Human Security:
Relevance and Implications



From Parameters,  Summer 2005, pp. 91-106.

Since the end of the Cold War, the phrase “human security” increasingly has surfaced in scholarly literature, in the conversations of policy professionals and policy advocates, and occasionally in the popular media. The phrase itself suggests a departure from the esoteric jargon of the Cold War, preoccupied with state-centric issues of thermonuclear holocaust, strategic alliances, compellance and deterrence. But despite its increasing usage, the new concept rarely is defined for the lay reader and seems to carry a slippery range of alternative definitions. For some, the association of “human security” with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) either commends its value or undermines its validity, regardless of the content. For others, the phrase connotes an exciting—or troubling—consensus on security themes by a putative global intelligentsia. Policymakers in several countries have gone so far as to embrace the concept as a foundation for their national foreign policy, while US policymakers are at best ambivalent or, more commonly, skeptical.

Can any concept still so undefined and contested really have much utility? Or more to the point, should US military professionals pay any attention to it? This article argues in the affirmative, acknowledging that it is a paradigm gaining in prominence and may be an important part of the conceptual environment in which US military professionals will act in the future. The use of the concept also might have sufficient utility for US policymakers to warrant a closer examination. The purpose of this article is to note the origin, meaning, and contemporary usage of the “human security” concept, and to suggest why US military professionals should not ignore it. The article also will explore several implications of the increasing global interest in the concept and will offer some cautions and concerns.



In 1992, the prestigious UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, a bastion of establishment thinking, announced a striking change in its area of concern. Like similar institutions, it traditionally had been preoccupied with the pursuit of “security.” Its time-honored formula, reinforced by the concerns of the Cold War, had focused on the “influence of modern and nuclear weapons of warfare upon the problems of strategy, defence, disarmament, and international relations.” However, the interest now shifted dramatically to “any major security issues, including without limitation those of a political, strategic, economic, social, or ecological nature.”1 The times, they were “a-changin’,” and conceptions of “security” clearly were in flux.

In fact, the end of the Cold War unleashed a debate that had been growing for years, provoked by scholars and practitioners increasingly dissatisfied with traditional conceptions of security.2 Earlier mainstream approaches had tended to limit study of the subject to “the threat, use, and control of military force” in the context of state-centered international competition.3 But by the late 1970s, some scholars had begun to contest the notion that the state should be the appropriate referent object and were arguing that conventional approaches failed to capture the reality of a proliferating cast of actors and agendas on the world scene which posed a variety of threats to citizens as well as regimes.4 These views gained a considerable following through the 1980s,5 and by the early 1990s, the new thinking had begun to take hold among policymakers in several countries.

An early milestone in the success of the new approaches occurred in 1993, when the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) published its annual Human Development Report which promulgated the formula “human security,”6 a phrase given even sharper definition in the following year’s report.7 Though it remained controversial and subject to varying definition, the “human security” paradigm subsequently became something of a benchmark for an emerging new model of “security,” so it is appropriate to briefly review how this concept was framed in the 1994 UNDP publication. The publication


offers a qualifying discussion, castigating at the same time the inadequacies of earlier thinking on the subject:

The concept of security has for too long been interpreted narrowly: as security of territory from external aggression, or as protection of national interests in foreign policy or as global security from the threat of a nuclear holocaust. It has been related more to nation-states than to people. . . . Forgotten were the legitimate concerns of ordinary people. . . . For many of them, security symbolized protection from the threat of disease, hunger, unemployment, crime, social conflict, political repression, and environmental hazards.8

In contrast to this purportedly discredited “older thinking,” the UNDP offered a paradigm with a much broader definition derived from the innovative new approaches, calling it “human security” and portraying it as a “people-centered” (rather than state-centered) approach whose principal components were “freedom from fear and freedom from want.” This kind of security offered safety from chronic threats like hunger, disease, and political repression, as well as “protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life.” According to the UNDP, the new model required two levels of urgent change by the societies of the world: “from exclusive stress on territorial security to a much greater stress on people’s security . . . [and] from security through armaments to security through sustainable human development.”9

The 1994 UNDP document argued that human security required the attenuation of a wide range of threats to people.10 These were grouped under several constituent parts:


While the publication of the new UNDP formula was a dramatic development, the human security model did not appear out of whole cloth: it simply followed and, to a degree, institutionalized a perspective that already had been widely debated in the scholarly literature. However, the UN endorsement was a powerful incentive to policymakers in a number of countries, resonating particularly in those already active in international efforts to ban landmines and similar initiatives. By the end of 1999, a group of these countries, along with scholars and policy advocates, had launched the Human Security Network.11 Significantly, this network was announced at a ministerial-level conference in Norway, held to discuss the international campaign against landmines. Subsequent ministerial-level meetings of the Human Security Network were held annually.12 By 2004, the network included 12 countries: Austria, Canada, Chile, Greece, Ireland, Jordan, Mali, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Thailand. South Africa was participating as an observer.

The Human Security Network sees itself as an “informal, flexible” mechanism for “collective action,” bringing “international attention to new and emerging issues.” It seeks to apply a “human security perspective” to “energize political processes aimed at preventing or solving conflicts and promoting peace and development.” It has been involved in a variety of international issues, including elimination of landmines, control of small arms, establishment of the International Criminal Court, human rights education and human rights law, the struggle against international crime, and the fight against HIV and AIDS.13

While the Human Security Network is becoming a significant actor in its own right, countries that participate in it also have demonstrated an active commitment to the new security paradigm. One of the earliest of these was South Africa, seeking to redefine its security establishment in the wake of the turn to majority rule in 1994. In that year, South Africa’s new government launched a wide-ranging national consultation that ultimately resulted in a series of policy documents, one of which was a White Paper on Defence published in 1996. That remarkable document captured the clearest expression of human security on record anywhere:

In the new South Africa national security is no longer viewed as a predominantly military and police problem. It has broadened to incorporate political, economic, social, and environmental matters. At the heart of this new approach is a paramount concern with the security of people.

Security is an all-encompassing condition in which individual citizens live in freedom, peace, and safety; participate fully in the process of governance; enjoy the protection of fundamental rights; have access to resources and the basic necessities of life; and inhabit an environment which is not detrimental to their health and well-being.14


The South Africans were early subscribers to the new thinking, but they were by no means the only ones. Japanese Prime Minister Obuchi sought to make human security the defining characteristic of Japanese foreign policy, instituting in 1998 a “Trust Fund for Human Security” in the UN Secretariat and funding it generously.15 By the year 2000, Canada also had made human security the foundation of its foreign policy, defining it as “safety for people from both violent and non-violent threats . . . characterized by freedom from pervasive threats to people’s rights, their safety, or even their lives.”16 Canadian diplomatic effort and foreign aid soon began to back the new emphasis with significant national resources.17 Other countries, ranging from Austria to Switzerland, followed suit.

The Human Security Network has become a significant global actor and advocate of the new paradigm, an approach increasingly endorsed by nongovernmental organizations and scholars. It also finds approval with the attentive public of a growing global intelligentsia. It has the explicit endorsement of the world’s preeminent international organization—the United Nations—and is actively promoted by the current UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan. Indeed, Annan instituted a Commission on Human Security whose final report, issued in 2003, has resulted in a permanent UN Advisory Board on Human Security.18 The concept is very likely to grow in prominence.

The new paradigm received another ringing endorsement in September 2004 when the European Union published the Barcelona Report of the Study Group on Europe’s Security Capabilities, entitled A Human Security Doctrine for Europe, calling for a “human security [crisis] response force.” This force would have a heavy civilian specialist component skilled in conflict prevention and social reconstruction. Even its standing military component would be heavily imbued with a human security ethic. While it still is too early to anticipate the appearance of such a European force, the idea itself resonates powerfully among intellectuals and policymakers in Western Europe.19 It probably is unwise to dismiss the report’s recommendations merely


as evidence of a resort to “soft power” by a community imbued with a “psychology of weakness.”20 The Europeans are looking at the world—and their role in it—in a significantly new way.


