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Prakrut Chauhan asked: What is the basic difference between collective defence and collective security?

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  • Kishore Kumar Khera replies: Defence is a term used for actions or set of actions undertaken by an individual, system, entity, organisation or a state to mitigate damage from an attack or a possible attack. It normally but not necessarily relates to actions against physical aggression. Nowadays virtual dimension too is added in the overarching definition of defence. On the other hand, security is an umbrella term that encompasses multiple dimensions and includes physical, economic, energy, environmental, technological, institutional and legal aspects as well. While the defence is generally against a particular adversary or a type of attack, security covers the holistic well-being of an individual, system, entity, organisation or state that allows sovereign choices. In a sense, defence is a subset of security.

    An entity ideally wishes to take actions for defence or security within inherent means and capabilities. However, when the threat to defence or security challenges is beyond integral means, collaboration is a necessity. While collective defence takes shape as a formal agreement and is very objective, the same is not true for various facets of collective security. Collective security being a multi-dimensional endeavour has a more flexible approach between associates. Allies of collective defence generally move synchronously or at least in the same direction. However, collective security partners could compete or have diametrically opposing priorities and actions in certain domains while still collaborating in other domains.  

    Posted on 17 February 2022

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.