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Article

Edward Newman

Human security suggests that security policy and security analysis, if they are to be effective and legitimate, must focus on the individual as the referent and primary beneficiary. In broad terms, human security is “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear:” positive and negative rights as they relate to threats to core individual needs. Human security is normative; it argues that there is an ethical responsibility to (re)orient security around the individual in line with internationally recognized standards of human rights and governance. Much human security scholarship is therefore explicitly or implicitly underpinned by a solidarist commitment to moral obligation, and some are cosmopolitan in ethical orientation. However, there is no uncontested definition of, or approach to, human security, though theorists generally start with human security challenges to orthodox neorealist conceptions of international security. Nontraditional and critical security studies (which are distinct from human security scholarship) also challenges the neorealist orthodoxy as a starting point, although generally from a more sophisticated theoretical standpoint than found in the human security literature. Critical security studies can be conceived broadly to embrace a number of different nontraditional approaches which challenge conventional (military, state-centric) approaches to security studies and security policy. Human security has generally not been treated seriously within these academic security studies debates, and it has not contributed much either.

Article

Thierry Balzacq, Tugba Basaran, Didier Bigo, Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet, and Christian Olsson

Practices refer to collective and historic acts that shaped the evolution of the fundamental distinction used to define the field of security—that of internal vs. external security. In general, security practices relate to two kinds of tools through which professionals of (in)security think about a threat: regulatory tools, which seek to “normalize” the behavior of target individuals (for example, policy regulation, constitution), and capacity tools, specific modalities for imposing external discipline upon individuals and groups. The roots of the distinction between internal and external security are embedded in a historical process of competition over where to draw the line between the authority and limits of diverse agencies. Much of the international relations (IR) literature ignores the diversity of security practices, and reduces security to an IR problem detached from other bodies of knowledge. This is an error that needs to be corrected. Security and insecurity must be analyzed not only as a process but also as the same process of (in)securitization. The term “security” cannot be considered as a concept capable of capturing a coherent set of practices, but rather the result of a process of (in)securitization. Research on security practices opens a variety of promising paths, but at least three challenges need to be met before this potential can be realized: a sustained development of cross-disciplinary studies; address the “sacrifice” entailed in definitions of security; and more time to elucidating as clearly as possible processes of resistance from those who are the target of these practices.

Article

The twentieth century was marked by the proliferation of security regimes, and collective security in particular. Under a collective security arrangement, all states at either a regional or global level agree to resolve their disputes peacefully, collectively oppose acts of aggression, and actively defend those who are victims of such aggression. It is based on the premise that security is indivisible, that is, each state’s security is intricately tied to the security of others, and no nation can be completely secure so long as the territory, independence, and populations of other states are seriously threatened. However, over the past several decades, ethnic conflicts, civil wars, guerrilla insurgencies, and other forms of internal violence have dramatically increased, even as large-scale interstate wars have declined. In addition to these sources of instability and conflict, political repression and extreme human rights abuses by governments against their populations (particularly genocide and ethnic cleansing) often generate massive refugee flows, illegal arms trafficking, and the rise of paramilitary guerrilla armies, all of which could disrupt neighboring states and regional stability. Thus, the concept of security adopted by international and regional regimes over the past few decades has expanded from the threat and use of force for deterrence and enforcement to include nation- and state-building, peacekeeping, and peace-making.

Article

Security studies in the United States is marred by a lack of status. Opportunities within American universities are limited by the fact that the work deals with war and the use of force. Another reason for the isolation of security studies is its inherent interdisciplinary nature. It is nearly impossible to separate military technology from security policy, and there is the constant requirement in doing security analysis to understand weapons and their operational effects. However, the most serious limitation of security studies is its narrowness. Nearly all of its ranks are international relations specialists concerned primarily with relationships among and between nation-states. Absent from serious analysis are international environmental, economic, and health issues that may precede and produce political upheaval and that have their own academic specialists. The collapse of the Soviet Union raised questions about the opportunities and dangers of the United States' globally dominant position. The efforts to specify America’s new grand strategy produced a variety of expressions which fall into four main categories. The first is Primacy. Its advocates are primarily the neo-conservatives who relished America’s post-Cold War global dominance and sought to thwart any attempts to challenge this dominance. The second strategy is usually labeled Liberal Interventionism, which is also based on the dominance of American military might and urges US intervention abroad. The third strategy is the Selective Engagement. Under this strategy the United States should intervene only where vital interests are at stake. The fourth strategy focused on Restraint.

