Human Security

Human Security

Introduction

The concept of human security had been a source of heated debates among academic scholars and practitioners in international organizations since after the publication of Human Development Report in 1994 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). With the varying definition and conceptualization of human security, many have become incredulous of the authenticity of the concept. Its ambiguity makes it incapable of providing an appropriate framework for creating multilateral and integrated solutions to world problems.  While the idea is broadly appealing, it is nevertheless confusing as it involves a lot of variables that may not necessarily be associated to each other. Some adhered for a more simplified concept of human security which is primarily concerned with conditions involving threat and violence in order to provide more realistic direction and concrete implications to its advocacy programs.  Still others want an expanded idea of human security that goes beyond the conventional notions of security that highlights issues such as human development and human rights for a more preventive and comprehensive approach in tackling the root causes of violence and conflict and provision of sustainable peace-building programs to prevent the same.  This broader perspective to which this author is more inclined to support extends the concept of security to include socio economic policies that affects other facets of human security.

The Evolution of Security

The general concept of security pertains to the safety of a person from crime/ violence, peace and order and even financial stability to sustain ones needs.  In the political arena and international relations, the term security would refer to the protection of a country, its territories, citizens, institutions and values from external threats and attacks. Thus, security in its political sense, often pertain to national or state security.  In the years that past, the notion of security broadens to include regional and international cooperation as nations were required to operate more intensely in the international level. Even the threats to the security of the country had also widened to include pollution, diseases (HIV), and terrorism among others. Issues to security had become more under the domain of the international community than only under the national or state level. In other words, with the increasing interdependence of nations and threats becoming more of transnational issues, the need to broaden the concept of security was necessary to preserve world peace and solidity that focuses on the protection of people, regardless of their racial ethnicity, religious affinity, gender preference and national or political affiliation.  Broadening the concept of security was necessary to make international organizations especially the United Nations to become more effective in addressing and controlling the threats that affects individuals, states and the whole world.  In recognition of this global weaknesses and susceptibilities that derailed the old notion of security and led to the emergence of a new paradigm, which provides a more universal approach to security, human security which places emphasis to human beings or individuals at its core.

UNDP’s Concept of Human Security

While the concept of human security had been fervently discussed in relation to the evaluation of the obsolescence and irrelevance of the traditional concept of security, it was the UNDP’s Human Development Report in 1994 that first attempted to provide a systematic elaboration of human security.  The elaboration on human security in the report was in response to the need to promote human capability and empowerment as raised by Amartya Sen in the previous Human Development Report.  In this report, the concept of human security was formulated within the perspective of human development that placed emphasis to its four attributes namely: Universal concern, interdependent, ensured by early prevention and people-centered. Human security is considered as an essential and complementary component of participative human development.  People can only contribute effectively to their personal development, to their communities and to the world only if they are provided the right opportunities to meet their basic needs, and to earn their own living.  While human development is the process of expanding an individual’s choices, human security is that which allows the individual to safely exercise this freedom to choose without worry and apprehension.

The UNDP’s concept of human security systematically detailed that the span of security should encompass threats in the following areas:

Economic security — Freedom from economic security entails that every person is guaranteed to earn a living so that he/ she can sustain and support his/ her needs.  For one to earn a living, the person can be engaged in a remunerative work, enterprise, or at the very least supported by government.  Under this aspect of human security, only minor portion of the world’s population, which was mostly discernible in the massive and high incidence of unemployment across the globe in both developed and developing countries. Economic security is not purely an economic issue but involves a social dimension.  Ethnic and racial discrimination and conflict contribute to the problem of unemployment.

Food security — This aspect of human security pertains to the freedom from hunger and starvation.  Hunger is the twin of poverty.    Poverty causes the inability to purchase food.  Food security therefore has economic roots. Thus, an assurance of work and income empowers one to secure food.  Moreover, the issue of food security also emphasizes food access as well.  There is no food shortage in the world. The problem of food security also emanates from the inefficient food distribution system.   There exists the irony of some countries dumping their food for economic reasons, i.e. to protect price, while millions of people in some other parts of the world starve to death or die of hunger.

Health security — Health Security aspires to ensure people protection from deadly diseases and unhealthy standard of living. In the last few decades, the problem of health security required close cooperation and integrated efforts of the international community to contain the spread of diseases such as AIDS, SARS and recently AH1N1.  The problem of health security in developing countries are even greater as health security is also attributed to malnutrition due to lack of sufficient food, insufficient supply of water, lack of medicine, improper sanitation, among others making the people vulnerable to infectious diseases.

Environmental security — The issue of environmental security refers to both natural calamities and man made calamities.  The problem of environmental security which can be traced to the continued degradation of the environment, climate change, pollution, global warming among others, requires the individual and collective efforts of people to protect the environment and the business sector to pursue sustainable economic development. Sustainable economic development means designing development in such a way that the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  This aspect of environmental security therefore extends to the future of humanity.

Personal security — Personal security refers to the protection of individuals from violence both internally and externally and acts of criminals and delinquents. The latter is the most common source of anxiety and concern among ordinary people.  Everybody is vulnerable to crime victimization on a daily basis.  Personal security also encompasses domestic abuse especially against the marginalized sector of societies such as women, children elderly people, the disabled and racial minorities, among others.  Personal security is a manifestation of how personalized and individualized the concept of human security compared to state security.

Community security — Unlike personal security, this aspect of human security involves a collective approach to individuals considering that people are social animals and inherently belongs to a social group.  Community security thus focuses on guarding the social relationships that exist within a group including the social values, traditions and beliefs therein.  A typical example of community security applies to ethnic minority group or aboriginal groups whose cultural values are threatened to be extinct due to certain acts.  For instance, the rampant deforestation and urbanization threatens the natural habitat of some indigenous people or causes their displacement which has both direct and indirect detrimental effects to their normal lives. Their dislocation disrupts their regular patterns of life and exposes them to the dangers of hunger, health maladies, and discrimination.

Political security — The inclusion of political security is essential in human security in consideration that people normally live, operate and function within a society, which warrants the inherent human rights. Political security can be viewed to primarily apply towards government or any authoritative body, which has the penchant to abuse their power to repress, torture, and control the people.  Political security recognizes the primacy of the people over the law or over the state. In practically all democratic countries, the fundamental law or constitution of the land usually has a bill of rights which stipulates the inherent rights of people to protect them against abuses by their government.