The popularization of the human security model in the 1990s marked a signal triumph for proponents of a broad understanding of security, a concept significantly contested in the wake of the Cold War.21 The debate has tended to center around four key questions:22

The rich ferment in ideas about security among scholars and practitioners has led to a proliferation of different approaches and models, ranging from the defense of traditional thinking to advocacy of approaches as novel as the “feminist” and “post-positivist.”23 The human security paradigm borrows from a number of the different new approaches, particularly those whose referent object is the individual citizen and which acknowledge security only in the absence of a wide assortment of different kinds of threats. The emergence of the concept has been accompanied by substantial differences on its definition and consistency.24 There are nonetheless some common themes in the definitions, and it is entirely possible to use the four key questions to frame the boundaries of the field. Ideally, this exploration should be able to generate an optimal definition sufficiently “rigorous, precise, and logically consistent” to be useful in the formulation of policy.25

On the issue of “referent object,” there is relatively little debate: in human security, the focus is on people, sometimes further specified as the individual human being. Even so, the UN conceptualization and most other definitions put this referent object in a social context. Part of human security is “community security”—safety for those networks of relationships and community values in which a human being is embedded and in which individuals find emotional and physical solace.26

Other than to see them very broadly, there is less consistency in the literature on the nature of threats. These conceivably could come from a wide range of sources. From the literature, it is possible to generalize them as any conditions of life that produce fear and want, but such a generalization illustrates the subjectivity of this categorization. How much fear actually undermines security? What, exactly, constitutes “want”? Or, put another way; is there any objective way of distinguishing the true “want” that connotes inse-


curity from the preferences inherent in any individual?27 One useful scholarly attempt to add rigor to the debate has argued that security involves two elements: “an orientation to future risks and a focus on risks falling below some critical threshold of deprivation.” The author goes on to suggest that an analytically significant threat to human security would be one that challenges a “domain” of “well-being” that is “essential or extremely important.” And he defines that category as including those “that have been important enough for human beings to fight over or to put their lives and property at great risk.”28 While no listing has been widely accepted as the definitive characterization of threats to human security, and this one still conveys substantial subjectivity, it can serve as a rough working definition that most human security proponents probably would accept.

If the discussion has any relevance to policy formulation, it must come to grips with who, or what, can provide “human security.” With its assumed monopoly on violence, the state was clearly the appropriate source of security in earlier, mainstream conceptualizations of security, though with the recognition that the state also could be a signal source of insecurity.29 The human security formula significantly alters this earlier model. As it is now conceived, the commodity being provided is vastly more complex in detail; the threats to that commodity also are much broader, more diffuse, and more intractable. Responsibility for this kind of security cannot be relegated to the public sector, which egregiously lacks the means to guarantee it even in the developed nations (although public sectors presumably can play an important organizing and facilitating role). Most of the recent literature, including the original UNDP formulation, characterizes human security as a global problem requiring a global solution.30 Achievement of human security is almost by definition a collaborative effort involving the individual citizen as an active player but also including key roles for civil society groups and institutions; commercial, nongovernmental, and international organizations; and governments of nation-states.31 To date, no one has developed a compellingly obvious and effective framework to achieve optimum collaboration across these sectors and institutions. However, the efforts of advocates like the Human Security Network have succeeded in achieving substantial international communication and cooperation on specific issues.

This leads naturally enough into the final question: What is within the “art of the possible” in actually achieving the objectives implied in most visions of human security? Or, more specifically, what are its methods and efficacy? It is tempting to view human security itself as an end or a desirable future. But it may be more useful to see it either as an analytical framework or as a strategy—a way of using available means to achieve a general end. Assuming this approach, the desired end probably is long-term freedom from


fear and want, and human security would be the plan or path to get there. Like any construct, its users must define its details. But this way of looking at human security still begs the question: as a plan, what can it realistically be expected to accomplish?

This brings the focus back to the discussion of threats. If human security is a useful approach, it will attenuate threats to those dimensions of deprivation over which human societies are prone to fight. The original UNDP formula identified seven distinct categories of security that might be challenged by various threats, though it offered conflict resolution and sustainable economic development as the most fundamental answers to most of these challenges. And, in fact, much of the relevant literature emphasizes the importance of poverty alleviation. However, even the most austere visions of human security require an interconnected combination of material, social, and emotional well-being for individuals within and among human societies, circumstances that require far more than mere economic development. That being the case, human security is truly a useful new construct only if it explains how to connect and gain synergy from (among other things) simultaneous economic development, growing respect for human rights, increasing public sector capacity, and accountability and maturation of civil societies.