Article

Berenike Prem and Elke Krahmann

While early private military and security companies (PMSCs) were likened to mercenaries, today most scholars agree that PMSCs constitute a new phenomenon. They are organized as legitimate corporate entities, have a distinct legal status, and provide a wide range of military and security services. This definition reflects the evolution of the PMSC industry, which has moved beyond combat services to supply everything from transport, logistics, and maintenance to military and police training, demining, intelligence, risk analysis, armed and unarmed protective services, anti-piracy measures, border protection, and drone operations. Not only have PMSC services diversified, but so has their client base. In addition to industrialized and failed states, transnational corporations, international organizations, and even NGOs increasingly make use of PMSCs. There are several explanations for the growing recourse to these companies. Functional explanations see the employment of PMSCs as a rational response to the glaring gap between demand and supply in the market for force. Ideational and constructivist approaches, by contrast, impute national differences in the outsourcing of military and security services to dominant beliefs and norms about the appropriate relationship between the state and the market. The consequences of using PMSCs, including the accountability, effectiveness, and state control of PMSCs, issues of gender and racial equality, and theoretical implications for the location of political authority and the public good character of security are key issues. So is the question of suitable forms of regulation for the industry, including national and international laws, informal industry self-regulations, and hybrid regulatory approaches such as multi-stakeholder initiatives and standard setting schemes.

Article

Hayden B. Peake

“Counterintelligence” (CI) is a term with multiple meanings—its definitions vary, even when applied to a single nation. Yet it can be understood by identifying the common CI functions in a source. These include: handling double agents, defectors, deception operations, and covert communications; handling and detecting moles or penetrations; and dealing with security threats in general. Antecedent elements of what is today called counterintelligence may be found in various histories of intelligence and warfare. The existence of security services can be traced back to ancient Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greece, Rome, China, and Muscovy, among others. With the rise of the nation-state, rulers began creating secret political police organizations to safeguard their existence. In the case of the United States, it was not until the Civil War that there was anything like a domestic counterintelligence agency, and even then it was not a statutory organization. After World War I, however, former intelligence officers, agents, defectors, and journalists began publishing accounts of counterintelligence and domestic security operations. These topics were often discussed side-by-side. The number of scholarship on CI grew as World War II and the Cold War followed. In particular, the so-called “Cambridge Five” case—which involved five Cambridge graduates who were recruited as Soviet spies in the 1930s—had generated considerable literature and was furthermore considered an important case study in Western and Soviet intelligence services.

Article

John M. Owen IV

Liberalism has always been concerned with security, albeit the security of the individual; institutions, including the state, are all established and sustained by individuals and instrumental to their desires. Indeed, liberalism cannot be understood apart from its normative commitment to individualism. The tradition insists that all persons deserve, and it evaluates institutions according to how far they help individuals achieve these goals. Nor is liberalism anti-statist. Liberal theory has paid particular attention to the state as the institution defined by its ability to make individuals secure and aid their commodious living. Although liberal security literature that only examines individual states’ foreign policies may be guilty of denouncing the role of international interaction, the general liberal claim argues that the international system, under broad conditions, permits states choices. As such, for liberalism, states can choose over time to create and sustain international conditions under which they will be more or less secure. Liberalism’s history can be traced from the proto-liberalism in the Reformation to the emergence of the social contract theory and neo-theories, as well as liberalism’s focus on increasing security. Meanwhile, current debates in liberalism include the democratic peace and its progeny, reformulations of liberal international relations (IR) theory, and meta-theory. Ultimately, liberalism’s most striking recent successes concern the democratic peace and related research on democratic advantages in international cooperation. Liberalism is a useful guide to international security insofar as individuals and the groups they organize affect or erode states.

