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It is, therefore, particularly important to ask what the idea of human security can add to these well-established ideas, particularly human development. I say with a declaration of interest and involvement, since I worked closely with Mahbub ul Haq, and among other things, helped him to devise the now much-used Human Development Index HDI. In particular, the human development approach has helped to shift the focus of developmental attention away from an overarching concentration on the growth of inanimate objects of convenience, such as commodities produced reflected in the gross domestic product or the gross national product , to the quality and richness of human lives, which depend on a great many influences, of which commodity production is only one.

Some of these concerns are indeed reflected in the HDI, which has served as something of a flagship of the human development approach, but the human development approach as a whole is much broader than what can be encapsulated into one numerical index of the HDI. The wide range and long reach of the human development perspective have motivated a vast literature, with increasing informational coverage of different aspects of human lives.

Part of the reason is that, the more we put into one index or one approach, the less becomes the weights that can be placed on the other elements to which the index or the approach also caters. For example, the HDI is just one number, and if we want it take note of violence as well, then the relative focus on other factors already included — life expectancy, education, avoidance of economic penury — would to that extent weaken.

We can certainly include the overcoming of violence and insecurity within the broad picture of human development, but if we want to do justice to each of the concerns that we include within one perspective, then we need to pay some special attention to each of them, rather than seeing each merely as a part of a very large whole. The idea of human development has an especially buoyant quality, since it is concerned with progress and augmentation. It is, as it were, out to conquer fresh territory on behalf of enhancing human lives, and for that reason perhaps far too upbeat to focus on rearguard actions needed to secure features of our lives that have to be safeguarded.

This is where the notion of human security becomes particularly relevant. Human security demands protection from these dangers and also calls for the empowerment of people so that they can cope with and overcome — and when possible prevent — the incidence and reach of these hazards.

Liberal democracy and the path to peace and security

There is a contrast there with both human development and national security: violence and other sources of human insecurity demand more systematic attention than they have so far tended to get. It also makes all of us worry and fret and wonder, in trying to understand what we ourselves observe and what we can learn from reading others, and what we could possibly add of our own, if we only knew how.

Questions of violence and insecurity are omnipresent in the world around us. If peace is in our dreams, war and violence are constantly in our eyes and ears. The terrible toll of human insecurity is recognized across the world. However, two particular lines of theorizing have come to receive much more attention than most others.

One approach is primarily cultural and social, and often focuses on such concepts as identity, tradition and civilisation. The other is largely economic and political, and tends to focus on poverty, inequality and deprivation. I would argue that it is a mistake to look for ready-made reasons for remedying economic injustice so as to appeal even to those who are, for whatever reason, not revolted by injustice itself and yet hate — or are terrified of — the threat of violence.

That line of reasoning can lead to many different theories, some more sophisticated than others. It is perhaps remarkable that the particular cultural theory that has become the most popular in the world today is also perhaps also the crudest. It is the intrinsic hostility among civilisations that make them prone, it is argued in this high theory, to clash with each other.

However, more knowledge of each other can generate understanding rather than greater hostility.

It is through this huge oversimplification that the job of understanding diverse human beings of the world is metamorphosed, in this rugged approach to humanity, into looking at the different civilisations: personal differences are then seen as if they must be parasitic on civilisational contrasts. In our normal lives, we see ourselves as members of a variety of groups — we belong to all of them. There is no reason to think that whatever civilisational identity a person has — religious, communal, regional, national or global — must invariably dominate over every other relation or affiliation a person may have.

The engineering takes mostly the form of fomenting and cultivating alienated perceptions of differences. I recollect from my own childhood in immediately pre-independent India, how the Hindu-Muslim riots suddenly erupted in the s, linked with the politics of partition, and the speed with which the broad human beings of summer were suddenly transformed, through ruthless cultivation of communal alienation, into brutal Hindus and fierce Muslims of the winter. And yet it can also be effectively resisted through a broader understanding of the richness of human identities.

