Central Asia has always been a blend of cultures due to its massive migrations and the
mixing of peoples coming from outside. In this context this mixture of people in many
ways reflected both the best and the worst that each group had to offer. In the “Great
Game” of the Nineteenth century influences from the North and the South played a part
in shaping the region1
in the world (Table 1). To manage this blend of people will always be difficult. So most of
the time this bland poses the issues of conflict and insecurity. Be that it is, human
security can be an approach to provide security to Central Asian countries.
However, in early 1990s, the fall of Berlin Wall (1989), demise of the soviet communism
and ascendancy of the neoliberal global regime, altered the international power structure
from bipolar to multipolar world order and this has resulted into the emergence of new
security concerns like global terrorism, environmental issues, energy security, food
security etc. In the new complicated situation the Central Asian Republics (CARs) have
been goaded to rethink the very notion of security from different perspectives.
After disintegration of Soviet Union, the CARs followed the LPG (Liberalisation,
Privatisation and Globalisation) pattern of state functioning. The experiments on an
independent foreign policy were to protect and promote the national interest of the new
born nations. In the cold war period the CARs were not free from the impact of ideology
based superpower game. In the post cold war period the balance of power appears to
have been replaced by balance of interest and the importance of cooperation to sustain
stability and security. Earlier they were fully under the soviet security umbrella. However,
now it is a great challenge before the CARs to prevent security threats within and coming
from outside agents. In the post cold war period the major security concern of CARs
emanates from cross border terrorism. All other traditional security concerns are
overtaken by economic issues. The challenges posed by international terrorism, global
economic meltdown and environmental degradation including climate change are also
security concerns before the CARs.
The individual states of Central Asia, in a conventional frame of reference, are not
capable enough to tackle the new security problems. A concerted effort on the part of
both the state and the non state actors and construction of a strong net work among the
general public will be able to face such threats. In this context, the Central Asia must
strive to formulate its security policy in such a way leading to cooperation with its
neighbours as well as with other nations. So, the need of the hour is to construct a
comprehensive approach to different aspects of security threat and ponder about how to
manage and resolve such issues like socioeconomic, political, religious and ethnic
. This unique blend of peoples and cultures are not seen elsewhere
factors. This paper initiates a discussion on the notion of human security in Central Asian
context and how human security is important among the CARs ensuring the security of
With the end of the coldwar the state centred notion of security changed in the
individual centred notion of security, known as human security. In the classical
formulation, security is about how state uses force to manage threat to its territorial
integrity, its autonomy and its domestic political order primarily from other states. Some
critiques of classical formulation of security opine that the protection and welfare of the
individual citizen or human being is central to the concept of. The conception of security
that is centred on the sanctity of the individual and ultimately the security of the entire
planet may be called human security.
The Human Development Report maintains that human security means protecting vital
freedoms of the individuals. It means protecting people from critical and pervasive threats
and situations, building on their strengths and aspirations. It also means creating systems
that give people the building blocks of survival, dignity and livelihood. Human security
connects different types of freedoms freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom
to take action on one’s own behalf
In order to achieve this objective, it offers two general strategies viz; protection and
empowerment. Protection shields people from dangers. It requires concerted effort to
develop norms, processes and institutions that systematically address insecurities.
Empowerment enables people to develop their potential to become full participants in
decisionmaking. Protection and empowerment are mutually reinforcing, and both are
required in most situations. Moreover, the pillars of the Human Security approach are
three Ps, Protection, Promotion, and Prevention. Underlying the approach is its ethical
and value base, for these actions depend upon the commitment, leadership and
motivation of the public and their governments3
security, furthers human development and enhances human rights. It complements state
security by being peoplecentred and addressing insecurities that have not been
considered as state security threats. By looking at “downside risks”, it broadens the
human development focus beyond “growth with equity”. Respecting human rights are at
the core of protecting human security.
The security debate has for too long focused on military threats towards the state and
the “softer” issues such as environment, trade, transnational crime, human security, etc.
have not been seen as potential security threats4
traditionally, security threats could, by definition, only be directed towards “the state and
the state is and should be about security, with the emphasis on military and political
of the state as an entity was at risk6
“a nation is secure to the extent to which it is not in danger of having to sacrifice core
values, if it wishes to avoid war, and is able to, if challenged, to maintain them by victory
in such war”
globalised world and strictly nonmilitary issues have taken a prominent position in the
. Human security complements state
. One important reason for this is that
. Thus an issue or event would only be classified a security threat if the survival
. In this context, Lippman claims that security is when
. These old views of security have largely changed with the dynamics of the
discussions on security. However, in the early 1970s, economic security began to get
academic attention, and quickly received political interest. Later, in the 1980s,
environmental issues began to increase in salience, at least academically8
discussion on alternative security concepts did not gain real momentum until after the
dissolution of the USSR and the end of the Cold War in 1991. Later, the focus shifted
from hard military security to softer issues, and societal, political, environmental and
economic security became more prominent. These changes in the perception of security
have created a debate between the academics who wish to see a widened security
definition and those wanting to keep it narrow.9
The debate can, in simplified terms, be divided into military versus nonmilitary sources
of threat and state versus nonstate actors10
sector have however become more closely connected to the military sector and this
politicomilitary focus has been widely used among “reformed” traditionalists. Despite a
slight widening of the analytical focus, the state remains the basic referent object for
The diversification of the interests of the state, its actors and globalization process has
increased the importance of nonmilitary security threats. This has also increased the
need for cooperation because new questions have been raised by new actors11
The newly emerging challenges and threats cannot be tackled by the traditional
approaches based on the militarypolitical sectors. Because this is not sufficient to explain
softer threats and also make it difficult to develop appropriate solutions. Therefore, by
including economic, environmental and societal developments the security concepts has
been revised and broadened. Buzan et. al. offers the most interesting and operational
definition, where a security issue is presented as posing an existential threat (which is
anything that questions the recognition, legitimacy, or governing authority) to a
designated referent object (which could be a state, but not necessarily)
Scholars and policy makers gradually began to recognize that even successful
examples of territorial security do not necessarily ensure the security of citizens within a
state, a fact to which the examples of North Korea and Rwanda attest. With Robert
disasters such as epidemics, floods, earthquakes, and droughts as important threats to
security as much as humanmade military disasters.
