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Towards a Practical Human Security Agenda

31 December, 2006



Table of Contents

1. The Origins and Diffusion of the Human Security Concept

2. Two Visions of Human Security

3. The Provision of Security and Public Order

4. The Subordination of Armed Forces to Civil Authority

5. The Dynamic between Human and State Security

6. A Concrete Agenda for Political Action

7. Conclusion


The concept of “human security,” which today is widely used by a wide range ofgovernments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations(NGOs), is only the latest in a long series of attempts to broaden traditionalconceptions of security. These include such ideas as global security, societalsecurity, common security, comprehensive security and cooperative security.Aside from being the most recent attempt to reformulate or redefine the conceptof security, the human security approach is significant for two reasons. First,because unlike most other previous reformulations, it stands in tension, orpotentially even conflict, with the state-centric conception of security that hasdominated our thinking. Second, it is important because policy-makers haveadopted the discourse of human security, and have used it to generate importantand interesting foreign and security policy initiatives. But a full understanding ofthe conceptual and practical implications of human security – which also helps toexplain its utility and attractiveness – must unpack the complex relationshipbetween human security and state security, and in particular the rights andresponsibilities of states in meeting the security needs of their citizens.