Friday, February 6, 2009

Development and security

JMP - Human security or human rights -- this seems to be the question. Don't you think that the use of the expression 'human security' means a lower level of demand of social transformation than the one included in a human rights --centred approach?

"DS - Yes, those pressures for social transformation will be lower, certainly if the narrow version of the human security paradigm (‘freedom from fear’, focused on individuals and open violence) continues to eclipse the broader version, which embraces whole social categories and their social and economic rights (‘freedom from want’). The latter, with their redistributive implications, are not on the agenda of major western powers. That can be seen for example in the US State Department’s annual reports on human rights in non- Western countries.

Talk of human security, like talk about human rights in their restricted sense, helps frame power relations. It asserts a prerogative of the powerful to say whose rights are to be respected, whose not respected, and to say who shall be system of domination now in place -– a risky thing, given that “stabilisation” practices have a way of triggering a lot of instability. Look at Afghanistan and Pakistan today.

JMP - With the so-called 'war on terrorism', it seems to have occurred a return to traditional security concepts and policies. Did human security lose intensity within the framework of the global war on terror?

DS - Certainly. In European, and now even US military doctrine, we are witnessing ‘mission creep’ toward socio-economic engineering and ‘nation-building’. New rules of engagement are today both hard and ‘soft’. An announcement by the Pentagon two years ago seems to have escaped the notice of many: it proclaimed that “stability operations are a core US Military mission” that will henceforth enjoy “priority comparable to combat operations”. In Iraq, this has been translated into sub-doctrines like “Employ money as a weapons system”. The Obama administration is going to apply such “stabilisation” doctrines with greater intensity in places like Afghanistan . In Africa , where Western publics are told that both “energy security” and “terrorism” are at stake, the Pentagon is quietly assuming supreme command over American foreign aid and development designs. Given such trends, it is hard to imagine human security in its broad definition gaining any intensity, except for advertising and public relations purposes. Centre for Social Research, University of Coimbra"

David Sogge interview in TNI

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