IEMed Mediterranean Yearbook 2006


Panorama : The Mediterranean Year


The Doctrine of Human Security in the Mediterranean

Pol Morillas

Fundació CIDOB, Barcelona

Eduard Soler i Lecha

Coordinator of the Mediterranean Program
Fundació CIDOB, Barcelona

Reviewing the Concept of Security

The doctrine of human security is gaining supporters. At a time when the topic is at the forefront of debates on security in the United Nations, a large part of the world-opinion supports its main postulates, even if it is just implicitely. Concurrently, Europe is making progress towards the establishment of a common foreign and defense policy. As of today, the EU is present in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia, at the border between Ukraine and Moldavia, as well as in Palestine’s occupied territories, just to mention some of its foreign missions. However, since the European Security Strategy (ESS) was introduced in 2003 by the EU Council, it is necessary to make a step forward in its implementation. In light of these processes, we need to ask ourselves whether the Union’s policies, and especially those affecting the Mediterranean, comply with the doctrine of human security.

Currently, the main threats as well as the definition of security that are accepted by citizens are no longer those affecting whole states, but those that concern human beings. The new wars are fought in areas where states fail and where new privatised forms of violence arise. In the past 100 years, for example, more people died in the hands of security forces of their own government than due to foreign troops. Moreover, over 95% of current armed conflicts take place within the states themselves. Whilst in the first world war, 92 out of 100 casualties were soldiers, the tendency has reversed with civilians now representing 90 % of the victims.

Therefore, the concept of security has to be revised by taking into account the new nature of the challenges in this topic. If current threats are neither purely military, nor can they be tackled solely through military means – as the ESS recognises -, in order to face contemporary global threats, there appears to be a need to solve the lack of security associated with the security measures traditionally adopted.

The concept of human security, made popular as a result of the 1994 UNDP Report on Human Development, fills this gap by moving the central focus of security from states to individuals and communities. It also takes into account the links between security and development. Currently, most of the world population -threatened by poverty, hunger and natural disasters – lives in unsafe conditions and lacks the necessary freedom and capacity to chose its own lifestyle. The policies carried out to fight against this represent what is usually defined as “freedom from want”. This definition goes beyond the more restrictive concept of human security based on “freedom from fear”, on which this text will be based.  

Mary Kaldor, in the report “A Human Security Doctrine for Europe”, suggested a total of seven principles on which a human security policy for Europe should be based. Amongst these principles the following stand out : the primacy of human rights – taking into account that this is the concept that distinguishes state-centred security from security that is based on the premise of the responsibility to protect -; the establishment of a clear political authority; multilateralism – or the primacy of international legal order -; the bottom-up approach – which takes into consideration the needs of local populations -; and, finally, the need to focus security not only on the states, but also on the regions to which these states belong.

The Implementation in the Mediterranean

At this point, it is worth analysing whether the doctrine of human security is present in the design and implementation of the European Union’s foreign policy in  the Mediterranean . On the one hand, one must acknowledge that the introduction of a focus on human security in the Mediterranean – but not only in this region – would allow the EU to show its commitment to global security, especially considering that Europeans cannot feel safe in an interdependent world where most of the international population lives under conditions of severe insecurity. On the other hand, the analysis of Europe’s current foreign policies in the region should allow us to verify whether the approach to security in the Mediterranean is alreadyanapproach based “de facto” on the premises of the human security doctrine.

The ESS identifies global threats that are particularly relevant to the Mediterranean. In specific, the Strategy recognises that, at a time when there are more diverse threats, as well as less obvious and more unpredictable ones, the strategic objectives now include creating coherent policies at a regional scale and promoting an international order based on effective multilateralism. Similarly, it recognises the need to promote good governance to fight against institutional weaknesses of States, to establish the supremacy of law and the need to protect human rights.

In our analysis of current policies tailored for the Mediterranean, we will concentrate on the Union’s foreign relations (see the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the new European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)), the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the European Security and Defense Policy ( ESDP), as well as the foreign policies of the Union’s member states. In all cases we will observe to what extent they respond to the doctrine of human security.

