Human Security VS National Security

By: Enya Y. Nava Delgado

As human beings and individuals, we perceive preoccupations in different ways because we are in different contexts, status, and environments. Sometimes we may coincide as individuals or citizens in our preoccupations like protecting our lives, having a place to live, have an income, health, etc.

When we talk about the meaning of security from this point of view, different and specific meanings will come to our mind according to our perspective. This is a different story if we talk about the meaning of security from a state perspective. We know that governments create policies to protect the people living in their nations, and they work every day to come with new ideas and material to prevent crises and issues that could be critical for humans.

Scholars and doctors have spoken about changing the core of making decisions by focusing on the individual's preoccupy instead of focusing on the majority. This comes because of the controversy from individuals when the government took decisions that affect the individuality. Because we have these differences, we should be asking ourselves, what is human security and what does it offer that is different from a traditional security agenda? To answer this question, we need to clarify the meaning of human security, and national security.

What is Human Security?

According to the UN Commission on Human Security (CHS) in 2003, the CHS published its report "Human Security Now." (p. 2) The report defined human security in the following manner:

"human security means protecting the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfillment.
Human security means protecting people from critical (severe) and pervasive (widespread) threats and situations.
It means using processes that build on people's strengths and aspirations.
It means creating political, social, environmental, economic, military and cultural systems that together
give people the building blocks of survival, livelihood, and dignity."

According to this human security is, having protection from anything that could harm individuals, enhancing human freedoms, and human fulfillment in the different areas that surround an individual.

What is National Security?

By next I am going to mention the meaning of National Security according to Samuel Makinda’s (1998, p.3):

"... the ability of a state to cater for the protection and defense of its citizens…preservation of the norms, rules, institutions, and values of society."

National Security is protecting a state and its people from any threat
to guarantee people that they will be saved from anything that may cause complications.
The job of the government is to ensure National Security and create policies to ensure it.

How to compare the agendas?

I am going to use the list from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA, 2010) for the elements that human security should be attending (according to United Nations), and for the elements of national security I am going to use the National Security Agenda of the President of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, released in (2019).

Human Security Agenda vs National Security Agenda

What we can analyze?

With these points, we can see that we can visualize different lenses for one situation or topic. Even though the state must be protected, we need also Human Security to understand why a threat has been becoming a threat, and how the National Issue can be tackled from its roots. And citizens must know that their needs are important to establish a new politic to enforce that sector.

The main core of the Human Security agenda is the individual needs of people, while the National Security agenda is a nation. With these, we can also view that the "sub-topics" of the National Security agenda are the "main- topics" for the Human Security agenda. Both agendas can work together and should work together to ensure complete protection to the individual citizens of a state.


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This website was coded by Enya Y. Nava Delgado