Security and human rights based approach
In the fight against insecurity, state interest has been the overarching framework in the development of strategies. Decades later, with emerging security threats, should this be the case or should there be a paradigm shift in the approach?
Countries in the Horn of Africa continue to face several security challenges posed by among other factors, the proliferation of small arms, inter and intra ethnic conflicts, piracy, the rising terrorist activities and attacks in the region and the emergence of organized criminal groups.
All the foregoing factors have significantly contributed to, or even compounded, the challenge of enhancing security within the parameters of human rights and the rule of law. This is because in most occasions the resultant effects of insecurity include gross violations of human rights of the people by both state and non-state actors as well as the stagnation of progressive development in the region.
The links between security, development and human rights cannot be overlooked. This was aptly captured by the former Secretary General to the United Nations Kofi Annan when he stated thus:
‘We will not enjoy development without security, or security without development. But I also stress that we will not enjoy either without universal respect for human rights. Unless all these causes are advanced, none will succeed’.
Therefore as countries in the region develop strategies to counter insecurity challenges, they cannot afford to overlook the modern approach to security that emphasizes the security of people and the nonmilitary dimensions of security. Individual security must be the basis for national security.
The modern approach to security
The modern approach to security, commonly referred to as the human security approach, goes beyond the traditional notions of security to focus on such issues as development and respect for human rights. The traditional notions of security were based on the use of force to preserve vital interests, based on realism or power politics.
Human security implies protecting vital freedoms which protect people from critical and pervasive threats and situations while enhancing their strengths and aspirations. It also entails creating systems that give people the building blocks for survival, dignity and livelihood and hence it is closely tied to development. Human security embodies the idea that institutions, rules, regulations and procedures exist to serve individuals and communities and not vice versa.
Human security complements state security by being people-centered and addressing insecurities that traditionally were not considered state threats. It furthers human development and enhances protection of human rights which are at the core of promoting democracy.
Further, this approach offers the means to assess the root causes of insecurity, to propose adequate policies for resolving crises, and to provide the means for sustainable peace-building. In so doing, human security policies focus on social and economic issues as they affect the individual, arguing that security is dependent on a wide-ranging network of factors that require a comprehensive approach to be effective.
The consideration or application of the human security notion when coming up with strategies to counter challenges posed by insecurity would therefore necessarily entail assessing security from a human rights based approach.
Human rights based approach programming to security
Human rights based approach is the conscious and systematic integration of human rights and human rights principles in all aspects of programming/planning/policy formulation. It implies an effort to improve the situation of people, focusing on their needs, problems and potentials. It recognizes human beings as rights-holders and establishes obligations for duty-bearers to hence be people centered.
Human rights based programming entails an analysis of the local conditions of the most marginalized groups in society, and the underlying historical, political, economic, social and cultural causes of their limited realization of rights.
In HRBA programming, the process is equally important as the outcome because the nature of the process will inevitably determine the success, effectiveness and acceptance of the outcome. For instance, will the strategy of community policing achieve results where the community is not involved in the process of setting-up, where the community is not allowed to select their own representatives who would be liaising with the police, where there are no redress mechanisms in place for the community to report when aggrieved by the commissions or omissions of the police, where police patrols are only undertaken in urban centers discriminating peri-urban areas or where only men are the ones who participate in meetings with the police?
Well, not likely. Methodologies to combat security challenges should therefore be built integrally upon strategies of promoting and protecting human rights. The human rights programming process is guided by human rights principles of participation, non-discrimination, accountability, transparency, human dignity, rule of law and empowerment.
Human rights principles for programming
Human rights principles must be applied at all the main stages of the program intervention process. That is the assessment, analysis, planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation stage.
Participation: Involves as much as possible direct control, ownership and management by the people of public decision making. It should be inclusive, free and active and not subject to sanction or threat. It should involve reaching out to the most affected. To participate freely, all actors must be provided with full and complete information in media understood by them and in a timely manner. Participation of the people allows for use of indigenous knowledge which can be used as a guide during planning.
Accountability: This principle assists in focusing on increasing the capacity of duty-bearers, including governments, individuals, local organizations and authorities, private companies, aid donors and international institutions, to meet their obligations.
Non-discrimination: Address, as a priority, discrimination and protect vulnerable groups. Who is vulnerable here and now is a question to be answered on national and local levels. Ensure official data is disaggregated by race, religion, ethnicity, language, sex, migration, age and any other category of human rights concern.
Transparency: means that all public actions and decisions are visible, unhidden, clear and distinct. It requires that public documents, decisions, rules and regulations and processes are readily and freely accessible, contain complete information and are written in easily understandable language.
Human dignity: This is the fundamental value or worth of the human person. It recognizes that those most vulnerable to human deprivations include persons living in poverty, women, children, indigenous people, the elderly, persons with HIV, and persons with disabilities who need special measures and protection to overcome their vulnerability. For instance in a humanitarian intervention, vulnerabilities of the people need to be taken into account to ensure that measures in place correspond to their needs.
Empowerment: It acknowledges and respects people’s capacity to think and act freely for and on their own behalf to create solutions to address their own problems, control their own destinies and fulfil their potential.