Regarding the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership we must note, in the first place, that although it is divided in three main sectors (political and security sector; economic and social sector; and human sector), both the members of the Barcelona Process and its analysts are aware of the links between them. Hence, when the EU approaches the defense and security problem in the Mediterranean, it does so whilst taking into account political, economic and social factors. Regarding more specific issues, we observe that one of the original features of the 1995 Barcelona Declaration is that it assigned a significant role to civil society within Euro-Mediterranean relations, as was recently made clear in the Barcelona Summit. In the Barcelona Summit, representatives from the non-governmental platform were able to address their issues to the Euro-Mediterranean leaders. Dialogue with civil society represents, in fact, a fundamental aspect of the doctrine of human security. Moreover, we can confirm that some of the most recent advances in Euro-Mediterranean relations take into account the evolution of the security concept. Let’s take , for example, the code of conduct introduced in the 2005 Barcelona Summit to confront terrorism; this code of conduct specifies that the need to fight against terrorism cannot undermine citizens’ fundamental rights, the defense of which represents another of the fundamental elements safeguarded by the doctrine of human security. Moreover, the work program, that was also introduced in Barcelona, mentions the areas where it is necessary to intensify cooperation with regard to security and defense. These are:  prevention of conflicts, crisis-management, civil protection and prevention of natural catastrophes. All these threats affect more the security of citizens than that of states.

In the last few years, a new policy was added to the EU foreign policy toward the Mediterranean: the European Neighbourhood Policy. One of the main features of this policy is its bilateral character, as it develops on the basis of different Action Plans per countries. In order to analyse the extent to which the concept of human security penetrated the ENP, we have to examine these  Action Plans as well as the documents indicating the general direction taken by this policy. The European Commission Strategy Paper of May 2004, mentions on several occasions that the Neighbourhood Policy’s aim involves the resolution of conflicts. With respect to the Action Plans, these appear to direct judicial and control measures mainly towards the protection of citizens. Whilst analysing these plans, it is interesting to notice the change of approach depending on whether it concerns a Mediterranean country or one from the ex-Soviet area. Security issues are elaborated in more detail in former Soviet countries, while there are some significant omissions in the case of the Mediterranean Neighbours. For example, although the Action Plan for Moldavia includes a section on the resolution of the Transnistrian conflict, in the Moroccan case there is no reference of the Saharan conflict. So, there is still a long way to go in terms of security and in terms of integrating human security in the Union’s new policy.

Concerning the CFSP, and in particular the ESDP, 2005 represents a point of inflection with regards to their implication in the Mediterranean region. The European foreign policy has always been active in this region (presence of a special representative, the participation in the Quartet, etc.), but the EU security forces have never been deployed before on the Southern Mediterranean shore. In Autumn, the EU decided to start-up two operations, one of border-control in Rafah (between Gaza and Egypt) and the other to collaborate with the police reform in the Palestinian territories (mission known as EUPOL COPSS, which should continue up to December 2008). The latter shows the importance that the Union assigns to not having an exclusively military perspective of security and to the need to consolidate a clear, legitimate and effective policy.

In order to conclude this review of the European foreign policy towards the Mediterranean, it is necessary to briefly refer to the States’ foreign policies. The Mediterranean saw new initiatives coming to light after being suggested by particular countries; once again, these new initiatives aim for human security. At the end of the 90’s Italy and Egypt presented a proposal to tackle natural catastrophes. Spain and Morocco also intensified their cooperation within the judicial sphere, as well as in the field of control and defense, through their joint work during a United Nations mission in Haiti. In these three cases it is clear that the citizen is acquiring importance as an object of protection for the States involved. Moreover, in the case of Haiti, the commitment of Madrid and Rabat to multilateralism was highlighted, as represented by their involvement in the United Nations. As in the case of the Euro-Mediterranean Association, of the Neighbourhood Policy, of the CFSP and the ESDP, the countries’ foreign policies there is still a long way to go.  


The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the ENP will have to engage explicitely in human security matters, because this approach could point out new ways to confront the threats arising in this region in an effective and sustainable way. In specific, Action Plans should promote measures in the direction of human security; moreover, all efforts to revive the old project of the Charter for Peace and Security in the Mediterranean should take into account the transformation brought about in the concept of security in recent years. In addition, the EU, in its efforts to be recognised as an important international actor, should strengthen the ESDP, which is still in development. In conclusion, without the mutual support between both areas – the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and the Neighbourhood Policy on the one hand and European security and defense on the other – it will be difficult to confront the threats posed to security in the Mediterranean with success.

All these issues cannot be left as a mere declaration, but must be put into practice. The document entitled A Human Security Doctrine for Europe can be used as a point of reference, as it is a good effort to lay out possible lines of implementation of the ESS. Upon analysis of both texts, it is clear that the most useful approach is not proceeding with the strict application of the doctrine of human security in Europe, but to fully put the 2003 strategy and all its potential in practice. The challenges are more a matter of individual political intentions than lack of instruments. The proper application of the ESS would help us highlight the options available for focusing the foreign policy of the EU – especially toward the Mediterranean region – in line with the postulates of a doctrine of human security.