The Probabilty of Humanitarian Intervention as Framework for Human Security

Term Paper, 2011

10 Pages, Grade: AA



The paper aims to present a probable humanitarian intervention as framework of human security. It objectifies humanitarian intervention as an element that will make human security autonomous but not separate nor fully independent from non-traditional security. Several literatures confuses the two terms as synonymous with each other, where others differentiated them explicitly. Thus the essay will address the ambiguity of both conceptions and discuss humanitarian intervention not as a different concept from human security but argues that it may be part and parcel of it, and in fact a possible framework to explain the paradigm of human security autonomous to non-traditional security. This contribution aspires for a sound, simple yet clear and unambiguous interpretation of human security to the evolving field of security especially as a sub-discipline of International Relations. In addition, it will also contend that there is a considerable middle way for both human security and non-traditional security in meeting a tangency point, and that is, a re-conceptualized version of human rights.


Humanitarian Intervention, Human Security, Non-Traditional Security, Humanitarian Development, Human Rights

Purpose and Objective

Why there’s a need to separate human security from non-traditional security? In this line of inquiry, we need to consider the aim of this paper as mentioned above, thus question should also fit to the construction of essay. The proponent wants to emphasize that he is not separating human security from non-traditional security because in his second hypothesis he is also interested in looking for a middle way for both conceived ideas. This is not to separate them but to make the conception of human security autonomous from the conception of non-traditional security. Related literatures have confused both conceptions and increased its ambiguity which directed some scholars and practitioners to formulate their own interpretations of human security and non-traditional security. The proponent is confused when he read studies stating both conceptions identical in nature and hence, equal footing status, when in fact it exacerbated further confusions and tensions.

Consequently, the primal objective of this study is to remove the confusion that these two terms are facing. To exclude their identical character we need explanatory power to claim and defend our main idea, and what the author is thinking is to present human security with its own explanatory power to make a (standing) paradigm coherent and clear. Further, the purpose is not a matter of challenging what the other scholars have said but to add another view or element to the diverse interpretations of human security vis-à-vis non-traditional security. And his objective is to simply interpret human security as clear as possible and without attached ambiguousness. The proponent’s essay will first look into the evolution and development of the conception of the term ‘security’ then will discuss the ambiguity between the two conceptions and provide humanitarian intervention as the explanatory framework to establish its autonomy.

The Etymology of ‘Security’

In its broadest and academic term, “security” has been defined contemporarily as being that special type of politics in which specified developments are socially constructed threats, having an existential quality to cover values and/or assets of human collectivities and leading to a call for emergency measures.1 However, surveying the old traditional perceptions of security dating back from Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, to Rousseau, Kant, Kautilya, to Hobbes, Machiavelli and to Morgenthau, the proponent found a linkage of security study in providing answers to human physiological needs that is interpreted in varied disciplines of Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations. To Plato such path leading to security was presented in his ideal republic. The total security, both spiritual and material, was brought about the creation of a new society and all its institutions based on the right principles of social existence. Plato related these principles to the idea of the universal Good as governing nature.2

For Aristotle the quest for security was connected with his idea of fullness of being and ideal nature.3 This took the form of instinctive striving after perfection as embodied in the species. In the area of man’s social or political life, security arrangements manifested themselves in certain types of social systems said to be in harmony with nature or in conformity with man’s striving after full development of himself or the Good’s life. For Confucius security was associated with commitments to certain universal principles of conduct. The ultimate aim was to bring about a condition of universal social harmony and stability. Goodness of human nature was often assumed which, if damaged, could be restored mainly by proper education.4

For Rousseau, the quest for security diverts from the man’s attempt to return to his natural condition, which Rousseau portrayed as the natural goodness of man, and man’s quest for political legitimacy.5 To Kant, security is the recognition of the rational possibility of a universal peace. However, for the Indian thinker Kautilya contends the holding of an opinion that universal egoism is made permanent security impossible.6 He developed a system of security where this was treated as diverse strategies by which, given the egoist nature of man, social living or security, could be made manageable, and so, relative security might be attained. Cicero, an Italian philosopher, is the first who is closer to identifying security as human security whereby he described it as the absence of anxiety upon which the fulfilled life depends.7

