Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional

The perception of security

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Security as a key value in present-day societies – 2
Measuring the concept of security – 12
National validation of the Subjective Security Index – 16
International validation of the Subjective Security Index – 17
Security in an international comparative perspective – 24
The explanation of subjective security – 28
Conclusions and discussion – 33
Bibliography – 36
Annexes – 39

Juan Díez-Nicolás. WP 16/2015 – 3/11/2015

Security as a key value in present-day societies

Security has always been an important value in traditional societies, but it has become a key value in present-day societies, both developed and less developed, particularly since the end of the Cold War. During that period most of the literature on security referred to national or state security because of the military (nuclear) balance between the two blocks. But when that period ended, the concept of security has been enlarged to encompass individual, societal, global and human security, as will be briefly discussed below.

As the 1994 Human Development Report (United Nations, 1994) points out, the concept of security has been related more to nation-states than to people, while for most people Human Security means being free from the threat of hunger, disease, unemployment, crime, social conflict, political repression and environmental hazards. But it also means protection from disruptions of daily life in homes, jobs and communities. For the authors of this report, Human Security is a universal concern whose components are interdependent that is more easily ensured by early prevention (through early warning indicators) rather than late intervention, and which is people-centred. Thus, the concept of security must change from territorial security to people security, from security based on armaments to security based on sustainable human development. The extension of the concept of Human Security must therefore include economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political security, to mention only some domains. At present, because of the globalisation process, security must also be global, and some of the threats to global security are unchecked population growth (world population will double in 50-60 years), disparities in economic opportunities (social and economic inequalities continue to increase, both within and between countries), migration pressures (as in the recent flows to Europe of people escaping hunger –in Sub-saharan Africa– or war and political repression –in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan–), environmental degradation (climate change, polar melting), drug trafficking (organised crime and money laundering) and international terrorism (mainly Islamic). The emphasis on human security in contrast to state security has become very popular among scholars (Alkire, 2003; Rowley & Weldes, 2010).


Working Paper 16/2015
3 November 2015
65 pages report

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