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The Difference Between State Security and Human Security

The issue of security has received deficient attention with much focus being directed towards the clause of State security. The vulnerability of the state to certain threats and its military capabilities has been on the forefront in regard to security matters in most cases. However, the emergence of concepts related to the idea of human security did introduce a broader view of security from different perspectives. This paper is basically focused on distancing the aspect of human security from that of traditional or state security at various levels.

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State security basically entails the tendency of a nation to adhere to its own set of demands in regard to the issue of security policies (Baylis, J.2010, p.233). Traditional security also involves a host of other aspects that are defined by virtue of subordination. Describing the matter further; reveals that state security is primarily the protection of available institutions, ethics or values within a nation, and above all human beings living inside its boundaries. In other words, the idea of guarding its borders, particularly from external aggression, features prominently amongst possible priorities (Brauch, 2003, 204). State security is therefore judged by virtue of how well a particular state can stop attacks, and at the same time defeat external threats. An example is Australia’s white defense paper policies that were aimed at building defense strategies, to protect their border against future external threats. The move was enhanced by the September 11 terror attacks in New York, and other places in the world. (Australia Defense, 2009, 16). Apart from protecting its people and values from external threats, it is important to note that, an important aspect that arises in state security is the need to protect the dignity of the state.

The state remains the main center of activities and the main player; whereby the focus is obviously directed towards national stability. Australia’s main interest in White Paper Defense is to guard its borders against armed attacks, whether by other states or non states, that can destabilize its national borders. This means that security qualifies as a top priority obligation for the state in terms of their own protection (Baylis, J.2010). It entails the strengthening of military abilities and formulating avenues that help in building national supremacy (Williams, 2003, 93). Common measures taken by states in enhancing the scope of activities include: equipping their military factions, broadening logistical capacity, and generally putting strategies in place, in order to check its boundaries. This was included in Australia’s defense Policies in the white paper, where they intended to broaden national security policies by maximizing the number of military equipments. They included submarines, helicopters and aircrafts for the Armed forces (Australia Defense, 2009, 59). State security therefore entails crucial leads, but the magnitude of activities remains minimal in terms of players and scale of related ventures. It is one reason why critics consider traditional security as “a means and not an end” regarding security policies (Williams, 2003, 93). People get involved in state security on very few occasions since the state believes in its abilities and mileage (Brauch, 2003, 205). As a result, it contrasts human security in that, the people get no chance to participate in decision making. In addition, traditional security is predominantly inclined towards the principle of sovereignty, whereby the state operates under total freedom from international influence. This implies that the state is the final entity in matters concerning its own security.

Human security first emerged on the scene in 1994, in a human development report by the United Nations Development Program. Its main aim was to rectify the shady concentration and definition given to the aspect of security through the blending of several concepts. As a result, it gave birth to a combination of both human rights and human development, in addressing the security of humans and the community. In contrast to state security, human security emphasizes the individuals’ security in relation to two basic approaches (Kaldor, 2008, 183). The first approach basically applies in a country like Canada, and it involves protecting the individual from political hostility. However, relying on this approach seemingly attracts instability, since other aspects of human security are ignored. A familiar situation was witnessed in the Arab world, especially in countries like Egypt and Libya. Citizens were supposedly denied the aspect of human security that addresses their participation in crucial decision making. This situation led to revolts and the specified governments were toppled (Robert, 2011). Several concepts like economic security, food security, and political security among others, form the basis of human security and help define the second approach. It entails the blending of several concepts to come up with a strong strategy on Security and calls for rethinking state sovereignty as a necessary part of human security.

Human security also serves the purpose of promoting security not only in terms of physical violence but extends in cases of man-made or natural calamities (Kaldor, 2008, 183). The prospects of human security have since narrowed down to a simplified form of concentrating on security for the displaced people in society. Since most manifestations of insecurity result in the displacement of people, especially women and children, human security seeks to address the issue amicably (Neil et al, 2006, 202). Aspects like recruitment of child soldiers, in African countries, and the effects on women are given first priority in this case. Human security therefore differs from state security since it addresses multiple issues and involves the public to a greater extent. It is therefore evident that the issue of security entails a wide range of aspects as opposed to the elimination of physical violence (Kaldor, 2008, 202). It involves addressing poverty, diseases, violence and the personal security of individuals in a particular country. The scope of involvement also extends to other countries and non-governmental organizations. Basically human security involves introducing “freedom from fear and freedom from want.” It emphasizes the ability of individuals and societies, be freed from a broad range of non-military threats such as poverty, diseases, and environmental degradation. It is also evident that if the above aspects are not clearly dealt with, they result in a crisis of insecurity.

The emergence of human security gives a new meaning to the whole issue of security on a global scale. This is evident in the different perspectives and additional dimensions it brings into being. As opposed to state security, it fully involves the people and gives them a chance to participate in crucial decision making (Kaldor, 2008, 184). The state is known to operate independently, but human security invites the participation of several institutions including foreign countries. The two approaches are subject to a host of criticisms for certain short comings, but they surely serve the intended purposes. Above all, human security comes into the scene with a heavy statement and strengthens previous assumptions that could easily lead to insecurity.


Baylis, J, Smith, S & Owens, P 2010. The Globalisation of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations. 5th Edn, New York: Oxford University Press.

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Brauch, H. G 2003, Security and Environment in the Mediterranean: Conceptualizing Security, Springer, New York.

Kaldor, M 2008, Human Security: Reflections on Globalization and Intervention, Polity Publishers, New York.

Neil, S. Farlane, M &Yuen, K F 2006, Human Security and the UN: A Critical History, Indiana University Press, Bloomington. Print.

Neff, J 2007, Human Security and Mutual Vulnerability: The Global Political Economy, International Development Research Center.

Robert, M 2011, Updates of Libya Revolts and Mideast Protests, New York Times.

Williams, P 2003, Security Studies: an Introduction, Taylor and Francis Publishers.

Australia’s 2009 Defense White Paper, 2009. Web.

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