Sense and Symbolism:
Europe Takes On
Human Security



© 2006 P. H. Liotta and Taylor Owen

From Parameters,  Autumn 2006, pp. 85-102.

“The human tragedy reaches its climax in the fact that after all the exertions
  and sacrifices of hundreds of millions of people and of the victories of the
  Righteous Cause, we have still not found Peace or Security.”
                                                        — Winston Churchill

Europe, as identity and union, has undergone an extraordinary transformation since the end of Cold War. In recent history, much of this remarkable change has only accelerated, both with the expansion of membership in the European Union (EU), a growing independence in terms of foreign policy, and an emerging recognition (particularly with the “no” votes of both France and the Netherlands in 2005 regarding support for the European Constitution) that disagreements about Europe’s future and identity are inevitable. The cultural and political philosopher J. Peter Burgess has aptly summarized, nonetheless, a major European shift—especially regarding the concept of security:

In New & Old Wars Mary Kaldor argues that a new type of organized violence has developed, beginning in the 1980s and 1990s, as one aspect of the globalized era. The new wars are, according to Kaldor, characterized by a blurring of the distinctions between war, organized crime, and wide-scale violations of human rights. In contrast to the geo-political goals of earlier wars, the new wars are about identity politics. Kaldor argues that in the context of globalization, ideological and territorial cleavages of an earlier era have increasingly been supplanted by an emerging political cleavage between cosmopolitanism, based on inclusive, universalist multicultural values, and the politics of particularistic


identities. The evolution of the European Defense and Security Policy has evolved in the shadow of this mutation. A European culture with dubious historical reputation for cosmopolitanism is being thrust upon the global stage at the very moment when its geopolitical concepts are poised on the precipice of desuetude. With Solana’s Thessaloniki Summit document “A Secure Europe in a Better World” the European community of values is being transformed into a security community.1

Reflecting this recognition, the document A Secure Europe in a Better World—most commonly known as the European Security Strategy—stands in somewhat notable contrast to the 17 September 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States of America.2 Specifically, the European Union strategy emphasizes the notion of cooperative engagement, relying on the strength of 450 million members and the recognition that no one country—perhaps in direct contrast to the US national strategy—can “go it alone.” Although the concept of “sharing hegemony” between the United States and Europe seems immensely sensible, reality equally dictates that this sharing is unlikely to occur in the near future.3

Collectively, documents and policies regarding the development of a European Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) emphasize the necessity for Europe to have the ability for independent action. Especially with the 2001 “Helsinki Declaration” and the call for a 60,000-member European Rapid Reaction Force, Europe has recognized a need for independence from powerful allies (such as the United States) and from powerful alliances (such as NATO).4 Moreover, the evolution of the European defense “responsibility” has focused on the so-called Petersberg tasks, which concentrate on humanitarian and crisis response capabilities that nonetheless fall short of a full-scale intervention force with the ability to sustain combat over prolonged


time. As drawn from Article 17.2 of the Treaty of the European Union, and originally stated in the (now defunct) Western European Union Petersberg Declaration of June 1992, these responsibilities entail “humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks, and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking.”5

The purpose of this article is not expressly to detail the chronology, conceptual development, and evolution of European defense policy. Yet, with the publication of the European Security Strategy in 2003 and with the subsequent 2004 publication of A Human Security Doctrine for Europe: The Barcelona Report of the Study Group on Europe’s Security Capabilities, the EU has declared inherent security values in both promoting the rights of nation-states and in protecting the rights of individual citizens. The EU also has provided a proposed force planning structure to support these values. Before considering aspects of these strategic documents and force structure implications, we shall offer a brief synopsis of human security and why it might prove significant as a security agenda item.

Approaching Human Security:
From Philosophical Roots to Varying Definitions

In the classical sense, security—from the Latin securitas—refers to tranquility and freedom from care, or what Cicero termed the absence of anxiety upon which the fulfilled life depends. Notably, numerous governmental and international reports that focus on the terms “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want” emphasize a pluralist notion that security is a basic, and elemental, need.

From this rather general—and quite European—understanding of security, the human security concept centers on a concentration on the individual (rather than the state) and that individual’s right to physical safety, basic freedoms, and access to sustainable prosperity.6 In ethical terms, human security is both a “system” and a systemic practice that promotes and sustains stability, security, and progressive integration of individuals within their relationships to their states, societies, and regions.

Clearly, one could find little to argue with in terms of advocating such a system and practice. There are problems, nonetheless. On the one hand, ethics collectively involves codes of values, morality, religion, history, tradition, and even language. Such an ethical system that enforces, as it were, human security inevitably collides with conflicting values—which are not synchronous or accepted by all individuals, states, societies, or regions. Pragmatically, enforcement of these values, or the perceived right to even make these judgments, is contested.


