ABSTRACT

The tensions of human security Human security became part of the UN policy framework in the 1990s shortly after the end of the Cold War. The arms buildup that followed World War II had ended, and a new era of peaceful development seemed imminent. The notion of security had become ingrained in practically all aspects of global politics and was intimately associated with nation-states and their national interests. By adding “human” to “security,” the UNDP initiated a redefinition and reconceptualization intended to channel state resources away from military and into development spending. It was a venture that appealed to a variety of UN member nations, and also to a range of middle-power governments which were already committed to development goals by supporting peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance. However, human security remains a vague concept that includes threats, subjective fears, and state policies. Official statements of human security have provided frameworks for potential policy, and express a commitment to specific developmental goals although they do not significantly alter state policy from previous formulations. Most important is that the nation-state remains the principle vehicle for pursuing human security objectives, and in this context, human security may be seen as simply another reinforcement of national sovereignty with humanitarian benefits. Human security, like the terms “sovereignty” or “national interest,” remains an elusive concept when applied to national policy. To avoid the trap of becoming a synonym for human rights or social development, human security must be examined, not as catchword of globalists or human rights activists, but as a universal and fundamental component of the human condition. To this end, the second part of this chapter introduces an expanded discussion of human security, what I term Anthropocentric Security Theory, based on the merging of two traditions of

political discourse: Thomas Hobbes and Confucius. To continue national and international advocacy of human security without common agreement is to operate in a bubble inflated by noble intentions and the political dynamics of key actors. Suffice it to say that if human security is to move beyond policy advocacy, its bedrock test of action must be recognized as consisting of four words: “Prolong Life, Postpone Death,” or PLPD. The ultimate insecurity is death, and the ultimate security is life. These are observable, verifiable, and quantifiable phenomena. Human security is a policy agenda, or policy prescription, and we can examine three examples. With the UNDP and Mongolia, human security is a desired outcome, and in the case of China’s White Paper on human rights, human security is presented as a checklist of goals to judge the role of government. The UNDP is the self-appointed supervisor and coordinator of human security efforts, while states and NGOs are the agencies of operationalization. With China and Mongolia, the sovereign state carries out activities which should result in higher levels of human security. In contrast, Anthropocentric Security Theory (AST) begins with the individual human life as the point of departure. In the second part of this chapter, I propose a theory based on the central assumption of human security: that it seeks the protection of individuals. A hard look at this definition demonstrates that this is not new in Western political thought. Much political theory, however, focuses on the emergence and maintenance of the Modern Sovereign Nation-State. The nation-state is offered as the preferred framework for solutions.2 As an antidote to exclusive focus on the state, I offer an Anthropocentric Security Theory which originates from the individual and examines the social and political structures which have contributed to human survival. My analysis will demonstrate that the achievement of human security is a cooperative venture between individual, society, and state. Analysis requires identification of the primary objective, which I stipulate as being the individual human life. From the perspective of AST, whether a life is peaceful or not peaceful, comfortable or painful, prosperous or impoverished, and free or un-free, is of less objective importance than the actual length of life. A day lived by a human individual is twenty-four hours in which threats to life have been overcome. The goal of human security is to maximize longevity, or PLPD. I designate this approach as Anthropocentric Security, in order to distinguish it from the largely policy-oriented approach to human security. The aims of conventional human security are not a radical deviation from development theory and prescriptions, although the concept does broaden goals and depart from more traditional concerns of military defense, national security, and economic development. A criticism of human security is that it has become too broad a term, becoming the defined equivalent of peace and social justice. Its aims may be laudable, but its assumptions and methods need closer scrutiny. Moreover, its goals can be summarized as threat reduction through government, and its agencies’ operations. What is security? In Figure 2.1, a Swedish sculpture represents its fundamental qualities: one bird is supporting its biological system by feeding on whatever

edible morsels it is able to forage, and may be looking for nesting materials. This we can term the sustenance aspect of security, maintaining the organic metabolism of life necessary for survival. The second bird is guarding itself and its partner against land or aerial predators and scouting for further feeding grounds, a combination of vigilance, defense, struggle, and knowledge acquisition. Human security is considerably more complex but rests on the same fundamentals: nutrition, shelter, protection, knowledge, and cooperation through division of labor. Perhaps the simplest definition of human security is best: “protection of the individual”. The meaning of human is straightforward, the highest species of life on this planet. As human individuals, we are both producers and beneficiaries of protections that we generate. Security is more problematic; it is a word which has become central to politics and is institutionalized in government, as in Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), China’s Ministry of Public Security3 (公安机关治安 部门), the US Department of Homeland Security, and Taiwan’s National Security Bureau (國家安全局), to name a few. Over the past century, the concept has been appropriated by state and military institutions to an extent that the term “human security” sounds refreshingly novel, and so it becomes necessary to reclaim its original meaning. Nonetheless, because the functions of security have been taken over and monopolized by the state, they also primarily serve the state almost to the exclusion of citizens themselves, although they claim to serve society and make the

case that protecting the state and its constituent groups is the best way of achieving security for the individual. Therefore, creating policy and taking action to improve the lot of humans has become the preferred method of enhancing human security up to the present. A major task of human security is to define its relationship to the nation-state and its claims on the resources normally deployed by government. The easiest course is to incorporate those resources already established and functioning within the state with the result that human security becomes a component of national policy, whether labeled democracy, human development, or welfare. In this way, human security remains locked in existing government structures, while echoing the sentiments of the originating UNDP. Human security advocacy stimulates policy which consists of the state deciding how to deploy political, economic, and human resources. In doing so, it diminishes the value of the individual, the putative object of human security, by transforming him into a fraction of a group, or by awarding him value only within an aggregation of other humans. Policy is an emanation of the state, and every transfer of human security function from the individual or society is an increase in the scope of state power. That is, reliance on government enhances bureaucratic domination of citizens, intensifying their existence as beneficiaries and dependents of the state, and reducing the scope of human freedom.