The Human Security Approach Would Contribute to Building Sustainable Peace for States and for the Global Level

Social IssuesLifestyle

  • Author Bivash Chandra Panday
  • Published February 11, 2022
  • Word count 3,028

The fundamental components of the human security approach are the protection of individuals against threats to life, health, livelihood, personal safety, and human dignity. The concept of human security is people-centered and it transmits attention of security from the state level to individuals also empowers people and societies as a means of security. According to numerous researches, the human security approach has referent objects of people, communities, and state which ensure the security of human rights/development, protection of individual security including the freedom to make choice through freedom from fear and want, and dignity. Whereas traditional state security models including realism, neo-realism, liberation failed to meet all requirements to secure individuals, and the international community because of their limited referent objects, values, perception of threat, and practical instrument to protect. So, there are a huge number of debates to prioritization of security approach to building sustainable peace for local and international communities. To take several studies in point on inclusive human security, the focus on the military in the state security the policy does not offer the best strategy to build a sense of sustainable peace for the universal human community but rather gives importance to the military which insists on power mobilization. In other words, traditional ideas concerning security in a global context parallel to threats to the state and military defense, but these ideas are emergent to new characterizations of threats to include education, food, conflict, disease, environmental change, economic crisis, and mental health (United Nations, 2013). As Alkire (2003) mentioned that “Human security is people-centered, not threat-centered. Human security is a condition that results from an effective political, economic, social, cultural, and natural environment, and not from executing a set of administrative procedures (p. 3)”. In practice, work inspired by the human security approach has been undertaken both at the policy level and at the level of the community, by NGOs, by UN agencies, by academics, and by other development institutions.

The objectives of the human security approach are to protect the vital core of people’s lives from critical and pervasive threats. In fact, when we ponder of human insecurity, it may automatically be associated with the infinite domains of security based on individual’s perspectives and vital cores however, as per the UNDP report 1994, typically human security is associated with seven domains (i.e., economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political). In this hypothesis, it will be revealed the main objectives to accomplish the fundamental elements of human security such as, people-centered by emphasizing people are to be the ultimate ends but not means, perspectives are multidimensional by addressing people's dignity as well as their material and physical concerns and consider poverty and inequality as the root causes of individual vulnerability. Throughout my analysis, I have observed that no other aspect of the security model is as vital as human security from violence and fear from freedom as such, sustainable peace repose on the teamwork of international communities and the people-centered focus of human security instead of state-focused security. Through examining traditional and human security-oriented approaches to various threats, I have strong-minded that human security is an essential component of the policy that seeks to promote sustainable peace and lets people live in freedom from violence. As such, I believe that the human security approach would measurably contribute to building a more sustainable peace because of its fundamental characteristics such as universal, people-centered, interdependent, and early prevention. Moreover, as human security is a person-centered approach that is inclusive and more significantly, flexible which also addressing the root causes of humanitarian emergencies (economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community, and political) is a more functioning way to resolve issues and protect the long-term security of individuals. As Tadjbakhsh and Chenoy (2007) state that "human security has a long history and derives its strength from many ideas and theories across disciplines. It can develop as a concept only by maintaining and advancing this plurality (p. 93)”. In the succeeding paper, analyzing several types of research done by numerous experts in the respective field, it will be revealed that how a human security approach would be a realistic option for the state and for the international organization to build more sustainable peace for the global community.

