In Germany, as elsewhere, security conventionally has focused on the state and the protection of its territory and people from the intentional harmful actions of other countries or individuals. However, over the years, such a definition increasingly seemed too narrow to adequately address the threats to humanity. Amongst others, this was highlighted in the 1994 Human Development Report (HDR) by the United Nations (UN) which argued that the concept of security needed to place greater emphasis on the security of individuals and their protection from threats other than those related to the force of arms and the state—including matters such as environmental degradation, the spread of diseases or issues related to the labor market. In the report it was stated that:
For too long, the concept of security has been shaped by the potential for conflict between states [and] has been equated with the threats to a country's borders. … [However], [f]or most people today, a feeling of insecurity arises more from worries about daily life than from the dread of a cataclysmic world event. Job security, income security, health security, environmen-tal security, security from crime—these are the emerging concerns of human security all over the world.
Figure 2: The conventional/traditional and the new/human conceptualization of security
|Traditional national security
|Source: Prezelj 2008 (this author’s replication)
|Security for whom
|Values at stake
(security of what values)
|Territorial integrity and national independence
|Personal safety and individual freedom
|Security from what
(threats and risks)
|Traditional threats (military threats, violence by countries…)
|Non-traditional and also traditional threats
|Security by what means
|Force as the primary instrument of security, to be used unilaterally for a state’s own safety
|Force as a secondary instrument, to be used primarily for cosmopolitan ends and collectively; sanctions, human development, and humane governance as key instruments of individual-centered security
|Assessment of power
|Balance of power is important; power is equated with military capabilities.
|Balance of power is of limited utility; soft power is increasingly important.
|Significance of inter-state cooperation
|Cooperation between states is tenuous beyond alliance relations.
|Cooperation between states, international organizations and NGOs can be effective and sustained.
These aspects relate to the concept of human security which is rooted in the political science and international relations disciplines. As the Commission on Human Security has noted:
Human security in its broadest sense embraces far more than the absence of violent conflict. It encompasses human rights, good governance, access to education and health care and ensuring that each individual has opportunities and choices to fulfill his or her own potential.
In the sense of the concept of human security state security is improved by protecting people from a range of non-military threats that could also be sources of conflict and thus threaten the wider security of the state itself.
Figure 2 gives an overview of the different dimensions of the human security concept. Some of these are a reflection of the concerns and needs of German expats in Hong Kong and Thailand as will be demonstrated in the following section.
Figure 3: The dimensions of human security and their specifics
|Source: this author’s own illustration (as based on UNDP 1994b, pp. 25-33)
|A sense of security that can be derived from access to work, a fairly stable employment situation and a guaranteed basic income, either through that employment or public welfare.
|A sense of security that can be gained from the opportunity to have access to an adequate amount and range of food that is required to cover the basic needs of people in this regard.
|A sense of security that refers to being protected from the infection of diseases and to the opportunity to access professional medical treatment in cases needed.
|A sense of security that relates to the non-exposure to hazards of the “natural” living environment of people, including sudden threats like earthquakes, cyclones or floods and more long-term dangers such as air pollution and desertification.
|A sense of security that refers to being protected from any form of violence directed to harm the physical and psychological integrity of people.
|A sense of security that can be gained from the awareness of being part of a greater group of people sharing similar views and attitudes.
|A sense of security that can be derived from membership in a non-repressive society in which “basic human rights” are respected by its organizing authorities.
This text is part of the policy brief on