Wars are one of the greatest impediments to human development. In the post Cold-War period, interstate wars were replaced by low intensity intrastate conflicts; conflicts that took place within the states and not between them. These internal clashes have occurred primarily over religion, national or ethnic identity or access to natural resources or wealth and lack of socio-economic development. Therefore, although the security of the world’s states has improved, the security of its people has declined and states boundaries are subjected to more pressures from the internal forces.  

South Asia has become a breeding ground for violence and the region has witnessed and is still experiencing violent conflicts in different stages of evolution, influence and intensity. Offering conflict resolution support to such conflicts is of primary importance to the Centre’s overall aim. Constantly striving to build sustainable peace, the Centre chose the South Asian region as it represents a unique socio-cultural value system and structure and although with minor variations, it critically influences the way in which conflicts impacts the lives of common citizens. The Centre firmly believes that it will be able to adequately incorporate these cultural sensitivities in its conflict resolution approaches and thus, provide need-based services to different stakeholders.   

India has on its territory some of the longest ongoing internal conflicts of the world. With one of the largest standing army and being one of the largest spenders on military, both in absolute terms and as a proportion to its GDP, the typical response of the state is militaristic. This coercive approach has only aggravated these conflicts. Further, over the years, there has been a noticeable lack of dialogue with the representatives of the insurgent movements.

The Centre strongly believes that peace does not come without negotiations, without understanding the diverse causes of a conflict and ultimately, without the development of a measure of trust. Therefore, the Centre can be equipped to provide a more peaceful approach through mediation and negotiation vis-à-vis militaristic solution. Offering opportunities for effective dialogue between parties to conflict, researching the varied causes of the conflict and suggesting coherent policy measures on the basis of impartial action-research, the Centre will bring together the work of various other national and international bodies working towards promoting peace and democracy. Close collaboration with key stakeholders will enable the Centre to develop most useful strategies for well-timed interventions on the most critical occasions as appropriate.

Although, this section mainly throws light on the Indian context, the situation can be generalized to the entire subcontinent. The Centre can play an integral role to bridge regional, ethnic and religious divisions and strengthen trust between conflict actors by promoting local conflict resolution measures and expertise in the conflicts affecting South Asia. The Centre’s presence could prove critical in providing guidance to key actors as the peace process progresses, serving as an alternative channel of dialogue and negotiation and offering the alternative framework of human security to resolve disputes.

Definition of Human Security

The traditional focus of state in the South Asian region has always been on the phenomenon of war, the study of threat, the use and control of military forces and the specific policies needed to adopt in order to prepare for, prevent, or engage in war. Human security in this sense reflects real-world developments that cannot be captured by the narrow and military-focused notion of national security alone.

The first major statement of human security was formulated in 1994 when the United Nations Development Program defined the concept as ‘protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life –whether in homes, in jobs or in communities’ (UNDP, 1994). The UNDP approach has seven components to human security: economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political. Later, the more focused and policy oriented ‘Canadian’ conceptualization of human security targeted ‘the problem of violent conflict, from preventative initiatives and people-centered conflict resolution and peacebuilding activities to – in extreme cases, where other efforts have failed –intervention to protect populations at great risk’ (Canada’s Foreign Policy for Human Security, 2000). The emphasis is more on protecting people from direct violence and defining an agenda that follows from this aim with internationally agreed upon humanitarian standards and laws.

Human security, therefore, is seen as a necessary component of stability and a platform for human development. An important corollary to this new paradigm is a renewed focus on the role of the state in ensuring security to its citizens. Although often portrayed as conflicting, national and human security are really two sides of the same coin – bottom-up and top-down approaches to protecting the individual. Placing the individual as the key point of reference, this approach turns the state-citizen relationship upside down: the state must serve and support the people from which it draws its legitimacy.

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