Academics & Research

Q&A: Guest professor from Amsterdam leads security in war course



An emeritus professor on human security at the Free University in Amsterdam, Mient Jan Faber, will again teach a 12-day course titled “Human Security from Below in War Situations” beginning Nov. 4 through The Honors College.

The course will take a hard look at the nature of war and how it has changed since World War II. The transformation of the way human security is practiced during these situations is highlighted and humanitarian efforts to intervene are also assessed in the two-week session.

Faber experienced first-hand the dangers of wars during his experience in Sarajevo, Bosnia in 1993, where he landed in a destroyed airport amidst gunfire. The Daily Cougar had an opportunity to speak with Faber to answer some questions about the course and its importance.

The Daily Cougar: What are some titles that you have held?

Mient Jan Faber: I have been the secretary general of the Interchurch Peace Council in the Netherlands from 1974 to 2013. Since 1990, I have been the director of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, whose headquarters are in Baku, Azerbaijan.

TDC: How did your experience in Bosnia define your understanding of security?

MJF: Suddenly, I understood what human security from below was about. I have to care for my own security right now. There is no police or army — no state that is there to protect me. It is my own job now. So that is what I call human security from below. In a normal situation, the state guarantees my security; there are always soldiers, cops, et cetera around that are there to help you if necessary. That is what I call human security from above.

TDC: What does this course offer students?

MJF: Assume you live in Syria nowadays. There is a civil war going on, indeed a war of all against all. … The American president has made it crystal clear that he will not send his troops to Syria to protect you. … No human security from above. So your whole protection is your own business and has to come from below. How is this going to work? We will discuss that in class and watch some videos.

TDC: What questions from history will this class address?

MJF: I was born in 1940 and remember World War II. The Jewish community in Holland was not protected by the Dutch, and almost all of them were deported to Germany and slaughtered in concentration camps. Why was there no protection from above in the Netherlands?

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