The relations and division of labor between the human concepts —human development, human rights, human security

Gomez, Oscar A. (2016). 'The relations and division of labor between the human concepts —human development, human rights, human security' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract ‘Human’ concepts play an important role in trying to order and humanize the world we live in today. They seek to make sure that human faces, human interests, are not absent from otherwise too abstracted discussions about, for instance, markets and the economy, intellectual property, sovereignty, the stratosphere, different kinds of crises, and other issues occupying global and local agendas. Putting the human upfront, these concepts favor integrated thinking and are expected to be catalysts for agreements and actions that leave no one behind. Human concepts, however, do not have a common, single origin, but are the results of different political, economic and social processes. While universal in principle, each of them speaks to different epistemic communities and traditions, matches different theories and values and brings along different tools, some of which usually contend for primacy in framing agendas and solutions. In other words, the concepts are inevitably partly overlapping and partly competitive. It is thus not surprising to find sceptical takes about the relations between the human concepts. Human development reviews try to harmonize other concepts, but usually under their own hierarchy of ideas, which tends to narrow the scope of human security and, to a lesser degree, of human rights. Some human rights scholars express distrust about the implications of human security propositions for the international human rights regime. There has been deliberate sidelining of human rights in some human security narratives, which can lead to further mutual wariness. Therefore, much remains to be done in creating a coherent conceptual system that potentiates cooperation and draws benefits from overlaps and competition. The papers in this panel offer an up-to-date view on the state of such debates, suggesting several ways in which the relations and division of labor between human concepts are presently evolving, and suggestions on how to steer thinking in fruitful and complementary directions and to reduce areas of unnecessary competition and misunderstanding. Each of the papers essays a direct dialogue between thinking and practice on human development, human rights and/or human security, not self-standing discussion of any of them in isolation. In his contribution, Richard Ponzio addresses the interrelation of human development, human rights and peacebuilding. Contributions are suggested in each direction. He considers that human development thinking’s contributions include: a paradigmatic intellectual shift; an influential international policy agenda-setting role; and influence on changing conceptions of human rights and peacebuilding in global and national governance. In doing so, he seeks to demonstrate how human development thinking has benefited from the analytical tools of various political scientists, lawyers, and philosophers. Peacebuilding provides local actors—both state and non-state—with the tools for managing and addressing the sources of violent conflict, thereby creating the conditions for human development to flourish. In addition, human development has enriched thinking and action on peacebuilding by demonstrating how building durable peace requires people’s empowerment and the development of inclusive institutions capable of safeguarding their rights. Besides, contributing to a paradigmatic shift in how one understands the causes of violent conflict, human development and human security ideas have expanded the peacebuilding tool-box for mitigating and neutralizing the drivers of deadly political and criminal violence, including through an emphasis on preventive development and holding state security institutions accountable to elected civilian leaders. The other two papers on the panel concentrate on the human security and human rights interface. Des Gasper and Shyamika Jayasundara examine recent examples in the literature of attempts to demark and defend the intellectual territory of human rights and subsume acceptable human security analysis within that. The paper discusses these arguments in relation to leading statements on human security analysis and to a panorama of types of policy arena. The paper suggests that the human security framework has broad compatibility and complementarity with human rights analysis, and not merely as a new set of labels and topics within a known template; but that the degree of compatibility and synergy may vary according to the type of human rights violations and the socio-political context. The paper explores the very large spaces where human security analysis can complement the existing human rights regime: for addressing additional threatened populations and types of threat, and for identifying additional types of response, etc. Part of what this paper examines concerns such spaces, in the areas of gender violence, migration, and climate change. However, not all But, in addition, human security thinking adds much about ontology that goes beyond human rights analysis: on interconnectedness, identity, subjectivity, and how people variously consider each of these. Finally, Oscar A. Gómez attempts to further clarify the relation between propositions of human rights and human security ideas through a discussion of three contentious developments in the last decade. The first one is global agreement and practice of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine and the extent to which both concepts serve as its foundation. The second development is the evolution of humanitarianism and principled action, and what the change towards a more outcome-oriented approach underlying discussions around the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 tells us about rights and security. Finally, he discusses the expressed preference for human security over human rights concepts in the IPCC 2014 climate change adaptation report and the worries that arose about debilitating the international human rights regime by so doing. He suggests that the evolution and realization of human security ideas will, in the long run, contribute to make possible the vision of human rights put forward in for example the work of Onora O’Neill. In other words, as a result of successfully pursuing human security, it would be easier “to show who ought to do what for whom” when advocating human rights, also making clear how “the duties that do fall on states are typically second-order duties to enable and require other agents and agencies to act.” The paper remarks that this is not the understanding of human security ideas most popularly shared nowadays, and it therefore welcomes critical examination from the perspectives of other human concepts, as a way to promote theoretical (and practical) progress.

scroll to top