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Political Security, an Uncertain Concept with Expanding Concerns

Thomaz Guedes da Costa



The absence of political security as a key concept in social science encyclopaedias makes a (re)conceptualization of the term not easy.2 Although the concept is widely used in the rhetoric of decision-makers or in compilations of a variety of subjects on security problems, political security is not an unequivocal label.3 One major global source from the UN system, the Human Development Report 1994 of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) uses political security as one of seven main categories of threats to human security.4 This report was produced

The author is a political scientist and educator. The ideas expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the National Defense University, Department of Defense of the United States, or of any other organization with which he is associated. The author uses the classical assertion that security, in an objective sense, measures the absence of threats to acquired values, in a subjective sense, the absence of fear that such values will be attacked, by Wolfers (1962a): 150. Buzan and Kelstrup (1991: 4) pose that political security concerns the organizational stability of states systems of government and the ideologies that give them legitimacy. Although this definition is an important and rich component of the conceptualization of human security, due to the ambiguity of terms it lacks rigor for academic reproduction of the concept thereafter. For an excellent review of the concept of security (and all the adjectives needed to establish context), see Mller, Bjrn (2000): The Concept of Security: The Pros and Cons of Expansion and Contraction (Copenhagen: Copenhagen Peace Research Institute), at: <>. In his professional experience, the author consults literature in Portuguese and Spanish. In both languages, reflecting the Ibero-American political culture and discourse, the verbatim translation does not correspond to the concept. For a wide range of issues and country reviews, from international border disputes and arms control to drug trafficking; see: Carpenter and Wiencek (1996).

after the collapse of the Soviet Union and during a new wave of democratization in Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and a few African countries, notably in Southern Africa. The UNDP definition narrowed the scope to mainly observing the subcategories of human rights and the repression of citizens by military regimes. Using data from Amnesty International, UNDP (1994: 32) pointed out that political repression, systematic torture, ill treatment or disappearance [of individuals] was still practiced in 110 countries. The report also called attention to widespread political unrest in countries that resulted in detention or imprisonment by authorities. Finally, it briefly referred to abuses of government control over ideas and information and to the priority of some regimes in spending to enable the military to repress their people. This definition is not sufficient for guiding empirical research and to close the triangle with the richness of solid arguments for valid, general clarifying conclusions. In light of developments since the end of the Cold War, the UNDP report (1994) reflects a very narrow definition of political security if the new global security challenges are included that have since emerged. Thus, for defining the concept, I asked some of my students: What is political security? Asking this question to a particular class of students, I thought, would be a great opportunity to identify the various connotations of the term, since the group represented a sample of outstanding professionals, military and civilian officials, as well as journalists, academics, and political advisors in national security affairs, at that moment undertaking graduate-level education. In the continuation of their public service or private careers, I was certain that they would be familiar with reports such as the UNDPs human security study.

The seven categories of human security are: economic, food, health, environment, personal, community, and political, see: UNDP (1994: 22 - 40).

562 I gave the students a sheet of paper with the question, What is political security? I instructed them to select and record any four ideas that came to their minds related to the concept. But immediately upon reading the sentence, the barrage of questions began: What do you mean? Is it at the individual or at the national level? What should I consider? Can you give an example? Their moaning and body language signalled to me that they had encountered a significant amount of frustration and were struggling with the task. I was not essentially concerned with the validity of the test in and of itself. I was trying to assure myself that I was not the only one who was finding it difficult to clarify and to think of the concept as a valid brick in the political analysis construct. After collecting and tabulating the answers, I concluded that there were two general convergences of ideas. One was the notion that a degree of participation by all in legitimate decision-making processes of a society, under and protected by the rules of stable laws, would result in political security (a dependent variable in a desired state of affairs). Another convergence pointed out by the students indicated that there was a broad scope of governing activities, or features, to be considered as associated with the concept, from voting and separation of powers to the accountability of elected individuals and bureaucrats; from the protection of human rights and government stability to access to economic benefits. It is obvious that democracy, or the installation of democratic regimes, is a component of political security, if security is defined as a state of affairs to be achieved for the benefit of the individual and groups. On the one hand, the UNDP concept did not explicitly integrate democracy as a component of political security. Thus, the question remains of the value and breadth needed for a conceptual evaluation of the term. I assume that others are contributing with reflections on social, societal, and state security under other labels. The issue of democracy in the Westphalian State is central to the notion of security as well as to elevating the legitimacy of a regulated international system. Many scholars in political science address the concerns on democracy and security in different fashions, beyond the public opinion polls that report on the satisfaction of newly democratized regimes (Adams 2003; Burkhart/Lewis-Beck 1994; Campbell 2003; Gutmann 2003; Inglehart 2003; Lipset/Lakin 2004). Therefore, while recognizing the importance of the evolution of democratization or of experiences both during the transition to and retrocession from

