Human security

Human security

Human security refers to 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. Human security holds that a people-centered view of security is necessary for national, regional and global stability.

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 Development Report[1] is considered a milestone publication in the field of human security, with 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. Human security is now frequently referred to in a wide variety of global policy discussions and often taught in universities as part of international relations, globalization, or human rights studies.[2]

Critics of the concept argue that its vagueness undermines its effectiveness;[3] that it has become little more than a vehicle for activists wishing to promote certain causes; and that it does not help the research community understand what security means or help decision makers to formulate good policies.


  • 1 Concept
    • 1.1 UNDP's 1994 Definition
    • 1.2 Freedom from Fear vs Freedom from Want
    • 1.3 Relationship with traditional security
    • 1.4 Relationship with Development
    • 1.5 Gender and human security
    • 1.6 Prevention
  • 2 Practice
    • 2.1 Humanitarian intervention
    • 2.2 Anti Personnel Landmines
    • 2.3 Terrorism
    • 2.4 Infectious disease
    • 2.5 Global warming
  • 3 Criticisms
    • 3.1 Ambiguity of the Concept
    • 3.2 Questions on the Practice
    • 3.3 State Sovereignty
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


The end of the Cold War is often seen as the moment where human security gained real recognition because of the belief that, with the relaxation of ideological hostilities between the US and USSR in the early 1990s, real progress could be made to address the root causes of global insecurity. Increasing levels of global interdependence further solidified the growing consensus that today's security threats go beyond our traditional understanding of defense threats, (e.g. attack from another state) to include poverty, economic inequality, diseases, human rights abuses, environmental pollution, and natural disasters. Those who argue for the adoption of a human security agenda believe that if our security apparatuses focused more on protecting individual citizens and groups from threats that may endanger their basic survival, rather than simply on perceived threats to the nation state, the world would be a more secure place.

UNDP's 1994 Definition

Dr. Mahbub ul Haq first drew global attention to the concept of human security in the United Nations Development Programme's 1994 Human Development Report and sought to influence the UN's 1995 World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen. Since then, human security has been receiving more attention from the key global development institutions, such as the World Bank.

The UNDP's 1994 Human Development Report's definition of human security argues that the scope of global security should be expanded to include threats in seven areas:

Coloured world map indicating Human Development Index (as of 2003).  Countries coloured green exhibit high human development, those coloured yellow/orange exhibit medium human development, and those coloured red exhibit low human development.
Coloured world map indicating Human Development Index (as of 2003). Countries coloured green exhibit high human development, those coloured yellow/orange exhibit medium human development, and those coloured red exhibit low human development.
  • Economic security — Economic security requires an assured basic income for individuals, usually from productive and remunerative work or, as a last resort, from a publicly financed safety net. In this sense, only about a quarter of the world’s people are presently economically secure. While the economic security problem may be more serious in developing countries, concern also arises in developed countries as well. Unemployment problems constitute an important factor underlying political tensions and ethnic violence.
  • Food security — Food security requires that all people at all times have both physical and economic access to basic food. According to the United Nations, the overall availability of food is not a problem, rather the problem often is the poor distribution of food and a lack of purchasing power. In the past, food security problems have been dealt with at both national and global levels. However, their impacts are limited. According to UN, the key is to tackle the problems relating to access to assets, work and assured income (related to economic security).
  • Health security — Health Security aims to guarantee a minimum protection from diseases and unhealthy lifestyles. In developing countries, the major causes of death are infectious and parasitic diseases, which kill 17 million people annually. In industrialized countries, the major killers are diseases of the circulatory system, killing 5.5 million every year. According to the United Nations, in both developing and industrial countries, threats to health security are usually greater for poor people in rural areas, particularly children. This is mainly due to malnutrition and insufficient supply of medicine, clean water or other necessity for healthcare.
  • Environmental security — Environmental security aims to protect people from the short- and long-term ravages of nature, man-made threats in nature, and deterioration of the natural environment. In developing countries, lack of access to clean water resources is one of the greatest environmental threats. In industrial countries, one of the major threats is air pollution. Global warming, caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, is another environmental security issue.
  • Personal security — Personal security aims to protect people from physical violence, whether from the state or external states, from violent individuals and sub-state actors, from domestic abuse, or from predatory adults. For many people, the greatest source of anxiety is crime, particularly violent crime.
  • Community security — Community security aims to protect people from the loss of traditional relationships and values and from sectarian and ethnic violence. Traditional communities, particularly minority ethnic groups are often threatened. About half of the world’s states have experienced some inter-ethnic strife. The United Nations declared 1993 the Year of Indigenous People to highlight the continuing vulnerability of the 300 million aboriginal people in 70 countries as they face a widening spiral of violence.
  • Political security — Political security is concerned with whether people live in a society that honors their basic human rights. According to a survey conducted by Amnesty International, political repression, systematic torture, ill treatment or disappearance was still practised in 110 countries. Human rights violations are most frequent during periods of political unrest. Along with repressing individuals and groups, governments may try to exercise control over ideas and information.

