History of the Human Security Approach

Human security originated from international actors recognizing the reality that not all citizens enjoy security in traditional or state-centric security policies. The nation-state alone is incapable of guaranteeing protection from the wide range of globalized threats and often fails to respect human rights of all its citizens. In 1992 UN Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Ghali and expert practitioners called for the development and use of a “bottom up” type security framework that would better address severe, pervasive, and chronic threats from armed conflict to socio-economic issues through a multi-dimensional and collaborative approach. Two years later, human security was first articulated by the United Nations Development Program in its 1994 Human Development Report with the purpose of expanding security framework beyond traditional or state- centric security and change the focus of security from the nation-state to the individual.

At this time in 1994 human security was in an early stage of its evolution. There was no consensus on a definition, only broad elements were agreed upon. With regard to human security, insecurities are any legitimate concerns or threat to a person in their everyday life and the way they view security. A person may perceive security as protection from poverty, unemployment, disease, crime, hunger, armed conflict, political repression, and environmental dangers or any other threat that prevents them from enjoying freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom to live in dignity.

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