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Abstract: The idea of human security has been presented and discussed in international academic and political fora for more than a decade. Yet, despite its popularity, the analytical usefulness as well as the political appropriateness of the concept is frequently criticized. In arguing for and presenting a Human (In)Security Index we address both aspects. In the first part, we discuss the idea of human security and introduce the reader to the main critique regarding the conceptual usefulness of the idea. Secondly, we reflect on the contested development‐security‐nexus when presenting our conceptual framework. Additionally, we put forward a threshold‐based conceptualization of human security based on the ideas originally presented by Taylor Owen together with Mary Martin. To substantiate the threshold‐based conceptualization we present a multidimensional Human (In)Security Index, allowing to assess respective levels of human (in‐)security. By operationalizing the dimensions of human security and presenting available data for 2008, one of the remaining conceptual challenges is addressed. We demonstrate how a Human (In)Security Index can be used in the political realm and bring to the fore the potential core threats to human security. This additionally specifies the idea of human security and furthers a differentiation between human security and other related concepts such as human development and human rights. In sum, we argue that human security as a political idea remains highly relevant. As a political leitmotif, human security is significantly and constructively used and applied in political processes despite or because of its analytical ambiguity.
Abstract: The ‘human security’ paradigm emerged in the early 1990s as a means of refocusing the security referent away from the state to the individual. It is a theory that is grounded in human rights and the provision of basic needs for all of humanity, regardless of their locale, identity or citizenship status. As a theory, it was not intended to replace notions of traditional security, but was instead intended to be a complementary theory on security as it has been argued that human insecurity actually threatens state security. While the concept itself remains somewhat contested in the political sciences, human security nonetheless provides a useful analysis of non-state security issues and dilemmas, particularly those that concern the human condition. In recent years there has been increasing recognition that the human security paradigm has overlooked the vulnerabilities often faced by women, many of which are gender-based and thereby not shared by men. To counter this, there have been attempts to ‘engender’ human security discourse in academic literature. This paper considers the vulnerabilities faced by female rural to urban migrants in the People’s Republic of China and intersects the mainstream discourse on human security in an attempt to contribute further to the engendering of human security discourse.
Abstract: Violence against women is a global problem of great
magnitude. After laying out some sample data on violence against
women, I argue that this violence, and its ongoing threat, interferes with
every major capability in a woman’s life. Next, I argue that it is the
capabilities approach we need, if we are to describe the damage done by
such violence in the most perspicuous way and make the most helpful
recommendations for dealing with it. But the capabilities approach will be
helpful in this area only if it develops effective arguments against cultural
relativism and in favor of a context-sensitive universalism, and only if it is
willing to make some claims, albeit humble and revisable, about which
capabilities are most deserving of state protection, as fundamental
entitlements of all citizens. Finally, I sketch some possible implications
of the capability approach for public policy in this area.
Abstract: Enthusiasts of human security argue that what is needed in the post-Cold-War period is a
foreign policy agenda that is more ‘people-centred’ than the state-centred focus of security
policy during the Cold War period. Among the most enthusiastic proponents of the human
security paradigm in the 1990s was the Canadian government, which, in partnership with
a number of other like-minded governments, sought to press the human security agenda,
taking a number of human security initiatives. However, since the late 1990s, we have seen
a paradox: the concept has attracted increased attention from scholars while its salience
among policy-makers appears to be declining. Using the case of the Canadian government’s
policy towards the crisis in Timor in September 1999, we explore the difficulty that
policy-makers have had in moving human security from the rhetorical realm to the level of
concrete policy that makes a difference to the safety of people whose security is threatened.
We conclude that there was a significant gap between Canada’s human security rhetoric
and Ottawa’s actual policy in Timor. While the Canadian government did eventually
contribute troops to the International Force, East Timor (INTERFET), we show that
Canada’s response was slow, cautious, and minimalist. There was neither the willingness
nor the capacity to be at the forefront of the efforts to send a robust force to East Timor.
This case demonstrates some important limits of the human security agenda, and why this
agenda remained so firmly in the realm of the rhetorical in the 1990s.