the reduced threat of a majorpower war, and the supposed peace dividend unleashed a
wider debate about whether to broaden the concepts of security further
The argument of human security in the security literature captured the view that the
focus of security studies should shift from the state to the individual and should encom-
pass military as well as nonmilitary threats17
Gary King and C.J.L Murray suggested that for parsimonious set of domains for
measuring human security would be income, health, education, political freedom, and
addition, any aspect of wellbeing that directly affects life expectancy, such as the
environment or biodiversity, will to an extent be automatically included in our measure of
human security without having to establish a separate domain or threshold19
Central, Asia Republics (CARs): A Case Study
. The political economy and the political
13 analysts also began to recognize environmental degradation14 and natural
15 The collapse of the Soviet Union,
. Many other domains of wellbeing come in indirectly through these. In
In Central Asia, nontraditional threats to security have risen to prominence. Although
the security threats like environmental, water, economic threats have not received
importance in comparison to the terrorist threat in Central Asian societies, it is one of the
very important factors in CARs in recent years. In this extent the lack of economic
development has done more to create a base for militancy and terrorist recruitment than
any other issue, as well as strengthening the position of illegal economic activity. Also, the
water issue threatens to bring states to war and in extreme cases, deprive some regions
in Central Asia from any chance of human sustainability. The tension is particularly high
between upstream states (Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan) and downstream states (Uzbekistan
and Kazakhstan and to certain extent Turkmenistan)
The linkage between the existing security threats (soft and hard) in the region and the
weak political and economic performance not only reinforces the negative development, it
would in fact threaten the very fabric of the states. Many security threats thrive in weak
states, such as organized crime and terrorism. Due to this reasoning, resources are
focused on keeping the government in place rather than securing longterm security for
the states, governments and the people.
However, the regional security environment of Central Asia would be more difficult in
coming years. It is because a number of countries in this area experienced protests,
border skirmishes, violence and militancy since 1990s. Militancy in Central Asia is driven
by complex motivations resulting from a combination of religious, political and social
factors. The militancy in Kazakhstan appears to be largely encouraged by Islamist groups
and actors, while violence in Tajikistan has been more socially or politically motivated.
Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have also seen instability to a more limited degree, but unrest
in these countries could also rise further. The volatility of Central Asia can be also
attributed to the rise of militant Islamism since 2010. On the other hand, the political,
economic and social development dynamics of the region is ignored due to the activities
of these narrow Islamic militants. The other important factor responsible of increasing
militant threats in Central Asia would be withdrawal of U.S from Afghanistan in 2014. It
would pose greater risk not only for the Central Asian region but also to the entire
Eurasia. Other possible difficulties the Central Asian republics would face is the upcoming
change of Central Asian leadership in several states.
Central Asian Militancy
Central Asia was an important region for Islamist militancy in the late 1990s and early
2000s. The region is predominantly Muslim, though like all religious practices, Islam was
suppressed during the Soviet era. Given the region’s secularization under Soviet rule,
many religious groups and figures either went underground or practiced openly to the
extent that the Soviets would allow. These groups and individuals were concentrated in
the Fergana Valley21
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Islamists were particularly prevalent in
Uzbekistan, which is home to several important religious and cultural sites in areas such
as Samarkand and Bukhara.
Religion began to be practiced more openly in CARs after 1990s, and extreme Islamist
elements operating on the margins of society became free to come out openly. This
created a space in which the Islamist environment grew stronger, however, the ability of
the new Central Asian regimes to control and suppress Islamist movements grew weak.
As a result, some Islamist groups began to call for a regional Caliphate governed by
Sharia. Among these groups, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Hizb alTahrir,
, the demographic core of Central Asia that encompasses parts of
drew inspiration from the Afghan mujahidin that had fought the Soviet Union from 1979 to
1989. They both advocated ousting Uzbek President Islam Karimov although these two
groups differed in a fundamental way whereas the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan used
violence to further its cause, Hizb alTahrir did not. Other groups, such as Akromiya,
would later adopted the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan’s use of violence while
espousing Hizb alTahrir’s ideology.
Karimov clamped down on these groups in the early to mid1990s, but the Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan gained refuge in Tajikistan, which was ravaged by civil war from
1992 to 1997. Because of the resultant power vacuum and its long, porous border with
Afghanistan, Tajikistan became the primary base of operations for the Islamic Movement
of Uzbekistan. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the group conducted attacks from
Tajikistan throughout the Fergana Valley and into southern Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
The 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, a country that provided both material and
ideological support to Islamist groups in Central Asia from the ultraconservative Taliban
regime, effectively curtailed jihadist activity and ambitions in Central Asia. With the help of
the U.S. military, including U.S. special operations forces, the Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan was largely driven out of Central Asia, finding refuge in the Afghanistan-
Pakistan border area. Hizb alTahrir went underground.