On the other hand, in the once widely accepted, and still dominant, realist understanding, the state was the sole guarantor of security. Indeed, security extended downward from nations to individuals; conversely, the stable state extended upward in its relationship to other states to influence the security of the international system. This broadly characterizes what is known as the anarchic order.

Yet individual security, stemming from the liberal thought of the Enlightenment, was also considered both a unique and collective good.7 The responsibility, however, for the guarantee of the individual good—under any security rubric—has never been obvious. Moreover, the right of states to protect themselves under the rubric of “national security” and through traditional instruments of power (political, economic, and especially military) has never been directly, or sufficiently, challenged. Indeed, that such a challenge is absent despite recent catastrophic failures in state-based security protection, (such as Rwanda, Northern Uganda, and Darfur) where the state either has been unwilling or unable to protect, or even has been antagonistic against, its citizens, demonstrates the questionable faith ascribed to this tenuous security mandate.

Increasingly, faced with large-scale vulnerability and growing questions as to the viability of a solely state-based and militaristic security apparatus, decisionmakers will need to focus on a broad—and broadening—understanding of the meaning of security. Regarding human security specifically, the 1994 United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report attempted to recognize a conceptual shift that needed to take place:

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 nuclear holocaust. It has been related to nation-states more than people. . . . Forgotten were the legitimate concerns of ordinary people who sought security in their daily lives. For many of them, security symbolized protection from the threat of disease, hunger, unemployment, crime [or terrorism], social conflict, political repression, and environmental hazards. With the dark shadows of the Cold War receding, one can see that many conflicts are within nations rather than between nations.8

In 2003, the UN Commission on Human Security expanded this concept to include protection for peoples suffering through violent conflict, for those who are on the move whether out of migration or in refugee status, for those in post-conflict situations, and for protecting and improving conditions of poverty, health, and knowledge.9

To be blunt, there are specific reasons for those intending to affect the security debate to employ (perhaps even unintentional) strategies in terms


of “threats” and causal, seemingly inevitable, linkages to violence: doing so both makes the topic accessible for decisionmakers and provides a basis for determining present and future policy. Most often such decisionmakers conceive of security concepts only in power-dominant, state-centric mindsets. There is hazard, nevertheless, of adding the term “security” to emerging concerns that affect the lives of many individuals—and many regions.

This hazard is clearly present in the use of the term “human security.” And although some might argue that the term has roots in a neo-Marxist critique of the 1970s, one can reasonably illustrate that human security is a principle embedded in Enlightenment Liberalism. And, while all proponents agree on the necessity of individual safety, some have insisted that such protection could best be achieved only through the security of the state.10 The state, traditionally, acts as protector from both external and internal threats.

For Thomas Hobbes, the classic state-centered realist, an individual’s insecurity sprang from a life that was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”11 The state protected the individual from threats, whether these threats came at the hands of a local thief or from an invading army. For this protection, the citizen essentially relinquished individual rights to the state, as the state was the sole protector. Thus, in contrast to principles embedded in documents such as the American Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, security always trumped liberty. Clearly an in an age where terrorism and extremist violence are constant challenges, and where legislation such as the USA Patriot Act and individual surveillance continue unabated in what are considered “open” societies, the conflict between collective/individual security and individual liberty remains. Indeed, Benjamin Franklin’s adage remains an uncomfortable dilemma even today: those who give up their personal liberty for increased security deserve neither.

In more recent history, human security has been bifurcated by both broad and narrow definitions. A broad approach to human security is based on the concept of “freedom from want” and the narrow approach on “freedom from fear.” While these categorizations are, admittedly, rather simplistic in their labels, they do prove useful in illustrating how different advocates of human security follow quite different paths in pushing for human security action.

The Broad Definition

The broad human security conceptual approach, for example, largely draws from the work of the United Nations Development Program, as well as subsequent work of both the UN-appointed Human Security Commission, the Japanese government, and a host of academics.12 In this “freedom from want” approach, the previously referenced 1994 UNDP report argues that freedom


from chronic threats such as hunger, disease, and repression (which require long-term planning and development investment), as well as the protection from sudden disasters (which require often immediate interventions of support from outside agents), requires action under the security rubric. Thus, the UNDP offers seven human security components:13

In this conceptual approach to human security,14 the overarching focus is on, in the words of the Human Security Commission, protecting the “vital core” of the individual from critical and pervasive threats. Even as the above components fracture human security into separate identities, the core remains on the human citizen and his or her ability to live without dramatic hindrance to one’s personal well-being, whatever the cause. In pragmatic ways, the broad conceptualization of human security is revolutionary—and quite different from a traditional, state-centric view of security. Most notably, perhaps, it brings what are traditionally considered “development” or “humanitarian” considerations, into the security discourse. This of course has profound implications.

