Human Security in a Borderless World

By Jennings, Edward D. | Military Review, September-October 2012 | Go to article overview

Human Security in a Borderless World


Jennings, Edward D., Military Review


HUMAN SECURITY IN A BORDERLESS WORLD, Derek S. Reveron and Kathleen A. Mahoney-Norris, Westview Press, Boulder, CO, 2011, 256 pages, $32.00

ALTHOUGH THE STATE has historically exercised primacy in international relations and security matters, the landscape of the dynamic, often ambiguous contemporary operating environment has expanded to include many more nonstate and transnational actors and belligerents. Over the last 20 years, this new "norm" has facilitated a shift in focus of international and national security from classic state-centric security issues to a broader set of issues that center on individuals who have transnational implications.

In Human Security in a Borderless World, authors Derek S. Reveron and Kathleen A. Mahoney-Norris, both experts in the field of national security affairs and national security studies, advocate the concept of human security--a people-centered approach focused on individual human beings and their rights and needs--to examine various security challenges that threaten individuals, societies, and governments from a U.S. policy and security perspective. These challenges include poverty, disease, bad governance (failed or failing states), crime, corruption, and human rights abuses. Historically, the United States has taken a realist approach to national security focusing with other states on hard-power (military, economic) means to protect national interests (sovereignty, territorial integrity, government, institutions, and society).

This approach focused on protecting against the most catastrophic possibilities of nuclear attack and conventional attacks of rogue states. The security environment of the 21st century, complicated by the effects of globalization and economic interdependence, has challenged states to take a more constructivist approach to security focused on using soft power (diplomacy, pursuit of shared values, and human rights) to deal with the most likely threats posed by nonstate actors and transnational challenges. This timely and thought-provoking book's premise is that the only effective way the United States can contend with security concerns is to move beyond the traditional state-centered approach to national security to a broader human-security approach. …

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