How Will Concerns For Security Shape Third World Countries?

The right to security of person is guaranteed by article 3 of the universal declaration of human rights-‘everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person’ and this is followed by, ‘no one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as established by law’. Despite the existence of such rights, as people become driven and controlled more by fear every day (as portrayed by Michael Moore in his movie on capitalism), the balance between individual civil liberties and public order or security seem to be tilted more in favour of the security of the general western public leading to civil liberties of individuals in developing countries being overlooked. New concerns for security and the blurring of definition between development and security have allowed western hegemonies to act as arbitrators without a system of accountability or transparency.


Globalisation has authorised the undermining of sovereignty via the instrument of right to protect leading to a form of neo-colonialism in the name of neo-liberal reforms as opposed to civilisation as it were before. Western hegemonies seem to be fighting to promote ideologies such as the rule of law and civil liberties but are failing to make decisions and work within the parameters of the enforcement of law; people are becoming more aware of the strategic interests of spoiler and outside groups in such interventionist measures rather than the focus being on MDGs. It is easy to criticise new security concerns only narrowing the idea down to military intervention in the name of security and the atrocities it has caused. It should be criticized. However the link between security and development, that is, the reason why there has been a shift in focus in the first place, should not be overlooked. On the contrary, they should be further defined to limit the measures that can be taken, so that there is some sense of accountability to be maintained within that framework, something similar to that of a consistent codified legal system.

With the current links between security and development being converged, anything can be done in the name of security which in turn is said to be done for the cause of development. Development and security have always been interlinked and it is not a new issue as Waddell mentions. The problem arises, as he mentions, when their roles within the realm of development are confused leading to geo-strategic security interests overtaking development projects. Since so much of security concerns have been focused on war on terrorism and military intervention for other pursuits, I will focus on the effects of military intervention and militarisation of aid to demonstrate the obvious ways in which these concerns are having a negative impact on development in third world countries. Finally, I will also use the most current example of what is happening in Libya to demonstrate some of my points.


After 9/11, the focus shifted from emergency relief for victims of the Asian earthquake in December 2004 and to prevent conflict in low income states to war on terror (in Afghanistan, Pakistan), and forcible disarming of states followed (invasion of Iraq).

EU aid has evidently become subservient to security goals and European agenda seem to be driven by foreign policy concerns despite commitments of the MDGs. The goals of aid have changed diverting donors to pursue their own security objectives rather than those which would help the poorest. For example, the increase in US aid has been used to serve the security imperatives as a consequence of 9/11. Collier in ‘Development and Conflict’ points out how the US aid package devoted too many resources to capital-intensive projects managed by foreign contractors and too little labour-intensive projects creating jobs for Iraqis. In fact, revenues from the sale of Iraqi oil were used to spend on quick-hitting projects by US commanders. The increased cost of funding wars on Afghanistan and Iraq also means lower funds for realising aid budgets. Instead of aid being used for development in its traditional sense without including security as it stand today, it is being used to sustain conflict. A perfect example to demonstrate why the focus should not be overtaken by security concerns would be from Ken Menkhaus’ article, where he mentions how the setup of a coca cola plant in Somalia diverted individuals from fighting in rebel groups by creating jobs for them to work in.

‘The problem with the current battle on terror plan is an overdeveloped military strategy and an underdeveloped strategy for human security’, mentions the 2005 Human Development Report. Fear for security has given way to fight wars in mostly poor countries even though Waddell raises the need for more evidence to show a link between poverty and conflict when the biggest terrorist groups are mostly well educated and do not come from abject poverty. The consequences of war and conflict as mentioned by Collier are that they undermine nutrition and public health, destroys education systems, devastates livelihoods and retards prospects for economic growth. External powers pursuing their own strategic goals, trading of weapons and the capture by narrow interest groups or spoilers are helping to sustain such conflict.

‘Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety’ - Benjamin Franklin 1759.
‘Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety’ – Benjamin Franklin 1759.

Collier suggests an increase in aid to conflict prone or post conflict states, greater transparency in resource management, cutting the flow of small arms, building regional capacity and building international coherence needs to exist to improve development goals. One of the most effective ways of addressing human development concerns posed by violent conflict is by supporting regional capacity. When considering regional capacity, one has to agree that military intervention thwarts the natural process of revolution within a country and therefore restraining its development.  Not only have we witnessed the failure of the intrusion in Afghanistan and Iraq but another case unfolding in front of our eyes is that of Libya.

‘We welcome a no-fly zone, but the blood of Libya’s dead will be wasted if the west curses our uprising with failed intervention’, this was one of the clearest views of the Libyan people I came across in an article titled ‘Libya is united in popular revolution – please don’t intervene’ in ‘The Guardian’. Muhammad min supports such measures that have been taken by the international community as barring Qaddafi from exile abroad, freezing his assets and referring his regime’s crimes to the international court of justice-examples of how security concerns can be dealt with without intrusion. However, he warns that any military intervention on the ground by any foreign force would be met with much harsher fighting. Nevertheless, he does criticises western countries being fearful of getting involved for their own interests in Libya while the revolution initially unfolded and ends on this note- ‘I’d like to send a message to western leaders: Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy. This is a priceless opportunity that has fallen into your laps, it’s a chance for you to improve your image in the eyes of Arabs and Muslims. Don’t mess it up. All your previous programmes to bring the east and the west closer have failed, and some of them have made things even worse. Don’t start something you cannot finish, don’t turn a people’s pure revolution into some curse that will befall everyone.’

This is also a clear demand to respect local institutions which are usually trampled over with the western world trying to assert its own policies in the land it intrudes. ‘Crises that at first glance appear to be a manifestation of a ‘conflict trap’ may in fact be in a state of evolution, with the potential to produce new social orders out of chaos. These social orders are almost invariably violent, exploitative and illiberal… However, they are orders, not anarchy, and their evolution may in some instances constitute the best chance a country or community has to emerge from the ruin of war …’ (Ken Menkhaus 2004:163)

The book ‘Beyond Terror’ argues that terrorism is not the greatest threat to world security and that the on-going ‘war on terror’ is in fact increasing the likelihood of more terrorist attacks. The authors identify four key trends as being the greatest threats to global security in the 21st century – climate change; competition over resources; marginalisation of the majority world and global militarisation. I would add to this list other concerns such as aid and poverty. Security is interlinked with development, but the concerns should not be driven by the connotations attached to the word security-it should not conclude to a need for immediate military intervention and armed forces; the focus needs to remain on the core developmental elements that can take people out of insecurities. New security concerns not only undermine the civil liberties of civilians in developing countries but rights such as privacy and liberty are becoming globally less valued to protect the greater public safety- then how are we establishing freedom from want and from fear? ‘Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” – Benjamin Franklin 1759.


Barrister Nadia Choudhury



1.     Collier, P. (2004) ‘Development and Conflict’ Centre for the Study of African Economies, Oxford University

2.     Menkhaus, Ken (2004) ‘Vicious circles and the security development nexus in Somalia’ Conflict, Security and Development 4(2)

3.     Woods, Ngaire “The shifting politics of foreign aid”, International Affairs 81, 2 (2005)


5.     Kaldor M., “American power: from `compellance’ to cosmopolitanism?” International Affairs, vol.79, no.1 (January 2003)

6.     Waddell, N. (2006) ‘Ties that Bind:  DfID and the emerging security and development agenda’ Conflict, Security and Development 6(4)


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