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It closely links human rights violations with national and international insecurities. And the concept enhances development thinking by expanding real freedoms already enjoyed by people. Protecting security, therefore, urgently requires a new consensus among all countries, whether developed or developing. It must aim at reviewing current foreign policies and aiming at creating real opportunities for people's safety and dignity.
Rethinking the Concept
Human security focuses more on generalized poverty than average well-being.
General poverty means being below a threshold of well-being. A policy on human security concerns itself mainly with persons in situations of deep want. Human development pertains to average levels of human well-being. Many believe that human security must be a priority in human development. A "prioritarian" view is for the improvement of everyone but emphasis on that of those at the bottom. An egalitarian view wants well-being to be distributed across all persons. An egalitarian person will support a public policy that urges the well-being of those on top in order to reduce inequality among all. A prioritarian is likely to disagree. Overall, international development and security are focused on promoting human security by maximizing global human utility. Even a small improvement in well-being in generalized poverty would result in a large change in utility. Human security is, therefore, the priority and human development becomes an automatic consequence to it.
Different concepts of human security flourished through the years, but certain characteristics have remained in common. The shift veered from the security of the State to that of the people.
This was the primary contribution of the concept. It gave greater emphasis on the obligations of the State to ensure the security of its citizens. It acknowledged that people are inter-related and that many issues cross State boundaries. It recognized the importance of non-State entities. It required human rights violators to account for their crime before international courts. And it underscored the complex issues involved, in turn, requiring multi-faceted responses.
The Human Security Concept in the U.S.
The U.S.' aggressive foreign policy since 9/11 was unable to make Americans feel safer.
Its Homeland Security threat advisory system has remained at elevated levels since 2002. Americans now realize that their government's aggressive peace approach through military means was not delivering. If 61% of them believed in the approach in 2002, only 49% continued to believe it in 2007. Despite radical changes in foreign policy, Americans' perception of security has not improved or reduced threats of further attacks. If any, American interests have been subjected to greater stress around the world because of the government's aggressive foreign policy. The U.S. became isolated from its traditional allies at the OECD and Europe, even affecting trade and economic relations with them.
Personal security in the mainland has been no better. Crimes against individuals, gender-based violence, racial discrimination and environmental justice threaten it. Poverty, inter-generational transmission of inequalities, skyrocketing costs of health care and a failed criminal justice system interrelate with the homeland security's initiatives and a bad image of the unilateral U.S. foreign policy deemed aggressive and violent.
The Concept of Human Security in Japan
Non-military threats to human security have accompanied globalization and debit its intended gains.
These include infectious disease like HIV, tuberculosis and AIDS, terrorism and narcotics. World statistics say that HIV and AIDS continue to paralyze the development of many African countries. The 9/11 events illustrate what terrorism can do and events following underscore that military force is not enough to overcome the enemies of peace. There should be a strong link and oneness among the government and civil society, international and non-governmental organizations to counteract threats to the security of the international community. For its part, Japan contributed Y500 million or U.S.$4.2 million in December 1998 for the creation of a Human Security Fund under the United Nations for the Asian region. On September 7, 2000, then Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro said that Japan would add another U.S.$100 million to the fund. He also expressed Japan's support for an international commission on human security. The Commission was formally launched in June 2001.
Universal values challenge Japan's one-country pacifism to be more assertive.
The role of human security plays an important part in the needed transition for domestic politics. At the end of the Second World War, Japan adopted a policy of pacifism to fulfill the resolve not to repeat past militaristic mistakes. The policy evolved into an ideology that rejected military force, based again on the resolve not to repeat past mistakes. With the fall of the East-West Cold War structure, however, this policy and resolve gradually gave way to new realities. It has lost power in the minds of younger-generation Japanese who have no direct experience of the War. Japan now needs to replace its one-country pacifism policy into peace diplomacy and, through it, focus on individual values. It remains to be seen if the Japanese people will pursue it and the goals of human security.
The Human Security Concept in Arab Countries
Young Arabs activists, aged 18 to 25, were asked on their concept of human security and the threats they would prioritize in the region.
Most of them viewed human security as comprehensive and having multiple dimensions and different contexts. They perceived human security as possessing a balanced relationship between moral and material dimensions. They differed in opinion as to whether it covers the person, the State and the outside environment or it is a personal concept of the individual's rights. They believed that human security means "being able to choose between different options" with "an opportunity to contribute to society" without pressure. Another group saw human security as something through which the State guarantees and respects the rights of the individual. It does by providing him with educational and employment opportunities as well as ensuring his security in political activities. The rest saw human security as a global model, which is concerned with all human beings and "guarantees & #8230; to examine the roots of threats" and "suggest strategies of coping with them."
The Human Security Concept in Latin America and the Caribbean
The main threats in this region include a weak democracy, increasing poverty and inequity, urban violence and crime.
Threats to human security are seen to arise from the region's socio-economic vulnerabilities, social integration and vulnerability, political-institutional vulnerabilities, international security vulnerabilities, internal security vulnerabilities, and environmental vulnerabilities. The response to these vulnerabilities as threats to human security is empowerment of the people through education.
This education will bring in new entities in creating a human security culture for the region's people.
It will enable them to learn how to think, reflect and act according to that culture. It will provide them with both formal and non-formal and informal learning about human security. It will enable them to build solid social relationships, based on the concept. It will derive from a territorial and community strategy. It will construct culture towards specific forms of security. It will help them understand their own feelings and behaviors. It will foster partnership networks among those who suffer distress. It will contribute to the peaceful solution of conflicts and problems in daily life. It will connect with human rights education, ideas and action by the youth on human security, community training programs, and those of academicians.
Recent global trends and threats scream for human security ahead of human development. Whatever interpretations are given to it, it calls for safeguards and continued re-evaluation of the concept. Shared common elements from diverse viewpoints reflect the recognition of human security as a universal need. #
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