Concept Analysis: Human Security As is often thecase with political concepts, separating the moral, philosophical andideological views from those who create them is difficult. Thus, politicalconcepts become grounds of great controversy and initial scholarly discourseover human security involved contesting its meanings. The concept of humansecurity is broad and extensively explores a range of issues within internationalrelations. The Commission on Human Security (CHS) defines human security as”…to protect the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance humanfreedoms and human fulfilment. Human security means protecting fundamentalfreedoms…” (CHS, 2003, p4). In essence, human security is about moving awayfrom traditional, state-centred conceptions of security, to people-centredsecurity; focusing primarily on the security and protection of citizens andindividuals.
The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 1994 HumanDevelopment report wrote that “…a transition from the narrow concept ofnational security to the all-encompassing concept of human security…” must bedeveloped (Human Development Report, 1994). Thomas Hobbes writes in his famous textthe Leviathan that the state of nature is “rash, nasty, brutish and short”(Hobbes, 1651). So people decided to leave the state of nature where it was ‘nasty’in order to come into a civil society in order to seek protection for theirlives. Human security does that: it offers citizens security and protection. Humansecurity also drew attention to seven fundamental threats that cut across differentaspects of human lives; Economic, Food, Health, Environmental, Personal,Community and Political security, which I will discuss further.
To fullyunderstand the concept of human security, we must first discuss the origins andhistory of the concept. The concept ofhuman security has been with us for over a decade now, and emerged at the endof the Cold War, when the focus shifted from being primarily on militarysecurity, to a broader concept of individual security. Human security was first brought to international prominencewhen the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published its HumanDevelopment report in 1994.
Mahub ul Haq drew global attention to the conceptby defining the concept and publishing the first ever human development report.The 1994 report introduced the new concept of human security, which equatessecurity with people rather than states. The report had major influence upondiscussions within international relations and influenced policy makers on theglobal issue of security. In 1999, the United Nations Trust Fund for HumanSecurity (UNTFHS) was launched by the Japanese government and the UN to fundhuman security projects.
This was a concrete step in operationalising humansecurity. More recently, human security has become a pivotal issue ofinternational debate. In the 2005 world summit outcome document, heads ofstates and governments refer to the concept of human security, and paragraph143 of the document recognized “all individuals, in particular vulnerablepeople, are entitled to freedom from fear and freedom from want…” (World SummitOutcome Document, 2005). These events show how human security has advanced inthe past decade, and has flourished into the global concept which we know it astoday. The humansecurity concept has become a milestone in the field of internationalrelations. The concept has added to political discourse relating to the state, citizensand to the society as a whole. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan argues that human security isnot a new concept.
He writes “theorists like Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Humeclearly state that people enter civil society and civil states from the stateof nature in order to seek protection.” (Pitsuwan, 2007). Human security offersthat protection. Human security relates to military and non-military issuesalike, such as terrorist attacks and rising levels of pollution. Human securityprioritises and addresses threats to people and their environments. As the conceptof human security is people-centred and multi-sectoral, it considers amultitude of conditions which could threaten an individual’s survival anddignity. There are a rangeof different views on what human security really is and what it means, and manyscholars differ on their interpretations of the concept. Sabina Alkire, aprofessor in International Affairs argues human security is about “safeguardingthe vital core of all human lives from critical pervasive threats, without impedinglong term human fulfilment.
” (Alkire, 2002). Alkire suggests that the vitalcore is the minimum needed to survive, and human security is about protectingthe core from any intervention. Alkire approaches the concept from a humanitarianperspective.
Conversely, Gary King andChristopher Murray define human security as being “expectation of years of lifewithout experiencing the state of generalised poverty.” (King and Murray, 2001)This definition suggests human security is about not falling below thresholdsof well-being.