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Essay Samples > Political > Human Security
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Human Security

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The need to enhance security for all people across the globe remains one of the key areas of focus to such international organizations as the United Nations. Without adequate security to all people across the globe, it will be significantly hard to achieve many global targets, such as the Millennium Development Goals since it will be rather difficult to use so much needed human resources, which are critical in attaining these different targets aimed at betterment of all human races. Human security ought to hold to a people-centered security view, thus, ensuring regional, national, as a well as global, security. Therefore, there is the need to consider human security as a parallel to the life quality for every individual, despite the income level, religion, and ethnic background among other parameters, which have been in most instances used to separate the human race.

As a result of the globalization process, created by technological development, which has given rise to issues like cyber terrorism and other modern forms of social crimes, the concept of offering world class levels of human security has become complicated even in counties with the most developed economies, like the U.S., China, the U.K., among others. Human security could significantly help in enlarging the scope for examining consequences, as well as the causes, of underdevelopment, by creating a bridge in the gap, which exists between security and development. Further, as indicated by Ban Ki-Moon, the current Secretary General of the United Nations, human security also entails all those aspects, which increase the ability of all human beings to live in dignity, despite their age, income level, and religion among others. For instance, ensuring food security across all parts of the globe will enhance development in countries like Haiti, Somalia, Kenya, and other countries where inadequate food supplies brought about by global warming and poor farming practices have caused death of many people or affected others in a harmful way. Based on this background, the paper will examine concepts indicating the viability of human security.

Background at Human Security

Simply put, the issue of human security has raised the question of evolving of the term of security from its traditional conception of the states safety from threats posed by military to safety from any threat, which affects people, as well as various communities, across the globe. One the referent objects of security has changed to focus on individuals; it then clearly proposes to extend the meaning of safety from just a mere survival (existence) to a life worth living, thus ensuring well-being and dignity to all human beings. Therefore, poverty, for instance, is conceptualized as an aspect of human security not due to the fact that it can result in violence, which, in turn, threatens the stability of a given state, but due to the fact that it threatens dignity of all individuals.

Numerous antinomic views have emerged in respect to human security since the time it has acquired prominence in 1990s. These contending issues range from the view of the human race being one of the radical departures from the traditional definition of security, to focus on moderate evolutionary changes. Human security has been defined as “safety from chronic threats, such as hunger, disease, and repression.” Another definition of human security defines it as “protection from sudden and harmful disruptions in the patterns of daily life whether in homes, in jobs or in communities.” Human security is a universal concept and incorporates all people irrespective of their location in the world. The concept of human security can be termed as a brainchild of the UNDP (United Nations Development Program).

On the one hand, human security can be defined as the safety from the chronic threats like hunger, oppression, diseases among others. On the other, human security can be regarded as protection from harmful and sudden disruptions in patterns regarding daily activities at home or community levels. Human security can be broadly categorized into two areas. One of the areas is the one touching on the protection problems. This calls for concerted efforts in order to develop norms, institutions, and processes, which systematically shield people from any form of threats or violence. The other area is the one touching on the empowerment of people, aiding them to develop their full potentialities to take part in decisions, as well as processes, affecting their lives. According to a report written by Dr. Haq Mahbub and directed towards the UNDP (United Nations Development Programs) on issues touching on human security, there are seven most significant areas, which are critical in improving human security across the globe.

Economic Security

This type of security demands an assured income for all people at least at the living wage level, provided either as payment for their work or as a finance support from the government. It is estimated that only 25% of the global population are financially secures, and above 75% of these individuals are from developed economies. However, as a result of the recent financial crises, the number of economically stable individuals in the developed economies has declined as a result of the high unemployment level. In the underdeveloped economies, phenomena, such as ethnic and political tensions and violence, are witnessed, which has brought to disturbances in some countries like Palestine, Rwanda in 1994, Kenya in 2007 and the recent Arab uprisings in Libya, Egypt, and Syria among others.

Food Security

This aspect requires that all individuals have both economic and physical access to food at the most basic level. As stipulated by the UN, the entire availability of food cannot be considered as a challenge; however, the main issue is about the effective distribution, as well as inadequate food purchasing power. Generally, in tackling this, there is an enormous need to have access to assets, assured assets, as well as constant income to all people.

