Human Security: Concept and Operationalization

Human Security: Concept and Operationalization
By Dr. Sverre Lodgaard
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

Abstract: This paper has two parts, one conceptual and one operational. The conceptual one defines and discusses the concept of human security and relates it to the well-established concept of state security. It is suggested that as the dust from the conceptual debate of the early 1990s settles, these are the concepts that security policies will be organized around for a long time ahead. The operational part focuses on three core items on the human security agenda: preventive action, along with a discussion of the financial and political constraints on such activities; small arms and light weapons, i.e. the “hard” part of the agenda; and concerted international action in the form of “peace operations for human security”.


The security of states

1. The concept of state security has a history as long as the nation state, i.e. of the order of 350 years (re. the Treaties of Westphalia, 1648). National security, or the security of the state, has an agreed definition which is deeply ingrained in the institutions and practitioners of foreign affairs. The objective of national security policy is to defend the territorial integrity of the state and the freedom to determine one’s own form of government.

2. At the global level, collective security is the name of the game. This is the compass of the UN Charter1. As a global security system, it remains far-fetched. It may be valuable as a vision, but it does not give much guidance in day-to-day policy-making. Under contemporary circumstances, it is more useful to treat collective security as a type of action that states sometimes resort to, and to consider how the conditions for such actions can be improved and their effectiveness and predictability enhanced. At the global level, this is what the politics of collective security is all about.

The security of people

3. In the 1990s, collective security actions have been taken not only to revive and enhance the security of states, but also in defence of the security of people(s). The first instances were Iraq (1991) and Somalia (1992/93). In Iraq, actions were taken in support of the Kurds in the north and the Shi´ite minority in the south, against the government. In Somalia, the humanitarian enforcement action was taken in the absence of a functioning government2.

4. The Report of the Commission on Global Governance – Our Global Neighbourhood3 – articulated the distinction between the security of states and the security of people(s). The referent object of security, which had been reserved exclusively for the state, was widened to encompass “people”. Coming on the heels of actions that were undertaken in this spirit, this was more than an intellectual exercise: in the first half of the 1990s, collective security practices developed at such a pace that the conceptualization of them lagged behind. The Commission formulated a widening of the security concept that reflected a growing recognition of the unrelenting human costs of violent conflicts.

5. In the past, civilian casualties and destruction of civilian property were matters of collateral damage: at least, they had been treated as such. Now, civilians were at the epicentre of contemporary wars. Over and over again, they were the objects of armed attack, rape, robbery etc. A qualitative shift had taken place, and the recognition of it did much to stimulate the formulation of human security, conceptually as well as in practice.

Adjustment to systemic change

6. In the transition period from one epoch to another, it is only natural that existing concepts and paradigms are reviewed and reconsidered. After the end of the Cold War, a great many suggestions were made for how to amend and widen the concept(s) of security. Having reviewed and screened them, there is one concept in addition to that of state security that appears relevant and important for the long term: that of human security, building on the distinction between the security of states and the security of people. Championed by Canada and elaborated upon in the bilateral Canadian-Norwegian Lysøen process, this concept is gaining ground in international security discourse.

7. The Cold War subordinated national and international affairs to the logic of bloc politics. When the dictates of superpower rivalry were removed, the interests of governments and peoples came more clearly to the fore. Complex conflicts came into the open, and intra-state wars were waged with great ferocity. In this situation, the classical definition of security no longer sufficed. To retain its relevance to questions of war and peace, a companion concept to that of state security had to be introduced to cover the security of people as well. Defence could no longer be limited to the defence of state borders. It was also a matter of defending international rules, norms and standards in support of human beings at risk. Accordingly, there was a distinct tendency to restrict the sovereignty of states and enhance the salience of international norms. Governments guilty of gross violations of such norms should not be able to hide behind the claim to sovereignty.

8. State security and human security are interlinked, however. On a positive note, state security is a means of providing human security – or so it should be – whereas a high degree of human security may shed legitimacy on governments, regimes and states. On a negative note, outwardly aggressive and inwardly repressive regimes can be major sources of human insecurity. The security of people may be undermined by other states supporting oppressive regimes. Failed states – states that can no longer provide effective governance – invariably fail in human security.

9. In other words: to maintain its legitimacy, the state has to comply with an expanding body of international law – expanding because of a multiplication of legal instruments and stretched interpretations of existing ones. At the United Nations, the Security Council has extended the meaning of “international peace and security” – originally phrased with a view to conflicts between states – to cover conflicts that are predominantly domestic, on the ground that most of them have some international ramification or other. On this basis, a variety of peace operations have been set in motion. They peaked in 1994, when more than 80 000 people were deployed in UN operations. They came to a low in 1998 when only 14 000 were involved. By 1 May 2000, with the peace operations in East Timor and Sierra Leone ongoing, the number had once again increased to 35 000. While their predictability and efficiency obviously leave much to be desired, peace operations remain prominent on the international security agenda.

10. Collective security actions in the name of human security must have a basis in international law. They are triggered by gross violations of international treaties, most importantly the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions (humanitarian law) and the Convention and Protocol relating to the status of refugees (refugee law). This is a necessary condition for international action, but not a sufficient one: collective decisions also depend on a convergence of national interests, which is harder to obtain. Obviously, there are normative bases and dire needs for many more collective security initiatives than those that are actually taken.

11. However, this does not mean that international norms and standards are good enough. Some states object to erosion of the principles of sovereignty and non-interference. Generally, we may have come to a stage where the interpretation of existing legal instruments has been stretched to the limit. Further progress depends on the negotiation of better legal instruments. “Emerging slowly, but I believe surely, is an international norm against violent repression of any group or people that must and will take precedence over concerns of state sovereignty”4.

12. What becomes of the states, the classical building blocs of international affairs? There are different readings of their historical evolution. No wonder, therefore, that there are different opinions about their future, and different prognoses for different categories of states. Generally, the fact that states are geographically defined while the problems and solutions are increasingly non-territorial in their nature, suggests that their overall importance is on the decline. Non-governmental organizations and international companies are growing stronger. Globalization involves a multiplication of actors on the international scene, and complex actor constellations are brought to bear on more and more issues5. States therefore matter less. However, at the same time they also matter more. Together, they can lay down the ground-rules of international affairs. And this they do in a variety of ways through expanding networks of cooperation.

13. The sum of these factors – the constraints on state sovereignty, the mobilization of international civil society in defence of international norms, and the sharing of power between state and non-state actors in a globalizing world – nevertheless leaves a clear message: the state is no longer able to monopolize the concept and practice of security. Issues of security and defence go beyond the state system. The security of people has entered the political agenda and here, a wide range of actors are involved. A multitude of non-governmental organizations play a role in early warning, preventive action and post-conflict reconstruction, and many of them assist civilians also while war is being waged.