Freedom from Fear vs Freedom from Want

In an ideal world, each of the UNDP's seven categories of threats would receive adequate global attention and resources. Yet attempts to implement this human security agenda have led to the emergence of two major schools of thought — "Freedom from Fear" and "Freedom from Want". While the UNDP 1994 report originally argued that human security requires attention to both freedom from fear and freedom from want, divisions have gradually emerged over the proper scope of that protection (e.g. over what threats individuals should be protected from) and over the appropriate mechanisms for responding to these threats.

  • Freedom from Fear — This school seeks to limit the practice of Human Security to protecting individuals from violent conflicts. 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.
  • Freedom from Want — According to UNDP 1994, "Freedom from Want" school focuses on the basic idea that violence, poverty, inequality,diseases, and environmental degradation are inseparable concepts in addressing the root of human insecurity. Different from "Freedom from Fear", it expands the focus beyond violence with emphasis on development and security goals. Japan, for example, has adopted the broader "Freedom from Want" perspective in its own foreign policy and in 1999 established a UN trust fund for the promotion of Human Security.

Relationship with traditional security

Human security and traditional or national security are not mutually exclusive concepts. Without human security, traditional state security cannot be attained and vice-versa.[4]

Europe after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648
Europe after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648

Traditional security is about a state's ability to defend itself against external threats. Traditional security (often referred to as national security or state security) describes the philosophy of international security predominance since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and the rise of the nation-states. While international relations theory includes many variants of traditional security, from realism to idealism, the fundamental trait that these schools share is their focus on the primacy of the nation-state.

The following table contrasts four differences between the two perspectives:

Traditional Security Human Security
Referent Traditional security policies are designed to promote demands ascribed to the state. Other interests are subordinated to those of the state. Traditional security protects a state's boundaries, people, institutions and values. Human security is people-centered. 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.
Scope Traditional security seeks to defend states from external aggression.Walter Lippmann explained that state security is about a state's ability to deter or defeat an attack.[5] It makes uses of deterrence strategies to maintain the integrity of the state and protect the territory from external 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.
Actor(s) The state is the sole actor, to ensure its own survival. Decision making power is centralized in the government, and the execution of strategies rarely involves the public. Traditional security assumes that a sovereign state is operating in an anarchical international environment, in which there is no world governing body to enforce international rules of conduct. The realization of human security involves not only governments, but a broader participation of different actors,[6] viz. regional and international organizations, non-governmental organizations and local communities.
Means Traditional security relies upon building up national power and military defense. The common forms it takes are armament races, alliances, strategic boundaries etc. Human security not only protects, but also empowers people and societies as a means of security. People contribute by identifying and implementing solutions to insecurity.

Relationship with Development

Human security also challenged and drew from the practice of international development.

Traditionally, embracing liberal market economics was considered to be the universal path for economic growth, and thus development for all humanity.[7] 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 globalization[8], led to fundamental questions about the way development was practiced.

Under human security, poverty and inequality are considered root causes of individual vulnerability. The paper Development and Security by Frances Stewart argues that security and development are deeply interconnected.[9]

  • Human security forms an important part of people’s well-being, and is therefore an objective of development.
    An objective of development is “the enlargement of human choices”. Insecurity cuts life short and thwarts the use of human potential, thereby affecting the reaching of this objective.
  • Lack of human security has adverse consequences on economic growth, and therefore development.
    Some development costs are obvious. For example, in wars, people who join the army or flee can no longer work productively. Also, destroying infrastructure reduces the productive capacity of the economy.
  • Imbalanced development that involves horizontal inequalities is an important source of conflict.
    Therefore, vicious cycles of lack of development which leads to conflict, then to lack of development, can readily emerge. Likewise, virtuous cycles are possible, with high levels of security leading to development, which further promotes security in return.