Health Security

This kind of security guarantees the minimal level of protection from all types of unhealthy lifestyles, such as eating disorders, resulting in obesity cases among others, as well as diseases. In the developing economies, such as Philippines, Mexico, Ghana, and others, the main causes of deaths traditionally are parasitic and infectious diseases, whereas, in the developed economies, the major causes of deaths are diseases originating from circulatory systems. However, in the recent past, chronic illnesses take place even in the middle level income countries, such as Brazil, China, and South Africa. In the underdeveloped economies, such as Haiti, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Somali, and others, health security has significantly reduced as a result of the raised level of malnutrition among children, insufficient access to clean water among other forms of basic amenities.

Environmental Security

This aims to fully prevent people from ravaging the nature, deteriorating of existing natural environment, and creating the man-made threats, such as nuclear bombs and pollution among others both in the short and long terms. In the developing economies, inadequate presence of clean water possesses the largest form of environmental security. In the developed economies, issues relating to global warming resulting from emissions of greenhouse gases are considered the leading environmental security issue.

Political Security

Political security mainly deals with the ability of the society to honor human rights belonging to individuals.

Community Security

This type of security aims at protecting people from the loss of their traditional values and relationships, as well as from ethnic and sectarian violence. In most instances, ethnic groups are often threatened, and approximately 50% of states across the globe experience inter-ethnic strifes. In 1993, the UN declared the International Year of the World's Indigenous People in order to clearly highlight the ever increasing vulnerability of at least 300 million individuals in approximately 70 countries, who up to date continue to face pressure of the processes of modernization and globalization.

Personality Security

This form of security targets to protect individuals from physical forms of violence, whether resulting from the state itself or from external states, violent sub-state actors or individuals, domestic abuse, or others. To many people across the globe, the biggest source of anxiety is the one which results from crime, especially, violent crimes. The figures below indicate the HDI (Human Development Index) in 2008 and 2003. The countries marked green indicate a high level of human development, those in orange/yellow exhibit medium level of development while those in red have a reduced level of human development.

The following tables summarize some of the crucial developments, which has been made by the United Nations, towards the attainment of human security.

Critical Aspects Relating to Human Security

Human security clearly suggests that, for security analysis and policies to be effective, there is the need to focus on individuals as the primary and inherent beneficially. In very broad understanding, human security can be termed as “freedom from fear”, “freedom from want”: negative and positive rights and freedoms as they fundamentally relate to the needs of individuals. Further, human security can be regarded as normative. The concept argues that there exists an ethical type of responsibility aimed at orienting security around the needs of an individual, and this is in line with the issues of human rights, freedoms, and governance as set by international bodies, such as the United Nations and International Monetary Fund among others.

To most of the scholars in the field of human security, there is the tendency to present explanatory arguments, which concern the type of security, conflict, and deprivation. Further, there is the emphasis on policy-oriented approach, where it is believed that the idea of human security ought to give rise in policy changes that significantly improve the welfare of people. Like all the non-traditional approaches to security, human security challenges the orthodox neorealist conceptions towards international securities. There is the general argument that the greatest security threat arises from internal and external conflicts, hunger, diseases, and criminal or contamination violence. For others, an enormous amount of risk may come in a result of their individual state as compared to other “external” adversaries. Therefore, human security attempts to challenge institutions and attitudes, which privilege the so-called “high politics” and above individual experiences geared towards issues depriving insecurity. Human security also brings about crucial implications focusing on the evolution of sovereign states. In the past, the sovereignty of a state, as well as the sovereign legitimacy, has rested on the control of governments, state recognition, and independence from other states. In this case, the main role of the citizens is just to support this kind of a system.

As a result of the approaches relating to human security, there has been a significant reversal to this kind of equation, that is, the state and the state sovereignity ought to support and serve the people, thus drawing its legitimacy. It is clear that all approaches relating to human security candidly indicate that the referent security analysis and policies ought to focus on an individual. However, there is a common disagreement about the threats from which every person should be protected. The UNDP’s Human Development approach defines human security as safety and protection from conditions, such as the sudden disruption in daily living, diseases, repression, and hunger. As a result, it, therefore, seems that human security is all about protecting the human race from threats, which may be both severe and widespread in nature. By creating conditions, which foster the survival of all mankind and their freedoms, political, environmental, and economic variables amongst others are greatly enhanced and, as a result, empower the people accordingly and enable them to have a sense of security. There are three approaches to human security. The first approach strongly emphasizes the importance of controlling life threatening situations, which currently result in high mortality rates. This includes mortality rates caused by preventative diseases in the third world countries where this is a great threat to both human security and freedom. Other causes that result in high mortality include poverty and pollution. Therefore, any theory that incorporates these three crucial factors is considered as being both conceptually and empirically valid and vice versa. The second approach to human security predominantly focuses on the effect of repressive ruling of governments. A good example of a country that falls to this category was Iraq, which experienced repression under the dictator Sadam Hussein.

