Americans would probably define "human security" as a summation of
the founding principles set forth in the Declaration of
these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of
Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted
among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the
Founding Fathers understood that there will be no life, liberty, or
pursuit of one's dreams without security. It is security that
enables us to enjoy every other right enumerated and implied in our
founding documents and the charters of organizations like the
United Nations that we helped create. These documents
recognize that the first responsibility of the nation-state is to
provide that security. Hence, Article 1 of the U.N. Charter lists
as its first purpose "To maintain international peace and
security." This is followed by purposes that enumerate
"respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination
of peoples" and "promoting and encouraging respect for human rights
and for fundamental freedoms for all."1
many non-Americans have come to view "human security" quite
differently. Over the years, various groups have stretched the
definition of "security" to mean supranational entities intervening
ostensibly to protect individuals anywhere and the definition of
"rights" to include everything from a right to life to a right to
development and resources.The
well-developed entry on Wikipedia, the popular online "free
encyclopedia," demonstrates how far this concept has come.
the United Nations is pursuing a broad "human security" agenda that
proponents claim is merely complementing national security. In
reality, they aim to shift the focus of U.N. and other
international activities away from state relations to
protecting groups of people based on a plethora of needs and
wants. As U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan puts it:
also broaden our view of what is meant by peace and security. Peace
means much more than the absence of war. Human security can no
longer be understood in purely military terms. Rather, it must
encompass economic development, social justice, environmental
protection, democratization, disarmament, and respect for
human rights and the rule of law.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at
Princeton University, explains, the "principal conclusion" of the
Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges,
and Change is that:
security comprises both state security and human security. Human
security, in turn, is a function above all of the quality and
capacity of domestic governments across the globe.
International-security problems are irretrievably intertwined
with domestic political, economic, and social problems.
impetus for these statements was the failure of the U.N.
Security Council to keep the United States from enforcing the U.N.
resolutions on Iraq, which drew great attention to U.N.
failures in the Middle East, Rwanda, Sudan, and the Balkans.
Proponents of human security no longer believe that nation-states
are capable of securing "freedom from want" and "freedom from fear"
for individual peoples. They advocate an international system
that makes paramount the determination of the "general will"
and "common good" by bureaucrats and elites.
This is a
dramatic and fundamental distortion of the right to be secure. The
effort to "broaden our view of what is meant by peace and security"
obscures and runs counter to the long-standing right of
nation-states to secure their own territories and populations from
external threats-a principle upon which international legal
traditions and treaty organizations such as the U.N. are based.
The human security agenda has the potential to undermine not only
the nation-state model on which the U.N. was founded, but also the
principles of sovereignty, accountability, and national security
that the United States holds as fundamental.
Americans are already skeptical about the ability of the U.N. to
advance global security and peace.
Commonly cited reasons are the U.N.'s inability to secure peace in
the Middle East, to keep Iran and North Korea from developing
nuclear weapons, and to prevent internal fraud and abuse such as
the Oil-for-Food scandal and sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers.
Their confidence has been deeply shaken by a number of highly
critical reports that confirm the U.N.'s record of
ineffectiveness and a politicized U.N. agenda that promotes
failed social and economic policies.
it is understandable that Americans question the U.N.'s seemingly
constant pursuit of binding documents on themes that purportedly
would advance security or development but in actuality would
restrain U.S. power and leadership and undermine America's
democratic and free-market practices.
security agenda is one such effort that may well prove inimical to
U.S. interests, and some observers believe that the goal could be a
declaration on human security in 2006 and a convention in
2007. One indication of this is that the U.N. has made "human
security" the theme of a three-day conference for nongovernmental
organizations preceding the opening of the U.N. General
Assembly in September 2006. The U.N. Department of Public
Information expects over 2,500 civil society "partners" to attend
its three-day conference on "Unfinished Business: Effective
Partnerships for Human Security and Sustainable Development."
incumbent upon Congress, the Administration, and federal
courts to be vigilant. They should resist language in international
declarations, resolutions, and agreements that embraces this
faulty understanding of security. Rather, they should clarify
what is meant by any references to security and insist on using the
term "national security" wherever sovereignty is at stake. In
legislative enactments, agency regulations, and case
decisions, they should rely exclusively on human rights
instruments that have been officially adopted and ratified by
the United States.
to its proponents, human security involves protecting "the dignity
and worth of the human person."
To the extent that poverty, famine, conflict, pandemics, and
lack of access to resources pose an affront to individuals' dignity
and worth, they believe these problems must be addressed in
supranational ways, since nation-states, in their view, are
failing to do so.
definition of human security in the 2003 report of the U.N.
