Today, the security parameters are not similar to the ones that used to dominate the previous decades. Several different forms of security including human security and cybersecurity have emerged. This article is an attempt to provide the recent debates and relevant literature about the new forms of security. These security forms can be covered in general under the following five groups:
-Human security and war industry
-Human security and global pandemics
-Human security and big corporations
-Cybersecurity and digitalization of finance
-Cybersecurity and cyberterrorism
Human Security and War Industry
Biological and chemical weapons can be defined as the sum of toxins and chemicals used to cause death or harm through their poisonous effects. In addition to nuclear weapons, biological and chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction. With the triggering impact of technological advancements, there has been an increase in the use of bio-chemical weapons. Biological and chemical weapons can cause big environmental damage and this damage poses fatal harms to humans and other living species. This is a big threat to human security. According to United Nations data, the states using such weapons killed more than 100.000 people and injured more than one million since World War I.
It has been illegal to use biological weapons for nearly a century, since the 1925 Geneva Protocol. Although Comoros, Somalia, Eritrea, Egypt and Israel have refused to commit to the protocol, 183 other states have accepted it. Ahmed (2022) notes about possible reason why Israel rejects to accept Geneva Protocol: “the details of Israel’s secret use of biological weapons and poison against Palestinians during the 1947/48 ethnic cleansing campaign has been revealed in a recent article by historians Benny Morris and Benjamin Kedar.”
According to Guthrie et al (2004), the magnitude of threat in the chemical and biological field remains unclear. While the magnitude of biological and chemical risks may be hard to quantify, the scale will change over time, and most of the time for the worse conditions. In this regard, there is a strong need to ensure the effective bio-safety and bio-security measures.
Human Security and Global Pandemics
The Human Security Newsletter published by United Nations in 2020 provides significant insights about how pandemics affect human security. The critical points covered in the newsletter emphasize the following:
“In the context of a pandemic, human security acknowledges that health for all depends on robust disease prevention systems, the availability of and access to quality healthcare, and the broader conditions in which people live. It requires us to consider how health crises can overwhelm economic systems and destroy livelihoods with knock-on effects on every aspect of people’s lives. It promotes a combination of protection and empowerment measures that improve early warning and preparedness, build the capacity of healthcare systems, mobilize and educate the public, and shield the most vulnerable. And, human security emphasizes that securing people in the face of complex threats can only happen through multilateral cooperation and national partnerships that bring together diverse actors from governments, academia, civil society and the private sector.”
Human security concept is an important non-traditional security concept. According to Nursanah and her colleagues (2020) an invisible threat in the form of virus or a disease does not need military readiness as in traditional security threats. It rather needs a good healthcare system as part of the national resilience. Following this argument, it can be said that human security has lately become one of the aspects of “strong state mechanism”. Being a strong state in today’s world requires more than a robust national army, it also requires healthy citizens. Having such a population becomes possible through proper equipments and scientific knowledge to fight pandemics.
Human Security and Big Corporations
It is a widely-known fact that there are many big companies that pose a threat to environment and human health. The threats they pose most of the time may not be limited to territorial borders, they have global impact. The top 20 global polluters are all in the fossil fuel industry. New data reveals how the cohort of state-owned and multinational firms threatens the future of humanity. An article published in The Guardian reveals that, more than half of the 20 companies are state-owned and together “their extractions are responsible for 20% of total emissions in the same period. The leading state-owned polluter is Saudi Aramco, which has produced 4.38% of the global total on its own.”
Cybersecurity and Digitalization of Finance
The concept of cybersecurity is a relatively new concept for the scholars who focus on security research. America’s Cyber Defence Agency defines cybersecurity as “the art of protecting networks, devices, and data from unauthorized access or criminal use and the practice of ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.” It is not hard to see that almost everything today depends on the internet including communication, entertainment, transportation, health system and digitalized financial activities. In such an environment not only individuals but also governments and other actors need to take proper precautions for the threats in cyberspace.
The emergence of digital money (digital currency) is the main factor that caused the need for taking initiatives to ensure more secure online and offline platforms for making electronic transactions. The rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has undoubtedly created new challenges for both governments and financial organizations like IMF. Bitcoin can be defined as a “cryptocurrency, a virtual currency designed to act as money and a form of payment outside the control of any one person, group, or entity, thus removing the need for third-party involvement in financial transactions.”
Since the emergence of Bitcoin in 2009, cryptocurrencies have gained a big popularity and are today collectively worth over 1 trillion USD. As of February 2023, 114 countries, including the United States plan to introduce their own digital currencies (Siripurapu and Berman 2023). It is obvious that digitalization of finance causes many risks and threats and in a relatively unregulated sector, raising concerns about cybersecurity have occurred in recent years.
Cybersecurity and Cyberterrorism
Cyberterrorism is one of the most critical threats for global peace in contemporary world. Cyberterrorism refers to the convergence of cyberspace and terrorism. A terrorist in cyberspace could remotely access the sensitive national security data of a government and could disrupt international financial transactions. The late 1990s witnessed the birth of academic and political interest in cyberterrorism.
In 1999, the Naval Post Graduate School prepared the first and to date most comprehensive research on cyberterrorism for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. In 2000, Japan implemented a Special Action Plan which defined cyberterror as “any attacks using information and communication networks and information systems that could have a significant impact on people’s lives and socio-economic activities.” (cited in Soesanto 2020).
The world is changing in an undisputedly speedy fashion. The political changes based on the shift of power dynamics in world politics, economic developments including the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies, technological innovations such as the tremendous impact of artificial intelligence tools and the impact of globalization on nation states’ sovereignty all play a major role in the transformation of security understanding in contemporary world.
Today’s security parameters are not similar to the ones that used to dominate the previous decades. Various different forms of security including human security and cybersecurity have come to the fore. Due to this fact, the governments, international organizations like the United Nations, big companies and even non-governmental organizations need to adapt their policies and structures to these newly-emerged security issues.
Guthrie, R., Hart, J., Kuhlau, F., & Simon, J. (2004). Chemical and biological warfare developments and arms control. SIPRI Yearbook, 659-696.
Nurhasanah, S, Napang, M, and Rohman, S. (2020). Covid-19 As a Non-Traditional Threat To Human Security, Journal of Strategic and Global Studies: Vol. 3: No. 1, Article 5.
Siripurapu A and Berman N. (2023). Cryptocurrencies, Digital Dollars, and the Future of Money, Council on Foreign Relations, available at https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/cryptocurrencies-digital-dollars-and-future-money (accessed on Oct. 25, 2023).
Soesanto, S (2020). Cyber Terrorism. Why it exists, why it doesn’t, and why it will, available at https://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/en/analyses/cyber-terrorism-why-it-exists-why-it-doesnt-and-why-it-will/ (accessed on Oct. 25, 2023).