The Concept Of Human Security

The concept of Human Security has evolved from State Security along side with the enlarging and deepening of globalism. Scholte describes human security as ‘not an objective fact but rather an interrelation of material and the ideal’ Human security has always been an issue, but before the concept of globalism it was not seen as a global issue, it was a state issue. This essay will analyse what is included in the concept of Human Security and evaluate its validity according to current political theories. The concept of human security and its importance as a global concept varies with which theory looks at it. This essay will also analyse human security and its link with globalisation.

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The main areas that will come under evaluation in human security include; health, food, economic, environmental, safety (personal and community) and political. All of these issues are interlinked to build the concept of human security.

The agenda of Human security has become more important in the last 60 years; the first recognition that Human Security was an important agenda in the terms of health which had to be dealt with was the creation of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The creation of WHO in 1948 as a specialized UN agency was one of the first steps into making human security an international concept. They now work to conduct worldwide operational activities that try to help to resolve mayor substantive health international problems. This covers everything from dealing with the transmission of communicable diseases, economic disparity, weapon control and decolonization. The main successes of the WHO was the Malaria eradication program in 1955, of which worked very well in lowering the disease in the western world, however the Malaria eradication program failed to curb the and lower the number of cases in developing world. The Smallpox campaign in 1965 worked very well worldwide and the last case reported was in 1977. The 21 Century has brought about some serious issues for WHO and their ability to contain outbreaks of newly discovered diseases. These include diseases such as SARS and AIDS/HIV and the old diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Out of all of these diseases AIDS is the one that has been the biggest threat on health when it comes to human security.

The spread of AIDS/HIV worldwide has been unconceivable and unpredictable and has become a major health and humanitarian issue. Over 3 million people die every year from the disease with over 42 million people living with the disease. This has been down to the ease of transmission of the disease and states and leaders and their action to make the people aware of the disease and facilitating the disputation of life extending drugs. Some countries responded at a fast rate to try and curb the spread of AIDS, but others did not, which is responsible for the large and fast spread of the disease. WHO have taken steps to help states to deal with the issues of AIDS/HIV; this includes setting standards for health care of the individuals affected by the disease and recommendations for drug treatments. As well as AIDS being a health issue, it is also an economic as it affects individuals mostly between the ages of 15 and 45 and this age group is primarily the ‘work’ group so economic development is steamed, social area is affected as it leaves families torn apart and children left to fend for themselves, human rights and ethical as well as a security issue are also affected because of the ways in which countries deal with the health issue; all of these being part of human security. These issues will be dealt with later on a more in-depth level later in the essay.

When looking at health issues such as the world wide spread of diseases, we come across one of the first areas of international cooperation which liberals, realists and radicals would find a comment ground. All of these theories agree that cooperation and high levels of agreement is needed to achieve a positive result, they all agree that this and relying on technical experts is the best way to carry out this task.

Where they may not agree is the best or ‘correct’ approach to address or understand health issues. While Liberals would favour an international responsibility which would include utilizing as many different groups nationally and internationally to deal with the issues, Realists would favour individual states to deal with the issue when state security is affected by it. Radicals would use the health issue as an example that the world is divided by wealth of the developed world and the lack of it in the developing world; that health inequalities are made worse by poor working and living conditions of the developing world.

When evaluating the environmental area of human security it includes multiple issues such as population, natural resources, energy and pollution. Like in the health area, these issues are all interrelated. It is seen as an area which that directly affects the quality of collective and individual lives as well as the political and economic choices that are made.

In the Essentials of International relations by K.A. Mingst, the idea of using two conceptual perspectives to evaluate the area of environmental issues is used. The first of these is collective good; this helps us conceptualize how to achieve shared benefits that depend on overcoming conflicting interests. This theory can help by providing us with a theoretical explanation for why there are environmental problems, as well as some ideas on how to address such issues. The second conceptual perspective is sustainability. This perspective is newer than then the first and helps to provide the criteria to evaluate the validity of environmental policies from economic and scientific perspectives. Using this perspective, forces individuals to think about polices to promote change that doesn’t damage the environment or use up finite resources.

The creation of international agreements and treaties has worked towards improving the part of the environment agenda that deals with natural resources. Not only have these agreements and treaties help protect endangered species of plant and animals but also protection against pollution in the sea, land and in the air. These agreements set standards for states to behave so can be seen as controversial as it affects economic, human rights and political issues.

Population issues have been a big agenda when it comes to human security. There are three main observations when it comes to population growth and human security. Firstly is that the growth of population is not one of equal measure world wide. The population has been much lower in the developed world than the developing world. The big divide of growth of population has led to some very sensitive political issues. It has led to difficulties for the developing world to meet the same economic standards of the North. The second observation is that the high levels of economic growth and worldwide population growth has made the demand for natural resources higher than ever. In countries where they have both of these issues, the lack of natural resources has become severe. The third and final observation of the population issue is that the high level of population growth rates has led to a number of ethical issues for the states and international policymakers. Examples of the issues concerning population growth are; the problem with trying to limit population growth in developing world, without giving an alternative to safety net to survival. There are also issues with infringing on individuals personal rights of procreation. What might be economically rational for the couple, may not be economically rational or sustainable on a collective scale. Not that these couples do not want to be economically rational it is more of an issue that the access to such methods are not available due to high costs and unavailability. Realists would see the issues of different levels of population growth worldwide as a potential negative shift in the balance of power, while Radicals would view the issue as a confirmation that the few (rich) control and dominate the many (poor).

In evaluation of population growth and the environmental issue, it is clear that it is an international human security problem that affects everyone worldwide. Large population growth leads to overcrowded states, a lack of resources finally leading to migration, legal and illegal or a turn to violence to gain a more desirable space to live in. Because of its interrelation with the other areas in the concept of human security, population may well be the main environmental issue; however it may be the issue that the international system and states can do the least about.

Human security like globalism has many levels, because of this, (in)security is experienced differently in regard to the different priority issues and the social context that they involve. According the Scholte in the Globalization – a critical introduction, globalization has had important repercussions for various facets of human security. These repercussions can be positive and negative. This essay will briefly cover some of the main positive and negative effects of globalization on human security.

In each case globalism has not been the sole source of human (in)security, but one of interrelated factors. One of the ways globalism has links to human security is on a structural level. Examples of this affecting human security on a negative level go hand in hand with the effects of globalism on the international systems. The change of social geography and the rise of trans-planetary relations have led to many of the former securities connected with certainty and predictability to become undermined and turn to insecurities. The results of this have led to a sense of loss of ties and grounded-ness which can be argued has added to an international environment of increased human insecurity.

The positives of the rise of globalization on human security are that trans-planetary connections and relations have helped to improve emergency relief and peacekeeping missions. It has also helped highlight ecological sensitivity internationally and in some cases greater economic efficiency. It has also been argued that certain groups and minorities have gained greater security of identity in a more integrated international world.


Mingst – 276

Scholte pp 280

Mingst pp280

Mingst p 282

Scholte glob pp 279

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