Commission on Human Security shows the breadth of this
security means protecting vital freedoms. It means protecting
people from critical and pervasive threats and situations, building
on their strengths and aspirations. It also means creating systems
that give people the building blocks of survival, dignity and
livelihood. To do this, it offers two general strategies:
protection and empowerment. Protection shields people from dangers.
Empowerment enables people to develop their potential and become
full participants in decision-making.
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
uses an expanded definition:
security means] the protection of "the vital core of all human
lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and
fulfillment."… It means creating political, social,
environmental, economic, military and cultural systems
that, when combined, give people the building blocks for survival,
livelihood and dignity.
security is far more than the absence of violent conflict. It
encompasses human rights, good governance and access to economic
opportunity, education and health care. It is a concept that
comprehensively addresses both "freedom from fear" and "freedom
this expansive definition, human security covers needs that are
traditionally the responsibility of families, civil society,
and local, state, and national governments. Specifically, as one
1994 U.N. document explains, the definition of human security
security, such as ensuring individuals a minimum
security, such as guaranteeing access to food;
security, such as guaranteeing protection from disease and
security, such as protecting people from short-term and
long-term natural and man-made disasters;
security, such as protecting people from any form and perpetration
security, such as protecting people from the loss of traditions and
values and from secular and ethnic violence; and
security, such as ensuring individuals' basic human rights.
purpose of such a broad-brush agenda is not the protection of human
rights, but rather the promotion of social entitlements through an
internationally protected welfare system.
The Commission on Human Security even acknowledged the
immensity of the task: "To attain the goals of human security, the
Commission proposes a framework based on the protection and
empowerment of people"-a bottom-up approach that empowers
individuals and communities to "act on their own behalf" in
addition to the traditional top-down approach by which states have
the primary role of protection from "critical and
of this broad agenda abound on U.N. Web sites. The United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
describes its human security focus this way:
rebuilding of security, which is now human rather than inter-State,
imposes new directions for reflection and action. It
presupposes first of all a sociological conception of
security, which must be perceived in its social and cultural
environment. It also implies an act of political
engineering, the peacemaker being vested with the role of
rebuilder of battered political communities but also with that
of designing new political communities dispensing with those
features of the nation-State which make for war: working for peace
means promoting regional integration, opening up political
communities to globalization and human flows, and establishing new
forms of democratic deliberation that go beyond the national
setting. It must be responsible before being sovereign,
with everybody accountable for the failings in the social
contract of the other and thus being led to act in a
subsidiary way with the other. Lastly, it is bound to be
interactive since States operate in interaction with an
international public space made up of non-State actors increasingly
involved in international life, monitoring and watching over
the use of power by States, and helping to define the conditions of
war and of peace (nongovernmental organizations, media,
transnational networks, etc.).
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) describes human security
as "an effort to re-conceptualize security in a fundamental
manner. It is primarily an analytical tool that focuses on
ensuring security for the individual, not the state."
UNDP also acknowledges on its Web site that it is the largest
recipient agency of funds from the U.N. Trust Fund for Human
1999 and June 2005, UNDP received approximately $55 million for 28
projects which consisted of 36% of the overall allocation of
has been enabling UNDP to conceptualize and operationalize the
notion of Human Security initially suggested in the Human
Development Report 1994. UNDP's operation and partnership building
with the people-centred approaches and principles is considered as
an integral part of Sustainable Human
supported by UNTFHS overlaps [sic] UNDP's five focus areas;
Democratic Governance, Poverty Reduction, Crisis Prevention
and Recovery, Energy and Environment, HIV/AIDS, and has been
helping efforts to achieve the Millennium Development
has strengthened UNDP's coordination and partnerships with other UN
agencies, and civil society and other partners, which promotes
effective use of UN and international aid resources.
In a May
2006 report, UNDP analyzed its various National Human
Development Reports and "the notion of human security as a useful
tool of analysis, explanation and policy generation." It
recommended using human security as an "operational
approach to people-centred security that is able to identify
priorities and produce important conclusions for national and
Environmental Program (UNEP) refers to UNDP's work in explaining
its own human security agenda:
the UN Human Development Report introduced the concept of
human security, predicating it on the dual notion of, on the
one hand, safety from chronic threats of hunger, disease and
repression and, on the other hand, protection from sudden and
hurtful disruptions in daily life. Environmental insecurity became
shorthand for the dimension of human insecurity induced
by the combined effects of natural disasters and mismanaged
myriad U.N. agencies increasingly find the human security theme
beneficial to their aims.
Nation-State Buy-In. Regrettably,
many U.N. member states have also adopted the human security
mindset and are incorporating its language and goals into their
the initial contributor to the U.N. Human Security Trust Fund and
concept of "human security"…means in addition to providing
national protection, focusing on each and every person,
eliminating threats to people through cooperation by various
countries, international organizations, nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs) and civil society, and striving to strengthen
the capacity of people and society so as to enable people to lead
Union (EU). "A Human
Security Doctrine for Europe: The Barcelona Report of the Study
Group on Europe's Security Capabilities" explains the breadth of
the EU's human security agenda in this way:
security means individual freedom from basic insecurities.
