“The continuous coverage of victims of war and humanitarian disasters allows us to immediately assess human crisis, yet understanding why billions of people face such appalling struggles is complex and requires a serious study of vulnerable and marginalized populations.”
—from Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Want: An Introduction to Human Security
Traditional schools of thought surrounding human security hold that a strong state is key to achieving development and human rights. This is a top-down approach, however, and the authors of a new book on the subject argue that security needs to focus on the protection and empowerment of marginalized populations, rather than the state itself.
“We have to think about how people are impacted, and only then can we start thinking of a new paradigm to help alleviate those stresses,” said Dr. Robert Hanlon, co-author of Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Want: An Introduction to Human Security.
“Conflict has changed, and new emerging threats have appeared, including climate change and terrorism. We live in a very insecure world. Sometimes we look to the government to help us. Often, they fail,” said the assistant professor of international relations and Asian politics at TRU.
He, along with co-author Dr. Kenneth Christie, a Professor in the School of Humanitarian Studies at Royal Roads University, explain human security as a relatively new framework for understanding non-traditional security threats that came into play following the end of the Cold War
This is the first interdisciplinary text to critically assess emerging global threats to human security — resource depletion, economic instability, political violence — while evaluating potential mechanisms of deterrence.
“All people have some level of insecurity, but this book is really about understanding the victim’s needs. You cannot give those communities security with a top-down approach. It’s impossible for individuals to have human dignity under threat of catastrophic military intervention and forced displacement,” said Hanlon, who is spending this summer as a visiting scholar at the University of Hong Kong’s Kadoorie Institute.
Published by University of Toronto Press, Freedom from Fear is timely, as it focuses on recent events that threaten human security, including the war in Syria, as well as transnational crime including the drug trafficking syndicates in Mexico and Latin America, where the state is unable to provide security to its citizens.
“In countries like Canada, when you have a problem — you’re assaulted, or someone steals from you — generally you have a police force that functions. But in other countries police and legal systems are controlled by the military and the elite, and they aren’t able to protect people,” he said.
Dr. Robert Hanlon