14. We have therefore passed the point when scholars and politicians could legitimately discuss whether the concept of security ought to stay within the state paradigm.

Today, the conceptual challenge is to shape a security paradigm that captures the need to reach out in defence of people as well as states, and that can orchestrate and steer our endeavours in both directions.

Widening and consolidation

15. In addition to “state” and “people”, it has been suggested that the referent objects of security might include “society” and “the ecological system”. State security has sovereignty as its ultimate criterion; societal security has identity. Both usages imply survival. A state that loses its sovereignty does not survive as a state; a society that loses its identity will no longer be able to live “as itself”.

16. In its pure form, the ecological system as a referent object of security may be of esoteric interest only. It implies that overriding value is attached to the ecological lifeline, not to the humans. The ultimate implication of the notion and philosophy of “deep ecology” is that the human species must be ready to accept extinction if this is what is needed to maintain a viable ecological system on earth. “Life” is the ultimate value, not necessarily the reproduction of humans. Short of this purist elevation of ecology to the very top of the value hierarchy there are, of course, other lines of reasoning that give priority to ecological needs on the assumption that this is a basic prerequisite for human continuation and betterment. They may be of practical, political interest.

17. These referent objects of security can usefully be consolidated into two categories. First, nobody suggests that we may dispense with the security of states. Second, there is an intimate relationship between the security of people and societal security. Indeed, cultural identity is a value recognized in international law, primarily in the context of minority rights. These notions may therefore be merged. Finally, it would seem that environmental concerns can best be considered in terms of challenges or threats not as a referent object of security. Often, they are considered in the context of economic policies rather than in security terms. In practice, this varies with regional circumstances. Obviously, different countries are differently affected by environmental problems and will therefore treat them differently.

18. During the 1980s, it was noticed that while the concept of security was loaded with enormous substance – at times, East-West relations boiled down to little else than security parlance and military accountancy – it had been subject to little reflection. Only a few years later, reviews and redefinitions were commonplace, especially suggestions to widen the coverage of the concept. Widening was proposed along two dimensions: (a) in terms of referent objects and (b) in terms of threats, recommending that deep-seated problems in ever more sectors be addressed in security terms6. Hence economic security, environmental security, food security, energy security etc7.

19. Single countries may see fit to address the challenges of one or the other of these sectors in security terms. Egypt, for instance, is critically dependent on one source of water supply, so Ethiopian regulations of the Blue Nile could threaten the survival of the state and be treated in security terms. But proposals to incorporate such challenges into the general, universal usage of security are misguided: first, because the concept tends to become all-inclusive and therefore empty of contents, and second, because the issues and their solutions do not necessarily benefit from being securitized. They must be allowed to stay inside or outside the security sector, or move in and out of it as circumstances change. The paradigm must allow for changing landscapes and shifting political opinions of what is instrumental and preferable.

20. In the study and practice of international relations, the realist tradition focuses on military threats. The neo-realist school also emphasizes economic interests. However, they do not do so a priori. States make threats in the sectors where they have the best options and when reacting to threats, they choose their means on the basis of comparative advantage. Strategic studies have focused on military instruments as well, especially during the Cold War, but not as a matter of principle: the means are secondary to the political aims. Since threats are kept external to the concept, by the same logic it does not make sense to bake the means into it either. Threats and means vary with time and space, and there is no uniformity in their inclusion in or exclusion from the security paradigm. If we focus our discussion on security concepts with a claim to universality – and we do – we must stay within the realm of common denominators.

Human security

21. This reconceptualization leads to the dual concept of state security and human security9. The meaning of human security is synonymous with that of “the security of people”, and “societal security” is incorporated into it. While building on previous conceptualizations, this has the advantage of deflating a field of conceptual discourse that has become overcrowded.

22. The objective of human security is the safety and survival of people. A shorthand for the same is freedom from fear of physical violence. The individual is the unit of account. In operational terms it means the rule of law, public order and peaceful management of conflicts.

A time dimension must be added: an OECD study of security sector reform uses “a sense of security” to indicate an expectation of human security for the time ahead, strong enough and long enough for socio-economic development, development aid projects, foreign investments, nation-building and other collective endeavours to take place.

23. The rule of law, public order and peaceful management of conflicts provide protection against physical torture, arbitrary arrest and detention; crime and street violence; rape and other domestic violence directed at women; child abuse10; mishandling of refugees; and, last not least, armed conflict between factions/groups11. This is what policies of human security should try to achieve. Should war nevertheless be waged, a number of “remnants” may cause fear of physical violence long after the war has ended. Glaring examples are landmines and undetained war criminals12. Similarly with other physical excesses: they leave behind a feeling of insecurity that can only be erased over time by a convincing record of non-violence. To foster a “sense of security” for the long term may therefore be a tedious process. Even when limiting the concept to freedom from fear of physical violence, the human security agenda is obviously a long one.

24. The normative underpinnings of the concept are human rights, humanitarian law and refugee law. They are supposed to inspire the development of national legal systems on the basis of which governments should do their best to ensure the rule of law and public order. This is also the normative framework for peaceful management of conflicts at intra-national or group level. In essence, however, the capacity for management of such conflicts is vested in the political system.

25. Many agree that freedom from fear of physical violence constitutes the core of human security. Fewer agree that the concept should be limited to that. For instance, there are those who emphasize that for most people of the world, hunger, disease and environmental contamination represent graver security concerns than physical violence. They hold that the concept should include freedom from structural as well as direct violence13. Astrid Suhrke has suggested that “vulnerability” could be the defining characteristic, homing in on three categories of extremely vulnerable people: victims of war and internal conflict; those who live close to the subsistence level and thus are structurally positioned at the edge of socio-economic disaster; and victims of natural disaster.

In support of this approach, it is claimed that the condition of abject poverty or powerlessness is not qualitatively different from vulnerability to physical violence during conflict14.

26. Defined this way, humanitarian assistance and emergency aid become matters of security policy. Per consequence, the distinction between human security and human development becomes somewhat unclear, just as the distinction between humanitarian aid and development aid may be hard to define in accurate terms. From an analytical point of view, vagueness is unfortunate, but not necessarily decisive for the way in which concepts are shaped. In this case, however, there is more to it. Humanitarian aid usually benefits from being depoliticized, cutting clear of political objectives and security concerns. Most of it flows under the banner of impartiality and neutrality, for good reason: it would be counterproductive to lump it into the realm of security policy. Moreover, to be at the edge of socio-economic disaster may or may not lead to violent actions15. Obviously, to clarify the conditions under which they do or don’t is a matter of importance in order to avoid physical violence. But to be analytically equipped to do so, human security should not be mixed with the precarious human conditions that may threaten it. Threats must remain external to the concept. Once again, the limited definition seems preferable.