Genocide, wide-spread or systematic torture, inhuman and degrading
treatment, disappearances, slavery, and crimes against humanity and
grave violations of the laws of war as defined in the
Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are forms of
intolerable insecurity that breach human security. Massive
violations of the right to food, health and housing may also be
considered in this category, although their legal status is less
elevated. A human security approach for the European Union means
that it should contribute to the protection of every individual
human being and not only on the defence of the Union's borders, as
was the security approach of nation-states.
Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
governments of Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the
U.K. fund a Web site, "The Human Security Gateway," that describes
itself as a "rapidly expanding searchable online database of human
security-related resources including reports, journal articles,
news items and fact sheets. It is designed to make human
security-related research more accessible to the policy and
research communities, the media, educators and the interested
Security vs. National Security. The Human
Security Gateway Web site succinctly explains the challenge that
the human security agenda poses to the principle of national
security focuses on the protection of individuals, rather than
defending the physical and political integrity of states from
external military threats-the traditional goal of national
security. Ideally, national security and human security should be
mutually reinforcing, but in the last 100 years far more
people have died as a direct or indirect consequence of the
actions of their own governments or rebel forces in civil wars
than have been killed by invading foreign armies. Acting in the
name of national security, governments can pose profound threats to
it is perhaps understandable that some might wish to update
conceptions of national security to reflect the realities of a
21st century world, the notion that human security should supplant
national security and the preservation of freedom as the
fundamental responsibilities of the state is wrongheaded. During
the Cold War, national security was considered largely within
the context of a bipolar world in which the United States and the
Soviet Union, and their spheres of influence, squared off against
each other ideologically, diplomatically, economically,
politically, and militarily. National security was often measured
in terms of nuclear warheads, weapons platforms, military
divisions, and defense spending.
dissolution of the Soviet Union changed the dynamics. States now
understand and view security not solely in terms of military
threats and territorial invasions, but also in terms of
terrorism and weapons of mass destruction; economic dangers (e.g.,
cyber attacks); and global environmental threats (e.g., avian flu).
The term "national security" has come under scrutiny because
of the growing number of threats that are transnational.
The Bush Administration has encouraged a robust dialogue on
how states can best address these threats through cooperative
actions to ensure their security in a globalized world.
the principle of national security is not the answer. Neither is
creating a binding international agreement on human security.
Yet from the initial report of the Commission on Human
Security in 2000
to the latest draft documents from UNESCO conferences in the
developing world and the May 2006 UNDP Human Security Framework
report, promoters of human security have set in motion a multi-year
plan that may well culminate in a declaration or universal
convention on human security.
process is quite similar to the six-year process at UNESCO that in
2005 culminated in a binding Convention on Cultural Diversity.
Despite intense efforts to make that convention acceptable, the
United States could not sign it because of its core protectionist
The first successful use of this new deliberative U.N. process is
described on Wikipedia as the NGO effort to push governments
to adopt a convention banning anti-personnel land mines:
control is also an important priority for Human Security advocates,
closely linking with the Freedom from Fear agenda. An oft-claimed
example of this is the Ottawa Convention banning
anti-personnel landmines. The Convention has been described as an
illustration of how human security can work in the real world, as a
coalition of like-minded powers, along with civil society worked
together to eliminate anti-personnel land mines. The process
leading up to the formation of the Convention was quite a departure
from that of traditional security instruments with massive
involvement from non-government groups and civil society-it could
almost be seen as NGO's bringing governments to the negotiating
Davenport indicates in an extensive piece on this "new diplomacy,"
as he calls the Ottawa Process, that NGOs have learned from these
successes how to exert enormous pressure on governments to achieve
binding international conventions to improve human security.
Following success in Ottawa, the process proved successful in Rome
in creating an International Criminal Court. Says
like-minded states continue to meet to discuss what additional
projects they might tackle together. One need only listen to their
rhetoric, and that of the U.N. leadership, to speculate about
what other projects might be on the new diplomacy horizon. In a
larger sense, their agenda is no less than setting the global
agenda and, as U.N. documents describe it, constructing a "new
global architecture for the twenty-first century." The report of
the Commission on Global Governance, with its lovely title
("Our Global Village") and anti-American tone, speaks of
organizing life on the planet not by balancing the power among
nations, but by constraining the states themselves. This is
the agenda of the new diplomacy.
essence, these efforts to achieve binding documents are aimed
at recasting the traditional meaning of human rights and
development as national security challenges that are better
addressed by "people-centric" rather than state-based activities.