The Narrow Definition

The so-called “Canadian Approach” represents another end of the spectrum of human security—the narrower conception.15 By relying primarily on violent threats, the Canadian Approach separates human security from the much broader and already established field of international development. The Canadian government acknowledges the UNDP conception as a phase in the development of human security, but envisions a much more focused defi-


nition, one centered on violent threats, as an instrument of policy.16 The Canadian definition, therefore, largely restricts the parameters of human security to violent threats against the individual. This can come from a vast array of threats, including the drug trade, land mines, ethnic discord, state failure, and small-arms trafficking. Indeed, the Human Security Centre (part of the Liu Institute for Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia) clearly expresses the purposes of this approach:

Since the end of the Cold War, armed conflicts have increasingly taken place within, and not between, states. National security remains important, but in a world in which war between states is the rare exception, and many more people are killed by their own governments than by foreign armies, the concept of “human security” has been gaining greater recognition.

Unlike traditional concepts of security, which focus on defending borders from external military threats, human security is concerned with the security of individuals.

For some proponents of human security, the key threat is violence; for others the threat agenda is much broader, embracing hunger, disease, and natural disasters. Largely for pragmatic reasons, the Human Security Centre has adopted the narrower concept of human security that focuses on protecting individuals and communities from violence.17

This narrower focus on human security emphasizes the more immediate necessity for intervention capability rather than long-term strategic planning and investing for sustainable and secure development. Given the choice of being broad and ideal, or being narrow and operable by focusing on violence, only a small component of human vulnerability, the Canadian government has clearly sided with pragmatism.

Despite clear differences, both human security approaches rely on noncoercive methods as much as on having the ability to intervene effectively and swiftly. Some of these noncoercive measures include security sector reform, sustainable economic development, preventive diplomacy, post-conflict statebuilding, and mediation and negotiation efforts by parties external to conflicts.

Human security, nonetheless, may rest uncomfortably on the horns of a dilemma. The required focus should perhaps not be on either a narrow or broad definition—but on both. Indeed, for example, protection from human rights violations is only one component of ensuring human security. Individuals also need protection from poverty, disasters, conflict, and disease. Put another way, protection from gross violations of human rights is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition of human security. Further, human security itself


could also be said to be a necessary but not sufficient precondition for human development. If human security could cover the most urgent threats, development would then address societal well-being. Moreover, human rights should be seen as one of many components of human security. Just as some, but not all, environmental disasters cross the threshold of severity to become human security threats, so too do some, but not all, human rights abuses.18

Ultimately, while the effort to promote human security in the arena of “high politics” on the part of the Canadian and Norwegian governments since the 1990s is well known, there is a tempting sense of proselytizing righteousness as well. Such so-called “middle power” states, after all, can exercise significant moral clout by emphasizing that the rights of the individual are at least as important as protecting the territorial and sovereign integrity of the state. Yet when larger powers, particularly those with significant militaries (such as the United States or the United Kingdom) advocate similar positions, it is their overwhelming power that is recognized, respected, and resented.

On the one hand, what is perceived as the “moral clout” of the middle power is sensed as “hegemony unbridled” when it is emphasized in an attempted similar fashion by major powers. On the other hand, when actions taken in the name, or in the principled following, of human security do occur, they often are inextricably linked to issues that are embedded in the more traditional concepts of “national security” and protection of the state. Idealism thus becomes enmeshed in realism; actions taken on behalf of the powerless are determined only by the powerful.19

Undoubtedly, increasing numbers now speak out on behalf of what the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty has termed the “responsibility to protect”: the responsibility of some agency or state (whether it be a superpower such as the United States or an institution such as the United Nations) to enforce the principle of security that sovereign states owe to their citizens. But there is a dark side of this proposition, of course: that the “responsibility to protect” also means the “right to intervene.” In the topology of power, dominant states will likely continue to intervene at the time and place of their choosing.


Although it is unclear how permanent or deep the damage was from the 2003 US-European trans-Atlantic rift over intervention in Iraq, there are warning signals. As Robert Kagan notes, a crisis of legitimacy has emerged, with roots in the Balkan interventions of the 1990s:

The fact remains that the Kosovo war was illegal, and not only because it lacked Security Council authorization: Serbia had not committed any aggression against another state but was slaughtering its own ethnic Albanian population. The intervention therefore violated the sovereign equality of all nations, a cardinal principle of the UN Charter and the bedrock principle of international law for centuries. During the Kosovo conflict, Henry Kissinger warned that “the abrupt abandonment of the concept of national sovereignty” risked unmooring the world from any notion of order, legal or otherwise. Many Europeans rejected this complaint at the time. Back then . . . before the Iraq war . . . they did not seem to believe that international legitimacy resided exclusively with the Security Council, or in the UN Charter, or even in traditional principles of international law. Instead they believed in the legitimacy of their common post-modern moral values.20

In 2003, during the dispute over Iraq, those postmodern values did not seem to be universally shared or even understood. Yet it is against this backdrop that the European Union chose in late 2004 to address a context and a justification for incorporating human security as a philosophy, if not a complete doctrine, worth considering. How advocates of human security reconcile these undeniable conceptual and normative challenges will define the future of this young but potentially significant concept. A recent EU effort directly takes on critics of human security, and in many ways for the first time moves the concept from a hit-or-miss tool of advocacy to a real challenge to the traditional security paradigm.