Our disparate associations may divide us in particular ways, and yet there are other identities, other affiliations, that defy any particular division. A Hutu who is recruited in the cause of chastising a Tutsi is also a Rwandan, and an African, possibly a Kigalian, and indubitably a human being — identities that the Tutsis also share. Socially and culturally anchored theories are not wrong in noting that people can be made to fight each other through incitement to violence across some divisive classification, but when that happens, we have to look for explanations of why and how the instigations occur, and how that one identity is made to look like the only one that matters.

The process of such cultivated violence cannot really be seen simply as something like the unfolding of human destiny. These countries are not only very different, but are in some conflicted relation with each other. A clearer understanding comes not only from the visions of insightful writers, but also in more mundane ways from the thoughts of very ordinary people.

It is that understanding that the instigators want to break down, and here the powerful voice of the more insightful can give us all a determination that we may not find it easy to sustain. When Mahatma Gandhi moved around, unarmed and completely unprotected, through the riot-torn districts during the violence of Indian partition, he was not only bringing new ideas to some.

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He was also helping to build greater determination of those whose own ideas matched, perhaps in a somewhat vague form, his own, but who did not have quite the courage and defiant confidence that Gandhi brought to them. The violence of solitarist identity can have a tremendously varying reach.

Regional presence

Indeed, the obsession with religions and so-called civilisations based primarily on religious differences has been so strong in contemporary global politics that there is a strong tendency to forget how other lines of identity divisions have been exploited in the past — indeed not so long ago — to generate very different types of violence and war, causing millions of deaths.

The identity that was championed then was that of nationalism, with the huge patriotic fervour it generated. My friend, you will not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old lie: Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori. The Germans, the French and the British mix with each other in peace and tranquillity and sit together to decide what to do in their continent without reaching for their gun. What about the other approach, the one of political economy?

This line of reasoning sees poverty and inequality as the root causes of violence. It is not hard to see that the injustice of inequality can generate intolerance and that the suffering of poverty can provoke anger and fury. There is clearly much plausibility in seeing a connection between violence and poverty. For example, many countries have experienced — and continue to experience — the simultaneous presence of economic destitution and political strife. From Afghanistan and Sudan to Somalia and Haiti, there are plenty of examples of the dual adversities of deprivation and violence faced by people in different parts of the world.

Given that co-existence, it is not at all unnatural to ask whether poverty kills twice — first through economic privation , and second through political carnage. In looking for such underlying causes, the economics of deprivation and inequity has a very plausible claim to attention. The belief that the root of discontent and disorder has to be sought in economic destitution has been fairly widely favoured by social analysts, in their attempt to look beyond the apparent and the obvious.

Those trying to eradicate poverty in the world are, naturally enough, tempted to invoke the apparent causal connection that ties violence to poverty, to seek the support of even those who are not moved by poverty itself. There has, in fact, been an increasing tendency in recent years to argue in favour of policies of poverty removal on the ground that this is the surest way to prevent political strife and turmoil.

Basing public policy — international as well as domestic — on such an understanding has some evident attractions. It provides a politically powerful argument for allocating more public resources and efforts on poverty removal because of its presumed political rewards, taking us much beyond the direct moral case for doing this. Given the visibility and public anxiety about wars and disorders, the indirect justification of poverty removal — not for its own sake but for pursuing peace and quiet — has become, in recent years, a dominant part of the rhetoric of fighting poverty.

While the temptation to go in this direction is easy to appreciate, the difficulty here lies in the possibility that if the causal connection proves to be not quite robust, then economic reductionism would not only have impaired our understanding of the world, but would also tend to undermine the declared rationale of the public commitment to remove poverty.

This is a particularly serious concern, since poverty and massive inequality are terrible enough in themselves to provide ample reason for working for their removal — even if they did not have any further ill effects through indirect links. Just as virtue is its own reward, poverty is at least its own punishment. To look for some ulterior reason for fighting poverty through its effects on violence and conflict may make the argument apparently broader with a larger reach, but it can also make the reasoning much more fragile.

