Human Security and the UN: A Critical History
How did the individual human being become the focus of the contemporary discourse on security? What was the role of the United Nations in "securing" the individual? What are the payoffs and costs of this extension of the concept? Neil MacFarlane and Yuen Foong Khong tackle these questions by analyzing historical and contemporary debates about what is to be secured. From Westphalia through the 19th century, the state’s claim to be the object of security was sustainable because it offered its subjects some measure of protection. The state’s ability to provide security for its citizens came under heavy strain in the 20th century as a result of technological, strategic, and ideological innovations. By the end of World War II, efforts to reclaim the security rights of individuals gathered pace, as seen in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a host of United Nations covenants and conventions. MacFarlane and Khong highlight the UN’s work in promoting human security ideas since the 1940s, giving special emphasis to its role in extending the notion of security to include development, economic, environmental, and other issues in the 1990s.
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