One important definitional issue—and one on which many advocates differ—is the degree to which human security should govern the security landscape. The original UNDP formulation argued that human security should be the dominant security paradigm, an approach apparently adopted by the South Africans as well.32 On the other hand, the Canadians and the Japanese, both members of the Human Security Network and committed to a human security approach in their foreign policy, make a clear distinction between “human security” and “national security” (in the case of Canada) or “state security” (in Japan). These latter concepts encompass the more traditional “security” of sovereignty, protected borders, and state safety from external attack. Neither Canada nor Japan appears to prioritize one security paradigm above the other. Canadian documents describe them as “complementary.”33

The Objections

The broadened definitions of security—including the human security paradigm—have been challenged on a number of conceptual and methodological grounds.34 Scholars have argued that an extension of the construct to a wide variety of social and environmental phenomena runs a risk of rendering it so all-inclusive that it becomes largely meaningless as an analytical tool. If every human dilemma is a security issue, so the argument goes, how will it be possible to identify, categorize, and prioritize what truly must be


protected?35 Put differently, must every problem encountered by the human race be elevated to the same level of concern?36 Another conceptual objection is the difficulty of drawing clear, logical connections between and within the component parts. For instance, it does not necessarily follow that “community security” preserving traditional values is compatible with “political security” that guarantees individual human rights, that sustainable economic development is compatible with attenuation of ecological degradation, or that “economic security” can resolve competing pressures for autarky on one hand and international economic interdependence on the other.37

Appeals to security tend at the same time to be appeals for access to the resources of the state. So some scholars have questioned the motives of the proponents of new approaches to security, challenging the propriety of conflating domains such as the economy or the environment with security, and seeing in these attempts little more than either a grab for public-sector funding that has traditionally been allocated to the security organs of the state or an attempt to inflate the import of a narrow advocacy issue.38 Some American scholars argue that enthusiasm for the broad new models is little more than evidence of weakness by communities no longer willing to mobilize the will or the resources to defend their vital interests.39

All of these arguments have some merit, but none is sufficiently compelling to halt the growing acceptance of the basic paradigm. Many of the conceptual objections probably can be met with more precision in definition and more rigorous efforts to “connect the dots”—to refine the logical interrelationships of the component parts.40 Nor is the paradigm necessarily fundamentally flawed by the contrary tendencies of some of the component parts. Conflicting or centripetal pressures are present in almost any model of complex human relationships, be it a kinship system, a federal government, or the player positions on an athletic team. The human security paradigm envisions a synergy of the component parts, but not an absence of the dynamic tensions, since these are inherent in any set of human relations.

Some proponents of broadened definitions of security probably are motivated by a desire for access to those public-sector resources traditionally channeled to the security organs of the state. But it also seems inevitable that proponents of an established paradigm will tend to ignore the merits of an argument in their haste to impugn the intelligence or morals of anyone presuming to challenge an established ideology. Human motivations are always hard to determine with any precision, yet it seems preposterous to categorize all the proponents of human security as cynical and cunning schemers seeking only to divert public monies for partisan objectives.

The most serious problem with the human security model is methodological. Few would dispute the desirability of the ends envisioned by its pro-


ponents. The troubling issue is how to operationalize the concept, and the significant question is not “Is it desirable?” but rather, “Is it feasible, and if so, how can it be implemented?” Since the early 1990s, the emphasis on human security has resulted in considerable effort. Several countries have extensively readjusted their foreign policy to fit the new paradigm. Still others have committed significant aid in support of the new approach. Policymakers, activists, advocates, and scholars have organized innumerable conferences and workshops. Yet it is difficult to point to any troubled area of the world where this effort has resulted in tangible progress toward the human security goals of its advocates, however those goals are defined. The literature has yet to offer a good case in which some combination of actors effectively organized themselves to achieve remarkable collaborative synergy across all the component domains of human security. While there is no reason to accept these as clinching arguments for rejecting the concept, there still is a paucity of empirical proof for the concept’s efficacy.

The methodological problem is compounded by the failure of the paradigm to date to achieve preeminence over competing conceptions of security, particularly “state security.” The human security model, by its nature, claims to be the predominant security paradigm and sets an agenda in which the traditional criteria of national security play a minor supporting role. This is evident in the arguments of some human security proponents such as Larry Swatuk and Peter Vale, who attribute insecurity in southern Africa largely to the “Westphalian state form,”41 and whose conception of human security requires a deconstruction and demystification of state sovereignty.42 Even in cases where the two models are considered complementary, as in Canada,43 it seems likely that the coexistence is explained more by efforts to placate a “national security constituency” than by any real compatibility of the two concepts. Ultimately, one model or the other will command a society’s attention and the preponderance of resources.