Thomaz Guedes da Costa democratic regimes; this aspect will not be discussed in this chapter. Rather, this chapter points to new elements that are shaping political concerns and that demand further understanding. Democracy remains a relevant and integral part, even if a considerable degree of academic rigor is needed (Putman 1993; Norris 1999). The doubts of the students correlate with the insipid use of the concept in the social sciences. This gave me a certain degree of cognitive comfort I was not alone in my uncertainty about the meaning of the concept, as I struggled for substance to reveal its connotation with valid applicability. The experiment with my students provided me with additional evidence to add to the search through library catalogues and compendia, that the term political security does not avail itself of a clear operational definition. The concept broadly indicates the relevance or the richness of the phenomena hidden behind the label, especially if it can serve as an all-inclusive category of problems related to security, such as inter-state conflict, drug trafficking, civil war, etc. Seeking for rigor and striving to exclude the core of this subject, I assume that political security addresses the nature of government, the set of relationships between individual and groups on the one hand, and the state on the other, for the exercise of rights and obligations in the distribution of power. While many approaches could illustrate these elements, I prefer to manoeuvre the juxtaposition of rigor with thematic relevance. Retaining the focus of attention to human rights abuse in nondemocratic governments, the following discussion addresses the novelty of a drive for the universal application of judicial norms and the protection of individuals. In addition, it points out that new challenges to the state beyond politics, as seen until the end of the Cold War, such as those posed by technology advances that have given rise to the virtual world of the Internet and other issues of privacy, may be the cornerstone of understanding and for shaping policy under the term political security.


In Search for the Application of Universal Rule of Law

If human rights, as presented in the UNDP report, is at the core of political security, and if this relevance remains unchanged, then some related features should be included. For instance, genocide and rendition5 are two new dominant topics of political security that need clarification. They are additional com-

Political Security, an Uncertain Concept with Expanding Concerns ponents that do not minimize the significance of human rights protection as observed during the Cold War. The massacres and the ethnic clashes in several civil wars in Africa, as well as the growing consequences of terrorism and state response, both prior and after the attacks of 9/11, including those observed in Southeast Asia, in the Caucasus, or in the jungles of Colombia, have confronted populations and governments with new insecurities in national and global politics. How governments and polities respond to human rights violations remains a general concern (Ishay 2004). The evidence is provided in periodic reports of the United Nations evaluating the state-of-the-art, with many indications of continuing violations, as well as improvements in how governments and international regimes are enhancing the observance of codes and declarations and supporting changes in political attitudes. Nevertheless, the notion is new that the spread of democracy in the internal politics of countries and the evolution of international regimes are forming a shared set of values that are increasingly being observed and protected by transnational initiatives. In many cases, these universal appeals also clash with the efforts of actors in protecting the prerogative of sovereignty. The uncertainties in dealing with genocide, international trials, and rendition are illustrative for some of the contents in the conceptual evolution of political security. Never again has been repeated frequently in the shadow of conflicts or civil wars. Ethnic, tribal, religious, and national cleavages, intertwined with violence, crimes, and atrocities, are resulting in thousands of collective murders, especially in Africa (Migdal 2005; Dunn 2003). Eventually, the hesitant international community did intervene in the conflicts to save thousands of victims in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and the Sudan. The understanding of these atrocities is not simply clouded by a lack of information, but also by the complexity of economic, social, environmental, and health conditions involved in each case. Genocide may again be a vivid revelation of political security, with legacies of doubts on international responsibility in the applicability of values, norms, and the commitment of foreign intervention, as well as fears of recurring violence (Dallaire
5 Rendition is the act of a country arresting an individual in one country and bringing the person to justice (in the country ordering the arrest) without a court process taking place in the country where he or she was seized.