Europe Incorporates
Human Security

In September 2004, the European Union released A Human Security Doctrine for Europe, which detailed the scope, organization, and intent that the EU “should build its security policy on a ‘human security doctrine,’ aimed at protecting individuals through law-enforcement, humanitarian assistance with the occasional use of force.”21 Taking into account the need for complementarities in civil and military operations for EU missions in the Balkans, in the great lakes region of sub-Saharan Africa, and in the South Caucasus, the document proposed the development of a civil-military force of 15,000 personnel, a third of which would be civilian professionals who would support crisis-management operations.


Concerning this proposal, two notable aspects arise. First, the convenor of the Study Group on Europe’s Security Capabilities was Mary Kaldor, author of the widely acknowledged work New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era. According to Kaldor,

Europeans cannot be secure while millions of people live in intolerable insecurity. Where people live with lawlessness, poverty, exclusivist ideologies, and daily violence, there is fertile ground for human rights violations, criminal networks, and terrorism. Conflict regions export or 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.22

The document does not shy away from expressing high ambitions for the European Union and its capability to project force—even on a global scale. While some observers remain skeptical that the EU often pronounces lofty ambitions without the ability to integrate and organize or to support such a global force, A Human Security Doctrine for Europe may be the most direct document to date to so openly declare Europe’s responsibility to act independently and, if necessary, to act beyond the borders of Europe. Indeed, these responsibilities are clearly stated: “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 defence of the Union’s borders, as was the security approach of nation-states.”23

This rationale, however, falls victim to one of the difficulties of any potential human security based foreign policy—namely, how direct a link must be made between vulnerability abroad and EU security. Once the human security doctrine is applied to people outside of the EU’s political responsibility, must they justify intervention on national security grounds? If so, there are significant difficulties with relying solely on the “terrorist breeding ground” argument in guiding an entire foreign policy. If not, they will have to move beyond direct causal links to a more nuanced argument connecting suffering abroad to security at home.

The document also presents a decidedly narrow definition for human security. By emphasizing “law-enforcement . . . with the occasional use of force,” the focus on human security remains strictly limited. However, the report does state that in extreme circumstances, a human security intervention may be needed against the more egregious nonviolent threats, thus incorporating some aspects of the broader human security conceptualization, though notably using the type of threshold suggested above as a limiting mechanism. Generally, however, while the term “human security” is still evolving, the EU “doctrine” seems to intentionally limit itself to a focus on violence and how to stop it.24 Yet with this limiting focus, the EU human secu-


rity doctrine emphasizes legal frameworks and institutions (such as the International Criminal Court—which the United States has refused to recognize) and developing specific guidelines and criteria that could authorize intervention exclusive of UN Security Council authorization.25 While stressing the need to prevent “gross human rights violations,” the declaration is quite specific in other ways regarding norms, expectations, and the responsible commitments of states to their citizens:

The [Human Security] doctrine [for Europe] comprises three elements:

A set of seven principles for operations in situations of severe insecurity that apply to both ends and means. These principles are: the primacy of human rights, clear political authority, multilateralism, a bottom-up approach, regional focus, the use of legal instruments, and the appropriate use of force. The report puts particular emphasis on the bottom-up approach; on communication, consultation, dialogue, and partnership with the local population in order to improve early warning, intelligence gathering, mobilization of local support, implementation, and sustainability.

A “Human Security Response Force,” initially composed of 15,000 men and women, of whom at least one third would be civilian (police, legal experts, development and humanitarian specialists, administrators, etc.). The Force would be drawn from dedicated troops and civilian capabilities already made available by member states as well as a proposed “Human Security Volunteer Service.”

A new legal framework to govern both decisions to intervene and operations on the ground. This would build on the domestic law of host states, the domestic law of sending states, international criminal law, international human rights law, and international humanitarian law.26

By detailing “capabilities” in the form of force structure and organization—especially the EU Human Security Response Force of 15,000 personnel (roughly the size of an army division)—the doctrine notably comprises


both military and civilian specialists, able to deploy to locales as disparate as Macedonia, Kosovo, or the Democratic Republic of Congo. The force itself would be tiered, drawing first on staff and headquarters capabilities from Brussels, with a secondary force of 5,000 personnel able to deploy in ten days. The final tier of 5,000 personnel would remain at a lower level of readiness but would periodically train and exercise together.27

The force would also draw from a professional core, with a civilian component of doctors and other medical personnel, legal specialists, human rights monitors, and those who straddle the military/police divide, such as carabinieri or gendarmerie. The final aspect of this organization would be the Human Security Volunteer Service.28 All members would be expected to be culturally aware, multinational, attuned to the multiple dimensions of conflict and intervention, and imbued with a specific, dedicated ethos. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and private corporations might also constitute part of the Human Security Volunteer Service.