It has been established that human security, human rights and human development are interconnected which recognizes the conditions that threaten survival and dignity, such as poverty, environmental degradation, etc. As such, human security becomes a prerequisite of human development and a guarantee for its sustainability. Also, human development is a necessary pre-condition of human security because sources of insecurity stem from lack of development. As Tadjbakhsh and Chenoy (2007) state that “if human development is about well-being, human security concentrates on the security of development gains. This enhanced concept of human security brings a number of new elements within the human development debate” (p. 105). The authors argued that “the denial of fundamental human rights [is] the main reason for human insecurity (p. 123)”. The human security approach would be helpful to enhance the development discourse in a positive means, as such, if states increase individual security, development initiatives will be able to look beyond basic human needs such as food, education, environment, etc. and better prepare for future endeavors that may threaten the people. According to Hampson et. al, “after tracing the distinct roots of human security – in human rights, in sustainable development, and in the safety of the peoples – they argue that human security in all instances is regarded as an “underprovided public good (Alkire, 2003, p.16)”. Besides, Futamura et. al (2010) suggested that “human security-based initiatives expand the idea of peacebuilding beyond simply containing conflict and introducing the democratic policy in order to focus on development, welfare and local engagement (p.1)”. Several studies have proved that efforts in human security and development work on helping people become more self-sufficient and capable, through work such as literacy, arts, and practical education programs. A successful example of the human security approach to building sustainable peace can be found in the following case study which is based on lessons from the joint program conducted by the UN agencies including UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, and UNODC on “Conflict prevention, development of agreements and peacebuilding for internally displaced persons in Chiapas, Mexico”. As per the SDGF report (02 Oct 2009 - 28 Feb 2013), in 1994 clash between the Mexican State and the Zapatista resulted in tens of thousands of people being driven off their land and they had gone through lots of basic problems to survive including poverty, medical and education services. They also had been provoked from social protection as well as access to the justice system. In fact, throughout this UN joint program, the majority of the displaced persons from the north of Chiapas were directly benefited in various manners including legal systems, educations, health, addiction, and infrastructures. To access to fair justice system there was a promotional activity for the Law on Internal Displacement in 5 municipalities and 25 communities. Also, under this joint program, they arranged practical training for both the state administrations and the law enforcement agencies to focus on impartial enforcement and the pursuit of justice. To promote a stable peace, an innovative educational program including the creation of a diploma in the culture of peace and multiculturalism has been conducted based on art, sports, activities at schools and educational institutions for the displaced and helpless people in more than 25 localities of the intervention in the Ocosingo, Sabanilla, Tila, Salto de Agua, and Tumbala municipalities. In addition, as part of the joint project by the Centre for Training and Advice in Environment and in Health Rights, in the Salto de Agua municipality, and Foro A.C. in the Tila municipality-provided technical supports to build 1546 infrastructure projects for the homeless people.

According to the SDGF report (02 Oct 2009 - 28 Feb 2013), there were also some significant progress, achievement, and recognition of this UN joint program as the following:

The joint program made significant progress in achieving changes in attitude and in the acquisition of technical skills from public ministries, social advocates, experts, and state and municipal police who have jurisdiction and cover a total population of 1,806,635 inhabitants (p. 4)”. The sustainability of actions in the educational sector is highly likely to have a permanent effect (in terms of knowledge and awareness of teachers) over time. Regular courses on the prevention of drug use, crime, the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, and gender violence were run. More than 6,000 people benefitted from these courses. Alongside this, workshops were organized which involved 360 adolescents: two focused on the prevention of addiction, and four on the prevention of gender-based violence. 35 teachers (Ch’ol and Tzeltalt) from the Ocosingo, Tila, and Salto de Agua regions participated in delivering the Diploma in Culture of Peace and Multiculturalism initiative included the participation that was achieved with the community assemblies contributed to social cohesion (p. 6). A successful example of institutionalizing a programme was the accreditation of the Diploma in Interculturality and Culture of Peace, promoted by UNESCO in collaboration with the Ibero-American University, through the Directorate General of Continuing Education for Teachers in Service of the Secretariat of Public Education, which was endorsed as a teaching career. To strengthen the sustainability of the Law for Prevention and Assistance of the Internally Displaced in Chiapas, the programme contained provisions that would counteract any potential withdrawal of the state’s executive authority, and ensure that it was ultimately established as legislation (p. 9).

The human security approach would also improve proactive strategies to building sustainable peace instead of simply responding to resolve issues on an interim basis. I believe that the human security approach would be a valuable method to building a more sustainable peace because it promotes the pre-reflection, re-evaluation, and the option to re-direct policy to address ever-evolving security needs for people. As Howard-Hassmann (2012) suggested that "human security should focus on the vital core of protecting "all human lives from critical and pervasive threats" that are not already protected by, or adequately protected by, the existing human rights regime" (p. 108). Likewise, Futamara et al. (2010) revealed that “a human security approach to peacebuilding can offer some solutions to these problems and also suggests ways to strengthen the legitimacy of peacebuilding activities, make them more oriented around local needs and conditions, and therefore strengthen local buy-in and support while restoring dignity to post-crisis societies (p. 4)”. As the second illustration, I would like to reveal another successful instance of the human security model which can be seen in the UN Human Security – A New Response to Complex Threats (2013) video that outlines the Northern Uganda Early Recovery Program (NUERP). This video was presented on the occasion of the High-Level Event on Human Security that took place on 8 May 2013 at the UN Headquarters. They attribute the success of the NUERP program to being provided access to numerous UN agencies that supply a variety of supporting activities food, health, education that are all complementary and focused on the re-building of a self-sustainable community following the LRA (The Lord's Resistance Army) war. In 2009 the UN Trust Fund for Human Security started a major programme in Northern Uganda under NUERP to help communities trapped in a conflict that claimed thousands of lives and displaced more than 1 million people. There were infrastructure activities to resettling the people who were affected by the LRA war under World Health Organization. Also, under the Village Savings program all community members were able to pay their medical bills, children’s school fees, start a retail business, make sanitation in every homestead. As Richard Saweva Mubiri, Head of Office, Soroti-World Food Program revealed that NUERP really touched the lives of the people. As per practical evidence and the results of NUERP activities, it’s clearly showed the protection of the vital core by the international community at work in the Northern Uganda Early Recovery Programme and also, projects have drawn on the combined expertise of the United Nations system allowing united Nations implementing organizations to tackle threats that affect people in all regions of the world. The efforts of the international community have successfully created a program that protects the survival, livelihoods, and basic decency of Ugandans and reduces the conditions in which tension and conflict can arise. Since 1999 the UN Trust Fund for Human Security has supported over 200 projects in more than 80 countries. Based on the success of Northern Uganda Early Recovery Program (NUERP), the human security approach is applicable to all situations where people face multiple threats.