The Potential

What advantage, if any, does the human security paradigm offer as either an analytical tool or a prescription for the pressing dilemmas of fractured, conflicted human societies at the beginning of the 21st century? As a tool it may have any number of uses, but one clearly is an ability to highlight both the complexity of the problems of conflict and the sophistication of the efforts that must succeed if those problems are to be attenuated. An exploration of this theme requires a brief resort to the issue of culture, and a return to the notion of deprivation.

Culture, of course, has been defined in a host of different ways. But its essence is “connectedness,” or, more precisely, the shared values and be-


haviors of human beings. A significant scholarship has explored the nature and meaning of the ties that bind individuals.44 These ties actually are agreements and understandings about the appropriate responsibilities, rights, and obligations between people. They are patterns of ideas found in the minds of individuals. They consist of mental models of appropriate behavior that individuals acquire in their processes of socialization in a given cultural context.45 Most of these models are at the level of unconscious basic assumptions.46 A typical individual shares these understandings with a variety of different groupings in his or her society. For instance, in a kinship-based society, many rights and obligations derive from position in the kinship network. Yet even in strongly kinship-based social environments, the rights and obligations inherent in kinship ideology compete with others. An individual also might be part of a religious group with a separate set of relationships, or a sports club, political party, or business with still other sets. Any cultural environment provides a variety of incentives—both positive and negative—that reinforce the linkages in the mental models.

Research generally has demonstrated that individuals perceive the strongest ties with the smallest and most proximate groups.47 However, the weaker ties with the larger, more amorphous, heterogeneous groupings also are important for societal or national cohesion.48 Although there always is some inherent tension between obligations, a well-functioning society will have a complex network of incentives that reinforce integrative, cooperative behavior and that sanction deviant behavior. When the network of reinforcing incentives breaks down, the stronger ties tend to last longer than the weaker ones. This is why, for instance, the relationships of kinship or religion so often outlast those of national citizenship.

The implicit agreements about rights and obligations in the mental models of individuals often break because of some deprivation, though the form of deprivation itself can vary widely. Some bonds break when individuals consider themselves egregiously deprived of the material necessities of life, or of a minimum essential level of safety of persons and property, or of traditional rights. Other deprivations that can motivate conflict include an intolerable loss of honor. Emile Durkheim, an early sociologist, called attention in late 19th-century France to an increase in social pathologies (suicide, crime) that correlated directly to the rapidity of social change. In other words, individuals deprived of a sense of control over their destiny were more inclined to reject the established norms of social intercourse.49

People will tend to mobilize around the groupings that offer the strongest ties or that offer the prospect of attenuating the deprivation that they most fear. This is where human security provides a very useful conceptual tool. The paradigm calls attention to the broad spectrum of different kinds of


deprivation and thus can help identify the ties that are broken in situations of conflict. It can assist in identifying what must be restored, rebuilt, or replaced to achieve stability and peace.

These ties, at various levels, are particularly and profoundly fractured in those cases of tragedy now labeled “failed states.”50 These would seem to be egregiously in need of the features in any vision of human security, and typically are characterized by profound deprivation: little economic security, food security, or health security. A deteriorating natural environment also characterizes some. Most are notorious for sectarian violence or seething ethnic tensions. Any reference to human rights typically is almost laughable, with rampant, predatory criminality, abuse of women and the most vulnerable individuals, and warlordism. Personal and community security tends to be tenuous at best. Failed and failing states are relational catastrophes with environmental, economic, and social dimensions.

The human security paradigm provides some basis for answering the challenges posed by the common pathologies evident in failing and failed states. It calls attention to the necessity for a coordinated approach on the part of multiple actors (including residents and groups within the state itself) that simultaneously can deal with an array of present and future threats. At a minimum, this requires effective efforts to develop public-sector redistributive capacity, private-sector employment opportunity, and the civil society safety-net infrastructure, and also requires complementary development of justice protocols, with some provision for law enforcement, administration of justice, reinforcement of contract law, and protection of basic human rights. The paradigm bolsters the argument that uncoordinated, sporadic, and incremental efforts often are largely ineffective at attenuating perceived deprivation and producing meaningful security in the long run.

