Multidimensional Solutions: The Four D’s of Human Security

Published June 24, 2013
By Krista Hendry
Failed States Index 2013
Tackling state fragility — once it has been identified by tools such as the Failed States Index (FSI) — is by no means a simple or straightforward task. Nor is it a one-dimensional task that can be undertaken alone. Building a state and society that protects human security requires a multifaceted strategy by a team of committed actors to stand any chance of being effective.

Such a collaborative strategy is “The 3 D’s” – Defense, Diplomacy, and Development – a framework for promoting a whole-of-government approach (or whole-of-alliance approach as in the case of NATO) in addressing the needs of conflict and post-conflict states. It was formulated as a response to the recognition that military might would not be enough to protect U.S. interests abroad, but other types of power were needed as well. Touted and critiqued over the years, the 3 D’s called for agencies of government to work together that often had inadequate experience in doing so. As has been raised in several articles in this publication, we believe there must be much wider collaboration beyond the government, to include the private sector, civil society organizations, and local communities. The 4 D’s is a framework that seeks to define the original 3 D’s more broadly than they traditionally have been and adds a fourth critical “D” to the mix – Data Analysis.

Defense from a government perspective often refers to a wide range of military functions from kinetic operations to stabilization and disaster response. When we think of human security, however, there are other roles for the military beyond intervention and there are also other actors that can help create a more secure environment. Many militaries also play a critical role in the military-to-military (or “mil-to-mil”) arena, which can include training and institution building, activities that can also support diplomatic efforts.

For long-term security within a country, of course, the development of police capacities is also incredibly important. Here too, the police-to-police (or “pol-to-pol”) work that is undertaken internationally includes both training and institution building. Beyond public security, there is also a role for the private sector to play. Strained government budgets have meant a greater reliance on private security providers. When we think of private security in the U.S., we often think of the contractors operating in Iraq and Afghanistan that have been so much in the news and a source of controversy. But private security also includes the unarmed guards at grocery stores, other businesses, and even sometimes in front of gated communities. And when operating in weak and failing states, companies and NGOs (and even governments) will employ private security or have direct employees providing security.

Diplomacy has traditionally been thought of in two ways — official government-to-government diplomacy (Track I) and unofficial diplomacy (Track II), which includes a range of other actors. This parallel track to diplomacy sought to take advantage of other actors and not make diplomacy merely a role of government. There is also the diplomacy that takes place within multilateral institutions like the UN and various regional and sub-regional bodies.

Within a country, there is also diplomacy taking place between the different levels of government: local government authorities often have to advocate for resources to trickle down from federal coffers. Regional land planning is also a form of diplomacy with multiple stakeholders working together to identify development needs to create the best land-use options. Corporations also have targeted diplomatic efforts at various levels in the countries in which they operate. They may advocate for greater services for their local communities, for example, particularly when they are operating in rural, impoverished areas where government is weak or completely lacking. We also have to take into account traditional governments, like tribal leaders, including in particular indigenous groups who are recognized as not being part of the governed but having autonomy.

Development in the traditional 3D approach referred to governmental and NGO efforts to build the economic, social, and political foundations of stable communities and societies. The expectation was that if there was basic security and enough development, the private sector would make investments in the form of foreign direct investment. Local markets, supported also by efforts of governments and NGOs to build capacity and access to capital to local entrepreneurs, would then begin to grow. Here too the private sector is an actor that should be considered as crucial in the defining of development. Increasingly, we are seeing that foreign companies, desperate to reduce their costs and increase their positive impact by being able to source more locally, also develop and resource projects focused on increasing entrepreneurship and access to capital. Development often took a “if we build it, they will come” approach, sometimes failing to ask the private sector directly what their priorities were so they could be calculated earlier into development plans.

The fourth D – Data Analysis – has always been there. The analysis of data drives our decision making in all three categories and every sector uses it. As with the other D’s, we need to make investments in data analysis to improve human security and assess whether we have all the right tools in our toolbox and how those tools are working. For this reason, we believe it deserves its own category. Before data can be analyzed, of course, it must be gathered. In each sector, an amazing amount of time and resources are spent gathering data when it exists and generating it when it does not. And this data comes from a vast spectrum of sources and levels. The highest would be satellite imagery and the data that can be generated from analysis of that imagery. Coming down a bit one can also gather aerial imagery. Back on earth, we have indices, like the FSI and many others that have taken vast amounts of data and sought to create new data through the selection and integration of specific data sets. Then there is quantitative data – i.e. statistics. This data, though sometimes old or unreliable, provides not only an important snapshot about an environment but the trends in the statistical data also become a new set of data. Added to this myriad of data are surveys, expert opinion polls, media content, and data gathered from local community-based organization, as FFP does with its UNLocK program in Liberia and Nigeria. This data may be collected through local workshops or, following training, via SMS or Internet when it is available.

Obviously, this fourth D is cross-cutting, because everyone needs it and everyone generates it. We would argue, however, that all of the D’s are crosscutting in a sense. Just as diplomacy is a set of tools used by any sector, development is also a tool again used by all sectors. For example, when a military helps another country develop its security-related institutions through training and other capacity-building exercises, it is doing both institution building and diplomacy – clearly a focus of development and political settlements. This broad view of the 4D’s, with the recommendation that they be viewed as toolboxes, not silos of actors, is being presented so that we can, as a community, review what tools we have, how we are using them, and whether they are working.

Are the right actors using the right tools in the rights ways to address the wrongs in this world? We believe there are opportunities being lost because actors have a narrow view of where they fit, and what tools they can utilize, in the community seeking to address the challenges. As the FSI demonstrates, we cannot afford to miss any opportunity to create greater human security. In adding another dimension to the traditional 3D’s, we hope to help broaden and deepen the ways in which data and cross-cutting analysis can enhance our abilities to build stable and secure states that give back to their citizens.