Editor’s Note: Cécilia Attias is the former first lady of France and founder of the Cécilia Attias Foundation for Women. Richard Attias is executive chairman of Richard Attias & Associates and founder of the New York Forum Institute. He produced the World Economic Forum in Davos from 1995 to 2008 and co-founded the Clinton Global Initiative and the Nobel Laureates Conference. The views expressed in this commentary are their own.
This summer has been marked by one terrorist attack after the next.
Cécilia and Richard Attias: To combat terrorism, public and private sectors need to collaborate on new security measures
In the wake of the brutal terrorist attacks in Rouen, Nice, Wuerzburg and Ansbach, and during a summer that has seen innocent civilians killed in cities from Istanbul to Orlando to Dhaka, we can no longer be politically correct. We can no longer stand by while public and private leaders fail to take action to protect their citizens and customers.
As a mother and a father, as a Jew born in the Arab world and a Christian born in Europe and as global citizens who now live between the Middle East, the United States, Africa and Europe, it is our responsibility to use our platform to raise our voices and demand that government and corporate leaders act immediately to ensure basic security and to defeat terrorism at its source.
There is no doubt that we are at war and have been so for some time. This is not a temporary or passing crisis. The time is now to use our military, intelligence, technology and economic power to prevent terrorism and violent attacks and adapt more stringent security systems.
First, we must build a coalition of allies that includes active, meaningful and consistent leadership from the Arab world. Arab leaders from Morocco to the Gulf States must condemn terrorist attacks with a stronger, louder and more public voice. Look to the leadership of King Adbullah II of Jordan, who has called the battle against ISIS “a fight between good and evil” that requires military, intelligence and moral force.
Second, corporations and businesses must do more to fortify public spaces as securely as government buildings, from concert halls to offices to hotels. Many sports stadiums, such as AT&T Park in San Francisco and Coors Field in Denver, have already started using technology systems that use fingerprints to screen fans as they enter.
Third, as taxpayers, we must join this fight by supporting larger investments in public safety and security just as we do with other vital services like health care and education. We must also learn to live with more intrusive levels of security in our everyday lives. This will mean more metal detectors, more guards, more checkpoints and more barricades as part of our daily routines.
Fourth, it is time for technology giants in the United States, Israel, Korea, Canada and France to contribute and volunteer their expertise and talent to help governments enhance security and prevent attacks. Their knowledge and expertise is necessary in a range of critical areas – from stopping terrorists who employ social media to recruit young and malleable minds to spurring innovation in biometric technology so we can better identify potential terrorist threats.
Fifth, in an era of constrained budgets and multidimensional threats, governments, corporations and citizens can no longer operate in silos. It is time to build a public-private partnership on the scale of what was done to reconstruct Europe after World War II. The ambitious Marshall Plan involved a combination of $13 billion in U.S. economic aid and technical assistance from private companies to assist European countries and industries in modernizing factories, rebuilding infrastructure and more.
To that end, we call on policymakers, business and technology leaders and security experts to convene as soon as possible a U.N.-like “security summit” with a dual focus: dramatically strengthening security in six critical areas: public venues, transportation, cultural and educational institutions, workplaces, border control and data and technology; and joining forces across businesses and government to eradicate evil and prevent terrorism in the first place.
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If our business and government leaders do not make sweeping changes now, we will see larger and more barbaric atrocities committed against innocent civilians, an exodus of business, investments and talent from countries that are deemed unsafe and more citizens turning to reactionary and isolationist movements that foment fear.
There is no more time to foolishly wait. The public, private and civic sectors must join forces to formulate a collective and coordinated effort to enhance security measures. We must be strong, determined, innovative, creative and relentless.
And we must act now.
Cécilia Attias is the former first lady of France and founder of the Cécilia Attias Foundation for Women. Richard Attias is executive chairman of Richard Attias & Associates and founder of the New York Forum Institute. He produced the World Economic Forum in Davos from 1995 to 2008 and co-founded the Clinton Global Initiative and the Nobel Laureates Conference. The views expressed in this commentary are their own.