The extent to which security is a necessary precondition for development


In order to have a better understanding of the role that is played by security in national or global progress, it is vital to first provide an in-depth definition of the term security. There are different definitions of that are used in literature. For instance, Spear and Williams (2012, p.7) argue that security is not only the capability of a nation to offer protection of its external and internal values and resources from threats. It also encompasses the manner in which countries plan, implement and evaluate their strategies, issues and policies so as to increase their all-round stability while at the same time reducing their vulnerability levels to threats. Norman (2010, p.299) also defines security as a combination of all components that assure citizens that their property and lives are safe. For countries and the globe at large to prosper, security is among the most vital preconditions (Dobbins, 2009, p.1). In this regard, this paper intends to critically analyze the extent to which security is a prerequisite for development. Whereas it agrees that indeed, security is required for development to take root, some arguments against this statement are also presented.

The Role played by Security in Development

There is a wide scope over which security or insecurity can be explained. One of these refers to the peace and cohesion among people. Regions that are characterized by peace and minimal conflicts are regarded to as having security (Colletta et al., 2001, p.439). On the contrary, regions without peace are referred to as being insecure because existent tensions often result in violence or war as a result of the inherent differences. Security also refers to how prepared a nation is to defend its citizens from threats that may be either internal or external. This often refers to how well the defence forces or police forces are equipped (Bandyopadhyay & Sandler, 2011, p.552). In this context, insecurity is often characterized by high frequencies of terrorism attacks and armed violence. Security also refers to how effectively public resources are managed to serve the interests of all its citizens (Okubo & Shelley, 2010, p.136). In many cases, this form of security can be breached by the existence of corruption among some government officials or the political elite. Ensuring an all-round security might be challenging, but it facilitates the attainment of development goals that have been set to be achieved.

Security is regarded as both a crucial aspect of, and a precondition for development. In situations that are characterized by high insecurity levels, development becomes more difficult to attain (Dobbins, 2009, p.1). Instead, there are failures in economic growth with affected countries registering negative growth. Social cohesion and integration among communities is also adversely affected, and may further lead to other disasters like war, food shortages, and other humanitarian crises. Such scenarios have existed in the past, and continue to exist across the globe in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (Grenfell & James, 2008, p.4). Even with the democratic republic of Congo being endowed with numerous natural resources and a good climate for Agriculture, war and insecurity have stunted its development. It is currently featured on the UN’s list of the 48 least developed nations (UNCTAD, 2013). Even in nations that are regarded as being comparatively peaceful, incidents of insecurity have a direct impact on their development. Any form of crime can be referred to as a security threat. These also include corruption and nepotism, which impose heavy burdens on taxpayers, adversely affecting the economic and political development of a nation. However, one of the issues that can be pointed out about the UNCTAD report is the fact that most of its data focuses on developing countries. Even though it is apparent that developing countries are the most prone to crime and insecurity and crime, it also affects developed nations. For instance, the United States has 14,612 annual homicide cases per 100,000 people (UNODC, 2012). Development can also be hampered by the simple fact that there are inefficient security structures in place (Dobbins, 2009, p.1). Therefore, it is vital for governments to ensure that their security sectors are efficient because it is the only way in which development programs are likely to succeed.

Relation between Insecurity and Underdevelopment

Several studies have been carried out in the past to evaluate the relationship that exists between insecurity and underdevelopment (Geneva Declaration, 2010, p.21). For instance, armed violence, which either results from crime or war, has an adverse impact on the attainment of millennium development goals in several countries. These goals are even made more difficult to attain in cases where there are higher internal and external risk factors, continuum of conflict and high insecurity levels. From a recent study that was carried out by Howe (2012, p.349) on how unstable or in a fragile states are doing in terms of their progress towards attaining MDGs, it was established that no fragile nation has made any reasonable progress. Insecurity or armed violence, for this matter, adversely affects other contributors towards development like accessibility to education (Geneva Declaration, 2010, p.20). Some of the effects of insecurity or violence on national development are summarized in the table below.