Even assuming it is used effectively as a plan for action or a conceptual tool, the human security concept is not a panacea for all the difficult and destabilizing issues in the developing world. Even if pursued with coherence,


vigor, and plentiful resources, the paradigm is applied to man’s most intractable problems and is likely to require years of persistent effort before yielding unambiguous results. It is unlikely to accomplish all that its most fervent proponents claim. However, its potential benefits make it worth some attention.

Cautions and Suggestions

By almost any definition so far proposed, human security is achievable only in synergistic collaboration across social, institutional, and sectoral boundaries. This is much easier to advocate than to accomplish, and if it ever truly occurs, achieving it probably will require a remarkable ability on the part of its participants to discard some older models of human relationships. For instance, an implicit assumption is that participants are able to defer the gratification of partisan short-term gain for the long-term common benefit, and can trust other participants to behave likewise. This kind of security is gained, not imposed. This kind of trust is given grudgingly, not readily. The model probably will work only if rich and powerful actors willingly renounce pride of place in organizing the effort and in reaping the prestige they otherwise are inclined to expect. Conceivably, obscure actors from civil society or from the community of nongovernmental and international organizations may play the leading roles in the effort. Whatever role the US government assumes in such an effort, US motives constantly will be suspect and the behavior of US personnel will be heavily scrutinized.

US government engagement—civilian or military—in any effort to build human security probably requires a willingness to work with local partners whose values and behavioral norms are diverse and very different from the norms of Western industrial societies. In fact, the paradigm itself suggests that it is important to maintain a constant search for civil-society partners and to look for them in unusual places such as kinship systems, business networks in the informal economy, youth gangs, sports clubs, women’s advocacy groups, and religious cult groups. It also is conceivable that a human security partnership may include countries whose interests are otherwise at odds, such as the United States and Iran.

It is important that participants take a very long-term view of future benefits. A human security agenda almost by definition requires consistency and patience. The coherence and comprehensiveness of the effort must be matched by its persistence. It may take years, possibly decades, to see tangible results. However, for practical purposes it is appropriate to develop mechanisms by which success can be measured: it is unlikely that US policymakers will sustain a long-term commitment of resources without some reasonably concrete indicators that the risk is reasonable and the investment is sound.


Finally, a human security approach probably will not succeed unless many of its participants are willing to reject false dichotomies and are sensitive to the limitations of their own cultural preferences, including a tendency to prioritize what should not be subject to prioritization. For instance, all societies and groups—including US military organizations—have a tendency to value some forms of leadership and progress above others. The human security paradigm argues the importance of simultaneous progress in a variety of domains: economic, health, environmental, political. This requires a degree of holistic thinking somewhat at odds with the dictates of Western military efficiency.

Relevance to US Military Leaders

It is inevitable that US military organizations will find themselves in contingency deployments in which some (or even most) of their coalition partners will be pursuing a foreign policy heavily anchored in human security assumptions. Those assumptions could significantly constrain what the partners are willing to do, and may at the same time result in substantial pressure on the US military force to comply with novel, human security-based perspectives and understandings. However, the emphasis on human security by institutions like the European Union may also offer new prospects for very productive contingency partnerships, in which each partner brings essential niche capabilities not shared by the others. This suggests that senior US military personnel should at a minimum be thoroughly familiar with emerging thinking on this topic, and also suggests that the overall success of the endeavor may oblige US military participants to play unaccustomed roles or to be open to unprecedented opportunities.

Since the end of the Cold War, the US military establishment has made significant progress in its ability to work with a variety of private- and public-sector partners both in contingency situations and in more routine theater engagement activities that promote human security ends. However, behind all these activities is a comfortable stereotype of civil-military relations in which the US military serves US interests, bringing the resources, organizational talent, and project leadership, while retaining the prerogative to apply lethal force quickly and decisively if the activity is threatened. The human security paradigm challenges the propriety of each component of this stereotype. It relegates the coercive instruments of state power to secondary roles, questions the public sector monopoly on allocation of value, and insists on the essentially equivalent prominence and contribution of individual and corporate stakeholders. Navigating successfully through these novel assumptions will take every whit of mature perspective and human relations expertise that US military leaders can muster.



