The article tackles the plural and evolving concepts of security by analysing their relation to human rights and ethics. Although the general impression is that seldom the security discourse is associated with the respect of human rights and ethics, at least from a theoretical point of view security is indeed intertwined with those normative features (first thesis). Moreover, ethics and human rights can be valuably and usefully employed to clarify issues related to security and eventually to suggest improvements in the political management of security issues (second thesis). We argue our theses by focusing on a case study of particular relevance to the present day debate on security: the Syrian asylum seekers headed to Europe. In our ethical and human rights enquiry into this case study we consider multiple aspects related to security (‘de jure’ or normative, ‘de facto’ and perceptive-societal) and the interpretative lens provided by ethics and human rights sheds light on the crucial and manifold centrality played by the notion of human dignity.