Abstract: Th is report outlines a bold new framework and agenda for U.S. national
security policy. Based upon the principles of human security, it advocates
an inclusive vision to replace the narrow focus dominated by traditional
security themes. Th e programs grouped under “foreign assistance”
and diplomacy must not only be given higher priority and made more
effi cient. Th ey must also be reframed as United States contributions to
solving common global problems instead of as optional “charity” or “soft ”
alternatives to saber-rattling. The report also stresses that in addition to
change in administration policies, Congress must reclaim its oversight
responsibilities, and American civil society must insist on being included
in building new reciprocal and mutually benefi cial ties with other
Abstract: Reforming land tenure is an integral part of the process of post-conflict development which is
currently underway in Cambodia. However, the land tenure reforms have remained focused on the
desire to achieve primarily economic gains, seeking improved access for citizens to formal credit,
higher land values, higher rates of investment in land, and increases in income. Though such
outcomes can be attributed to a process of reducing income-based poverty, the social and equity
impacts of tenure reform must be addressed more directly if well-being is to improve and the
potential for future conflict is to be reduced.
This paper examines the interface between land tenure and human security in post-conflict
Cambodia in order to help reveal ways in which tenure reform can make a more coherent
contribution toward broad-based and sustainable development. Efforts to improve human security
are premised on the understanding that, in order for the development process to be effective,
individuals must first be empowered to participate in primarily economic opportunities while at the
same time be protected from threats that may compromise their physical, social, or psychological
well-being. In this context, a functional system of tenure reform must address the underlying
conditions or factors that provide people with constructive coping mechanisms to deal with threats
to their security.
Abstract: Gareth Evans cautions against universalizing the roots and causes of
armed conflict. They are always context specific, he says:
“For every case of religious or ethnic or linguistic difference erupting
in communal violence, there are innumerably more cases around the
world of people and groups of different cultures and backgrounds
living harmoniously side by side; for every group economic
grievance that erupts in catastrophic violence there are innumerably
more that don’t; for every instance of economic greed – for control of
resources or the levers of government – generating or fueling
outright conflict, there are innumerably more that don’t….”
He continues with multiple examples and reminds us that there are in
fact myriad reasons why political conflict frequently morphs into
armed conflict, and also many reasons why political conflict even
more frequently does not descend into war. War and peace are not
subject to any political/military determinism and the language of
causation needs to be approached with considerable caution, but
there are clearly some conditions and circumstances under which war
is more likely to occur and to persist. The objective is to develop a
clearer sense of the structural or chronic conditions that heighten the risks of war, and, conversely, the more urgent objective is to
identify the conditions that should be fostered in order to
significantly reduce the risks of war.
The kind of war focused on here is intrastate, politically-driven,
armed conflict. Intrastate armed conflict is but one manifestation of
organized armed violence and violent crime (others include interstate
war, terrorism, organized crime, gang violence, murder,
suicide). Intrastate war is not necessarily the most destructive form
of violence as measured in direct deaths (for example, annual
global traffic deaths are about 10 times higher than combat deaths
in wars; murders and suicides also exceed direct war deaths
annually), and it is certainly not the only violence that requires an
urgent and more effective response. Nevertheless, armed conflict
warrants special attention because it is in many ways unique in its
humanitarian and political/social/economic consequences. Entrenched or ongoing armed
conflict (many of today’s civil wars are decades old), accompanied by periodic mass atrocities,
produces devastatingly persistent conditions of humanitarian crisis, chronic underdevelopment,
and extreme political distortion – the consequences of which are literally incalculable, but which
are at the same time vividly apparent in the fate of the people who endure them. [...]
Abstract: It is frequently asserted that effective disarmament demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) in conflict-afflicted states can help reduce the chances of conflicts resuming and act as a platform for economic, political and social development. This follows the steadily growing importance attached to DDR as an instrument of conflict management and human development. Given the fact that many of these programmes take place in some of the world’s poorest countries, it thus makes sense to ask whether such programmes have arrested human insecurity through related programming, or, duly, established a receptive environment in which development can flourish. The literature is full of ‘lessons-learned’ assessments which attempt to chart the factors that account for the success (or failure) of a given DDR programme. Few assessments have in fact been made of these broader dimensions. This paper seeks to fill that gap.