Rule of Law: It is a fair and just legal framework coupled with impartial and effective implementation. This principle requires appropriate remedies and effective redress mechanisms. The principle affords those disadvantaged by or excluded or aggrieved the opportunity to seek redress.
HRBA programming steps in security
Applying human rights based approach programming (HRBAP) helps in answering four key questions:
Who has been left behind and why? (This question helps in framing who the claim holder is and the reasons resulting to him/her being left behind)
What are they entitled to? (This question helps in framing the claim (right) in question)
Who has to do something about it? (This question helps in framing who the duty bearer is)
What do they need to take action? (This question helps in framing capacity required by the duty bearer to take action)
To be able to apply HRBAP in practice there are three steps to follow which can also be applicable in a security context. Analyzing the context, the problems and the stakeholders involved is crucial for any rights based programming.
Step 1: Causality analysis
This is carried out by finding the causes of the problem through identifying the immediate, underlying and root causes. The problem tree approach is used in mapping out the problem. It is used to specify and investigate the causes and effects of a problem and to highlight the relationships between them.
Immediate causes are the most direct causes, which have a direct manifestation on individuals and households; underlying causes normally involve service delivery and behavior; and root causes include elements such as tradition, economic resources, ideology and cultural aspects. The results can then be used to formulate appropriate responses.
Illustration: Region X has over the years been facing an ethnic conflict between ethnic groups A and B. The manifestation of the conflict has been death and displacement of people. Using the problem tree what would be the immediate, underlying and root causes of this conflict? An immediate cause could be the civil unrest between ethnic groups A and B; an underlying cause could be the inequitable access to resources and political representation by ethnic groups A and B; and a root cause could be the lack of political will by the ruling elite comprising of members from ethnic group A or unaddressed historical injustices against ethnic group B.
Step 2: Stakeholder analysis: rights-holders / claim holder and duty-bearers
This step helps to identify the key claim and duty holders in the issue at hand. They are the main stakeholders of the programme. When identifying the rights-holders and duty-bearers it is important to be as specific as possible. This will be based on the causality analysis which will also help to focus on the most relevant claim holder and duty-bearers. The aim of a stakeholder analysis is to understand the characteristics, interests and expectations of the groups or individuals likely to be important in your intervention. In this way you find out who needs to do what. In terms of intervention, this step guides mapping out who to work with.
Illustration: Using the above thread who is the stakeholder in question under each cause? For underlying cause, the claim holder is members of the ethnic group B and the duty-bearer is the government representative in region X tasked with discharging national functions in the region.
Step 3: Capacity gap analysis
This is the step that analyzes missing the gaps in bringing about the problem. This is done by defining capacity gaps preventing the right holders from claiming their rights and for duty-bearers to be held accountable.
Reasons that may bring about capacity gaps include: lack of resources, lack of decision making capacity, lack of authority, lack of motivation and lack of equipment among others. The claim holders may lack necessary information to take appropriate action or they may lack resources required to claim their rights.
This step helps in guiding what should be put in place to remedy the situation such as a policy or legislation or a redress mechanism.
Illustration: Using the thread once again what capacities are lacking for the claim holder and duty-bearer that are causing the problem? For the duty-bearer it can be a lack of affirmative action policies or legislation that ensures equal distribution of resources while for the claim holder the gap could be a lack of appropriate redress mechanisms.
The emerging trends in security clearly indicate that an approach solely focusing on the deployment of the ‘full force of the law’ as the state response to insecurity is inadequate. Due to the presence of new actors and new thinking in the security field, there is need to broaden the focus from the state to the security of people since it is rather the people themselves than other states who present an imminent threat to security because what is at stake for them is their survival, dignity and livelihood to which they hold dearly.
Due to the foregoing therefore, a holistic approach that is people centered should be the most ideal for security challenges in the Horn of Africa region. A rights based approach to security provides the much needed platform for such an engagement. This is an opportunity for civil society actors, government and other non-state actors working in the field of security in the Horn of Africa to dialogue and come up with durable solutions.
Akademia Nanjala Wandibba
The author is a human rights lawyer by profession with over 10 years’ experience. Her interest is in the area of human rights, governance and human rights based approach. She has undertaken several trainings for government, United Nations staff and civil society organizations in Kenya in human rights based approach.
Kuvitus: Maippi Tapanainen
Center for Economic and Social Rights and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (2013). Rights Based Policy Monitoring: KNCHR Primer on Assessing Compliance with Economic and Social Rights Obligations.
Goldstein, Joshua (2004). International Relations. New York: Longman.
Kofi, Annan (2005). In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for all. United Nations General Assembly 26 May 2005.
Mudida, Robert (2008). The Security-Development Nexus: A Structural Violence and Human Needs Approach, in Kathrin Brockmann & Hans Bastian Hauck & Stuart Reigeluth (eds.): From Conflict to Regional Stability: Linking Security and Development. DGAP: Berlin.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2006). Frequently Asked Questions on a Human Rights Based Approach to Development Cooperation. New York and Geneva: United Nations.
Steenbergen, Victor (2011). Frontloading Human Rights: A Conceptual Framework for Building Budgets and Realising Rights. The Hague: Equalinrights.
Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission (2008). From Principle to Practice: Implementing the Human Rights Based Approach in Community Organizations. Melbourne, Victoria.