1. Peter Vale, “Can International Relations Survive?” International Affairs Bulletin, 16 (No. 3, 1992), 100.

2. See, for instance, Steve Smith, “The Increasing Insecurity of Security Studies: Conceptualizing Security in the Last Twenty Years,” in Critical Reflections on Security and Change, ed. Stuart Croft and Terry Terriff (London: Frank Cass, 2000), pp. 72-101; Emma Rothschild, “What is Security?” Daedalus, 124 (Summer 1995).

3. Stephen M. Walt, “The Renaissance of Security Studies,” International Studies Quarterly, 35 (June 1991), 211-39.

4. Richard Wyn Jones, Security, Strategy and Critical Theory (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1999), pp. 94-102.

5. See, inter alia, Jessica T. Mathews, “Redefining Security,” Foreign Affairs, 68 (Spring 1989), 162-77; Steve Smith, “The Increasing Insecurity of Security Studies: Conceptualizing Security in the Last Twenty Years,” Contemporary Security Policy, 20 (No. 3, 1999), 72-101; Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, and Jaap de Wilde, Security: A New Framework for Analysis (London: Lynne Rienner, 1998).

6. United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report, 1993,

7. United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report, 1994,

8. Ibid., p. 22.

9. Ibid., pp. 22-24.

10. Ibid., pp. 24-33.

11. The network originated in a 1998 bilateral agreement between Canada and Norway. See, and

12. Venues include Lucerne, Switzerland (2000); Petra, Jordan (2001); Santiago de Chile (2002); Graz, Austria (2003); and Bamako, Mali (2004).

13. See

14. South African White Paper on Defence (Pretoria: Department of Defence, 1996). Emphasis added.

15. Julie Gilson and Phillida Purvis, “Japan’s Pursuit of Human Security: Humanitarian Agenda or Political Pragmatism?” Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies, 15 (June 2003), 193-207; Bert Edstrøm, “Japan’s Foreign Policy and Human Security,” Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies, 15 (June 2003), 209-25.

16. Canada Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Human Security: Safety for People in a Changing World (Ottawa: Department of Foreign Affairs, 1999), p. 5.

17. See

18. See, and Rob McRae and Don Hubert, eds., Human Security and the New Diplomacy: Protecting People, Promoting Peace (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press, 2001), p. ix.

19. For details on emerging European thinking on this topic, see

20. See particularly Robert Kagan, Of Paradise and Power (New York: Vintage Books, 2003), pp. 27-42.

21. Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era (2d ed.; Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1991), p. 7; Ramesh Thakur, “The United Nations and Human Security,” Canadian Foreign Policy, 7 (Fall 1999), 52.

22. Terry Terriff et al., Security Studies Today (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 1999), p. 3; see also Ken Booth and Peter Vale, “Critical Security Studies and Regional Insecurity: The Case of Southern Africa,” in Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases, ed. Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1997), pp. 329-30.

23. Steve Smith (“The Increasing Insecurity of Security Studies”) categories these into five distinct “schools,” though his useful analysis may obscure some of the richness of the variation. See also Terriff et al, Security Studies Today, for another categorization.

24. See, inter alia, George MacLean, “The Changing Perception of Human Security: Coordinating National and Multilateral Responses,” United Nations Association of Canada, 1998,; Gary King and Christopher J. L. Murray, “Rethinking Human Security,” Political Science Quarterly, 116 (Winter 2001-2002), pp. 591-92; and

25. King and Murray, p. 592.

26. Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams, “From Strategy to Security: Foundations of Critical Security Studies,” in Krause and Williams, Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases, p. 47.

27. Various scholars have proposed models or frameworks for adding some analytical rigor to such assessments. See, inter alia, Jorge Nef, Human Security and Mutual Vulnerability: The Global Political Economy of


Development and Underdevelopment (2d ed.; Ottawa: International Development Center, 1999); and King and Murray, pp. 585-610.

28. King and Murray, pp. 592-93.

29. Krause and Williams, “From Strategy to Security: Foundations of Critical Security Studies,” p. 43; R. B. J. Walker, “The Subject of Security,” in Krause and Williams, Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases, p. 67.

30. See, for instance, Peter Stoet, Human and Global Security: An Explanation of Terms (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1999).