Militant attacks in the region became more frequent in June 2010, when clashes
between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks broke out in Kyrgyzstan’s southern Fergana Valley
provinces of Osh and JalalAbad. In this incident at least 100 people were reported killed,
1,000 wounded and tens of thousands of people left the country for neighbouring
. As a result, Kyrgyz authorities conducted security sweeps through predo-
minantly Uzbek neighbourhoods under the pretence of rooting out suspected militant
Islamists. Thus, security sweeps targeting these areas and the resulting armed resistance
to the sweeps do not necessarily fit neatly with the claims of religious extremism. Rather,
militant activity could be related to the internal ethnic and political tensions between
Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. Indeed, these tensions have surfaced periodically since the collapse
of the Soviet Union.
A similar dynamic can be seen in Tajikistan. After the country’s civil war, reconcilable
Islamist militants, such as those of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, were
incorporated into the government and security forces, while the Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan and other jihadist elements were suppressed. Violence peaked in the early
2000s, after which Tajikistan experienced nearly a decade of relative calm. However, a
highprofile prison break in Dushanbe in August 2010 interrupted this calm. During the
escape, about 24 prisoners deemed as former Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan members
fled to the Rasht Valley in eastern Tajikistan. The jailbreak could have prompted or
merely been a symptom of the resurfacing of the political power struggle among Tajik
clans, a struggle that was commonplace during the early years of independence. In itself,
the jailbreak does not signify jihadist resurgence. Like militancy in Kyrgyzstan, much of
the militancy in Tajikistan probably is the result of political and ethnic rivalries, not
The 2011 militant attack in Kazakhstan has disproved the theory of Islamist militancy is
not proliferating in the region. Given its geographic separation from the Fergana Valley
and a comparatively less religious society, Kazakhstan did not experience Islamist
militancy in the 1990s and 2000s. However, in 2011 Kazakhstan began seeing militant
attacks for the first time in its modern history. That the attacks were conducted with
different tactics all across the country, including Almaty, Atyrau and Taraz, is particularly
irregular. The Kazakh government blamed Islamist militants and religious propaganda
reportedly circulating throughout the country. However, the timing of these attacks was
curious because they came amid a growing political battle over the succession of the
country’s longserving president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. It follows that these attacks
could have been inspired less by Islamic radicalism, which has hardly been evident in
Kazakhstan over the past 20 years, and more by the power struggle between various
players seeking to position themselves for Nazarbayev’s succession. Notably, a jihadist
group called the Soldiers of the Caliphate claimed responsibility for some of the attacks,
including the October 2011 bombings in Atyrau. The claim suggests that there is a
genuine militant Islamist threat in Kazakhstan. However, the group was unknown until
2011, and there is little information on its members and leadership.
More recently, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have seen fewer attacks and reports of
militant activity. This suggests that their respective internal situations are relatively stable
and that their governments are secure enough to not have to use Islamic radicalism to
justify their security crackdowns. While this is probably true for Turkmenistan, the
situation is less clear in Uzbekistan, which has been more stable than its neighbours in
the Fergana Valley. However, Uzbekistan witnessed an explosion on a rail line near the
Tajik border in November 2011. The government labelled the incident a terrorist attack.
Since the blast occurred in a remote area with relatively little strategic significance, many
speculated that the Uzbek government conducted the attack to halt traffic and goods into
Tajikistan, with which Tashkent has had several disputes.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan is undergoing its own succession struggle, which could result in
instability. Indeed, recently there have been reports of protests in the Fergana Valley
province of Andijan, the site of a security crackdown in 2005 that killed hundreds. In this
instance again, the government blamed the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Islamist
militant elements. However, just as in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, this was more likely the
result of power struggles within the country.
Withdrawal of U.S. from Afghanistan
As the dynamics and circumstances in most Central Asian countries suggest, it is in the
government’s interest to refer to any militant activity as Islamist. Doing so suggests the
activity of transnational rather than localized political elements and gives an excuse to
crack down on those elements.
Of course, jihadist groups and elements exist in Central Asia, but most evidence
suggests that the serious jihadist players have largely been eliminated, marginalized or
pushed into the AfghanistanPakistan border. However, the U.S. withdrawal from
Afghanistan could provoke jihadist resurgence in the region. The future security vacuum
supposed to be created by the departure of U.S. and International Security Assistance
Force personnel could also destabilize Afghanistan as various internal forces compete to
fill the void.
The violence and instability may spill over to Tajikistan due to Central Asia’s proximity to
Afghanistan and the porous and poorly guarded border between Afghanistan and
Tajikistan. Particularly worrying to Central Asian regimes are the Islamist militants in the
AfghanistanPakistan border area that have survived and become battlehardened in their
war against Western forces. However, there have been reports that Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan leader Abu Usman Adil was killed on August 4, 2012 by a U.S. unmanned
aerial vehicle strike in Pakistan, suggesting that the group may be struggling to survive
even in AfghanistanPakistan area.
The degree to which Islamist militant elements may become active in Central Asia again
will therefore depend on the U.S. withdrawal and the state of the Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan by that time. Until then, any developments on the militant front in the region
need to be examined within the context of the internal power struggle and political
dynamics of each country in addition to the Islamist angle. It is only in this context that the
motivations behind militant actors and attacks in Central Asia can truly be determined and
Other Security Factors
A number of other factors may undermine the stability of Central Asia in recent years,
including protests over worsening economic conditions, labour disputes and conflicts,
border attacks and growing tensions between countries in the region. Destabilization has
become visible in most Central Asian countries in 2012. Although tensions in Central Asia
are growing, most of the region experienced isolated incidents.
