Concepts of human security have been debated and disputed at length during the past twenty years or more. Many lists of definitions exist and various comparative analyses of definitions.1 These reveal not a single concept but a family with many variants, all of which might be relevant for some audiences and contexts. One core theme is the contrast between human security as the security of persons and state security as the security of a state apparatus or territory—a contrast which highlights the aspect: security for or of whom? We should consider besides that several other aspects, including: security of which goods; security to what extent; security against which threats; security using which means; and secured by whom. Related to this exploration of notions of ‘security’, we need to consider meanings of ‘human’, thereby taking further the examination of ‘security of which goods’ and of the proposed justifications for securitization claims. In contrast to their relatively refined discussion of ‘security’, many writers give superficial attention to ‘human’, using merely a contrast between the individual and the state. Yet for Mahbub ul Haq, perhaps the main founder of current human security discourse, ‘for [the] human security approach human beings are the core elements’, not simply individuals (Lama 2010:4). Definitional of human beings is that they are not self-enclosed or isolated individuals but complex beings whose individuality arises through relationships. Apart from referring to human beings, ‘human’ can also connote both the human species and whatever in human persons and collectivities is considered to be most important, most worthy, most ‘human’ and at risk, and therefore as requiring to be secured. One needs thus to explore a complex semantic field.

Additional Metadata
Keywords human development, human security
ISBN 978-0-415-58128-8
Persistent URL hdl.handle.net/1765/50573
Series ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development
Note [Draft of a chapter which later appeared in revised and corrected form as: ‘From Definitions to Investigating a Discourse’, in M. Martin and T. Owen (eds., 2013), Routledge Handbook of Human Security, Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 28-42.]
Gasper, D.R. (2011). Concepts of Human Security. In ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/50573