31. For early recognition of this fact, see United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report, 1994, ch. 4,

32. Ibid., ch. 2; South African White Paper on Defence, ch. 1.

33. Canada Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Human Security: Safety for People in a Changing World, pp. 5-6; Kuniko Inoguchi “Discussion Paper on Disarmament and Human Security,” 41st Session of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, Geneva, Switzerland, 16-18 July 2003, p. 2.

34. See, inter alia, Walt, “The Renaissance of Security Studies,” p. 213; Buzan et al., Security: A New Framework for Analysis; Helga Haftendorn, “The Security Puzzle: Theory-Building and Discipline-Building in International Security,” International Studies Quarterly, 35 (March 1991), 3-17; Simon Dalby, “Contesting an Essential Concept: Reading the Dilemmas in Contemporary Social Discourse,” in Krause and Williams, Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases, pp. 12-18; Robert H. Dorff, “A Commentary on Security Studies for the 1990s as a Model Core Curriculum,” International Studies Notes, 19 (Fall 1994), 27.

35. Roland Paris, “Human Security: Paradigm Shift or Hot Air?” International Security, 26 (Fall 2001), 87. See also Walt, “The Renaissance of Security Studies,” p. 213.

36. Dorff, “A Commentary on Security Studies for the 1990s as a Model Core Curriculum,” p. 27.

37. Dalby, pp. 12-18.

38. Braden R. Allenby, “Environmental Security: Concept and Implementation,” International Political Science Review, 21 (January 2000), 18-19; Dalby, pp. 15-18.

39. Kagan, pp. 27-42.

40. This has been attempted in efforts by Nef and MacLean (see notes 24 and 27, above).

41. Larry A. Swatuk and Peter Vale, “Why Democracy is Not Enough: Southern Africa and Human Security in the Twenty-First Century,” Alternatives, 24 (September 1999), 363.

42. Khatchik Derghoukassian, “Human Security: A Brief Report on the State of the Art,” the Dante B. Fascell North-South Center, University of Miami Working Paper Series, Paper No. 3, November 2001, p. 5,

43. Canada Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Human Security: Safety for People in a Changing World, pp. 5-6.

44. See, inter alia, Georg Simmel, The Sociology of Georg Simmel, ed. and trans. K. H. Wolfe (New York: The Free Press, 1950); Mark S. Granovetter, “The Strength of Weak Ties,” American Journal of Sociology, 78 (No. 6, 1973), 1360-80; Peter Blau, Inequality and Heterogeneity (New York: The Free Press, 1977); B. Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1987); Alan Fiske, Structures of Social Life: The Four Elementary Forms of Human Relations (New York: The Free Press, 1991).

45. For a useful discussion of this concept, see Geert Hofstede, Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997), pp. 4-6. See also Robert A. Rubenstein, “Cross Cultural Considerations in Complex Peace Operations,” Working Paper Number 10, Campbell Public Affairs Institute, the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, February 2003.

46. For a lucid discussion of this cultural category, see Edgar Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership (2d ed.; San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992), pp. 21-26.

47. Fiske.

48. Anderson.

49. Emile Durkheim, Suicide, trans. J. A. Spaulding and G. Simpson (New York: The Free Press, 1951); Emile Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society, trans. L. A. Coser (New York: The Free Press, 1984).

50. For a useful series of conference papers on the “failed state” phenomenon, see See also Pauline Baker and Angelie E. Weller, An Analytical Model of Internal Conflict and Collapse: Manual for Practitioners (Washington: Fund for Peace, 1998); I. William Zartman, ed., Collapsed States: The Disintegration and Restoration of Legitimate Authority (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1995); Gerald B. Helman and Steven R. Ratner, “Saving Failed States,” Foreign Policy, No. 89 (Winter 1992-1993); Robert H. Dorff, “Democratization and Failed States: The Challenge of Ungovernability,” Parameters, 26 (Summer 1996), 17-31; Robert Jackson, Quasi-States: Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1990).

Dr. Dan Henk (Colonel, USA Ret.) is Associate Professor of Leadership on the faculty of the Air War College. His Army assignments spanned tactical, theater, and national levels, combat service in Vietnam and Grenada, and diplomatic accreditation as military attaché. He holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Florida. His recent research has analyzed the evolution of South African defense-related industries, emerging new military roles and missions, and the requirements for cultural knowledge in complex humanitarian emergencies.

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Reviewed 12 May 2005. Please send comments or corrections to