Another component of this approach is that it also focuses on the effect of how conflict, in particular armed conflict, affects civilians. In this approach, the ‘conventional security analysis’ does not account for armed conflict and its consequences. In this approach, all other factors not accounted in the other two approaches fall under this category. However, it should also be noted that this category incorporates concepts that are not necessarily traditional security issues.This often includes human trafficking, drugs, and terrorism related issues and, of course, the process of resolving these issues appropriately. Secondly, an important fact that provides more evidences that human security is indeed viable comes from the drastic decrease in mortality from 33000 in the 1950’s to less than 1000 deaths per year in 2008. This statistic illustrates that human security is viable; however, it should be perceived as an ongoing process rather than as being accomplished on a one-time basis. For instance, the gradual decrease in mortality strongly suggests that with more policy implementation, it is possible to reduce the death rate to 0 deaths per year. Thirdly, another good way of ensuring the feasibility of human security is by drastically reducing the causes of conflict by preventing them and waiting for conflicts to happen and implement peace building missions as an aftermath. By reducing factors that lead to the infringement of human security, human security would not be compromised. Such factors entail economic and resource security, societal and communal security, governance and political security, and human rights and personal security. Taking care of these factors would make human security viable since there would be no need for any political unrest.

Enhancing Development through Human Security

As indicated above, there exists a strong relationship between development and human security. Traditionally, the ability to develop economies driven by liberal markets may be regarded as one of the universal paths leading to economic growth, which translates in the wellbeing of all people across the globe. However, increased abuses to human rights and conflicts, especially, after the end of the Cold War, as well as a result of the fact that above 66% of the whole of population across the globe have made little progress in their gains resulting from globalization, have led to some critical fundamental questions about the way in which development has been carried out. Accordingly, development of humanity has emerged since 1990s to challenge a notable paradigm of the liberal economies geared to the development of communities. Proponents of human development argue that growth of economies is not enough to increase the capabilities or choices in such areas as education, health, employment, and technology, which should not be neglected. The development of humanity can be said to enlarge the extent of examining consequences and causes of underdevelopment by making attempts to bridge the divide, which exists between security and development. In many instances, militaries failed to solve the main underlying causes of insecurity and violence while workers highly underplayed the vulnerabilities of developmental models, which were geared towards tackling the issue of violent conflicts.

It is notable that human security results from an increasing level of consensus that these two aspects – growth and security – are highly integrated. In his paper Development and Security, Frances Stewart indicates that development and security are enormously connected. First, human security highly forms a critical part of well-being of all people; thus, it is an objective part of the development. An objective geared to development can be regarded as one of the enlargement of human choices, and insecurity highly reduces the human potentials, making it difficult to attain the objective of development. Secondly, reduced human security has adverse economic consequences, thus, affecting development. It is clear that the majority of costs arising from development are obvious. For instance, during a war, those who flee or joins the army may not be able to participate in any significant form of development. Further, destruction of infrastructure in a result of war reduces the level of production capacity of an economy. Thirdly, imbalanced development involving horizontal inequalities can be regarded as a critical source of conflict. Based on this, vicious cycles leading to reduced development results in conflict, thus, low developmental levels. Further, it is arguable that human development and human insecurity are all centered on the people. They all significantly attempt to challenge the orthodox approach towards development and security, that is, liberal economy and state security. In these two, there is the emphasis that people are the ultimate end; thus, they are treated as agents, who need to be significantly empowered to participate in the development. Both these perspectives can also be regarded as multidimensional. This is due to the fact that they address issues touching human dignity and physical and material concerns. Further, human development and security consider inequality and poverty as the main cause of vulnerability of individuals. The table below indicates the relationship, which exists between human development and human security.

Strategies of Enhancing Human Security as set by the Trust Fund of the United Nations

According to the United Nations Trust Fund, there are three phases, which are critical when designing programs aimed at improving human security. They are indicated in the table below.

The table below offers some capabilities and strategies, which are required in addressing and enhancing human securities as stipulated by the United Nations Trust Fund.

