The utopias of power: From human security to the responsibility to protect

In the last two decades, a normative frame has emerged that determines the approach to situations of state failure and that sets new priorities for intervention : a nonmilitary vision of security that displaces the processes of securitization into the social, economic, and physical environment—into “the patterns of daily life.” The discourse of human security is a discourse of intervention that focuses on individuals and populations. But it also applies to a set of techniques and a program of action implying various actors, state, international, private, and civil society, and several fields of activity, from military-humanitarian interventions to the negotiation of international treaties. Originating in the world of practitioners and international institutions in the mid-1990s, the idea and definitions of human security have been explored in well-funded research programs and by an academic community of policy advisors for agencies and states. However, social-science researchers who are not engaged in these networks of global governance seem unconcerned by and even ambivalent toward the blooming of the paradigm. Although for a long time now the idea of human security has interested only those convinced by its mandate, the large amount of writings and international programs dedicated to human security make it a rich source of analysis. Why, for example, is there a reformulation of needs and rights in terms of security ? How can we (re)think the political relation that is at the heart of any process of securitization ? How do human security projects frame techniques of population management in situations of emergencies ? How does the redefinition of security and emergency play within existing power relations at stake in situations of foreign interventions ?

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