Human security as a Global Good

Gregory Valatin (1)

1. Introduction

The establishment of the United Nations in 1945 was motivated by a concern to create a new system to prevent a world war or a holocaust ever happening again.(2) Like the Atlantic Charter signed by US President Roosevelt and UK Prime Minister Churchill in August 1941 with its commitment to social security for all, it was motivated by the desire to create a world characterised by “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want” [Kapstein (1999)]. Aspirations for individuals for the new world order were set out in the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 3, for example, states:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

Collective responsibility in creating a world characterised by “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want” has been repeatedly reaffirmed. For example, arguing that the United Nations and its Charter are “indispensable foundations of a more peaceful, prosperous and just world,” heads of State and Government at the Millenium Summit in September 2000 declared [UN (2000)]:

“We recognize that, in addition to our separate responsibilities to our individual societies, we have a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level. As leaders we have a duty therefore to all the world’s people, especially the most vulnerable and, in particular, the children of the world, to whom the future belongs...
We are determined to establish a just and lasting peace all over the world in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter...
Men and women have the right to live their lives and raise their children in dignity, free from hunger and from the fear of violence, oppression or injustice...
We will spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty...”

‘Human security’ is a term adopted recently to denote the security of individuals rather than states. The concept is founded on the view that economic development and peace are interdependent (3), that ensuring a basic level of material well-being for all is essential to prevent violent conflicts (4), and the belief that “human beings should he able to lead lives of creativity, without having their survival threatened or their dignity impaired.”(5)
In its 1994 Human Development Report in preparation for the World Social Summit in Copenhagen in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) called for a reformulation of prevailing conceptions of security. Despite the focus on the security of individuals in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in practice security had continued to be interpreted mainly in terms of states. Instead of relating primarily to territory, a people-centred ‘human security’ approach was needed, which the UNDP (1994, p.24, p.22) characterized as “an entirely new vision” likely “to revolutionise society in the 21st century”.(6)
There are several reasons why human security is of interest for economists. The concept encompasses many concerns fundamental “à la recherche d'une économie fraternelle”. It relates in part to economic rights states have obligations to provide under international law and widely considered essential to global justice. Concerned with ‘all human lives’, human security is an element of a special economic category. It can be considered a global good par excellence. From a policy perspective questions of human security raise many economic issues including resource scarcity and allocation, the structure of economic governance, and management of global commons.
If human security is to be useful for economic analysis however, rather than providing purely an “umbrella concept” for diverse issues of social importance or a unifying campaign slogan (7), conceptual clarity is needed. Paris (2001, p.88) states that definitions of human security are often “extraordinarily expansive and vague” making it difficult to determine what is included and what excluded (8). King and Murray (2002) argue that many definitions offer little more than a list of issues, lacking a theoretically coherent account of how they are selected or evaluated.
The aim of this paper is to contribute to a critical investigation of the concept of human security, focusing upon some of the most fundamental conceptual issues (9). In section 2 different conceptions of human security are discussed. Treating the proposals of the UNDP (1994) and recent report of the Commission on Human Security (CHS) as main points of reference, a revised classification is suggested that recognizes two essentially different types of human security. Section 3 examines relationships between concepts of human security and justice. It is argued that human security can be conceptualized as a fundamental component of justice. Characterization of human security as a global good is then discussed in section 4. Four key reasons why the distinction from state or national security is crucial are highlighted. Section 5 examines the compatibility of human security with three approaches to economic analysis. Section 6 concludes, noting that while the concept of human security is incompatible with the traditional framework of welfare economics in which rights are considered of no intrinsic value and only individual utilities matter, it fits easily within Amartya Sen’s ‘capabilities’ approach. It is argued that without addressing issues of human security and injustice related to the structure of economic governance, economics risks being regarded as either ethically irrelevant or concerned mainly with maintaining the status quo.

2 Defining Human Security

Definitions of human security vary at a superficial level according to their breadth and which issues are included. Reflecting different interpretations of what is meant by “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want” (10), they variously cover issues from peace and security, human rights, criminal justice, good governance, health, education, environment and development agendas to macro-economic stability. While many definitions in the literature (11)are very broad (12), a few narrow definitions have been proposed to facilitate quantification (e.g. King and Murray (2002)).(13)
However, definitions also differ at a deeper conceptual level. A few characterize human security as a condition of being secure (e.g. Thomas (1999)), (14) others define it as a means of being secure (e.g. Bajpai (2000)),(15) while some encompass both aspects.
According to the UNDP, for example, human security encompasses both a condition (safety) and a means (protection). The UNDP (1994, p.22) states that human security has two main aspects: “safety from such chronic threats as hunger, disease and repression” and “protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life”. Most ‘threats to human security’ are then characterized as falling into one of seven categories:
1) Economic: threats of unemployment, job insecurity, poor working conditions, income inequalities, inflation, inadequate social security networks, poverty and homelessness.
2) Food: access problems.
3) Health: infections and parasitic diseases, HIV and other viruses, drug abuse, health effects of water and air pollution, inadequate access to health facilities.
4) Environmental: degradation of local and global ecosystems, water scarcity, floods and other natural disasters, deforestation, pollution of air, soil and water.
5) Personal: threats of physical violence from the state, terrorists, criminals, at the workplace, to women and children within the family, industrial and traffic accidents.
6) Community: threats of ethnic tensions and violent communal clashes.
7) Political: threats of human rights violations and state repression.

Characterizing human security as both a condition and as a means of being secure, however, could lead to confusion and potential aggregation difficulties akin to those of trying to add stocks (e.g. wealth) and flows (e.g. income). As causal relations are implicitly postulated between the means (protection) and the condition (safety), it is doubtful that combining both in a single measure could be analytically meaningful.
A further conceptual difference relates to temporal distinctions. While most definitions omit these, implicitly conceiving human security as focusing essentially upon the current generation, a few recognize the potential divergence between the interests of current and future generations. According to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, for example:

“Human Security in its broadest sense encompasses far more than the absence of violent conflict. It encompasses human rights, good governance, access to health care and ensuring that each individual has opportunities and choices to fulfill his or her own potential. … Freedom from want, freedom from fear and the freedom of future generations to inherit a healthy environment – these are the interrelated building blocks of human, and therefore national, security.” (16)

In the aftermath of the UN Millenium Summit with its general agreement on the importance of “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”, an independent Commission on Human Security (CHS) was created at the initiative of the government of Japan with the support of the UN Secretary-General. The CHS was established in 2001 with a 2-year mandate under the co-chairmanship of Sadako Ogata, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Amartya Sen, 1998 Nobel Laureate in Economics. Aware of many unresolved conceptual and practical issues, the aims of the CHS included “developing the concept of human security as an operational tool for policy formulation and implementation” and “proposing a concrete programme of action to address critical and pervasive threats to human security” [CHS (2003, p.153)].
Without discussing whether it is best conceptualized as a means of becoming secure, a condition of being secure, or both, in its final report the CHS (2003, p.4) adopts the first of these approaches (17), defining human security as:

“to protect the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfilment.”(18)

Human security is characterized as concerned with “safeguarding and expanding people’s vital freedoms” [CHS (2003), p.iv]. This involves protecting ‘fundamental freedoms’ that are “the essence of life”, protecting people from “critical (severe) and pervasive (widespread) threats and situations”, empowering people “to fend for themselves”, and creating systems that “give people the building blocks of survival, livelihood and dignity” [CHS (2003), p.4]. It is concerned both with violent conflict “whatever form violence takes, whether terrorism, or crime, or war” and with deprivation “from extreme impoverishment, pollution, ill health, illiteracy and other maladies” [CHS (2003, p.6)]. (19)
What constitutes the ‘essence’ or ‘vital core’ of life in this account? According to CHS (2003, p.4) the ‘vital core of life’ is “a set of elementary rights and freedoms people enjoy”. No definitive list of these is offered. Instead CHS (2003, p.4) argues that “people are the most active participants in determining their well-being” and that:

“What people consider to be “vital” – what they consider to be “of the essence of life” and “crucially important” – varies across individuals and societies.”

Implicitly assuming that the “set of elementary rights and freedoms” varies over time and that the focus is the current generation, (20)CHS (2003, p.4) argues that:

“any concept of human security must be dynamic.”

