Human security twenty years on

The concept of human security, which made its international debut in the 1994 UNDP Human Development Report,  adds a people-centered dimension to the traditional security, development and human rights frameworks while locating itself in the area where they converge. Ever since, a number of countries have used the concept for their foreign and aid policies. Although it became the subject of a 2012 General Assembly Resolution, the concept still courts controversy and rejection twenty years after its introduction. Politically, its close association with the notion of the Responsibility to Protect in debates about international interventions has alienated Southern countries that are sceptical about violations of state sovereignty and new conditionalities for receiving aid. No country has adopted it as a goal at the national level, raising scepticism about its utility for domestic policymaking. Yet the concept represents a malleable tool for analysing the root causes of threats and their multidimensional consequences for different types of insecurities. It can be operationalised through applying specific principles to policymaking and can be used as an evaluative tool for gauging the impact of interventions on the dynamics of other fields. The article suggests that Norway not only pursues the goals of human security at the global level, but that it also leads in adopting it as a national goal by scrutinising the country’s domestic policies using this approach.