“Human security is an underlying condition for sustainable human development. It results from the social, psychological, economic and political aspects of human life that in times of acute crisis or chronic deprivation to protect the survival of survival of individuals, support individual and group capacities to attain minimally adequate standards of living and promote constructive group attachment and continuity through time.”  The concept of security is no longer defined within the parameters of a state centric realist approach. Instead human security now realizes that the actors have expanded, realities are more different and a recognition of the notion of “growing insecurity of human security.” The concept of human security now involves a wide array of issues which include but not limited to food security, environmental protection, human rights paradigm, provision of basic needs and rise of non – state actors. The following illustrations, which were drawn from personal insights, will highlight the theories, concepts and functions of human and inclusive security frameworks.

Rice Not Bullets


Bayan USA in front of the Philippine Consulate in New York City. Credit: Bagong Alyansang Makabayan USA (New Patriotic Alliance)

April 2016 in the southern and conflict – ridden part of the Philippines, the country was astounded by the news that bullets were fired to farmers, indigenous groups and protesters. Faced with the threat of hunger due to the drought caused by El Niño, nearly five thousand people mobilized before the local government and demanded assistance such as sacks of rice and water for irrigation. Instead of succumbing to the plight of the farmers, the Philippine National Police (PNP) indiscriminately opened fire to the crowd. According to news report, it left at least 3 dead, 87 missing and 116 injured. This blatant and barbaric act of treating our own people came as a surprise and reminds the Filipino people of the dark ages in history during martial law. This incident reinforces John Burton’s application of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to conflict resolution wherein it points out that human needs are not negotiable. Furthermore as pointed out in the course as well, the denial of these fundamental human needs such as food often results as one of the drivers of conflict.

Berta Cáceres, Presente!

“In our world views, we are beings who come from the Earth, from the water and from the corn… Let us come together and remain hopeful as we defend and care for the blood of this Earth and of its spirits.” These were the words from Berta Cáceres in her acceptance speech during the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony. Like other countries with shrinking space for civil society, growing inequality and grave human rights violations, Cáceres rallied with the indigenous Lenca people in their struggle against the investors of the Agua Zarca dam. As pressure on natural resources intensify, land and environmental human rights defenders have also been subject among the vulnerable populations in terms of killing. The struggle in fighting for their land has its own price, even one’s life and such is the similar fate for Cáceres. The Agua Zarca traverses Río Gualcarque river which is sacred for the indigenous Lenca people who depend on it. This also reflects other stories primarily in Latin America where there is a threat to environmental security and the relevance of a resource curse. To a certain degree this kind of unfortunate realities also overlaps with the cross – sectional characteristic of human security and also depicts threat to personal and community security. Quite interestingly on this case, while the US State Department has also condemned the murder of Cáceres, the US government also continues to fund the security aid in Honduras. This perpetuates the impunity of Honduran military and state security forces involved in human rights violations and extra – judicial killings.

Rise of Paramilitary Groups

The Philippines have enacted the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (1997) and guaranteed that the indigenous groups in the country like the Lumads in Mindanao have rights over their ancestral territories. However, in the race towards (destructive) development, large logging and mining companies have found ways to circumvent the law by bribing local government officials as well as tribal leaders. According to Human Rights Watch Report, the Philippine military has repeatedly stood aside while paramilitary forces have attacked indigenous villages and schools in the southern region of Mindanao. Furthermore, these forces have committed atrocities such as killings, torture, forced displacement and harassment of residents, students and educators with impunity. The military is also complicit in creating these paramilitary groups who are also tribal members. Alamara, a paramilitary group, launched an attack on the villages of indigenous peoples particularly on tribal schools leaving the founders of the school dead.

The future of human and inclusive security is not bleak. There is a constant recognition of this paradigm shift and for nation states and the international community of the significance of giving premium to human and inclusive security. However this is by no means as simple as it may seem. Each context is unique with its own dynamics. This kind of paradigm shift and mindset should ideally be institutionalized in peace – building plans, negotiations, structures and systems so as to have long – term impact.