Global Security and Poverty


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 The present day world faces several problems ranging from armed conflicts to terrorism, and economic crises that keep cropping up now and then. Poverty is one of the core issues that have pushed the world’s social status to its brinks. Poverty, through the world indices, indicates a huge presence in developing nations and an increasing index the developed world (United Nations 2011). Every nation has the responsibility to guide its population out of poverty, but no nation has fully achieved this. In developing nations, a majority of the population is said to be living in poverty. This assertion is grounded on the fact that more than 50 percent of the population is poor. With this respect, it is vital to review the impacts of poverty on the societal discourse, and the core causes in order to develop an effective solution to tackle the issue of rising global poverty. Poverty is the core cause of a myriad of issues currently ravaging the world such as disease and poor health, ignorance, starvation and insecurity (Aghion & Durlauf 2005). The concept of the insecurity because of poverty has now been reviewed from many dimensions and its existence among many nations. This paper reviews the concept of global poverty in the context of human security. The paper will first provide a generally accepted definition of the term poverty and the major causes associated with poverty. The paper will then provide a succinct analysis of cases where poverty has threatened national and home security.

Defining poverty, Facts and Figures

The term poverty can be taken to be a multifaceted ideology with different definitions by different arms of government and leadership.  Because of these differentiated definitions, the World Bank and the United Nations have jointly developed a definition. As of August 2008, the World Bank revised this definition to be any individual living with an equivalent or less than $1.25 per day (World Bank 2011). Previously, this definition was at $1.0 per day. If the world’s average inflation is to be accounted for, this figure would be $1.45 per day.

This new revision of the poverty line then puts the new figure of people living below the line at just about 1.4 billion people in the world. These figures also suggest other outstanding attributes that poverty presents. For instance, when the figure is put at $ 2.5, the number of people below this line is just over 3 billion (World Bank 2011). Different estimates suggest that the combined GDP of the 50 most impoverished nations in the world is less than the wealth of the 8 wealthiest people in the world. With regard to ignorance, at the turn of the century, about 1.3 billion people could neither write their names nor sign a paper (United Nations 2011). In the same breath, if 1% of the all the resources used in weapons were to be redirected to educating the poor, every child would have free education by 2004. Other chilling figures suggest dire situation around the globe, such as 10.6 million children died in 2005 before their fifth birthday, one in every two children has no access to proper health care and 700 million people have no access to proper housing (Barkan & Bryjak 2011).

Aghion & Durlauf (2005) asserts that most of the people defined in these figures are in developing nations. For this reason, there abound several issues that may need to be aIDressed. Is it that these populations have made poor decisions or is the global nature of politics and influence a force to blame? What is the role of individual governments in worsening or alleviating the state of poverty in these nations? Ironically, it seems that only the affluent communities and individuals are increasing their wealth levels with attempts to improve the economic conditions of the country (Barkan & Bryjak 2011). This then directs to the next topic of discussion; what are the causes of poverty.


Causes of Poverty

The problems or measures that lead to others becoming extremely poor while their neighbors get really wealthy are issues that can never be fully exhausted. However, Shah (2011) argues that the greatest cause of poverty is the inequality within the society. In his assertion, the world is composed of different people with different social and political status that stratifies the society in the miIDle. The outcome here is that different persons have unequal access to resource in the country, and this is the genesis of all economic problems such as poverty.

Barkan & Bryjak (2011) confirm this view and claim that ever since the beginning of time; the human race has had a social distribution that is based on political and economic stratification. Leaders have had a prominent role in determining how access to national resources is determined, and this has had a direct impact on the poverty levels of different persons in the society. Inequality has also led to other social misconducts such as corruption and insecurity (Brainard, Jones, & Purvis 2009).

Threats to Security Because of Poverty

Poverty is the lack of resources to improve the living standards and the perception that such access has been curtailed by those in leadership. This perception has led to several poor citizens of different nations taking up arms to face their oppressors. At present, several organized crime groups persist because of the high number of poor people seeking retribution from wherever possible (Aghion & Durlauf 2005).