Instead of based upon a definitive list of elementary rights and freedoms, human security is conceptualized as based upon an ordering of perceived risks. In contrast to the focus of human development on expanding opportunities and ‘growth with equity’, human security is characterized as focusing upon ‘downside risks’ [CHS (2003, p.10)] and concerned with “reducing – and where possible – removing the insecurities that plague human lives” [Sen (2003, p.8)].(21) However, the distinction between issues of human development and those of human security is somewhat blurred in some cases.(22)
With which ‘downside risks’ is the human security policy agenda currently most concerned? The CHS (2003, pp.20-128) focuses upon six interconnected areas related to conflict and poverty:
i) People caught up in violent conflict
ii) People on the move
iii) Recovering from violent conflict
iv) Economic Security – the power to choose between alternatives
v) Better health
vi) Knowledge, skills and values

The CHS (2003, pp.133-142) recommends 10 steps to address ‘some of the basics’ as a start in ‘advancing human security’:
1) Protecting people in violent conflict (upholding fundamental human rights and humanitarian law, providing emergency safety nets for humanitarian assistance, etc)
2) protecting people from arms proliferation (reducing the illicit spread of small arms, (23) strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, empowering citizens to scrutinize security priorities, etc)
3) supporting the human security of migrants, refugees and internally-displaced persons
4) creating human security transition funds for post-conflict situations
5) encouraging fair trade and markets to benefit the extreme poor
6) providing minimum living standards everywhere
7) according high priority to universal access to basic health care
8) developing an efficient and equitable global system for patent rights (making affordable generic drugs available to developing countries that need them most)
9) empowering people with universal basic education
10) clarifying the need for a global human identity while respecting the freedom of individuals to have diverse identities and affiliations (cultivating respect for human rights and diversity, etc)

Neither the basis for selecting these particular ten steps, nor whether each is equally important is explicitly discussed.(24) However, the CHS (2003, p.iv) stresses that the report is “no more than a beginning”. The report is characterized by Ogata and Cels (2003, p.273) as “suggestive rather than comprehensive”, serving as “a catalyst for further thinking and practical applications.”(25)
The ten steps illustrate the close relationship between respecting human rights and human security.(26) CHS (2003, p.10) argues that while human rights stipulated under international law have to be ‘upheld comprehensively’, human security “helps identify the rights at stake in a particular situation” and complements notions of duty and obligation with “the recognition of the ethical and political importance of human security”. Recognition of the ethical significance (27) and political importance of human rights could be expected to be reinforced by emphasizing the centrality of protecting human rights for human security. However, emphasizing the importance of protecting particular human rights (28) is not entirely uncontroversial as it could be viewed as de-emphasizing the relative importance of upholding other rights.(29)
Are there freedoms in the ‘vital core’ of all human lives not covered by human rights? Although this question is not addressed explicitly, the answer appears to be no (30). It is difficult to imagine freedoms in the ‘vital core’ of all human lives that would not be covered by a broad interpretation of Article 3 of the Universal Declaration.(31) The emphasis of human security is upon practical realization of these rights.(32)
Terming the ‘set of elementary rights and freedoms’ constituting the ‘vital core of life’ as ‘vital human rights’, human security as a means of being secure can more simply be defined as:

“to protect the vital human rights of everyone in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfilment.”

The caveat ‘in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfilment’ is important because it reminds us of poverty traps and other potential problems to be avoided in changing governance structures.
Having a definition of human security as a means of being secure has advantages. It naturally suggests policies which states have legal and moral obligations to implement.
From an analytical perspective however, it is useful to have a definition of what is to be understood by human security as a condition of being secure. To avoid confusion, let us term human security as a means of being secure ‘human protection’, and human security as a condition of being secure ‘human safety’. The latter could then be defined as measuring (33):

“the extent to which everyone is able to exercise their vital human rights.”

If we accept the latter definition (34) many important conceptual issues remain, not least identification of the ‘vital human rights’ included. Rather than encompassing one particular list of rights, there could be “broad” and “narrow” definitions in a similar way that there are of more traditional economic variables (e.g. money). A very narrow definition encompassing only vital human rights essential to survival, encompassing both positive rights associated with preventing avoidable mortality (35) and negative rights to an environment free from lethal violence, could include rights in the following ten categories:
1) Food
2) Water
3) Clothing
4) Shelter
5) Health
6) Education (36)
7) Natural Environment
8) Social Environment
9) Economic Environment
10) Political Environment
Broader definitions would include other rights essential for human dignity and a life characterized by ‘freedom from fear’ and ‘freedom from want’, such as freedom from slavery (37), torture, rape and forms of non-lethal violence, freedoms of conscience, belief, and expression, and other social, economic, political and legal rights. While world indicators of human security are needed to track progress towards meeting global objectives, far more disaggregated indicators are necessary if policies are to be targeted towards protecting the most insecure individuals and groups.

3 Human Security as Justice

‘What is justice?’ is a question that has provided fertile ground for philosophical debate for millennia. Unsurprisingly, the question remains contested.
A perspective most prevalent in philosophy (38) is that justice is essentially a social construct based upon ethics (39). Theories of justice are based upon the pursuit of ethical goals of “the Good” and “the Right”(40). While not denying that its principles are partly shaped by precedent and culture, justice is characterized as essentially an embodiment of social “rationality”.
A view more prevalent in economics, especially amongst game theorists is that justice is an emergent property of a social system. To the extent that justice is an artifact of bargaining, chance events and historical contingency (41), rather than conscious social choice (42), enquiring whether adoption of one particular social convention of justice rather than another is socially “rational” may not be meaningful. Perceptions of justice may simply be “rooted in conventions that have never been consciously designed by anyone. They have merely evolved” [Sugden (1986, p.8)].(43)
Of these two approaches (44), ‘human rights’ fit easily with a conception of justice as an embodiment of social “rationality”, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent human rights legislation were indeed ‘consciously designed’. The Preamble to the Universal Declaration characterizes human rights as a foundation of freedom, justice and peace.(45)
Avoiding the most acute difficulties associated with it being contested, justice can simply be conceptualized as a social convention (46) consistent with the “Golden Rule” that one should treat others as one would wish to be treated (47). From this perspective, human rights are created by a social convention expressing what global justice requires. They reflect a generally accepted universal understanding of “what ought to be done” based upon the principle that one should treat others as one would wish to be treated. They constitute a fundamental component of substantive justice, that is, of the rights individuals have vis-à-vis others.(48)
The two types of human security can then be characterised as fundamental components of different forms of justice. Defined in terms of the protection of ‘vital human rights’, ‘human protection’ is conceptualized as a fundamental component of justice conceptualized as an “active process of preventing or remedying what would arouse the sense of injustice” [Cahn (1968, p.347)].(49) Defined in terms of the exercise of ‘vital human rights’, ‘human safety’ is conceptualized as a foundational component of substantive justice.(50)
A conception of human security as a foundational component of justice fits particularly closely with the perspectives of Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen. While Nussbaum (2003) bases her theory of justice upon respect for and implementation of a list of core ‘capabilities’ that she argues are prerequisite for human dignity and the dignity of other animals,(51) Sen is more cautious and does not offer a detailed list.(52) Characterizing human security as a fundamental component of a social convention of justice, allows both for the possibility that a definite list of the constituent ‘vital human rights’ can be specified at a given point in time and for the list to change as the ‘generally accepted understanding’ alters.