2005). Ethnic and religious divisions will not necessarily result in this type of violence, but there are uncertainties. In terms of human rights and wellbeing, the shocking development of this political violence in the post-Cold War period may have been exacerbated by the failure of national authorities associated with a greater fragmentation and insecurity in social, ethnic, or religious disputes. Thus, what gives substance to the concept of political security provides an expansion in scope to a subject that deserves more attention. With regard to combating terrorism, there are many political and legal concerns as governments try to reduce the vulnerability of countries with preventive, defensive, and offensive strategies against organized groups. In such a conflict, an underlying preoccupation, in particular, addresses the risks of political and human rights, as legal boundaries are challenged by needs or practices. Decisions and measures taken by authorities may cause a violation or abuse of detainees and prisoners as governments seek information to prevent attacks or dismantle groups and networks of accomplices. Conceptually, both oversight of authorities and academic research will function as a source of logic and legitimacy for establishing the boundaries of legality. In the era of the war on terror, the doubts on measures and the allegations and concerns with government abuse revive similar struggles of the past, when, for instance, human and political rights violations and protection were a significant issue under the military dictatorship that dominated Latin America and in many countries during Asias dirty wars. The concept of political security, both from the perspective of governing authorities and the population subjected to violence, as well as from the standpoint of groups that use terrorist tactics, is confronted with the same phenomena that occurred prior to and after the Cold War. At first glance, the concept seems unchanged. What has expanded is the debate about the legitimacy (and legality) of States to act with questionable logic in ethical terms, especially in the environment of the dominance of the rule of law and democracy (Etzioni 2005; Strasser 2004). But the conceptualization does not appear to differ significantly. The effort for the universal application of accountability for human rights violations has evolved, including developing of new instruments that could respond to the challenge of atrocities, such as genocide, terrorism, or mass murder in political conflicts. A main illustrative development has been the Rome Statute (signed in 1998, entered into force in 2002)

564 and the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Rome Statute influences the shaping of political conduct and the use of force, and aims to pursue individuals accused of crimes against humanity, including war crimes, genocide, and other crimes of aggression. This new international institution will investigate and persecute the criminal responsibility of individuals involved in violence and abuse, as representatives of states. As the ICC reinforces the international regime to protect human rights, it functions also as a fall-back to bring forth the accountability of individuals where countries are either unable or unwilling to conduct a legal prosecution. These are clearly intended for universal applicability. In terms of consolidating an international regime, the ICC seemed to be a substantive instrument. Nevertheless, a major controversy evolved when the United States withdrew from the convention, fearing that the Statute did not have sufficient safeguards against politically-motivated investigations and prosecutions. Other reasons for the American pull-out referred to the ICCs claims of jurisdiction over nationals of nonparty states and what appeared to be a lack of supervision over the UN Security Council.6 Another variation on the applicability of this transnational arm of justice refers to a legal process (or actions without judicial ruling) against individuals somewhat protected by the extra-territoriality of their residence (or newly acquired citizenship). In many cases, criminals have received such protection. The most famous case is that of Ronald Biggs, involved in the Great Train Robbery in Britain in the 1960s, who remained free in Brazil until his voluntary return to England. In other cases, corrupt officials have been able to hide their money overseas or even flee to other countries with their accounts. The question to ask is not if this kind of disjunction between the individual and the rule of law has evolved, but rather, if the acceptability of such behaviour is still prevalent. A case in point was the change in the universal applicability of law in 1999, when Spanish courts sought to extradite former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet on charges of genocide. Spain also has begun penal processes against several Argentinians accused of human rights violations during the military regime that took over the country in the late 1970s. Other former high officials have found their past actions
6 On the position of the U.S. Government, see: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs: Fact Sheet, Washington, DC, 30 July 2003; at: <>.

