Globalization and Human Security

At the end of class on Wednesday, I was getting around to introducing the concept of “human security” by framing it as a response to the impact of globalization. I came across this short paper by UCLA Professor Edmond Keller that succinctly outlines the thinking behind human security and why it is important to understand this emerging idea in international relations discourse – not just as it might pertain to the narrow approach of R2P (the responsibility to protect) to prevent atrocities such as genocide but also in its wider scope to secure the freedom from want and fear. As I mentioned, we will spend the next two classes looking at human security, what it means and entails. First up (in next week’s class) is the excellent documentary film “Ghosts of Rwanda” and a discussion of what happened – or did not happen – in that African country that led to the 1994 genocide.


2 Responses to “Globalization and Human Security”

  1. 1 Cheung Wing Yan Antonie 28/09/2009 at 12:48 am

    Just some little reflection after watching the documentary “Ghost of Rwanda”: As a journalism student and with my career goal of dedicating in a humanitarian NGO, I took it more on a personal level and tried to imagine what could I possibly do if I were the staff from the Red cross, the US ambassador, the only American man left behind or just one of the journalists reporting there. When we talk about “human security” , an issue which may take years of discussion, procedures, education.etc., what could we possibly do in such urgent moments to secure more human lives? One line from the documentary that has stayed in my mind, something like“ If we don’t speak up, then we are assisting the genocide, we are part of it.” I guess this is so true that it doesn’t only apply to genocide but all others global issues. When Mr. Skinner stressed that raising awareness is a key step to make , I believe speaking up is equally essential for protecting human security and achieving possible fairness. At least this is what we could do on a personal level besides replying on governments’ actions.

    I also have a wonder after watching the clip, it seemed that people tended to blame US for not giving help and saving lives in the genocide and I personally agree that the State couldn’t avoid bearing this shame but I also wonder why should the State be the only one be responsible? Sure this is just a fact that US is the world dominating power in all sense, however how about the others? does anyone know how do the UN procedures or practices of sending troops work?

    PS. I would recommend a film “Hotel Rwanda (2004)”, it is a nice film and it’s about a hotel manager insisted in staying in Rwanda and used his hotel to cover an many Tutsi as he could during the genocide.

  2. 2 Anna 06/10/2009 at 12:20 pm

    I have a quick idea in response to the critique of the new notion of human security.

    We are very likely to think that the new notion of human security is too broad as many aspects of human lives are included, like the food, employment, environment, etc are all included under the freedom from want. Placing this lists of wants together with states’ resources, it seems that such new idea of human security is too optimistic or not down-to-earth.

    Thinking anew, it is not hard to understand why the new idea of human security encompassess so many elements. The strongest reason I think is these elements or aspects of live are not divisible and they are inter-related with one another. Thus, if we believe that homelessness is a human security issue, undoubtedly, we have to look into the causes. Then, we will find that food, environment, war, employments, etc, are all factors contributing to such problem. As a result, we have to tackle with these ‘factors’ while we bear in mind that these ‘factors’ are not simply causes. They are the indicators of level of human security enjoyed by the people.

    This illustrates that those elements are not independent of one another and most importantly, failure in sustaining one of them usually will lead to the collapse of another one. Thus, the idea of human security has to be refined in this way.

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