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Global Security

Approaches and Theories

Lecture Prepared for PGDIR
Dr. A.S.M. Ali Ashraf
Associate Professor
Department of International Relations
University of Dhaka
Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh
Email: aliashraf79@gmail.com
Fri, October 24, 2014

Lecture Outline

Security Studies

Different meanings
Deepening and Broadening
Evolution of security studies

Major Theories of Security Studies

Critical Theory
Feminist Theory

Human Security as an alternative Paradigm

Narrow and Broad School of Human Security

Approaches to Security



Human-centric (as opposed to state-centric) security, linkage with development


Women as the referent object

Human Security:

Human emancipation, not state control

Gender Studies:

Opposition to nuclear weapons, environmental degradation, poverty

Critical Security Studies:

Domestic politics & International Institutions

Peace Studies:

Power politics

How the political elite articulates an issue as a security issue

Historical Materialism

Insecurity as a result of capitalist exploitation

Deepening & Broadening


Military Security:

Regime Security:

Global warming, sea level rise, changing role of armed forces

Economic Security:

Ethnicity, social identity

Environmental Security:

Weak states, failed states

Societal Security:

War, alliance, deterrence, arms control

Supply, Market access, Finance-credit, Industry

Globalization, Development and Security:

Market integration, top-down and bottom-up approaches to


Let us have a look at some of the major

events in world politics?

Arms Control &

Disarmament Success?

Regime Security
under Threat?

Ethnic Conflict in Rwanda

Global Warming!

Global Economic Recession




Traditional vs Non-Traditional
Security Issues

Coercive diplomacy
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Humanitarian Intervention
Energy Security
Defence Trade
Health and Security
Transnational Organized Crime
Child Soldier


Evolution of security studies


Evolution of Security

Security Studies (SS): the study of the nature,

causes, effects, and prevention of war (Baldwin
1996: 119)

Evolution of security studies (SS):

Interwar period (1919-1939)
First post-war decade (1945-1955)
Second post-war decade (1955-1965): Golden Age of SS
Third post-war period (1965-1980): Decline of SS
The Fourth post-war period (1980-1990): Renaissance of SS
The post-Cold War period (1990-2000)
The post-9/11 period (2001-present)


Inter-War period (1919-1939)

Emphasis on international law and organization

Democracy, international arbitration, national self-determination,
disarmament, and collective security
Less emphasis on the use of military forces as an instrument of

First Post-War Decade (1945-1955)

National security became a central feature of international

Civilian intellectuals and their growing interests, university-based
research centers, journals promoting security studies
Chicago, Columbia, Princeton, Yale played critical role

Second Post-War Decade (1955-1965)

Golden age of security studies

Key issues: Nuclear armaments, deterrence, arms race,
disarmament, limited war; Nuclear weapons as an instrument of
national security and foreign policy
Deterrence theory: one of the most impressive intellectual
achievements in the history of the study of international relations
(Baldwin 1996: 123)
Focus on force projections, and threat manipulation

The Third Post-War Period (1965-1980)

Decline in interest in traditional security

Vietnam war, interest in peace studies
Key issues: Peasants movements in Asia, counterrevolutionary
war, Third World Poverty, Economic interdependence


The fourth post-War period (1980-1990)

Renaissance in security studies, brought by the new cold war

Security studies equated with strategic studies in the United States
Militarization of American security policy

The post-Cold War Era (1990-2000)

Debate about the relevance of security studies

Security as a goal and means
Relations between domestic affairs and national security
Non-military and non-traditional sources of security and their
importance: environment, public health, education, poverty etc.
Traditionalists insistence on the primacy of national security over
other state concerns

Post-9/11 Era

Global War on Terrorism

Emergence of Terrorism Studies as another sub-discipline of
Security Studies?
Asymmetric war, irregular warfare, insurgency
Renewed debate on the utility of military force in the conduct of
foreign and security policy
Non-traditional security and human security emerged as an
important paradigm, challenging the traditional or military
security paradigm in the study of International Relations


