Security at Davos
As the World Economic Forum kicks off in earnest, the only real cause of buzz so far has been the apparent suicide of its long-time security chief, Markus Reinhardt. Reinhardt was an aggressive man: he took the decision to fire water cannons at demonstrators in sub-freezing temperatures in 2001; he was also acquitted of murder in 2002 after ordering the lethal shooting of a man.
For the 2010 meeting, I’m sure that this news will mean that security will be if anything stepped up. But I’m hoping that maybe as of next year calmer minds will start prevailing, and that the multiple layers of security cordons will largely be kept in storage. Part of the attraction of Davos is its small-town feeling, but everybody here has to plan out their day strategically, to minimize the number of times they have to pass through metal detectors to get into the convention center, the media center, or the Belvedere Hotel. The result is a constant and not particular pleasant feeling of being hemmed in whenever you’re taking part in official activities. More generally, the omnipresent and high-profile security does tend to cut against the much-vaunted “spirit of Davos”. It would be wonderful if, next year, the World Economic Forum was the first major international confab to start reducing its security levels.