In short, this EU Human Security Force would represent an ambitious, even breathtaking, initiative to respond to crisis challenges. By responding simply to direct threats, the doctrine itself might be nothing more than a well-thought-through intervention force proposal; itself, it would remain little more than a response force to react to violence and its aftermath. However, by clearly distinguishing the roles of civic, humanitarian, and military responses to this violence, the proposed “doctrine” is taking a significant step away from the historic traditional security response. Yet the doctrine nonetheless bears a direct lineage with the European Security Strategy, and it takes from that strategy a focus on direct threats: terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts, failing states, and organized crime.29

Unpacking Security Strategy:
The European and US Examples

One might (correctly) argue that little consideration is given in the EU human security doctrine regarding the broader conception of human security. Yet the example of why it is important to recognize these broader human security necessities—and act on them—is deeply embedded in the European Security Strategy itself. Notably, nowhere in the EU strategy—or in the US National Security Strategy, for that matter—do the words “human security” appear. Yet the concept’s principles, including the need to address and solve longer-term development issues that could actually sustain and resolve the security dilemma of many in nations and regions in crisis, are omnipresent. Indeed, the strategy’s full title presents the claim of A Secure Europe in a


Better World, thus stressing the need for the EU to “get real” and act on its responsibility and in its role as global actor:

Since 1990, almost 4 million people have died in wars, 90 percent of them civilians. Over 18 million people world-wide have left their homes as a result of conflict.

In much of the developing world, poverty and disease cause untold suffering and give rise to pressing security concerns. Almost 3 billion people, half the world’s population, live on less than 2 Euros a day. Forty-five million die every year of hunger and malnutrition. AIDS is now one of the most devastating pandemics in human history and contributes to the breakdown of societies. . . .

Security is a precondition for development. . . .

In contrast to the massive visible threat in the Cold War, none of the new threats is purely military, nor can any be tackled by purely military means. Each requires a mixture of instruments. . . . Regional conflicts need political solutions, but military assets and effective policing may be needed in the post conflict phase. Economic instruments serve reconstruction, and civilian crisis management helps restore civil government. The European Union is particularly well equipped to respond to such multi-faceted situations.30

The US National Security Strategy of 2002, which emphasized the “non-negotiable demand of human dignity” and the reduction (if not eradication) of poverty, also leans toward the broader conception of human security through long-term development, free trade and free markets, and the practice of good governance and policies. However, the national interest in tackling vulnerability abroad is argued in notably moralistic terms, differing significantly from the “securitization” of these issues in the EU “doctrine.” And although the specific organization and deployment of military forces is never detailed in official Bush Administration documents and declarations, the sentiment to respect freedom is unquestionable:

There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom. . . . The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. . . . Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.31


The US strategy document and declaration do not detail how military forces uphold human security; rather, the emphasis remains on the good practice of governments and on development as issues that receive priority.32

What distinguishes the EU strategy and subsequent human security doctrine are: (1) establishing a clear “objective” for “stronger international society, well functioning international institutions and a rule-based order”33; (2) a basic recognition that “establishing the rule of law and protecting human rights are the best means of strengthening the international order”34; and (3) a detailed operational force proposal for protecting human security. Taken collectively, these documents implicitly recognize the fragile web of security, and that no single instrument—no matter how seemingly powerful in its application—is sufficient to address new and emerging security issues. The old cliché that describes the “blowback” that otherwise often occurs is an apt reminder: “If all you have is a hammer, then every problem begins to look like a nail.” Surely, as the interventions in Somalia and in the Balkans illustrate, traditional applications of military security are often necessary, but they also certainly are not sufficient as instruments for achieving real security.

A Global Security Commitment

While sounding the death knell for NATO and the Transatlantic relationship is hardly a certainty, many believe this has become a more likely possibility in recent years. Charles Kupchan, a former National Security Council member, has been quite clear in his views on the security dilemma:

The Atlantic alliance appears poised for demise. Its founder and primary patron, the United States, is losing interest in the alliance, resulting in a military pact that is hollowing out and of diminishing geopolitical relevance. . . . Europe’s security order is thus in the process of becoming much more European and much less Atlantic.35

At one point in history (the Cold War), the “hard” security map took precedence over all other mental maps—and NATO was the key security linkage. Clearly, that security map is shifting in front of our eyes. In response to that shift, nonetheless, the European Union, perhaps paradoxically, both distanced itself from the United States in creating specific security documents yet simultaneously made clear overtures to the United States in recognizing enduring security linkages:

The United States has played a critical role in European integration and European security, in particular through NATO. The end of the Cold War has left the United States in a dominant position as a military actor. However, no single country is able to tackle today’s complex problems on its own. . . . The transat-


lantic relationship is irreplaceable. Acting together, the European Union and the United States can be a formidable force for good in the world. Our aim should be an effective and balanced partnership with the USA.36

Today, when we speak of the business of security—for the individual, the state, the community, and for regions—we find us ourselves mired in a complex web of seemingly endless contradictions. Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of the broadening future security architecture lies in how Greater Europe has attempted to address common aspects of security and interests, rather than the exclusive self-interests of states. By doing so, there has occurred a gradual shift toward what can only be called “global security.”

NATO expansion, in other words, is not the only security measure being tested in the evolving Europe. To the contrary, other players in the institutional map of Europe have gained in influence and significance: the EU (obviously), the Partnership for Peace (PfP), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as a number of sub-regional associations. The Partnership for Peace, for example, once seen as a kind of halfway house for NATO membership, is now recognized to be a more fluid and dynamic process to encourage associated members to participate in multiple peacekeeping and peace maintenance operations, whether in Europe or out-of-area. The Partnership for Peace, in its modest way, helped pave the security map for American and coalition operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq. What is happening in Europe, whether one refers to it as “cooperative security” or “comprehensive security,” has implications far beyond the region itself in this century. In essence, a grand experiment in security architecture is taking place. It is not clear that this experiment is doomed to failure.

Moreover, there are geographic as well as conceptual reasons why Europe has attempted to approach these new security challenges directly. In the broadest sense, the new map of Greater Europe includes Turkey, the Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and perhaps even Christian Armenia and Georgia and Muslim Azerbaijan. Greater Europe will therefore inevitably fold into the geographies of North Africa and the Middle East as well. The conflict and the blending of these represent both a new symbolic geography and a symbolic security for Greater Europe. As Maria Todorova states it, “Europe ends where politicians want it to end.”37 Inevitably, the mental maps that decisionmakers use have everything to do with how and where they draw the line.

Ultimately, all nations and all alliances are far from having what Michael O’Hanlon and P. W. Singer term a global intervention capability on behalf of “humanitarian transformation.”38 Granted, the threat of mass-casualty terrorism now exists anytime, anywhere, and states and regions are responding differently to this challenge. Yet the global community today also faces many


of the same problems of the 1990s: civil wars, faltering states, humanitarian crises. While Europe and the European Union are perhaps no closer than anyone else to addressing how best to solve these challenges, Europe has at least acknowledged the need to think, act, and organize differently to prepare for the future. Specifically, the EU security strategy stresses the necessity of “effective multilateralism” and often acknowledges the crucial leadership roles of the United States in making this multilateralism both coherent and effective.39

Essentially, states and regions, in a globalized context, can no longer afford to solely emphasize national security issues without recognizing that abstract concepts such as values, norms, and expectations also influence both choices and outcomes. In its most recent declarations, the European Union appears to have incorporated these recognitions as a basic ethos in approaching security. Yet, as the blatant international failures in 1994 in Rwanda and ongoing in Darfur and the Eastern Congo illustrate—through a collective international decision to do nothing—human security is hardly proving to be the trump card of choice in decisions by states to intervene in the affairs of other states, particularly where it involves violating traditionally respected rights of sovereignty. In other words, taken to extreme forms, both human security and national security can be conceptually approached as antagonistic rather than convergent identities. Each, in its exclusive recognition, remains problematic.

In moving toward an evolving commitment to global security, the European Union has demonstrated some new, useful thinking. As a force proposal, and as a natural extension of the European security strategy, the EU human security doctrine does not address all problematic issues—and it raises, internally, a few problematics of its own in terms of feasibility. It remains unclear, for example, how the EU is truly broadening its capabilities to respond with an overarching human security policy—other than addressing the necessity to act, to be ready to intervene when necessary, and to have the organization and structure to do it.40 Equally, how to deal with strategic challenges (such as long-term investment and planning) or pragmatic factors (such as the question of how unarmed civilian specialists would themselves be vulnerable in intervention situations) remains, as yet, unanswered. But at least the dialogue has begun.


1. Drawn from an abstract of a presentation at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, Newport, Rhode Island, titled, “Culture Wars? War Is already a Culture,” 6 December 2004, at a workshop titled “Prepared for Peace? The Use and Abuse of ‘Culture’ in Military Simulations, Training and Education.” Professor Burgess refers to the work by Mary Kaldor, titled New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era (Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford Univ. Press, 1999). Notably, Kaldor was the instrumental force behind the creation and production of A Human Security Doctrine for Europe: The Barcelona Report of the Study Group on Europe’s Security Capabilities.


