International Security



International security consists of the measures taken by nations and international organizations, such as the United Nations, to ensure mutual survival and safety. These measures include military action and diplomatic agreements such as treaties and conventions. International and national security are invariably linked.


The traditional Security paradigm refers to a realist construct of security in which the referent object of security is the state. The prevalence of this theorem reached a peak during the Cold War. For almost half a century, major world powers entrusted the security of their nation to a balance of power among states. In this sense international stability relied on the premise that if state security is maintained, then the security of citizens will necessarily follow. Traditional security relied on the anarchistic balance of power, a military build-up between the US and the Soviet Union (the two superpowers), and on the absolute sovereignty of the nation-state. Security was seen as protection from invasion; executed during proxy conflicts using technical and military capabilities.


As Cold War tensions receded, it became clear that the security of citizens was threatened by hardships arising from internal state activities as well as external aggressors. Civil wars were increasingly common and compounded existing poverty, disease, hunger, violence and human rights abuses. Traditional security policies had effectively masked these underlying basic human needs in the face of state security. Through neglect of its constituents, nation states had failed in their primary objective.


More recently, the traditional state centric notion of security has been challenged by more holistic approaches to security (see Strategy and Ethnic Conflict and Path to Peace, by Laure Paquette, among many others). Among approaches which seek to acknowledge and address these basic threats to human safety are paradigm includes cooperative, comprehensive, collective measures, aimed to ensure security for the individual and resultantly for the state.


To enhance international security and potential threats caused by terrorism and organised crime increased co-operation within police forces internationally has been applied. The international police Interpol shares information across international borders and this co-operation has been greatly enhanced by the arrival of the internet and the ability to transfer documents, film and photographs worldwide instantly.


Human security is a school of thought about the practice of international security and within the Canadian context, a switch from the traditional conception of security, which is a state-centered approach, to a focus on the individual. In Canada, human security has become the crux of foreign policy, which argues that a global civil society, an international mandate for "Responsibility to Protect", and a strong commitment to multilateralism is the way to keep the world a safe place. State-interest-based arguments for human security argue that the international system is too interconnected for the state to maintain an isolationist international policy. Therefore, it argues that a state can best maintain its security by ensuring the security of others. The Canadian version of human security is called "freedom from fear" as opposed to a UNDP/Asian school of human security that argues that human security is "freedom from want."


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "International security".




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