Measuring Human Security

Many different ways of measuring security exist, but of a current interest is the measurement via the human development matrix, money-metric analysis, and income per capita. Human development matrix analysts tend to incorporate other domains as well. This has often included health, education, and income per capita, which was also the case in the current study.

Human Index Domains

This measure tends to incorporate measures of wellbeing that often incorporate health and education. In addition to the listed domains, the analysts in this study decided to incorporate poverty as closely tied with other forms of freedom. Therefore, various measures used in this case included environment, democracy, political freedom, income, health, education, and, biodiversity.

Domain-Specific Measures

It is now estimated that 1.3 billion people around the world are living in poverty. This statistic is derived from converting into international the GNP per capita. The definition of health factors in human security divides on two broad definitions. In the first definition, health is a fundamental component of survival. The second defines it as deteriorating condition, which lead to poverty as a result of the illness an individual suffers. Various measures of health have been derived with the help of the most common methods, such as WHODAS, the SF-36, and the Euroqol. In general, these methods measure health on a continuum from 0, signifying death, to 1, indicating that the person is in a good health; 0.25 is the indicator of poverty. Another important measure is education, which is crucial for any country and its economy. In this case, education was measured by calculating the number of years an individual has invested in school in conjunction with their literacy attainment. However, a great disadvantage of the method is that it relies on self-reported measures of literacy, which are extremely different cross culturally. For instance, an extremely educated person in one country can be extremely illiterate when placed in the context of another country.

Data Needs

In order for human security to be measured well, a good information database is required. Database should contain both current and past records and information concerning the population’s political freedom, education, income, democracy, and health. For the information to be useful, it must contain all these domains; otherwise, determining poverty levels with missing data would prove to be unfruitful. Another crucial component of calculating the rate of poverty is the ability to project future trends by using the information currently available. In order to derive these projections, risk assessment methods with predictive validity need to be incorporated into the equation. In this case, risk assessment should contain two stages. In the first stage, conditions, which lead to the drastic changes in human security, ought to be identified. This can range from natural disasters and global warming to economic crises and wars. The identification of such factors would make analysis more accurate for future projections as compared to ignoring or eliminating them.

The Importance of Measuring Human Security

The measurement of human security is of vital importance, particularly, for the population being measured. Firstly, by measuring human security, the population’s perception of their security is drastically sensitizing since individuals often feel that their security is highly threatened. Therefore, conducting such studies drastically sensitizes people’s perceived security. Another advantage of measuring human security is that the data obtained can be used in the area of public policy to implement both suitable and effective measures to combat and increase the low levels of human security.

Enhancing Human Security

Many threats to human security exist currently. Some of these threats are foreseen whilst others are not.

Categories of Efforts to Enhance Human Security

Risk assessment often entails gathering information and alerting a population of the risks that may subsequently lead to general poverty. It has been documented that deriving policies based on risk assessment are more effective as compared to using current wellbeing and generalized policy to derive human security policies.

Normative Decisions

According to the International Community, human security is predominantly based on the protection and security of humans unlike the common use of security, which refer to protections of buildings and. The view of the international community strongly holds the opinion that priority should be given to improving the wellbeing of the people and populations which are worse off. As a result, human security should definitely be a priority and not human development.

Agenda for Foreign Policy and Scientific Progress

The role of the international community is crucial when it comes about improving human security and policies relating to human security amongst populations, especially, vulnerable populations. It is clear that risk assessment is crucial for the enhancement of human security; direct  protection also deserves great emphasis in this regard. The following section offers some of the countries and regions where human security practices have been implemented.

Case Studies

The following case studies will indicate the role played by human security in growth and development of various countries across the globe.