Theoretical and Historical framework of the UNDP Concept

The concept of human security in the UNDP report has both a historical and theoretical basis. Human security is constituted of two essential components namely “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”. These two freedoms were among the four freedoms that US President Roosevelt forwarded as the objectives to justify the allied force adherence and battle cry in the World War II. These two freedoms also formed part as the core pillars for the establishment of the United Nations.  In accentuating these freedoms, the Economic and Social Councils were established which are one of the distinguishing features of the United Nations from its previous predecessor, the League of Nations. This development reflected the evolution of the concept of security traditionally focused on territorial and military affairs to the inclusion of economic and social security requirements at the global arena which resulted because of “democratization, socialization and internationalization in the twentieth century”.  (Shinoda,  p12)

The Broad vs. Narrow Definition: Freedom from Fear vs. Freedom from Want

Among academicians and policy makers, the varying concept of human security resulted to three groups, namely:  those who consider the concept attractive yet lacking exactitude and accuracy; those suggest on the need for narrowing the term to eliminate its vagueness that ambiguity that undercut its effectiveness; and those who advocate for a broader concept which makes the it more flexible and comprehensive in evaluation current human problems. (Tadjbakhsh, p6)  The first group of critics proposes that focusing on people entails the need for pertinent analysis.  The expansion of items considered only further blurs the connections between them.  This can results to inadvertent treatment of occurrences that do not necessarily endanger human lives.  A broad concept can be subject to the manipulation of some organization to gain approval and recognition for their programs or for impressing their whims and fancies. Establishing causal relations is problematic because the lack of security can be either a cause or a result of violence.

The next two groups both fall under advocates of human security except that the first adheres for the need to narrow down the definition of human security, highlighting only on factors that propagate violence and the next group supports a broad definition including human rights and human development.  While the UNDP originally defined human security to include both freedom from fear and freedom from want, this has become one of the central issues of debate about human security which covers that threat span or protection that human security should cover or what comprises the threats individuals should be protected from.

Those who adhere the “Freedom from Fear” concept  of human security ultimately try to restrict the implementation of Human Security to the protection of people from violent conflicts such as war, genocide, ethnic cleansing, etc.  Narrowing the focus to violence is more sensible and convenient. This concept of human security focus programs in terms of emergency assistance such as provision of relief and medical help to people caught in the middle; conflict prevention and resolution which involves creating channels for dialogue and providing peaceful settlement agreements; and peace-building, which involves all other efforts for the promotion of peace and order such as banning landmines and advocacy for nuclear free world.  While focusing on violence, advocates of the concept of security as freedom from fear recognize that violence are nevertheless closely connected with problems about poverty, hunger and other forms of issues.

People supporting a narrow definition of human security forward the pragmatic and simple reasons for doing so.  First of, exclusion of certain threats like hunger, poverty and health in the concept of human security do not necessarily mean abandoning these issues. Narrowing the concept of human security allows to provide better focus and domain. Issues about poverty, health and malnutrition and environmental degradation and other threats that the broad concept of human security tries to include are already covered by different commissions and reports.  Including them in the issue of human security would only result to the duplication of efforts. Finally,  a broad concept of human security which combines together diverse and complicated issues as genocide and includes an equally complex and wide issue about poverty, human rights and environmental conservation will only serve a promote advocacy but has limited use for policymaking and analysis.

Those who adhere the “Freedom from want” concept  of human security argue that this concept provides for a more holistic approach in attaining human security.  Supporters of this broader concept suggest that the threat of hunger, health diseases and natural calamities are essential factors that have a direct impact in human security. “There is not connection on all the threats except that they are all perceived as threat to people.  (Collins , p96) This basically extend the concern of human security from mere violence to human development and other related security objectives. The expansion of the coverage of human security highlights the shift to individual well being.  In expanding the scope of protection, human security also  calls for greater involvement and participation of not only the government but NGO’s, communities and individual people thereby providing opportunities to empower people and communities in terms of contributing their fair share in the burden of achieving human security.

People vying for this broad definition argue that instead of whimpering and brawling about the lack of a standard definition, research should be concentrated towards how the different conceptualization evades political, moral and ethical considerations to highlight power relations and structures.  The lack of standard definition should not be seen as a weakness but a strength of the concept to resist to surrender to  a single dominant issue or agenda.  A broad definition is crucial to facilitate continuous learning as it continuously transforms the philosophical framework of security studies.  Moreover, a broader definition allows for a comprehensive measures applicable to different issues that affect the daily lives of ordinary people.   The concept of human security serves a universal a language and explanation for explaining the different concerns of the greater majority.

Representatives of the two groups

With the issue about human security still left undecided, those who support the narrow perspective (freedom from fear) and those who support the broad perspective (freedom from want) both have respectfully been practicing their concepts of human security based on their own understanding.  For comparative purposes, the narrow perspective is represented by the Human Security Report Project, while the broad perspective is represented by the Commission for Human Security.

Human Security Report Project (Narrow)

Based at the School for International Studies in Simon Fraser University in Canada, this research center conducts and produces research on political violence both in the local, regional and global levels.  Funding for this center comes from the government of Norway, UK and Switzerland.  Research focuses on the roots and consequences of violence that are made available to policy makers and the general public. (Human Security Center)

Following the narrow perspective on human security, the research center is premised on the belief that effective policy making entails informed and in depth data analysis on specific issues. With a more focused concept on human security, Human Security Report Project focuses on human security as freedom from the fear of war and fear of crime.  For the former, it claims that the nature of warfare has changed which is currently targeting civilians (i.e. terrorism).  There is a dramatic decrease in armed conflict but while international war is decreasing, the problem of civil wars is rising.    For the latter on the other hand, the issue of criminality touches on gauging human rights violations.  It has also noted the prevalence of human trafficking.  The project also places emphasis on crimes against the marginalized sectors who are most vulnerable to violence especially women on sexual violence and force labor against children.

Commission on Human Security (Broad)

Initiated by the government of Japan, the commission was founded in January 2001 in response for the call to attain human security in terms of both  “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”.  It aims to campaign for public understanding, and participation  on human security initiatives and program, develop the framework of human security as guide for policy making and execution; and   suggest tangible programs of action that deals with crucial and persistent threats to human security.  With a broader perspective on human security, the commission covers not only protection and empowerment for human security, violent conflicts and human trafficking, it also provides policy recommendations on economic security, poverty, better heath,  education, skills and values, among others.  The commission places emphasis on the protection of people instead of territorial borders of nations and accentuates on the close association of poverty, inequality with violence.  With the growing and rapid phase of international migration, it adheres for establishing a multilateral approach to managing the movement of people through a international migration framework . It recognizes the central role of knowledge and technology in health and human security.  In its adherence to eliminate poverty and hunger, it identifies economic issues such as inflation, unemployment and just recently, financial recession.  Finally, it also adheres in promoting education ad information as a key to alleviate poverty, rescue people from economic security and its related consequences

While the UNDP and the Commission on Human security agrees on the broad perspective of human security, the latter intentionally did not make a systematic list of the sources of human insecurity but instead makes it open to flexibility of context. This approach is a more universally applicable approach as threats to humanity are different to different people and to different places.

