Human Security on Foreign Policy Agendas: : Changes, concepts and cases

When the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published its 1994 report, nobody expected that the human security concept outlined within it would attract so much attention from politicians and academics alike. This is all the more astonishing as the concept has provoked a lot of criticism ever since its first appearance due to its excoriated analytical ambiguity and its disputed political appropriateness. One of the significant changes (see Debiel/Werthes) of human security concepts is that they put special emphasis on a horizontal and vertical extension. Thereby, new types of threats are taken into account with regard to a new referent object. Basically, all these concepts have in common that the object of security is not limited to the state but also includes the individual – no matter where he/she lives. Hence, these concepts implicitly emphasise that the various safety threats must be addressed though multilateral processes and by taking into account the patterns of interdependence that characterize the globalized world. As if such an extraordinary extension would not be a big enough challenge for states and the international community as such, Debiel/Werthes and Werthes/Bosold (with regard to the members of the Human Security Network) point out how human security understood and accepted as a political leitmotif might have and might produce significant leverage on foreign policy agendas, as it might serve particular states and multilateral actors by fulfilling selected functions in the process of agenda-setting, decision-making and implementation. This might to a certain degree explain why different and ambiguous human security concepts despite criticism have gained so much attention especially in the political field. The case studies by Atanassova-Cornelis, Gropas, and Liotta/Owen further exemplify these aforementioned ideas when illustrating human security on the Japanese foreign policy agenda, or when studying the link between human security and human rights, and even when comparing the European Human Security doctrine with the US National Security Strategy with regard to potentials and limits.


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