Security is one of the most important concepts in International Relations discipline since it is based on the safety of states and their citizens and it deals with the macro issues of safety which are related to armies and wars. However, defining security concept is not a simple thing to do since there are various understandings of the term and the concept has greatly evolved in time. Security is about discussion on the pursuit of freedom and it is the ability of states to maintain their independent and functional identity. Walter Lippman conceives security in terms of a nation being secure when it’s not in a danger to sacrifice it’s values if it wishes to avoid war and also able to secure them if challenged through victory in such a war. A nation is secure to the extent that it has no danger lingering and that in case of an attack the state will prevail.
Various theoretical approaches have been brought forth by scholars in an attempt to critically analyze security as a concept. As such there have been two dominant umbrella schools of thought. The traditionalists include views by realists, liberalism and the environmentalists. Contemporary theoretical perspectives also include views by Copenhagen school, human security and social constructionist.
For the purposes of this article İ will mention two views.
Copenhagen School emphasizes on the social aspects of security and widens the scope of security to include individual and societal security. Proponents argue that security is not a fixed unit but it is created through a process of securitization. Buzan (1998:21) defines security in International Relations as different to security in an everyday sense – in International Relations, it is necessarily linked to power politics, and ultimately, it is about survival of states. Traditionally, security threats posed an existential threat to a particular referent object as they threaten its very existence. The referent object, that is, the ‘thing’ under threat, was traditionally equated with the state, but this was expanded by the Copenhagen school to include a range of possible referent objects, depending on the sector of security to be considered.
However, before any object is considered a threat, it has to be securitized. Buzan (1998: 26) defines securitization as the discursive process through which ‘an issue is dramatized and presented as an issue of supreme priority; thus by labeling it as security an agent claims a need for and a right to treat it by extraordinary means.’ For example, in environmental security, the global environment is often the referent object under threat. As such, security is a ‘speech act’, ‘the utterance itself is the act’ (Woever 1995: 55) and by speaking ‘security’ the securitizing actor moves the issue out of regular politics and into the security sphere, thereby legitimizing the use of extraordinary measures to deal with the threat if the securitizing move is successful.
The Copenhagen school argues that international security is mostly about how human collectivities relate to each other in terms of threats and vulnerabilities. It also addresses how such collectivities relate to threats from the environment and sees security as relational. Copenhagen school emphasizes security from the widest context of the global level which focuses on studying systemic referent objects such as the global environment, the world economy, international society and regional subsystems. The theory posits the existence of regional sub systems as objects of security analysis. Its primary focus is the state as the unit of analysis and in the political and military sectors it aims to highlight the relative autonomy of regional security relations and to set those relations within the context of the state and systems levels. Proponents point out that insecurity is often associated with proximity, that is, most states fear their neighbors more than the distant powers and that security interdependence across the international system is not uniform. Emphasis are on regionally based patterns of security interdependence called security complexes which are about the relative intensity of interstate security relations that lead to distinctive regional patterns shaped by both the distribution of power and historical relations of amity (cooperation) and enmity (conflict).
There are arguably three distinct conceptions of human security that shape current debates. The first is what might be termed the natural rights or rule of law conception of human security anchored in the fundamental liberal assumption of basic individual rights to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’, and of the international community’s obligation to protect and promote these rights (Alston 1992, Lauren 1998, Morsink 1998). A second view of human security is humanitarian. This is the view of human security that, for example, informs international efforts to deepen and strengthen international law, particularly regarding genocide and war crimes, and to abolish weapons that are especially harmful to civilians and non-combatants (Boutros-Ghali 1992). This view lies at the heart of humanitarian interventions directed at improving the basic living conditions of refugees, and anyone uprooted by conflict from their homes and communities.
At its core, human security has come to have meaning in terms of the individual, moving beyond purely state- based notions of military and territorial security to include broader concerns particularly in terms of development and human rights. The first significant statement on human security appeared in the UN’s 1994 Human Development Report. The politics of security, the report made clear, ‘…have for too long been interpreted narrowlyby relating more to nation- states than to people, whereby security symbolized protection from the threat of disease, hunger, unemployment, crime, social conflict, political repression and environmental hazards’ (UNDP 1994: 22). Thus, security policy and analysis must widen its focus and include not only the security of borders but also the security of people’s lives (UNDP 1994:23).
The radical potential of this conceptualization is its emphasis on the legitimate concerns of ordinary people for whom a feeling of insecurity arises more from the worries of daily life than from the dread of a cataclysmic world event (UNDP 1994: 22). The report identifies seven specific elements that comprise human security: economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, community security and political security. Indeed, the drafters of the report did not want to establish any definition boundaries, but rather believed that the ‘all- encompassing and integrative qualities of the human security concept’ were among the concept’s strengths.
Throughout the 1990s, human security became a way of describing or framing what the UN was in many ways already doing; it allowed a number of disparate policy initiatives to be linked, and to be given greater coherence as the UN’s post-Cold War mandate was taking shape (Krause 1994: 24). In this context, the final report from the UN Commission on Human Security further defined human security to mean protecting fundamental freedoms, protecting people from severe and widespread threats and situations. Thus, human security engaged the broad principles of freedom from want and freedom from fear, encompassing chronic threats such as hunger and disease as well as sudden threats from violence and the use of, or threat of, force.
This dichotomy that has become the basis for much of the human security debate to date. While the UN has largely embraced a holistic vision of human security focused on issues of conflict, fair trade, access to health care and education, other organizations, such as The Human Security Network, have promoted a more tightly focused vision where human security is about removing the use of, or threat of, force and violence from people’s everyday lives (Krause 2007). Even those in favour of narrowing are split on where the focus ought to be. For example, some scholars have argued that the main threat to human security is the absence of the rule of law and organized violence, while others have promoted a humanitarian vision of human security where the emphasis is on the protection of civilians in emergency situations (Hampson2002). In short, these competing visions led to questions in the literature about the validity of using human security as a policy framework and as a category of research, particularly as political practices have led to the creation of long lists of what constitutes human security.