The Problem of Measuring Human Security

Coming up with a human security index is problematic if not impossible because of  its irregular and complex components and specific variables.  The problem of measuring human security can be attributed to the following areas of concern: First of, the lack of standard definition.  Supporters of the narrow definition (freedom from fear) have a preference to determine ceiling at critical levels on categories such as death, violence, etc while those who prefer the broad definition (freedom from fear and want) prefer the inclusion of underdevelopment, human rights, sustainable development efforts, environment conservation in the index; While data on death is easy to ascertain, the intensity of violence is relative, subjective and not quantifiable; Because the issue of human security is different from nation to nation, it becomes context specific and may require dependence on qualitative reports, which on the other hand can be subjected to manipulation, bias perceptions and will be impossible to aggregate; and standardizing the thresholds would be inconsistent to the universality of human security because of great disparities in the situations of people from developed countries and third world nations. (Tadjbakhsh)

Conclusion

At the moment, there is no single standard definition of human security.  The term human security is taken in different perspectives, as a theory or concept, or a political parameter or agenda.  Amidst this confusion, all human security advocates agrees that  human security involves a shift from a state focus security to a people centered approach. In the words of UNDP, “Human Security is not a concern with weapons – it is a concern with human life and dignity”  (Booth, p231) The UNDP’s concept of human security identified two sets of human insecurity namely the local threats composed of seven security categories to wit, economic, food health, environmental, personal, community and political security. Next are the borderless or transnational threats that can spill in the local level which included diseases, economic/ financial crisis, and climate change, among others.

UNDP’s approach to human security in the perspective of development had become unsuitable and erratic as the two concepts started to move away from each other.  Human Security has transformed more as a political instrument than an approach to human development. Many governments have adopted human security in their political foreign policy objectives specifically in relation to issues like peace keeping, conflict deterrence and settlement and international intercession in local and internal disputes in certain countries.

The conceptual development of human security which challenged the traditional understanding of security involved the protection, empowerment and endowment of individual safety, well-being and personal liberty. The current concept includes the following essential components:

  • People-centeredness, which includes taking into consideration the needs of individuals in relation to their aspirations to empower them to contribute their fair share to society;
  • Comprehensiveness, which extends the approach to security beyond military force and intervention but through the implementation of sound socio-political and socio economic environment and opportunities. Incidentally, this highlights the effectiveness of using economic and social works in putting an end to internal conflicts and insurgencies; mutli-sectoral, which recognizes the active and dynamic participation of different organizations and individual persons in cooperation with the government in combating human security problems;
  • Contextualization and relativity, which highlights that no single approach to human security can effectively address the problems of people all over the world. The subjectivity and uniqueness of human security issues in different people, nations and settings entails customized and specific approaches to resolving each of them;
  • Precautionary, which highlights the preventive approach of addressing the root cause of insecurity to avoid them as much as possible.

Works Cited

Booth, Ken. Theory of world security. Volume 105 of Cambridge studies in international relations. Cambridge University Press, 2007

Collins, Allan. Contemporary security studies. Illustrated Edition. Oxford University Press, 2007

Commission on Human Security. Human Security Now. New York, 2003. Retrieved from: http://www.humansecurity-chs.org/finalreport/index.html

Human Security Center. Human Security Report 2005. War and Peace in the 21st century. Retrieved from:  http://www.humansecurityreport.info/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=63

Shinoda, Hideaki .The Concept of Human Security: Historical and Theoretical Implications IPSHU English Research Report Series No.19 Conflict and Human Security: A Search for New Approaches of Peace-building 2004. Retrieved from: http://home.hiroshima-u.ac.jp/heiwa/Pub/E19/Chap1.pdf

Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou. HD Insights. Human Security .Human Development Report Office

United Nations Development Programme . HDR Networks February 2008, Issue 17, 2008. Retrieved from: http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdinsights_feb2008.pdf

Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou. Human Security: Concepts and Implications with an Application to Post-Intervention Challenges in Afghanistan. Les Etudes du CERI – n° 117-118 – September 2005. Retrieved from: http://ocha-gwapps1.unog.ch/rw/lib.nsf/db900SID/EVOD-7BJEKZ/$FILE/CERI_Sep2005.pdf?OpenElement

United National Development Program. Human Development Report 1994. New dimensions of human security. Retrieved from: http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr1994/chapters/

 

 

Humanity Security

Introduction

The concept of human security had been a source of heated debates among academic scholars and practitioners in international organizations since after the publication of the Human Development Report in 1994 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). With the varying definition and conceptualization of human security, many have become incredulous of the authenticity of the concept. Its ambiguity makes it incapable of providing an appropriate framework for creating multilateral and integrated solutions to world problems.  While the idea is broadly appealing, it is nevertheless confusing as it involves a lot of variables that may not necessarily be associated to each other. Some adhered for a more simplified concept of human security which is primarily concerned with conditions involving threat and violence in order to provide more realistic direction and concrete implications to its advocacy programs.  Still others want an expanded idea of human security that goes beyond the conventional notions of security that highlights issues such as human development and human rights for a more preventive and comprehensive approach in tackling the root causes of violence and conflict and provision of sustainable peace-building programs to prevent the same.  This broader perspective to which this author is more inclined to support extends the concept of security to include socio economic policies that affects other facets of human security.

The Evolution of Security

The general concept of security pertains to the safety of a person from crime/ violence, peace and order and even financial stability to sustain ones needs.  In the political arena and international relations, the term security would refer to the protection of a country, its territories, citizens, institutions and values from external threats and attacks. Thus, security in its political sense often pertains to national or state security.  In the years that past, the notion of security broadens to include regional and international cooperation as nations were required to operate more intensely in the international level. Even the threats to the security of the country had also widened to include pollution, diseases (HIV), and terrorism among others. Issues to security had become more under the domain of the international community than national or state level. In other words, with the increasing interdependence of nations and threats becoming more of transnational issues, the need to broaden the concept of security was necessary to preserve world peace and solidity that focuses on the protection of people, regardless of their racial ethnicity, religious affinity, gender preference and national or political affiliation.  Broadening the concept of security was necessary to make international organizations especially the United Nations to become more effective in addressing and controlling the threats that affect individuals, states and the whole world.  In recognition of this global weaknesses and susceptibilities that derailed the old notion of security emerged a new paradigm, which provides a more universal approach. This is human security which places emphasis on human beings or individuals at its core instead of state territories, properties or any object.