As a universal component, human security focuses on guaranteeing human well-being by pursuing dignity and freedoms which is also considered as a holistic approach that restores the balance between civil/political and social/economic rights to building sustainable peace for the state and the international community. According to Berns (2014) “there can be no peace without community engagement (p. 15)”. Also, Futamara et al. (2010) argued that “the human security approach is not only centered on people as objects of interventions, including of peacebuilding or development. It provides an “agency” to individuals as subjects, as referents of security and, ultimately, as providers of security (p. 4)”. Likewise, Paris (2001) highlights, “Human security has successfully united a diverse coalition of states, international agencies, and NGOs. Broad objectives are a strength of the human security perspective and allow a variety of actors to unite and work together towards common objectives (p. 102)”. Actually, the human security approach emphasizes the mutual importance of international alternative government agencies, which can be introduced to further influence policy to safeguard human security on a global scale. As the Hague Institute for Global Justice and the Stimson Center (2015) stated that “International communities such as the United Nation, African Union, South American Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the European Union, and the Union of South American Nations hold the key to many evolving solutions to current global challenges (p. 56)”. In practice, Canada, Norway, and Japan have incorporated human security into their foreign policy frameworks. According to ICISS report (2001), “Canada has taken human security as the paradigm for its foreign policy and has taken a leadership role in operationalizing it. The human security agenda has offered a way for Canada to contribute a leading voice on the world stage”. One of the strengths of utilizing a human security perspective as it allows for a more inclusive approach in achieving freedom from violence in the lives of people all over the world. An example of the strength of the collaborative nature of a human security approach in relation to physical security is in addressing the threat posed by civil unrest. According to the report of the Institute for Economics and Peace (2020), Internationally, the number of strikes, anti-government protests, and riots increased by 244% between 2011 and 2019. A further increase in this number is likely to occur as a result of the economic recessions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. By using the lens of human security, it is possible to analyze both why civil conflict happens and how the state and the international community should take an action to prevent it from occurring.

In conclusion, based on the flexible nature of the human security approach and a wide range of diverse case studies have demonstrated the strength of the human security approach to building sustainable peace for the states and international organizations such as the Northern Uganda Early Recovery Program (NUERP) participated by the UN Trust Fund for Human Security, WHO and World Food Program directly helped to reduce the conditions in which tension and conflict can arise and at the same time, enhanced the lives of the people for long-term and created a sustainable environment that protects the survival, livelihoods, and basic decency of Ugandans. Similarly, another joint program on “Conflict prevention, development of agreements and peacebuilding for internally displaced persons in Chiapas” in Mexico conducted by UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, and UNODC has demonstrated the sustainability of actions in the educational sector is vastly expected to have an enduring effect, particularly on awareness for teachers/educators by delivering the Diploma in Culture of Peace and Multiculturalism initiative. Soon after, based on the huge success of the educational program that was ultimately established as the state legislation. Finally, based on enormous success and legitimate endorsement of the above-mentioned case studies, it has been recognized that the human security approach would be a realistic option for the states and for the international organizations to build more sustainable peace for the global community.


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Bivash Panday is the founder President of the “Universal Humanity Foundation (UHF), Canada. He is the innovator of “Pain2Peace Method”– a scientific Inner-peace program incorporated with Meditation, Mindfulness, and Indian ancient Breathing Techniques (Pranayama*) to improve overall well-being including sustainable mental peace and moral/social competence.

Currently, Bivash is a post-graduate research student of MA in Human Security and Peacebuilding at Royal Roads University, BC, Canada.

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