A lot of issues that Kazakhstan is currently facing % such as protests and economic
grievances from energy workers % are not altogether new, however, they are happening
in a new and tense environment of growing militancy
Islamist militants, like the protests in western Kazakhstan, have received calls for
solidarity from Kazakh militant groups like Soldiers of the Caliphate. While these attacks
and the effectiveness demonstrated by the militants are still relatively limited, they do
make 2011 an unprecedented year in terms of security problems in the country and bring
an unclear and dangerous situation in the country moving forward. Border guards have
been attacked and sometimes killed in several border incidents. The largest such attack
occurred near the Chinese border on May 30, 2012 when 14 border guards and a civilian
forest ranger were killed and burned. Only one border guard survived; authorities accused
him of the killings, but responsibility for the attack remains unclear. Similar incidents
include a June 25, 2012 attack on a post near the Uzbek border and a July 12, 2012
attack on eight people in a house in Almaty.
In addition, protests that began in 2011 over low pay and poor conditions, including
violent demonstrations in the western oil city of Zhanaozen in December, 2011 continued
in 2012. Most protests have been nonviolent, the government has acknowledged and
pledged to address the grievances of striking workers. But the unrest has spread to other
nonenergy producing regions, as demonstrated by May 4, 2012 copper miner strike at
the Annenskiy mine near Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan. Kazakh Secretary of State
Mukhtar KulMukhammed publicly acknowledged on July 23, 2012 that the number of
labour disputes and conflicts in the country is growing.
Although protests are rarely reported in Uzbekistan, but on July 23, 2012 some 2,000
people protested in the city of Andijan to demand compensation for homes lost in 2011 to
reconstruction projects. Andijan was the site of a harsh crackdown on thousands of
protesters in 2005 resulting in Uzbekistan severing ties with the United States and
European Union. Although the recent Andijan protest does not appear to be as significant
or volatile as the 2005 unrest, but the risk was high.
. Even events that are not related to
In 2010, Kyrgyzstan experienced a revolution and months later largescale ethnic
violence in its southern provinces. The country has calmed down considerably since then,
and the political transition resulting from the revolution has been relatively smooth.
Although protests regarding a broad range of issues have continued, the likelihood of
protestrelated violence is much lower in Kyrgyzstan than in other Central Asian
countries. Still, some recent developments, including the border skirmishes with
Uzbekistan, threaten stability in the country. Furthermore, there has been discussion in
the Kyrgyz parliament about nationalizing the Canadianrun Kumtor gold mine. On June
27, 2012 lawmakers decided against nationalization, but the government would likely to
seek a larger stake in the mine, potentially jeopardizing the country’s already weak
Taken together, the regional dynamics and recent incidents could continue to
destabilize Central Asia. However, most of the incidents from the past year are
disconnected and significant constraints, particularly Russia’s involvement in the region,
would prevent a major regionwide conflict. Recent hostilities in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan
and Kyrgyzstan have been related to domestic power struggles.
The Governance Issues
The functionaries of political and economic weaknesses have great impact on the
development of the security situation in CARs and the state’s ability to act is shocking in
some cases and serious in most. This internal weakness of most of the countries has
influenced and enhanced the regional weakness that enables organized crime and
extremism to grow on one hand and prevents effective multilateral cooperation to combat
the problems on the other. The existence of threat of extremism, narcotic smuggling, and
instability defines the quality and importance of governance in Central Asia.
Corruption and political cooption by nonpolitical actors are especially apparent in
states that suffer from internal weakness. That’s why Holsti had argued that: “the security
between states in the Third world, among some of the former republics of the Soviet
Union, and elsewhere has become increasingly dependent upon security within those
This indicates that the strong states do not view internal issues as primary security
threats because the political institutions can supposedly deal sufficiently with any internal
problem to an acceptable degree. The capacity of strong states to withstand internal
security issues has not included threats that are soft and driven by nontraditional
purposes such as economic profit or environmental degeneration.
The weakness of the Central Asia states have resulted in loose sociopolitical cohesion,
internal challenges to the legitimacy of the government and endemic political instability.
Even in some cases, internal military defiance of the state structure creates problems.
Thus, these weak states are vulnerable to the internally generated threats. Thus, the
primary objective of weak states is to consolidate their internal stability and political
control, rather than focusing on threats coming from other states. Ayoob has argued at a
general level that the “major concern % indeed % obsession” of elites of developing state
“is with security at the level of both states structures and governing regimes”
Weak states are therefore to a higher degree preoccupied with the possibility to stay in
, in an often undemocratic system, and are willing to go to great lengths to
accomplish this. Even in Central Asia, strong action against domestic opposition or even
perceived opposition is common. In these countries financial support and corruption is
one of the means to stay in power and weak political leaders seek resources to hold on to
their power. In 2005, the people behind the Kyrgyz revolution were financed by drug
. Sometimes this would put the regime in an interdependant relationship with
narcotics dealers that threaten their internal as well as international legitimacy. Subsequently such
security threats can threaten the stability of the regime in power. Law enforcement agencies are rife with
corruption to an extent that eases the flow of narcotics through the region. The overall lack of
good governance in Central Asia creates preconditions for instability28
and conflict among different groups.
Social exclusion is also a leading cause of conflict and insecurity in Central Asian
Countries. Excluded ethnic groups that suffer from multiple disadvantages may come
together when they have unequal rights, are denied a voice in political processes and feel
marginalized from the mainstream of their society. Peaceful mobilization may be the first
step, such as marches, strikes and demonstrations. But if this has no effect, or if
governments react violently to such protests, then groups are more likely to resort to
violent conflict if they feel there is no alternative. Research over several decades has
revealed that political and social forms of inequality are the most important factors in
outbreaks of violence (particularly ethnic conflicts, revolutions and genocides). Social
exclusion sometimes also causes insecurity in the form of violence. Marmotova T. writes
that ‘as a prerequisite to reduce ethnic and religious tensions in the Central Asia the
research suggests that, “the formation of system of legal guarantees of freedom of
conscious and secular state.” In this context, “improving security will contribute to the
human rights, human security and neutrality with respect to the ideological content”
experience of alienation of certain sections of society may lead to decrease in cohesion
within society leading to increase in violence.