Major Theories of Security Studies


I. Political Realism


Core assumptions of Realism

Centrality of States:

Human Nature:

Human nature is inherently selfish, destructive, competitive and

Realism proposes the use of strategy to minimize the risks of war and

Anarchy and Power:

State is the main actor in international politics

States always seek to maximize their power and attain their national

Conflict and war are inevitable in the international system

Absence of a supranational authority in the international system;
states rely on the self-help approach to promote their interests

International Law, Morality, and Institutions:

International law and morality cannot significantly constrain state

International institutions work best when they serve the interest of
member states (who create those institutions and shape their works)


Problems with Realist


Failure to predict and analyze the end of Cold War:

Neglect for Internal Security

The norm of sovereignty is well established, and military conquest of

small states have become rare; Instead most security threats now
arise from domestic sources, such as, ethnic conflict, sectarian
violence, and civil wars etc

Unchallenged U.S. hegemony

The collapse of Soviet Union and the demise of the Cold War have not
resulted from systemic pressures, but internal factors, including
economic-political reforms

Contrary to realist predictions, U.S. hegemony has largely remained

unchallenged; EU, China, Japan, and Russia do not pose any major
security threat to U.S. interests

Greater regional cooperation a the EU

The absence of Soviet threat has not resulted in the dissolution of the
EU; instead, the EU integration has deepened and broadened

II. Liberal Internationalism


Core assumptions of Liberal Theories

[from Jackson and Sorensen (2007: 98-126)]

Sociological Liberalism:

Interdependence Liberalism:

Spill over effects of economic cooperation and

interdependence; European integration

Institutional Liberalism:

Transnational relations, networks of individuals and interest

groups will lead to peace and stability

Rule-based cooperation, or regimes, organizations, and

international norms shape states foreign and security policy,
and promote peace; United Nations, NATO, EU, ASEAN

Republican Liberalism:

Democracies are committed to economic cooperation and

peaceful resolution of disputes

Post-Cold War Era: A Liberalist


Expanding commitment to democracy and capitalism

Democratic ideals and beliefs now dominate the foreign and

security policy of the worlds most powerful statesthe U.S.,
EU Member States, and Japan

Commitment to intervene in failed states and conflict zones

through efforts at peace building and peace keeping.

Nation-building has now become synonymous with peace

building; Nation building now includes creating effective
institutions, such as rule of law, effective police and military
forces under strict civilian control, and the provisions of
education, healthcare, and free market economy

Two problems with


Relative importance of various goals:

Afghanistan: Democracy first or economic development

North Korea: Engagement or Containment?
Iraq: National self-determination (for the Kurds) versus
viable state creation?

Justifying when to use force:

Case study: Iraq invasion (2003)

When to use force?

How to legitimize use of force?
Should serious disagreements among major powers
suspend the option of use of force?

III. Social Constructivism


Core assumptions of

Constructivism offers a broader and more sophisticated conception of

security, when compared with realism and critical theory
Security is a social construction; there are multiple, competing
meanings of it
Non-material or ideational factors influence the way we securitize
The questions of what security is, who need to be secured, and what
core values be the object of security are not resolved; instead, they
are constantly negotiated in a particular historical and social context
Constructivists discard the abstract and universal way of theorizing
They argue that different understanding of identity shape the meaning
of security, threat, and insecurity

Example: the perception of Saddam Hussein as a threat to the USA prior to

the 2003 invasion

After identity, norms also play an important role in explaining

international politics

Example: The norms of sovereignty, non-use of nuclear weapons


IV. Critical Theory


Traditional Theory vs. Critical Theory: Key


Traditional Theory

Critical Theory

1. Problem-solving theory

1. Reflexive theory

2. Positivist Methodology and its key

Facts and values can be separated
The subject can be separated from the

2. Normative Approach
Cognitive processes are influenced by
power and interests, and hence the
connections among them be evaluated

3. Support for prevailing social

Traditional theorists, such as the neorealists, take the international system as
it is, and want to preserve the status
quo by dealing with the sources of
problems in the system
Neo-liberal international theorists also
seek to stabilize the state system, and
the capitalist world economy