Getting multilateral organizations to use individuals, instead of
states, as the reference points for evaluating security policy
is extremely problematic because it diffuses accountability
and fiduciary responsibility.
United States government, which prioritizes national security and
homeland security, has wisely not yet tried to formulate a specific
human security policy, but that does not mean the mindset is not
already being advocated. Indeed, Members of Congress such as
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
and scholars such as Professor Slaughter
have adopted the language of human security and have published
pieces on how to deal with the myriad issues that it
example, Professor Slaughter, in the introduction to a 2004
Trilateral Commission report, explains that theory about the
legitimate use of force is undergoing transformation. She believes
the basic tension is now "state security vs. human security" or how
traditional understandings of state security-whereby the principal
threat to a state's survival was posed by another state and the
security of a state was largely synonymous with the security
of its people-with an appreciation of the magnitude and
importance of what Kazuo Ogura [the Japan Foundation] calls
"global security issues"- terrorism, environmental degradation,
international crime, infectious diseases and refugees?
These issues cross borders with disdain for the divisions of
national and international authority.
misunderstanding of the nature of security poses significant
threats to the international order because it undermines the
primacy of nation-state relations and sovereignty. Providing for
the security and public safety of citizens is a principal
attribute of national sovereignty. Indeed, nation-states that are
democracies are best prepared to fill this role because their
leaders are held accountable by the governed. As the U.N.'s
problems in responding to crises around the world show, the
nation-state, not any international organization, is the best
guarantor of individual freedoms for the 21st century. Shifting the
focus of security policy from the collective will of free people to
provide for their common defense to one of protecting a range of
individual and collective political, economic, and cultural
"rights" as defined by international bodies or non-state
actors like NGOs confuses the nature of the modern state's roles
the United States is unintentionally helping to promote this
misunderstanding of security by funding the U.N. organizations
that are engaged in promoting human security activities.
Underpinnings: Repackaged Wilsonianism
concept of human security is closely connected to the
neoliberal conception of foreign policy that evolved over the
first half of the 20th century. Neoliberalism contends that state actions
represent the collective will of groups within society.
Foreign policy and national security strategy are the products of
the cooperative view of the state's "empowered" elements, such as
Congress, the courts, special-interest groups, and NGOs. According
to neoliberalism, states are not monolithic rational actors;
instead, their decisions represent the cumulative influence of
also takes a structuralist approach to international relations,
believing that power is exercised and distributed through formal
organizations and institutions, but that its theoretical
framework includes domestic players (e.g., legislatures,
unions, and corporations) and non-state actors (e.g., NGOs and
international organizations). In the neoliberal paradigm,
conflict and competition are not inevitable. Institutions can act
to ameliorate international conflict and promote cooperation,
trust, and joint action.
President Woodrow Wilson's foreign policies and his effort to
create a governing international security institution through
the League of Nations are often cited as the foundation of
neoliberal thinking in the United States.
dialogue on using the collective power of states to protect
the rights of individuals emerged as part of the debate over the
post-World War II order. The challenge was to prevent the
reemergence of fascist ideologies, which became state policies
during the Nazi era, without interfering in the legitimate
sovereignty of individual states.
Franklin Roosevelt attempted to provide an answer in his Four
Freedoms speech on January 6, 1941, to the 77th Congress. Roosevelt
outlined the world he would like to see in the future-one that the
United States would be helping to make secure. This world
would be founded on four freedoms:
of speech and expression everywhere in the world."
for everyone to worship God in his or her way throughout the
from want," which Roosevelt translated as grounded in economic
relationships. He envisioned a world order in which all
peoples would have a secure, peacetime life.
from fear," which he interpreted as meaning "a world-wide reduction
of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion
that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical
aggression against any neighbor-anywhere in the world."
1941, Roosevelt and Winston Churchill relied on this world view to
draft the Atlantic Charter, but reportedly, not even its signers
were satisfied with that document. In fact, Roosevelt, a former
member of the Wilson Administration, left an ambivalent record of
what he believed the charter meant.
Josef Stalin declined even to sign it.
postwar initiatives encouraged international governance by
democratic processes, with international organizations serving as
arbiters of disputes and protectors of the peace. The years after
World War II saw the establishment of mechanisms that
stabilized the international economy and further promoted a vision
of collective security. The Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944
established rules, institutions, and procedures to regulate the
international monetary system. It required each country to adopt a
monetary policy that fixed its currency exchange rate at a certain
value of gold, plus or minus 1 percent, and established the
International Monetary Fund as a way to bridge temporary
signing of the U.N. Charter on June 26, 1945, provided another push
toward a new principle of collective security. It established
the following stated goals:
practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as
good neighbours, and
our strength to maintain international peace and security,
ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of
methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common
employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic
and social advancement of all peoples."
course of decades, the U.N. bureaucracy has come to see its
role as facilitating not only peace and security, but also human
rights, development, and social equity.