4 Human Security as a Global Good

According to the CHS (2003, p.4), human security is concerned with “all human lives”. Concerned with everyone, irrespective of where they live,(53) human security can be characterized as a global good.
Conceptualised as a global good, human security is fundamentally different from national or state security. There are at least four reasons why the distinction is crucial.
Firstly, most expenditure on national security is widely considered to be wasted or counter-productive when viewed from a global perspective. Pagano (1999), for example, characterizes national security as a positional good, whereby ‘consumption’ of national security by one state involving the consumption of an equal negative quantity by its “enemies”.(54) Kammler (1997) notes that expenditure on national security is generally partly motivated by the desire to acquire status and other international positional goods.(55) Where competitive national security expenditures increase the risks of war, create pollution, ill-health or other bads, they could be more accurately characterized as negative-sum “positional bads” than as zero-sum “positional goods”.
Secondly, expenditure on state security also has the characteristics of a ‘positional bad’ from a national perspective if governments use it to repress their domestic opponents, creating insecurity for some citizens and reducing the average quality of life. With authoritarian, totalitarian and communist governments having been responsible for the deaths of around 140 million of their own citizens during the twentieth century [Rummel(1994)], significant insecurities have clearly often created by governments themselves within their own borders. The frequent failure by the state to protect its citizens and reality that “at times has become a threat to its own people” is, according to the CHS (2003, p.2), the reason why attention must shift from state security to human security.(56)
More fundamentally, for human security to be characterized as a global good concerned with ‘all human lives’ rather than a positional good, a necessary condition is that the Pareto optimality principle apply with respect to individual life. As it is logically impossible to protect ‘all human lives’ by extinguishing the life of any individual, human protection is fundamentally different from the military methods traditionally used by nation states in their pursuit of security.(57) Human security as a global good cannot be pursued by war or methods that involve killing people, but only by peaceful means.
Characterizing human security as a global good implies both collective interest and responsibility for its provision, highlighting a need for international agreement on issues such as targets, financing and burden-sharing.(58) Just as choices that are individually rational can lead to outcomes that are socially undesirable, decisions made by individual states can also lead to outcomes recognized by all governments as globally undesirable. A raison d’être for international cooperation is to overcome failures associated with such decentralized decision-making leading to globally inefficient outcomes. The rationale for collective action in providing human protection relates partly to management of the global commons. Indeed, in coining the term the “Tragedy of the Commons”, Hardin (1968) argued that problems such as the nuclear arms race were insoluble without instituting social arrangements involving mutual coercion mutually agreed upon and that:

“Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in freedom of the Commons. Freedom in a Commons brings ruin to all”.

Aspects of human security associated with avoiding world-scale catastrophe are essentially global commons problems. Many other aspects of human security are primarily regional or local in character. As the focus is ‘vital human rights’, the benefits of human security accrue in the first instance to individuals and need be neither global, nor non-rival.
Aspects of human security that have universal, non-rival and non-excludable benefits, such as absence and avoidance of nuclear conflagration and other events that could extinguish all human life, could be categorized as global public goods.(59) Many aspects of human security do not share these characteristics, however. As everyone does not at present ‘consume’ the same amount of either human safety or human protection, it is more apt to characterize human security simply as a ‘global good’ rather than as a ‘global public good’.(60)

5 Human Security and Economic Analysis

Assuming problems of practical quantification can be overcome how might the concept of human security be incorporated in economic analyses? Of the two forms of human security, human safety is closer to the usual units of economic analysis, whereas conceptualized as aimed at protecting and increasing human safety, human protection is closer to economic policy objectives.
Approaches to economic evaluation based upon individuals include those focusing on social welfare, social well-being, and capabilities. The compatibility of human security with each approach is examined below. For illustrative purposes, a standard (if unrealistic)(61) characterization in economics of the state as a ‘benevolent dictator’ is adopted, and applied to the problem of choosing ‘optimal’ human protection policies.(62)

5.1 Human Security and Social Welfare

The standard approach to social choice in economics is to focus upon welfare. The economic welfare of an individual is the value, usually defined in terms of the happiness, or pleasure, that the individual places on his or her personal circumstances in a given social state describing all the factors relevant to his or her choice. Assuming individuals have complete and transitive preferences defined over social states allows the latter to be ranked by means of a numerical index, termed “utility”.(63) The approach assumes individuals have fixed perceptions and tastes,(64) with no account taken of mental conditioning, or intrinsic value placed on rights, or freedoms.(65)
As human safety is defined in terms of the ability to exercise ‘vital human rights’, which are considered of no intrinsic value in measuring economic welfare, the ‘informational bases’ of the two concepts are fundamentally different. Despite this lack of overlap, the concepts are not entirely unrelated. Human safety could be of instrumental significance in influencing economic welfare in at least six ways.
Firstly, associated with freedom from fear and want, human safety could be expected to increase the utility of individuals who are able to exercise their vital human rights. The relationship would be weaker than expected however, if there were adaptive preferences.(66)
Secondly, the existence of rights generally involves responsibilities, as well as constraints or duties for others, which may reduce the utility of those who would prefer not to be constrained or burdened in this way. A right not to be harmed, for example, entails a corresponding duty on the part of others not to inflict harm. That this might reduce the utility of those with sadistic preferences illustrates a fundamental ethical problem in the standard approach to measuring social welfare purely as an aggregate of individual utilities without making value judgements concerning their social worth in a given context. In effect, it places equal weight on the utility of those whose are harmed and those who inflict harm on others. (67)
Thirdly, if individual utilities are interdependent, the ability of an individual to exercise their vital human rights could affect the utility of others. The knowledge that an individual is able to exercise the right to the basic necessities for physical survival could increase the utility of their ‘friends’ and altruistic individuals. On the other hand, there may be others who regard the ability of an individual to exercise these rights as a source of personal disutility, especially if their livelihood depends upon the insecurity of that individual. For example, those who benefit from the work of slaves, bonded labourers, or others working in similar conditions, may view the prospect of these individuals being able to exercise their vital human rights as a threat and source of personal disutility.(68) This illustrates another fundamental ethical problem with the standard approach to purely aggregating individual utilities.(69)
Fourthly, a higher level of overall human safety creates a less hazardous environment nationally and internationally. This could be expected to increase the utility of all individuals.
Fifthly, in addition to levels of human safety, changes in human safety may influence an individual’s utility. For example, at the same level of human safety, individuals might be expected to have a higher utility if their human safety has increased than if it has decreased ceteris paribus. Similarly, altruistic individuals may have a higher utility where the human safety of others has increased than where it has fallen.(70)
Sixthly, safeguarding and increasing human safety necessitate allocation of resources to human protection.(71) This influences the resources available for other purposes, outcomes in the wider economy and the welfare of society as a whole. The ability to exercise the right to basic necessities for physical survival, for example, involves a corresponding duty on the part of others to ensure that resources are available to fulfil these entitlements.(72)
On the basis of the above considerations, the relationship expressing the utility (vi) of individual i as a function of the instrumental value of different aspects of human safety (73) might be postulated in mathematical terms to be of the form: (74)

Where: hi is the human safety of the individual.(75)
f-i is human safety of others positively affecting the individual’s utility.
e-i is the human safety of others negatively affecting the individual’s utility.
Hj is the aggregate level of human safety in country j.
H-j is the aggregate level of human safety in the rest of the world.
z is a vector of other variables that affect the utility of individual i. These may include some specific to the individual (e.g. real income in excess of subsistence levels),(76) some related to aspects of interdependent utility (e.g. relative income levels), and other factors (e.g. provision of education, health services and other public services above levels necessary for human safety).

Failures by governments to implement human protection commitments are partly explained by the ability of some individuals to exercise their vital human rights being viewed as a source of disutility by those in power.(77) Such considerations are important in developing a descriptive theory of compliance with international agreements. (78)
From a normative perspective, however, there is no plausible justification for taking interpersonal disutility associated with the human safety into account in measuring social welfare, not least given official commitments by states to upholding universal human rights. If only those factors which positively influence utility are included, the utility (ui) of individual i could be the expressed as:

Adopting this perspective, the social welfare (U) of the residents of a given country (j) expressed as the weighted sum over all the inhabitants (p) of the individual utilities (ui) could be expressed as: (79)

Where:alphai>= 0 is the weight in the social welfare function placed upon the utility of individual i (equal to unity if no weighting is used).

From an economic policy perspective, this illustrates how the social welfare (U j) of the residents of country j can be expected to be positively related to the level of human safety in the rest of the world (H-j).(80) The higher the level of human safety in the rest of the world (H-j), the greater the social welfare (U j) of the residents of country j would be expected to be ceteris paribus.(81)
A conventional economic approach suggests that the ‘optimal’ policy choice from a national perspective would involve pursuing human protection policies, domestically and in other countries, up to the point where a marginal unit of expenditure produces an equal increase in national welfare across all areas of public spending.(82) The approach assumes, however, that human safety is of purely instrumental value and that human protection can simply to be traded-off against other policy objectives. Such ‘optimal’ policy choice could be inconsistent with the international commitments of the state (83) and its legal obligations. Viewing ‘optimal’ policy choice as simply a matter of trade-offs is incompatible with the view that justice is intrinsically important and that the ability of individuals to exercise their vital human rights is an ethical imperative rather than an optional extra.(84) For human safety to be characterized as having intrinsic value a different framework is needed.

