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30.1 Does a human security approach contribute significantly to world peace and order?

1. Does human security make the traditional notion of national security inadequate and even obsolete?

  • Many argue the threats that have emerged as a result of globalization are largely transnational in nature, and thus cannot be met with state-centric approaches to security. Instead, embedded as they are in socio-economic and political factors, such threats must be addressed through the notion of human security. Consequently, human security encourages governments to think beyond national security.
  • This claim is supported and reinforced by an increasing number of non-governmental organizations that react to and attempt to prevent such threats.
  • On the other hand, some scholars claim that military responses to security threats remain predominant. This is supported through a continuous increase in inter-state wars, as well as a continuous spending on defence and weapons by countries across the globe. Therefore, human security, it is argued, is not a meaningful tool for policymakers.

2. Is human security an empty slogan that fails to deliver what it promotes and may even undercut human rights and democracy in the developing world?

  • Due to its broad views on threats and the consequential variety in actors, many argue that human security is effective in promoting human development, as well as sustainable development, in places where poverty eradication can lead to long-term stability.
  • Critics stress, however, that the concept of human security is too broad. This, they argue, makes it difficult to allocate resources for human security initiatives, and to evaluate their success. Consequently, the concept is not useful for policymakers.
  • Even more crucially, some have argued that human security allows for a higher military presence in domestic politics, particularly in developing countries. Thus, for example, countries that have been historically prone to staging coups can use and manipulate human security to justify getting more funding and resources to execute infrastructure projects, led by its military. In this sense, human security is seen to be counterproductive in its attempt to shift focus on the human rather than military and state-centric approach to security.

3. Does human security represent a novel and people-centric approach to world peace and stability?

  • The main argument to support this claim is concerned with human security as a concept and policy. This perception of human security stresses 'security for the people' and thus calls for greater respect for, and promotion of, human rights.
  • For counterarguments to the claim see bullet point 2 and 3 for question 2 above.