Hobbes’ argument of an organized society where security prevails takes place lies in the shadow of the Leviathan-ruler, ever prepared to use his sword to enforce the conditions of the social contract, which is the original choice of anarchic men.8 Buzan and Wæver opined that Hobbes’ premise was too individualistic (not organicist or romantic like the German ancestors of realism).9 His starting point is an individual who has a right to self defense, but that individual pursuit of self-preservation is vulnerable. The basic Hobbesian argument that a social contract constructing a commonwealth was necessary or at least preferable for security, and thereby liberty, for they found it necessary to tame and constrain the state. On the other hand, Machiavelli argued that the possibility of relative security may exist only if a society or a statesman behave as a disciplined and responsible citizen, or alternatively, if a regime is run in an authoritarian manner with force being used generously to repress anarchic tendencies in man.10

In my understanding, security occurs due to the fact that man is responsible of protecting himself from the threats that he thinks exist with a purpose of building a securitized environment, and for him to live by sufficing and enjoying his satisfaction(s). The means and ways on how to build a securitized environment should also be considered. Like for example, are we talking of foreign aids or an effective government?

Theorizing Security in International Relations

In this prism, the proponent will going to discuss the differing security theories from the perspective of International Relations and how time impacted its evolution of being conceptualized. Theoretical interest in security from the perspective of realism acquired importance in the 16th and 17th centuries with mercantilist ideas of national protectionism. While an important phase in recent thought on security has been the era of the “Cold War,” where the search for national and world-wide security has tended to crystallize itself in terms of two competing camps, one associated with the Soviet Union and the other with the United States. In contemporary, one view of security is defined as the protection of values previously acquired or as high value expectancy in the sense of continued unmolested enjoyment of one’s possessions.11 Here, security, when viewed as a topic of international politics, is generally perceived as the ability of the state to protect its way of life, its “core values,” meaning its territorial integrity and political independence.

Within the context of the power paradigm, security conceived as the absence of threats to national status or values which is attained or maintained only through the accumulation of instrument of power. Morgenthau sees the issue of security within the context of international politics where sovereign state pursues its own peculiar national interest.12 Obviously, during the Cold War there has been a tendency to emphasize balance of power and military power which are thoughts of as useful for protecting national security or interest. On the other hand, since the onset of Cold War, liberal theory has downplayed security and security studies mostly ignored or dismissed liberalism.13 Liberalism challenged the logic of security by asserting that the supposedly permanent realist world of fear can in fact be not only alleviated, but possibly even replaced altogether. If states act according to a liberal logic of maximizing absolute gains and generally prioritize economics over politics, then the war problematic to security will become marginal, and both security studies and the security institutions of the state will eventually become redundant.14

Redefining Security: The Post-Cold War Impact

Security has been traditionally interpreted as a mechanism of protecting the national interest of states through foreign policy making and implementation. It has long been considered as a priori of legitimizing the territorial integrity of the wholeness of state and used to frame states in declaring war against others in times of conflict and hostility. Security also measures the capabilities of state with regard to physical or material capacities in securing itself by enhancing defense strategy, military power, steel industry, war armaments and intelligence operations.

During the World War I, the British have been busy desecuritizing issues in the sense of social democracy while in World War II up to the Cold War; Americans had introduced a new paradigm which is securitizing issues through their liberal perspective. Here security was shaped by the contradictory pressures of reacting to Soviet Communism as a broad-spectrum external threat, and containing the risk of domestic military threats to the liberty of American civil society. Therefore securitization is not just a call for political priority, but if need be, for permission to break the normal rules of politics, i.e., by using force, by taking executive powers, or by imposing secrecy.15 It is when the move that takes politics beyond the established rules of the game and frames the issue either as a special kind of politics or as above politics and may refers to the classification of and consensus about certain phenomena, persons or entities as existential threats requiring emergency measures.16

Securitization is thus mostly about calls for closure against things perceived as existentially threatening and further, the consensual establishment of threat needs to be sufficient so as to produce substantial political effects. What constitutes an existential threat is thus viewed by Copenhagen School stating that it depends on a shared understanding of what is meant by such a danger to security. Threat may be classified into three: (1) Actual threats are existing conditions that can, at any moment, reduce security; (2) potential threats are conditions tending to reduce security but are not transformable to actual threats due to some constraints; and (3) fictitious threats are conditions that are perceived to reduce security but do not really exist.17