5.2 Human Security and social well-being

Human safety corresponds to the ability to exercise core ‘fundamental rights’, characterised as having intrinsic value and included in the concepts of ‘quality of life’ and ‘social well-being’ proposed by Dasgupta (2001).(85) The ‘quality of life’ (or ‘personal well-being’) of an individual encompasses both their utility and their ‘fundamental rights’ allowing the exercise of freedoms of agency, independence, choice and self-determination prerequisite for “human flourishing”.(86) Social well-being (W(x)) in a given social state (x) is defined as an aggregate of the well-being of individuals (wi(x)). Analogous to the relationship between economic welfare and individual utilities, social well-being is conceptualized as a numerical index (W(x)) of numerical indices (wi(x)) such that [Dasgupta(2001, p.21)]: (87)

W(x) = V(w1(x), w2(x), …. wi(x), …,wN(x)) i=1…N

As rights are characterized as having intrinsic value within this framework, the character of social states is assumed to be relevant to their ranking, and the assumption of their neutrality in the standard ‘Welfarist’ approach rejected. The relationship expressing personal well-being (wi)(88) as a function of utility(89) and of human security stripped of aspects pertaining to future states, relating to the individual (Xw(hi)), others resident within the same country (Xw(h-i)), and others resident elsewhere (Xw(H-j)), could be postulated to be of the form: (90)

Where: ri are the individual’s rights having intrinsic value (apart from those pertaining to human security)
r-i are others’ rights having intrinsic value within one’s own country (apart from those pertaining to human security)
R-j are others’ rights having intrinsic value in other countries (apart from those pertaining to human security)

Social well-being as the weighted sum of the personal well-being of each of the p inhabitants in country j, by substitution, could then be expressed as:

Where: Bi >=0 is the weight in the social well-being function placed upon the personal well-being of individual i (equal to unity if no weighting is used).(91)

From a policy perspective,(92) this similarly illustrates how social well-being (Wj) of the residents of country j can be expected to be positively related to the level of human security in the rest of the world (H-j). Being of both instrumental and intrinsic value, increasing human security in other countries increases national social well-being more than economic welfare.
Applying a standard economic approach suggests that government policies to increase human safety nationally, and in other countries, are consistent with pursuit of national social well-being up to the point where the marginal increase per unit of expenditure is equated across different areas of public spending.(93) As the approach similarly assumes that human protection can be traded-off against other policy objectives, its adoption could also lead to a level of human protection incompatible with international commitments and inconsistent with ethical priorities. This difficulty might be taken into account by adding suitable constraints such that trade-offs only occurred above a specified level of human safety. To integrate international commitments and principles of justice more fully into the analysis a different framework is required.

5.3 Human Security and capabilities

In the approach proposed by Amartya Sen, freedom defined in terms of the ‘capabilities’ of individuals to choose and “to lead the kind of lives they value – and have reason to value” [Sen (1999, p.18)],(94) is characterized as the most appropriate conceptual space in which to evaluate social arrangements. Removal of ‘unfreedoms’ is viewed as both the means and end of human development.(95) The focus upon freedom distinguishes the approach from the traditional one in which the same level of social welfare can be associated with widely different opportunities and freedoms. Rather than utilities, the “informational base” of the analysis consists of ‘capability’ sets of ‘functionings’, where both ‘culmination outcomes’ and processes are of intrinsic value.
Sen’s scheme has been characterised as focusing upon intermediate stages in a chain linking goods and utility. Goods,(96) together with the physical, social, and political environment, lead to the creation of “fundamental intermediate goods” such as aspects of nutrition. These, when taken together with personal characteristics, create capabilities from which individuals can choose particular functionings. These may influence utility, but this is not considered the primary motivation of choice.(97) Although utilities and commodities provide a basis for analysis in the absence of information on capabilities, they provide neither an adequate conceptual framework, nor a sufficient basis for evaluation. (98)
A term that draws upon Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics,(99) ‘functionings’ are defined by Sen (1999, p.75) as “the various things a person may value doing or being”. They refer both to alternative actions an individual may value doing (processes) and to alternative states in which an individual may value being (“culmination outcomes”). According to Sen:

“functionings are constitutive of a person’s being.” (100)

Capabilities refer to the alternative bundles of functionings or lifestyles it is feasible for an individual to attain.(101) They include capabilities to exercise of vital human rights, as well as other freedoms prerequisite for “human flourishing”.(102) They provide the freedom to choose between different sets of co-realizable functionings.(103)
Policy can be evaluated within this framework either in terms of actual opportunities (capabilities), or of what the individual is able to do in practice (functionings).(104) The latter approach is the easier in practice as capabilities are not directly observable,(105) but focusing purely upon functionings achieved omits important aspects of freedom. Evaluation may take the form of directly comparing vectors of functionings or capabilities (the ‘direct approach’), of supplementing traditional income-based comparisons (the ‘supplementary approach’), or of adjusting incomes for other capabilities (the ‘indirect approach’) [Sen (1999)].
Instead of treating rights as independent constraints, as in the entitlement theory of Nozick (1973, 1974), (106) which would entail a lexicographic ranking of processes and culmination outcomes, a more integrated approach to valuation is proposed.(107) Whether a right is realized, is treated as a process to be valued,(108) with the relative importance of different rights and outcomes taken into account.(109) In contrast to Rawls (1971)’s definition of “primary goods” in terms of things everyone is presumed to need, the capabilities approach takes account of differences in the needs of individuals and the “contingency of circumstances”.(110)
Sen (2002b, pp.629-630) argues that rights do not have total priority as “neither consideration rules the roost unconditionally (with the slightest advancement outweighing any possible diminution of the other – however large)”, but cautions against seeking a comprehensive index to incorporates the trade-offs. The latter may be only partial yielding an incomplete ranking, and other principles may also apply that suggest partial rankings. (111)
Human rights are characterized as rights to capabilities.(112) “Being alive” is central to the capability to achieve other functionings.(113)
Human safety could be characterized in this framework as constituting the ability to exercise rights to core capabilities to be adequately nourished, clothed, sheltered, etc. Human protection would then involve ensuring all individuals are able to exercise their rights to these core capabilities and do not have life shortened as a consequence of the actions or neglect of others. From this perspective, human protection would involve both the protection of existing core freedoms and the removal of core ‘unfreedoms’. This implies greater conceptual over-lap with human development than the distinction proposed by Sen (2003) suggests.
The extent to which the capabilities approach is amenable to mathematical modelling is unclear, not least given Sen’s caution against seeking a comprehensive index that incorporates all the trade-offs.(114) Nonetheless, for illustrative purposes, assume that the capabilities of individual i can be represented by a vector (ci), and that while they cannot be combined into a comprehensive index, they can be partitioned into those relating to human safety (hi), stripped of any aspects pertaining to future states (Xc(hi)),(115) and other capabilities (ki), such that:

Assuming inter-personal comparability, if a vector of the aggregate capabilities (Cj) of the residents of country j could be computed,(116) these might similarly partitioned into those relating to human safety (Hj), stripped of any aspects pertaining to future states (Xc(Hj)), and other capabilities (Kj), such that:

What would constitute an ‘optimal’ policy choice within a capabilities framework? At the outset it would be necessary to consider the hierarchical character of capabilities. Survival and other ‘vital human rights’ are pre-requisite for the exercise of other capabilities and functionings.(117) This suggests a lexicographic ordering of policies initially aimed at human protection. This is a perspective consistent with the opinion expressed by the courts in some countries that fulfilling ‘minimum core obligations’ under human rights legislation takes precedent over other areas of public expenditure.(118)
Applying a standard economic approach to choosing ‘optimal’ human protection policies suggests that these could be chosen by ranking alternative options on the basis of the extent to which they increase the human safety per unit of public expenditure.(119) If states had no responsibilities to the rest of the world, an ‘optimal’ policy from a narrow national perspective might be characterized as choosing among human protection policies focused nationally, in other countries, or at global level,(120) in order to minimize the cost of enabling all citizens to exercise their vital human rights.(121) However, the choice of ‘optimal’ human protection policies also needs to take account of responsibilities for human security in other countries.(122)
Choices between allocating resources between policies to enable people in other countries to exercise their vital human rights and those to promote other capabilities domestically are relevant primarily in rich countries. They can be viewed as fundamentally issues of justice rather than trade-offs susceptible purely to economic reasoning. A view that no meaningful trade-off can be made between survival of individuals in other countries and the domestic pursuit of less essential capabilities would also suggest a lexicographic ordering of policies. A perspective consistent with the characterization of human security as a global good concerned with ‘all human lives’ and with the “Golden Rule”, is that priority be given to human protection policies in other parts of the world over policies to enhance less essential national capabilities. A social convention of justice along these lines would be in the long-run interests of all countries providing others also chose to follow it,(123) and were it to become globally self-enforcing, it could rapidly lead to the realization of the UN’s founding objectives of creating a world characterised by “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”.

