Dimensions of Human Security

By Pandey, Deepak Kumar | Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences, December 2010 | Go to article overview

Dimensions of Human Security


Pandey, Deepak Kumar, Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences


To be secure is to be safe from harm. However, no one is or can be perfectly secure. Yet the need to feel secure is a core human value and a prerequisite for being able to live a decent life. Right from the primordial stages of state of nature to the present civilised life; this search has not been completed. Institutions and structures developed for the sake of security often lead to a paradoxical situation wherein instead of protecting the life and security of its stakeholders, they tend to violate it and thus cause further insecurity and distrust. The question arises then, what transpires when the nation can no longer satisfy the fundamental needs of security and survival of individual. What would be the option before individuals, when respective state fail to provide the necessary conditions for human life and existence?

The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our ways of thinking. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive (Albert Einstein: 1964). Albert Einstein, while showing his concerns about human survival and security, also reveals that merely weapons and bombs with advanced technologies are not sufficient for human security; they are rather a grievous threat to the survival of human beings. Naturally the mankind needs a new manner of thinking about the security needs both from the traditional and non-traditional threats.

To be secure is to be safe from harm. However, no one is or can be perfectly secure. Yet, the need to feel secure is a core human value and a prerequisite for being able to live a decent life. Right from the primordial stages of state of nature to the present day civilised life; this search has not been completed. Institutions and structures developed for the security sake often lead to a paradoxical situation wherein instead of protecting the life and security of its stakeholders they tend to violate it and thus cause further insecurity and distrust. The question arises then, what transpires when the nation can no longer satisfy the fundamental needs of security and survival of individual. What would be the option before individuals, when respective institutions such as the state fail to provide the necessary conditions for human life and existence?

This dilemma may be resolved by employing the concept of human security which brings the issues of people's security at the centre stage. In classical formulation, security is about how states use force to manage threats to their territorial integrity, their autonomy and their domestic political order, primarily from other states. But human security is a kind of barometer which ascertains how safe and free are we as individuals? It is much more expanded notion of security which broadens the instruments and sources of threat.

From State to People's Security

With the end of Second World War, scholars and policy makers began to move away from the traditional state-centric approach to a more expansive understanding of the concept of security. A more radical perspective suggests that security should be conceived in such a way as to embrace all of humanity not just states and should focus on sources of harm other than just military threats to states (Griffith and Callaghan, 2004:289-90). This radical approach reflects a holistic concern with human life and dignity. The idea of human security invites us to focus on the individual's need to be safe from hunger, disease and repression, as well as protected against events likely to undermine the normal pattern of everyday existence. It implies a need for an equitable and just society, at the local and global level both. Human security is concerned with reducing and when possible-removing the insecurities that plague human lives. It is different with the notion of state security, which has only an indirect connection with the security of the human beings who live in these states, and which concentrates mainly on the peripheral security safeguarding the integrity of the state. …

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