The traditional concept of security is linked to the state. The notion of security has traditionally entailed the protection of the state: its boundaries, its people, and its institutions. The concept of security has however changed radically over the last several decades. The world is being challenged with many threats coming from non-state actors such as terrorist groups, armed groups and criminal organizations. In addition, the world’s population has been threatened by health threats such as HIV/AIDS, environmental threats and insufficient food supply. The recognition of the necessity of a wider definition and understanding of security is emerging.
In 2001 a UN Commission on Human Security was set up to explore the concept. The commission was led by former UN Commissioner for Refugees Ms. Sadako Ogata and Nobel Economics Prize Laureate Professor Amartya Sen. A final report of the working of the commission was presented May 1, 2003.
Click here to access the Commissions Website (http://humansecurity-chs.org/index.html).
The new concept of Human Security is linked to the individual and the rising number of factors that threats the well-being of individuals and communities around the world.
This website is an academic platform for research and publications on the concept of Human Security. You will find short introductions to some of the main aspects of Human Security and articles published by students and scholars of International Relations. The focus has been placed on the following categories:
- Armed Conflict
- Organized Crime and Criminal Violence
- Human Rights and Humanitarian Intervention
- Genocide and Mass Crimes
- Health and Development
- Environmental and Resource Security
Definitions of Human Security
Kofi Annan: “a new understanding of the concept of security is evolving. Once synonymous with the defence of territory from external attack, the requirements of security today have come to embrace the protection of communities and individuals from internal violence. The need for a more human-centred approach to security is reinforced by the continuing dangers that weapons of mass destruction, most notably nuclear weapons, pose to humanity: their very name reveals their scope and their intended objective, if they were ever used.”
Sources: http://www.un.org/millennium/sg/report/full.htm, http://www.unesco.org/opi2/lettres/TextAnglais/AnnanE.html, http://www.un.org/documents/sg/report00/a551e.pdf, http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2000/20000508.sgsm7382.doc.html
UNDP: “Human security can be said to have two main aspects. It means, first, safety from such chronic threats as hunger, disease and repression. And second, it means protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life – whether in homes, in jobs or in communities. Such threats can exist at all levels of national income and development. The list of threats to human security is long, but most can be considered under several main categories:
- Economic security
- Food security
- Health security
- Environmental security
- Personal security
- Community security
- Political security”
Sadako Ogata: “Several key elements make up human security. A first essential element is the possibility for all citizens to live in peace and security within their own borders. This implies the capacity of states and citizens to prevent and resolve conflicts through peaceful and nonviolent means and, after the conflict is over, the ability to effectively carry out reconciliation efforts. A second element is that people should enjoy without discrimination all rights and obligations – including human, political, social, economic and cultural rights – that belonging to a State implies. A third element is social inclusion – or having equal access to the political, social and economic policy making processes, as well as to draw equal benefits from them. A fourth element is that of the establishment of rule of law and the independence of the justice system. Each individual in a society should have the same rights and obligations and be subject to the same set of rules. These basic elements which are predicated on the equality of all before the law, effectively remove any risk of arbitrariness which so often manifests itself in discrimination, abuse or oppression.”