6 Conclusions

Human security encompasses some of the most important economic, social and political issues that face humankind and many of the most fundamental concerns “à la recherche d'une économie fraternelle”. United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette argues that by human security:

“We mean, in its most simple expression, all those things that men and women anywhere in the world cherish most: enough food for the family; adequate shelter; good health; schooling for the children; protection from violence whether inflicted by man or by nature; and a State which does not oppress its citizens but rules with their consent.” (124)

Does human security therefore encompass the whole of economics? This is not the case if human security is conceptualized purely in terms of ‘vital human rights’.
In this paper human security has been characterized as having two forms. The static conception, or condition of human security, termed ‘human safety’, is defined as “the extent to which everyone is able to exercise their vital human rights”. The dynamic conception, or means of human security, termed ‘human protection’, is defined as “to protect the vital human rights of everyone in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfilment”.
Human security is argued to constitute a fundamental component of justice. ‘Human safety’ is conceptualized as a foundational component of substantive justice, that is the rights individuals have vis-à-vis others, while ‘human protection’ is a fundamental component of justice conceptualized as an “active process of preventing or remedying what would arouse the sense of injustice” [Cahn (1968, p.347)].
Characterizing ‘vital human rights’ as a component of justice conceptualized as a social convention consistent with the “Golden Rule” provides a method of reconciling perspectives of those who regard a definitive list of these rights as essential and those who argue that such a list cannot be specified a priori. It allows the possibility of a definite list of the constituent vital human rights being specified at a given point in time by general agreement rather than purely on the basis of a priori reasoning. It also provides flexibility for the list to change over time as the generally accepted understanding of what constitutes ‘vital human rights’ alters. It recognizes that meaning and use of any language is essentially a matter of social convention.
Concerned with ‘all human lives’, irrespective of nationality, place residence, or other characteristics, human security is quintessentially a global good. Due to its universal concern and focus upon individuals, and the peaceful nature of the methods this implies, human protection is fundamentally different from national or state security.
Many of the immediate benefits of human security are neither non-rival, nor non-excludable, but concerned with individual rights. As individuals do not in general ‘consume’ an identical amount, it is more accurate to characterize human security as a global good than as a global public good.
Human security raises many standard problems for economists including resource scarcity and allocation, the structure of economic governance, and management of the global commons. While in examining how it could be incorporated as a policy objective in economic analyses a standard approach to national policy-making has been considered, human protection could be expected to be most efficiently provided by international agreement to manage global commons and tackle fundamental issues of injustice. Carefully crafted changes in the global structure of economic governance to tackle polar opposite problems such as hunger and obesity,(125) for example, might significantly increase human safety globally and generate immediate net benefits for all countries.
Despite human security having generated considerable international interest amongst policy-makers, the concept has received little attention in the economics literature to date. Perhaps this is unsurprising given its incompatibility with the traditional framework of welfare economics in which rights are considered of no intrinsic value and only individual utilities matter. Of the three approaches considered, the most direct way to incorporating human security in economic analysis is to utilize Amartya Sen’s capabilities framework and treat human safety as the main target variable of interest rather than social welfare or social well-being, while allowing considerations of justice to determine policy priorities. Without addressing issues of human security and injustice associated with the structure of economic governance, economics risks being regarded as ethically irrelevant and primarily concerned with preserving the status quo.

