Tesis profesional presentada por Alejandro Espriú Guerra

Licenciatura en Relaciones Internacionales. Departamento de Relaciones Internacionales e Historia. Escuela de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de las Américas Puebla.

Jurado Calificador

Presidente: Dr. José Luis García Aguilar
Vocal y Director: Dr. Isidro Morales Moreno
Secretario: Dra. Emma Rebecca Norman

Cholula, Puebla, México a 6 de mayo de 2005.


The concept of security, and its redefinition, has been gaining significant importance in the recent years, especially in our continent. Major debates regarding the meaning of security are shifting to revolve around two main questions: The first, addressing the ´security against what´ claim, emphasizes the internal and non-traditional threats that have arisen as a result of a lack of governance and the deficient fulfillment of basic human needs, in contrast to the inter-state threats related to the traditional security model. The second, closely related to the ´whose security´ question, underlines the need to distinguish between different levels of security, where that of the individual starts gaining more attention over the traditional focus on the state.

In the Latin American region the problem is that the concept of ´national security´ developed a particularly difficult history, considering that during the Cold War, a large number of antidemocratic governments in the region used this term as a means to justify oppressive actions. This could be a fair explanation of why almost all of Latin American countries have not consolidated a national security policy that could be used to facilitate the achievement of their national objectives. This could also be useful to explain why there is no consensus among Latin American countries on a clear definition of security (national and hemispheric).

Finally, globalization and interdependence have forced practically all of Latin America to become somehow submissive to the US´ interests. This region has consequently remained somewhat marginal to any discussion concerning the re-dimensioning the hemispheric security system based on the needs and interests of the majority of the continent´s countries. Furthermore, after the terrorist attacks the United States suffered in 2001, this country has been forced to turn its attention toward Latin America exclusively as a means to reduce its vulnerability of a possible attack coming from this sphere of influence. Therefore, the Western Hemispheric Security System has been forced to embark itself in a fight against terrorism, putting apart other important security issues, mainly related to domestic instability and civil unrest, which remain important for the Latin American region.

However, the fact that the United States has been an eager supporter of what experts call the traditional security model, which refers mainly to military power, does not necessarily mean that the rest of the countries in the Americas fully agree on it being the best or the only way to enhance security in the continent. As a matter of fact, the majority of the American countries have recently expressed, and just as it was argued in this project, that the notion of security needs to be reconstructed into a multidimensional concept in order to attack new non-traditional threats to the region, including issues such as poverty, natural disasters, corruption, drugs and arms trafficking, just to mention a few.

In response to this, security in the hemisphere has gradually moved to combine economic development with military security and social issues to form new models and strategies in which the state is no longer the central and unique subject of national security policies. It therefore results that the notion of ´human security,´ (which is centered on the individual and which aims to achieve ´freedom from want´ and ´freedom from fear´ within states) is becoming perhaps the best example of this new trend.

All these conditions highlight the importance of reformulating the current definitions and understandings that provide the framework for the Inter-American Security System. They also stress the importance of re-designing the current mechanisms in a way that they may assure the welfare of the people in these countries and not only the protection of their territories.

Thus, my arguments in this project attempted to support the claim that a new approach focused on the protection of the nation and no longer concerned only with assuring the state´s survival should be taken seriously for the American Continent and particularly for Latin America. In this thesis I attempted to show that the concept of human security, although still in process of development, stands out as the most viable approach for being better able to provide developing nation-states in the Americas with territorial security while simultaneously guaranteeing their people an adequate level of welfare and security.

Table of content

Introduction (archivo pdf, 36 kb)

Capítulo 1. Conceptual Framewok (archivo pdf, 244 kb)

  • 1.1 Security, the Issues
  • 1.2 Security, the Concepts

Capítulo 2. Human Security: Protecting and Empowering the People (archivo pdf, 380 kb)

  • 2.1 Towards a Definition of Human Security
  • 2.2 The Changing Nature of Security Threats
  • 2.3 Canadian Contributions to Human Security
  • 2.4 Human Security Revisited

Capítulo 3. The Interamerican Security System Revised: New Trends and Approaches (archivo pdf, 274 kb)

  • 3.1 The Origins
  • 3.2 The Construction of a Collective Security System during the Cold War
  • 3.3 Inter-American Security in the Aftermath of the Cold War
  • 3.4 Hemispheric Security Architecture Post 9/11

Capítulo 4. Final Considerations, Conclusions and Recommendations (archivo pdf, 96 kb)

  • 4.1 Justifications
  • 4.2 Recommendations
  • 4.3 Conclusions

Referencias (archivo pdf, 94 kb)

Apéndice A. Comparison of Human Security Definitions (archivo pdf, 163 kb)

Apéndice B. Threats and Vulnerability in Latin America (archivo pdf, 929 kb)

Espriú Guerra, A. 2005. Human Security in Latin America: Contesting and Revising the Current Hemispheric Security System in the Americas. Tesis Licenciatura. Relaciones Internacionales. Departamento de Relaciones Internacionales e Historia, Escuela de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de las Américas Puebla. Mayo. Derechos Reservados © 2005.