Why Human Security Matters: Rethinking Australian Foreign Policy

Why Human Security Matters: Rethinking Australian Foreign Policy

Why Human Security Matters: Rethinking Australian Foreign Policy

Why Human Security Matters: Rethinking Australian Foreign Policy

Synopsis

Sea level rises pose a greater long term threat to Australia's coastline and major capital cities than a military attack by a foreign power. Citizens are more likely to experience a pandemic virus than a nuclear threat. Food shortages have already occurred as a result of flood or drought, and the tentacles of international trade in drugs, money laundering, and human trafficking already reach far into Australian communities. Why Human Security Matters argues that Australian external relations need to treat the "soft" issues of security as seriously as it treats the "hard" realities of military defense, but also the many complex situations in-between, whether it be civil war, political upheaval, terrorism, or piracy. Australia needs to do this first and foremost in our region, but also in relation to the unresolved regional and global security issues as we confront an increasingly uncertain and turbulent world. With contributions from leading thinkers in foreign policy and strategic studies, this is essential reading for anyone seeking a thoughtful and thoughtprovoking analysis of Australia's place in an age of transition.

Excerpt

Dennis Altman

If one were to ask most Australians whether a threat to our security would be more likely to result from a conventional military attack, a terrorist movement, or a rapid increase in global warming leading to large numbers of displaced persons seeking refuge elsewhere, most would probably select the third alternative. The annual Lowy Institute Poll that reports Australians’ views on a number of security issues has found a number of issues are considered very important, including some that are largely domestic such as protecting Australian jobs and strengthening the economy. Among issues that might be conceived of as included under the rubric of ‘human security’, and that rate highly, are stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, combating international terrorism and ‘improving relations with immediate neighbours in the Pacific’. Tackling climate change has declined as a priority issue over the past few years, and support for foreign aid is reasonably high. Most interesting, perhaps, are the ways in which ‘foreign policy goals’ are conceived of as cutting across the normal divide between ‘foreign’ and ‘domestic’ (Hansen 2011).

In a common sense way, then, most of us understand that our security is dependent on much more than conventional military defence against invasion, and that many of the most vexed issues threatening global and regional stability are those related to ‘economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political security’, the seven themes identified by the United Nations Development . . .

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