27. Neither does it appear reasonable to let human security comprise natural disasters. Security policy – state as well as human – is per definition future oriented: the objective is to prevent certain phenomena from happening. However, natural disasters are more or less beyond the control of humans, so there is little or no scope for prevention. They call for emergency aid to alleviate the damage, and for early warning and early action to better cope with emergencies. But the objective can not be to prevent the outbreak of earthquakes and the build-up of hurricanes in a manner analogous to the prevention of armed conflict. It follows that the concept of human security had better be confined to freedom from fear of man-made physical violence, also referred to as direct, personal violence.

28. Quite often, concepts are not merely tools of analysis. They also suggest directions in which to work. To be effective in their analytical role, clarity is of the essence. To be effective in their political role they should be relatively simple and straightforward and, thus, easy to communicate. In the security sector, the political impact of conceptual innovations has been quite substantial: viz. arms control from the beginning of the 1960s; confidence-building measure from the beginning of the 1970s; common security from the beginning of the 1980s; and cooperative security in the beginning of the 1990s. Human security may soon be added to the list. However, that requires an unambiguous definition, and broad consensus about it. The former is first of all a matter of competent scholarship; the latter a matter of political entrepreneurship. Today, human security is used in a variety of ways.

29. The usage recommended here is a narrow one. The core of it corresponds to the core of state security: both of them centre on material means – usually referred to as military force in the context of state security, physical violence in the case of human security. It is the level of analysis, or the unit of account, that differs. All security considerations – state or human – revolve, furthermore, around the notions of predictability and control. Predictability is important to ensure that the objectives of security policy translate into lasting conditions. For state security, this means that changes in the relevant surroundings should be sufficiently transparent and foreseeable to provide a fair degree of warning time. In inter-state affairs, this is the primary function of confidence-building measures. For human security it means – means in analogous fashion – that changes can be anticipated so that by the time a non-violent future becomes in doubt, there would still be some opportunity for people to avert the dangers, reorganize themselves and protect their interests. Control refers to the ability to take corrective action when threats emerge. These commonalities facilitate coherence and rigour in security debates even as state security is supplemented by human security.

30. For students and practitioners of political affairs, the relationship between security and development, or poverty and conflict, is empirically interesting. We know there is a relationship between the two phenomena, and that it works both ways. We also know some of the important intermediate variables that help to explain the interaction between them. Without proper analytical tools, however, students and decision-makers will be at a loss. The UNDP defines development as “a process widening the range of people’s choices”. A shorthand for the same is freedom from want. This is a good definition. Human security can be understood as the ability to pursue those choices in a safe environment. “Security is a condition in which other things become possible”17. The other way around, human development contributes to human security by tackling the long-term structural causes of conflict and by strengthening the capability of societies to deal with conflict in a peaceful manner (by strengthening government structures, building civil society etc.). Hence the rapidly growing realization of the validity of an “integrated and proportional approach to security and development” (re. “security first”, re. para 64).

31. It should be noted, however, that thus defined, democratization becomes an overlapping field between human development and human security. Democratization widens the range of people’s choices, and is therefore a bona fide part of development. It also promotes the rule of law and peaceful settlements of disputes, compromises being one of the core features of democratic processes. Furthermore, it empowers people to take action against maltreatment. It enhances predictability as well as control. Hence, promotion of democratic practices is also a contribution to human security. Apart from this seemingly unavoidable area of overlap, however, the two concepts cut clear of each other.

32. To determine if it is useful to frame an issue in human security terms, the first question to be answered is the degree to which the security of people is at risk. Correspondingly, the success or failure of policies and actions of human security must be assessed on the basis of their effects on the security of people. However, this does not mean that all issues that affect the security of people should be so treated. This is not a matter of definition, but an empirical matter of instrumentality and political choice. The threats to human security are numerous: they vary from region to region; they change over time; and quite often, there is no ready-made recipe for how best to deal with them. For human as well as state security, it would not be wise to bring the threats to security into the definition of what constitutes security18.

Securitization and desecuritization

33. What turns a challenge into a security problem or a security threat? At the state level, this happens when state leaders begin to address the problem in security terms. By doing so, something is done, for the leaders then claim a special right to use whatever means necessary to bloc the development in question. Borrowing a term from language theory, a problem becomes a security problem through a so-called “speech act”19. The analogy in the field of human security is when the Security Council issues a resolution naming e.g. a humanitarian tragedy a crime against humanity, or an imminent threat of genocide a threat to international peace and security. Then the problem is securitized at the international level through a “speech act” by the chief security organ.

34. In practice, the big difference between these two levels is that states are securitizing problems at a much earlier stage than international security organs do. The latter usually do it as a matter of last resort. This is not to say that the United Nations should necessarily do more of what states are doing. But it does mean that its capacity for preventive action should be strengthened.

35. The role of the UN and other inter-governmental organizations in conflict prevention is often very delicate, however. Security and sovereignty are intimately linked, and many states are unwilling to cede a security role to the UN or other international organizations, especially when the situation is less than critical and the need for outside assistance – which may be perceived as admission of governmental shortcomings – does not have to be openly recognized. While in principle, preventive action is a commendable security endeavour, it may therefore have to sail under other flags and avoid being securitized.

36. In the beginning of the 1990s, many proposals to widen the concept of security were inspired by the benefits that might follow from elevating the problems to the level of high politics. In comparison, the benefits of desecuritization – of reducing the perceived salience of the issues at hand by taking them off the security agenda – have been ignored. Most obviously, when security problems – state or human – decrease in importance, there is a stage at which many if not all of them would benefit from being taken off the security agenda. Furthermore, they may be taken off the agenda because some other approach is deemed more promising. For instance, it is well known that by redefining a conflict, it may become more amenable to peaceful management and resolution. Sometimes – as in the case of preventive action noted above – desecuritization is not only a matter of virtue, but also of necessity.

Setting the agenda

37. How can a security concept based on international norms (human rights, humanitarian law and refugee law) become a high priority item on the international political agenda? State security is the prime example of national interest. It is on top of any governmental agenda. So what is the power base of human security?

38. As long as international authority is weak, compliance with international norms is difficult to achieve. Such norms are usually elaborated and adopted in the framework of the United Nations, but the UN is basically a governmental organization, the opening words of the Charter -“We, the Peoples of the United Nations …” – notwithstanding. The UN Secretary- General is the chief spokesman of international norms; support for them is manifested in the General Assembly; and compliance is reviewed in greater detail by a variety of UN bodies. In the end, however, norms can only be enforced by the Security Council, and enforcement action depends on the constellation of state interests. Until further notice, UN support for international norms is therefore far from predictable and uniform. In effect, while the Organization has done well in the elaboration of norms, the implementation of them has at times been horribly bad.

