Human Security : @PKO Now!

Kiwako Tanaka
Program Advisor
April 20 2012

Development of the idea of human security

Human security has developed in largely two directions since the idea was first put forward in the 1994 Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme ( UNDP ).[1]One direction emphasizes the notion of 'freedom from fear', as promoted by the Canadian government, while the other direction takes a more comprehensive approach, embracing concepts such as 'freedom from want', which the Japanese government supports.

Human Security and Responsibility to Protect

To elaborate the idea of human security, the Canadian government sponsored the establishment of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty ( ICISS ) in 2000, which in its final report of 2001 critically examined the issue of 'humanitarian intervention' and introduced the new concept of 'responsibility to protect'. (This will be further examined in the next column, 'Responsibility to protect and UN  PKO '.)

Nonetheless, it was argued that the concept of responsibility to protect could help legitimize foreign intervention in domestic affairs or arbitrary administration by undermining the principle of state sovereignty. The necessity of considering anew the idea of human security was recognized. In this light, the Japanese government initiated the establishment of the Commission on Human Security ( CHS ), which published its final report 'Human Security Now' in 2003.[2]The report defined human security as 'to protect the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfillment', and suggested emphasis on both protection and empowerment.[3]

Elements of both ICISS and CHS were included in the outcome document of the 2005 World Summit,[4]but these were addressed in different parts of the document and were considered in a manner so as not to mix them up. This indicates that while the concept of responsibility to protect is closely linked to state sovereignty and the use of force, human security does not promote the application of enforcement measures that infringe on sovereignty, but rather focuses on the capability of states and the international community to prevent downside risks to individuals.

Human security and Peacekeeping Operations

With the rise of threats that can no longer be managed by one country, the significance of human security has been its broadening of the security perspective to include the elimination of dangers and fears unique to individuals and the expansion of freedom and opportunity, which is contrary to the concept of national security which focuses on foreign threats to state borders and on military capabilities. The idea of human security can, thus, be seen as aiming to achieve practical goals, rather than a political concept.[5]An example in this context is the application of 'peace-building' as a means to realize human security. In the areas where United Nations Peacekeeping Operations ( UNPKO s) are dispatched, people's lives and livelihoods are at risk for many different reasons. By assisting countries that have collapsed as a result of armed conflict to reconstruct stable and secure states through the implementation of the different steps from peace-building to development, UNPKO s are now required to help eliminate the insecurity of individuals and communities, to strengthen the capability to overcome dangers and fears, and to restore law and order from the perspective of human security.

[1]United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 1994 (New York: UNDP and Oxford University Press, 1994)

[2]Commission on human security 2003, Human Security Now (New York: Commission on Human Security, 2003)

[3]Japanese government, prior to the establishment of the Commission on Human Security, created the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security in 1999, and contributed about 41.3 billion yen in total to assist realizing the idea of human security. (Global Issues Cooperation Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Ningen no Anzen Hosho ? Hitobito no Yutakana Kanouseiwo Jitsugen Suru Tameni (Human Security: To Realize People's Full Potential). 2011)

[4]2005 World Summit Outcome (A/RES/60/1(PDF:185KB)New window open(16 September 2005)).

[5]To regard the idea of human security as a practical goal is argued by, for instance, Akiko Fukushima. Ningen no Anzen Hosho: Gurobaruka suru Tayou na Kyoi to Seisaku Furemuwaku (Human Security: Globalized divers threats and policy framework). Chikura-shobo. 2010)

Cabinet Office, Government of Japan1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8914, Japan.
Tel: +81-3-5253-2111