Article

Valerie Hudson, R. Charli Carpenter, and Mary Caprioli

It is not only gender ambiguity that is securitized in the international arena, but femininity as well. Some scholars argue that conflict over what women are and what they should do is characterized as a risk to national/global security. Meanwhile, there are those who would characterize gender as irrelevant to, or is one of many variables, in thinking about “security.” Feminist international relations (IR) scholars, however, have argued that gender is across all areas of international security, and that gender analysis is transformative of security studies. A redefinition of security in feminist terms that reveals gender as a factor at play can uncover uncomfortable truths about the reality of this world; how the “myth of protection” is a lie used to legitimize war; and how discourse in international politics is constructed of dichotomies and that their deconstruction could lead to benefits for the human race. Feminist work asserts that it is inadequate to define, analyze, or account for security without reference to gender subordination, particularly, the dichotomy of the domination/subordination concept of power. Gender subordination can be found in military training routines that refer to underperforming men as “girls,” or in the use of rape and forced impregnation as weapons of war. It is the traditional sense of “power as dominance” that leads to situations such as the security dilemma.

Article

Gendering human security is useful for making explicit the role of practice and actors, and the power relations between them, attributed through socialized and naturalized characteristics of the feminine and masculine. It offers analytical and empirical insights that release human security discourses from the stranglehold that a state-based, militarized security perspective has thus far had on the definition of security as a whole. A gender-based human security analysis reveals what human security means when understood through the power and practices of domination and marginalization, and more specifically the extent to which the militaries are capable of contributing to human security today. In feminist approaches as well as many human security perspectives, security has been delinked from the state and discussed in terms of other referent objects. Feminist and human security share a “bottom-up” approach to security analyses, but feminists have identified a gender blindness in human security theory. Gender is a primary identity that contributes to the social context in which the meaning and practice of security unfolds. Gendering human security exposes how the security needs of individuals are also identified in relation to specific groups, which reflects the feminist understanding of humans’ relational autonomy and implies that human security is not individual but social security when gendered.

Article

Laura Sjoberg

Feminist Security Theorizing is in many ways what it sounds like—thinking about security in the global political arena through gender lenses. Since early work in feminist International Relations (IR), feminists have been exploring research questions about the ways that gender shapes and is shaped by war, conflict, and militarism. The field has developed to be labeled Feminist Security Studies (FSS). Debates about whether FSS is “feminist security” studies or feminist “security studies” have asked about the subfield’s focus—whether it is toward rethinking security in feminist ways or toward the mainstream field of security studies as such. With space in the field for both approaches, feminist security theorizing has looked at revealing the importance of gender in conceptualizing security, demonstrating that gender is key to understanding causes and predicting outcomes, and showing gender as a key part of solving security problems. FSS has several common theoretical commitments and concerns. These include a necessary commitment to intersectionality, a recognition of the importance of theorizing not only about gender but also about sexuality, a consciousness about framing, and an awareness of the politics of sociology of the academic disciplines in which it is situated. It is important to explore the past, present, and potential futures of feminist theorizing about security, concluding with an invitation to expand recognition of feminist work addressing security issues across an even wider variety of perspectives.

