Human Security in Southeast Asia: Viable Solution or Empty Slogan?

This article explores the concept of human security and its relevance to the discourse and management of security in Southeast Asia. It examines whether the human security concept is applicable in the management of internal conflicts in that region, such as the conflict currently taking place in southern Thailand. The article argues that human security will have limited applicability in dealing with internal conflicts in Southeast Asia because of the huge gaps between what governments and other groups within Southeast Asian societies regard as threats. Nevertheless, the concept contributes to our understanding of the complex root causes of violence and illustrates links between human insecurity and conflict. The article concludes that the future usefulness of human security in efforts to manage internal conflict in Southeast Asia will depend on whether the analysis of specific situations incorporates a thorough understanding of the unique relationships between government and other groups, as manifested in the ‘ASEAN Way’, within the localities in question.