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An Identification of the Differences Between a Realist Security Approach and a Human Security Approach to the Issue of Water Security

an undergraduate assessment of theoretical differences between realism and human security approaches to water
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    Topic:  An identification of the differences between a realist security approach and a human security approach to the issue of water security This paper examines the question concerning the differences between a realist security approach and a human security approach to the issue of water security. In order to do this five primary questions are recognized as requiring investigation. Using a literature review the questions of what is security, what is a realist security approach and what is a human security approach is used to identify key aspects of these terms. This paper will then apply a further examination of peer reviewed literature to the questions of what is water security and what is water insecurity. This paper will argue the essential difference between realist security and human security with regard to water security is the capability of realism (states) to implement effective and immediate policy change as opposed to human security proponents who advocate change without effective capability. It is recognised that realist or state power and human security or the focus of individual (people) power form two of the three pillars regarding international relations. The third pillar is the liberal or neoliberal view that focuses on economic power. While recognising that economic neoliberalism and the associated connection with globalisation and commodification of a resource such as water have a great influence in the debate concerning water scarcity, the exclusion of the neoliberal argument has been a deliberate limitation of the scope of this paper. The debate concerning the implementation of neoliberal water policy and the use of economic rationales to alleviate water issues is seen as a separate subject for further extensive study. This paper concentrates on the idea that the state is the current central base of power that defines the authority of security, and that intergovernmental organizations, non-government organizations (NGO‟s) and human rights adv ocates all look to influence states and their  2 security positions with regard to how issues such as water security are addressed. With this in mind the questions of what security is and how it has evolved as a concept is examined first. McSweeney describes security as having both a negative nominative and positive adjectival usage. In the nominative form security is viewed as having a specific function capable of being weighed, measured or counted - where security protects things and prevents something from happening (McSweeney 1999, p.14). He describes this as a negative freedom from material threats as opposed to a positive adjectival form of security which suggests enabling or making something possible (ibid. p.15). The distinction between the two is better described as a nominative security - „freedom   from‟ , as compared to an adjectival secure - „freedom   to‟ . This distinction will be used extensively through the argument of this paper. 1  The notion of security as a noun etymologically became associated with land, money and fortification and the means by which these became secure  –  armies and weapons (McSweeney 1999, p.18). The state was increasingly identified as an instrument that these values of freedom from insecurity could be achieved. The contemporary realist (nominative  –   „freedom from‟ ) sense of security as an obligation of the state, is found in the seventeenth and eighteenth century literature of Hobbs (1651), Locke (1690), Rousseau (1763), Montesquieu (1752) and Kant (1780) with the theory of the social contract. Hobbes and Locke in particular emphasise security as a key element in the emergence of the commonwealth (the state) from the state of nature (Burke 2002). Adam Smith referred to the 'liberty and security of individuals' (Smith 1776, p.61) and 'the first duty of the sovereign, is that of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies' (ibid. p.62). From these ideas of the state being responsible for the security of the individual evolved the concept of national security and the need for the state to become secure. It is argued that the doctrine that advocates the priority of state security is dependent on the belief of individual security within the state (McSweeney 1999, p.21). This 1   The distinction is regarded as important enough that throughout this paper the term ‘freedom from’ and ‘freedom to’ will be highlighted with parenthesis.  3 priority of the state and nominative concept of „ freedom from ‟  insecurity forms the basis of a realist approach to security. Before an examination of this realist approach is discussed however, the evolution of the security concept - „freedom to‟  which forms the basis of a human security approach must be examined. In 1983, Barry Buzan published „People, States and Fear‟ which proposed  a wider concept of security and sparked a shift in academic debate regarding the concept of security. Buzan wrote that „the concept of security constitutes such a substantial barrier to progress that it might almost be counted as part of the problem ‟ (1983, pp.1 -2), Buzan also criticized what he termed „unhelpful illusions   that clog policy‟  (1991, p.370) including the concept that governments could reduce vulnerability by increasing power and the simplistic assumption that politics could be reduced to the level of the individual (Buzan 1991, p.370). Buzan recognised that the realist practice of security was policy-driven to meet state interest as the political environment changed. This idea that it is states that determine policy regarding security, and do so in the interest of the state - not the individual, is a key argument of this paper. He also very clearly defines the referent object of security as the state (ibid. pp. 27, 51, 54). What Buzan also identified is that security (or insecurity) can srcinate from within a state as well as traditional concepts of external threats such as wars with other states (Hough 2004, p.9). Bu zan‟s major contribution however was to identify five sectors that affect the security of human collectives  –  military, political, economic, societal and environmental (ibid p.19). Criticism of Buz an‟s work was that he maintained an emphasis on the state as the primary referent of security (McSweeney 1999, p.68). However he opened the debate that the human beings should be a primary factor in security and that societal issues should be factors in assessing security issues. At the same time Richard Ullman argued that rises in population and the increasing scarcity of resources as were as important (if not more important) that military threats to states and individuals. Ullman defined a threat to security as:  4 an action or sequence of events that (1) threatens drastically and over a relatively brief span of time to degrade the quality of life for the inhabitants of a state or (2) threatens significantly to narrow the range of policy choices available to a government of a state, or to private, nongovernmental entities (persons, groups, corporations) within the state. (Ullman 1983, p.133) This evolution in debate from a state security perspective of „ freedom from ‟  external physical (military) threats to an individual security issue which incorporates internal values of „ freedom to ‟  make choices. To live and appreciate safety from chronic threats such as hunger, disease and repression (UNDP 1994, p. 23) and „ to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives‟  (UNDP 1990 p.10) is the principle idea of a human security approach. There exist valid arguments for maintaining a realist approach to security as well as a human security approach. An examination of the literature regarding these views will contribute to understanding the way water security can be delivered. Firstly a realist approach is explored. In international relations and associated security studies, realists are the traditional and dominant paradigm both academically and in „real world‟ approach to foreign policy (Hough 2004, p.2). The term „realist‟ looks to summarise their view that  in the real world, governments need to act in their own interest even if this is at the expense of other states or people. Thucydides (431 b.c.), Machiavelli (1531) and Hobbes (1651) are attributed to a classical or traditional view of realism. The Machiavellian doctrine that anything is justified by „reason of state‟, 2  which denies the relevance of morality in politics and Hobbes‟s view of human nature as egoistic and the concept of the supreme authority of the state in an environment of international anarchy is the basis of realist argument. Crawford (2004) argues that morality has no place in realist foreign policy, because morality is not a quality of states who are the principal actors in world politics. Morgenthau equally argues that morality in an international sphere interferes with the moral obligation of the state to preserve the 2   Ragione di stato  or its French equivalent, raison d'état     –  while not specifically mentioned by Machiavelli is attributed by most writers as his primary argument and the basis of realism.
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