Global Security in the Twenty-first Century


Life is of greater value than material (Burtzlaff, 2018). Politicians and citizens highly prioritize it and believe that it can be protected consistently through "safety and security". According to Reiner et al. (2012), safety and security denote good policing, emergency services, disaster preparedness and response that can make the communities to prosper. Bakrania (2014) concurs with Reiner et al. and adds that safety and security are priorities for poor people and are associated with development outcomes, including the prevention of violent conflict, accountable and effective states, economic growth and service delivery.

This entails that there are considerable conditions necessary for human development, improved quality of life and enhanced productivity. Formally only endorsed by countries and enshrined in their constitutions as fundamental human rights, safety and security are now among such issues that are considered of higher importance by organization, individuals in addition to the state (Oakes, 2009). The safety and security concepts are understood differently by different scholars and their discussions will be expounded in details in this paper.

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On a slightly different note, this paper recognizes that the two concepts interact somehow. The explanations by the scholars of their relationship will be discussed in this paper as well.

Safety and security are different in the way they are defined. Generally, safety and security have been known over the years from the state perspective. As Oakes (2009), points out, safety from the state perspective is known as public safety. He defined it as the general welfare and protection of the public from various dangers affecting persons, property, and collective well-being.

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These entail that the state has the duty to protect people from natural disasters such as; floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and typhoons. CSP (2015) also defines safety as mainly the state of an area and as determined based on the real and perceived risk of victimization. The definition discloses that it is in the state's capacity to provide safety measures for citizens to follow so that they can be protected from certain circumstances. The state must be prepared for eventualities in case unanticipated dangers happen without warning or people fall victims.

In the same vein of state perspective, security is defined by Buzan (1991), as 'the pursuit of freedom from threat and the ability of states and societies to maintain their independent identity and their functional integrity against forces of change, which they see as hostile. This is traditional security and its threats are against the essential values of the state, territorial integrity, and political sovereignty. This demonstrates that the measure for traditional security rests with the 'state' as a referent object. This means that the state is always secure unless it in conflict with other states. Thomas Hobbes in Jackson-Preece (2011), talks of the importance of state security by reminding us that, without security 'there is no place for industry· no arts, no letters, no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short'. According to Hobbes, Security of the state is everything and its provision is the key task of political institutions. Where political institutions are effective, protection conditions against planned, malicious and criminal incidents from a wide range of threats is guaranteed (Albrechtsen, 2003).

In the modern world, things have greatly changed. Safety has now taken a broader range of understanding. Pearsall & Hanks (2001), defines it as the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk or injury. The definition is open. It does not point at the state as the provider of safety. FAASSH (2000), provides that safety management be based on the behavior of people and the organizational culture where everyone has a responsibility for safety and should participate in safety management efforts. Apart from this, (GSSR, 2010) argues the management of industries is advised to provide safety briefing to all staff members focusing in particular on the rules applying to the site and the specific risks identified. GSSR also provides that even individuals should set up their own precautions when doing something. This shows how complex safety is in the contemporary world.

On a similar note, changes have happened to security. Since the end of cold war, security provision is no more the responsibility of the state alone nor is state the referent object alone. There is an extension to how security was understood. According to Rothschild (1995), the concept of security is extended from nations to individuals (groups and individuals), international systems (supranational physical environment) and biosphere. Agreeing with Rothschild, Lasicov? (2006), calls the extension as levels. He further argues that security was directing attention to other areas of social life, such as; economic, societal, environmental, energy or information. The social life extension is supported by Baldwin (1997), who also adds such issues as human rights, drug traffic, epidemics, crime, or social injustice to the list and suggest security is giving high priority to them. While some people who are better-off can distance themselves from some security threats, they share others equally with the poor (incurable disease, natural disasters, nuclear war), and create some new ones for themselves (Buzan, 1991). Hence, security is not only perceived from a singular point of view the 'state', but from several essential views.

Many scholars have admitted that safety and security are different concepts mainly by their definitions. However, they also admit that from these definitions, some similarities can be found. Firesmith (2003), defines safety as the degree to which accidental harm is prevented, detected, and reacted to. When this happens, the state of being "safe" is attained. The attainment of safety does not leave aside security concept which is defined as the degree to which malicious harm is prevented, detected, and reacted to (Firesmith, 2003). All the two concepts deal with prevention, detection and reaction. Albrechtsen (2003), support the idea and think industrial safety and security are the same since they both protect assets from hazards/threats creating safe/secure conditions. Another similarity between security and safety is that they are both expressed around the risk impression (Ludovic & Claude, n.d.). Oakes (2009), while concurring with the Ludovic & Claude similarity, believes security which addresses the risk of harm due to intentional criminal acts such as assault, burglary or vandalism security is also known as social safety or public safety. Above all, it is important to note that people's security will always be assessed by the situation of a safe environment.

In conclusion, while the concept of safety and security does not exist in a political vacuum, there are extensions to them in the modern world. Safety and Security deserve similar consideration despite being developed with a certain degree of rivalry between them. All in all, it is no longer possible to be truly safe without also being secure.


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Burtzlaff, P., 2018. CBM Safety and Security Policy and Guiding Framework Tools and Standards. CBM International. Global Health, Safety & Security Unit

Buzan, B., 1991. New Patterns of Global Security in the Twenty-first Century. International Affairs, 67.3, pp. 432-433

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Reiner, J., Budel, R., Cleverle, M., Kadochniko, N., 2012. The value of smarter public safety and security: Reducing threats, increasing efficiency, delivering prosperity. New York. IBM Corporation

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The Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP), 2015. White Paper on Safety and Security. Pretoria. Retrieved on 29/04/2019

Updated: May 19, 2021
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Global Security in the Twenty-first Century. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

Global Security in the Twenty-first Century essay
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