Abstract: The goal of this article is to identify some key challenges in conceptualizing human security. Discussed challenges stem from the lack of conceptual coherence, lack of interdisciplinary approaches and cooperation, lack of joint methodology, mistaken perception that the content of human security is something entirely new, understated importance of finding the appropriate balance between human security and other human rights, neglecting the technical foundation of human security and the problem of subjectivity in threat perception. The author analyses these problems and proposes solutions for the human security theory, aiming to optimize the concept of human security itself.
Abstract: Hardly a day passes without media
reports of yet another unanticipated
crisis producing enormous human
suffering. While generalizations may
be premature in this confusing era after the
Cold War, these human survival crises
appear to share some common features.
First, most are intranational -- conflicts
between contending groups within a country
-- rather than between nations. Violence and
conflict erupt among ethnic, religious, and
other groups divided by long-standing historical
fissures, exacerbated by still poorly
understood political, economic, and social
forces. Most of the deaths and suffering are
inflicted upon civilian populations rather
than combatants; indeed, innocent people are
often the primary target of conflict rather
than mere by-products of war. Threats to
human survival and well being are more
often silent and invisible, greater than even
that reported in the mass media, stemming
from the collapse of social and material life
support systems. Malnutrition and common
infectious diseases, in addition to injury due
to violence, are the major causes of death and
Especially destructive is the migration of
international refugees or, increasingly, of displaced
persons within national boundaries.
Effective interventions, moreover,
require both the motivation to act and effective
access to the affected population. Such
access may be extremely complicated in contemporary
crises due to political, logistical,
institutional, ethical, and financial factors. The frontier research agenda of humanitarian
intervention, therefore, is to develop policies
for overcoming these constraints to access.
Two among several such policy issues considered
in this paper are rapid humanitarian
assessments and the institutional capabilities
for humanitarian action.
Abstract: Professor Mary Kaldor is Director of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance
at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is a founding
member of European Nuclear Disarmament and founder and Co-Chair of the
Helsinki Citizens Assembly. A prolific writer, she is author of Global Civil Society:
An Answer to War (2003), New and Old Wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era
(1999 and 2006) and edits the annual Global Civil Society Yearbook. Her most recent
book is Human Security: Reflections on Globalisation and Intervention (2007).
At the request of Javier Solana, The EU’s High Representative for the Common
Foreign and Security Policy, she convened the Study Group on European Security
Capabilities, which produced the influential report, A Human Security Doctrine for
Europe. A follow-on report, The European Way of Security, was presented to Javier
Solana in Madrid on 8 November, 2007. The interview took place on July 3, 2007.
Abstract: This Article provides a theoretical investigation of the relationship between Human
security, Terrorism and Human Rights in the Middle East: Implications for Social Work
Practice. The researcher argues that terrorism is a result of the absence of human
development in the Middle East. However, shortage of food, hunger, illnesses, political
conflicts, lack of education and increasing poverty will not make for a secure future for
those people. Furthermore, fear and anxiety will prevail in the world. The researcher
recommends that fulfilling human needs rather than controlling people is the best way to
create a secure social environment in the world.
Abstract: It is an existing reality that one of the leading threats to human survival in Africa is conflict, violence and war. The end of the decades of colonialism and Cold War had brought hope for the end of conflicts in Africa since most African countries involved in the conflict were battlegrounds as a result of the clash between colonial powers and the indigenous people and the subsequent East and West rivalry. Though certain conflicts came to an end, the situation did not change much as both inter and intra-state conflicts continued to dominate the political scenes in some African countries. The net result has been human loss and suffering exacerbating increasing threats to human security. Of great concern have been continued flow and manufacturing of weapons, both heavy and small, and the increased militarisation of communities in some countries. The logic to follow therefore is that stoppage or control in the supply of weapons through disarmament and arms control will go a long way in ameliorating the situation enhancing the achievement of human security. It is the purpose of this paper to explore the feasibility of arms control and disarmament in achieving human security in Africa. The paper will expose the major problems in effective achievement of arms control and disarmament and establishing ways of circumventing these problems with an overall objective of achieving human security in Africa.
