Madness in the Multitude: Human Security and World Disorder


210 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-19-541524-8
DDC 327.1'72




Reviewed by J.L. Granatstein

J.L. Granatstein, Distinguished Research Professor of History Emeritus,
York University, served as Director of the Canadian War Museum from 1998
to 2000. He is the author of Who Killed Canadian History? and coauthor
of The Canadian 100: The 100 Most Influ


This study is an examination of the “human security” agenda that
dominated Canadian diplomacy during and after the period in which Lloyd
Axworthy was Minister of Foreign Affairs. What was human security? At
root, it was human rights founded on the rule of law; the safety of
people; and sustainable human development. As Fen Osler Hampson and his
colleagues note, these are all based on the individual, not the state,
and the opposition to the human security agenda, not surprisingly, has
come from powerful nation-states, not least the United States. The
Americans, with their unilateralist bent, have resisted efforts to
constrain their freedom of action. Sometimes they have been right to do

What have the human security practitioners wanted? A ban on land mines,
an international criminal court, an effort to stop the international
trade in small arms, and an end to child soldiers are some of the items.
Who can object to such things? Western armies that might need land mines
to protect their soldiers against mass attacks, for one. The cadet corps
in Canada’s small towns that accept 14-year-olds, for another. Nothing
is simple, in other words, especially the Americans’ legitimate fear
that their personnel might be subject to frivolous war-crimes charges.
This book is a useful guide to the issues, tilted though it might be to
favor human security and its advocates.

But human security is not always limited to “soft power.” The
humanitarian agenda favored the use of force in Kosovo, for example, as
the only way to halt a potential genocide. International coalitions and
international organizations played their role in mobilizing the world to
act in Kosovo as they had failed to do in Rwanda. Again, this book is a
useful primer.


Hampson, Fen Osler, et al., “Madness in the Multitude: Human Security and World Disorder,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 18, 2024,