Rights and Human Security.Much of
the U.N. agenda involves the protection of human rights. Although
use of the term "human rights" preceded 1945, its meaning was
largely recast in the postwar years. In Western thought during the
18th century, human rights were associated with concepts of natural
law, often interchanged with the term "rights of man." Human rights
also served as a synonym for "civil rights," a narrow set of
individual legal entitlements.
After World War II, the term "human rights" was used to delineate
the difference between democratic and authoritarian societies.
Democratic societies recognized that individuals were entitled
to certain rights merely by being human. In 1948, the U.N.
published a Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 300
outbreak of the Cold War, however, did much to dampen the drive
toward international governance. While there was much discussion of
the role of human rights in foreign affairs, their protection
was considered a matter of national policy. Charges of human rights
abuses were endemic during the Cold War. Some were valid
complaints. Others were made for propaganda value or as part of
psychological warfare campaigns. In part because of the Cold War
standoff between the nuclear superpowers, the international
community found it difficult to interfere in the internal
governance of other countries, even in the face of human
rights abuses and genocide.
Cold War, the term "human security" came into vogue, signaling a
movement away from a focus on national security and states as
The concept was meant to define security within a broad global
framework as "political, strategic, economic, social, or ecological
Arguments were made that security represented more than physical
security and the right of common defense and that the
international community had rights and responsibilities that
superseded those of individual states.
and the increasing interconnectedness of societies around the
world added impetus to the human security movement. The growth of
international, multinational, transnational, nongovernmental,
and non-state actors challenged academics and practitioners of
security studies to think more broadly and to reconsider the world
construct and the role of traditional state actors.
early 1990s, UNDP published a series of annual reports that cast
its work in the new paradigm of human security: "Now that the
cold war is over, the challenge is to rebuild societies around
people's needs," argued UNDP. "Security should be reinterpreted as
security for people, not security for land."
The emphasis was clear: In the post-Cold War world, individuals-not
the collective community or the state-mattered
Annan recalled Roosevelt's Four Freedoms at the U.N. Millennium
Summit in 2005, when he called upon nations to advance the goals of
"freedom from want" and "freedom from fear." He relied on this
theme in his "In Larger Freedom" report of 2005,
to which he added "freedom to live in dignity." As he described it
in Foreign Affairs, "the states of the world must create a
collective security system" that promotes freedom from want and
freedom from fear.
Rhetorically, these terms-like human security-sound laudable, but
they dissemble rather than clarify how states and non-state
actors should think about national security and on what state
activities international organizations should focus. While
non-state actors may voluntarily monitor, assist, and
facilitate states in fulfilling their responsibilities, the state
is ultimately responsible and accountable for the population
in its charge.
security movement has made significant progress in promoting a
redistributionist regime as a reasonable approach to providing
national security. A good example of this is provided by the
conclusions of a March 2005 International Conference on Human
Security in the Arab Region organized by UNESCO and the Regional
Human Security Center at the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy. In
attendance were officials from U.N. agencies and programs,
ministers from Jordan, government officials from the Middle East
and North Africa region, local and international civil society
groups and nongovernmental organizations, and academics. They
concluded with these specific points:
(1) At a
minimum, every citizen should enjoy access to education, health
services and income-generating activities. Citizens who are unable
to meet their basic needs through their own efforts should have
public support. In particular, particular attention should be given
to vulnerable groups, such as children, the elderly, the
handicapped, the chronically ill and people in isolated or remote
areas. If States are unable to provide assistance, such
assistance should be provided by the international
concept of human security and its underlying values of solidarity,
tolerance, openness, dialogue, transparency, accountability,
justice and equity should be widely disseminated in societies. To
that effect, human security should be incorporated at all levels of
education. The media, particularly radio and television, should be
mobilized to organize awareness-raising campaigns. It should also
encourage people to explore ways to enhance their own security and
that of members of their communities.
society should be mobilized to participate in the promotion of
human security. Special efforts should be made to mobilize women's
associations, academics, professional organizations and the private
sector. This is to benefit from their resources, skills and
proximity to ensure ownership of the concept of human security by
local stakeholders and a wide dissemination of the culture of human
Security as Welfare Entitlements. UNESCO
officials appear to have determined that the human security agenda
can best be advanced through changes in domestic policies based on
social science data, independent from the difficult traditional
member-state negotiations process. Through UNESCO's Management of
Social Transformations (MOST) Program, they are encouraging
the formation of regional research and policy think tanks comprised
primarily of university social science researchers and
representatives of NGOs sympathetic to the human security
agenda. At the prompting of UNESCO, these regional bodies are
producing social science research and policies for a UNESCO
database-a database that, significantly, makes no provision for
countervailing research. Advocates are encouraged to rely on this
database and research to lobby states to make changes in domestic
foundational and motivating sentiments of the MOST Program can be
found in the Buenos Aires Declaration adopted in February 2006 at
the International Forum on the Social Science-Policy Nexus, which
mirrors much of the established language of human security in other
into account several
United Nations reports highlighting the sharp increase in
inequalities between and within countries, and greatly
concerned that the universal thrust of human rights, human
dignity and justice is in many instances being eroded under
contemporary social and economic pressure.
Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed
development goals are not only the statement of new moral
purpose but also the minimum threshold compatible with the
proclaimed values of the international community, and
affirming that failure to make serious progress toward
achieving them would entail tremendous cost in terms of human
lives, quality of life and social development.
without moral vision and political will, the challenges of the
Millennium Development Goals cannot be met, that meeting these
goals requires new knowledge used in innovative ways and better use
of existing knowledge, and that, in this regard, the social
sciences have a crucial contribution to make in formulating
security agenda has progressed quite rapidly since 2001, when the
U.N. first tasked the Commission on Human Security with developing
the concept as an operational tool for policy formulation and
implementation and proposing a concrete program of action to
address critical and pervasive threats to human security.
The commission's 2003 report called specifically for linking
human security initiatives and the establishment of joint public,
private, and civil society activities. It made no effort to
disguise its philosophy that nation-states are incapable of
It is no
longer viable for any state to assert unrestricted national
sovereignty while acting in its own interests, especially
where others are affected by its actions. There has to be an
institutional system of external oversight and decision-making that
states voluntarily subscribe to.
commission also recommended the creation of the U.N. Trust Fund for
Human Security with an advisory board of a group of nations
committed to spreading the human security agenda. The fund is
supposed to be used to address threats to "human lives, livelihoods
and dignity currently facing the international community." Any U.N.
agency can apply for funding to address issues like poverty,
refugees, medical and health care, drug control, and
transnational crime. For example, the World Health Organization
uses its funding to provide emergency reproductive health services
to displaced populations in the Solomon Islands. UNDP uses its
funding to establish support groups for those with HIV/AIDS in
Trinidad and Tobago.
problem here is not that the U.N. is trying to help people in need,
but that it uses the Human Security Trust Fund to advance an agenda
for security that bears no resemblance to established
intensifying its human security activities. It has an on-line forum
where anyone in the world can post opinions on human security.
It is holding a series of regional conferences in 2006-2007 in
Africa, the Arab states, and Southeast Asia to consider
priorities. The outcome will likely mirror recommendations that
came out of the March 2005 International Conference on Human
Security meeting in the Arab region. As noted above, those
recommendations treat issues such as education, health, and
welfare-issues already addressed by other U.N. programs-as rights
that require the international redistribution of wealth and a
greater reliance on supranational organizations if states are
not meeting their standards.
It is no
wonder that human security appears to be more like an elaborate
international welfare scheme than an endeavor to protect against
real security threats. Proponents treat human security as a grand
and noble cause and a responsibility of the human community as a
whole. Their use of the term suggests broad international consensus
over which political, economic, cultural, legal, and physical
rights constitute human rights. However, neither of these
presumptions is factually true.
no state can meet all of the security needs of its people as
described by the U.N.'s definition of human security. The
United Nations bureaucracy frequently issues reports that
criticize states for failing to do so, and the United States
receives its share of criticism. For example, the July 28, 2006,
report of the U.N. Human Rights Committee expresses concern that
the United States "has not succeeded in eliminating racial
discrimination such as regarding the wide disparities in the
quality of education across school districts in metropolitan areas,
to the detriment of minority students." It concludes that the
United States should take "remedial steps."
The report fails to mention the federalism principle of U.S.
government, which gives states the primary responsibility for
education. Nor does it point out that the school districts in many
major U.S. cities, where those disparities are greatest, already
spend tens of thousands of dollars per student.
reality, no state will ever be able to meet even a majority of the
needs proponents now associate with human security for every
individual within its borders. Without careful prioritization, a
state seeking to meet the demands of human security could well
disburse its resources inefficiently on peripheral but politically
could this focus on human security undermine a state's authority
and sovereignty, but its broad scope could also be exploited by
authoritarian states as an excuse for unwarranted internal
oppression. Given that "community security" is considered essential
to human security, a state could argue that it can justifiably
suppress any form of free expression that it believes jeopardizes a
community's traditions and values.