Article

Catherine Goetze and Dejan Guzina

Since the early 1990s, the number of statebuilding projects has multiplied, often ending several years or even decades of violent conflict. The objectives of these missions have been formulated ad hoc, driven by the geopolitical contexts in which the mandates of statebuilding missions were established. However, after initial success in establishing a sense of physical security, the empirical evidence shows that most statebuilding efforts have failed, or achieved only moderate success. In some countries, violence has resumed after the initial end of hostilities. In others, the best results were authoritarian regimes based on fragile stalemates between warring parties. A review of the literature on statebuilding indicates a vast number of theories and approaches that often collide with each other, claim the exact opposite, and mount (contradictory) evidence in support of their mutually exclusive claims. Still they are united by their inquiry into the general structural and policy-making conditions that nurture or impede statebuilding processes. A problematic characteristic of the statebuilding literature is a lack of dialogue across the various disciplines. Many of the claims in the international relations literature on external statebuilding are a mirror image of the previous ones made on democratization. Another problem is the propensity to repeat the same mistakes of the previous generations.

Article

Andreas Papamichail and Anthony F. Lang Jr.

The concept of security is central to the study of international relations (IR), yet it remains heavily contested, both in theory and in practice. In part, this is because the concept contains intractable tensions and contradictions. Nevertheless, or perhaps as a result of this, security—if understood as a state of being that is a function of war and peace—has been the subject of ethical reflection for millennia. Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian, and Islamic traditions, among others, all have their own conceptions of how war and violence ought to be addressed. One of the more prominent ideas drawn from these debates is the concept of the just war, which emerged from the Christian tradition. It became an influential source of critical reflection upon both legal and practical dilemmas in international security, informing a wide range of debates around the world, and it has persisted at the heart of the field of Security Studies that emerged post-World War II. However, in the last couple of decades of the 20th century, changing notions of legitimate authority and broadened conceptions of conditions that cause harm and insecurity led to challenges to state-centrism and war-centrism in Security Studies. Issues such as global health security, counterterrorism, and humanitarian intervention have demonstrated the inherent tensions within security practices and demand novel ethical engagement. Approaching the issue of security from the perspective of international political theory (IPT) allows us to probe the ethical dimensions of security and ask how justice, authority, and security are linked and with what consequences.

Article

John S. Duffield

A substantial amount of scholarly literature about the relationship between energy and security, and how it has changed over time, has been produced before the early 1970s through the 2000s. Relatively few scholarly works were written on energy and security prior to the 1970s, and few scholars paid attention to the growing dependence of the United States and its allies on oil, whether imported or not, and its potential political, economic, and security ramifications. During the 1970s, two major oil shocks prompted two overlapping waves of scholarship on energy and security. The first oil shock began in 1973, when the Arab members of OPEC cut back production and embargoed exports to the United States and several other countries that were deemed too sympathetic to Israel during the October War. A closely related theme was Western cooperation on energy security. In the late 1980s and 1990s, there was a notable decline in the amount of scholarship published on the theme of energy and security, probably due to an overall improvement in the oil security situation. The 2000s witnessed a renewed interest in the relationship between energy and security owing to a variety of factors, such as the run up in oil prices that occurred in 1999 and 2000, and the reemergence of resource nationalism. Despite the significant volume of scholarship on energy and security, it could be argued that the important relationship between them has yet to be fully explored and deserves more research.

Article

Critical theory in International Relations originated from the Marxist tradition which, during the mid- to late Cold War, formed the basis of dependency and world systems theory. In the years before and after the Cold War, critical theory became part of a larger post-positivist challenge to the discipline and to the development of critical security studies. At the heart of contestation within the broader arena of critical security is the concept of emancipation, developed by members of the Frankfurt School such as Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer. Several key debates have been at the center of critical security studies relating to the construction of threats, identity and difference, human security, and emancipation. In particular, critical security analysts have addressed the question of how, given the range of threats or risks that exist in the world, some threats come to have priority over others and become the focus of discourses of security. Also, some scholars have disputed the idea that identity is dependent on difference. The concept of human security shifts attention away from states to individuals, emphasizing human rights, safety from violence, and sustainable development. In the case of emancipation, critical theorists have expressed concern that the concept is too closely linked with modernity, meta-narratives, especially Marxism and liberalism, and the Enlightenment belief that humanity is progressing toward a more perfect future. What is needed is not to avoid emancipation per se, but to pay close attention to its underlying assumptions.