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Notes :
(1) : The author acknowledges the generous hospitality of Darwin College, Cambridge University during work on this paper, the comments of Sabina Alkire on a preliminary draft, and the encouragement of Yoshi Sato and Alessandro Vercelli. / Revenir au texte
(2) : The United Nations was established on 24th October 1945 as an organization of sovereign and independent States with the objectives of maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and cooperation in solving international problems, harmonizing action, and promoting respect for human rights. / Revenir au texte
(3) : CHS (2003, p.7), for example, notes:
“Deprivation and unequal treatment may not generate an immediate revolt, but they can remain in people’s memory and influence the course of events much later. And while the leaders of conflicts often come from the more prosperous parts of society, poverty can provide rich recruiting grounds for the “foot soldiers” of violent engagements.
Wars destroy human lives and scar survivors. They destroy homes, economic assets, crops roads, bank and utility systems. They destroy habits of trust that form the basis of market transactions”./ Revenir au texte
(4) : Sadako Ogata (2003) states: “The broadening of security reflects the changing national and international environment. Internal wars have overtaken interstate wars as the major threats to peace and security. … The exclusion and deprivation of whole communities of people from the benefits of development naturally contributes to the tensions, violence and conflict within countries” [CHS (2003, p.5)]. / Revenir au texte
(5) : Japanese Prime Minister Obuchi Keizo [cited in Sen (2002a, p.1)]./ Revenir au texte
(6) : Ul-Haq (1999, p.83) similarly states:
“Human security is a powerful, revolutionary idea that forces a new morality on all of us through a perception of common threats to our very survival.”/ Revenir au texte
(7) : Paris (2001, p.88) argues:
“Cultivated ambiguity renders human security an effective campaign slogan … The political coalition that now uses human security as a rallying cry has chalked up significant accomplishments, including the signing of an anti-personnel land mines convention and the imminent creation of an international criminal court.” / Revenir au texte
(8) : Arguing that the concept “offers little analytical leverage because it is so sprawling and ambiguous” [p.101], Paris (2001, p.102) states:
“as a new conceptualization of security, or a set of beliefs about the sources of conflict, human security is so vague that it verges on the virtually meaningless.” / Revenir au texte
(9) : Measurement raises many important practical issues, such as scales, thresholds and proxies to use to measure individual components, weighting and aggregation methods, inter-personal and inter-temporal comparisons. These are not, however, the subject of this paper. / Revenir au texte
(10) : The breadth of vision has similarities to the Brundtland Commission recommendation [WCED (1987, p.19)] that:
“Governments and international agencies should assess the cost-effectiveness, in terms of achieving security, of money spent on armaments compared with money spent on reducing poverty or restoring a ravaged environment.” / Revenir au texte
(11) : See: / Revenir au texte
(12) : As De Laninga (2003, p.460) notes:
“Faire le tour d’horizon d’un concept tel que “la Sécurité humaine” est un défi majeur.”/ Revenir au texte
(13) : King and Murray (2002) define human security as:
“the number of years of future life spent outside a state of “generalized poverty”.”/ Revenir au texte
(14) : Thomas (1999, p.3) states:
“Human security describes a condition of existence in which basic material needs are met and in which human dignity, including meaningful participation in the life of the community, can be realized. … At the most basic level, food, shelter, education, and health care are essential for the survival of human beings. But human security entails more than physical survival. Emancipation from oppressive power structures – be they global, national, or local in origin and scope – is necessary for human security.” / Revenir au texte
(15) : According to Bajpai (2000):
“Human security relates to the protection of the individual’s personal safety and freedom from direct and indirect threats of violence. The promotion of human development and good governance, and, when necessary, the collective use of sanctions and force are central to managing human security.”/ Revenir au texte
(16) : Kofi Annan. “Secretary-General Salutes International Workshop on Human Security in Mongolia.” Two-Day Session in Ulaanbaatar, May 8-10, 2000. Press Release SG/SM/7382 [cited in CHS (2003, p.4)]. In his address entitled “Towards a Culture of Peace” (cited at Kofi Annan states:
“Human security can no longer be understood in purely military terms. Rather, it must encompass economic development, social justice, environmental protection, democratization, disarmament, and respect for human rights and the rule of law.”/ Revenir au texte
(17) : However, some ambiguities remain. For example, CHS (2003, p.10) uses the phrase “protecting human security”, suggesting that human security is being conceptualized as a condition of the ‘vital core’ of human lives (the ability to exercise particular rights and freedoms) to be protected, rather than as a means of becoming more secure (protection)./ Revenir au texte
(18) : This is similar to the ‘Working Definition’ proposed by Alkire (2002a): “The objective of human security is to safeguard the vital core of all human lives from critical pervasive threats, in a way that is consistent with long-term human fulfillment.”/ Revenir au texte
(19) : Ogata and Cels (2003, p.274) state that in identifying and categorizing threats:
“The Commission argues that the emphasis of these lists should not be upon the threats and defensive measures deemed necessary to guard against such threats, but rather on the creative and integrative effort to prevent these threats from emerging, or to decrease their negative impact when they do by fulfilling all aspects of people’s vital freedoms.”/ Revenir au texte
(20) : Ogata (2003) argues that this “vast and complex” agenda “must be tackled starting from the pervasive and critical threats confronting people today.” In the context of social choice theory, Sen (1996a) notes:
“the treatment of future generations remains an open question. Indeed, the valuation of future generations must, of necessity, be matters of hypothesis and conjecture, rather than being ascertainable in any obvious sense, at this time.”/ Revenir au texte
(21) : Sen (2003, p.8, p.9) states:
“insecurities that threaten human survival or the safety of daily life, or imperil the natural dignity of men and women, or expose human beings to the uncertainty of disease or pestilence, or subject vulnerable people to abrupt penury related to economic downturns demand that special attention be paid to the dangers of sudden deprivation.”
“Insecurity is a different – and some ways much starker – problem than unequal expansion.”/ Revenir au texte
(22) : For example, while Sen (2003, p.9) argues that human development includes goals such as ensuring regular health cover for all, while human security covers issues such as countering suddenly growing pandemics of HIV/AIDS, malaria, or drug-resistant tuberculosis, this begs the question of how downside risks that constitute a ‘pervasive threat’ are distinguished. In countries with high per capita incomes where obtaining medical care can be financially ruinous for poorer individuals, such as the United States, basic health cover for all could be viewed as principally an issue of human security rather than of human development. Indeed, universal access to basic health care is one of the CHS (2003) recommendations./ Revenir au texte
(23) : Noting that globally there are around 640 million small arms which kill an estimated 500,000 people a year “making them de facto weapons of mass destruction”, CHS (2003, p.134) argues that the trade in conventional weapons “foments violent conflicts”./ Revenir au texte
(24) : Was ‘clarifying the need for a global human identity’ judged more important in protecting individuals than say reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming because it was judged a lesser, more distant or politically intractable risk, for example, or simply because it was not one of the areas focused on in the report? / Revenir au texte
(25) : Ogata and Cels (2003, p.276) state:
“The Commission did not seek to present an exhaustive analysis … but rather sought to demonstrate the importance and feasibility of shifting the focus from institutional to human priorites – meeting people’s needs.”/ Revenir au texte
(26) : CHS (2003, p.10) states:
“Respecting human rights is at the core of protecting human security.”/ Revenir au texte
(27) : Sen (2003, p.9) notes that human rights “take the form of strong claims in social ethics.”/ Revenir au texte
(28) : Recognition of the political importance of human rights can be seen not only in their status under international law but also the frequency with which they are appealed to in public discourse./ Revenir au texte
(29) : Factors other than human security might be considered important in prioritizing protection of different human rights./ Revenir au texte
(30) : Sen (2003, p.9) argues:
“On the one hand, since human rights can be seen as a general box that has to be filled with specific demands with appropriate motivational substantiation, it is significant that human security helps fill one particular part of this momentous box through reasoned substantiation (by showing the importance of conquering human insecurity). On the other, since human security as an important descriptive concept demands ethical force and political recognition, it is useful that this can be appropriately obtained through seeing freedoms related to human security as an important class of human rights.” / Revenir au texte
(31) : Are there freedoms which some individuals consider a part of the ‘vital core’ of their lives that are not generally recognized as human rights? Freedoms of sexual orientation or choice of gender might fall into this category. While a few countries have been moving towards recognising these as basic rights, in others they are considered essentially as involving liberties to deviate from cultural, moral, or religious norms to be discouraged or punished./ Revenir au texte
(32) : Stating that human security “means protecting vital freedoms – fundamental to human existence and development”, Ogata and Cels (2003, p.274) define “vital freedoms” as:
“the inalienable fundamental rights and freedoms that are laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments. They also encompass their practical realization.”/ Revenir au texte
(33) : it is implicitly assumed that human safety enhances human freedoms and fulfilment./ Revenir au texte
(34) : Page & Redclift (2002, p.11) note that human security is a ‘contested’ and ‘highly controversial’ concept./ Revenir au texte
(35) : CHS (2003, p.95) states that according to recent WHO estimates over 40% of the estimated 56 million annual deaths from disease were preventable given the world’s existing resources, knowledge and technology. / Revenir au texte
(36) : As the HIV/AIDS pandemic, for example, illustrates, education has a potentially vital role in preventing avoidable mortality. / Revenir au texte
(37) : Defining slavery as “the total control of one person by another for the purpose of economic exploitation” and a slave as “someone controlled by violence and denied all their personal freedom to make money for someone else, Bales (1999, p.6) estimates that there are currently of the order of 27 million slaves worldwide. This includes 15-20 million bonded labourers in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. It exceeds the number of people forcibly taken from Africa during the entire transatlantic slave trade./ Revenir au texte
(38) : A recent exception is David Gautier. Rather than being based upon ethics, Gautier (1985, 1986) argues that justice emerges from the bargaining process between self-interested individuals. / Revenir au texte