There are four main policy actions related to poverty and inequality that promote human security[6]:

Encouraging growth that reaches the extreme poor Healthy and sustainable growth is the mix of policies that support productivity, employment creation, enterprise and human resource development.

  • There has to be an emphasis on basic education as a prime mover of change.
  • Wide dissemination of basic economic entitlements (through education and training, land reform, credit) broadens access to the opportunities offered by the market economy.
  • State action has to be judiciously combined with the use of the market economy.
  • A wide range of institutional interventions is required to enhance capabilities, promote social opportunities and support market arrangements. [7] [10]

Supporting sustainable livelihoods and decent work Workplace is where most people build or lose their economic security. There are some ways that can help the people to gain security in the workplace. Workers unions empower people to represent their needs and thus to protect their human security. Long-term firm loyalty and relationships also provide security. Changes in the global economy have altered production and work patterns. Some trends, such as a growing informal sector and increasing female participation in the work force, have had a significant impact on the availability of jobs, especially for low-skill level workers. Because of these trends there is the needs to deal with environmental factors, address gender asymmetries in livelihoods and support microcredit initiatives to enable poor people to participate in economic activity.

Providing social protection for all situations Social Protection aims to provide a social minimum to ensure that every person is able to enjoy the basic quality of life. Governments, business and citizens are required to take measures to ensure that there is adequate social protection for all, including the working poor and those not in paid work. Such measures should include employer and employee-based contributions to unemployment insurance, pensions, training as well as government-subsidized social assistance (through public works).

These measures can provide a minimum economic and social standard, based on dialogue with all social actors, for those in chronic poverty as well as those who suffer temporary economic hardship during economic downturns and other crises. Policies and programmes to address the special needs of children, the elderly and the disabled should also be incorporated into social protection arrangements. [8]

Gender and human security

Gender plays an important role in human security since often gender inequality gives rise to skewed distribution of resources or neglect in areas vital to individual security. Female susceptibility to domestic violence provides one example.

A survey conducted by World Health Organization in 2005 shows that one-sixth of women in the world suffer from family violence. They are mainly beaten by their husbands or partners, which then results in physical and mental health problems, even suicide.[9] Other surveys indicate that half of the women who die from homicides are killed by, or abused to death by their partners.[10] Shelter is one of the human security needs, but for many women these shelters are unsafe and potentially life-threatening.


Prevention is another vital tenant of the human security paradigm. According to the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, "the international community spent approximately $200 billion on conflict management in seven major interventions in the 1990s… but could have saved $130 billion through a more effective preventive approach."[11]

The human security approach advocates that more efforts and resources need to be invested in:

  • accurate knowledge of early warning - the knowledge of the fragility of the situation and the risks associated with it for one to anticipate a possible disaster
  • understanding of measures for prevention - policy measures available that are capable of preventing the disaster from becoming true, and -
  • willingness to apply those measures - the party involved, especially the states themselves, have a political will to follow the measures[11]

Many efforts have been made to tackle these prerequisites. For example, new types of NGOs, dedicated exclusively to detecting early warning signs of conflict, such as the International Crisis Group, were set up. [12] The UN General Assembly and Security Council in 2000 adopted resolutions recognizing the vital role of all parts of the United Nations system in conflict prevention. [13] The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has also developed a number of innovative internal mechanisms and practices toward preventing conflict in Europe. [11]

Prevention in the area of natural disasters is also crucial. A human security approach would improve disaster preparedness by identifying risk-prone areas and encouraging families to move or develop insurance and coping mechanisms; or by teaching earthquake-resistant building techniques and irrigation and planting techniques that acknowledge fragile environments. Direct investment in disaster preparation, and targets for reducing disaster risk have been called for strongly by those who work in disaster preparedness.[11]

Despite these encouraging moves, there is still a lack of expertise, human resources, and particularly the political will to provide accurate and reliable early-warning information. [12] Many states are still reluctant to accept any internationally endorsed preventive measures. They fear that internationalization of the problem will result in further external “interference” and spark a slippery slope to intervention. [14]


