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How Many Meanings Does Security Have To This Day?

The famous Sculpture of the Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York [Photo] - Rick Bajornas

Security has always been a core value in traditional civilizations, but it has emerged as a critical value in modern international relations, particularly since the Cold War's end. As time passed, the concept of security grew to include individual, societal, global, and human security. As a result, the notion of security must shift from territorial security to people security, from armaments-based security to security based on long-term human development. The concept of security must be broadened to cover other domains such as the economy, food, health, the environment, and human beings.

To start with, security is a term that invokes necessity and makes people feel free from the concern of going into dangerous situations. At the base of the concept of security lies that of insecurity. Concerns about risk usher in deep anxieties about security. The more we are uncertain, the greater our sense of insecurity is. Like a risk, security is socially produced, whereas risk threatens security promises. It gives people both a sense of being safe and the means to achieve that. It promises a condition in which risk is non-existent, neutralized, or avoided. While the non-existence of the risk is utopian, the desire for neutralization or avoidance of risk provides the rationale for the relentless pursuit of security. The attraction of such circularity has led to the recasting of many socio-political problems as security measures. The pursuit of security is as much about security providers seeking raison d’etres for their operations as it is about risk prevention.

Since ancient times, societies have felt the need to establish mechanisms of security to protect themselves from external dangers. However, until the advent of Westphalian society, the concept of security was primarily based uniquely on the territorial aspect. Governments provided armies and any other useful means to counter anyone who intended to attack their cities and possessions. There was no idea of ensuring security for citizens other than territorial security. With the advent of the Westfalian community, the focus moved from cities to the state, making it the referent object of security. Even though the preferred term was national security, this was a misnomer when applied globally and only appropriate in those exceptional cases where nation and state happened to be coterminous. This international system was supposed by anarchic and consist of sovereign states, each pursuing its national interest, defined in terms of power or, somewhat more modestly, in terms of security in the sense of survival. Furthermore, this universe was characterized by strife, since the aforementioned national interests inevitably collided, hence the pervasiveness of competition, conflict, and war. Since states were thus inherently insecure, they were well advised being sure their power would suffice to parry threats from other states to their sovereignty. As far as the system was concerned, the best safeguard of peace would presumably be a "balance of power".

A map of different meaning of security [Image] - Algerian Encyclopedia of Political and Strategic Studies

Security as a more universal concept has become the main focus of international relations, as a result of the aftermath of the massacre of the First World War and the urgent need to put a stop to such horrific events from re-occurring again; thus this coined the discipline of international relations in 1919. The balance of powers based on military security was accompanied by the system for the maintenance of peace and security based on the first international organization with sanctioning powers, the League of Nations. However, with the advent of the Second World War and its cruelty discovered at its end, the states understood that even the people physical security had to assume a central role within the new international system founded on the United Nations. Thus, the concept of security was further broadened to a sphere that had never been considered before. However, the