UNDP’s Concept of Human Security

While the concept of human security had been fervently discussed in relation to the evaluation of the obsolescence and irrelevance of the traditional concept of security, it was the UNDP’s Human Development Report in 1994 that first attempted to provide a systematic elaboration of human security.  The elaboration on human security in the report was in response to the need to promote human capability and empowerment as raised by Amartya Sen in the previous Human Development Report. In this report, the concept of human security was formulated within the perspective of human development that placed emphasis on its four attributes, namely universal concern, interdependent, ensured by early prevention and people-centered. (Shinoda, p9) Human security is considered as an essential and complementary component of participative human development.  People can only contribute effectively to their personal development, to their communities and to the world only if they are provided the right opportunities to meet their basic needs, and to earn their own living.  While human development is the process of expanding an individual’s choices, human security is that which allows the individual to safely exercise this freedom to choose without worry and apprehension.

 

The UNDP’s concept of human security systematically detailed that the span of security should encompass threats in the following areas:

Economic security — Freedom from economic security entails that every person is guaranteed to earn a living so that he/ she can sustain and support his/ her needs.  For one to earn a living, the person can be engaged in a remunerative work, enterprise, or at the very least supported by government.  Under this aspect of human security, only minor portion of the world’s population was mostly discernible in the massive and high incidence of unemployment across the globe in both developed and developing countries. Economic security is not purely an economic issue but involves a social dimension.  Ethnic and racial discrimination and conflict contribute to the problem of unemployment.

Food security — This aspect of human security pertains to the freedom from hunger and starvation.  Hunger is the twin of poverty.    Poverty causes the inability to purchase food.  Food security therefore has economic roots. Thus, an assurance of work and income empowers one to secure food.  Moreover, the issue of food security also emphasizes food access as well.  There is no food shortage in the world. The problem of food security also emanates from the inefficient food distribution system.   There exists the irony of some countries dumping their food for economic reasons, i.e. to protect price, while millions of people in some other parts of the world starve to death or die of hunger.

Health security — Health Security aspires to ensure people protection from deadly diseases and unhealthy standard of living. In the last few decades, the problem of health security required close cooperation and integrated efforts of the international community to contain the spread of diseases such as AIDS, SARS and recently AH1N1.  The problem of health security in developing countries is even greater as health security is also attributed to malnutrition due to lack of sufficient food, insufficient supply of water, lack of medicine, improper sanitation, among others making the people vulnerable to infectious diseases.

Environmental security — The issue of environmental security refers to both natural calamities and man made calamities.  The problem of environmental security which can be traced to the continued degradation of the environment, climate change, pollution, global warming among others requires the individual and collective efforts of people to protect the environment and the business sector to pursue sustainable economic development. Sustainable economic development means designing development in such a way that the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations are met.  This aspect of environmental security therefore extends to the future of humanity.

Personal security — Personal security refers to the protection of individuals from violence both internally and externally and acts of criminals and delinquents. The latter is the most common source of anxiety and concern among ordinary people.  Everybody is vulnerable to crime victimization on a daily basis.  Personal security also encompasses domestic abuse especially against the marginalized sector of societies such as women, children, elderly people, the disabled and racial minorities, among others.  Personal security is a manifestation of how personalized and individualized the concept of human security compared to state security is.

Community security — Unlike personal security, this aspect of human security involves a collective approach to individuals considering that people are social animals and inherently belong to a social group.  Community security thus focuses on guarding the social relationships that exist within a group including the social values, traditions and beliefs therein.  A typical example of community security applies to ethnic minority group or aboriginal groups whose cultural values are threatened to be extinct due to certain acts.  For instance, the rampant deforestation and urbanization threaten the natural habitat of some indigenous people or cause their displacement which has both direct and indirect detrimental effects to their normal lives. Their dislocation disrupts their regular patterns of life and exposes them to the dangers of hunger, health maladies, and discrimination.

Political security — The inclusion of political security is essential in human security in consideration that people normally live, operate and function within a society, which warrants the inherent human rights. Political security can be viewed to primarily apply towards government or any authoritative body, which has the penchant to abuse their power to repress, torture, and control the people.  Political security recognizes the primacy of the people over the law or over the state. In practically all democratic countries, the fundamental law or constitution of the land usually has a bill of rights which stipulates the inherent rights of people to protect them against abuses by their government.

Theoretical and Historical framework of the UNDP Concept

The concept of human security in the UNDP report has both a historical and theoretical basis. Human security is constituted of two essential components namely “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”. These two freedoms were among the four freedoms that US President Roosevelt forwarded as the objectives to justify the allied force adherence and battle cry in the World War II. These two freedoms also formed part as the core pillars for the establishment of the United Nations.  In accentuating these freedoms, the Economic and Social Councils were established which are one of the distinguishing features of the United Nations from its previous predecessor, the League of Nations. This development reflected the evolution of the concept of security traditionally focused on territorial and military affairs to the inclusion of economic and social security requirements at the global arena which resulted because of “democratization, socialization and internationalization in the twentieth century”.  (Shinoda,  p12)

The Broad vs. Narrow Definition: Freedom from Fear vs. Freedom from Want

Among academicians and policy makers, the varying concept of human security resulted in three groups, namely those who consider the concept attractive yet lacking exactitude and accuracy; those suggest on the need for narrowing the term to eliminate its vagueness and ambiguity that undercut its effectiveness; and those who advocate for a broader concept which makes it more flexible and comprehensive in evaluation current human problems. (Tadjbakhsh, p6)  The first group of critics proposes that focusing on people entails the need for pertinent analysis.  The expansion of items considered only further blurs in the connections between them.  This can result in inadvertent treatment of occurrences that do not necessarily endanger human lives.  A broad concept can be subject to the manipulation of some organization to gain approval and recognition for their programs or for impressing their whims and fancies. Establishing causal relations is problematic because the lack of security can be either a cause or a result of violence.

The next two groups both fall under advocates of human security except that the first adheres to the need to narrow down the definition of human security, highlighting only factors that propagate violence and the next group supports a broad definition including human rights and human development.  While the UNDP originally defined human security to include both freedom from fear and freedom from want, this has become one of the central issues of debate about human security which covers that threat span or protection that human security should cover or what comprises the threats individuals should be protected from.

Those who adhere to the “Freedom from Fear” concept of human security ultimately try to restrict the implementation of Human Security to the protection of people from violent conflicts such as war, genocide, ethnic cleansing, etc.  Narrowing the focus to violence is more sensible and convenient. This concept of human security focus programs in terms of emergency assistance such as provision of relief and medical help to people caught in the middle; conflict prevention and resolution which involve creating channels for dialogue and providing peaceful settlement agreements; and peace-building, which involves all other efforts for the promotion of peace and order such as banning landmines and advocacy for nuclear free world.  While focusing on violence, advocates of the concept of security as freedom from fear recognize that violence is nevertheless closely connected with problems about poverty, hunger and other forms of issues.

