Academic journal article Refuge

Human Security and Refugee Protection after September 11: A Reassessment

Academic journal article Refuge

Human Security and Refugee Protection after September 11: A Reassessment

Article excerpt


In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the security environment in the Western world has changed considerably. Threat perception and risk management are being reassessed, and the word "security "has acquired an added relevance in the political agenda. This paper addresses a particular derivation of the concept of security, which is human security, from the perspective of refugee protection and human rights of the individual, assessing the advantages and disadvantages, together with the possible uses and misuses of the notion in the post-September 11 context. In particular, it deals with the question of what has changed that could demand greater attention in crafting a human security regime, which may in specific regions be inclusive of some but exclusive of others. It concludes by cautioning against a drift of the concept towards incorporating too many different elements that may be used perversely and against the interests of refugees.


A la suite des attentats du 11 septembre, l'environnement en matiere de securite a considerablement change daps le monde occidental. Liz perception des menaces et la gestion du risque oat acquis une nouvelle pertinence daps l'agenda politique. Cet article examine un aspect particulier de la notion de securite, ca-d. la securite humaine, du point de vue de la protection des refugees et des droits de la personae de chaque individu. Il tente den evaluer les avantages et les inconvenients, aussi bier que les usages et abus possibles daps le contexte de l'apres 11 septembre. Plus specifiquement, il lance une flexion sur la question de savoir ce qui a change daps ce nouvel univers qui demanderait plus d'attention afin qu'on puissefKonner un regime de security humaine qui, daps certaines regions, inclurait certains groupes et en exclurait d'autres. L'article conclut avec une raise en garde contre une derive de la notion pour inclure trop d'elements disparates qui pourraient etre utilises dune maniere perverse et con tre les in terets des refugees.

Since the end of the Cold War, and in particular in the mid-1990s, after a succession of violent crises that resulted in the death of thousands of civilians, the concept of human security came to light with a strong moral stance and a project of responsabilization of the international community for the fate of the victims of conflicts, as well as for a host of other problems that degraded the human condition. Already in the 1970s there were significant attempts to create better standards of living worldwide through the project of the New International Economic Order (NIEO), but these were eventually replaced in the 1980s by neo-liberal economics. (1) The concept of human security emerged in the 1990s as a renewed attempt to increase the well-being of the individual at all levels, taking the emphasis away from the traditional defence-oriented, statist view of security.

The post-September 11 environment raises new challenges in the international system, regarding not only the traditional concept of security, but also the construction of the concept of human security. This article is interested in understanding how the concept of human security shapes the panorama of refugee protection and what has changed in this new world that could call for greater attention in crafting a human security regime. It is argued that September 11 emphasized a number of existing ambivalences and a mixture of antagonistic forces of closure and openness: a combination of the post-Cold War trend of universalism and world politics with a renewed state-centrism on the one hand, and an apparent increasing incompatibility between human rights and internal security on the other hand. (2)

The resurgence of the notion of "internal security" reinforces its already problematic relation with "human security." The random development of the latter concept may leave it open to different interpretations, which derive too much from the intended goals of most of its promoters. …

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