Sustaining human security: Social cohesion, identity and human rights

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Babacan, Alperhan and Babacan, Hurriyet (2007) Sustaining human security: Social cohesion, identity and human rights. International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability , 3. pp. 1-9. ISSN 1832-2077


The advent of ‘globalised terrorism’ in the wake of September 11 has resulted in the adoption of ‘defensive’ counter terrorism measures nationally and offensive military action internationally. These measures have however, come at a high cost: under the guise of ‘national security’, national counter terrorism measures have been accompanied by an erosion of civil liberties, freedoms and human rights which were traditionally associated with western democracies. On the international front, pre-emptive war as a measure of counter terrorism has undermined international law and the human security approach advanced in the 1990s. In this paper, we argue that the erosion of civil liberties and pre-emptive war are directed at preserving the global economic and political order and are thus part and parcel of the process of globalisation. Both measures not only fail to tackle the root causes of global terrorism but will continue to add to greater human insecurity through their respective ‘coercive’ and ‘destructive’ impact. In Australia, the public discourses relating to terrorism have been strongly linked with the process of creating ‘the other’ as ‘the threat’. The way the debates have been deliberately handled has led to the creation of suspicion of those who are deemed to be different. The “Be Alert, Not Alarmed” campaign has reinforced the element of fear and risk in the neigbourhoods, communities and localised public spaces in unprecedented ways. Furthermore, some of the discourses surrounding counter terrorism have become conjoined with asylum policy and law and order issues (e.g. Lebanese gang rapes, Cronulla riots). The discussion and debates have been interwoven with issues relating to Australian values and national identity and have ultimately reinforced particular types of patriotism. There has been a deliberate attempt to create a unique and homogenous national identity that attempts to unite some parts of the community while excluding others. The new forms of patriotism that have emerged are racialised and draw boundaries of inclusion and exclusion. Who is an Australian, what are Australian values, who makes up the ‘Aussie battler’ and what is ‘unAustralian’ have been redefined and have had significant consequences for those who are included and excluded. Protecting the nation from terrorism has come at a high cost and poses a threat to social sustainability: trading of civil liberties in return for increased security measures, deterioration of human rights, rendering traditionally ‘at risk’ communities as ‘the risk’, social exclusion of some segments of society, greater insecurity at the community level and depletion of social capital. Thus, there is an urgent need to adopt a ‘new vision’ of national and global security that effectively addresses globalised terrorism from a human security perspective and simultaneously upholds established rights and freedoms. Recent developments in this area are selectively reviewed and the difficulties associated with securing a consensus on the adoption of a ‘new vision’ of security to achieve a more socially sustainable and inclusive and socially cohesive Australia are outlined.

Item type Article
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > SEO Classification > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Institute for Community, Ethnicity and Policy Alternatives (ICEPA)
Keywords ResPubID13573, globalised terrorism, defensive counter terrorism, national counter terrorism, erosion of civil liberties, pre-emptive war, national identity, community exclusion, human rights
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