Article

Much of what goes on in the production of a security state is the over-zealous articulation of the other, which has the effect of reinforcing the myth of an essentialized, unambiguous collective identity called the nation-state. Indeed, the focus on securing a state (or any group) often suggests the need to define more explicitly those who do not belong, suggesting, not only those who do, but where and how they belong and under what conditions. Feminists are concerned with how highly political gender identities often defined by masculinism are implicated in marking these inclusions and exclusions, but also how gender identities get produced through the very practices of the security state. Feminists in the early years critiqued the inadequacy of realist, state-centric notions of security and made arguments for more reformative security perspectives, including those of human security or other nonstate-centric approaches. At the same time, feminist research moved to examine more rigorously the processes of militarism, war, and other security practices of the state and its reliance on specific ideas about women and men, femininity and masculinity. Feminist contributions from the mid-1990s through the first decade of the millennium reveal much about the relationships between gender identities, militarism, and the state. By paying attention to gendered relationships of power, they expose the nuances in the co-constitution of gender identities and the security state.

Article

Barry Buzan and Lene Hansen

International security studies (ISS) has significantly evolved from its founding core of “golden age” strategic studies. From the onset of the Cold War in the late 1940s through to the 1970s, strategic studies virtually was ISS, and remains a very large part of it. The fact that it continues to stand as the “mainstream” attacked by widening/deepening approaches further speaks to its status as a “core.” This core consists of those literatures whose principal concern is external military threats to the state, and the whole agenda of the use of force which arises from that. This core was originally focused on nuclear weapons and the military-political rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union, but has since adapted its focus to changes in the salience and nature of military threats caused by the end of the Cold War and 9/11. It includes literatures on deterrence, arms racing, arms control and disarmament, grand strategy, wars (and “new wars”), the use of force, nuclear proliferation, military technology, and terrorism. Debates within ISS are structured, either implicitly or explicitly, by five questions: (1) which referent object to adopt, (2) whether to understand security as internally or externally driven, (3) whether to limit it to the military sector or to expand it, (4) what fundamental thinking about (international) politics to adopt, and (5) which epistemology and methodology to choose.

Article

Laura J. Shepherd

In challenging conventional conceptualizations of the human subject, the state, and the international system, early feminist security studies (FSS) offered new ways to think about security from inside and outside the disciplinary boundaries of international relations (IR). Indeed, FSS scholars illustrate that security not only means different things in different contexts but also functions in different ways to constitute particular social/political realities. Politicizing the everyday, or rather, demanding that the everyday be recognized as political, is a core assumption of FSS. Further contributions of early FSS to the replacement of the human subject in matters of security include a form of engagement with the very language used in speaking of security matters. Moreover, FSS scholars argue that insecurities permeate the very condition of human existence, bringing FSS insights to bear on economic processes, technological development, state building, and reconstruction. Ranging from analysis of violent conflict and political violence using a gendered framework to critiques of the policies and practices governing post-conflict reconstruction, and encompassing strong and vital interjections on debates over securitizing development, migration, health, human rights, and peace, FSS scholarship is accessible, innovative, and by no means limited to “women and war.” Relocating FSS scholarship from the margins to the center and listening to the voices of those human subjects erased from the academic study of security brings new challenges but also new opportunities for collaboration, with the sighting and citing of FSS by other critical scholars.

Article

International relations (IR) and security studies lack a coherent and developed body of inquiry on the issue of empire. The central focus of IR situates discussion of imperialism and hierarchy outside the core of the discipline, and on its fringes where scholars from other disciplines engage with IR and security studies literature. Similarly, security studies focus on major war between great powers, not “small wars” between the strong and the weak. The general neglect of empire and imperialism in IR and security studies can be attributed to Eurocentrism, of the unreflective assumption of the centrality of Europe and latterly the West in human affairs. In IR this often involves placing the great powers at the center of analysis, as the primary agents in determining the fate of peoples. Too easily occluded here are the myriad international relations of co-constitution, which together shape societies and polities in both the global North and South. In 1986, Michael Doyle published Empires, a thoughtful effort to systematize the historiography of empire and imperialism with social science concepts. It is rarely cited, much less discussed, in disciplinary literature. By contrast, the pair of articles he published in 1983 on Kant and the connection between liberalism and peace revived the democratic peace research program, which became a key pillar of the liberal challenge to realism in the 1990s and is widely debated. The reception of Doyle’s work is indicative of how imperialism can be present but really absent in IR and security studies.