Abstract: Why do transnational advocacy networks mobilize around some issues but not others? This is an important question because advocacy campaigns play a significant role in developing new global norms and galvanizing political attention to global social problems. However, most scholarship on transnational advocacy networks has focused on their effectiveness in promoting global norm change, and ignored how actors in these networks determine which global norms to promote in the first place. This study sought to gain insight into these dynamics.
We explored this question through six focus groups with practitioners drawn from the network of human security organizations.
We found four general sets of factors influencing the likelihood that global civil society organizations will focus their attention on an issue: 1) the nature of the issues themselves, 2) the attributes of the actors concerned, 3) the broader political context, and 4) the structural relationships within advocacy networks themselves—particularly between thematic sub-networks in broader civil society.
Additionally, the salience of these factors depended greatly on whether practitioners were being asked to talk abstractly or asked to evaluate actual candidate issues for human security campaigns.
Abstract: This is a study of how human security was introduced into Japan’s
foreign policy. Human security is a security idea that came into the limelight
in 1994 when the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
issued its annual report. In a speech in the United Nations the following
year Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi of Japan endorsed the concept
and three years later Prime Minister Obuchi Keizo declared that human
security was going to be a key element of Japan’s foreign policy. Subsequently,
the Japanese government began to put in what has been described
by a pundit as ‘a considerable effort’ to implement this new priority.
Soon after Obuchi’s announcement, the concept was part and parcel
of Japan’s foreign policy liturgy. As Eva Block has pointed out in her
discussion of the heavily ritualized communications that constitute the
foreign policy liturgy of a country, certain things ‘must’ be said, even if
the concepts behind them have little substantive import, and certain other
things ‘must not’ be said despite the fact that they could be justified. In
Japan, human security became a buzz-word and showed up in official
declarations and statements to such a degree that the country began to be
described as a leading proponent of human security.
The aim of the present study is to trace how human security was added
to the Japanese political agenda and made part and parcel of governmental
policies; to clarify the theoretical context and historical background of the
new policy that positioned human security as a key consideration of policies
pursued by the Japanese government; to analyze how its introduction into Japanese foreign policy was implemented in practice; and to study
how it impacted on and resulted in modifications of policies pursued by
Abstract: The concept of human security expanded the notion of security. The shift in focus from the state to the individual as the core object of security acknowledged the fact that intra-state conflicts such as civil wars, political violence, diseases, or poverty were greater threats to humans than inter-state wars. The concept has not brought about a paradigm shift in international security policy. But human security will most likely remain politically relevant even after recent changes in the strategic framework.
Abstract: Japan has played a central role internationally to promote and mainstream human security, the alternative security concept launched by the UNDP in 1994. Two key instruments devised by Japan are the Trust Fund for Human Security within the United Nations (established 1999) and the Commission on Human Security (2001-03). This report focuses on Japan’s policy for human security and the place of human security in Japan’s foreign policy.
Abstract: For too long, the continent of Africa has been cast as an arena of unending conflict. Although
many of the hostilities that plague the region are remnants of, and attributable to, the colonial
and Cold War eras, an unacceptably high percentage have been of our own making and
should have been prevented. Even the most cursory review of the impact these conflicts have had
on the continent and the welfare of its people paints a disquieting picture. When conflict erupts, its
potential to turn deadly has grown over time owing to the millions of small arms that are in circulation
across Africa, a disproportionate number of which are in private hands. Anyone who
witnesses firsthand the devastating consequences of this arms proliferation will undoubtedly
conclude that they are the true weapons of mass destruction.