Thomaz Guedes da Costa subject to allegations of wrongdoing in other countries. As a partial conclusion to this topic, one has a sense that a strong wave of shared international values is slowly transforming attitudes and reinforcing the value of international law and agreements to seek justice. The global war on terror, waged by the United States and its allies, has also advanced other challenges to the contents of political security in terms of what matters for individuals and their transnational movements. One aspect is the applicability of the Law of Armed Conflict in the war against terrorism. Exercising self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter, detainees captured overseas have been held without conviction in a court of law to prevent them from re-entering combat. The United States has determined that the Geneva Convention is not the instrument guiding the treatment of these prisoners. Although Washington argues that humanitarian treatment is provided to the detainees, legal challenges in the United States and overseas will expand and further redefine this segment of political security, both from the perspective of countries seeking their own, and of those individuals accused of terrorism for their acts or associations. Another innovative instrument in the effort of transnational investigation and the capture of terrorist suspects is the United Nations Security Council committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999), concerning Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. This is the first instrument that guides UN members to direct their efforts against individuals, groups, and supporting entities, not countries, suspected of terrorism. Again, this decision reinforces the attention on non-government actors as part of the concept of political security. Another aspect pushing the concept of political security in relation to individuals, and not just countries, is that of rendition.7 Rendition is the act of a country arresting an individual in one country and bringing the person to justice (in the country ordering the arrest) without a court process taking place in the country where he or she was seized. It could be interpreted as a way to avoid or to short-cut legal impediments in cases where extradition treaties do not exist between the two countries. Another charac7 On the controversies and legal fragility, see: Spencer Ackerman: Suspect Policy, in: New Republican (14 March 2005), 232,9: 14; David Ignatius: Rendition Realities, in: The Washington Post (9 March 2005): A21.

Political Security, an Uncertain Concept with Expanding Concerns teristic of rendition could be a government also transferring a defendant to another country without legal formalities. One could also include in this variation of the concept the transfer of a detainee to another country for interrogation and investigation without legal process. As Daniel Byman points out, There is more than one side to the rendition story. 8 Central to the problem is the situation where countries and justice systems do not achieve a level of judicial collaboration that can meet the political demands of respective constituencies. Therefore, unilateral action substitutes for collaboration in the search for justice, even if there are risks of violating sovereignty or of eventual challenges by third parties or detainees in the sense of demanding a legal review and reparation at some point in the future.9



Failed States

The use of the term failed states provokes one to think of political security under the notion that there are increasing geographic areas without legitimate, internationally recognized political authority, or weak public governance that results in an authoritative ruling that does not resemble formal, effective government structures. As a consequence, this failure can be associated with the issues of abuses to the human and political rights of individuals, along with unchecked violence and conflicts. This perspective certainly incorporates many points already discussed above. From the governance perspective, Jean-Germain Gros (1996: 456) suggests that the conceptualization of failed states has in its essence the inability or unwillingness of public authorities to carry out their
8 Daniel Byman: Reject the Abuses, Retain the Tactics, in: The Washington Post (17 April 2005): B01. at: <http:// Apr16_2.html>. For an official view that the U.S. Government is acting without legal instruments in measures to combat terrorism, see the opening statement of Attorney General, Alberto R. Gonzales, to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Hearing, Washington, DC, 27 April 2005; at: < 042705senatetestimony.htm>. For an updated reference see the Global Forum Policy collection of articles on failed states at < sovereign/failedindex.htm>. An additional source, for data from 1955 to 2002, is found in the State Failure Task Force Report at <>.