People supporting a narrow definition of human security forward the pragmatic and simple reasons for doing so.  First, exclusion of certain threats like hunger, poverty and health in the concept of human security do not necessarily mean abandoning these issues. Narrowing the concept of human security allows providing better focus and domain. Issues about poverty, health and malnutrition and environmental degradation and other threats that the broad concept of human security tries to include are already covered by different commissions and reports.  Including them in the issue of human security would only result in the duplication of efforts. Finally,  a broad concept of human security which combines together diverse and complicated issues as genocide and includes an equally complex and wide issue about poverty, human rights and environmental conservation will only serve a promote advocacy but has limited use for policymaking and analysis.

Those who adhere to the “Freedom from want” concept of human security argue that this concept provides a more holistic approach in attaining human security.  Supporters of this broader concept suggest that the threat of hunger, health diseases and natural calamities are essential factors that have a direct impact in human security. There is not connection on all the threats except that they are all perceived as threat to people.  (Collins , p96) This basically extends the concern of human security from mere violence to human development and other related security objectives. The expansion of the coverage of human security highlights the shift to individual well being.  In expanding the scope of protection, human security also  calls for greater involvement and participation of not only the government but NGO’s, communities and individual people thereby providing opportunities to empower people and communities in terms of contributing their fair share in the burden of achieving human security.

People vying for this broad definition argue that instead of whimpering and brawling about the lack of a standard definition, research should be concentrated towards how the different conceptualization evades political, moral and ethical considerations to highlight power relations and structures.  The lack of standard definition should not be seen as a weakness but a strength of the concept to resists surrendering to a single dominant issue or agenda.  A broad definition is crucial to facilitate continuous learning as it continuously transforms the philosophical framework of security studies.  Moreover, a broader definition allows for comprehensive measures applicable to different issues that affect the daily lives of ordinary people.   The concept of human security serves a universal a language and explanation for explaining the different concerns of the greater majority.

Representatives of the two groups

With the issue about human security still left undecided, those who support the narrow perspective (freedom from fear) and those who support the broad perspective (freedom from want) both have respectfully been practicing their concepts of human security based on their own understanding.  For comparative purposes, the narrow perspective is represented by the Human Security Report Project, while the broad perspective is represented by the Commission for Human Security.

Human Security Report Project (Narrow)

Based at the School for International Studies in Simon Fraser University in Canada, this research center conducts and produces research on political violence both in the local, regional and global levels.  Funding for this center comes from the government of Norway, UK and Switzerland.  Research focuses on the roots and consequences of violence that are made available to policy makers and the general public. (Human Security Center)

Following the narrow perspective on human security, the research center is premised on the belief that effective policy making entails informed and in depth data analysis on specific issues. With a more focused concept on human security, Human Security Report Project focuses on human security as freedom from the fear of war and fear of crime.  For the former, it claims that the nature of warfare has changed which is currently targeting civilians (i.e. terrorism).  There is a dramatic decrease in armed conflict but while international war is decreasing, the problem of civil wars is rising.    For the latter on the other hand, the issue of criminality touches on gauging human rights violations.  It has also noted the prevalence of human trafficking.  The project also places emphasis on crimes against the marginalized sectors who are most vulnerable to violence especially women on sexual violence and force labor against children.

Commission on Human Security (Broad)

Initiated by the government of Japan, the commission was founded in January 2001 in response to the call to attain human security in terms of both “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”.  It aims to campaign for public understanding and participation on human security initiatives and program, develop the framework of human security as guide for policy making and execution and suggest tangible programs of action that deal with crucial and persistent threats to human security.  With a broader perspective of human security, the commission covers not only protection and empowerment for human security, violent conflicts and human trafficking, it also provides policy recommendations on economic security, poverty, better health,  education, skills and values, among others.  The commission places emphasis on the protection of people instead of territorial borders of nations and accentuates on the close association of poverty, inequality with violence.  With the growing and rapid phase of international migration, it adheres to establishing a multilateral approach managing the movement of people through an international migration framework. It recognizes the central role of knowledge and technology in health and human security.  In its adherence to eliminate poverty and hunger, it identifies economic issues such as inflation, unemployment and just recently, financial recession.  Finally, it also adheres in promoting education ad information as a key to alleviate poverty, rescue people from economic security and its related consequences

While the UNDP and the Commission on Human security agrees on the broad perspective of human security, the latter intentionally did not make a systematic list of the sources of human insecurity but instead makes it open to flexibility of context. This approach is a more universally applicable approach as threats to humanity are different to different people and to different places.

The Problem of Measuring Human Security

Coming up with a human security index is problematic if not impossible because of its irregular and complex components and specific variables.  The problem of measuring human security can be attributed to the following areas of concern. First, it is due to the lack of standard definition.  Supporters of the narrow definition (freedom from fear) have a preference to determine ceiling at critical levels on categories such as death, violence, etc while those who prefer the broad definition (freedom from fear and want) prefer the inclusion of underdevelopment, human rights, sustainable development efforts, environment conservation in the index. While data on death is easy to ascertain, the intensity of violence is relative, subjective and not quantifiable. Because the issue of human security is different from nation to nation, it becomes context specific and may require dependence on qualitative reports, which on the other hand can be subjected to manipulation, bias perceptions and will be impossible to aggregate and standardizing the thresholds would be inconsistent to the universality of human security because of great disparities in the situations of people from developed countries and Third World nations. (Tadjbakhsh)

Conclusion

At the moment, there is no single standard definition of human security.  The term human security is taken in different perspectives, as a theory or concept, or a political parameter or agenda.  Amidst this confusion, all human security advocates agree that human security involves a shift from a state focus security to a people centered approach. In the words of UNDP, “Human Security is not a concern with weapons – it is a concern with human life and dignity” (Booth, p231). The UNDP’s concept of human security identified two sets of human insecurity, namely the local threats composed of seven security categories to wit, economics, food health, environmental, personal, community and political security. Next are the borderless or transnational threats that can spill at the local level which included diseases, economic/ financial crisis, and climate change, among others.

UNDP’s approach to human security in the perspective of development had become unsuitable and erratic as the two concepts started to move away from each other.  Human Security has transformed more as a political instrument than an approach to human development. Many governments have adopted human security in their political foreign policy objectives specifically in relation to issues like peace keeping, conflict deterrence and settlement and international intercession in local and internal disputes in certain countries.

