Human Security: Concepts and Implications with an Application to Post-Intervention Challenges in Afghanistan
Is the concept of “human security”, which has been discussed and debated in international organizations and academic circles since 1994, simply “hot air”, as its critics claim? Or does it provide a suitable framework for proposing multisectoral, integrated solutions in a world that is increasingly interconnected? While there is no consensus as to the exact definition of the term, human security goes beyond traditional notions of security to focus on such issues as development and respect for human rights. To some the concept is attractive, but analytically weak since it introduces too many variables that are not necessarily linked together. To others, human security concerns should be limited to situations marked by the threat or outbreak of violence. For those who favour a broad definition (as does this author), the human security agenda provides the means to assess the root causes of conflict (whether intra-state or inter-state), to propose adequate policies for resolving crises, and to provide the means for sustainable peace-building. In so doing human security policies focus on social and economic issues as they affect the individual, arguing that security (in the narrow sense of the term) is dependent on a wide-ranging network of factors that require a comprehensive approach to be effective. The paper introduces the various documents on the subject produced by international organizations, takes up the problem of the relation between academic research and policy-making, and points to a certain number of cases in which nations or regional organizations have included human security as a foreign policy option. Throughout the paper reference is made to the case of Afghanistan that is treated in the study reproduced in annex.