Article

One can treat the terms “security studies” and “strategic studies” as synonymous and as pertaining to the study of the interaction of policy ends with military and other means under conditions of actual or potential conflict. This definition means that security/strategic studies can be a fairly broad field. Moreover, this broadness applies not only to the subject matter of the field, but to its time span as well. The study of strategy is arguably as old as war itself, and certainly far older than the formal establishment of strategic studies as an academic discipline in the aftermath of World War II. In this vein, one may well regard works like those of Thucydides and Clausewitz as belonging to the broad field of strategic/security studies. Although the study of war and strategy would often go hand in hand with military history, from very early times there have appeared treatises on strategy (actually on “the art of war”) that are clearly distinguished from historical treatises and thus from the very beginning set strategic/security studies on a clearly distinct track. Be that as it may, the historical approach to strategic/security studies has always been and still remains a very powerful analytical tool—provided it is handled with the necessary care. Beginning with Thucydides, and continuing with such luminaries as Vegetius, Clausewitz, Delbrück, and Corbett, the historical approach to strategic/security studies has provided the field with some of its most brilliant treatises. This venerable tradition continued after World War I and until well into the Cold War, including historically minded gems such as those by Fuller and Brodie. However, the advent of nuclear weapons and the consequent preoccupation of strategic/security studies with nuclear strategy led by and large to the loss of the field’s earlier historical bearings. Though never completely shelved, the historical approach was relatively subdued. It began to stage a comeback during the 1970s, aided by scholars like Howard, Luttwak, and Gray and further bolstered by the renewed interest in classical strategic theory. The end of the Cold War found the historical approach in terrific shape. Thus, not only does it once again tap the huge reservoir of ancient history, but it has also harnessed the newly available tools of quantitative research and the academic rigor of the social sciences. Since the end of the Cold War has definitely not brought about the end of history and the obsolescence of historical experience, it seems safe to conclude that the historical approach to strategic/security studies will fully retain its validity well into the 21st century.

Article

Considerations of risk are pervasive in the contemporary security environment. A risk is a scenario followed by a policy proposal for how to prevent the scenario from becoming real. When policy makers approach security questions in terms of risk, they no longer seek to address specific and calculable threats like the Red Army during the Cold War. Instead, they focus on trends that give a future significance to present challenges—trends that give future significance to present challenges include (a) the personalization of risk, (b) the establishment of political community based on risk, and (c) existential risk where the fate of humanity is at stake. In his 1958 book War and Industrial Society, Raymond Aron claimed that industrial society had shaped not only the way in which war was fought in the 20th century, but also the expectations of what force could achieve and how peace could be made. A number of sociologists argue that the industrial society described by Aron is changing into what Ulrich Beck terms a risk society. Risks are associated with a decision. Risk is inside politics, not outside—both internationally and domestically. Risk studies therefore often focus on the difficulties and dilemmas confronting policy makers as they struggle to provide security in a post-secure society. Risks are continuously identified by scenarios pre-empted by military actions or other acts of security—only for the results of these actions to produce, in turn, new risks. The article seeks to explain why risk studies have never coalesced into a coherent research program, as perhaps some of the scholars engaging with risk theory hoped it would. Having concluded that risk theories remain fragmented and more engaged with particular subfields than with each other, it makes sense to deal with the substantial contribution of risk theory by focusing on particular trends in security policy in which the risk perspective has something important to say.