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Ravi Singh asked: What is the concept of ‘Human Security’ and is it different in different regions of the world?

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  • D.P.K. Pillay replies: ‘Human Security’ as a concept identifies the individual citizen instead of the State as the appropriate referent for security. The idea of ‘human security’ contends that the people of a country that has a well-equipped and strong military are not necessarily “secure” in the true sense. Protecting citizens from attacks from other countries continues to be an important facet in the security calculus, but it should not be the only one. It does add to a sense of security, but that is not sufficient to address the myriad security concerns a nation and its citizens faces. For example, there is stark poverty in North Korea, a state that boasts of vast military arsenals and standing armies. The erstwhile Soviet Union was a military superpower, but that did not prevent it from imploding. More often than not, the sense of insecurity was being generated by this very power of the state itself. Powerful states with strong security forces have the inherent capacity to perpetuate and implement policies and laws that can also enforce discrimination that targets groups or dissidents within their own population. There are graver threats such as disease, hunger poverty, environmental degradation, climate change, and violations of human rights that cause greater human suffering and deaths.

    The concept of ‘human security’ encompasses several research fields which include development studies, international relations, strategic studies, human rights, and many others. It is an idea that does not replace any of these fields but is a prism on which these studies—centred on an “individual” instead of a “state”—converge. The evaluation of human security and its relevance merits deeper study not merely because of its unique approach or just because it perhaps challenges the traditional notions of security. A human security centred approach could perhaps offer the basis for operational responses by the institutions that intend to secure people, communities and nations from threats and find solutions to peace through measures that are not necessarily reactive and overtly military by nature.

    Yes, the standards of human security differ from region to region in the world.

    Posted on February 15, 2019

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