While armed violence or insecurity leads to underdevelopment, it has also been established by other researchers that underdevelopment also triggers insecurity. Countries that are characterized by severe economic and social inequalities – also referred to as horizontal inequality – are at high risks or getting into recurrent conflict. Therefore, more security can be attained if wealth or power distribution is done more evenly (Geneva Declaration, 2010, p.22).

Typically, it is expected that since insecurity or conflict hampers development, peace will lead to increased development. However, the correlation between conflict and underdevelopment, does not match with that between peace and development (Spear & Williams, 2012, p.313). Prevalence of peace does not necessarily translate to high levels of development. In addition to this, Denney (2013) argues that high development levels in a certain nation or geographical region does not directly denote lower violence levels. A good example is the sub-national conflicts in Asia, which is arguably the most enduring and widespread conflict in the entire Asian continent. Within the past two decades that spread from 1992 to 2012, the Southeast and South Asian regions have witnessed approximately 26 conflicts (Parks et al., 2013). However, amidst these conflicts, these regions have registered significant development over the recent past. This evidence clearly indicates that development is not necessarily dependent on peace. Therefore, it be argued that violence or insecurity inhibits the countries’ potentials of attaining their projected development goals within the appropriate timeframe.

Effects of National security on FDI

Development in many countries partly relies on foreign direct investments. However, for a company to set up operations in a certain country, several factors are considered. Key among these is security (Waziri, 2012, p.93). Nations that assure investors of security of their business assets and workforce are likely to benefit from FDI than those marred with insecurity or civil wars. It is worth noting that foreign direct investments contribute to the development of a country by paying taxes, creating employment for citizens and also encouraging innovation in local businesses as they compete with these multinationals (Waziri, 2012, p.93). While relatively secure nations benefit from increased FDI inflows, insecure nations continue grappling with unemployment and poor economic growth. Insecurity also contributes to an increase in levels of immigration, especially of potentially resourceful individuals, to more secure countries. As a result of this, insecure countries are deprived of human intellectual capital while secure nations continue benefitting from an increased influx of the same. One of the nations that are regarded as insecure for FDIs is Somalia (Mihalache?O’keef & Li, 2011, p.83). Indeed, it is among the least developed nations in the world, characterized by existence of extremist groups like the Al-Shabaab, unending wars, famine and poverty (Muggah, 2013, p.135). Whereas it is expected that inflow of FDI is more in countries that are secure and corruption free, the levels of insecurity that investors face are dependent on several factors. For instance, government officials in countries where many foreign companies wish to invest are likely to develop corruption traits. On the other hand, countries with minimal inflow of FDI may want to portray a corruption-free image so as to attract investors.

Security, Democracy and Development

According to Dobbins (2009, p.3), there is a strong link that exists between security, democracy and development. Security is needed to assure a nation of sustainable economic growth and democracy. Even in cases of minimal or no foreign aid, ensuring that there are security measures in place to minimize possibilities of conflict will definitely lead to a reasonable economic growth and political stability (Harms, 2013, p.32). Conversely, even with foreign economic assistance, lack of sufficient security will undermine the development potential that can be attained. For a long time, democracy has been credited for long-term stability and peace in nations and as a consequence, associated economic development, social cohesion and overall prosperity of the nation. Without democracy, security and development may not be sustainable. Diamond and Plattner (2001, p.10) posit that democracy has both intrinsic and instrumental roles in development. Intrinsically, democracy makes people capable of living a free and autonomous life. Instrumentally, democracy provides a guarantee that the created laws and policies are in sync with the needs and interests of citizens. Therefore, it can be argued that democracy determines people’s quality of life and overall development. This clearly indicates that there are other factors alongside security that contribute towards sustainable development.