3. Rejecting the prevailing intl order:

Critical theorists take the existing
power structure as an object, and seeks
to examine how it influences knowledge
Critical theorists challenge the
dogmatism of traditional mode of
theorizing, such as, neo-realism, and
neo-liberal internationalism
Critical theory-driven knowledge is not
apolitical; it wishes to change the
existing social order

Critical theory as an emancipatory theory:

Emancipation has a negative connotation here; it implies

freeing from various forms of constraints
Critical theory thinks about a global community, and wishes to
move beyond the state-level analysis
Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx dreamt about a universal
society of free individuals

Rethinking Political Community

Critical theorists problematize the notion of state as a natural

form of political community
They emphasize on certain universal rights for the human
community; and reject the particularistic notion of rights

Constructivism and Critical

Theory: Major Criticisms

Too much philosophical and abstract

Cannot explain the effect of material power on

foreign and security policy of states

Too much emphasis on ideational factor and

methodological debates


V. Feminism


Varieties of Feminism

Liberal Feminism:

Radical Feminism:

Emphases on equality, and womens representation within the

public sphere
Equal opportunity in workplaces and political sphere
Patriarchal society promotes inequality between men and
women; Womens lives are controlled through domestic violence,
reproductive decisions, and controlling womens sexuality
Womens participation should be ensured not because of
equality, but because of the different perspective women can
bring into the domestic and international policy making

Critical Feminism:

Gender differences concern the real, material, and lived

conditions of women and men in particular times and spaces

Postmodern Feminism:

Emphasizes the need to deconstruct, unravel, and reject

prevailing wisdom
Rejects universal truth, and proposes particularity of gender
and security
Any truth claim is an assertion of power that silences
alternative notions and theorizing

Postcolonial Feminism:

Criticizes colonialism, and imperialism, and the first world

Unpacks the universal definitions of women and their


Critique of Feminism

Feminists are divided into competing theoretical


Feminist theory offer little insights into the

hawkish/tough foreign policies of iron ladies, e.g.
Margaret Thatcher or Indira Gandhi

Despite such critics, gender sensitivity is useful in

the study of security studies


Human Security
as an alternative paradigm


Components of Human

Economic Security: An assured basic income from a

productive and safe work; Rising unemployment is a

Food Security: Physical and economic access to food is a

basic requirement for people; Starvation is a big concern.

Health Security: The spread of infectious and parasitic

diseases, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases,
tuberculosis, and cancer are the major killers in many
countries. Access to health care services is a basic need.

Environmental Security: Environmental degradation,

such as, global warming, sea level rise, loss of bio diversity,
floods, and droughts etc create natural humanitarian


Personal Security: Physical torture, war, ethnic tension,

organized crime, child abuse, and rape etc constitute
threats to personal security

Community Security: Preservation of cultural identity of

traditional and indigenous societies is an important
concern. At the same time traditional practices, such as,
female genital mutilation in Africa poses a major public
health crisis for girls.

Political Security: Security from state repression, and

human rights violation by state and non-state actors.
Freedom of speech is a key component of democracy.

Key assumptions of Human


People-centered: It is concerned about the safety and

security of people
Easier to ensure through early prevention: For example,
investment in family planning and sexual education can
help contain the spread of HIV/AIDs
Threats are interdependent: Human security threats around
the world are not isolated, but interdependent. For
instance, the incidence of famine, disease, pollution, drug
trafficking, terrorism, ethnic conflicts, etc in one country
would inevitably affect its neighboring country
Universal concern: Human Security threats are universal in
nature, they are very common across countries. For
example: the problems of human rights violation, pollution

Two approaches to Human

Narrow Approach

Broad Approach


Human Security Centre

(University of British


Major focus

Protection of
individuals from
violent threats, such
as, war, genocides, and

Protection of individuals
from both violent and
non-violent threats.
Non-violent threats, such
as, hunger, disease,
malnutrition, and natural

Data Source

Human Security Report

UNDP Human Development


Policy utility