[LETTERS to the editor]Call for proactive crisis management

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[LETTERS to the editor]Call for proactive crisis management

Many people seem to have grave concerns over the national crisis management system in recent days. Recurring trial and error, including belated reporting, lack of plans and inadequate countermeasures whenever we have a national crisis, can be attributed chiefly to the fact that our national crisis management system has been operated, more often than not, arbitrarily under the influence of political ideology, rather than by laws and principles to ensure the stability and sustainability of the system.

Korea’s past administrations have so far repeatedly established and abolished the secretariat of the National Security Council. Meanwhile, in times of national crisis, emergency committee meetings, including government-ruling party consultative meetings or unification and security policy coordination meetings, have taken precedence over meetings of the National Security Council.

Second, there is a shortage of crisis management experts with different specialties.

Third, the authority and function of crisis information briefing rooms at ministries are limited due to a weak legal ground for their establishment and a shortage of full-time employees. This results in difficulties in collecting, analyzing, evaluating and comprehensively reporting information.

Fourth, governance in the government, nongovernmental organizations and companies still leaves much to be desired.

Lastly, inappropriate terminology are widely in use in the national security arena.

For example, a compound term, “diplomacy and security” is contradictory since diplomacy, which is a part of multifarious national security policies, cannot be on equal terms with the entire national security field. The term should be reviewed lest national security policy becomes biased toward foreign policies.

If the problems mentioned above are not solved, it is hard to expect that the national crisis management system will be operated in a desirable way.

What would be the prerequisites for the national crisis management system to be properly operated?

First, the legal basis for operating the national crisis management system should be established to ensure the stability and sustainability of the system while refraining from turning to emergency meetings too often.

Second, the government should select and activate crisis management experts in specific fields, including unification, diplomacy, national defense and the economy as crisis management plans need to be differentiated according to various factors and types of crises nowadays. The selection of experts from diverse fields, including academia, experienced professionals and the private sector is recommended for balanced crisis management plans.

Third, the function of the crisis information briefing rooms at ministries should be reinforced.

What is urgently needed is a legal basis to allow the organ to fulfill its duties ? not only the supervision of crisis management operations at each ministry, but also collecting, analyzing and evaluating information to come up with effective solutions. Beefing up the units and staff according to their respective functions is advised. The government also needs to carry out unification of the command communications network to cover both times of peace and war. It also needs to introduce top-notch intelligence facilities and establish vertical and horizontal integrated information systems between the central and local governments.

Fourth, governance between the government and nongovernmental organizations based on voluntary partnership should be established so citizens can participate in decision making regarding crisis management policies.

Last but not least, it should end use of the term “diplomacy and security.” Crossing out the “diplomacy” part is called for in the existing job titles and names of organizations such as “chief officer for diplomacy and security” and “diplomacy and security policy coordinating committee.”

Jeong Chan-kwon, researcher, Korea Institute of Crisis Management
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