This article develops a critical conception of security by showing the limits of traditional realist and pluralist discourses. It does this by exploring the deficiencies of realist and pluralist approaches when it comes to thinking about the promotion of human rights. Realism leads to moral indifference and a myopic approach to security and pluralism is complacent about how the rules and norms of international society exclude humanitarian concerns. The article argues for a critical approach to security that places human rights at the centre of theory and praxis, reflecting the fundamental indivisibility of security and human rights. The article concludes by reflecting on the implications for agency of this position.