2. Table of Contents
What is Human Security?
Schools of thought on definition and
Human Security and Gender.
UNDP’s Human Development Report
Traditional Security vs Human
Promoting Human Security.
3. What is Human Security?
The concept of human security represents both deepening and widening of the traditional notion of national security,
defined as protection of state sovereignty and territorial integrity from external military threats.
In its broader sense, human security is distinguished by three elements:
1. Its focus on the individual/people as the referent object of security.
2. Its multidimensional nature.
3. Its universal or global scope, applying to states and societies of the North as well as the South.
The concept of human security has been influenced by four developments:
4. The rejection of economic growth as the main indicator of development and the accompanying notion of ‘human
development’ as empowerment of people.
5. The rising incidence of internal conflicts.
6. The impact of globalization in spreading transnational dangers such as terrorism and pandemics.
7. The post-cold war emphasis on human rights and humanitarian intervention.
Human Security in a nutshell, focuses on three goals of policy:
It insists on the relationship between development, Security and Human Rights.
4. UNDP’s Human Development Report, 1994.
The origin of the concept of human security can be traced to the publication of the Human Development Reportof 1994,
issued by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP 1994). The Report defined the scope of human security to
include seven areas:
• Economic security—an assured basic income for individuals, usually from productive and remunerative work, or, in the
last resort, from some publicly financed safety net.
• Food security—ensuring that all people at all times have both physical and economic access to basic food.
• Health security—guaranteeing a minimum protection from diseases and unhealthy lifestyles.
• Environmental security—protecting people from the short- and long-term ravages of nature, manmade threats in nature,
and deterioration of the natural environment.
• Personal security—protecting people from physical violence, whether from the state or external states, from violent
individuals or sub-state factors, from domestic abuse, and from predatory adults.
• Community security—protecting people from the loss of traditional relationships and values, and from sectarian and
• Political security—ensuring that people live in a society that honours their basic human rights, and ensuring the freedom
of individuals and groups from government attempts to exercise control over ideas and information.
5. Schools of thought on definition and critiques.
Two schools of thought have emerged from human security: freedom from want and freedom from fear.
• Freedom from fear seeks to limit human security to protecting the individual from violence while recognising that
violence is strongly associated with poverty and weak states. This school focuses on emergency assistance, conflict
resolution and peace building.
• Freedom from want takes a more holistic approach, looking at hunger, disease and natural disasters as security threats,
with an emphasis on development.
6. The concept of human security has been criticized:
1. For being too broad to be analytically meaningful or to serve as the basis for policy-making.
2. For creating false expectations about assistance to victims of violence which the international community cannot
3. For ignoring the role of the state in providing security to the people.
Even among its advocates, differences exist as to whether human security is about ‘freedom from fear’ or ‘freedom
want’. The former stresses protecting people from violent conflicts through measures such as a ban on landmines and
child soldiers. For the latter, human security is a broader notion involving the reduction of threats to the well-being of
people, such as poverty and disease.
Ultimately, however, both sides agree that human security is about security of individuals rather than of states, and that
protecting people requires going beyond traditional principles of state sovereignty.
8. Human Security and Gender
Women feature in armed conflicts both as victims and actors (in
combat and support roles). Rape and other forms of sexual violence
against them increasingly feature as an instrument of war, and are
now recognized as crimes against humanity. The international
community is seeking ways to increase the participation of women in
UN peace operations and conflict-resolution functions.
9. Promoting Human Security.
• The most important multilateral actions to date to promote human security include the International Criminal Court and
the Anti-Personnel Landmines Treaty.
• UN agencies such as the UNHCR, UNICEF, and UNIFEM have been crucial in addressing human security issues such as
refugees and the rights of children.
• Canada and Japan are two of the leading countries that have made human security a major part of their foreign policy
agenda. Their approaches, however, show the contrast between the ‘freedom from fear’ and ‘freedom from want’
conceptions of human security respectively.
• Non-governmental organizations promote human security by acting as a source of information and early warning about
conflicts, providing a channel for relief operations, supporting government or UN-sponsored peacebuilding and
rehabilitation missions, and promoting sustainable development.
• The 9/11 attacks on the USA and the ‘war on terror’ have revived the traditional state-centric approach to national
security at the expense of civil liberties and human security, although the Obama administration has modified important
elements of its predecessor’s strategic approach to terrorism and promised greater respect for civil liberties and