(39) : Ethics is sometimes defined as second-order reflective consideration of “morality”, the first-order beliefs and practices about right and wrong, good and evil, which guide human behaviour. In the remainder of the paper the term is used as convenient short-hand to encompass both aspects./ Revenir au texte
(40) : although exactly what these involve is disputed./ Revenir au texte
(41) : E.g. Sugden (1986) argues that natural justice emerges as one of several potential equilibria from repeated play of coordination games. Developing an evolutionary model in which social convention emerges in a Nash demand game as a consequence of a succession of bargainers coordinating by chance on the same division rule, Young (1998, p.116) similarly states:
“…conventions arise through the accumulation of precedent: people come to expect a certain division of the pie because other people have agreed to divide the pie in a similar way under similar circumstances.”/ Revenir au texte
(42) : Young (1996) notes that some conventions are established by decree, however, such as after the French revolution when it was stipulated that carriages would switch to driving on the right of the road to emphasize the change in the social order./ Revenir au texte
(43) : Sugden (1986, p.8) notes:
“A society that conducts its affairs in accordance with such standards of justice may not maximize its welfare in any sense that would be obvious to an impartial observer.” / Revenir au texte
(44) : A third perspective, reflected in some political economy approaches, views justice in practice as essentially a mask for the interests of powerful social groups. This is a view that cannot readily be dismissed given slow progress in achieving human rights objectives. For example, Cahn (1968, p.346) notes that both Marx and Bentham considered justice as merely a mask for capitalist exploitation. It is a perspective that is also consistent with the argument of Adam Smith (1776, Vol. II, Book V, Ch.1, part II, p.207) in the Wealth of Nations that:
“Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.”/ Revenir au texte
(45) : The Preamble states that:
“recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”./ Revenir au texte
(46) : Following Gilbert (1983, p.248), a social convention is defined as a generally accepted understanding of “what ought to be done” in a given society./ Revenir au texte
(47) : This principle has a long history, being common (although in diverse forms) to most major ethical and religious value systems. For example, it can be found in the writings of the ancient Greek philosophers including Socrates, who wrote in the 5th century BC: “Do not do to others that which would anger you if
others did it to you” and Plato, who wrote in the 4th century BC: “May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me.” Written around 3000 BC, the Mahabharata (from the Indian Vedic tradition) states: “This is the sum of duty. Do not unto others that which would cause you pain if done to you.” In the Judaic tradition, Shabbath 31a of the Talmud, written around 1300 BC, states: “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbour: That is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof,” Leviticus 19:18 (Authorized Version): “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”, and Proverbs 25:21: “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.” In the Christian tradition, Matthew 7:12 states: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets”, John 13:34: “love one another; as I have loved you”, and Luke 6:27: “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you”. The “Golden Rule” is also reflected in the teachings of Confucianism, Buddism, Islam and many other religions [See:]./ Revenir au texte
(48) : There are many different types of justice. Distributional justice refers to the fairness of a distribution; procedural or formal justice to the fairness of principles and impartiality and consistency of application; substantive justice to the rights individuals have vis-à-vis others; retributive justice to what punishment is justified; corrective justice to what restitution or damages are fair; commutative justice to the fairness of wages, prices and exchanges [See: Hooker (1995)]./ Revenir au texte
(49) : Comprising “an indossociable blend of reason and empathy”, Cahn (1968, p.347) defines a ‘sense of injustice’ as “the equipment by which a human being discerns assault, recognizes oppression of another as a species of attack on himself, and prepares defense”./ Revenir au texte
(50) : Characterizing human safety as an element of substantive justice also reminds us that rights are often associated with responsibilities, such as not violating others rights, and that justice may involve the temporary suspension of rights in cases of serious non-compliance./ Revenir au texte
(51) : Clearly a major difference with the human security perspective is that the former is anthropocentric, while the conception of justice proposed by Nussbaum (2003) extends to other species. / Revenir au texte
(52) : The more cautious approach is reflected in the refusal by the CHS (2003) to propose a definitive list of the ‘set of elementary rights and freedoms’, emphasizing instead that what people consider ‘vital’ and ‘crucially important’ varies. / Revenir au texte
(53) : Alkire (2002a) similarly argues that:
“Human security shifts that focus [of protecting state territories] to persons, regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, citizenship, or other distinguishing characteristics.”/ Revenir au texte
(54) : Pagano (1999, p.72) states:
“National security is usually considered the classic example of a pure public good. However, for the individuals of the ‘enemy’ country any expense in national security by the other country generates a negative consumption of national security, or a consumption of national insecurity. When both countries are taken into account national security becomes a positional good. In the case of national security, a ‘market’ deal is impossible because few countries would accept being paid a price to consume national insecurity… Two results are therefore possible: the first is over-supply of the positional good by both countries, which in this case takes the form of an arms race. The second is an agreement by which both countries agree not to consume national security at the expense of the national insecurity of the other country.”/ Revenir au texte
(55) : Kammler (1997, p.3) notes:
“The conspicuous absence of positional goods from the set of desirables that motivates defence effort and military expenditure, inside as well as outside alliances, would not matter much if the historical record suggested that in 20th century international politics, striving for status on the part of states is a thing of the past, perhaps a feudal vestige no longer shaping attitudes and courses of action, and thus can be safely neglected in attempts to explain international behaviour, and in particular defence policies. The historical record, however, suggests otherwise. Status ambitions were, and remain, powerful motives of governmental behaviour.”/ Revenir au texte
(56) : Among the areas of divergence between state security and human security, CHS (2003, p.23) mentions state-sponsored terrorism and the labelling of legitimate groups as ‘terrorist organizations’ “to quash opposition to authoritarian government policies”. Ogata (2003) cites the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as exemplifying a current crisis of humanitarian action, noting that denial of access to humanitarian assistance and ‘willful destruction of civilian properties’ imply that “people are being held hostage to protect state security needs”, and on the wider international situation notes:
“Under the guise of waging a war against terrorism, human rights and humanitarian law are being violated.” / Revenir au texte
(57) : By contrast, the CHS (2003, p.6) emphasizes potential complementarity, arguing that:
“Human security and state security are mutually reinforcing and dependent on each other. Without human security, state security cannot be attained and vice versa.”/ Revenir au texte
(58) : CHS (2003, p.23) argues that:
“New multinational strategies are required that focus on the shared responsibility to protect people.”/ Revenir au texte
(59) : E.g. Mendez (1999, p.404) argues that “maintenance of global peace and security is the quintessential global public good, in both substance and form”. / Revenir au texte
(60) : A public goods framework is only appropriate if everyone ‘consumes’ the same amount. / Revenir au texte
(61) : As a simplifying assumption this may seem quite unrealistic. After all, dictators who are purely benevolent are extremely rare, if they ever existed, with social choice under dictatorships tending to reflect the preferences of the dictator rather than what is best for society as a whole. In most states, policy-making does not reflect the preferences of a single individual, with social choices made collectively, involving processes of discussion, bargaining and compromise./ Revenir au texte
(62) : i.e. treating the policies of other states as given./ Revenir au texte
(63) : The existence of a common metric of utility has been questioned on a number of grounds, including commensurability of different choices. Holland (2002, p.27), for instance, argues:
“Happiness is not a homogenous item, but a mosaic of heterogeneous elements.”/ Revenir au texte
(64) : In his Presidential address to the American Economic Association in 1968, Kenneth Boulding noted:
“One of the most peculiar illusions of economists is the doctrine of what might be called the "Immaculate Conception" of the indifference curve, that is, the doctrine that tastes are simply given and we cannot inquire into the process by which they are formed. This doctrine is literally "for the birds," whose tastes are largely created for them by their genetic structures and can therefore be treated as a constant in the dynamics of bird societies.”/ Revenir au texte
(65) : Sen (1999, p.62) notes that it is questionable whether a society of ‘happy slaves or delirious vassals’ could be desirable./ Revenir au texte
(66) : For example, Sen (1990, p.45) states:
“In situations of long standing deprivation, the victims do not generally go on weeping all the time, and very often make great efforts to take pleasure in small mercies and cut down personal desires to modest “realistic” – proportions. The person’s deprivation, then, may not show up at all in the metrics of pleasure, desire fulfilment etc., even though he or she may be unable to be adequately nourished, decently clothed, minimally educated and so on.”
Similarly, noting that people living under tyrannies may come to terms with their situation, taking pleasure in small reliefs, Sen (2002b, p.634) argues:
“A state of affairs in which people’s rights are systematically violated can hardly be described as a “good” state of affairs, and the nastiness of these affairs may not be adequately reflected in the utility loss generated by these violations.”/ Revenir au texte
(67) : The standard approach does not distinguish “offensive tastes” in computing social welfare. Neither does it take account of features fundamental to individual well-being, such as the poor physical condition of individuals due to starvation, apart from any influence on utility [see: Clark (1999) for a survey]. / Revenir au texte
(68) : In a world of asymmetric information, such conditions are generally hidden from the final consumer. In response, several “fair trade” and “ethical trade” initiatives sell goods whose production is guaranteed to conform to specified ethical standards [see: Thomas (2000, pp.116-120)]./ Revenir au texte
(69) : Counting the utility of those harming others may be argued to be of little consequence in a context of interdependent utilities, as the utility of those doing harm will always be outweighed by the combined disutility of those being harmed and third parties observing the harm done [e.g. Kaplow & Shavell (2001)]. However, such an approach could lead to welfare judgements being dependent upon popular opinion, so that whether the effect on social welfare of harming (or failing to help) someone is negative or positive would then depend upon the extent to which the choice made was considered to be ‘justified’ and a source of positive utility by others. Such an approach would have distinctly unpalatable implications for treatment of minorities in totalitarian societies. / Revenir au texte