Humanitarian intervention

Main article: Humanitarian intervention

The application of human security is highly relevant within the area of humanitarian intervention, as it focuses on addressing the deep rooted and multi-factorial problems inherent in humanitiarian crises, and offers more long term resolutions. However, the implementation of humanitarian intervention has been debated because of its various problems and failed projects such as the interventions in Srebrenica and Somalia, as well as the consequences of non-intervention, as witnessed in the Rwandan genocide. This debate pushed United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to pose a challenge to the international community to find a new approach to humanitarian intervention that responded to its inherent problems.[15]

In 2001, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) produced the "The Responsibility to protect", a comprehensive report detailing how the “right of humanitarian intervention” could be exercised. It was considered a triumph for the human security approach as it emphasized and gathered much needed attention to some of its main principles:

  • The protection of individual welfare is more important than the state. If the security of individuals is threatened internally by the state or externally by other states, state authority can be overridden.
  • Addressing the root causes of humanitarian crises (e.g. economic, political or social instability) is a more effective way to solve problems and protect the long-term security of individuals.
  • Prevention is the best solution. A collective understanding of the deeper social issues along with a desire to work together is necessary to prevent humanitarian crises, thereby preventing a widespread absence of human security within a population (which may mean investing more in development projects).

Human security has been suggested to be particularly useful in examining the causes of conflicts that explain and justify humanitarian interventions. Additionally, it could also be a paradigm for identifying, prioritizing and resolving large transnational problems. However, human security still faces difficulties concerning the scope of its applicability, as large problems requiring humanitarian intervention usually are built up from an array of socio-political, cultural and economic problems that may be beyond the limitations of humanitarian projects.[16] On the other hand, successful examples of the use of human security principles within interventions can be found. One example is the independence of East Timor in 1999.

East Timor The establishment of East Timorese independence from Indonesia in 2002 can be partially credited to a successful international humanitarian effort and can be seen to vindicate the human security ideal. Prior to independence, East Timor was plagued by massive human rights abuses by pro-Indonesian militias and an insurgency war led by indigenous East Timorese against Indonesian forces. After the resignation of President Suharto and an East Timorese vote for independence, the UN and international community were forced to respond to growing post-referendum violence. These peacekeeping missions eventually safeguarded and moved the country into full independence.[17]

The UN also created the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) peace-keeping force that were present not simply to address the military and traditional security priorities, but also that helped to manage nation-building projects, coordinated humanitarian, rehabilitation and development assistance and organised civil services for the country.[17] Additionally, education and training programs were instituted by UNTAET to strengthen civil society and create an economically viable domestic environment.[18] Thus security was moved beyond just military concerns to encompass health, education and development - all crucial to the security of the individual, but usually ignored by state-centric security analysis.

Anti Personnel Landmines

     State Parties to the Ottawa Treaty
State Parties to the Ottawa Treaty

Arms control is also an important priority for Human Security advocates, closely linked with the Freedom from Fear agenda. An oft-claimed example of this is the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines. The Convention has been described as an illustration of how human security can work in the real world, as a coalition of like-minded powers, along with civil society worked together to eliminate anti-personnel land mines.[19] The process leading up to the formation of the Convention was quite a departure from that of traditional security instruments with massive involvement from non-government groups and civil society - it could almost be seen as NGO's bringing governments to the negotiating table. Viewing mines through the human security lens helped to focus the debate on the impact on individuals, as opposed to the survival of the state; and is possibly a key reason for the Convention's success.

In contrast to traditional security discourses, which see security as focused on protecting state interests, human security argued that mines could not be viable weapons of war due to the massive collateral damage they cause, their indiscriminate nature and persistence after conflict. Whereas traditionally, states would justify these negative impacts of mines due to the advantage they give on the battlefield, under the human security lens, this is untenable as the wide-ranging post-conflict impact on the day-to-day experience of individuals outweighs the military advantage.

Since arms control was often considered impregnable by non-government groups, the Ottawa Convention was something of a watershed for human security, as it demonstrated the efficiacy of civil society pressure even in this reified area of international relations. Groups operated at all levels of civil society, with wide-ranging campaigns which demonstrated commitments from both a grass roots and top-down approach. In Ottawa, the negotiations were moved outside traditional disarmement forums, thus avoiding the entrenched logic of traditional arms control measures.[20]

Critics of human security note the absence of the United States as a signatory to the treaty, considering this as a critical blow to its effectiveness.