end of what Hobbes long ago called the social contract and to deliver public services on a wide range of issues related to welfare. Failed states as a new aspect of political security may include many countries, to varying degrees that are unable to provide the minimum conditions for the economic survival of their population.10 Distension zones or liberated areas have been characterized, both geographically and politically, as territories without formal government authorities or public services. Typically, many urban areas, such as the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, cities in Africa, or rural lands, such as the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan or guerrillarun valleys in Colombia, are localities where insurgents or organized crime rule are beyond justice and adjudicating of conflict. Besides the notion of failed states, there is also a selective governance failure. Unlike the direct link that one may make between failed states and ungoverned spaces, weak governance abandons the geographic assumption and surges by the systematic corruption that selectively encroaches into many governments and judicial systems.11 In weak governance
10 For a survey of failure issues, normative propositions, and efforts to rescue countries, see: Bilgin/Morton (2002: 55 80); Fukuyama (2004: 17 - 32); Mallaby (2004); Thomas (2003a: 205 - 32); Zeleza/McConnaughay (2004); Rotberg (2002: 127). 11 Ungoverned space is a term initially used by the United States Government, see the statement by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the Defense Ministerial in Santiago, 19 November 2002 (at: <http:// colombia/02111904.htm>). It is defined as geographic areas where governments do not exercise effective control. Its important is to reveal that Terrorist groups and narco-traffickers use these areas as sanctuaries to train, plan, and organize, relatively free from interference. There are numerous ungoverned spaces around the world, such as the western provinces of Pakistan, portions of the southern Philippines, Indonesia, Chechnya, rural areas of Burma, several areas in Africa, and areas in South America. Ungoverned spaces include densely populated cities where terrorists can congregate and prepare for operations with relative impunity. I believe these areas will play an increasingly important role in the War on Terrorism as Al-Qaeda, its associated groups and other terrorist organizations use these areas as bases for operations. Citations from: Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States, Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, U.S. Navy, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, Statement for the Record, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 24 February 2004 (at: <http://www.iwar.>).

566 situations, states provide many services and may geographically control the population by authority. But, due to incapacity of means, corruption, or incompetence, it does not act against organized groups, which results in a parallel system of social and political command. In many places, the confrontation between these pockets of friction between the illegitimate/illegal ruling authority and the legitimate authority creates sink holes of illegality, or spaces or hubs where individuals involved in illicit or unlawful political activities use corruption to transition from one dimension to another, by transferring resources, changing identities, seeking refuge or plainly disappearing from the pursuit of legitimate authorities. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, after the collapse of the Soviet Empire, as well as in Latin America, organized crime clung to individuals or structures in government in order to exercise influence and power to advance facilitation and the turning of a blind eye toward illicit economic and trafficking activities. Although many political systems have subsisted with organized crime, the coercion of expanded violence, especially in urban areas, is the novelty that impacts the political insecurity of many that may not have experienced it as such before. The addition of perennial anomic violence of individual criminals, organized crime, and illegal vigilantes results in societies where the fear of violence dominates the effort to combat crime. Some countries are lesser failed states than others, but many are examples of weak governance when organized crime and gangs persist in their illicit activities, and the sense of insecurity is real. As an example, the maras or organized gangs of Central America, extend their activities, not just in Honduras and El Salvador, but from California to the suburbs of Washington, DC. If corruption is a perennial characteristic in weakening governments, then the quest to understand the consequences of failed states or those with selective weak governance seems to be as important to learn about as the reasons why states fail in the first time and what can be done to rescue, or build them to achieve stable, legitimate governance. Here, the conceptualization of political security may induce some contradictions. Is one to assume that until the wave of democracy promotion of the 1980s, totalitarian regimes, dictatorships, and feudal rulers were the reason to negate failed states? After the Cold War, with the drive towards democracy and collapse of dictatorships, as well as the expansion of global markets, one observes a surge in the impact of ungoverned spaces in many regions. There is no clear evidence

Thomaz Guedes da Costa about causal relationships regarding the emergence of these areas; in fact, they may have been ungoverned before. Nevertheless, the non-existence or the collapse of law and government, and the widespread surge of rebellions, violence, sink holes, and anarchy in societies promoted a shift in the rhetoric from concerns with weak governance to a systemwide impact of failed states. The concern is not just with the promotion of development but to pay attention to those under the stress of failing.12 While from the conceptual point of view, one can affirm that weak states have not disappeared, the empirical test of current political fragility of countries seeking to establish standing democracies or in transition to democracy still causes weak state recognition, even if under a different label other than stressed. In Latin America for instance, Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Venezuela are examples of states where national debates and confrontation reveals unsettled conflicts regarding constitutional ruling. As in many African and Asian states, the meta-rules the rules about how to change the rules are not accepted by all. This condition in a democratic advance can be a reason of weakening in the state and authorities. In addition, many developing countries have economies so fragile and under stress that their viability to secure minimum living conditions threatens their own existence as political entities, as recognized up to the end of the Cold War (Simpson 2004).


