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Human Security, Its Origins, and Theories Essay

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Updated: Jun 8th, 2021


When the question of human security arises, millions of people consider this concept as a form of protection against harm. An understanding of safety, health, support, and personal freedoms also matters. Since the Cold War, international relations, globalization, industrialization, and national security have become urgent topics for discussion. The representatives of different spheres, including politics, economy, or trade, wanted to have guarantees that their activities and relationships are protected. Therefore, multiple human security discourses were provoked at various levels. This paper aims at defining the concept of human security, its origins, main characteristics, and theories and explaining how everything works along with its strengths and weaknesses.

Definition of Human Security

Since the events of the Cold War, many theorists and researchers focused on the necessity to give a clear definition of the term “security”. For example, Andersen-Rodgers and Crawford used a basic definition of security as “protection from harm” (3). Comparing different types of security, the authors explained human security as “not just about protection from physical harm but about absolute stability, well-being, freedom, and the capacity of individuals to thrive” (Andersen-Rodgers and Crawford 7). Another definition was derived from the idea that security is when threats and insecurity are absent and states that human security is “the nexus between safety, rights and equity” (Tadjbakhsh and Chenoy 52). Peou relied on the gap between moral ambitions and political actions and introduced human security as the need to “secure humanity” through “military and nonmilitary means” to “promote freedom from fear and want” (30). Human security should not be considered as a merely governmental or state responsibility to protect people. It is an obligation of every person to evaluate his or her needs and rights in terms of the existing laws and regulations.


During a long period of time, countries centered their policies and powers on the establishment of military peace and international relations. However, after the events of the Cold War, the situation in many countries was dramatically changed. On the one hand, the fall of the Berlin Wall was an expectation of a peaceful world’s creation without superpowers and fascism (Andersen-Rodgers and Crawford 21). On the other hand, the development of the events in Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Liberia was hard to ignore, and intrastate wars began emerging in different countries. In addition, the United States was challenged by the possibility of Russia to use its threatening nuclear power, and Chinese values were weakened by the West’s impact (Tadjbakhsh and Chenoy 32). Instead of improving the work of national governments and warfare, leaders recognized equal threats either to military or civilian targets (Behringer 1). Many countries faced the problems of genocide, poor public health interventions, and racial concerns, and ordinary people suffered from unpredictable outcomes. These origins of human security help to comprehend the essence as well as the main characteristics of human security.


One of the main qualities of human security is its universal nature. It means that people have access to this right in any part of the world, regardless of their statuses, ethnicities, races, ages, or genders. Another characteristic is the interdependence of all its components (Andersen-Rodgers and Crawford 7). For example, if a nation or a group of people suffer from such threats as war, hunger, or environmental pollution, some changes in health, needs, and priorities are observed, changing the quality and style of life. Finally, human security remains people-centered, and prevention of problems in daily lives turns out to be an effective means of safety and care. It is in the interests of the state and individuals to investigate potential threats and predict them before they occur and provoke conditions that are hard to control.

Theories and Definitions

In this discussion, special attention should be paid to theories and definitions. Peou said that it is wrong to treat human security as a theory, but its impact and development must be compatible with other theories like liberalism, critical theory, feminism, and realism (10). Liberalism determined human freedoms and dignity, and critical theory defines social security issues. The respect for realism makes people think thoroughly before taking a step, and feminism helps to recognize gender-related concerns in society and improve treatment to a particular group of people. There is also Just War Theory, according to which violence may be supported as an “inevitable aspect of the human condition” that may be harnessed “to achieve good ends” (Andersen-Rodgers and Crawford 97). In all these theories and approaches, the concept of state sovereignty as a core element of the international system. Sovereignty promotes an idea that states have legal jurisdictions so no other states may interfere in local affairs (Andersen-Rodgers and Crawford 89). This priority cannot be ignored and must be identified as an opportunity to create laws, impose restrictions, and uphold other forms of control.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Theories and Definitions

The strengths of the above-mentioned theories and definitions include the existence of standards, guidelines, and recommendations according to which governments regulate human actions. Sometimes, even the most prepared leaders and governments do not understand how to solve or predict a problem. Theories have a long history and have already been checked and used in different spheres. The creation of human security is another strong outcome of people’s experiences and knowledge. Still, the major weakness is that despite the already imposed laws and obligations, some individuals or countries are read to break the rules and challenge human lives. In this case, the world must decide what precautionary measures can be applied to predict deaths and stabilize the quality of life.


The analysis of the chosen concept shows that human security is easy to define and comprehend but hard to follow and implement. Although countries understand the universal worth of human security in life, actions of particular groups of people or countries are unpredictable. There are many levels of human security that touch upon different aspects like health, social freedoms, equality, and environments. Despite the existing studies and research, it is impossible to improve all spheres at once. Due to the interconnection of human security components, much work must be done to achieve positive and safe results.

Works Cited

Andersen-Rodgers, David, and Kerry F. Crawford. Human Security: Theory and Action. Rowman and Littlefield, 2018.

Behringer, Ronald. The Human Security Agenda: How Middle Power Leadership Defied US Hegemony. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012.

Peou, Sorpong. Human Security Studies: Theories, Methods and Themes. World Scientific Publishing, 2014.

Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou, and Anuradha Chenoy. Human Security: Concepts and Implications. Routledge, 2007.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Human Security, Its Origins, and Theories'. 8 June.

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