Beyond the immediate and senseless loss of human life, each year governments across the continent
also suffer billions of dollars in real losses as a result of violent conflict. One recent study revealed
that on average, civil wars alone in Africa have resulted in a net loss of up to 2 percent in the rate
of economic growth, and at least a 15 percent reduction in national GDPs. Another study found
that Africa loses an estimated $18 billion per year as a result of civil wars, insurgencies, and other
forms of violent conflict combined. In addition to these astonishing opportunity costs, armed
conflict has also led to the diversion of funds toward the procurement of the instruments of war
and away from the provision of critical social amenities like public health, education, and economic
Abstract: Human security has a multifaceted definition which includes the security of individuals rather than states; security from both violence and economic and environmental threats; and security that is established through law rather than through war. It is a concept that can facilitate both the way one understands complex operations and how one designs the toolkit for addressing these risks and dangers. Although related and overlapping, human security is distinct from counterinsurgency. Defeating insurgents may be a means to achieving the goal of human security. For counterinsurgency efforts, human security enhances the holistic security paradigm. Critics of the concept of human security argue that is either too soft or a cover for neoimperialism, and that human security either captures what is already done in practice or is a utopian, unachievable aspiration.
Abstract: This paper warns that the human security discourse and agenda could inadvertently undermine the international human rights regime. It argues that in so far as human security identifies new threats to well-being, new victims of those threats, new duties of states, and/or new mechanisms of dealing with threats at the inter-state level, it adds to the established human rights regime. In so far as it simply rephrases human rights principles without identifying new threats, victims, duty-bearers, or mechanisms, at best it complements human rights and at worst it could undermine them. The narrow view of human security, as defined below, is a valuable addition to the international normative regime requiring state and international action against severe threats to human beings. By contrast, the broader view of human security at best repeats, and possibly undermines, the already extant human rights regime, especially by converting state obligations to respect individuals’ inalienable human rights into policy decisions regarding which aspects of human security to protect under which circumstances. The two may be competing discourses, despite arguments by some scholars that they are not.
Abstract: In June 2008, President Medvedev put forward a proposal for a new European security architecture. In November 2009, he published a draft European Security Treaty, which focuses on what is known as ‘hard security’ –the security of borders and the use of military force. President Medvedev’s proposals offer an opportunity to revise and revive the EU-Russia security relationship and open up a public debate within the EU and Russia about security but it should go beyond traditional concepts of hard security. We live in a more multipolar multilateral world, where global challenges like the threat of climate change and financial turmoil can have serious consequences for security, multiplying new and old risks such as xenophobia, religious fundamentalism, increased crimes rates and terror. In particular, both the EU and Russia were severely affected by the financial crisis. They need to cooperate in the modernisation of their economies and protection of the environment but this can only be achieved if they also cooperate on security. The concept of human security encompasses the ‘three baskets’ of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. It is about the security of individuals and the communities in which they live – the third basket of Helsinki. It is about material security as well as physical security, about life threatening risks that emanate from poverty or from natural disasters and that require economic, scientific and cultural cooperation – the second basket of Helsinki. And it is about the extension of rule-governed as opposed to war-based security – the first basket of Helsinki.
A human security lens offers a different lens through which to understand some of the key components of European security. Instead of defining conflicts in terms of geo-politics or ethnic rivalry, and taking different sides, Russia and the EU could cooperate in crisis and post-crisis management so as to enhance the human security of individuals affected by conflicts. Instead of linking weapons of mass destruction to sovereignty and pursuing arms control approaches, which tend to entrench Cold War thinking, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) should be reconceptualised as massive threats to human security. Instead of geo-political competition for energy, a human security approach to energy would focus on universal access, on combating climate change and on the stability and development of suppliers. Instead of focusing on future military attacks, a human security approach would put much more emphasis on so-called non-traditional threats such as the spread of drugs, organised crime, terrorism, or natural and man made disasters. And instead of trying to counter the rise of emerging powers, Russia and the EU should cooperate to strengthen global solutions to the global challenges of our time.
