Edited by Hugh Dyer and Maria Julia Trombetta
For a long period ‘security’ was both a central, yet extraordinarily underdeveloped, concept in International Relations. Critical scholarly attention really dates from the pioneering work of Barry Buzan (1983). Since then varying security perspectives have proliferated. Environmental security became the subject of a long-running debate and the 1994 UN Human Development Report introduced the people-centred approach of human security (Dalby 2009). It is now commonplace not only to emphasize national border security, but also refer to food security, water security, and other ‘sectoralized’ security areas (Brauch et al. 2009). This expansive re-definition should alert us to the significance of the ‘referent object’ or, in other words, ‘that which is to be secured’. In orthodox security studies, there is no doubt that the object of security policy remained the integrity of the state and its interests. There might be reference to people, but as Buzan (1983, p. 245) noted, there was always ‘an unbreakable paradox’ between state and individual security. In much recent security discussion notions of threat may have changed, as in the typical security triptych of ‘terrorism, failed states and weapons of mass destruction’, but the preservation of the state remains the essential object of policy. Energy security, often with overtones of control over contested scarce resources, is conventionally seen as a central component of the national interests of a state and not infrequently a casus belli.
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