The temptation to summon economic reductionism may be sometimes effective in helping what we may see as a right cause and may even have the arguably agreeable feature of catering to our frailty in giving us satisfaction from frightening the ethically obtuse by threatening them with the danger of bloody violence , but it is basically an unsound way to proceed and can indeed be seriously counterproductive for political ethics. The claim that poverty is responsible for group violence is empirically much too crude both because the linkage of poverty and violence is far from universally observed, and because there are other social factors that are also associated with poverty and violence.

Indeed, in serious crimes, the poor city of Calcutta has the lowest incidence among all the Indian cities. The average incidence of murder in the 35 cities of India is 2. The rate is 0. It also applies to crime against women, the incidence of which is very substantially lower in Calcutta than in all other major cities in India.

In , Paris had a homicide rate of 2. Calcutta does, of course, have a long distance to go to eradicate poverty and to put its material house in order. It is important to remember that the low crime rate does not make those nasty problems go away. And yet there is something important to note — and even to celebrate — in the recognition that poverty does not inescapably produce violence, independently of political movements as well as social and cultural interactions. There are also many other social and cultural features that are undoubtedly relevant in understanding the relation between poverty and crime.

For example, in trying to understand the high rates of violent crime in South Africa, it would be hard to overlook the connection with the legacy of apartheid. The linkage involves not only the inheritance of racial confrontation, but also the terrible effects of separated neighbourhoods and families that were split up for the economic arrangements that went with the philosophy of apartheid. But it would not be easy to explain why the belated attempts to generate mixed communities have also had the immediate effect of fostering crime committed within the newly mixed neighbourhoods in South Africa.

Perhaps the legacy of a long history can only be wiped out rather slowly. It does, however, seem fairly clear that the tendency to see a universal and immediate link between poverty and violence would be very hard to sustain. There is certainly a more complex picture that lies beyond the alleged straightforwardness of the poverty-violence relationship.

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For example, the prevailing politics of Calcutta and of West Bengal, which is very substantially left of centre, has tended to concentrate on deprivation related to class and, more recently, to uses and abuses of political power. That political focus, which is very distinct from religion and religion-based community, has made it much harder to exploit religious differences for instigating riots against minorities, as has happened, with much brutality, in some Indian cities, for example Bombay or Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Calcutta did have its full share of Hindu-Muslim riots related to the partition of India, which were rampant across the subcontinent. But over many decades later, there have been no such riots in this large city, unlike in many other urban conglomerates in India. Indeed, the whole sectarian agenda of cultivating communal divisiveness seems to have got substantially overturned by new political and social priorities that dominate the city.

In the recognition of plural human identities, the increased concentration on class and other sources of economic disparity has made it very hard to excite communal passions and violence in Calcutta along the lines of a religious divide — a previously cultivated device that has increasingly looked strangely primitive and raw. The minorities, mainly Muslims and Sikhs, have had a sense of security in Calcutta that they have not always been able to enjoy in Bombay or Ahmedabad or Delhi.


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The more general point here is that an understanding of multiplicity of our identities can be a huge force in combating the instigation of violence based on a singular identity — particularly religious identity which is the dominant form of cultivated singularity in our disturbed world today. For example, the violent history of Afghanistan cannot be unrelated to the poverty and indigence that the population have experienced, and yet to reduce the causation of violence there entirely to this singular economic observation would be to miss out the role of the Taliban and the politics of religious sectarianism and extremism.

We must try to understand the different interconnections that work together, and often kill together. We need some investigative sophistication to understand what part is played by the economic components in the larger structure of an interactive social framework. There is, of course, no dearth of evidence of conflicts and confrontations in economies with a good deal of poverty and much inequality.

