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The Handbook of Global Security Policy by Mary Kaldor, Iavor Rangelov

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Chapter 5 Human Security

Mary Kaldor

According to David Chandler, the heyday of human security was during the decade of the 1990s. In the early 2000s, the human security discourse was integrated into international institutional apparatuses and “the radicals appeared to be on the other side, critiquing human security as the ideological tool of biopolitical, neoliberal global governance” (Chandler, 2011, p. 117).

In this chapter, I argue that the burgeoning of radical critiques of human security during the last decade can be construed as representing the discursive achievement of the War on Terror. Both because of the way in which the language and even some of the practices of human security and humanitarianism appeared to be appropriated in the pursuit of the War on Terror and because of the way counterterror practices have influenced development and civil society policies – the space for emancipatory intervention has been narrowed. By focusing their critiques on human security, the radical critics have fallen into the trap set by the War on Terror and have, as it were, contributed to that narrowing of emancipatory space.

This is not to say that the critiques do not add value to the concept. On the contrary, the debates about what it is to be human, the meaning of security, or the use of the idea of biopower all have potential to substantiate our understanding of human security. The problem is not the critiques; rather it is their normative standpoint.

The narrowing of the space ...

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