Qu’est-ce qu’est la sécurité ?

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Security for Buzan

La sécurité comme concept et comme objet d’études est relativement neuve. Pendant longtemps elle a été considérée comme synonyme de la défense. Toutefois, avec la fin de la Guerre Froide grâce à l’œuvre séminale de Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear, elle a commencé à être considérée comme étant différente de la défense et des affaires militaires.

Marianne Stone, assistante de recherche au GEEST introduit les grandes lignes de l’approche de Buzan.

What is security ?

Security as a concept and a topic of inquiry is relatively new. For longtime it has been considered as synonymous with defense. However, with the end of the Cold War, thanks to Barry Buzan’s seminal work People, States and Fear, it started to be seen as different from defense and military affairs.

Marianne Stone, research assistant at GEEST introduces the great lines of Buzan’s approach to security.

Security is taken to be about the pursuit of freedom from threat and the ability of states and societies to maintain their independent identity and their functional integrity against forces of change, which they see as hostile. The bottom line of security is survival, but it also reasonably includes a subtstantial range of concerns about the conditions of existence. Quite where this range of concerns ceases to merit the urgency of the “security” label (which identifies threats as significant enough to warrant emergency action and exceptional measures including the use of force) and becomes part of everyday uncertainties of life is one of the difficulties of the concept’ Barry Buzan,” New Patterns of Global Security in the Twenty-first Century” International Affairs, 67.3 (1991), pp. 432-433.

The question of security has long since preoccupied the minds of International Relationists. The traditional concept of security with the state as the main referent has been up for extensive debate. The realist view of security where it is seen as a “derivative of power” reduces the complex concept of security to a mere “synonym for power” . This view could be considered relevant during the period of the World Wars, where states seemed to be in a constant struggle for power. However, in the post-Cold War era, the concept of Security has become much more multifaceted and complex. In his book, People, States and Fear, Barry Buzan points out that the concept of security was “too narrowly founded” , his goal was to, therefore, offer a “broader framework of security” incorporating concepts that were not previously considered to be part of the security puzzle such as regional security, or the societal and environmental sectors of security. Buzan’s approach is more holistic ; and while he primes his analysis with neorealist beliefs such as anarchy, the depth of his analysis is constructivist in that he does not accept the given, but rather explores each element of what he considers to be the security package one by one in order to arrive at a more informed conclusion.

Buzan’s approach is an interesting one as he looks at security from all angles going from micro to macro, also addressing the social aspects of security and how people or societies construct or “securitize” threats. Traditionally belonging to the English School, which can be considered a more pluralistic take on International Relations, Buzan is somewhat of an independent thinker and a reformer. Read the full text, download at PDF format.

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