In this era different threats were conceived ranging from who will be the next enemy of the single sole superpower in the world, i.e., of course the US. Epidemic diseases like SARS, HIV Aids virus, Swine Flu virus among others that were spreading faster to poor continents (Africa, Asia, and South America), environmental challenges which includes the infamous climate change (global warming to be specific), causes that aggravate the worst situations for refugees, displaced persons (internally or externally) and particularly of the stateless population like in the Palestinian case, the transnational character of terrorism, global financial crisis and other conditions regionally or globally that makes the lives of human beings vulnerable to these new perceived, actual or existential threats. These are the new enemies of state.

This paved the way of the birth of non-traditional security wherein the people not the state as the referent object which should be protected and securitized. It is the security of an individual for adequate and stable conditions that addresses developmental issues. It is also considered as a shift from the bipolar threat of the Cold War to the threats considered as vulnerabilities in human conditions. However, human security can also be define broadly similar to non-traditional security in toto with its ontological propositions (the existence of their being) and epistemological presuppositions (the acquisition of knowledge per se), but how can we put human security not identical to non-traditional security? What explanatory framework can we used to defend the predicate of the aforementioned statement, i.e., human security’s autonomous nature from non-traditional security? These questions are central to the proposed purpose and objective of the study, which will be discuss in the succeeding sections.

Human Security or Non-Traditional Security?

Non-traditional security was put entrenched side-by-side human security in the post-Cold War period. There were two directions where human security was conceptualized and developed: (1) the approach taken by the Canadian government, which in her own words was “adopted and established a network of like-minded states who subscribed to the concept,” i.e., responsibility to protect, and was published in the 2005 Human Security Report. (2) The UNDP approach which was also reflected in the work of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.18 This approach according to Kaldor emphasized the interrelatedness of different types of security and the importance of development as a security strategy.


1 Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver. Liberalism and Security: The Contradictions of the Liberal Leviathan, Copenhagen Peace Research Institute, April 1998 [database on-line]; available at, in November 22, 2009.

2 Estrella D. Solidum, Teresita D. Saldivar-Sali and Roman Dubsky. “Security in a New Perspective,” in Estrella D. Solidum, The Sall State: Security and World Peace, (Manila: Kalikasan Press, 1991), p. 13.

3 Ibid. p. 14.

4 Ibid. p. 15.

5 Ibid. p. 15.

6 Ibid. p. 16.

7 P.H. Liotta and Taylor Owen, “Why Human Security,” The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University, Winter/Spring 2006, pp. 37-54.

8 Solidum, Saldivar-Sali and Dubsky, “Security in a New Perspective,” p. 16.

9 Buzan and Wæver, “Liberalism and Security,” [database on-line]; available at, in November 22, 2009.

10 Solidum, Saldivar-Sali and Dubsky, “Security in a New Perspective,” p. 17.

11 Ibid. p. 18.

12 Ibid. p. 19.

13 Buzan and Wæver, “Liberalism and Security,” [database on-line]; available at, in November 22, 2009.

14 Ibid. [database on-line]; available at, in November 22, 2009.

15 Ibid. [database on-line]; available at, in November 22, 2009.

16 Mely Caballero-Anthony and Ralf Emmers, “The Dynamics of Securitization in Asia,” in Ralf Emmers, Mely Caballero-Anthony and Amitav Acharya, Studying Non-Traditional Security in Asia: Trends and Issue, (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Academic, 2006), p. 23.

17 Solidum, Saldivar-Sali and Dubsky, “Security in a New Perspective,” p. 28.

18 Mary Kaldor, Human Security: Reflections on Globalization and Intervention, Cambridge, U.K., Polity Press, 2007, pp. 182-187.

Excerpt out of 10 pages


The Probabilty of Humanitarian Intervention as Framework for Human Security
Middle east technical university  (Department of International Relations)
Security Studies
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
499 KB
probabilty, humanitarian, intervention, framework, human, security
Quote paper
Nassef M. Adiong (Author), 2011, The Probabilty of Humanitarian Intervention as Framework for Human Security, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: The Probabilty of Humanitarian Intervention as Framework for Human Security

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free