Human security and human development: old friends meet again?

Nimeh, Zina (2019). 'Human security and human development: old friends meet again?' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA 2019, London, UK.


“The world can never be at peace unless people have security in their daily lives. Future conflicts may often be within nations rather than between them-with their origins buried deep in growing socio-economic deprivation and disparities. The search for security in such a milieu lies in development, not in arms.” UNDP-HDR 1994

Over 20 year ago, Mahbub ul Haq drew global attention to the concept of human security in the United Nations Development Programme's 1994 Human Development Report which aimed to influence the UN's 1995 World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen. Its strength lies in its recognition that insecurity plays out differently across multiple arenas. A Human Security analysis as envisioned upon its inception encompasses a people-centred, multi-disciplinary comprehension of security. To achieve freedom to live in dignity, freedom from fear and freedom from want/need, a comprehensive analysis is essential.

Since its inception 25 years ago, its application moved beyond the boundary of human development, and despite its questionable reception in certain fields at time (f.e. some of the authors in a special issue of Security Dialogue questioned its longevity in 2004) the concept is widely applied in a variety of research fields, including development studies, sociology, economics, international relations, environmental studies, and human rights.

Bringing together various disciplines, this panel presents 3 papers questioning the current development paradigm and arguing for a human security lens towards developmental challenges. To set the stage, Prof Des Gasper will present an overview of human security and its relation to human development since the inception of this work in the 1994 Human Development Report. This will be followed by two more specific papers that seek to understand specific facets that come with human security. The paper by Dr Andrew Crabtree links environmental concerns with food security under the human security paradigm – using Earth System Science and the concept of a `safe operating space for humanity´. Lastly, Tamara A. Kool and Dr Theresa Amman apply a critical feminist lens to human security issues, questioning the gendered nature, and argue for incorporation of a gendered approach to human security to truly understand the security of ‘being human’ in all its facets.

This thematic panel will serve as a kick-start for the new Thematic Group on Human Security.

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