Understanding Modern Security

Mission Statement

The New Security Foundation exists to promote a wider understanding of the nature of modern security and its implications for civil society.

The Foundation has two main objectives. The first is to conduct research into emerging security issues and to produce information and analysis, which can be made available to decision makers in both the public and private sectors. The second is to provide an international forum for debate and discussion about the nature of modern security and its implications.

A network of experts with a background in academia, government, intelligence, the armed forces, the emergency services and business enables the New Security Foundation to draw on an international pool of expertise and provide an insight into emerging defence and security issues.


The New Security Foundation was established by former British parliamentarian Dr Harold Elletson and Janis Folkmanis, economic adviser to the President of Latvia. Dr Elletson was formerly the director of the NATO Forum on Business and Security and the leader of the New Security Programme at the Centre for Defence and International Security Studies (CDISS). Janis Folkmanis is a former official of the European Commission and an expert on economic, security and energy issues affecting Eastern Europe.

During the last twenty years, the nature of security has changed fundamentally and civil society in Europe and elsewhere needs to think carefully about the consequences. The New Security Foundation provides both a focus for research and a forum for dialogue about key issues affecting the security of modern society.

The revolution in security

During the course of the last twenty years, there has been a revolution in the nature of security. This has happened not simply because of political developments, such as the end of the Cold War, nor as a result of particular incidents, such as the terrorist attacks on the United States on the 11th September 2001. The causes of today’s revolution in security are much more fundamental. They relate to the way in which society itself has developed during the course of the last two decades, when the pace of economic, political, social and industrial change has been breathtaking.

The modern, global security environment is now conditioned by such factors as economic globalisation, privatisation of critical infrastructure and the development of new systems of mass communication. Each of these developments on its own would, inevitably, have had a significant impact on traditional defence and security structures. Taken together, however, the effect has been revolutionary and it has changed forever the way in which we look at the world and assess our security needs.

New threats

Many of the economic and political changes that have happened in the last twenty years have contributed to economic growth and higher living standards, particularly in industrialised countries. However, we are now beginning to realise that these benefits have also come at a significant cost. The very system that made us richer has also made us weaker. We are now vulnerable in new ways and the old systems and structures, on which we relied for our security, are increasingly inappropriate. In an interlinked, interdependent, globalised economy, we are uniquely vulnerable and face a range of new threats and dangers.

The last twenty years have brought a true revolution. Nothing is the same. The old security architecture has begun to crumble. We face new enemies, who operate with new strategies, tactics and weapons on new battlefields. The potential for small groups, or even individuals, to create massive, disproportionate economic damage has never been greater. Equally, natural disasters and environmental catastrophes have assumed an increasing economic importance. And growing problems, such as climate change and access to limited natural resources, all have important security consequences.

The New Security Foundation brings together some of modern society’s new security stakeholders to discuss emerging threats and consider new solutions.

New thinking

As today’s security environment is based on conditions that are radically different from anything that existed even in the recent past, there is a need for a wholly new approach to the assessment of emerging security issues. Questions of security are no longer the exclusive preserve of the traditional military, security and foreign policy establishments of the nation state. Now they increasingly concern a much wider audience, which often has a direct interest in them. And, in an era of globalisation and privatisation, the competence of the nation state to act as the final arbiter in matters of security is severely limited.

There is an urgent need for new thinking: about the nature of security itself, about the type of threats we are likely to face and about how we should protect ourselves in the future. There is a need too for a much wider debate about the implications of new security decisions: for our quality of life, our traditional freedoms, our relationship to other people and cultures and even the way we organise society.

The New Security Foundation offers an opportunity to study and discuss the new security environment with leading experts, practitioners and decision-makers. We conduct research into key issues, provide a web forum for discussion and hold regular meetings with leading figures in government, business and academia.