It has long been recognized that violence, warfare and various kinds of instability represent one of the major obstacles to development and prosperity. But in the modern world it is also painfully apparent that there is now a wide range of threats to human life and welfare, and indeed to the broader ecosystem upon which human life depends, that includes but goes beyond warfare. With modern military technologies now capable of massive destruction, traditional conflicts – and most of all nuclear warfare – still represent perhaps the most potent threat but other kinds of danger are also attracting more and more attention. The threat of the spread of various kinds of diseases is one example. Even though the First World War caused massive losses of life on both sides, the outbreak of Spanish influenza that quickly followed resulted in a far greater number of deaths. Thus, current fears of the spread of any new strain of influenza or any other virus such as Ebola are now seen as a major threat to global welfare. Similarly, the environmental consequences of continued global warming are seen as having devastating consequences for the environment, for food security and for public health. These are just two examples of concerns in the burgeoning field of human security which have been responsible for a radical rethinking and broadening of the older concepts. This process has been under way for a number of years but was given much impetus after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in September 2001, an event now known universally as 9/11.
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