Human Security: The apex of all development
Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed, Former Deputy General and Commandant, Ansar VDP Academy : Security can be examined at different levels and dimensions like individual, societal, national, international and global. When the entire gamut of different dimension of security is considered, we may call it comprehensive security. One may think 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 traditional. It might even turn out to be a vital national interest which would merit the employment of military forces or even total war. Bangladesh’s security concerns are multi dimensional 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. Human security holds that a people-centered view of security is necessary for national 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 Program’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 recognizing that these 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 remain 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 wants’ 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. 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 is 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 victimized 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. 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 honor killing, burning brides and widows, child marriage are still in existence because of women’s vulnerability in economic independence and security.