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December 10, 2016
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Rhoda Howard-Hassmann, PhD, FRSC

Human Security: Undermining Human Rights?

Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann

published: 2010 | Working paper | article

Abstract: Human Security: Undermining Human Rights?

This paper warns that the human security discourse and agenda could inadvertently undermine the international human rights regime. It argues that in so far as human security identifies new threats to well-being, new victims of those threats, new duties of states, or new mechanisms of dealing with threats at the inter-state level, it adds to the established human rights regime. In so far as it simply rephrases human rights principles without identifying new threats, victims, duty-bearers, or mechanisms, at best it complements human rights and at worst it undermines them. The narrow view of human security is a valuable addition to the international normative regime requiring state and international action against severe threats to human beings. By contrast, the broader view of human security ignores the already established 60-year old human rights regime.  It identifies threats to human security that are not new and do not identify new victims, duty-bearers, or mechanisms for protection. By subsuming human rights under human security, it also undermines the primacy of civil and political rights as a strategic tool for citizens to fight for their rights against their own states. 

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revised Jul 19/10

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