Human Security – Conflict, Critique and Concensus: Colloquium Remarks and a Proposal for a Threshold Based Definition

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Owen, Taylor (2004) Human Security – Conflict, Critique and Concensus: Colloquium Remarks and a Proposal for a Threshold Based Definition , Security Dialogue 35(3): 373–389.

 

The aim of the colloquium in this issue of Security Dialogue was to both summarize and advance the rich but scattered literature on human security. The result is a microcosm of the ten-year academic debate, told through the condensed perspectives of many of the people who shaped it. This article first summarizes the 21 thoughtful and innovative commentaries, and identifies three principle themes: the theoretical broad-versus-narrow debate, human security’s practical utility, and the fundamental critique and defense of the concept. Then, it is proposed that a threshold-based conceptualization, one rooted in the original UNDP definition, offers a conciliatory way forward to what is often characterized as a fractured debate. It is suggested that limiting threat inclusion by severity, rather than by cause, bridges the divide between the broad and narrow proponents, addresses the many critiques of the concept, and provides a clear policy agenda operating on various scales.

Authors

Taylor Owen

Taylor Owen

PhD student in Geography at University of Oxford