39. A number of factors nevertheless work in support of international norms. Among them are transparency, media coverage and non-governmental organizations. Transparency is greatly facilitated by modern sensors and communications technologies. When mass media focus on violations of international norms and grave threats to human security, governments can seldom ignore it. They have to respond, somehow. In addition, increasingly capable non-governmental organizations crystallize human security issues and press governments to take action. Many of them have established their allegiance to the promotion of universal norms, not to national governments, and are prepared to act in defence of human beings wherever they are on the globe.

40. None of these factors entail any coercive power. Together, however, they are quite powerful in setting the international agenda, mobilizing public opinion and persuading others to take action. In Joseph Nye’s terms, they wield power in the soft end of the power continuum, the hard end of which is coercive power20. The ideal form of soft power is co-optive power – the ability to make others wish for themselves what you prefer them to do, i.e. internalizing your own preferences.

41. Karl Marx argued that the most effective form of power is the structural power at the root of the system, which functions without being actively used. In inter-state affairs, the case in point is military power. It is seldom used, but perceptions about its distribution tacitly affect inter-state relations. Everyone knows who is powerful, and act in anticipation of this21. Nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945, but nuclear weapons remain attractive because they are assumed to provide high status and, thus, added weight in international politics. The point is perceptional: if this is widely assumed, it works accordingly.

42. In a sense, soft power in support of international norms works in analogous fashion. In multilateral organizations, governments have to justify their positions and policies in general terms in reference to the rules, norms and standards on which the organizations are based. They can ill afford to argue in terms of national interests. That is considered selfishly illegitimate, and can only be done at the expense of political capital22. There is a disciplining effect built into international organizations and regimes, the soft power of transparency, media attendance and NGO activity being the equivalent of military power. It is widely known to be there and strong enough to be respected, so it ties governments to an international, common goods rhetoric on the basis of which questions can be asked, inquiries undertaken, reports made etc. Governments have become intensely aware of these mechanisms, so they do not have to be used in order to function. Increasingly, international companies work towards the same standards. All actors care about their reputation, which has to be defended in the public domain in reference to international norms and guidelines.

43. There may be an element of national interest in most if not all of what states are doing. When somebody offers assistance in getting peace processes off the ground – “you have a conflict?..let me try to solve it for you” – there is usually an element of self-interest in it. Even in cases where help is rendered just in order to help – in fact, the intention sometimes does not go beyond sheer altruism – it may be argued that there is a positive feedback in terms of praise, status, eligibility to international offices etc. which is in the national interests. However, as Janne Matlary argues, national interests and common interests are often compatibles, not contradictions. That small and medium-sized states benefit from international rules, norms and standards is well known: the stronger the regulations, the less likely that you will be exposed to the arbitrariness and excesses of big power politics. Today, however, interdependence has engulfed the major powers as well. Status, prestige, political capital and access to decision-making centres is something that can be earned, built and gained through noteworthy contributions to widely shared objectives. Only the United States seems to challenge the necessity and virtue of multilateral cooperation, displaying a growing inclination to try to rule the world on the basis of decisions made in Washington.

44. There is a power base, therefore, for the promotion of human security. It emanates from human rights, humanitarian law and refugee law; few states do not confess a commitment to the bulk of these documents, and most governments make sincere efforts to improve their human security record. It benefits from the convergence of national interests and common interests. There may be an element of realpolitik in virtually all areas of foreign affairs, but the soft power of transparency, media coverage and NGO activity makes it highly desirable to harmonize it with international rules, norms and standards.

45. Still, human security is only at its inception – a runner-up on the security agenda. While governments are wedded to state security – their own future depends on that of the state – some of them care less about the security of all of their citizens. When criticized by others for physical torture, arbitrary detention, maltreatment of refugees or abuse of women and children, they may hide behind the principles of sovereignty and non-interference. In the case of armed conflict and war, when the lives of large numbers of people may be at risk – civilians not least – they may still do so, but then in the face of possible international intervention. The pressures for intervention are strongest when civilians suffer not only per consequence of the warfare (collateral damage), but when they become objectives of war.

46. However, these are the situations that reveal the most dramatic shortcomings in international commitments to human security. It is a fundamental dilemma that if 100 000 lives can be saved by collective action, this may not happen if contributing governments have no national interest in the area of conflict, and there is a risk of losing 100 blue helmets in the process. In defence of human security, governmental decision-making clearly does not suffice. Universal norms can best be defended at the universal, global level, by employees establishing their loyalties directly to the international authority in question (re. the United Nations), i.e. when there is congruence between the level at which they are established and the level at which they are defended23.


(43) To summarize:

In operational terms, freedom from fear of physical violence has been taken to mean (1) the rule of law; (2) public order; and (3) peaceful management of conflicts, the normative basis being human rights, international humanitarian law and international refugee law. This leads to a long agenda: elimination of physical torture; of arbitrary arrest and detention; of crime and street violence; of rape and other domestic violence directed at women; of child abuse; of mishandling of refugees; and, last not least, of armed conflict between factions/groups. In policy terms, it becomes even more comprehensive. For in considering ways and means to achieve these goals, the net has to be cast widely, to encompass a range of social, economic, cultural and political changes that can reduce the fear of violence.

47. The following discussion is confined to three core elements on the policy agenda of human security. The first concerns the importance of preventive action, problems that such actions encounter, and how they can be made more effective. The second concerns the means of violence, mostly small arms and light weapons. This is the hard core of the human security agenda, yet with no claim to special significance. Usually, violence is caused by a combination of many factors, so it makes little sense to depict one of them as being of prime importance. The third concerns the need for joint efforts by governmental and non-governmental actors that can make a contribution. Single initiatives by agencies acting alone may help, but are easily rendered futile. The idea of peace operations for human security, launched in a preventive mode, is discussed in the spirit of concerted action by exporters and importers of arms and suppliers and recipients of development aid.

Preventive action

48. Security policy is first of all a matter of prevention. In the case of state security, it is a matter of preventing territorial violations and interference with one’s form of government. In the case of human security, the task is to make freedom from fear a long-term prospect by containing or eliminating factors that may compromise this prospect. When states and individuals are nevertheless exposed to physical violence, security policy becomes a matter of defence, if at all possible.

49. The rationale for preventive action is three-fold. First, prevention of conflict is certainly more cost-effective than repairing the damage in the aftermath, when violence has taken place24. Second, the cost effectiveness is backed by morality – or morality by cost-effectiveness – given the casualties and suffering that will come about if nothing is done. Third, there is often no lack of early warning, but a fatal lack of readiness and willingness to take early action. So there can be no excuse for inaction: “We know what needs to be done. What is now needed is the foresight and political will to do it”25.

