (DLII)
ESADEgeo-Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics
European Leadership Network (ELN)
European Organisation of Military Associations (EUROMIL)
Global Diplomatic Forum
Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)
Il Caffè Geopolitico
Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS)
Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS)
Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH)
Institute for Security and Development Policy
Iraqi Women and Future Organization
Law and Internet Foundation
Munich Security Conference (MSC)
Peace Ambassadors for Iraq (PAFI)
SecurePART – Engagement of Civil Society Organizations in Security Research
Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS)
University of Kent – Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS)
Webster University, Athens
Youth Atlantic Treaty Association – YATA International

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