The international narcotics trade as a phenomenon is prevalent in all the states of the
world today and states are affected by the consequences of narcotics regardless of the
degree of political cohesion. But it can be argued that the production and transit of
narcotics is more prevalent in weak states or regions, where there are fewer control
mechanisms, and on the other hand the political elite is relatively easy to coopt. Similarly,
many of the new security threats as well as old, thrive in weak states and economies
This is because weak states tend to have much less resources and abilities to act on soft
security threats such as the environmental challenges that are often not even seen as a
serious threat. But the CARs should take substantial action for soft threats and internal
disturbances. Besides, the CARs have also failed to take into account economic
deprivation, the abuse of narcotics, the corruption of the state apparatus, and that the
level of criminality and health costs rise whilst productivity decreases. Thus, institutional
building is very important to meet the internal security issues.
Overall, this makes weak states a fertile ground for more human security threats and
their spread tends to be much faster in comparison to a state with a more stable political
and economic environment. The Central Asian countries should concentrate on how to
achieve the human security. This would be the key factor to reduce the security threats in
this region and lead towards peace.
, social exclusion
Human Security Approach
It is a fact that the security perceptions of the nations underwent a drastic change in the
post cold war era. Economic security appears to be the foremost concern of all nations
and the economic cooperation got intensified. Though the conventional security
perception has not been abandoned outright it has lost much of its significance. The
emergence of new forms of threat from the transnational terrorist groups added new
dimensions to the security of nations. The operations of these groups demonstrated that
traditional approach to security is redundant. No nation, howsoever, powerful, can single
handed tackle the threats posed by them. This again demands multilateralism in
international relations to meet the challenges posed by transnational non state actors.
The process of globalization and the free flow of financial capital across the world is an
attempt to link every nook and corner of the world into the logic of the global capitalism
which has brought together all nations on a common platform. If anything happens in any
corner of the world it will affect the entire system. So the security of a nation is dependent
on the security of all. The globalization process has not only brought the nations together
at the global platform but also strengthened regional cooperation efforts.
The growth and development of nonstate actors in international relations is a new
phenomenon. In the changed situation, national and global civil society got prominence.
The interaction among people as a result of information revolution further strengthened
the bonds of universal brotherhood and understanding among people about the basic
problems before them. A better understanding among the people about the basic
problems transcending the artificial boundaries would further weaken the role of state as
a player in international relations. Today the strength of a nation appears to be not solely
based on the possession of destructive weapons but on many other nontraditional
factors including the strength of its economy, democratic institutions and the security that
they are providing to their people. In this parlance the human security is gaining
significance in international relations in the post cold war period.
Kofi Annan has defined human security as it encompasses human rights, good
governance, access to education and health care and ensuring that each individual has
opportunities and choices to fulfill his or her potential. Every step in this direction is also a
step towards reducing poverty, achieving economic growth and preventing conflict.
Freedom from want, freedom from fear, and the freedom of future generations to inherit a
healthy natural environment — these are the interrelated building blocks of human and
therefore national security
After disintegration of Soviet Union the nature of war changed mostly from interstate to
intrastate in CARs. The sources of insecurity became largely internal, with ethnic (Table
1), religious and political groups fighting over contested rights and resources with
retaliation. The newly independent CARs, on the other hand, were short of effective tools
to deal with this insecurity.
It is important to recognize as to how globalization has added complication and potency to
internal conflicts and terrorism. While creating wealth, opportunities for work, and a better life for many, it
has often impacted adversely on vulnerable strata of society in different spheres like education, health
economic and on political grounds. The extraordinary growth in the diffusion of information
technology, the advancement in transportation and communication and the free flow of financial capital,
have accelerated the movement of people and contacts among them. The distinction between
desirable, lawful and safe movement of people and dangerous, illegal and criminal movement has
become unfathomable. In this rapidly globalizing world, those who have felt marginalized,
deprived or angered by what they perceive as injustices caused by poverty and inequity,
have now found new ways of grouping themselves together. The network of alQaida, that
resorted to international terrorist attacks against the United States reflects the new
threatening linkages in the globalized world.
In the post independence period the rate of inequalities rose in most of the Central
Asian states and today, poverty rates in these countries are among the highest in the
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
problem, it is important to look more and more directly to the security of the people rather
than relying solely on the state to provide security in Central Asia. By focusing on the
people who are the very victims of today’s security threats, it seems that we can come
closer in identifying their protection needs. Also, by examining the people with their
diverging interests and relations with each other, we can uncover the political, economic
and social factors that promote or hinder their security. If we are looking at the existing
organizational mandates and mechanisms, we can find that they draw heavily on state
security assumptions, but surprisingly few means exist to protect people and confront
Central Asia faces many issues that are considered to be part of human security e.g.
political security, community security related mostly to ethnic composition (Table1) of the
states, environmental security, food security, health security, personal security and
During Soviet period, the Central Asia region experienced a high development of
literacy levels and modernization in the whole spectrum of social needs, which places the
region above the average of developing countries.
deteriorated, because of transition and new states could not pick up the development process that they
had achieved in soviet period. Besides that the transition had a negative effect at the societal
level which is clearly visible in most of the statistics34
Life expectancy and death rates in table illustrates well this decline of living
standards since independence. The number of lives at birth in all Central
Asian countries is below average of total deaths in world (Table2). If we
consider the year 2010, the worst affected is Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and
Tajikistan where lives at birth per thousand are below 200, where as the world
average are 748 lives per thousand.