The conceptual development of human security which challenged the traditional understanding of security involved the protection, empowerment and endowment of individual safety, well-being and personal liberty. The current concept includes the following essential components:

  • People-centeredness, which includes taking into consideration the needs of individuals in relation to their aspirations to empower them to contribute their fair share to society;
  • Comprehensiveness, which extends the approach to security beyond military force and intervention but through the implementation of sound socio-political and socio economic environment and opportunities. Incidentally, this highlights the effectiveness of using economic and social works in putting an end to internal conflicts and insurgencies; mutli-sectoral, which recognizes the active and dynamic participation of different organizations and individual persons in cooperation with the government in combating human security problems;
  • Contextualization and relativity, which highlight that no single approach to human security can effectively address the problems of people all over the world. The subjectivity and uniqueness of human security issues in different people, nations and settings entail customized and specific approaches to resolving each of them;
  • Precautionary, which highlights the preventive approach of addressing the root cause of insecurity to avoid them as much as possible.

Works Cited

Booth, Ken. Theory of world security. Volume 105 of Cambridge studies in international relations. Cambridge University Press, 2007

Collins, Allan. Contemporary security studies. Illustrated Edition. Oxford University Press, 2007

Commission on Human Security. Human Security Now. New York, 2003. Retrieved October 8, 2009, from http://www.humansecurity-chs.org/finalreport/index.html

Human Security Center. Human Security Report 2005. War and Peace in the 21st century. Retrieved October 8, 2009, from http://www.humansecurityreport.info/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=63

Shinoda, Hideaki .The Concept of Human Security: Historical and Theoretical Implications IPSHU English Research Report Series No.19 Conflict and Human Security: A Search for New Approaches of Peace-building 2004. Retrieved October 8, 2009, from http://home.hiroshima-u.ac.jp/heiwa/Pub/E19/Chap1.pdf

Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou. HD Insights. Human Security .Human Development Report Office

United Nations Development Programme . HDR Networks February 2008, Issue 17, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2009, from http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdinsights_feb2008.pdf

Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou. Human Security: Concepts and Implications with an Application to Post-Intervention Challenges in Afghanistan. Les Etudes du CERI – n° 117-118 – September 2005. Retrieved October 8, 2009, from http://ocha-gwapps1.unog.ch/rw/lib.nsf/db900SID/EVOD-7BJEKZ/$FILE/CERI_Sep2005.pdf?OpenElement

United National Development Program. Human Development Report 1994. New dimensions of human security. Retrieved October 8, 2009, from http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr1994/chapters/

 

Human Security

Introduction

The concept of human security had been a source of heated debates among academic scholars and practitioners in international organizations since after the publication of the Human Development Report in 1994 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). With the varying definition and conceptualization of human security, many have become incredulous of the authenticity of the concept. Its ambiguity makes it incapable of providing an appropriate framework for creating multilateral and integrated solutions to world problems.  While the idea is broadly appealing, it is nevertheless confusing as it involves a lot of variables that may not necessarily be associated to each other. Some adhered for a more simplified concept of human security which is primarily concerned with conditions involving threat and violence in order to provide more realistic direction and concrete implications to its advocacy programs.  Still others want an expanded idea of human security that goes beyond the conventional notions of security that highlights issues such as human development and human rights for a more preventive and comprehensive approach in tackling the root causes of violence and conflict and provision of sustainable peace-building programs to prevent the same.  This broader perspective to which this author is more inclined to support extends the concept of security to include socio economic policies that affects other facets of human security.

The Evolution of Security

The general concept of security pertains to the safety of a person from crime/ violence, peace and order and even financial stability to sustain ones needs.  In the political arena and international relations, the term security would refer to the protection of a country, its territories, citizens, institutions and values from external threats and attacks. Thus, security in its political sense, often pertain to national or state security.  In the years that past, the notion of security broadens to include regional and international cooperation as nations were required to operate more intensely in the international level. Even the threats to the security of the country had also widened to include pollution, diseases (HIV), and terrorism among others. Issues to security had become more under the domain of the international community than national or state level. In other words, with the increasing interdependence of nations and threats becoming more of transnational issues, the need to broaden the concept of security was necessary to preserve world peace and solidity that focuses on the protection of people, regardless of their racial ethnicity, religious affinity, gender preference and national or political affiliation.  Broadening the concept of security was necessary to make international organizations especially the United Nations to become more effective in addressing and controlling the threats that affects individuals, states and the whole world.  In recognition of this global weaknesses and susceptibilities that derailed the old notion of security emerged a new paradigm, which provides a more universal approach. This is human security which places emphasis to human beings or individuals at its core instead of state territories, properties or any object.

UNDP’s Concept of Human Security

While the concept of human security had been fervently discussed in relation to the evaluation of the obsolescence and irrelevance of the traditional concept of security, it was the UNDP’s Human Development Report in 1994 that first attempted to provide a systematic elaboration of human security.  The elaboration on human security in the report was in response to the need to promote human capability and empowerment as raised by Amartya Sen in the previous Human Development Report. In this report, the concept of human security was formulated within the perspective of human development that placed emphasis to its four attributes namely: Universal concern, interdependent, ensured by early prevention and people-centered. (Shinoda, p9) Human security is considered as an essential and complementary component of participative human development.  People can only contribute effectively to their personal development, to their communities and to the world only if they are provided the right opportunities to meet their basic needs, and to earn their own living.  While human development is the process of expanding an individual’s choices, human security is that which allows the individual to safely exercise this freedom to choose without worry and apprehension.

 

The UNDP’s concept of human security systematically detailed that the span of security should encompass threats in the following areas:

Economic security — Freedom from economic security entails that every person is guaranteed to earn a living so that he/ she can sustain and support his/ her needs.  For one to earn a living, the person can be engaged in a remunerative work, enterprise, or at the very least supported by government.  Under this aspect of human security, only minor portion of the world’s population, which was mostly discernible in the massive and high incidence of unemployment across the globe in both developed and developing countries. Economic security is not purely an economic issue but involves a social dimension.  Ethnic and racial discrimination and conflict contribute to the problem of unemployment.

Food security — This aspect of human security pertains to the freedom from hunger and starvation.  Hunger is the twin of poverty.    Poverty causes the inability to purchase food.  Food security therefore has economic roots. Thus, an assurance of work and income empowers one to secure food.  Moreover, the issue of food security also emphasizes food access as well.  There is no food shortage in the world. The problem of food security also emanates from the inefficient food distribution system.   There exists the irony of some countries dumping their food for economic reasons, i.e. to protect price, while millions of people in some other parts of the world starve to death or die of hunger.

Health security — Health Security aspires to ensure people protection from deadly diseases and unhealthy standard of living. In the last few decades, the problem of health security required close cooperation and integrated efforts of the international community to contain the spread of diseases such as AIDS, SARS and recently AH1N1.  The problem of health security in developing countries are even greater as health security is also attributed to malnutrition due to lack of sufficient food, insufficient supply of water, lack of medicine, improper sanitation, among others making the people vulnerable to infectious diseases.

