The concept of human security has given rise to a range of responses and attracted a lot of attention. It has connected the idea of security with that of human development. The very notion of human security has become a part of a broader political discourse. Typically speaking, the concept represents a departure from traditional security studies, which focus on the security of the state. The subjects of the human security approach are individuals, and its end goal is the protection of people from traditional (i.e. military) and non-traditional threats such as poverty and disease.
The advocates of human security have generally been less focused on meta-theoretical debates about the nature of security and have instead focused on influencing policy to take into account the security of individuals in a more practical sense. The concept of Human Security is often believed to have its basis in the realm of policy and the 1994 UNDP Report is believed to be the key official statement of the concept. The report sought to shift the focus from inter-state conflict to that of issues related to development.
Beyond territorial and military concerns, the Report argued that human security is fundamentally concerned with human life and dignity. For analytical purposes, UNDP classified its four main characteristics as: 1) it is universal, 2) its components are interdependent, 3) it is best ensured through prevention, 4) and it is people-centred.
For UNDP, human security meant safety from chronic threats such as hunger, disease, and repression, and it meant protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life. Understood in these terms, it has also been embodied in the policy axiom of “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”. While acknowledging the varying intensity of possible threats to human welfare, UNDP grouped these threats in seven non-exhaustive and nonexclusive security categories: –
1) community- protection of traditional culture of ethnic groups
2) economic- freedom from poverty
3) environmental- protection from factors such as pollution and degradation
4) food security- i.e. access to food
5) health- access to healthcare
6) personal- physical safety from the use of violence
7) and political- protection of civil liberties and freedom of political expression
One of the key debates in regarding the definition of Human Security. Primarily these are narrow human security and broad human security. The narrow definition emphasizes on ‘freedom from fear’ i.e. essentially conflict prevention and resolution. On the other hand, the broad definition emphasizes on ‘freedom from fear’ and ‘freedom from want’ i.e. conflict prevention and resolution as well as broader social issues such as health and education.
For many scholars operating within the ambit of critical security studies, the emerging practices associated with human security and development are a source of both critical opportunity and concern. Some say that what usually happens is that the policies and practices, in the name of human security, often fail to fulfill its progressive potential. Thus, Human Security is one of the most challenging contemporary ideas that critical approaches to Security are trying to come to terms with. The concept of Human Security provides a continuing source of debate.