Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Human Security in Cambodia

Op-Ed: Virorth Doung
Unlike traditional security study strand which focuses on protecting the national security (state-centric) and interest from any threats by neighbors and terrorism, human security seeks to fulfill the human basic need to ensure that individuals enjoy their potentials and all kinds of freedom to acceptable welfare condition. Human dignity including the opportunity to participate meaningfully in community life can be realized (Sen 2000, Thomas 2001).


Allow me to draw your attention to debate on policy option. As part of my research, I would like to invite your view on human security in Cambodia. I intend to know if this new concept of human security can be considered as useful and applicable in Cambodian context (why yes and why not). In what ways if the concept is useful? What is the Cambodian government 's view and position on human security? What sectors should human security in Cambodia entail/cover and who should be the main actors to implement the human security if the concept is to be operationalized? I appreciate your thought.

Following is some food for thought on human security concept.

Human security is a new paradigm and posits greatly in world politics as a useful concept and policy framework and become an analytical policy concept in the field of security and development studies. The need to shift to human security emphasizes the bottom-up approach and cosmopolitan in characters to secure individual human vital core especially the freedom of want and freedom of fear. The human security acknowledges that the state remains a main actor in guarantee the security for the nation and their people from any external threats and violence. However, human security advocates multi approaches by many players in fulfilling the human needs and safeguard individual security when the state fails to provide security to their own people. The people as referent for security and development study; not the state as referent in realism, can be traced from Niccolo Machiavelli ’s writing which defined the security as “absence of threats” to individual (Linklater 2005). Unlike traditional security study strand which focuses on protecting the national security (state-centric) and interest from any threats by neighbors and terrorism, human security seeks to fulfill the human basic need to ensure that individuals enjoy their potentials and all kinds of freedom to acceptable welfare condition. Human dignity including the opportunity to participate meaningfully in community life can be realized (Sen 2000, Thomas 2001). The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) formalized this concept in 1994 by encompassing broad range of issues which human-being need for their daily lives. Since then, the human security concept earns noticeable recognition in international politics and scholarly debate (Acharya 2007, Alkire 2003, Kaldor et al 2007, Lautensach 2006 and Peou 2005). In 2003, the commission on human security (CHS) produced a fine-tuned report: Human Security Now under co-leadership of Sadako Ogata and Amartya Sen. This report becomes main policy and conceptual framework for both scholar and practitioners as the report articulates the multi dimensional approaches in protecting and empowering the vital core of human.

There are four transformative reasons for this paradigm shift toward human security approach. First, interstate conflict (external threats) is no longer main concern for international security. Intrastate conflict, domestic threat and internal political segregation have become increasingly worrying threat to international security. Hunger, poverty, communicative deceases, economic deprivation and unequal growth distribution, environmental depletion and corrupt governance emerge as world problem and requires multi players to address, not only the state, to ensure individual vital core especially freedom from want and fear. Second, there is tendency in global politics toward community emancipation especially in critical theory (Linklater 2007). Human emancipation is defined as “the freeing of people” (as individuals and groups) from the physical and human constraints which stop them from carrying out what they would freely choose to do
(Caballero-Anthony 2005). The human security empowers individuals to exercise the freedom and enjoyment of daily life without any concern of insecurity. Human security emerges in response to a demand to guarantee the individuals freedom as well as to safeguard the states (Thomas 2001). Third, there is an argument that the liberal and republican approaches to peace-building prove less effective in war-shattered countries to transplant the liberal democracy and positive peace. Poverty, inequality and injustice remain the issue for addressing and is believed as the fault of liberal and republican ideology blueprint (Richmond 2006, Thomas 2001). The emergence of human security follows indicative failure of peace-building principles in post-conflict societies harbored by both liberalism and republicanism in recent UN missions (Newman and Richmond 2001). In particular, the states fail evidently to fulfill their obligations as the security guarantors for their citizens (Lautensach 2006). The human security is remedial to this loophole especially to enhance the healthy livelihood of individuals. At minimum, human security requires basic needs are met for all humankind (Sen 2000: 1 and Thomas 2001: 162).
Human security embraces the broad issues not only economic and political development, but covers culture, rule of law, and social inclusions.

Finally, the human security concept is a nexus of development, security and peace building which encompasses wide range of issues and was best specified procedurally (Alkire 2003; 40). Peace and development are intertwined and mutually depend. The development actors and peace building activists have their own focus separately so far. Human security embraces the broad issues not only economic and political development, but covers culture, rule of law, and social inclusions. Human security now receives considerable acknowledgement as important to make link between development, peace and good governance (Thomas 2001). “Putting people first” is slogan of human security meaning adopting the bottom-up or local approach to security that moved away from equating the security of state with the economic, political, social well-being of the citizens (Krause & Jutersonke 2005). According to John Cockell (2001), human security is a sustainable process of preventing internal threats from causing protracted and violent conflict. Protracted social conflicts are most often characterized by the contested pursuit of basic human needs by disadvantaged social groups (Cockell 2001). Amartya Sen (1999) raises that the world deprivation, destitution and oppression is a central part of development exercise and demands individual agency based approach to address such a problem to ensure individual freedom.

