Human Security: Issues for Concern

The concept of human security is translated quite differently in different societies and at different times according to the level of development, democratic orientation, ethics, social attitudes toward gender, and differences in ethnic group, opinions, and beliefs. It is related to basic needs and basic human rights, the fulfilment of these needs, and the respect for these rights.

Central to the concept of human security is the idea of equilibrium/balance between needs and resources, rights and duties, and order and tolerance.

A lack of balance leads to problems in different areas:

  • unbalanced economic globalization leads to economic crisis and poverty
  • unbalanced use of natural resources results in destruction of the
  • environment, pollution and famine
  • unbalanced provision of basic health services results in the spread of pandemics
  • unbalanced security measures, coupled with declining civic responsibility, results
  • in urban violence and, ultimately, terrorism
The question of human security has received growing attention from governments and intergovernmental forums in recent years. In the last decade the underlying concept of security has been changing from that of preserving the nation through military, political and diplomatic measures, to one of including individual human elements in the equation. This broadened concept encompasses a state of well-being in which an individual or group has the assurance of protection from physical and mental harm, freedom from fear and anxiety, freedom from want, and the right to live life with dignity. Among the changes which have had an impact on the security of populations are:
  • the end of the Cold War and its consequences for countries where the two blocks were opposed
  • globalization of the economy and communications
  • increasing environmental deterioration due to exploitation of natural resources and the dysfunctioning of some technologies e.g. nuclear and chemical plants
  • an increase in criminal activities due to easier communications of networks for drug dealing, money laundering, and trafficking of women and young children
  • an increase in terrorism.

Human security

  • concerns all people regardless of age, gender or ethnic group
  • includes protection of individuals and communities from all forms of violence - military, civil and criminal
  • addresses issues of economics, health and the proper use and care of natural and developed environments
  • requires an end to the violation of human rights.

Women should have a stake and play an important role in obtaining and safegarding human security in the home, in the community and at the national level. They are the guardians of the "human face of globalization." They seek the resolution of conflicts and reject violence, often ensure food security, and are the caretakers of ethical and cultural values.

Source: International Federation of University Women (IFUW)

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Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org