Global Health and Human Security


Human security has emerged as the opposite of national security. While national security is concerned with resolving issues related to the country’s borders, human security focuses on people’s well-being and is related to human rights (Saladino slide 31). Human security relies on two main concepts: freedom from fear, meaning the absence of violence, and freedom from want, which means not being subject to threats and long-term illnesses (Ostergard and Griffin 3). This essay aims to observe how human security offers explanations and solutions to such worldwide problems as food security, global health, and environmental security. Evidence shows that this new paradigm can be efficient if it is complementary to national security.

Food Security

Food and water security is a crucial problem, especially in developing countries. Widespread hunger, water shortages, and the changeability of food prices are the most important concerns of this issue (Committee on World Food Security [CFS]). Overall, food security is a condition in which people always have “physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food” (Saladino slide 24). It is based on four principles, the first of which is available, meaning that all individuals in all countries have enough food (Saladino slide 25). The second principle is access, which means making sure that people can afford products (Saladino slide 26).

Utilization is the third pillar, and it relates to the way consumers use foodstuffs (Saladino slide 27). The final principle is stability, meaning that it is necessary to provide basic food security regardless of conflicts, bad weather, economic crises, and other issues (Saladino slide 28). These four pillars provide an explanation of what a country should consider guaranteeing food security for its citizens.

Since human security differs from national security, these concepts emphasize different aspects of food security while searching for the solution to this problem. Since human security is closely related to human rights, it takes into consideration people’s right to food (CFS). The suggested solutions include identifying and assisting those who are food insecure, paying special attention to vulnerable populations such as children, women, and the elderly (CFS). Human security is concerned about all people in the world rather than citizens of a particular country, and, therefore, it encourages international assistance to marginalized and poor communities (CFS).

National security, on the contrary, cares for people within a state and aims at protecting domestic resources and seeking domestic food independence (Saladino slide 30). It cannot be said that one security paradigm is better than the other in handling food insecurity; rather, they should be combined to both provide individuals with nutrition and protect domestic products.

Global Health

Human security is also concerned about the health of the world population. It addresses issues that are not confined to a particular country but are common for all people (Ostergard and Griffin 3). According to this new paradigm, such problems as famine, terrorism, and epidemic illnesses cannot be regarded as a concern of one nation, and, therefore, traditional national security cannot handle them effectively (Ostergard and Griffin 3). Therefore, human security offers a better explanation of the ways of handling global health issues.

According to the new security paradigm, there are several aspects of health security. Researchers distinguish three major concerns of human security related to global health: violence, poverty, and infectious diseases (Ostergard and Griffin 9). Conflicts in one country may harm its citizens’ health, and they can influence neighboring countries either by direct interference or by the inflow of refugees (Ostergard and Griffin 9).

Poverty and global health are interrelated because poor people often cannot afford proper nutrition, clean water, and shelter, and they cannot improve their position because diseases prevent their work productivity (Ostergard and Griffin 13). Infectious diseases are a human security concern since they can cause an epidemic (Ostergard and Griffin 14). If a state fails to stop an outbreak, infections may spread over its borders, as happened with the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (Ostergard and Griffin 14). All three aspects are interrelated and constitute a human security concern.

Although human security concerns about global health go beyond the focus of national security, a state plays an important role in addressing global health issues. If a country cannot deal with a health issue within its borders, it may affect the population in the neighboring states (Ostergard and Griffin 16). Therefore, to ensure global health security, governments should be prepared to handle outbreaks and prevent severe diseases.

Possible solutions offered by national security include forcing immigrants and refugees to undergo medical examinations on entering a country to identify infectious diseases and prevent their spreading (Bunnell et al. 7). A partnership among countries is also a necessary measure because it may help to stop an outbreak before it crosses the borders (Bunnell et al. 7). Thus, a state’s participation is essential in ensuring global health security.

Environmental Security

Environmental security has become a security concern not so long ago. During the Cold War, states were concerned only about the safety of their territories, and all their concerns about their population were related to military aspects (Rucktäschel and Schuck 72). After the end of the Cold War, the priorities of governments shifted. The human security paradigm emerged to change the focus of security from a state to individuals or expand national security so that it took citizens into consideration (Rucktäschel and Schuck 76). Environmental security, in its turn, considers not only individuals but also the world as a whole, which makes it be more extended than national security (Rucktäschel and Schuck 76).

According to the human security paradigm, not states but humans are the major agents who cause and damage the environment (Rucktäschel and Schuck 76). However, although individuals have the primary influence on nature, they are unable to resolve environmental issues themselves (Rucktäschel and Schuck 77). It implies that environmental security requires the actions of a state.

Environmental issues have a significant impact on human security, especially in the most affected regions. Climate-related disasters lead to great expenses, damaged homes, and food and water insecurity (Modéer). Experts say that global warming is a crucial environmental problem nowadays, which should be addressed within the next 12 years (Modéer). If humans do nothing about it, it will cause more droughts and floods, increased sea levels, and decreased yields of crops (Modéer).

Since individuals alone cannot cope with this problem, states should take measures to ensure environmental security. For example, governments can encourage emission reduction, transit to renewable energy sources, and invest in the ecological use of land (Modéer). Thus, a people-centered approach to security emphasizes the need to address environmental issues, but the participation of a state is necessary to meet this requirement.


To sum up, human security is a new paradigm that shifts the focus of security from a state to individuals. It also tries to expand the concept of national security so that it takes into consideration not only borders but also individuals. Human security involves such issues as food security, global health, and environmental security. It explains why and how these problems affect the population. However, the solutions to these problems require the involvement of a state.

Works Cited

Bunnell, Rebecca E., et al. “Global Health Security: Protecting the United States in an Interconnected World.” Public Health Reports, vol. 134, no. 1, 2018, pp. 3-10.

Committee on World Food Security. “Section 5: Uniting and Organizing to Fight Hunger.” CFS. Web.

Modéer, Ulrika. “Why Does the UN Focus on Climate-Related Security Risks?United Nations Development Programme. 2019. Web.

Ostergard, Robert L., and Jeffrey A. Griffin. “Global Health and Human Security.The Oxford Handbook of Global Health Politics, edited by Colin McInnes et al., Oxford University Press, 2018. Oxford Handbooks Online. Web.

Rucktäschel, Kathrin, and Christoph Schuck. “Non-Traditional Security Issues and the Danger Not to See the Forest for the Trees: A Critical Analysis of the Concept of Environmental Security.” European Journal for Security Research, vol. 3, no. 1, 2017, pp. 71-90.

Saladino, Christopher. “Food Security: Global, National, and Local.” Political Science, 2018, Virginia Commonwealth University. Microsoft PowerPoint presentation.