But, at the same time, there are also other economies with no less poverty or inequality that seem to stay deeply and inertly sunk just in economic hardship, without generating serious political turbulence. Poverty can co-exist with peace and apparent tranquillity, and the causal reasoning linking poverty to violence has gaps that need to be acknowledged. Impoverishment can, of course, yield provocation to defy the established laws and rules, but it need not give people the initiative, courage and actual ability to do anything particularly violent. The emaciated victims of deprivation can be too frail and too dejected to fight and battle, and even to protest and holler.

It is not surprising that intense suffering and inequity has often been accompanied by astonishing peace and deafening silence. For example, the famine years in the s in Ireland were among the most peaceful, and there was little attempt by the hungry masses to intervene even as ship after ship sailed down the river Shannon laden with food, carrying it away from starving Ireland to well-fed England, by the pull of market forces the English had more money to buy meat, poultry, butter and food items than the blighted Irish had.

As it happens, the Irish do not have an exceptional reputation for excessive docility, and yet the famine years were, by and large, years of order and peace. London not only got away with extreme misgovernance of Ireland, they did not even have to face the violence of Irish mobs even though the Irish famines had the largest share of mortality in total population among all the famines for which data exist. Indeed, the memory of injustice and neglect had the effect of severely alienating the Irish from Britain, and contributed greatly to the violence that characterized Anglo-Irish relations over more than a century and a half.

Economic destitution may not lead to an immediate rebellion, but it would be wrong to presume from this that there is no connection between poverty and violence.

Peace and Democratic Society - 1. Why Do Respect and Understanding Matter? - Open Book Publishers

By committing voluntarily against personal or interfaith attacks, physical violence or intimidation, political parties take responsibility to prevent violence, in particular during electoral campaigns, and lay the basis for democratic dialog 4. In Nigeria, HSD also assisted the National Peace Committee in its prevention activities and contributed to an agreement among the presidential elections candidates, which is now being updated for Supporting democratic and peaceful elections: SDC activities and risk management.

Also for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC , elections are an important pillar of a wider agenda supporting democratic processes. It is a moment when citizens can hold their political representatives accountable and when power can be redistributed.

Inclusive, transparent elections, free from violence and fear are important conditions to meet these expectations. SDC is aware that elections can bear the risk to divide a society and stir up violent conflict along ethnic, regional or political lines. In order to make an informed decision on if and how to engage in election support, it recommends starting with a careful political risk analysis.

It also adapts its existing cooperation programs accordingly.

SDC engages in different ways in its electoral support. It supports election commissions in their function to conduct well-managed elections. For example in Macedonia, SDC continued to engage in election assistance in the context of the political crisis ; via the expertise of International IDEA, an intergovernmental organization supporting electoral processes worldwide, it supported the use of an Election Risk Management Tool by the State Election Commission in order to anticipate risks and design prevention strategies.

Support to civil society and media are other typical support strategies; SDC trains journalists to provide fact-based information. It promotes a conflict-sensitive approach in media, for example in Mali, which should avoid inflaming already tense situations.

Reflect. Advise. Engage.

It supports civil society organizations, for example during the elections in Myanmar, in informing citizens about the election process and the significance of broad and peaceful participation. It further supports civil society platforms conducting domestic election observation. This is important to enhance the legitimacy of the election process.

Since , SDC contributes to development in Cambodia especially since the opening of a cooperation office in The supported projects focus on capacity development of parliamentary and sub-national administrations; their ultimate goals are improved service delivery, effective local economic development councils, accountable authorities and in fine a more peaceful society. After the forced dissolution of the political opposition party in November , SDC decided to cut all support to the election cycle but it wished to stay engaged with adaptations in its LGCP program.

Its conflict sensitive approach is now strengthened to ensure that activities do not expose beneficiaries and partners to political risks, but also to make sure funds are not misused for partisan purposes. Programmes implemented through the Royal Government of Cambodia are reduced to a minimum, but still to an extent that allows to keep an open door for policy dialogue and promote Human Rights.