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19 June, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 19 June, 2018 12:53:47 AM

Human security-the apex of all development

Human security springs from a growing consensus that these two fields need to be more fully integrated in order to enhance security for all
Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed
Human security-the apex of all development

Security can be examined at different levels. It can be viewed at individual, societal, national, international and global levels. Different levels are linked up different dimensions like human security, traditional security, cooperative security, collective security, environmental security and internal security etc. When the entire gamut of different dimension of security is considered we may call it comprehensive security. It may be assumed that one dimension is different from other; it is altogether a misconception that one dimension of security can be delinked from the other. Today’s non-traditional or environmental security may turn out to be a traditional security--it might even turn out to be a vital national interest which would merit the employment of military forces; it might even take the shape of a total war. Bangladesh’s security concerns are multidimensional as already indicated. Bangladesh’s vital national interests could involve its territorial integrity, political sovereignty, democracy, religious and social values, and economic and social progress.

Human security is an emerging paradigm for understanding global vulnerabilities whose proponents challenge the traditional notion of national security by arguing that the proper referent for security should be the individual rather than the state. It holds that a people-centred view is necessary for national and global stability.

Human security is people-centred. Its focus shifts to protecting individuals. The important dimensions are to entail the well-being of individuals and respond to ordinary people's needs in dealing with sources of threats. In addition to protecting the state from external aggression, human security would expand the scope of protection to include a broader range of threats, including environmental pollution, infectious diseases, and economic deprivation. The realisation of human security involves not only governments, but a broader participation of different actors, regional and international organisations, non-governmental organisations and local communities. It not only protects, but also empowers people and societies as a means of security. People contribute by identifying and implementing solutions to insecurity.

The concept emerged from a post-Cold War, multi-disciplinary understanding of security involving a number of research fields, including development studies, international relations, strategic studies, and human rights. The United Nations Development Programme’s 1994 Human its argument that insuring “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear” for all persons is the best path to tackle the problem of global insecurity.

Freedom from fear school seeks to limit the practice of human security to protecting individuals from violent conflicts while recognising that these violent threats are strongly associated with poverty, lack of state capacity and other forms of inequities. This approach argues that limiting the focus to violence is a realistic and manageable approach towards human security. Emergency assistance, conflict prevention and resolution, peace-building are the main concerns of this approach. Canada, for example, was a critical player in the efforts to ban landmines and has incorporated the "Freedom from Fear" agenda as a primary component in its own foreign policy. However, whether such “narrow” approach can truly serve its purpose in guaranteeing more fruitful results remains to be an issue. For instance, the conflicts in Darfur are often used in questioning the effectiveness of the "Responsibility to Protect”, a key component of the freedom from fear agenda.

Freedom from want school advocates a holistic approach in achieving human security and argues that the threat agenda should be broadened to include hunger, disease and natural disasters because they are inseparable concepts in addressing the root of human insecurity and they kill far more people than war, genocide and terrorism combined. Different from "Freedom from Fear", it expands the focus beyond violence with emphasis on development and security goals.

Human security focuses on the serious neglect of gender concerns under the traditional security model. Traditional security’s focus on external military threats to the state has meant that the majority of threats women face has been overlooked. It has recently been argued that these forms of violence are often overlooked because expressions of masculinity in contexts of war have become the norm. By focusing on the individual, the human security model aims to address the security concerns of both women and men equally. However, as of recent conflicts, it is believed that the majority of war casualties are civilians and that "such a conclusion has sometimes led to the assumptions that women are victimised by war to a greater extent than men, because the majority of adult civilians are women, and when the populations of civilian women and children are added together, they outnumber male combatants. Furthermore, in the post-war context women survivors generally outnumber men and so it is often said that women as a group bear a greater burden for post-war recovery". Women are often victims of violence and conflict: they form the majority of civilian deaths; the majority of refugees; and, are often the victims of cruel and degrading practices, such as rape. Women's security is also threatened by unequal access to resources, services and opportunities. The UN special reporter on violence against women, as of 1995, suggested that the problem is not just a social one, but requires evaluation of the political institutions which uphold unequal system of domination. Women's rights are neglected especially in the Middle East and Southeast Asian regions where customary practices are still prevalent. Although there are different opinions on the issue of customary practices, it infringes upon human security's notion where women and men are innate with equal human rights. Attempts to eradicate such violent customary practices require political and legal approaches where human security in relation to gender should be brought up as the main source of assertion.

Such cruel customary practices as honour killing, burning brides and widows, child marriage are still in existence because of women's vulnerability in economic independence and security. Human security in relationship to gender tries to overthrow such traditional practices that are incompatible to the rights of women.

Also human security seeks to empower women, through education, participation and access, as gender equality is seen as a necessary precondition for peace, security and a prosperous society.

Traditionally, embracing liberal market economics was considered to be the universal path for economic growth, and thus development for all humanity. Yet, continuing conflict and human rights abuses following the end of the Cold War and the fact that two-thirds of the global population seemed to have gained little from the economic gains of globalisation, led to fundamental questions about the way development was practiced. Accordingly, human development has emerged in the 1990s to challenge the dominant paradigm of liberal economy in the development community. Human development proponents argue that economic growth is insufficient to expand people’s choice or capabilities, areas such as health, education, technology, the environment, and employment should not be neglected.

Human security could be said to further enlarge the scope for examining the causes and consequences of underdevelopment, by seeking to bridge the divide between development and security. Too often, militaries didn’t address or factor in the underlying causes of violence and insecurity while development workers often underplayed the vulnerability of development models to violent conflict. Human security springs from a growing consensus that these two fields need to be more fully integrated in order to enhance security for all.

The writer is a columnist & researcher




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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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