50. When state security fails, there is a major disruption. Whether it happens by external aggression or implosion, there is a major discontinuity. When human security is jeopardized, the deterioration may be registered in statistical terms of casualties in armed conflicts, crime rates, numbers of women and children subject to abuse etc26. In some important respects, moves for better or worse can be measured as quantitative moves along a continuum. Whenever this is the case, the success or failure of preventive action is reflected in numbers and trends. Naturally, (a) avoiding discontinuities and (b) influencing trends are different kinds of activities that lead to different paradigms and methodologies of prevention.

51. In the human security paradigm, a distinction may be drawn between foundational prevention and crisis prevention27. Foundational prevention is premised on the belief that prevention cannot begin early enough. It tries to address deep-seated causes of human insecurity. “Inequality, deprivation, social exclusion, and denial of access to political power are a recipe for a breakdown of social norms and order. Not having a fair chance in life…being deprived of hope… are the most incendiary root causes of violence and conflict”28. To remove such causes requires a long-term strategy for equitable, culturally sensitive, and representative development. Development aid is such a long-term agent. Here, the question is not whether development aid can be apolitical in any strict sense of the term: it cannot. Rather, the question is how aid flows can be shaped and steered to provide extra political value – in preventive terms – to activities that already have their development value.

52. Eight categories of crisis prevention can be identified: preventive diplomacy; preventive peacekeeping; preventive demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of combatants; preventive humanitarian action; preventive human rights action; preventive action in the socio-economic field; security sector reform; and democratization29. The first three are undertaken with the sole purpose of preventing conflict: they fall in the crisis prevention category. The other five have an intrinsic value of their own: they rather belong to the category of foundational prevention, but may also be invoked to stem crises (humanitarian and human rights actions in particular).

53. There is no conceptual necessity to distinguish between pre-conflict and post-conflict application of these actions. In post-conflict reconstruction, the task is often to prevent fragile peace processes from sliding back into armed conflict. In both cases, the operative requirements are much the same.

54. Preventive action cannot be imposed on a government or on the parties to a conflict. This problem has a legal as well as a practical connotation. Other than coercive action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, preventive action requires the consent or at least the acquiescence of the parties. When governments decline offers of preventive diplomacy or any other kind of preventive action, they have international law and the Charter of the UN on their side. Still, preventive action may have a chance if the issues are handled in a pragmatic manner.

Small arms

Criminality and war

55. The theory and practice of state security focus on armaments and the use of arms. The “hard” part of the human security problem also concerns arms. However, while state security is preoccupied with ever more sophisticated major arms, human security concerns centre on small arms and light weapons30. In the state security paradigm inter-state war is the challenge. In the human security paradigm the problem has two main faces: criminality and armed conflict31. They are often addressed separately32.

56. It is a truism that weapons find their way to the war theatres; also that weapons circulate from one area to another as some wars come to a halt and others begin. Weapons find their way to other countries as well. For instance, Malawi has never been at war, but numerous small arms have entered the country from Mozambique and from Congo via Zambia, nurturing criminality at the loss of human security. In practice, the line between war and criminality is blurred: it has almost been a law of nature that as wars have come to an end and copious amounts of arms are left behind, waves of criminality have followed.

57. In non-war situations, the proliferation and impact of small arms are the product of easy access to arms and unemployment; of easy access to arms and dramatically unequal standards of living; of easy access to arms and inadequate or non-existent police and other public order mechanisms; of easy access to arms and lack of democratic practices; of easy access to arms and cultures of violence. So the problems call for economic development, security sector reform and changes of cultural codes as well as arms control and disarmament measures to collect and destroy arms. To say that small arms represent the “hard” part of human security therefore in no way implies that it is the most important part. To promote freedom from fear, one has to get at the combinations of factors that cause the anxieties.


58. To limit the flow of small arms, a number of approaches have been tried and many more thought of. In part, they are supply-side measures of an arms control nature. In part, they are measures taken in the recipient end where the problems are most severely felt, often with international encouragement and support: in the following, the development of such policies and practices will be briefly described and analysed. When facing complex and difficult problems, single measures seldom work. Usually, it takes the combined effect of several measures and many actors to achieve the desired results. For the time being, how to do this is a matter of trial and error.

59. Twenty years ago, in the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, a demobilization programme was carried out. The combatants were asked to report to specified cantonment sites and hand in their arms. At that time, disarmament was no explicit objective: rather, it was a bi-product of demobilization. Nevertheless, this was a forerunner of disarmament schemes pursued in the 1990s – and a successful one at that33.

60. In peace operations carried out under UN auspices after the Cold War, demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) of combatants became a standard feature. The results, however, were modest to poor. In a relatively successful operation like the one in Mozambique (UNOMOZ), where almost 200 000 arms were collected, this was still a small fraction of the total amount of arms in the country. Most of them were, moreover, handed back to the Government and to a small peacetime army that did not need them. Mozambique became a major source of arms and criminality in neighbouring countries34.

61. In the transition from peace agreements to peace, DDR schemes are still deemed useful. Over the years, the design of such schemes has been refined and improved in view of the lessons learnt.

62. In October 1996 a high level donor consultation endorsed, in principle, the “security first” approach, i.e. the idea that a certain portion of development aid might best be used up front to create a secure environment for development35. In due course, a stronger interest evolved in security sector reform, i.a. at DAC/OECD. Security sector reform involves the development of legal systems inspired by human rights, the rule of law, and better public order mechanisms. In effect, it addresses two of the three elements of human security listed above and contributes to the third. The latter – peaceful management of conflicts – is a question that rests with the political system.

63. Security sector reform may be a prerequisite for collection and destruction of illicit arms. Where weapons play a role in self defence, there has to be a functional substitute for that role in the form of credible public order mechanisms: only then can people be legitimately asked to hand in their weapons, and only then would they be willing to do so. This has been the situation in large parts of West Africa, which inspired the development of the “security first” approach and security sector reform.

64. “Security first” is shorthand for “an integrated and proportional approach to security and development”. It does not necessarily mean that security sector reform must come first, and development only thereafter. While this sequence often appeared sensible in West Africa, in other countries investments in security and development might rather be undertaken in parallel. The point is that development and security must be considered together, as elements of one comprehensive approach to human betterment, and that a certain portion of the means at hand might best be spent to improve the security sector. Some years ago security issues in general, and armaments in particular, were anathema to the donor agencies.

65. The latest addition to the menu of approaches is the “development for arms” project in the Gramsh district of Albania. On the initiative of the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs, a comprehensive development project is being conducted in this district by the UNDP, in return for which the inhabitants are supposed to hand in their arms. (In 1996, governmental arms depots were robbed and half a million arms disappeared). This is not a buy-back programme. People are not remunerated personally, but in the form of infrastructure, schools, medicare and other public goods in their district. The logic is at community level. So far, the experiences are positive. The approach may therefore be applied also in other districts and in other countries (but may be less suitable in urban areas).