Main article: Terrorism

The global threat of terrorism is an important test case for the Human Security agenda Proponents argue that a Human Security approach would alleviate many of the deficiencies in a traditional, state-centered counter terrorist approach.[21] Traditional measures uses international sanctions or military force, which directs against a specific country but not a specific target. Besides human casualties and unnecessary economic dislocation, it also fuels the feelings of unrest that may elevate to conflicts. State-centered measures for internal security, such as detention without trial, body searches and night raids, also threaten to erode the very civil liberties it seeks to protect.[22]

Overall, human security proponents assert that these traditional measures seem to exacerbate the problem. They advocate that governments should focus on designing people-centered interventions to address enduring, underlying problems.

  • Any intervention to address the threat of terrosim must be context specific, acknowledge local culture and historiography. Interventions requires time to demonstrate success, but inclusionary practices will be influential in achieving human security. Concessions can be made including rebuilding of social infrastructure, economic investment, the provision of trauma counselling, inclusion of religious figures and active programs for reconciliation. Participation of a diverse group of actors including policy-makers, private enterprises, public service providers and social entrepreneurs will foster neutrality. We need to listen, actively promote symmetry in dialogue, and be ready to accommodate alternative discourses on the experience of modernity.[23]
  • Human security also emphasizes the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law.[24] In many countries, some counter-terrorist measures violate human rights. Abuses include detention without judicial review; subjecting to torture during the transfer, return and extradition of persons between or within countries. They restrains citizens’ rights or freedoms, and breaches the principle of non-discrimination.[25] Such violations arguably serve to exacerbate the threat of terrorism. Human security argues that a failure to respect human rights in one state may undermine international effort to cooperate to combat terrorism[25], thus more effort should be invested in the effective inclusion of human rights protection.
  • Human security further emphasizes the needs to address physical, psychological and political dimensions. The psychological aspect highlights that the violence of a traditional military response simply begets further violence, provokes and consolidates support for those groups.[26] Instead, sustainable victory in such conflict situations means “to win a battle for the society, for its mindsets and psychologies, to address sources of grievance and anxiety, and to shore up institutions of governance.”[27]

Infectious disease

Main article: Infectious disease

Human Security has long been argued that the "scope" of global security should be expanded to include the threat of infectious disease. The primary goal of human security is the protection of individuals, and infectious diseases (such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, and H5N1) are among the most serious threats to individuals around the world. Especially with the accelerating speed of globalization nowadays, the outbread of one infectious disease in one particular country can be bought to the others quickly by the intensification of international transportation. Given the transnational nature of infectious disease, the traditional unilateral, state-centered policy approaches to these threats by infectious diseases is ineffective over the long run. Therefore, adopting a people-centered Human Security model with its emphasis on prevention, individual empowerment, and treatment strategies delivered by an array of global actors is possibly a pioneering approach to deal with the increasing diversity of contagious diseases.[28]

Human security supports broadening the responsibility for ensuring health security. It is shifting down from the national level to individuals, communities and civil organizations; and upward to international institutions and networks. Hence, modernizing international health rules and regulations, fostering partnerships between public and private sectors as well as enhancing communication and cooperation among states become more important.[28] Take HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa as an example, the relatively low education level of people and insufficient penetration of knowledge about HIV/AIDS hinder people from realising the serious impacts of HIV/AIDS. Low levels of technology, the ineffective management of resources and implementation of corresponding policies by leaders further cause the spread of the disease uncontrollable. Human Security proponents argue that by focusing on health burdens faced by local communities and individuals our policy responses will be able to address the roots of the problem.[28]

In addition, traditional approach of security is more of a rationale for maintaining the current power status of the state, this may sometimes outweigh individual's safety and health concerns. Apart from bewaring of military dangers, the state may also accentuate the protection of reputation as well as ensuring the state's economic development.

