What Is Security? An African Security Perspective

  • Manu LekunzeEmail author
Part of the New Security Challenges book series (NSECH)


As indicated above, essential to any security study are the three questions, what is security, security for whom and what constitutes a security issue. In effect, this chapter uses existing literature to situate the understanding of security in the African context. It also answers the question of security for whom by suggesting the adoption of different referents for security at different levels. However, it is argued that security levels are interdependent. Empirical evidence from Cameroon is used to exemplify the complexity and contested nature of the concept of security. The subsequent chapters then focus on the third security question, which addresses inherent security challenges.


  1. Alkire, Sabina. 2004. A Vital Core That Must Be Treated with the Same Gravitas as Traditional Security Threats. Security Dialogue 35 (3): 359–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ashley, Richard. 1980. The Political Economy of War and Peace: The Sino-Soviet-American Triangle and the Modern Security Problematique. London: Pinter.Google Scholar
  3. Ayoob, Mohammed. 1997. Defining Security: A Subaltern Realist Perspective. In Critical Security Studies, ed. Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams, 121–146. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  4. Baldwin, David A. 1997. The Concept of Security. Review of International Studies 23: 5–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barnett, Jon, and Neil Adger. 2007. Climate Change, Human Security and Violent Conflict. Political Geography 26: 639–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bauman, Zygmunt. 1998. Globalization: The Human Consequences. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  7. Beaton, Leonard. 1972. The Reform of Power: A Proposal for an International Security System. London: Chatto and Windus.Google Scholar
  8. Black, David. 2006. Mapping the Interplay of Human Security Practice and Debates: The Canadian Experience. In A Decade of Human Security Global Governance and New Multilateralisms, ed. Sandra MacLean, David Black, and Timothy Shaw, 53–62. Aldershot/Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  9. Booth, K. 1999. Security and Emancipation. Review of International Studies 17 (4): 313–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Booth, Ken. 1979. Strategy and Ethnocentrism. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  11. Booth, Kenneth. 1991. Security and Emancipation. Review of International Studies 17 (4): 313–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. ———. 2007. Theory of World Security. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown, Oli, Anne Hammill, and Robert Mcleman. 2007. Climate Change as the ‘New’ Security Threat: Implications for Africa. International Affairs 83 (6): 1141–1154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bubandt, Nils. 2005. Vernacular Security: The Politics of Feeling Safe in Global, National and Local Worlds. Security Dialogue 36 (3): 275–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bull, Hedley. 1961. The Control of the Arm Race. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.Google Scholar
  16. Buzan, Barry. 1991a. New Patterns of Global Security in the Twenty-First Century. International Affairs 67 (3): 431–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. ———. 1991b. People, States and Fear: An Agenda for Security Analysis in the Post-Cold War Era. 2nd ed. London: Weatsheaf.Google Scholar
  18. Carment, David, Patrick James, and Zeynep Taydas. 2009. The Internationalization of Ethnic Conflict: State, Society, and Synthesis. International Studies Review 11 (1): 63–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chatham House. 2013. Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea. London: The Royal Institute of International Affairs.Google Scholar
  20. Commission on Human Security. 2003 Human security Now. New York: Commission on Human Security.Google Scholar
  21. Duit, Andreas, and Victor Galaz. 2008. Governance and Complexity—Emerging Issues for Governance Theory. International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions 21 (3): 311–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ebune, Joseph B. 2015. Colonial Rule and Bakundu Traditional Authority. International Journal of History and Cultural Studies 1 (2): 10–16.Google Scholar
  23. Fearon, James D., and David D. Laitin. 2003. Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War. The American Political Science Review 97 (1): 75–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Francis, David. 2005. Civil Militias, Occultic Practices and the Spirit World: Military Psychology or Retreat from the Modernity? In Civil Militia: Africa’s Intractable Security Menace, ed. David Francis, 17–19. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Freedman, Lawrence. 2003. The Concept of Security. In Encyclopedia of Government, ed. Maurice Kogan and M.E. Hawkesworth, 730–741. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Herz, John. 1950. Idealist Internationalism and the Security Dilemma. World Politics 2 (2): 157–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hoffmann, Stanley. 1978. Primacy or World Order. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  28. Huntington, Samuel. 1993. The Clash of Civilisations. Foreign Affairs 72 (3): 22–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jarvis, Lee, and Michael Lister. 2012. Vernacular Securities and Their Study: A Qualitative Analysis and Research Agenda. International Relations 27 (2): 158–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kaldor, Mary, Mary Martin, and Sabine Selchow. 2007. Human Security: A New Strategic Narrative for Europe. International Affairs 83 (2): 273–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Keane, Rory. 2006. EU Foreign Policy Motivation: A Mix of Human Security and Realist Elements. In A Decade of Human Security: Global Governance and New Multilateralisms, ed. Sandra MacLean, David Black, and Timothy Shaw, 39–50. Aldershot/Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  32. Keohane, Robert. 1984. After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Krahmann, Elke. 2005. From State to Non-State Actors: The Emergence of Security Governance. In New Threats and New Actors in International Security, 3–19. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lekunze, Manu. 2019. Complex Adaptive Systems, Resilience and Security in Cameroon. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McSweeney, Bill. 1999. Security, Identity and Interest: A Sociology of International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mearsheimer, John. 2001. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  37. Ogata, Sadako, and Johan Cels. 2003. Human Security—Protecting and Empowering the People. Global Governance 9 (3): 273–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Osaji, Jacob Olasupo. 2016. Religion, Peace and Security in Nigeria. Ilorin Journal of Religious Studies 62: 43–54.Google Scholar
  39. Owen, T. 2004. Human Security—Conflict, Critique and Consensus: Colloquium Remarks and a Proposal for a Threshold-Based Definition. Security Dialogue 35 (3): 373–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rothschild, Emma. 1995. What Is Security? Daedalus 124 (3): 53–98.Google Scholar
  41. Saleh, Alam. 2010. Broadening the Concept of Security: Identity and Societal Security. Geopolitics Quarterly 6 (4): 228–241.Google Scholar
  42. Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou, and Anuradha Chenoy. 2007. Human Security: Concepts and Implications. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tzifakis, Nikolaos. 2011. Problematizing Human Security: A General/Contextual Conceptual Approach. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies 11 (4): 353–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. UNDP. 1994. Human Development Report 1994. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Vaughan-Williams, Nick, and Daniel Stevens. 2016. Vernacular Theories of Everyday (In)security: The Disruptive Potential of Non-Elite Knowledge. Security Dialogue 47 (1): 40–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vincent, James B.M. 2012. A Village-Up View of Sierra Leone’s Civil War and Reconstruction: Multilayered and Networked Governance, IDS. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies.Google Scholar
  47. Waever, Ole. 1995. Securitization and Desecuritization. In On Security, ed. Ronnie Lipschutz, 46–86. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Walt, Stephen M. 1991. The Renaissance of Security Studies. International Studies Quarterly 35 (2): 211–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Waltz, Kenneth N. 1979. Theory of International Politics. London: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  50. Williams, Paul. 2011. War and Conflict in Africa. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  51. Wolfers, Arnold. 1962. National Security as an Ambiguous Symbol. In Discord and Collaboration. Essays on International Politics, ed. Arnold Wolfers, 147–165. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Wood, Jennifer, and Clifford Shearing. 2007. Imagining Security. Cullompton: William Publishing.Google Scholar
  53. Zedner, Lucia. 2003. The Concept of Security: An Agenda for Comparative Analysis. Legal Studies 23 (1): 153–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AberdeenAberdeenUK

Personalised recommendations