Abstract: The Human Development Network
(HDN) breaks out from its comfort zone of basic economic issues and addresses one that is at core a
political one: ideology-based armed conflicts. The theme was motivated by the observation that some of the
most conflict-ridden provinces are also among the bottom-10 provinces for almost every dimension of human
development, yet the link between human insecurity and human development had yet to be explored; that the
Philippines is home to two of the world’s longest-running armed conflicts, yet a credible accounting of their
human and economic costs is not available; and that insurgency, indeed terrorism, is often casually attributed to
income poverty and inequality, yet too many counter examples (of poor communities not participating, much
less condoning violence) could be cited. Why, after so many years of counterinsurgency policies and anti-poverty
strategies, have resolutions to the conflicts been so elusive?
The Report examines the causes and costs of the communist and Moro insurgencies, asks why and how
government “counterinsurgency” policies and other institutions have fallen short, and tries to suggest how current
peace efforts can be recast or reinforced. It proceeds from and with a human development frame, that is, an
understanding that human security is not just freedom from fear, a defensive concept, but also freedom from
want and humiliation; that the insecurity of one is the insecurity of all, and, most important, that human security
is a right in itself.
Abstract: Over the last decade, the international community
has been working toward a new and broader concept
of security, drawing input from a number of
governments, non-governmental organizations and
civil society groups as well as scholars and other
prominent individuals. This new concept—known
as human security—calls on states to ensure the
survival, livelihood and dignity of their inhabitants.
At the same time, it encourages e≠orts to equip
people to act more e≠ectively on their own behalf. Following the report by the Commission on Human Security, Human Security Now, this booklet seeks to show practical applications of human security and give the concept a human face. Between March-June 2006, in preparation for this publication, the Human Security Unit, a freelance journalist and a team of photographers visited dozens of project sites, conducting hundreds of interviews with local staff and beneficiaries. From these many compelling initiatives, nine stories were selected that reflect the range of issues, regions and institutions involved in human security work around the globe. Human security represents a fundamentally new
way of thinking about a range of contemporary
challenges—from hunger, poverty and failing
schools to armed conflict, forced migration and
human tra≤cking. Because these issues are closely
intertwined, human security emphasizes the need
for multi-sectoral responses and collaboration
among all stakeholders. Moreover, it aims to bridge
the gaps between security, humanitarian assistance,
human rights and development aid.
Abstract: The concept of “human security,” which today is widely used by a wide range of
governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), is only the latest in a long series of attempts to broaden traditional
conceptions of security. These include such ideas as global security, societal
security, common security, comprehensive security and cooperative security.
Aside from being the most recent attempt to reformulate or redefine the concept
of security, the human security approach is significant for two reasons. First,
because unlike most other previous reformulations, it stands in tension, or
potentially even conflict, with the state-centric conception of security that has
dominated our thinking. Second, it is important because policy-makers have
adopted the discourse of human security, and have used it to generate important
and interesting foreign and security policy initiatives. But a full understanding of
the conceptual and practical implications of human security – which also helps to
explain its utility and attractiveness – must unpack the complex relationship
between human security and state security, and in particular the rights and
responsibilities of states in meeting the security needs of their citizens.
This paper thus explores the strengths, and some of the weaknesses, of the
concept of human security, and the intertwined relationship between state and
Abstract: The notion of human security, constructed and advocated for in the international arena, offers an interesting opportunity to further analyze its relationship to human rights, another concept which enjoys strong international relevance, largely in the legal terrain. Reviewing the points of connection between human security and International Law may also contribute to the understanding of the idea of human security and assessment of its possible utility, as there are still many disperse definitions in academic circles and among international organizations and States that promote this idea of security. Therefore, the central aims of this paper are to: 1) Present an overview of the different conceptions of human security, of the critiques towards the human security approach, of the practical exercises of measurement of human security, and the assessment of the most useful definition of human security to adopt it as a working definition; and 2) To analyze critically how human security relates to International Law and if the elements of the working definition of human security are reflected in International Law in general, and International Human Rights Law in particular (even if the notion is not named a such). This analysis is carried out through looking at the intersections between human security and human rights in certain concrete areas considered of interest: i) security as a human right; ii) the concept of citizen security developed in the Inter-American system of human rights; iii) the particular links of human security to economic, social and cultural rights (ESC Rights); and iv) the correlation of human security to gender issues and feminism.