66. Two clear tendencies may be noted in this connection: over the years, the problems posed by small arms have been taken more seriously, and the approaches to them have become more comprehensive: locally, as illustrated by the Gramsh project; nationally, as witnessed by the growing interest in security sector reform; and regionally as demonstrated by the West African moratorium on small arms. Add to this the link to unemployment and economic inequalities, and the impact of globalization also enters the considerations.

67. When a problem has ramifications as manifold and far-reaching as this, recognition of them may overwhelm political action: the more comprehensive the approaches, the more difficult they are to implement. It is well known that for decision-makers to produce decisions in a timely manner, reality often has to be simplified. It is necessary to reduce its complexity in order to come to grips with it.

68. In social settings much different from that of donor countries, it is only appropriate to recall that some minimum level of contextual understanding is necessary for development aid and other externally initiated activities to be used and conducted with the desired effects. Ecological systems offer an analogy: unless you have a fairly good understanding of them, you may just as well refrain from trying to fix them because your interference may do more harm than good.

69. Efforts to fix the problems of small arms, or other human security issues for that matter, clearly require a proper understanding of the context in which they are implemented. If comprehensive approaches are too difficult to implement, for lack of planning capacity and resources, single measures must be designed with due regard to the wider setting in which they are taken.

Peace operations for human security

70. Peace operations, as we know them, typically involve the deployment of large numbers of men at high cost in situations of crisis.

71. What about peace operations in situations that are not marked by crisis; where some developments are encouraging; where relatively much can therefore be achieved at relatively modest cost; but where there is an obvious need for international assistance to sustain peaceful developments and avoid that things deteriorate and slide back into armed conflict? What about peace operations in such a preventive mode?

72. The conflict prevention agenda has been built around the notions of early warning and early action. There is nothing wrong about it, but the agenda is distinctly reactive and, therefore, a bit of a straight-jacket. While being prepared to act on warning signals, in situations that are deteriorating, one should also be prepared to act on encouraging signals, in situations that are somehow improving. In other words, act not only to thwart that which goes wrong, but also to support that which goes well.

73. Sometimes, reality moves ahead of conceptualizations. That has worrisome implications, but it also has advantages. One advantage is that when trying to conceptualize “after the fact”, there may be some example or prototype to point at in order to illustrate what you have in mind. Is there such a case to help explain what a preventive peace operation could be about?

74. The West African moratorium comes close. In the framework of the ECOWAS ban on export, import and manufacture of light weapons, a variety of measures are being contemplated for security sector reform to create a more secure environment for development. It also aims to strengthen civil society and, thus, the capacity of member states to manage conflicts in a non-violent manner36. To the extent that it materializes, it promises to become a good example of the kind of preventive operations suggested above. In effect, it would be a peace operation for human security. It promises to address all three operative elements of human security as defined above – the rule of law, public order, and peaceful management of conflict.

75. In UN parlance and practice, peace operations are conducted in defence of international peace and security, building on and stretching the concept of state security. If we are right in assuming that in the time ahead, security policies will revolve around the concepts of state security and human security, it is only logical to conceive of peace operations in a similar manner, for human security as well as state security. Much as the concepts are mutually reinforcing, the practices should be the same.

76. The peace operations conducted so far – conceived in the state security paradigm, the only one known by the UN Charter – have been decided upon by the Security Council. A special funding mechanism exists for such operations. Means and ends may be adjusted to changing circumstances and lessons learnt. The same kind of arrangement should arguably be established for human security operations as well. However, while this may be a sensible goal, for some time to come peace operations for human security probably have to be organized outside the Security Council. For instance, as a first step, a UN/UNDP consultation of the kind that was held in October 1996 (re. para 62) could be called to address the idea of raising the ECOWAS moratorium to the level of a peace operation for human security, and the funding of it by an order of magnitude. If the meeting would demonstrate a significant will and determination to go ahead, the Secretary-General should be asked to take the lead and coordinate the operation in close cooperation with ECOWAS.

77. The novelty of the idea means that a number of elements remain to be explored. On which criteria should human security operations be considered and, eventually, set in motion? Who should conduct them? (This would not be Ch. VII actions, so they need not rest with the Security Council). Should they be regional in nature as indicated by the West African moratorium or could they be limited to one country? Which are the considerations that carry the most weight in this regard? Should peace operations for human security be predicated on the existence of regional/organizational frameworks? Should they be actively used to strengthen such arrangements? How and by which procedure should they be financed?

Financial constraints: textbook logic Vs political logic

78. Preventive action is an ungrateful task, however. If you fail you will be blamed for it, and if you succeed nobody may get to hear about it. For if there is no acute crisis, the media might not report on what has been going on. Furthermore, if there is no publicity and public opinion formation on the matter, it may be hard for governments to mobilize resources to do anything about it.

79. Sometimes, publicity simply has to be shunned. This is often the case in preventive diplomacy, because of the inherent sensitivity to any potential intrusiveness into state sovereignty. Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali estimated that some 20 per cent of his time was devoted to preventive diplomacy.” Because of the nature of this work, and the requirements of the parties, such diplomacy often takes place behind the scenes. When efforts fail, the result will be seen in public. When there is success, the story must often remain untold”37. From a financial point of view the trouble is that in order to get secret diplomacy off the ground, there has to be an unspecified pool of resources available from the outset. That pool is very limited, or simply missing.

80. It is well known that preventive action is cost-effective. To wait till the crisis is on is irrational. A variety of peace operations have been launched to deal with war situations and to assist in the transition from peace agreement to peace: for a small percentage of what they cost, preventive action could be considerably upgraded. First of all, however, the difference is the human tragedies caused by crises and wars.

81. This all comes down to a glaring discrepancy between textbook logic and political logic. Clearly, textbook logic advocates preventive action while political logic suggests that action would have to wait till a crisis emerges. How can the gap between the two be bridged?

82. For the time being, about the only answer is development aid. This is basically what donor countries and the international community have to play with. Development aid is increasingly used to the mutual benefit of security and development, sometimes in a “security first” mode. Civil society adds to it: many NGOs are channels of official development aid, and supplement governmental allocations through their own activities and collection campaigns.

83. Another, largely untapped, possibility is private sector support. Given the big and growing size of the private sector and the globalization of economic activities, the interface between the United Nations and international companies is one of the major issues facing the UN at the turn of the century.

