This past November, EDR participated in the 7th annual conference of the Japan Association for Human Security Studies, one of the leading professional organizations for the scholarly study of human security. The conference, held on November 4-5 at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, brought together notable human security scholars and practitioners from Asia, Europe, and North America to discuss current trends and future possibilities for the study and application of human security. At the conference, EDR Research Fellow Sean Smeland represented EDR on a panel on new directions for human security studies, presenting one of EDR’s new projects: Human-Centric National Security. Since one of the main themes of the conference was a search for new visions for the advancement of human security, and new ways to keep human security relevant amidst an ever-growing range of threats to human security around the world, EDR’s innovative approach to human security — which integrates human security and national security by examining the previously unexplored area of human security in strong states — was very well-received by the other conference attendees.
Japan Association for Human Security Studies (JAHSS) is an open academic forum to promote human security studies in Japan and worldwide.
Abstract of the Presentation
When the Cold War ended, the international community had high hopes for global peace and security. However, such optimism has been shaken by a series of grave crises: terrorism, ethnic cleansing, epidemics, and nuclear crises. These new threats are mostly human security threats that pose national security risks even to strong states. Thus, the demand for human security by security consumers – i.e., citizens – has skyrocketed, while national security institutions’ supply of human security has not satisfied this demand, largely due to the traditional orientation of national security towards “regime-centric security.” Although the concept of “human security” developed by the United Nations provides a useful starting point, current definitions of human security have serious limitations that have kept human security out of mainstream discussions about strong states’ national security. This separation is both illogical and impractical, because not only has the public demand for human security increased, but the potential role of the public in security processes has also grown. Recognizing these new realities, we reconsider both human security and national security, bringing the “human” back into the study of national security while also incorporating the state as a critical institution for human security. The resultant new framework, “human-centric national security,” has three dimensions: security of humans, for humans, and by humans. “Human security,” if reframed as “human-centric national security,” can be fundamentally integrated into national security policies, and can contribute to international peace by encouraging active engagement policies.
The JAHSS conference offered an excellent opportunity to share EDR’s mission — to promote global citizenship, human security, and human development — with a diverse group of scholars, students, and practitioners. Among the conference attendees, we encountered many “kindred spirits” and initiated new relationships with potential collaborators — relationships that will help us increase the scale and scope of our global impact.