of these concerns, the notion that human security should become an
integral part of the U.S. lexicon of international relations is
security, as conservatives understand it, is really all about
protecting ourselves from national security threats and securing
fundamental freedoms and human rights while providing opportunities
to improve one's own standard of living. They see
globalization and competition in a free-market economy as enablers
of the opportunities that lead to prosperity and the
achievement of human dignity, not as threats to human
international agreements, the term "human security" should be used
only as a description of a desirable human condition, not as an
alternative to national security or an entitlements issue. Careful
attention to its use is critical to counter the notion that
international organizations have more moral right to protect people
than the state has. Moreover, careful attention to its use should
preserve, not confuse, the historical understanding of human
of international deliberations should be to strengthen democratic
states as the best guarantors of security and liberty. In no
case should something as broadly defined as human security be
considered appropriate for international declarations and
conventions. To that end, the Administration and Congress
use of "national security" and "national sovereignty" in
international statements, documents, and treaties;
of the term "human security" in international deliberations unless
it is defined within the boundaries of nation-states and
term "human rights" as the international standard for moral
behavior by the state toward its citizens, and
legislative enactments, agency regulations, and case
decisions, exclusively on human rights instruments that have been
officially adopted and ratified by the United States.
2006, the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO provided U.S.
negotiators with welcome guidance in this respect in its statement
regarding UNESCO's "Draft Medium Term Strategy for 2008-2013
and Draft Program and Budget for 2008-2009":
security agenda or program developed, facilitated, or promoted
by UNESCO should be defined, designed, and pursued only with the
meaningful participation and approval of all Member States and
should not involve the pursuit and adoption of any human security
standards or normative instruments.
aggression, violence, and all the other negative aspects of living
in today's world will continue to endanger the lives of
individuals, states, and regions of the world. As long as this is
true, security-which provides the environment in which all other
liberties and opportunities are possible-will remain a
function and responsibility of the sovereign state.
Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow for
National Security and Homeland Security, and Janice A. Smith is
Special Assistant to the Vice President of Foreign and Defense
Policy, in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for
International Studies at The Heritage Foundation. David Gentilli,
Research Assistant for Homeland Security at The Heritage
Foundation, and Todd Schmidt, graduate student at Georgetown Public
Policy Institute, also contributed to this report.This paper is one
of a series prepared as part of the Freedom Project of the Margaret
Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage
of the United Nations, Article 1, at (August 29,
s.v. "human security," at
(August 29, 2006).
Annan, "Towards a Culture of Peace," at
(August 23, 2006).
Slaughter, "To Pursue Primacy for Its Own Sake Seems an Odd Way to
Reassure Other Nations," Boston Review, February/March 2005,
(August 23, 2006).
 For more
on the issue of international law, see Lee A. Casey and David B.
Rivkin, Jr., "International Law and the Nation-
State at the U.N.: A Guide for U.S. Policymakers," Heritage
Foundation Backgrounder No. 1961, August 18, 2006, at .
Poll, "Americans' Rating of United Nations Among Worst Ever:
Sixty-Four Percent Say It Is Doing a Poor Job," March 13, 2006, at
(August 23, 2006).
Department of Public Information, "Unfinished Business: Effective
Partnerships for Human Security and Sustainable Development," at
(August 28, 2006).
of the United Nations, Preamble.
Commission on Human Security, "Outline of the Report of the
Commission on Human Security," at
(August 29, 2006).
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, "Human
Security," at (August
23, 2006) (emphasis added).
Development Programme, Human Development Report 1994 (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 24, at
(August 23, 2006).
a more detailed discussion of the issue of rights versus
entitlements, see Helle C. Dale, "Economic and Political Rights at
the U.N.: A Guide for U.S. Policymakers," Heritage Foundation
Backgrounder No. 1964, August 30, 2006.
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, "Human
Security" (emphasis omitted).
in U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, "Human
Security," updated March 13, 2002, at (August 23,
2006) (emphasis in original).
Jolly and Deepayan Basu Ray, "The Human Security Framework and
National Human Development Reports," U.N. Development Programme,
National Human Development Report Occasional Paper No. 5,
May 2006, p. 5, at (August 23,
Development Programme, "UNDP and Human Security," at
(August 23, 2006).
 Jolly and
Ray, "The Human Security Framework and National Human Development
Reports," pp. 1 and 2 (emphasis added).
Environment Programme, Africa Environment Outlook: Past,
Present and Future Perspective, Chapter 3, December 2002, at
(August 23, 2006).
several countries use "human security" as a foundation for their
foreign policy. These countries include Austria, Chile, Greece,
Iceland, Jordan, Mali, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland,
Slovenia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Japan, and South Africa. Japan
heavily funds the Human Security Trust Fund.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diplomatic Bluebook 2004, p.
(August 23, 2006).
Group on Europe's Security Capabilities, "A Human Security Doctrine
for Europe: The Barcelona Report of the Study Group on Europe's
Security Capabilities," presented to Javier Solana, EU High
Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Barcelona,
September 15, 2004, p. 9, at
(August 23, 2006).
Security Gateway, "About the Human Security Gateway," at
(August 23, 2006).