Human security has become foreign policy and operational framework in most countries in Europe and some countries in Asia . The UN body is gradually mainstreaming the human security through development framework, UN Trust Fund for Human Security. Middle power nations such as Canada, Norway with their like-minded states such as Austria, Chile, Greece, Ireland, Jordan, Mali, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovakia and Thailand take a lead in mainstreaming the human security in favor of freedom of fear, while the UN, Japan and other international institutions adopt human security in search for freedom of want (MacFarlane and Foong Kong 2006).

There is a contested argument over the concentration of human security between the “broad and narrow school of thought of human security” (Kerr: 2007). The narrow school of thought argues that human security should prioritize the violence threat to individual and seek strategy to tackle this to ensure the individual freedom of fear. Their success includes Ottawa on Ban Land Mines, small arm, international criminal court etc. The broad school of thought argues that to ensure human vital core and dignity, human security needs to deal with all range of issues so that human needs can be met (freedom from want). The former and the latter, however, work within the human security realm. The ASEAN countries in particular have practiced a form of human security with different name: comprehensive and cooperative security. The comprehensive security is viewed as multifaceted by incorporating military, economic, social, cultural and political dimensions. The cooperative security is seen as the potential adversary within the regions which is conducive to human security. The ASEAN ’s notion of comprehensive and cooperative security is the referent: the state- its resilience, legitimacy and security- not individual as human security entails. To put simply: most ASEAN countries view that the legitimate and secure states means secure citizens (MacFarlane and Foong Kong 2006).

Best regards.

Virorth Doung
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Hello Virorth and friends,

Human Security, in my opinion, is a struggle against threads on individual
Khmer citizen. The followings are example of those threads:

*Poverty and Preventable diseases:*
With an average income of less than fifty cents per day, average Khmer can't
make ends meet - not to mention have money to treat preventable diseases.
Even though Cambodia receives over $600 million USD per year on foreign
aides, the poor Khmer citizen cannot escape poverty and disease as much of
the subidies fall into the hands of corrupted officials. State run
hospitals require under table money before patients are admitted. A large
percentage of the peasants cannot even make the trip to the hospital due to
poor road infrastruction and lack of transportation. Most of our children
die before pass their infancy age. It is well-known that this area kills
far more people than war or genocide.

*Personal Ignorance:*
Under the Vietnamese occupation and the puppet ruler of Lok Hun Sen, Khmer
children don't have sufficient public education. By struggling with poverty
and infested disease, the undeveloped brain can't think beyond the next
meal. Most of us are grateful that we survived through the genocide and
this era is better than the past. That's the baseline for the unfortunate
Khmers who never seen what other options available for them.

*Natural and man-made disasters:*
Due to excessive deforestation and unthinkable dam buildings upstream of the
Mekong River, we changed the natural floor of life. There aren't enough
tree to grasps on to top soil to prevent floods and produce regular rain
water. Foreign investors perform illegal dumping of toxic chemical on our
farm land and drinking water. The RGC does not do enough to protect its
citizen for residual affect of their investment decision where the proceeds
go directly to the pockets of corrupted officials.

*War and Genocide:*
Infighting, civil war and genocide committed by Sihanouk and his comrades
until today caused disruption in Cambodia social fabric. Our population was
severly reduced by three millions during and post KR era. Close to another
million diminished during the Vietnamese installed K5 project and who knows
how many opposition's lives were politcally eliminated since the deadly coup
of 1997.

*Terrorism and foreign aggression:*
There are incidents where Khmer Krom monks were slaughtered by Vietnamese
agents in Cambodia. This is a violation of Cambodian national soveignty
where crimes were committed neighbor country. The same so-called friend
country has continue to sent millions of expats to reside and influence the
social, economic and politic fabric in Cambodia. This is an act of
terrorism performs by the Vietnamese aggressors.

As of late, another neighbor state also violates Cambodia sovereignty. The
movie star of such state has once provoked costly riote not too long
ago. Both aggressors continue to violate Cambodia's land and maritime
sovereignty which is a thread to human security in general.
What's laughable is that the latter state is also pushing for human
security. I personally this is a cooperative security done between Thailand
and Vietnam to swallow Cambodia whole as they once did prior to the French
colonialization of South East Asia.

*Oppression by own government:*
I've nothing to say further... as our own government is doing a great job in
this area.

By Delux

1 comment:

Ex-servicemen in chennai said...

what to about this government they are doing nice things.....Unlike traditional security study strand which focuses on protecting the national security (state-centric) and interest from any threats by neighbors and terrorism, human security seeks to fulfill the human basic need to ensure that individuals enjoy their potentials and all kinds of freedom to acceptable welfare condition. Human dignity including the opportunity to participate meaningfully in community life can be realized

john

Ex-servicemen in chennai