The spread of communicable diseases or the high rate of child mortality35attests to the
insufficient availability of health facilities. It is a combined result of limited state finances
and poor educational levels of the general public. The deterioration of educational
systems decreases public participation in state affairs, leading to new social problems
and exclusion. Therefore, education must be considered a vital part of human security in
During the soviet period the education system was good and the people of former CARs had
opportunity to study. The education was financed by Soviet Union36
the lowerrung of people are deprived to get education.Each nation started to build and develop
its own educational system depending mostly on its economic situation. The
whole region has seen a decline of budget in education from 4 percent GDP
1998 to 3.2 percent in 200937
The situation of human security can be evaluated by the Global Hunger Index (GHI) in
. Therefore, to seek solution of this
33 But since 1991 the situation has
, but now the after independence
CARs (Table3). According to Global Hunger index 2012 Tajikistan has 15.8 percent
hunger , which is the highest in Central Asia, where as Kazakhstan is not coming under
the GHI ranks.
Cooperation Among the Republics
Drawing insights from the post cold war global scenario is pertinent to study the
possibilities and prospects for further cooperation in the thrust areas to counter global
terrorism, drug trafficking, trafficking of women and children etc among CARs. A single
state cannot tackle the human security problems in Central Asia. It requires cooperation
and coordination of CARs and different regional and international organisations of the
The cooperation regarding regional security among the Central Asian states are
somehow lacking. It is because the national interest is primarily responsible and due to
the existence of substantial distrust among the Central Asian States38
particularly apparent when the potential soft security threats are to a high degree
transnational in character and beyond their individual reach. Tajikistan is among the worst
affected states in this regard. Alongside this, the Ferghana valley is a region where the
transnational aspect is apparent and increasingly problematic.
Therefore, the Central Asian human security can be determined by the cooperation of
both the people of the region and their interactions with their neighbours and the rest of
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
The SCO has taken a number of far reaching measures to combat different forms of soft
and hard security threats, whereas the results are not that much satisfactory. This is
mainly due to lack of the willingness and ability to act on the part of the members of SCO.
The SIPRI’s (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) analysis of SCO
identifies four major security objectives, avoiding in containing armed conflict,
development of military cooperation in order to increase the stability through alliances and
peace missions, the promotion of security and democracy and good governance and
combating nontraditional threats
policy of shift from territorial divisions to collaborative efforts against transnational threats. The
transnational threats include drug trafficking, human smuggling, organized crime, etc. Afghanistan war
and rise in Islamic fundamentalism. The most affected area being Fergana Valley, now divided
between Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The Central Asian militaries and other
security organizations have performed poorly in tackling these threats. The two major
powers in the organization have neglected these issues for various reasons
evaluation for decade’s progress of SCO notes its failure to achieve any considerable
progress in the third objective of security and good governance.
In central Asian countries there are very few effective institutions where the law
enforcement institutions are working properly. Human security can be preserved where
social, educational, and health institutions are well established and take up the problems
immediately. It is very difficult to manage security threats in these countries due to lack of
effective institutions and widespread corruption. The threats that are not considered
important to the survival of the government, such as environmental protection or
widespread health programs are excluded from the list of security threats need to be
. This failure is
. In order to tackle these threats SCO has adopted the
Due to the fact that the states are weak and have very little impact on the security
situation, there are huge domestic security problems. This is especially evident in the
areas outside of the major cities that the central government has lost control of, or lost
interest in, especially if minorities or opposition controls the area41
taken care of in targeted programmes.
Introduction of modern education in rural areas of CARs and especially in Fergana
Valley can be helpful in reducing Islamic fundamentalism and militancy. In CARs, there is
concentration of trade and investment in capital in major cities, whereas many of the
regional cities are left outside of the economic and social development. It may create
locational division, tension and radicalisation in political life. Much of the radicalization we
see today has its roots in the failure of the regional governments to act and provide
security for an individual’s economic and social development.
This is also true when it comes to health and educational institutions that are in bad
shape in rural and semi urban areas and causes real security challenges for the
population at large. Social and economic deprivation has increased the dissatisfaction with
the state and its institutions with major upheavals as a result. Much of the problem lies in the growing
unemployment; weak government sponsored health care, social welfare at large, as well as a lack of
belief in the future. If this failure of institutions continues it will create the situation where the
entire Central Asia will be separated not only from the West but also from India, China
and Russia and other neighbouring countries.
In CARs, shortterm stability has been achieved through the suppression of dissent.
However, the longterm consequences of this suppression may, in fact, lead to greater
instability, as those in opposition to the current regimes are forced to more radical
measures to try and bring themselves into power
can be an initiation for long term stability in the region.
The promotion of the institutions of civil society can reduce crime and corruption which was part of
the Soviet system, but the current regimes have brought it to new heights43
control by the more efficient Soviet security apparatus.
The governments of Central Asian countries, at least should meet the needs of their
people, set the checks and balances against waste and inefficiency, or the ability to
change the governments thorough peaceful means because of their failures, otherwise
the potential for social upheaval would be high. All of the regimes have, to a greater or
lesser degree, shown their inability to meet the even basic needs of their people. This can
be seen in the deteriorating economic conditions in most of the CARs44
healthcare systems, problems with resource allocation (especially water), food distribution
and chronic environmental problems45
Soviet times, none have improved, and almost all have worse end since independence. If
these trends continue, it will lead to social breakdown and acute domestic security
problems in the region.