Ungoverned Privacy and Sense of Political Insecurity

I would like to argue that the concept of political security might also have evolved in the direction of integrating other elements that will be shown as different in this new century. For several reasons from the globalization of markets, mobility of the labour force, and faster and larger volumes of data communication through the Internet, to the need to identify terrorists, criminals and their associates individuals are increasingly vulnerable and at risk of suffering unwarned intrusion into their privacy for reasons of politics or financial fraud.

12 The World Bank has set the Task Force on Low Income Countries Under Stress; see at: <,,menuPK:511784~page PK:64171540 ~piPK: 64171528~theSitePK:511778,00.html>.

Political Security, an Uncertain Concept with Expanding Concerns With digital communication the world is experiencing different forms of commerce today that demands an exchange of identifying information and authorization for transactions. These characteristics have increased the risk of misuse or misrepresentation of ones identity for fraudulent endeavours, when most systems lack secure control and remedial measures. Furthermore, the campaigns and efforts in the war on terror and organized crime have expanded the possibilities for the misuse of data and abuse against individual interests with the intrusion into the privacy and the lives of citizens. Under absent, outdated and confusing regulations and new practices, political security also now means the resulting conditions that can provide a new degree of protection of individual data and preferences in the marketplace and in politics from non-authorized intrusion. This new equation is not restricted to the geographic space of ones country. With expanding transnational communications, and the establishment of communities of knowledge, markets and culture, the exchange of information has opened up new questions regarding regulation, management, and oversight. The degree of control, protection, and effectiveness in the accessibility to and utilization of such data vary from country to country, with a variety of local and national standards and expectations. Furthermore, this problem is not restricted to private or public transactions. For instance, governance and public security, with preventive and offensive strategies and measures in combating terrorism and illegal activities, have also produced situations where the need for government intelligence clashes with the need for the protection of individual identity and preferences. If countries were formerly prone to eavesdropping on each other during the classical struggles of the Westphalian international system, individuals now must be concerned about the big brother consequences of government actions, and that of non-state actors that may use their public-held records and information for fraud or extortion (Radden Keefe 2005; Bamford 2001; OHarrow Jr. 2005). The explosion of global communication with the use of the digitalization of data, instantaneous communication, the Internet, cellular phones, compact data processors, genetic mapping and other forms of identification and processing of information has changed the processes, the value, and the forms of verifying personal, institutional, commercial, corporate, government, and public information. Both the governments


need to know in enforcing law and the enduring belief that the individual right to privacy is one of the main principles in democratic societies are challenged by the abusive or illegal intrusiveness of storage sites or data flows. The control and protection of identity, the confidentiality of individual health and financial records, and the recording and dissemination of individual consumer preferences, religious beliefs, political support, sexual preferences, financial situation, or cultural values are at the centre of public concern, as non-authorized access and misuse of information increasingly takes place at the speed of the Internet.13 Besides the legal infringements of identity theft, at issue is the civil responsibility of entities that store or direct the traffic of information about individuals and entities. National regulation and the compatibility of international norms create gaps for negligence or incompetence that facilitate misuse and increase the probability that individuals may be at risk of suffering financial losses, defamation, or discrimination. In terms of privacy and intrusion by the state, many other technological advances are permitting the expansion of transpondering a situation when an individual leaves behind a trace of his or her identify for others to control their whereabouts and choices made. In the 1970s, the development of electronics provided equipment that airplanes could carry onboard a transponder - to signal their position to the ground using radio frequencies, in routine air traffic control and in emergencies. This system increased its accuracy and reliability with the passing of time and with new possibilities permitted by global positioning systems. With new technological advances, there are similar transponder effects tracking individuals. Along with fingerprints, individuals can leave traces of their DNA on utensils or in rooms from their blood, sweat, hair, skin, hairbrush, or tears. Individuals can even provide samples to law enforcement databanks as an advanced mode of identifying or eliminating suspects from a crime scene.14 Recording and recognition by sensors of biometric data can tell the identity and location of individuals; if one
13 See: Brian Fonseca and Dennis Fisher: Data Theft Reveals Storage Flaws, in: eWeek, 22, 10 (7 March 2005): 12; Frank Hayes: Speaking, Frankly, in: Computerworld, 29,12 (21 March 2005): 58; Mark Maremont, New Privacy Leak: Some Mutual Funds Reveal Clients Data, in: Wall Street Journal Eastern Edition, 245,57 (23 March 2005): A1. 14 Your DNA in Their Hands, in: New Scientist, 186, 2494 (9 April 2005): 3.

