Human Security

Origin and Development of the Concept of Human Security

Dr. Mahbub ul Haq first introduced the concept as part of holistic paradigm of human development through his 1994 Human Development Report.

The Report was the first document to propose the concept and appropriate policy and action. Dr. ul Haq and many others discussed at a previous roundtable meeting on the "Economics of Peace" in Costa Rica in January that year the need of the post-Cold War for such a new concept in consideration of changed foreign policy objectives from an almost entirely military nature. They agreed that the focus should broaden into overall security of individuals from "social violence, economic distress and environmental degradation. That new and more relevant concept should address the causes of individual insecurity and hindrances to the realization of a person's full potential. It also called to reduce military spending to insure greater human development and economic and environmental deficits and increase the prospects of peace.

The 1994 Report also argued it was about time the concept of security moved from security of territory from outside aggression, protection of "national interests" in foreign policy and from nuclear threats.

The new concept encompassed the safety of individuals and groups. Their safety called for protection from threats like hunger, disease and political instability and "sudden disruptions in daily life." The Report also identified the seven core elements that reflect the basic requirements of human security. These were economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, community security and political security. Thereafter, the concept was incorporated into the foreign and defense policies of governments as a central theme. Canada, Japan and Norway, in particular, institutionalized issues dealing with human security in their foreign policies. Foreign Affairs Canada viewed human security as freedom from all threats to a person's rights, safety and lives. The 2003 Report of UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Chairman of an International Commission in 2001 said that human security complemented state security. The underlying message of the Report implied that human security not only protects people but also empowers them to sustain themselves. It drew the message from the experiences of people in violent conflict, migrants, those recovering from violent conflict, and economic insecurity in the post-Cold War period. Human security became the organizing theme of two significant UN reports in the World Summit in September 2005. The three important matters agreed on during the World Summit were the creation of a peace-building commission, a new Council of Human Rights to restore credibility and legitimacy, and a principle of the responsibility to protect and the right to intervene.

The successive National Human Development Reports provided important conclusions for incorporation into national and international policy.

Human security

identifies new issues, not only repeats already-recognized security problems, and points to the need to the elements of these problems in a novel and integrated way. It does not always require military solutions to certain issues. The case of Afghanistan was used to illustrate this. Military action and strategies utilized a third of all its resources and the Coalition countries involved were dominantly preoccupied with their respective strategy in the War on Terrorism. But the Afghanistan NHDR maintained that this strategy was not succeeding. Instead, it strongly argued for the use of broader and more direct strategy towards human security. This new slant would give less priority to military action and a lot more attention to non-military options. With greater analytical skills currently available, it provided an opportunity for the UN and others to reconsider stated broad but complicated causes of the threats. It viewed this position as politically realistic and even demonstrated to have offered many political contributions to after-conflict situations, such as in East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

The acceptance of the concept was initially met with apprehensions that it could complicate international procedures in decision-making on the threats.

But the Secretary-General made the concept framework an integral part of his paper, "In Larger Freedom," for his proposed UN reform. The September 2005 UN Summit accepted some of his most important proposals, including the creation of a Peace-building Commission the principle of the "Responsibility to Protect and the Right to Intervene."

An Inclusive Sort of Security

Dr. Ul Haq's 1994 UNDP report pushed for an ontological shift in perspective from the state to the individual security.

It was essentially people-centered and universal, as it would apply to all races throughout the world. It was also an epistemologically modified approach from the traditional and privileged few security analysts to local knowledge holders. The privileged few can be expected to respond to this alteration with suspicion as well as hostility. Different peoples perceive what is important in life in different ways and a universal concept will not be easy to get accepted. But international security today requires just a shift of view into a more participative one. Preferences would necessarily be the basis of participative methods. And preferences are, in turn, often socially and culturally dictated. Only if they are can these preferences be universally relevant. Human security includes emancipation, empowerment and the capacity for human dignity.

Hard and Soft Issues

Security and development have always been separately taken, with security treated as traditionally high or hard politics and receiving focus and allocated massive resources.

Development, on the other hand, has been the interest of some with humanitarian interests and receiving far less funding. Although security has been subjected to different approaches, no effective links between security and development have been theoretically developed. Development continues to be considered a soft issue and security the hard issue. Keeping these two issues separate and in a definite order of preference will obstruct efforts at addressing human security concerns and goals.

State vs. The Individual, the Gender Issue

As demonstrated by the Westphalia state system case, efforts at addressing individual security within the State have not been fruitful.

Interventions have been interpreted as violating the State's right to non-intervention and, in itself, a threat to State sovereignty. Concerned States have tried outside means, such as humanitarian interventions, to skirt the issue through. The alternatives often become counterproductive as power politics sometimes claim to operate "by humanitarian motives."

Interwoven in the individual security issue is the gender situation. Women do not possess secure status in any society.

No equal treatment exists between them and men. Women suffer from inequality and insecurity from birth to death anywhere in the world. In some countries, women are the last to eat, the last to be educated, the last to be hired but the first ones to be fired. From childhood to adulthood, women are abused in many places around the world merely because of their gender.

The 2002 Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty or ICISS on the Responsibility to Protect tried to fill the gap.

But if the particular State refuses or is unable to heed the call to protect its citizens, the international community can take the responsibility to intervene and breach the principle of sovereignty. The alternative derives from the basis of the social contract between the State and its people. The State has the right to rule in order to deliver the infrastructure and coordination necessary to fulfil the needs of its citizens. There would be conditions to the intervention and would not disregard the security or relevance of the State. State security would be translated into that of the citizens as it should really be. There are, however, certain factors affecting the State in providing for human security. In extreme cases, the State itself afflicts its own citizens or the source of violence. States claim that their sovereignty is eroded by global phenomena, such as regional conflicts, epidemics, poverty and environmental degradation. In such cases, the responsibility for peace, development and security moves into the hands of the private sector. International and regional organizations, non-government organizations, civil society, local communities and individuals themselves should take over the task. It is not the exclusive privilege of State officials or the military. Their protection should not be the sole means and source of the people's security.

Protecting Freedom

Terrorism, the diffusion of weapons of mass destruction, the Iraqi war, infections, and global economic decline have threatened the sense of security of countries and peoples, particularly at the start of the 21st century.

Global traffic of people, goods and ideas has both created the situations and offered the solutions to these situations. These solutions depend on clarifying one's understanding of human security. It is about safeguarding and expanding people's vital freedoms from threats of depriving them of the capacity to take charge of their own lives. Human security provides the required "bottoms-up" direction. It does not seek to replace State security but to complement it when the State fails to fulfill its obligations to citizens. Prevalent conflicts, the absence of a strong government and extreme poverty, for example, rob the citizens of that sense of security, as in the case of Afghanistan, Iraq and…