 "The end
of the Cold War unleashed a debate that had been growing for years,
provoked by scholars and practitioners increasingly dissatisfied
with traditional conceptions of security." Dan Henk, "Human
Security: Relevance and Implications," Parameters, Vol. 35,
No. 2 (Summer 2005), p. 92, at
(August 23, 2006). See also Steve Smith, "The Increasing
Insecurity of Security Studies: Conceptualizing Security in the
Last Twenty Years," in Stuart Croft and Terry Terriff, eds.,
Critical Reflections on Security and Change (London: Frank
Cass, 2000), pp. 72- 101, and Emma Rothschild, "What is Security?"
Daedalus, Vol. 124, Issue 3 (Summer 1995).
example, see Commission on Human Security, Human Security
Now, 2003, at
(August 23, 2006), and Jeffrey Thomas, "U.S. Deeply
Disappointed by Vote on UNESCO Diversity Convention," U.S. Mission
to the UN Agencies in Rome, October 21, 2005, at
(August 23, 2006).
 This was
in fact proposed at the initial meeting of the Commission on Human
Security on June 8-10, 2001. See Commission on Human Security,
"Report: Meeting of the Commission on Human Security," June 8-10,
2001, p. 3, at
(August 28, 2006).
 Janice A.
Smith and Helle Dale, "Cultural Diversity and Freedom at Risk at
UNESCO," Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 885, October 17,
2005, at www.heritage.org/Research/InternationalOrganizations/wm885.cfm
(August 23, 2006).
Davenport, "The New Diplomacy," Policy Review, No. 116
(December 2002/January 2003), at
(August 29, 2006).
Boxer, "Providing Basic Human Security," The Washington
Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Spring 2003), pp. 199-207, at
(August 23, 2006). She quotes Peter Piot, executive director
of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS): "There is
a world of difference between the root causes of terrorism and the
impact of AIDS on security. But at some deep level, we should be
reminded that, in many parts of the world, AIDS has caused a normal
way of life to be called into question. As a global issue,
therefore, we must pay attention to AIDS as a threat to human
security and redouble our efforts against the epidemic and its
impact." Ibid., p. 203.
Slaughter, Carl Bildt, and Kazuo Ogura, "The New Challenges to
International, National and Human Security Policy," Trilateral
Commission Task Force Report No. 58, 2004.
J. Katzenstein, ed., The Culture of National Security: Norms and
Identity in World Politics (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1996), pp. 12-13.
example, see Lloyd E. Ambrosius, Wilsonianism: Woodrow Wilson
and His Legacy in American Foreign Relations (London:
Delano Roosevelt, "The Four Freedoms," January 6, 1941, at
(December 20, 2005).
Borgwardt, A New Deal for the World: America's Vision for Human
Rights (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005), pp.
of the United Nations, Preamble.
Gordon Lauren, The Evolution of International Human Rights:
Visions Seen (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,
1998), p. 21.
a more detailed discussion of this issue, see Jennifer A. Marshall
and Grace V. Smith, "Human Rights and Social Issues at the U.N.: A
Guide for U.S. Policymakers," Heritage Foundation
Backgrounder No. 1965, August 31, 2006.
Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues, Common Security:
A Blueprint for Survival (New York: Simon and Schuster,
Vale, "Can International Relations Survive?" International
Affairs Bulletin, Vol. 16, No. 3 (1992).
Development Programme, Human Development Report 1993 (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 1, at
(August 23, 2006).
Secretary-General, "In Larger Freedom: Towards Development,
Security and Human Rights for All," A/59/2005, U.N. General
Assembly, 59th Sess., agenda items 45 and 55, March 21, 2005, at (August 23,
Annan, "'In Larger Freedom': Decision Time at the UN," Foreign
Affairs, Vol. 84, No. 3 (May/June 2005).
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, "International
Conference on Human Security in the Arab Region," March 14-15,
(August 23, 2006) (emphasis added).
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, "Declaration,"
Buenos Aires, at
(August 23, 2006) (emphasis in original).
on Human Security, "Establishment of the Commission," at
(December 20, 2005). The commission's secretariat disbanded
in May 2003 with the publication of its final report.
on Human Security, Human Security Now, p. 12.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "The Trust Fund for Human Security for
the 'Human-Centered' 21st Century," at
(August 23, 2006).
Forum should become a meeting place to exchange ideas and debate
about topical issues which we shall present to you in an
interactive manner." U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization, "Human Security."
Human Rights Committee, "Consideration of Reports Submitted by
States Parties Under Article 40 of the Covenant," advance unedited
edition, 87th Sess., July 10-28, 2006, paragraph 23, at
(August 23, 2006).
Department of State, U.S. National Commission for UNESCO,
Vol. 2, Issue 2 (April/May/June 2006), at (August