National Security

Threats to national security are ever-changing. Countries and their citizens now face a myriad of diverse and complex threats, both endurable and terminal. These dangers range from economic recessions, environmental degradation and climate change, to pandemics, cyberwarfare, civil wars and political uprisings, as well as the emergence of sophisticated, well-funded terror groups and intrastate challenges to territorial boundaries.

Yet the current security discourse has brought into question the effectiveness of nation states to ensure greater security and stability for all. Some view them as perpetuating threats to individual security and liberty. Now more than ever, states must prove themselves adequate for the task of providing national security in a complex and hostile environment. Parliamentarians as the primary interface between a government and its citizens have a responsibility to defend the rights of the individual, balanced with the safety and security of the majority.

International Parliamentary Conference on National Security

The International Parliamentary Conference on National Security, held in Westminster between the 27 - 31 March 2017, was designed to increase parliamentarians’ knowledge of and build capacity on national security through engaging interactive discussion sessions and networking opportunities with key stakeholders. The programme focused on a range of themes covering legislation, committee scrutiny, budgets, and engagement with civil society, international institutions and the private sector.

The Conference was part of a series of major international parliamentary conferences held annually by CPA UK to explore parliamentarians' role in economic and social development. Find more information on the conference series here.

The project outcome report can be found here.

Bilateral Engagement

As part of its bilateral parliamentary strengthening work, CPA UK has also supported a number of individual legislatures in strengthening oversight of national security. A notable example is CPA UK's work with the Parliament of Pakistan in 2012 and 2014 in partnership with PILDAT, as well as our programmes with Kenya and Ghana. 

Commonwealth Parliamentary Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Project

The World Wide Web has only been in existence since 1991, but today 3.3 billion people are online; approximately 46% of the global population. Billions more are set to join them over the next decade. Cyberspace is an interdependent network of information technology which includes the internet, telecommunications networks and computer systems. Cyberspace is transforming the global community by driving economic growth, connecting people and providing new ways to communicate and co-operate with one another. However the growth and increasing reliance on cyberspace from banking to education needs to be matched by global efforts to keep it secure. 

Cyberspace brings opportunities and threats. While cyberspace facilitates openness it can also make states, companies and individuals more vulnerable to hackers, terrorists, criminal and foreign intelligence services who for various reasons seek to intimidate, steal, spy or destroy data and the infrastructure of cyberspace. For most states, cyber security impacts upon numerous government agencies, ranging from intelligence, military, foreign and domestic departments as well as business, commerce, financial and even health and education. A collective approach must be taken by state actors to mitigate these cyber threats through comprehensive and effective strategies.

Parliamentarians have a responsibility and mandate to ensure national security is in place as elected/nominated representatives. At the core of their work is a responsibility to legislate, ensure policy oversight, budget approval as well as constituency engagement. As such, parliamentarians are uniquely positioned to influence the shape and content of their respective national cybersecurity strategies and other implementation processes.


Regional Workshops in Asia-Pacific, Africa & the Caribbean 

The Commonwealth Secretariat, CPA UK and the Organization of American States (OAS) in collaboration with other partner organisations organised three Regional Workshops (phase 1) in Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Caribbean between July and October 2016 as part of the Commonwealth Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Project. Each workshop was overseen by one partner alongside a host Parliament and brought together 30-50 parliamentarians from Commonwealth countries and territories across the region for a 3.5 day programme. The workshops examined cybersecurity within their own regional contexts. The regional workshops were designed to allow participants to share experiences and case studies, benefit from discussions on issues relevant to their country and constituency, and network with parliamentarians and representatives from NGOs and the private sector in neighbouring countries.

CPA UK oversaw the Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop, hosted by the Queensland Parliament in Brisbane, Australia which took place from 25-28 July 2016. The report can be found here.

OAS oversaw the Caribbean Regional Workshop, which took place in Washington DC on 17-20 October 2016.

The Commonwealth Secretariat oversaw the African Regional Workshop, which took place on 28 November- 1 December 2016.