The European Union

One of the regions where the issue of human security has been advocated is in the European Region. In 2004, the EU established A Human Security Doctrine that detailed organizations, scope, as well as intent, that the region should carefully follow building its policies regarding security of humans. The doctrine was crucial as it aimed at protecting people through law enforcement with some irregular use force. While taking into account all the importance of complementarities found in the military and civil operations for the missions of the EU in the Balkans, in the southern Caucasus, and the Great Lakes region in the Sub-Saharan Africa among other regions in various parts of the globe, this document proposed to develop civil military forces of at least 15, 000 personnel, which would have included 30% civilian professionals to help in the crisis management of their operations. The document stated that…..” Europeans cannot be secure while millions of people live in intolerable insecurity... Where people live in lawlessness, poverty, exclusivist ideologies and daily violence; there is fertile ground for criminal networks and terrorism. Conflict regions transport hard drugs and guns to the European Union. That is why a contribution to global human security is now the most realistic security policy for Europe. ……..”Further, the document indicates that the EU is categorical on the need to use force in a global scale with an aim of maintaining and enhancing human security in various parts of the world. Although some observers remain significantly skeptical about the fact that the EU always pronounces ambitions which are lofty without any ability to organize or even integrate support like global force, A Human Security Doctrine can be considered as one of the direct documents found in the European region declaring the responsibility and ability of Europe to act independently and, if it crucial, to act beyond its borders all in an effort to ensure human security. In fact, it is worth noting that these notable responsibilities are clearly indicated: “A human security approach for the European Union means that it should contribute to the protection of every individual human being and not only on the defense of the Union’s borders, as was the security approach of nation-states…” However, this rationale falls victim of another potential risk to human security, that is, the extent of determining the level of vulnerability to human security, both in the EU region and abroad. For instance, lack of clear definition of vulnerability may rely on arguments such as “terror breeding ground” in guiding the whole of the foreign policy. Despite some limiting focus, such as “enforcement of law with occasional use of force”, it is clear that Human Security Doctrine in the EU has significantly managed to empathize on legal institutions and frameworks, such as the ICC (International Criminal Court, which has not been recognized by the US), as well as develop some specific criteria and guidelines. These criteria and guidelines have helped to authorize interventions of the Security Council of the UN for maintaining and upholding human security in various parts of the globe. While stressing on the need of preventing gross violation of human rights, this declaration stipulates other expectations, responsibilities, and norms that are committed by various states towards their citizens.

El Salvador

In 1992, the rebel group FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front) and the government of El Salvador signed a peace accord, which was referred to as Chapultepec Peace Accord. As a result, it became possible to end a violent conflict, which had lasted over one decade. However, as efforts have been made to consolidate the hard-won stability, as well as democracy, dividends resulting from human security have highly been undermined, thus, resulting in activities such as violent crimes, increased rates of homicides and a persistence culture of intimidations and fear.

Liberia

One of the countries, which have significantly benefited from gains obtained from raised levels of human security, is Liberia. Suffering from numerous protracted conflicts, the country has undergone through several recovery processes. Various human security approaches have helped to empower the most vulnerable communities, thus offering some of the best for transition approaches from violence towards sustainable development and peace.

Kosovo

The 1998 - 1999 conflict, which took place in Kosovo, resulted in raised hardships to the already distressed and vulnerable country. Through the destruction of the social infrastructures, such as roads, schools, churches, Kosovo had experienced one of the highest rates of unemployment rate in the globe, thus, making it one of the poorest nations in the European Union. Moreover, political tension between Kosovo and Serbs and Kosovo and Albanians continue to reduce human security in this area, leading to reduced development. Other countries, which have benefited from human security approaches, include Moldova, Myanmar, and Peru among others.

Conclusion

From the above, it is evident that human security is critical in enhancing growth and development of any state in the world. Human security can be regarded as protection from harmful and sudden disruptions in patterns regarding daily activities at home or community levels. It can also be broadly categorized into two areas one of which is the one touching on the protection problems. This calls for concerted efforts in order to develop norms, institutions and processes, which systematically shield people from any form of threats or violence. It is notable that all approaches relating to human security candidly indicate that the referent security analysis and policies ought to focus on an individual. However, there exists a common disagreement about the threats from which every person should be protected. The UNDP’s Human Development approach defines human security as safety and protection from conditions, such as the sudden disruption in daily living, diseases, repression, and hunger. To most of the scholars in the field of human security, there is the tendency to present explanatory arguments, which concerns the type of security, conflict, and deprivation. Further, there is the emphasis on policy oriented approach, where it is believed that the idea of human security ought to give rise in policy changes that significantly improve the welfare of people. As witnessed in countries such as Liberia, it is clear that viability of human security is not an option for those societies, which aim to have economic progress. Human security attempts to challenge institutions and attitudes, which privilege the so-called “high politics” and above individual experiences geared to issues depriving insecurity. Human security also brings about crucial implications focusing on the evolution of sovereign states. Further, the notable steps taken by international organizations, such as the European Union and UN among others, are the evidence that human security is a part of human rights and should not be ignored in any state across the globe.

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