84. Here, one option would be to ask international companies, when investing in a developing country, to allocate an amount of money to e.g. the UNDP for use in that country for purposes of good governance. The advantage for the companies would be that this way, they might legitimize their activities proactively. Many companies are keen on this: for them, it is better to do something proactively than simply waiting for the blame that the media might bring, and then respond to it as best they can. The advantage for the UNDP is obviously that it can do more. The amount is hardly a problem: a modest amount for the company would be a significant amount for the UNDP.

85. In the final analysis, however, it is doubtful whether textbook logic and political logic can be reconciled unless the United Nations gets its own independent source(s) of finance. This could be in the form of a fraction of currency trade or some other international transactions, or by letting the UN in on the resources of the global commons. Such ideas are not for tomorrow. They are at best for the longer term. But if the UN is set to become stronger and global governance is set to progress – none of which is obvious – at some stage an independent source of finance will probably be seriously considered. For it is on the side of progress.

Political constraints

86. As noted above (para 54), preventive action cannot be imposed on the parties to a potential conflict. At the United Nations, if a reluctant government chooses to invoke the Charter, it is unlikely that there will be sufficient votes in the General Assembly or the Security Council to overrule that decision. However, accept for foundational prevention is easier to obtain than for crisis prevention, since foundational prevention usually builds on programmes that have their own rationale in terms of, say, development and better governance. Even when faced with the principle of non-intervention, preventive action may still have a chance if the issues are handled in a flexible manner.

87. In the field of small arms, the cases of Mali and Albania show what can be achieved in pragmatic ways. Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali was involved in the management of small arms in Central America, and made mention of it in meetings with African leaders. This led President Konare of Mali to ask the UN for advice on what to do with the flow of light weapons in his country. That brought a UN Advisory Mission to Mali and, later on, to several West African states. It was this Mission that recommended an integrated and proportional approach to security and development (“security first”). The point – the trick – was to bring forward an official invitation to the UN to get involved: once that happened, the UNDP in Bamako could begin to coordinate activities across the board – from development projects to demobilization, collection and destruction of arms. Quite an unusual remit for such an office. In Albania, a similar sequence evolved: the UN USG for Disarmament Affairs got an understanding with the Albanian Government that gave the green light for the “arms for development” project. Once more, the UNDP could conduct and coordinate activities across the board, from development projects to arms collection. Hopefully, a similar situation will evolve in East Africa, circumventing the sovereignty issues that are so delicate and difficult in many parts of the world.

88. Some countries see international efforts to come to grips with the proliferation of light weapons as interference into their domestic affairs and, therefore, something they cannot go along with. They are afraid that their sovereignty may be compromised. This is not difficult to understand, since monopoly on the physical means of control goes to the core of what states are about. For instance, many states in Asia see it this way. In Africa, many governments take the opposite view. Here, efforts to curb illicit flows of arms and mop up light weapons are seen as welcome contributions to the (re)construction of states, and something that may help them establish real sovereignty.

89. The scope for universal, global efforts to bring light weapons under control is therefore limited. Different from a specific, neatly defined type of weapon like anti-personnel landmines, light weapons are a much wider category involving a variety of interests. Obviously, these interests vary greatly from region to region. Therefore, regional approaches should be pursued where conditions are ripe while sensitizing more countries to the issues involved.

90. Furthermore, where conditions are in some sense ripe, differences in regional specifics lead to different approaches. In large measure, the forthcoming UN conference on light weapons should therefore be structured in inductive fashion, to become the sum of regional initiatives, and to make that sum as large as possible through concerted national and international action. Some measures of a universal nature may prove feasible, but a focus on common denominators will not yield much. Among the regions and countries where significant measures may be adopted are Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and Afghanistan.

Concluding remarks

91. The Commission on Global Governance distinguished between the security of states and the security of people, and recommended that security policies be pursued along these two lines. The background was the changing nature of contemporary wars: that innocent civilians were injured and killed not only per implication, but became objects of organized violence; and that failed states left people vulnerable to lawlessness and violent crime. Since the Commission published its report in 1994, efforts have been made to define the security of people – now named human security – more rigorously, along with practical ways of promoting it.

92. Major changes in international affairs thus led to security considerations along two tracks where previously, there had been one. In the post-Cold War world, another security concept was needed to capture the new realities of physical violence. It was needed both for analytical purposes and to develop more adequate policies. In the political arena this is well known: once in a while, new concepts are introduced not merely as tools of analysis, but also in an effort to draw more attention to specific political concerns. Scholarly contributions are needed to shape the analytical tools while for politicians, the mobilizing function is of the essence.

93. However, for concepts to have a political impact, they must be defined in a reasonably clear and consensual manner. Today, human security is used in such a variety of ways that it risks being discredited. This is not a problem that scholars can resolve on their own. Uniform usage and political clout can only be achieved if there is broad international agreement among political and public leaders to promote it with one voice.

94. The definition offered above is a strictly limited one. We have shown that even so, the practical political agenda becomes quite substantial. In any case, if some broader definition gains ground, this is the core around which the concept would have to be developed.

1In addition, there is the right to self defence (art. 51), which may be exercised individually or collectively while waiting for the Security Council to take the necessary measures to restore international peace and security.

2In Resolution 688 of April 1991, the Security Council held that the internal repression of the Iraqi civilian population and the consequent cross-border flow of refugees threatened international peace and security in the region. Action was taken on the ground in northern Iraq, and air exclusion zones were established over the northern and the southern parts of the country to help protect the Kurd and Shi´ite minorities. On 3 December 1992, the Security Council “determined that the magnitude of the human tragedy …in Somalia…constitutes a threat to international peace and security”. For the first time since South Africa and Rhodesia in the 1960s, encroachments on minority rights and war-instigated humanitarian tragedies were defined in reference to Ch. VII, justifying the use of enforcement measures. Never before had military means been invoked in such situations.

3Our Global Neighbourhood, Report of the Commission on Global Governance, Oxford University Press, 1995.

4Kofi Annan, “Human rights and intervention in the 21st century”, special contribution to the Human Development Report 2000. “Just as we have learned that the world cannot stand aside when gross and systematic violations of human rights are taking place, so we have also learned that intervention must be based on legitimate and universal principles if it is to enjoy the sustained support of the world’s peoples”. Kofi Annan, op. cit.

5Behind numerous agreements on environmental problems, trade, human rights, narcotics, crime, refugees, terrorism, arms control and democratization are scientists and lawyers who worked on them, NGOs who backed them, diplomats who negotiated them, and international civil servants who implement and monitor them – together with NGOs. See Jessica T. Matthews, “Power Shift”, Foreign Affairs, January/February, 1997.

6The UNDP, for example, identifies seven separate components to human security: economic security (assured basic income), food security (physical and economic access to food), health security (relative freedom from disease and infection), environmental security (access to sanitary water supply, clean air and a non-degraded land system), personal security (security from physical violence and threats), community security (security of cultural identity), and political security (protection of basic human rights and freedoms).

