The Road to a Safer, Better World: Human Security


SEATTLE — A multitude of theories about war and peacekeeping exist in the society we live in, some outdated and some revolutionary. Historically, war was fought on a battlefield, with troops of soldiers engaging in combat.   “Security” is correlated with national security, implying the safety of the nation rather than the safety of the people who live there and experience the trauma of war. Today, new aspects of modern warfare exist that challenge the conventional wisdom of war.

The Involvement of All People Essential to Human Security

Our media reports on the male story of war, but there is a different side to this tale: the women’s story. War is no longer fought on the front lines; tactics involve scaring civilians and targeting women and children. Civilian victims and casualties far outnumber soldiers. Women are raped, humiliated and uprooted from their families. Men are more actively involved in international politics; however, in order to understand global peacemaking, the world and its governing organizations should pay attention to female and civilian voices. 

In order to combat the new mode of war that governs our planet, society must employ the concept of human security over national security. Human security is people-centered and aims to free people from violence.  Society needs to develop a rule of law and legitimate political authority; this can, in turn, protect communities. By using military force against so-called “terrorist” states, the situation is often worsened for civilians. 

Instead, the focus should be on making the population secure and encouraging women to speak out about their needs. A more realistic concept of peace and security must be developed, which involves three main aspects: peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding. “Throughout the world, individuals, organizations and governments are exploring long lasting, multidimensional ways of responding to threats to human security,” according to Sharon Welsh, a renowned ethicist, in an essay for the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The Factors Involved in Bringing About Peace

Peacemaking is the action of stopping direct violence and demobilizing military forces. The United Nations has historically engaged in three generation of peacekeeping, but any type of intervention in war raises the following question: when should international organizations step in? A U.N. charter answered this by stating that when “national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity,” international intervention is necessary.   

The responsibility to protect, an idea commonly referenced when attempting to validate going to war, provides a moral justification for this action. The international organization or nation is aiming to protect the weak and save women and children. But when to intervene is not always clear, which creates a problem with the art of peacekeeping. However, the concept of peacekeeping is necessary in situations outlined by the above referenced U.N. charter. 

Peacemaking focuses on conflict resolution and diplomacy. It aims to establish mutual accountability and a commitment to moral standards. People at all levels of society need to participate, from governing officials to impoverished women. By being inclusive, it promotes a more well-grounded solution and aligns with the idea of human security. Peacemaking aims to create a space in which diplomacy and security can be crafted in a positive, comprehensive fashion. 

The last step in long-lasting security is peacebuilding. This includes sustained activities that build enduring human security and sustainable peace. This can include things like analysis of historical conflict, ongoing dialogue, transforming relationships and building a capacity to meet basic needs and preserve human rights.

By focusing policies and peacebuilding strategies on the people who are actually being affected by conflict and global trauma, it becomes possible to bring the world to a safer place. Human security protects everyone and benefits all citizens of the world.

– Jilly Fox

Photo: Flickr


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