International law and human security in a kaleidoscopic world

Alexander Gilder

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International law is being challenged by a multitude of new actors and networks that do not fit within the traditional Westphalian system. Similarly, security is increasingly undermined by, for example, economic, health, and environmental threats that can affect individuals’ daily lives and know no state boundaries. This is the kaleidoscopic world as outlined by Edith Brown Weiss. The concept of ‘human security’ has been advanced to inform decision-making on threats to security in the interest of individuals in a bottom-up manner. This article looks forward to methods that can counter what could be perceived as a legitimacy crisis in international law. First, some of the current challenges which international law faces are explained ranging from globalisation, the declining state-based order, and decentralised security threats. Second, the concept of human security is defined, and its contents expounded. Lastly, the thesis is advanced that a conceptual framework of human security can reorientate international law to be responsive to the kaleidoscopic world by using UN peace operations as an example of where human security could have a profound impact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-137
Number of pages27
JournalIndian Journal of International Law
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2021


  • United Nations
  • human security
  • humanization
  • globalization
  • international organizations
  • UN peacekeeping

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