568 adds a chip to communicate with a global positioning system, movement monitoring is added.15 Another transponder, RFID (radio frequency identification device), tracks the transit of goods everywhere, as it serves the logistical functions in production and service, or consumer choices.16 RFID can eventually correlate product and object information with customers and users. This direct association of an object with individuals permits the generation of information about preferences, choices, and habits. Digital presence and processing take place in many ways, some of them with increasing pervasiveness.17 Credit card purchase records, clientele listings, or cookies from sites visited through the Internet produce traces of where individuals have been physically, where they have surfed the web, or have assigned a consumer preference through contact with other individuals or institutions, including what one is researching in a library.18 For democracies striving to provide political security, the regulation of information management is a major challenge, since the protection of this commodity demands a review, not just of legislation and regulations, but a new debate (and certainly conflicts) over the spirit of the law in terms of public goods, private, corporate, and individual rights, civil rights, property rights, etc. The search for preventive measures and for restoring the confidence and reputation of those who found their identity violated by unauthorized access must yield adjusted national regulation and international regimes to provide a renewed sense of security. Building this trust in the uncertainty of these new transaction modes is essential for securing democratic rule and the protection of each and every individual in a political society.19
15 Anne Sandra: Watch Out for Spies with Friendly Faces, in: PC World, 23,4 (Apr 2005): 39. In terms of biometrics, automatic identification can even reach the point of having transponders implanted in individuals, see: Katina Michael and M.G. Michael: Microchipping People, in: Quadrant, 49,3 (Mar 2005): 22. 16 Laurie Sullivan: Europe Tries on RFID, in: InformationWeek, 1029 (7 March 2005): 36; Eric Chabrow: Homeland Security to Test RFID at Borders, in: InformationWeek, 1024 (31 January 2005): 26. For the signs of consumer concern with this technology, see Things to Ponder, in: Computerworld, 39,6 (7 February 2005): 36. 17 Johann Cas: Privacy in the Pervasive Computing Environment A Contradiction in Terms?, in: IEEE Technology & Society Magazine, 24,1 (Spring 2005): 24. 18 See: Jennifer Burek Pierce: The Scoop on Patron Privacy, in: American Libraries, 36,2 (February 2005): 30.

Thomaz Guedes da Costa



This chapter explored the re-conceptualization of political security. It departed with the fragility of a concept that is not widely used or accepted in social studies. The analysis limited its development to tracing the relevance of phenomena associated with those that would refer directly to individuals and their relationships to politics in search of democratic development. It also assumed that the relevance of democratization, the protection of human and political rights, and the rule of law have not diminished or weakened their presence in the core of the concept. The analytical effort was not to find or clarify the meaning of political security. Nevertheless, it points to new contending issues of individuals and groups liberties and rights, which come under the concern of the polity, that thinkers may wish to include under the concept. From human rights abuse by government authorities to the omission, negligence or incompetence of governments to provide for the rule of law, one observes a clear expansion in the concept of political security, in the spirit of the UNDPs 1994 Report, as the point of departure for this reflection. If at one point the individual found himself opposed by the State in the search for rights in the political game, now both the absence and the intrusion of the State have added complexity to the concept of political security. The lack of governance of geographic areas, the weaknesses of governance under the pressures of corruption, and unregulated governance in protecting the privacy of individuals in the digital world project new realms and challenges to insecurity. As globalization challenges the structures of governments, new relationship causes new sense of threat to individuals welfare and engagement in defending their interests. In many ways, the instruments of the State seem to be deficient in providing for the sense of physical and psychological security in the spaces of human relations of all kinds. Is political security a valid concept for guiding the discovery and consolidation of knowledge for social science? Perhaps not, if one wishes to trace the rigor and applicability in the academic concerns to expand knowledge to result in ever increasing awareness for policy proposals and the search for truth. Is political security a relevant concept for gathering concerns in the political action? It seems it will always be current, even with its imprecision, because thinkers know it when they feel it.
19 On privacy issues, see: Peter H. Lewis: Kiss Privacy Goodbye, in: Fortune, 151,1 (10 January 2005): 55.