The most notable of these has been the call by Kazakhstan’s President Nazerbaev for a
Central Asian Union46 which not only would deal with threats coming from neighbours, but
it might facilitate the resolution of issues like water distribution, facilitating trade by
lowering or removing internal tariffs and it may reduce other barriers and human security
Globalization has complicated and added potency to internal conflict and terrorism.
While creating wealth and better opportunities for many people, it has often negatively
influenced the vulnerable members of society. The diffusion of information technology,
the advancement in transportation and communication, and the free flow of financial
. These areas should be
. Thus emphasis on human security
. The crimes were kept under
. While some of these issues have their origins in
capital, have all accelerated the movement of people. However, those who have been
marginalized or deprived by poverty and inequity have up to now found it difficult to even
voice their protest, except with extreme acts of terror like suicide bombings4747
Where many ethnic and regional conflicts have a confessional component, inter-
religious dialogue and the movement towards the global culture of peace becomes the
most effective way to deal with the root causes of terrorism and violence and enhance
On the domestic front the CARs face many challenges including poverty, illiteracy social
and economic inequality, civil war, regional imbalances, development of democratic
institutions and development based displacement etc. The CARs’ quest for security has
incorporated the traditional concept of national security as well as the new dimension of
security viz., human security. CARs have already understood to initiate the process to
give equal importance to security of the state as well as security of the people. They also
understood the fact that in the cold war period, there was requirement of more and more
weapons. However, though the competition continues in the post cold war period also in
Eurasian countries, it has lost its vigour. This appears to be the reason for the shift in
focus from military security to human security. The plea for a human security approach is
also a post cold war and post soviet development. The positive as well as negative
impacts of globalization process have accelerated the momentum for human security
approach. On the positive side globalization helped the growth of civil society organization
at the national levels. These organizations make democratic system more participatory
and people friendly. With regard to the negative impact of globalization process, the
withdrawal of state from welfare activities further worsened the position of poor and
marginalized sections in the society. Therefore, the CARs must understand the reality of
managing diverse societies to secure people from greater threats. Peopletopeople
dialogue and preventive diplomacy would be effective instruments for conflict resolution
and peace building.
To achieve peace and development in Central Asian countries, increasing capacity of
individual, individual freedom and democratic values and quality of economic growth like
good governance, growth in health and education, environmental protection and general
economic progress is needed. That means human security is inevitable in Central Asian
countries for individual security and future development. In a nutshell, keeping individual
security intact in CARs means saving the national interest of all Central Asian countries.
If the geopolitical location like Central Asia is affected by any type of disturbance that will
subsequently affect the neighbouring countries. Therefore it is the prudential responsibility of the
countries adjacent to Central Asia to take interest in the security of this region. Perhaps
this would be in the longer interest of the Russia, China, India, Turkey and Iran to see
stability in Central Asia. As we see in SCO, the big powers are concentrating on their
short term interests, but to see the bigger goal of peace and stability not only in Central
Asia but also in entire Eurasia it is the need to ensure the stability in Central Asia. Thus
the approach of human security is an option to keep peace and tranquillity in CentralAsia.
1. Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (New York:
Kodansha International, 1992).
2. Collins K., Human Security in Central Asia: Challenges Posed by a Decade of
Transition, Commission on Human Security, Accessed June 10. P1
3. Matsumae, Tatsuro, and Lincoln C. Chen, (eds.) Common Security in Asia: New
Concepts of Human Security (Tokai University: Strategic Peace and International
Affairs Research Institute, 1995), p. 145.
4. Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, Jaap de, Wilde, Security: A New Framework for Analysis
(Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998), p.37.
5. Ibid, p. 37
6. Niklas Swanström, Regional Cooperation and Conflict Management: Lessons from
the Pacific Rim (Uppsala: Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala
University, 2003); Björn Hettne, Andras Inotai, Osvaldo Sunkel (eds.), The New
Regionalism and the Future of Security and Development (Basingstoke: Macmillan,
7. Walter Lippman, U.S. Foreign Policy: Shield of the Republic (Boston: Little, Brown
and Company, Boston, 1943), p. 53.
8. Fred Hirsh and Michael W. Doyle, “Politization in the World Economy: Necessary
Conditions for an International Economic Order,” in Fred Hirsch and Michael W. Doyle
and Edward L. Morse (eds.) Alternatives to Monetary Disorder (New York: McGraw-
Hill, 1977), pp. 1166.
9. The arguments to keep it more narrow is that if the security concept was
expanded it would include everything and nothing, each single factor could
potentially be a security threat. The arguments for widening the security
concept is simply that the world is more complicated than the classical
definitions allowed for and that there are plenty of security threats out there
that are equally or worse security threats to states, individuals and other
10. For a more detailed discussion see: Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, Jaap de Wilde,
Security: A New Framework for Analysis, op. cit.; Richard Ullman, “Redefining Security,”
International Security 8, 1 (1993) pp. 129153; Ole Waever, “Securitization and Desecuritization,” in
Ronnie Lipschutz (ed.), On Security (New York: Columbia University Press
11. Niklas Swanström, Regional Cooperation and Conflict Management: Lessons from
the Pacific Rim, (Uppsala Universitet: Department of Peace and Conflict Research,
2002), op. cit.
12. Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, Jaap de Wilde, Security: A New Framework for Analysis,
op. cit. pp. 2122.
13. Robert S. McNamara, The Essence of Security: Reflections in Office (New
York: Harper & Row, 1968).