2. European Union, A Secure Europe in a Better World: European Security Strategy (hereinafter European Security Strategy), Brussels, 12 December 2003,; George W. Bush, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002,

3. For the best argument in favor of such an approach, see Christina M. Schweiss, “Sharing Hegemony: The Future of Transatlantic Security, Co-operation and Conflict: Journal of the Nordic International Studies Association, 38 (September 2003), 211-34.

4. Useful references for outlining the background and conceptual approaches to the CFSP are available online through the European Union Institute for Security Studies, including Hans-Georg Ehrhart, What Model for the CFSP?, Chaillot Papers, No. 55, October 2002,; Maartje Rutten, From Nice to Laeken: European Defence: Core Documents, Chaillot Papers, No. 51, April 2002,; Maartje Rutten, From St-Malo to Nice: European Defence: Core Documents, Chaillot Papers, No. 47, May 2001,

5. Martin Ortega, Petersberg Tasks, and Missions of the EU Military Forces, European Union, Institute for Security Studies, February 2005,

6. The range of this mandate is contested among human security proponents. As will be seen, advocates of the narrow conceptualization limit the protection offered by human security to safety from violent threats, where as advocates of the broad conceptualization extend this mandate notably further to include economic, environmental, and health threats.

7. Adam Smith, for example, in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, mentions only the security of the sovereign, who possesses a standing army to protect him against popular discontent, and is thus “secure” and able to allow his subjects the liberty of political “remonstrance.” By contrast, M. J. de Condorcet’s argument, in the late 18th century, suggested that the economic security of individuals was an essential condition for political society; fear—and the fear of fear—were for Condorcet the enemies of liberal politics. These distinctions are ably considered in Emma Rothschild, “What is Security? The Quest for World Order,” Daedalus, 124 (June 1995), available at; also see Emma Rothschild, “Economic Security and Social Security,” paper presented to the UNRISD Conference on Rethinking Social Development, Center for History and Economics, Cambridge, Mass., 1995.

8. UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Human Development Report (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1994), pp. 3, 22-23.

9. Commission on Human Security, Protecting and Empowering People, 1 May 2003, http://www.

10. Drawn from P. H. Liotta and Taylor Owen, “Why Human Security?” The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, forthcoming.

11. Thomas Hobbes, The Leviathan, ed. C. B. MacPherson (London: Penguin Books, 1985).

12. Commission on Human Security, Protecting and Empowering People; also Jorge Nef, Human Security and Mutual Vulnerability: The Global Economy of Development and Underdevelopment (2d ed.; Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 1999). Nef, for example, describes “five interconnected subsystems of human security: ecosystem, economy, society, polity and culture. . . . [T]hese five are all in complex interplay, their linkages defining the nature of systemic balance.” For an overview of numerous broad conceptualizations, see: Sabina Alkire, “Concepts of Human Security,” in Human Security in a Global World, eds. L. Chen, S. Fukuda-Parr, and E. Seidensticker (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, Global Equity Initiative, 2003); Osler Hampson, J. Hay, “Human Security: A Review of Scholarly Literature,” paper presented to the Canadian Consortium on Human Security Annual Meeting, Ottawa, April 2002; and the Program on Human Security, Harvard University,

13. UNDP, UN Human Development Report, ch. 2, “New Dimensions of Human Security,” pp. 22-25.

14. Most subsequent definitions, broad or narrow, use these seven conceptual categories as their reference, incorporating varying combinations of categories. For a review of this phenomenon, see Taylor Owen, “Measuring Human Security: Overcoming the Paradox,” Human Security Bulletin (October 2003).

15. Also used and promoted by the Norwegian government, as well as forming the conceptual bedrock of the Human Security Network, a coalition of like-minded “middle power” governments. The narrow approach is also promoted by a number of academics, notably Andrew Mack, Keith Krause, and Neil MacFarlane. For summaries of their positions, see: Peter Burgess and Taylor Owen, eds., “Special Section on Human Security,” Security Dialogue, 35 (September 2004).

16. Liotta and Owen, “Why Human Security?”

17. Human Security Centre website, “Human Security Explained,”

18. This argument is spelled out in greater detail in Taylor Owen, “Are We Really Secure?: Challenges and Opportunities for Defining and Measuring Human Security,” Disarmament Forum, No. 2 (June 2004); and Taylor Owen, “Human Security—Conflict, Critique and Consensus: Colloquium Remarks and a Proposal for a Threshold-Based Definition,” Security Dialogue, 35 (September 2004).


