Prelude: The surprising spread of ‘human security’ discourse The language of ‗human security‘ that became prominent in the 1990s has encountered criticism from many sides, it has continued to gain momentum. One encounters it frequently now in discussions of environment, migration, socioeconomic rights, culture, gender and more, not only of physical security. Werthes and Debiel propose that: ‗human security provides a powerful ―political leitmotif‖ for particular states and multilateral actors by fulfilling selected functions in the process of agenda-setting, decision-making and implementation‘ (2006:8). I suggest that in order to understand human security discourse and its spread this specification of actors and functions should be broadened. The relevant actors include more than states and multilateral agencies. What was primarily a language in United Nations circles is now far more. Like the sister idea of human rights, human security could be becoming an idiom that plays important roles in motivating and directing attention, and in problem recognition, diagnosis, evaluation and response.

Additional Metadata
Publisher Cambridge University Press
ISBN 978-0-521-19766-3
Persistent URL
Series ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development
Gasper, D.R. (2010). The idea of human security. In ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from