The best way in which the effects of security on development can be evaluated is by comparing the levels of security across different countries with their levels of development. The most secure countries, as presented by the Human Security Bulletin (2010), include Norway, New Zealand and Denmark. These countries also feature among the most developed nations in the world. This indicates that security is among the factors that contribute towards development. Even though the role played by security in development is evident, it should be noted that development also has several other preconditions apart from security. These include education, food security and democracy (Vitola & Senfelde, 2010, p.327). Development also contributes towards ensuring that high levels of security are maintained in a country. Therefore, while security is regarded as being a prerequisite for development, development is also a precondition for security.


Security is one of the key contributors to national development. As presented in this paper, the wide scope over which security affects a country can make it challenging to wholly implement. Countries that are known to be safe or secure have the highest levels of development, while those that have high occurrences of unrest and insecurity are classified as the least developed. Some of the least developed nations that are also known to have high insecurity include Somalia and Afghanistan. Whereas the main argument presented in this paper is that security is a prerequisite for development, it has been explained that there are other contributing factors like education, which combine with security to facilitate development. Another argument that has been presented in this paper is that the levels of development in a nation also have a direct impact on the levels of security. Developed countries have less insecurity incidents than developed countries. Future research should address strategies that less secure countries, which are also less developed, can use to increase their levels of security so as to increase their development.


Bandyopadhyay, S. & Sandler, T., 2011. The Interplay Between Preemptive and Defensive Counterterrorism Measures: A Two?stage Game. Economica, 78(311), pp.546-64.

Colletta, N.J., Lim, T.G. & Kelles-Viitanen, A., 2001. Social Cohesion and Conflict Prevention in Asia: Managing Diversity Through Development. New York: World Bank Publications.

Denney, L., 2013. Insecurity disrupts development, but peace doesn’t drive it. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4 January 2014].

Diamond, L. & Plattner, ?.F., 2001. The Global Divergence of Democracies. Maryland: JHU Press.

Dobbins, J., 2009. The Role of Security in Development. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4 January 2014].

Geneva Declaration, 2010. More Violence, Less Development: Examining the relationship between armed violence and MDG achievement. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4 January 2014].

Grenfell, D. & James, P., 2008. Rethinking Insecurity, War and Violence: Beyond Savage GlobalizationOxon: Taylor & Francis.

Harms, P., 2013. Demographic structure and the security of property rights: The role of development and democracy. European Journal of Political Economy, 5(7), pp.23-37.

Howe, B.M., 2012. Governance in teh Interests of the Most Vulnerable. Public Administration and Development, 32(4-5), pp.345-56.

Human Security Bulletin, 2010. Top 3 most safe countries in teh World. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4 January 2014].

Mihalache?O’keef, A. & Li, Q., 2011. Modernization vs. Dependency Revisited: Effects of Foreign Direct Investment on Food Security in Less Developed Countries. International Studies Quarterly, 55(1), pp.71-93.

Muggah, R., 2013. Stabilization Operations, Security and Development: States of Fragility. New Jersey: Routledge.

Norman, T.L., 2010. Risk Analysis and Security Countermeasure Selection. Florida: CRC Press.

Okubo, S. & Shelley, L., 2010. The anti-corruption industry: from movement to institution. New Jersey: Taylor & Francis.

Parks, T., Colletta, N. & Oppenheim, B., 2013. The Contested Corners of Asia: Subnational Conflict and International Development Assistance. Washington, DC: The Asia Foundation The Asia Foundation.

Spear, J. & Williams, P?.D., 2012. Security and Development in Global Politics: A Critical Comparison. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

UNCTAD, 2013. UN List of Least Developed Countries. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 3 January 2014].

UNODC, 2012. Intentional homicide, count and rate per 100,000 population (1995-2011). New York: UNODC United Nations.

Vitola, A. & Senfelde, M., 2010. The Optimization of National Development Planning System as a Precondition for Competitiveness and Sustainability of National Economy. Economics & Management, 15, pp.325-31.

Waziri, K.M., 2012. Industrial Property Rights Protection and Entrepreneurship Development in Nigeria: The Economic Implication. Journal of Politics and Law, 5(1), p.93.

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