Environmental security — The issue of environmental security refers to both natural calamities and man made calamities.  The problem of environmental security which can be traced to the continued degradation of the environment, climate change, pollution, global warming among others, requires the individual and collective efforts of people to protect the environment and the business sector to pursue sustainable economic development. Sustainable economic development means designing development in such a way that the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  This aspect of environmental security therefore extends to the future of humanity.

Personal security — Personal security refers to the protection of individuals from violence both internally and externally and acts of criminals and delinquents. The latter is the most common source of anxiety and concern among ordinary people.  Everybody is vulnerable to crime victimization on a daily basis.  Personal security also encompasses domestic abuse especially against the marginalized sector of societies such as women, children elderly people, the disabled and racial minorities, among others.  Personal security is a manifestation of how personalized and individualized the concept of human security compared to state security.

Community security — Unlike personal security, this aspect of human security involves a collective approach to individuals considering that people are social animals and inherently belongs to a social group.  Community security thus focuses on guarding the social relationships that exist within a group including the social values, traditions and beliefs therein.  A typical example of community security applies to ethnic minority group or aboriginal groups whose cultural values are threatened to be extinct due to certain acts.  For instance, the rampant deforestation and urbanization threatens the natural habitat of some indigenous people or causes their displacement which has both direct and indirect detrimental effects to their normal lives. Their dislocation disrupts their regular patterns of life and exposes them to the dangers of hunger, health maladies, and discrimination.

Political security — The inclusion of political security is essential in human security in consideration that people normally live, operate and function within a society, which warrants the inherent human rights. Political security can be viewed to primarily apply towards government or any authoritative body, which has the penchant to abuse their power to repress, torture, and control the people.  Political security recognizes the primacy of the people over the law or over the state. In practically all democratic countries, the fundamental law or constitution of the land usually has a bill of rights which stipulates the inherent rights of people to protect them against abuses by their government.

Theoretical and Historical framework of the UNDP Concept

The concept of human security in the UNDP report has both a historical and theoretical basis. Human security is constituted of two essential components namely “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”. These two freedoms were among the four freedoms that US President Roosevelt forwarded as the objectives to justify the allied force adherence and battle cry in the World War II. These two freedoms also formed part as the core pillars for the establishment of the United Nations.  In accentuating these freedoms, the Economic and Social Councils were established which are one of the distinguishing features of the United Nations from its previous predecessor, the League of Nations. This development reflected the evolution of the concept of security traditionally focused on territorial and military affairs to the inclusion of economic and social security requirements at the global arena which resulted because of “democratization, socialization and internationalization in the twentieth century”.  (Shinoda,  p12)

The Broad vs. Narrow Definition: Freedom from Fear vs. Freedom from Want

Among academicians and policy makers, the varying concept of human security resulted to three groups, namely:  those who consider the concept attractive yet lacking exactitude and accuracy; those suggest on the need for narrowing the term to eliminate its vagueness that ambiguity that undercut its effectiveness; and those who advocate for a broader concept which makes the it more flexible and comprehensive in evaluation current human problems. (Tadjbakhsh, p6)  The first group of critics proposes that focusing on people entails the need for pertinent analysis.  The expansion of items considered only further blurs the connections between them.  This can results to inadvertent treatment of occurrences that do not necessarily endanger human lives.  A broad concept can be subject to the manipulation of some organization to gain approval and recognition for their programs or for impressing their whims and fancies. Establishing causal relations is problematic because the lack of security can be either a cause or a result of violence.

The next two groups both fall under advocates of human security except that the first adheres for the need to narrow down the definition of human security, highlighting only on factors that propagate violence and the next group supports a broad definition including human rights and human development.  While the UNDP originally defined human security to include both freedom from fear and freedom from want, this has become one of the central issues of debate about human security which covers that threat span or protection that human security should cover or what comprises the threats individuals should be protected from.

Those who adhere the “Freedom from Fear” concept  of human security ultimately try to restrict the implementation of Human Security to the protection of people from violent conflicts such as war, genocide, ethnic cleansing, etc.  Narrowing the focus to violence is more sensible and convenient. This concept of human security focus programs in terms of emergency assistance such as provision of relief and medical help to people caught in the middle; conflict prevention and resolution which involves creating channels for dialogue and providing peaceful settlement agreements; and peace-building, which involves all other efforts for the promotion of peace and order such as banning landmines and advocacy for nuclear free world.  While focusing on violence, advocates of the concept of security as freedom from fear recognize that violence are nevertheless closely connected with problems about poverty, hunger and other forms of issues.

People supporting a narrow definition of human security forward the pragmatic and simple reasons for doing so.  First of, exclusion of certain threats like hunger, poverty and health in the concept of human security do not necessarily mean abandoning these issues. Narrowing the concept of human security allows to provide better focus and domain. Issues about poverty, health and malnutrition and environmental degradation and other threats that the broad concept of human security tries to include are already covered by different commissions and reports.  Including them in the issue of human security would only result to the duplication of efforts. Finally,  a broad concept of human security which combines together diverse and complicated issues as genocide and includes an equally complex and wide issue about poverty, human rights and environmental conservation will only serve a promote advocacy but has limited use for policymaking and analysis.

Those who adhere the “Freedom from want” concept  of human security argue that this concept provides for a more holistic approach in attaining human security.  Supporters of this broader concept suggest that the threat of hunger, health diseases and natural calamities are essential factors that have a direct impact in human security. “There is not connection on all the threats except that they are all perceived as threat to people.  (Collins , p96) This basically extend the concern of human security from mere violence to human development and other related security objectives. The expansion of the coverage of human security highlights the shift to individual well being.  In expanding the scope of protection, human security also  calls for greater involvement and participation of not only the government but NGO’s, communities and individual people thereby providing opportunities to empower people and communities in terms of contributing their fair share in the burden of achieving human security.

People vying for this broad definition argue that instead of whimpering and brawling about the lack of a standard definition, research should be concentrated towards how the different conceptualization evades political, moral and ethical considerations to highlight power relations and structures.  The lack of standard definition should not be seen as a weakness but a strength of the concept to resist to surrender to  a single dominant issue or agenda.  A broad definition is crucial to facilitate continuous learning as it continuously transforms the philosophical framework of security studies.  Moreover, a broader definition allows for a comprehensive measures applicable to different issues that affect the daily lives of ordinary people.   The concept of human security serves a universal a language and explanation for explaining the different concerns of the greater majority.

Representatives of the two groups

With the issue about human security still left undecided, those who support the narrow perspective (freedom from fear) and those who support the broad perspective (freedom from want) both have respectfully been practicing their concepts of human security based on their own understanding.  For comparative purposes, the narrow perspective is represented by the Human Security Report Project, while the broad perspective is represented by the Commission for Human Security.