14. Lester Brown, Redefining National Security, WorldWatch Institute #14 (Washington, DC: World
15. Richard Ullman, “Redefining Security,” in International Security 8 (1993), pp. 12329.
16. Jessica Tuchman Mathews, “Redefining Security,” Foreign Affairs 68
(Spring 1989), pp. 16277; Zbigniew Brezinski, “The Cold War and its Aftermath,” Foreign
Affairs 71 (Fall 1992), pp. 3149; Theodore C. Sorenson, “Rethinking National Security,” Foreign
Affairs (Summer 1990); Michael T. Klareed., World Security: Challenges for a New Century
(New York: St. Martins Press, 1992).
17. Gary King and Christopher J. L. Murray. “Rethinking Human Security,” in Political
Science Quarterly, 116(4) winter (20012002), pp. 585610
18. Ibid p. 598
20. Niklas Swanström, “Traditional and Nontraditional Security Threats in Central Asia:
Connecting New and Old,” in China andEurasia Forum Quarterly 8, 2 (2010), pp. 3551.
21. The Tajik government on 20 September 2010 launched a major military operation to
hunt down the militants that killed around 40 Tajik troops on 19 September 2010 in the
Rasht Valley of eastern Tajikistan. The Rasht Valley became a focal point of the
country’s security forces after more than two dozen highprofiles Islamist militants
broke out of a Dushanbe jail and fled to the Rasht Valley to seek refuge. In a less-
publicized event, Russian and Kyrgyz defence officials met over a new military
agreement that could see Russia expand its military presence in Kyrgyzstan in
exchange for arms and cash. (source: “Russia’s Ambition for the Fergana Valley”
Stratfor, September 21, 2010, 1119GMT)
22. Kyrgyzstan: Eyes Turn to Moscow as Instability Grows, Stratfor, June 13, 2010,2218
23. Central Asia’s Increasing Volatility, Stratfor, July 27, 2012 | 1030 GMT.
24. K. J. Holsti et al, The State, war and the state of war (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1996), p. 15.
25. Mohammed Ayoob, The Third World Security Predicament: State Making, Regional
Conflict, and the International System, (L. Rienner Publishers, 1995), op. cit., p.
26. Niklas Swanström, “Traditional and Nontraditional Security threats in central Asia:
Connecting new and old” China andEurasia Forum Quarterly 8 (2)(2010), p. 43.
27. Svante Cornell and Niklas Swanström, “Kyrgyzstan’s “Revolution: Poppies
or Tulips?” Central AsiaCaucasus Analyst, May 18, 2005.
28. Daniel Kimmage, “Security Challenges in Central Asia Implications for the EU’s
Engagement Strategy”, Centre for European Policy Studies, Policy Brief no139, July
29. Marmontova, T, “Inter ethnic and interreligious dialogue as a sector of security” in
Malhotra, R. et al (eds.) Perspectives on Bilateral and Regional Cooperation South
and Central Asia, (Centre for Rural and Industrial Development : Chandigarh, 2013),
30. Maral Madi, “Narcotics Trafficking in Weak States,” op. cit World Drug Report 2009
(New York: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC).
31. Kofi A., SecretaryGeneral Salutes International Workshop on Human Security in
Mongolia, TwoDay Session in Ulaanbaatar, May 810, 2000. Press Release
32. Oxana Dolzhikova, “Kazakhstan’s Response to Regional Economic, Political and
Security Challenges,” Himalayan and Central Asian Studies, Vol. 12, 34, July-
December 2008, p. 50.
33. Collins K., Human Security in Central Asia: Challenges Posed by a Decade of
Transition. Commission on Human Security, (2002) Accessed June 10, pp. 410
34. See UNICEF Evaluation databases (www.unicef.org/evaldatabase/index.html), World
Bank Databank (http://databank.worldbank.org), CIA World Fact book
35. In the region on average 55 out of 1000 children do not reach the age of five. In
Central and Eastern Europe child mortality reaches on average 19 out of 1000
children (UNESCO 2011).
36. Collins K, Human Security in Central Asia: Challenges Posed by a Decade of
Transition. Commission on Human Security, (2002), Accessed June 10.
37. UNESCO, MFA Global Monitoring Report, “The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and
education,” (2011), Accessed June 2011.
38. Niklas Swanström, “Political Development and Organized Crime: The Yin and Yang
of Greater Central Asia,” in China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, 5 (4), (2007) pp. 83
101. op. cit.
39. Bailes, et.al The Shanghai Cooperation Organization SIPRI Policy Paper No. 17,
(Swiden, Bromma: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2007).
40. Ibid, p.16.
41. Niklas Swanström and Nicklas Norling, “The Shanghai Cooperation Organization:
Trade, and the roles of India, Pakistan and Iran,” Central Asian Survey 26 (3), (2007)
pp. 429 444.
42. Burghart, Dan “Khans, Tsars and Emperors: The Changing Nature of Central Asia’s
Security Spectrum” in Edström,Bert. (Ed) Security and Development in Asia New
Threats and Challenges in the PostPostwar Era, (Institute for Security and
Development Policy, StockholmNacka, Sweden, 2009), pp. 112.
43. Various indices of corruption in the world all rank the Central Asian states near the bottom
(from least corrupt to most), with Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan
usually in the lowest 10%.
44 All of the Central Asian states suffered severe economic decline in the 1990s, with only
Kazakhstan showing any marked sign of recovery, due to oil revenues.
45. For papers focusing on specific examples of many of these problems, seeEU RASIANET.org.
46. Bruce Pannier, “Central Asia: Kazakh, Tajik Presidents Show Oil and Water Do Mix,”
EURASIANET.org, May 14, 2008, http://www.eurasianet.org/depart
47. Vladimir Petrovsky, “Human Development and Human Security in Eurasia” in
International Journal on World Peace, 22 (4), (December 2005), p.19.