7The notion of “comprehensive security” promoted i.a. by Gorbatchev represents a widening across sectoral lines.

8The Egyptian government has made it clear that implementation of some of the utilization schemes that have been proposed for the Blue Nile would be tantamount to a declaration of war.

9″Human security” has been associated with the 1994 UNDP Human Development Report, where the term was used in a comprehensive sense. Later, it has been promoted also by others – first of all by the Government of Canada – but then in a more limited sense. The conceptualization offered here is a strictly limited one closer to the Canadian definition.

10The legal platform to ensure the security of women and children are the Conventions on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and on the Rights of the Child.

11Human Development Report 2000, p.35.

12In fact, the convention prohibiting anti-personnel landmines and the establishment of a permanent international criminal court are frequently cited as among the best achievements of human security to date.

13For discussions of structural and direct violence, see Johan Galtung, Essays in peace research, vol. I and III, Christian Ejlers, Copenhagen, 1975 and 1978.

14Astrid Suhrke, “Human Security and the Interests of States”, Security Dialogue, Vol. 30, No. 3, September 1999. Suhrke recalls the picture drawn by R.H. Tawney when describing rural China in 1931:”There are districts in which the position of the rural population is that of a man standing permanently up to the neck in water, so that even a ripple is sufficient to drown him”. To provide human security in situations of this kind means protecting that person standing neck-deep in the river from the ripple, either by taking immediate preventive measures to flatten the ripple before it reaches him, or by throwing out a life buoy. Human development, by contrast, is a long-term process designed to get the man out of the river, or to lower the water level or undertake equivalent structural change.

15Depending e.g. on how the misery came about. Thus, it is well known that sudden, relative deprivation may lead to armed conflict while long-lasting abject poverty may foster apathy. The causal chains may be complex, and they differ from region to region.

16On cooperative security, see Janne E. Nolan, ed., Global Engagement. Cooperation and security in the 21st century, The Brookings Institution,Washington D.C. 1994. It never got a consensual definition, however, and had less of an impact than the other concepts mentioned here.

17Emma Rothschild, “What is Human Security?” here as cited in Susan Woodward, “Should we think before we leap?”, Security Dialogue, Vol. 30, No. 3, September 1999.

18In some ways, environmental degradation comes closest to incorporation into the concept. Long-term degradation unfolding more or less evenly, such as desertification, reduces the range of people’s choices: so, arguably, it first of all affects development. On the other hand, it is widely recognized that human-instigated climatic changes have become more abrupt and extreme, thus reducing the predictability of the human environment in ways that reduce human security. Still, it is unclear whether securitization of such phenomena is the best approach to better management of them.

19Ole Wæver, “Securitization and Desecuritization”, in Ronnie D. Lipschutz, ed., On Security, Columbia University Press, New York, 1995.

20Joseph Nye, Bound to Lead. The Changing Nature of American Power, Basic Books, 1995.

21Janne Haaland Matlary, “Utenrikspolitikk mellom realpolitik og idealpolitikk”, Institute for Political Science, University of Oslo.

22On which governments as well as non-governmental actors and international companies depend. See Abraham and Antonia Chayes, The New Sovereignty. Compliance with International Regulatory Agreements, Harvard University Press, 1995.

23This is the great advantage of Brian Urquart’s proposal for a standing UN force of volunteers writing their contracts with the United Nations. For volunteers shifting their loyalties to the UN, the life of a Sudanese equals the life of a Dane, and the Danish Government needs not and can not claim the same responsibility for Danish volunteers as it claims for national contingents assigned to UN operations. See Brian Urquart, “For a UN Volunteer Military Force”, New York Review of Books, 13 May, 1993. The proposal was supported by the Commission on Global Governance. See Our Global Neighbourhood, Oxford University Press, 1995. Since then, interest in such a radical shift has evaporated in favour of pragmatic improvements of stand-by forces based on governmental contingents.

24The Carnegie Commission on the Prevention of Deadly Conflict amply demonstrates that. See CCPDC, Preventing Deadly Conflict. Executive Summary of Final Report, Washington, D.C., 1997 (available at

25Kofi Annan, Preventing War and Disaster: A Growing Global Challenge, Annual Report on the Work of the Organization, the United Nations, New York, 1999.

26The annual Human Development Report from the UNDP contains a variety of facts and figures on war casualties, violent crime, rape, child abuse, torture etc.

27Hans van Ginkel and Edward Newman, ‘In Quest of “Human Security”’, Japan Review of International Affairs, Vol.14, No.1, Spring 2000.

28Van Ginkel and Newman, op.cit.

29Development Assistance as a Means of Conflict Prevention, the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Oslo 1998. In this report, the first six categories are discussed at some length, while security sector reform is listed among the objectives of preventive action.

30The UN defines light weapons as heavy machine-guns, hand-held and mounted grenade launchers, portable anti-aircraft guns, portable anti-tank guns, recoilless rifles, portable launchers of anti-tank missiles and rocket systems, portable launchers of anti-aircraft missile systems and mortars of calibre <100mm. It defines small arms as revolvers, self-loading pistols, rifles, carbines, sub-machine guns, assault rifles and light machine-guns. “General and complete disarmament:small arms”, note by the Secretary-General, UN document A/52/298, 5 November 1997, pp. 11-12.

31Mainly domestic conflicts, but quite often with international ramifications.

32The Joint Action on small arms adopted by the European Union on 17 December 1998 is concerned with armed conflicts, not to maintain domestic law and order and protect populations from the activities of criminals. See Walter-Jurgen Schmid, ‘The Small Arms “Joint Action” of the European Union’, Practical Disarmament, Brief 16 from the Bonn International Centre for Conversion, August 2000.

33Jeremy Ginifer, Managing Arms in Peace Processes: Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, United Nations, New York and Geneva, 1995.

34Eric Berman, Managing Arms in Peace Processes: Mozambique, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, United Nations, New York and Geneva, 1996.

35Held in New York, 21 October 1996, under the joint chairmanship of Marrack Goulding, UN DPA, and James Gustave Speth, UNDP.

36Sometimes, it is difficult to identify the root causes of conflict because with the passage of time, the parties have developed their own versions of how it all began. The importance of understanding the root causes may even fade so far into the background that addressing them is no longer central to conflict resolution: the conflict has developed a dynamic of its own. New branches of research therefore centres not on the causes of conflict, but on the causes of peaceful development. In addition to analysis of the structural causes of conflict, prevention requires analysis of social organization and social change and agents that may bring such changes about. In this connection, civil society is crucial.

37Boutros Boutros-Ghali, “An Agenda for Peace: One Year Later”, Orbis, No.3, 1993.