Human Security Report Project (Narrow)

Based at the School for International Studies in Simon Fraser University in Canada, this research center conducts and produces research on political violence both in the local, regional and global levels.  Funding for this center comes from the government of Norway, UK and Switzerland.  Research focuses on the roots and consequences of violence that are made available to policy makers and the general public. (Human Security Center)

Following the narrow perspective on human security, the research center is premised on the belief that effective policy making entails informed and in depth data analysis on specific issues. With a more focused concept on human security, Human Security Report Project focuses on human security as freedom from the fear of war and fear of crime.  For the former, it claims that the nature of warfare has changed which is currently targeting civilians (i.e. terrorism).  There is a dramatic decrease in armed conflict but while international war is decreasing, the problem of civil wars is rising.    For the latter on the other hand, the issue of criminality touches on gauging human rights violations.  It has also noted the prevalence of human trafficking.  The project also places emphasis on crimes against the marginalized sectors who are most vulnerable to violence especially women on sexual violence and force labor against children.

Commission on Human Security (Broad)

Initiated by the government of Japan, the commission was founded in January 2001 in response for the call to attain human security in terms of both  “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”.  It aims to campaign for public understanding, and participation  on human security initiatives and program, develop the framework of human security as guide for policy making and execution; and   suggest tangible programs of action that deals with crucial and persistent threats to human security.  With a broader perspective on human security, the commission covers not only protection and empowerment for human security, violent conflicts and human trafficking, it also provides policy recommendations on economic security, poverty, better heath,  education, skills and values, among others.  The commission places emphasis on the protection of people instead of territorial borders of nations and accentuates on the close association of poverty, inequality with violence.  With the growing and rapid phase of international migration, it adheres for establishing a multilateral approach to managing the movement of people through a international migration framework . It recognizes the central role of knowledge and technology in health and human security.  In its adherence to eliminate poverty and hunger, it identifies economic issues such as inflation, unemployment and just recently, financial recession.  Finally, it also adheres in promoting education ad information as a key to alleviate poverty, rescue people from economic security and its related consequences

While the UNDP and the Commission on Human security agrees on the broad perspective of human security, the latter intentionally did not make a systematic list of the sources of human insecurity but instead makes it open to flexibility of context. This approach is a more universally applicable approach as threats to humanity are different to different people and to different places.

The Problem of Measuring Human Security

Coming up with a human security index is problematic if not impossible because of  its irregular and complex components and specific variables.  The problem of measuring human security can be attributed to the following areas of concern: First of, the lack of standard definition.  Supporters of the narrow definition (freedom from fear) have a preference to determine ceiling at critical levels on categories such as death, violence, etc while those who prefer the broad definition (freedom from fear and want) prefer the inclusion of underdevelopment, human rights, sustainable development efforts, environment conservation in the index; While data on death is easy to ascertain, the intensity of violence is relative, subjective and not quantifiable; Because the issue of human security is different from nation to nation, it becomes context specific and may require dependence on qualitative reports, which on the other hand can be subjected to manipulation, bias perceptions and will be impossible to aggregate; and standardizing the thresholds would be inconsistent to the universality of human security because of great disparities in the situations of people from developed countries and third world nations. (Tadjbakhsh)

Conclusion

At the moment, there is no single standard definition of human security.  The term human security is taken in different perspectives, as a theory or concept, or a political parameter or agenda.  Amidst this confusion, all human security advocates agrees that  human security involves a shift from a state focus security to a people centered approach. In the words of UNDP, “Human Security is not a concern with weapons – it is a concern with human life and dignity”  (Booth, p231) The UNDP’s concept of human security identified two sets of human insecurity namely the local threats composed of seven security categories to wit, economic, food health, environmental, personal, community and political security. Next are the borderless or transnational threats that can spill in the local level which included diseases, economic/ financial crisis, and climate change, among others.

UNDP’s approach to human security in the perspective of development had become unsuitable and erratic as the two concepts started to move away from each other.  Human Security has transformed more as a political instrument than an approach to human development. Many governments have adopted human security in their political foreign policy objectives specifically in relation to issues like peace keeping, conflict deterrence and settlement and international intercession in local and internal disputes in certain countries.

The conceptual development of human security which challenged the traditional understanding of security involved the protection, empowerment and endowment of individual safety, well-being and personal liberty. The current concept includes the following essential components:

  • People-centeredness, which includes taking into consideration the needs of individuals in relation to their aspirations to empower them to contribute their fair share to society;
  • Comprehensiveness, which extends the approach to security beyond military force and intervention but through the implementation of sound socio-political and socio economic environment and opportunities. Incidentally, this highlights the effectiveness of using economic and social works in putting an end to internal conflicts and insurgencies; mutli-sectoral, which recognizes the active and dynamic participation of different organizations and individual persons in cooperation with the government in combating human security problems;
  • Contextualization and relativity, which highlights that no single approach to human security can effectively address the problems of people all over the world. The subjectivity and uniqueness of human security issues in different people, nations and settings entails customized and specific approaches to resolving each of them;
  • Precautionary, which highlights the preventive approach of addressing the root cause of insecurity to avoid them as much as possible.

Works Cited

Booth, Ken. Theory of world security. Volume 105 of Cambridge studies in international relations. Cambridge University Press, 2007

Collins, Allan. Contemporary security studies. Illustrated Edition. Oxford University Press, 2007

Commission on Human Security. Human Security Now. New York, 2003. Retrieved from: http://www.humansecurity-chs.org/finalreport/index.html

Human Security Center. Human Security Report 2005. War and Peace in the 21st century. Retrieved from:  http://www.humansecurityreport.info/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=63

Shinoda, Hideaki .The Concept of Human Security: Historical and Theoretical Implications IPSHU English Research Report Series No.19 Conflict and Human Security: A Search for New Approaches of Peace-building 2004. Retrieved from: http://home.hiroshima-u.ac.jp/heiwa/Pub/E19/Chap1.pdf

Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou. HD Insights. Human Security .Human Development Report Office

United Nations Development Programme . HDR Networks February 2008, Issue 17, 2008. Retrieved from: http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdinsights_feb2008.pdf

Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou. Human Security: Concepts and Implications with an Application to Post-Intervention Challenges in Afghanistan. Les Etudes du CERI – n° 117-118 – September 2005. Retrieved from: http://ocha-gwapps1.unog.ch/rw/lib.nsf/db900SID/EVOD-7BJEKZ/$FILE/CERI_Sep2005.pdf?OpenElement

United National Development Program. Human Development Report 1994. New dimensions of human security. Retrieved from: http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr1994/chapters/