(70) : Conversely, in cases where human security of others negatively influences an individual’s utility, he or she may have a higher utility if their human safety has decreased than if it has increased ceteris paribus./ Revenir au texte
(71) : While ‘positive’ rights to scarce goods or services generally involve greater resource costs than ‘negative’ rights not to have something done to one, both types may influence individual utility and the welfare of society as a whole by affecting the allocation of resources. / Revenir au texte
(72) : In the long-run, the impact on resources available for other purposes could be positive rather than negative if greater human safety increases innovativeness and productivity, or reduces environmental degradation and conflict./ Revenir au texte
(73) : Human safety may be best conceptualized as a vector, with a separate entry for each type of right influencing the individual’s utility. / Revenir au texte
(74) : the influence of changes in other variables (z) are omitted for simplification./ Revenir au texte
(75) : Status quo effects may necessitate separate entries for increases and decreases./ Revenir au texte
(76) : However, utility may be only weakly related to income in the higher ranges. Discussing measures of consumption as determinants of happiness in rich countries, Dasgupta (2001, p.38) for example, notes:
“consumption would appear not to contribute to happiness among people who have a great deal more than the basic necessaries of life.”/ Revenir au texte
(77) : The UNDP (2000, p.112) notes:
“human rights are seen as a threat by many groups, including many in positions of power or superiority. Rights challenge entrenched interests…”/ Revenir au texte
(78) : E.g. why slavery remains widespread in practice in Mauritania despite its official abolition [see: Bales (1999)]. / Revenir au texte
(79) NB the set of individuals (-i) whose utility positively affects that of individual (i) may include those residing in other countries and need not be a subset of the set of the p residents. / Revenir au texte
(80) : By definition, the level of human safety associated with global public goods (e.g. absence of global nuclear war) would be the same in each country. / Revenir au texte
(81) : This clearly holds once ways in which welfare in one country could be adversely affected by human safety in others are excluded on ethical grounds a priori. / Revenir au texte
(82) : i.e. computed over the relevant time horizon applying the appropriate social discount rate. / Revenir au texte
(83) : For example, guided purely by social welfare, abolition of slavery or bonded labour might not be viewed as a policy priority, even though its existence would be contrary to the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 4 of which states:
“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” / Revenir au texte
(84) : UNDP (2003, p.162), for example, argues that:
“eliminating human suffering is an ethical imperative.” / Revenir au texte
(85) : A variety of other conceptions of well-being have been proposed. For example, Sen (1987, pp.27-28) distinguishes “personal well-being” derived both from the nature of an individual’s own life and the lives of others due to sympathies (e.g. “one’s misery at the sorrow of another”) and antipathies, from wellbeing derived purely from the nature of an individual’s own life, which is termed “standard of living”. Commitments to other objectives such as fighting successfully for a cause, or helping another person, that do not contribute to an agent’s personal well-being, provide a further motivation for choice, and their inclusion distinguishes “agency achievement” from personal well-being. / Revenir au texte
(86) : Alkire (2002a) defines ‘human flourishing’ as:
“the ongoing process of seeking and realizing values by people in groups and communities.” / Revenir au texte
(87) : Noting the variety of aspects, including health, happiness and freedoms, and difficulties of computing an index even at individual level however, Dasgupta (2001, p.22) states:
“Even in theory, let alone in practice, we are unlikely to arrive at a weighting system with which to do aggregation, even assuming there is a ‘correct’ weighting system. It isn’t mere intellectual idleness that prompts people to say that at least some of the constituents of well-being are incommensurable. …the requirement that social well-being is a numerical index of states of affairs is in all likelihood over-ambitious.” / Revenir au texte
(88) : For ease of exposition, explicit reference to the social state is suppressed. / Revenir au texte
(89) : As the focus is upon prescription in economics, it is similarly assumed that the individual utility is measured excluding interpersonal disutilities. / Revenir au texte
(90) : The second component (function G) reflects the intrinsic value of rights qua rights. Dasgupta (2001) does not mention explicitly the effect of the intrinsic value of others’ rights on personal wellbeing, but if one’ own rights are viewed of intrinsic value there is no reason why others’ should not also be considered of intrinsic value, both those living in the same country and elsewhere. / Revenir au texte
(91) : In contrast to narrow definitions of economic welfare, social well-being is argued to be determined both by average levels and by distributional characteristics [Dasgupta (2001)]. / Revenir au texte
(92) : i.e. excluding on ethical grounds any ways in which social well-being in one country is adversely affected by human security in others./ Revenir au texte
(93) : i.e. also computed over the relevant time horizon applying the appropriate social discount rate. / Revenir au texte
(94) : See: Sen (1987, p.16). / Revenir au texte
(95) : Sen (1999, p.xii) argues:
“Development consists of the removal of various types of unfreedoms that leave people with little choice and little opportunity of exercising their reasoned agency. The removal of substantial unfreedoms … is constitutive of development.”/ Revenir au texte
(96) : Opulence and commodities are viewed purely as means to other ends, namely capabilities. / Revenir au texte
(97) : See: Muellbauer (1987, p.40, Figure 1). / Revenir au texte
(98) : See: Alkire (2002b, p.6)./ Revenir au texte
(99) : Aristotle (1980, I.vii) asks [cited in Alkire(2002b, p.18)]:
“Just as we can see that eye and hand and foot and every one of our members has some function, should we not assume that in like manner a human being has a function over and above these particular functions?”/ Revenir au texte
(100) : quoted by Alkire (2002b, p.5)./ Revenir au texte
(101) : Sen (1992, p.40) states [cited in Alkire(2002b, p.6)]:
“Capability is, thus, the set of vectors of functionings, reflecting the person’s freedom to lead one type of life or another … to choose from possible livings.”/ Revenir au texte
(102) : Sen (1999) also includes institutions affecting substantive freedoms such as norms of transparency./ Revenir au texte
(103) : See: Sen (1987, p.109). / Revenir au texte
(104) : Sen (1999, p.75) draws a distinction between ‘realized functionings’ (describing what an individual actually does) and their capability set (substantive freedoms or “real opportunities”)./ Revenir au texte
(105) : Sen (1992, p.52) states [cited in Alkire(2002b, p.181)]:
“the capability set is not directly observable, and has to be constructed on the basis of presumptions (just as the “budget set” in consumer analysis is also so constructed on the basis of data regarding income, prices and the presumed possibilities of exchange).”/ Revenir au texte
(106) : Consequence-dependence is only allowed by Nozick (1974) where the exercise of rights would result in “catastrophic moral horrors”. However, as Sen (2002b) notes, this unavoidably reintroduces the issue of relative importance of consequences./ Revenir au texte
(107) : Libertarianism places certain rights on a higher plane, in effect acting as side constraints upon choice. / Revenir au texte
(108) : Sen (2002b, p.629) notes:
“violation of rights and their realization can be sensibly seen as among the more the more important consequences of a set of events or actions.” / Revenir au texte
(109) : E.g. even in economies where all libertarian rights specified by Nozick hold, huge famines can occur [Sen (2002b)]./ Revenir au texte
(110) : Alkire (2002b, p.6) argues:
“we are really interested in what persons are able to do or be – that is, in their functionings – not in the pounds of rice they consume.”/ Revenir au texte
(111) : Sen (2002b, p.631) states:
“there may be principles that suggest some partial rankings (for example, based on some dominance considerations in the space of substantive concerns related to – say – chosen outcomes and proximate options)”. / Revenir au texte
(112) : Sen (1982, p.16) states [quoted in Alkire (2002b, p.99)]:
“It is not unusual to think of rights as a relation between two parties i and j, for example, person i having the claim on j that he will do some particular thing for i. There is, however, some advantage in characterizing goal rights as a relation not primarily between two parties but between one person and some ‘capability’ to which he has a right, for example, the capability of person i to move about without harm.”/ Revenir au texte
(113) : Sen & Anand (1997, p.13) note [cited in Alkire (2002b, p.182)]:
“survival would seem to be a prerequisite for the enjoyment of any other capability or functioning.” / Revenir au texte
(114) : Sen (1996b, p.117) argues that [cited in Alkire (2002b, p.154)]:
“The capability perspective is not a set of mechanical formulae, but a framework for informational analysis, critical scrutiny and reflected judgements.”/ Revenir au texte
(115) : i.e. excluding fears about the future ability to exercise vital human rights. / Revenir au texte
(116) : taking into account any distributional weights, systemic influences (e.g. Sen (1999) notes that a free press may have prevented famine in post-independence India), interaction effects, etc. / Revenir au texte
(117) : With the exception of capabilities or functionings expected by those who believe in life after death./ Revenir au texte
(118) : See: Chapman and Russell (eds) (2002)./ Revenir au texte
(119) : i.e. also computed over the relevant time horizon applying the appropriate social discount rate./ Revenir au texte
(120) : E.g. international agreements to manage commons and reduce global risks to human safety./ Revenir au texte
(121) : While the converse could also be expected to hold, implying simultaneity, human safety (Hj) of the residents of country j as a function of the human safety (H-j) of the residents of the rest of the world might be expressed as:

where: is human safety associated with global factors (e.g. absence of a nuclear world war)
Z is a vector of other factors./ Revenir au texte
(122) : not least given agreement that in principle states have this collective responsibility, as the Millenium Declaration [UN (2000)], for example, emphasizes./ Revenir au texte
(123) : it would reflect the procedure expected to be chosen if a world government existed./ Revenir au texte
(124) : Statement to a high-level panel discussion on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Vienna International Centre (VIC), 9 Ocober 1999 [cited at]./ Revenir au texte
(125) : Defining ‘undernourished’ as consuming less than 1960 calories per day, the UNDP (2003, p.87) estimates that if the global food supply were distributed equally, each person would be able to consume 2760 calories per day. The WHO (2002) estimates that over 3 million children die each year as a result of being underweight, while over half a million adult deaths in North America and Western Euope are attributable to overweight or obesity. These are clearly problems of entitlements rather than supply. / Revenir au texte