The first instance where poverty posed a serious threat to national security was during the Great Recession of 1929. During this time, the United States was faced by one of the greatest economic crisis where many Americans lost jobs and livelihoods (Maalouf 2001). Poverty was a grim reality for many citizens. For this reasons, crime syndicates were able to navigate their way around the system and create illegal casinos, brothels, money laundering schemes and drug cartels. The poor economic situation in the country implied that many citizens were willing to work for cartels in order to feed their families. These poor citizens provided foot-solders for the crime cartels. For this reason, crime thrived through the 20th century with several instances of homicides and massacre blamed on organized crime syndicates (Barkan & Bryjak 2011). In the present day, the world still faces several organized crime groups that rely on a consistent supply of foot soldiers from poor communities. These gangs present the greatest dangers to home security in neighborhoods as well as national security.

Presently, the developing world suffers the brink of total national insecurity because poverty. Most of the rebel groups that pose dangers of insecurity exist on the precipice of poverty and inequality perpetrated by sitting governments. Nigeria’s Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is an armed secessionist and military oriented organization that has been formed purely from the precept of poverty and alienation (Nwankwo 2011). The group blames corruption and oppression in the oil-rich Niger Delta region. In this respect, MEND blames the federal government of Nigeria of alienation and neglect by allowing multination firms to extract oil for the region and none of the revenue collected is brought back to the region. At the moment, the Niger Delta is perhaps Africa’s biggest oil reserves; however, the people of Niger Delta are also said to be among the poorest in the nation. Poverty has pushed these people to form an armed rebel force that has attacked Nigeria in many instances. For instance in March 2011, MEND bombed Agip’s oil rig off the coast and promised other attacks in the city in days to come (Nwankwo 2011).

Across the Atlantic, a peasant army force with a huge number of foot solders operates in Colombia. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia also commonly referred to as the people’s army, was formed several years because of the grinding poverty levels that persist in the north of Colombia (United Nations 2011). The force is perhaps the largest in the world with estimated ranging between 16,000 and 18,000 soldiers, most of whom are gorillas. The group blames the United States and subsequent governments of Colombia for poor infrastructure, lack of hospital and schools in the northern half of the country. Today, FARC is the biggest security threat to Colombia and beyond (World Bank 2011).


There are other armed groups around the world exists because of the presence of peasants willing to become foot soldiers simply because of the presence of food in the force. Uganda’s Lord Resistance Army, under the villain Kony, has even pushed children to become foot soldiers and this situation has been blamed in the government neglecting the northern regions of the country. Poverty will make a man do all he can for survival. There is the need to aIDress the issues posed by poverty and in the process aIDress the security question. The fundamental inference from the findings present in the paper is that as rising poverty levels poses a significant threat to human security. Therefore, aIDressing the problem of human insecurity commences with aIDressing the root causes of poverty.









Aghion, P & Durlauf, SN 2005, Handbook of economic growth, Volume 12, Part 1, Durlauf,          Boston.

Barkan, S & Bryjak, G 2011, Fundamentals of criminal justice: A sociological view, Jones &         Bartlett Learning, New York.

Brainard, L, Jones, A & Purvis, N 2009, Climate change and global poverty: A billion lives in       the balance?, Brookings Institution Press, Boston.

Maalouf, A 2001, In the name of identity: violence and the need to belong, Arcade Publishing,       New York.

Nwankwo, P 2011, Criminology and criminal justice systems of the world: A comparative perspective, Trafford Publishing, Leeds.

Shah, A 2011. Poverty Around The World. [Online] Available at      http://www.globalissues.org/article/4/poverty-around-the-world [Accessed 22 May            2012].

United Nations 2011, ‘A transnational organized crime threat assessment’, United Nations, New   York.

World Bank 2011, ‘World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security, and Development’,        World Development Report, World Bank Publications, Washington DC.


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