For example in China, prevention of international intervention of internal affairs and securing its tourism and economy might be the reasons of Chinese silence in the SARS epidemic in 2003. Its late disclosure of SARS data is one of the main reasons of the outbreak of SARS in other places.[29] Even in the cases of H5N1, China has been suspected of concealing cases of bird-flu in several provinces for many months in 2005.[30]

Sonagachi Project

In Calcutta, India, the Sonagachi Project, cited by UNAIDS as a "best-practice" model of working with women and men in prostitution, has reached more than 30,000 persons working in the commercial sex sector at risk of HIV/AIDS, mainly through peer-based outreach services.[31]

This project demonstrates the collective power of different organizations and the government. It was initiated by the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health (AIIH&PH) in 1992 as the STD/HIV Intervention Programme (SHIP), in consultation with the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) of India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of West Bengal, and WHO. Later donors included NORAD, DfID, and HORIZONS/USAID. It also includes two non-governmental organization as partners, the Health and Eco-Defence Society and the Human Development and Research Institute.[31]

In line with human security principles, the approach of this project is based on the needs of the individuals, which are then catered specifically. Sonagachi's peer educators help to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and men in prostitution through strategies intended to earn their trust, to reduce their social isolation, to increase their social participation, and to confront stigma and discrimination.[31]

Global warming

Main article: Global Warming

Environmental degradation and extreme climates has direct impacts on human security as it means humans are prone to more natural disasters and are faced with decreasing resources. In addition, as the earth’s climate changes more rapidly, an increase in violent conflict is likely[32] due to resource scarcity and an exacerbated North-South disparity. Sources of possible conflict include wide-spread refugee movement, a fall in global food production and reduction in water supply[33]. Water and energy, for example, are essential resources which have led to military and political turmoil worldwide.[34] Altered resource availability causing food shortages results in political disputes, ethnic tensions and civil unrests, which in turn is the basis for regional conflicts that eventually goes global. [35] Furthermore, vulnerability to climate changes can be exacerbated by other non-climate factors such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, unequal access to resources and economic globalization [36], making Human Security all the more susceptible.

A more recent example of how global warming impacts human security is the Darfur conflict. Climate changes have brought the Sahara steadily into the south and droughts are more frequent in this piece of dry land, wiping out food produce. As a result there is less arable land with many people fighting for it. [37] Indeed, a report by CNA corporation describes climate change as a “threat multiplier” in volatile parts of the world. [38]

Nowadays, many still view global warming in terms of the national security framework. These national threats, however, can be easily transposed into a human security context. Peter Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, considers the three biggest threats to national security to be: 1. Food shortages caused by reductions in agricultural production capacities 2. Shortages of safe drinking water due to flooding and droughts 3. Shortages of natural resources due to disruption caused by ice and storms.[39] These threats are, in fact, inextricably linked with the impacts of Global warming on human security as a whole.

The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report [40] points out various environmentally effective policies which different actors in different sectors can take to reduce the impact of global warming and many of which are familiar such as appliance standards and labelling and providing renewable energy incentives. Effective action to combat the issues of global warming and climate change requires changing individuals’ apathy into action to supplement and encourage existing channels for climate change response.


Ambiguity of the Concept

It remains unclear whether the concept of human security can serve as a practical guide. First, like “sustainable development”, the concept lacks a precise definition. Second, it is the supporters of human security that try to keep the term expansive and vague, so that "human security" can keep the coalition of middle power states, development agencies, and NGOs[41].

Questions on the Practice

Further and deeper questions about this approach revolve around how this concept has been and could be practiced; whether or not the "human security" approach is the best tool for addressing global threats and how practical or feasible these measures are. The allocation of available resources alone may preclude addressing all of the varied threats to human security as outlined in the Human Development Report and Millennium Development Goals.[42]

Moreover, it is doubtful if the world has extra time and effort to deal with so many aspects – intra-state conflicts, humanitarian interventions, economic security, environmental security and so on, while its work in alleviating inter-state conflicts is still far from perfect. The concept of human security, especially the Freedom from Want school, seems to be too idealistic.

State Sovereignty

Many concepts under human security, like humanitarian intervention, violate the traditional principle of state sovereignty - a deep-rooted concept. The Group of 77(G77) had expressed its specticism for fear it would lead to violations of state sovereignty[43]. As states still serve as a major playing role in global affairs, the unwillingness of states to give in parts of their state sovereignty will make human security not really effective.

In addition, it is probable that human security would become another effective excuse for powerful states to bully the weak. It is argued that only powerful states, especially those from the West, can determine whose human rights justify departure from the principle of non-intervention - a resemblance of imperialism. Some even accused "the Responsibility to Protect" is merely a euphemism for American hegemony[44].

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