The end of the Cold War has forced us to rethink state security. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the relationship with human well-being. Public authorities now are starting to acknowledge that sustained economic development, human rights and fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, good governance, sustainable development, and social equity are as important to global peace as arms control and disarmament (Axworthy 1997:184). With the 'clear and present dangers' of the Cold War no longer possessing its former rhetorical power, the national interest is no longer as effective in justifying actions that are driven by Machiavellian and Hobbesian imperatives. While one cannot deny that there may have been other reasons than the high politics of humanitarianism, missions to the former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Somalia, and East Timor do reflect a profound change in the security outlook for many states of the world. Security is beginning to be reconceptualized both above the state as international security and below as human security. Many medium-sized countries like Canada, Norway, The Netherlands, Denmark, and Switzerland are attempting to meet these challenges by being at the forefront of the human security movement. A people-centred conception of security provides the best opportunity for the generation of a new kind of public good.
This chapter will argue that if public goods theory is going to be coherent, it needs to be rethought in a political, rather than economic, framework that stresses demands by citizens/groups and supply by political institutions. At the same time, it will be demonstrated that viewing public goods in this manner will have fundamental consequences for how we understand human security.
Although a strong case for human security as a public good is presented, it still must be acknowledged that many obstacles exist in the way of broadening the security agenda to encompass an expanded and meaningful notion of human rights. The next section will outline some of these challenges: including who should provide the bulk of the resources and services needed if human security is to become a global reality in the post-Washington consensus era, overcoming the problems of cooperation in the international arena, the potential reordering of the international system, globalization, and establishing new international norms.