19. Accordingly, we witness 150,000 American forces deployed to Iraq in 2003 but only six communications, command, and control specialists initially put ashore in Liberia to support Nigerian peacekeepers in stability and security operations. Nominally, both scenarios involve regime change and stabilizing regional security—as well as intervention for the protection of citizens abused by the state. Yet the physical and economic geography of Iraq place it at the center of a region declared “vital” to US interests, awash in petroleum and natural gas resources. National security interests, in the form of geopolitics, again trumps the intervention priority list. Moreover, the alleged bellicosity of the former Iraqi regime, particularly regarding potential or actual possession of weapons of mass destruction, clearly supported more traditional national security interests such as defense of the homeland and protection of one’s territory from attack. Liberia, while clearly a regional troublemaker, never posed a threat to the United States or any of its close allies. (Make no mistake: It was a brutal, authoritarian regime that threatened its own people as well as the entire security architecture of West Africa, but it remained little more than a perceived peripheral threat for many.)

20. Robert Kagan, “America’s Crisis of Legitimacy,” Foreign Affairs, 83 (March/April 2004), 75.

21. European Union press release S0239/04, “Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the CFSP, Responds to Report by Study Group on Europe’s Security Capabilities,” 16 September 2004, http://www.

22. Quoted in “Europe Needs a Human Security Doctrine—And a New Civil Military Force,” London School of Economics and Political Science, 20 September 2004, InformationOffice/newsAndEvents/archives/2004/Europe_needsHumanSecurity_Doctrine.htm.

23. European Union, A Human Security Doctrine for Europe: The Barcelona Report of the Study Group on Europe’s Security Capabilities, Barcelona, 15 September 2004, p. 5,

24. As one anonymous reviewer noted, the EU document is at least much a philosophy as it is a doctrine.

25. European Union, A Human Security Doctrine for Europe, Section 4.2, “A Legal Framework,” pp. 24-26.

26. Ibid., “Executive Summary,” p. 1.

27. Ibid., pp. 18-19.

28. Ibid., p. 20.

29. European Security Strategy, pp. 6-9.

30. Ibid., pp. 5-12. Notably, the Human Security Report 2005: War and Peace in the 21st Century (Oxford, Eng.: Oxford Univ. Press, 2006), “Part 2: The Human Security Audit,” p. 64, challenges the “90 percent” death rate for civilians in recent conflicts as a commonly accepted but untrue figure, and places the figure much lower (

31. George W. Bush, Second Inaugural Address, 20 January 2005,

32. George W. Bush, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002, in particular “Introduction,” pp. i-ii, One might ask why we refer to the 2002 document rather than the more recent US National Security Strategy of 2006. Our response is that the 2006 document is not an independent document; rather, it seems an appendage, as much as a justification, for the 2002 strategy. Along with newly included regional focuses, including an extended emphasis on China, the 2006 document largely includes a laundry list of successes and challenges that emphasize the basic path set by the 2002 national strategy. The National Security Strategy of 2006 also suffers from an internal inconsistency. On page 9 of the document, the claim is made that “while the War on Terror is a battle of ideas, it is not a battle of religions.” By contrast, page 36 of the document states, “The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century.” The war on terror, the authors contend, is therefore a battle of religions—and against religious extremism. See the 2006 document at

33. European Security Strategy, p. 14.

34. Ibid., p. 16.

35. Charles A. Kupchan, “The Rise of Europe, America’s Changing Internationalism, and the End of U.S. Primacy,” Political Science Quarterly, 118 (Summer 2003), 225-26.

36. European Security Strategy, pp. 3, 20.

37. Maria Nikolaeva Todorova, Imagining the Balkans (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1997), pp. 139, 160.

38. Michael O’Hanlon and P. W. Singer, “The Humanitarian Transformation: Expanding Global Intervention Capacity,” Survival, 46 (Spring 2004), 77-99.

39. European Security Strategy, pp. 14-16, 20.

40. For the argument that human security requires a “critical transformative ethos,” see Kyle Grayson, “Securitization and the Boomerang Debate: A Rejoinder to Liotta and Smith-Windsor,” Security Dialogue, 34 (September 2003), 337-43; and “A Challenge to Power over Knowledge in Traditional Security Studies,” Security Dialogue, 35 (September 2004), 357.

P. H. Liotta, MFA, Ph.D., is Professor of Humanities at Salve Regina University and Executive Director of the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy in Newport, Rhode Island. His recent work includes The Uncertain Certainty: Human Security, Environmental Change, and the Future Euro-Mediterranean and the coedited Security and Environment in the Mediterranean: Conceptualising Security and Environmental Conflict. In 2005, he was named Adjunct Professor in Comparative Politics and International Relations in the Department of Social Sciences, US Military Academy. This is his fifth article in Parameters.

Taylor Owen is a doctoral candidate at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a Trudeau Scholar. Recent positions include a post-graduate fellowship in the Yale Genocide Studies Program and work as a researcher at the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. He has a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia, where he is an external research associate in the Conflict and Development Program at the Liu Institute for Global Issues. In June 2005 he cochaired with P. H. Liotta the Pell Center Workshop, “The Future of Human Security: Challenges, Capability, Identity.”

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