Human Security - Towards New Development

On Friday, 16 December 2011 the United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP) and the Japan Foundation for UNU (jfUNU) held a symposium about Human Security - Towards New Development.
The symposium was attended by many students from UNU-ISP and other universities in Japan, and jfUNU's supporting members.

Prof. Jun Matsukuma from Graduate School of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies opened the symposium with his keynote speech titled "Human Security and Its Concept for International Law" and emphasized the importance of human security in domestic and ethnic conflicts with look towards races, religions, and cultures. He also added that improvement of UN-centered global cooperation system is essential to mainstream the human security concept in the UN activities.


In the following panel discussion Prof. Vesselin Popovski from the United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace marked out that "the poorest of all people are usually affected worst by natural disasters". He pledged for Good Governance and adequate Warning Systems in countries threatened by natural disasters.

After the Great Tohoku Earthquake in March 2011 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 Dr. Popovski sees also the vulnerability of developed countries in the same way as of developing countries and discussed how the human security concept has evolved to include human insecurity from natural disasters, that in addition to poor countries has also affected developed countries.

Natural Disasters and the Responsibility to Protect

The role of the military as security guarantee has also evolved, playing a more important role nowadays. There is a developing duty to provide people affected by natural disaster with both first-aid and long term security. The number of victims of natural disasters outnumbers the number of victims of conflict - it may take 316 years of war in Afghanistan to reach the loss of life occurred during and after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

The UN has the responsibility to coordinate and undertake efforts in recovery and building up resilience before natural disasters strike.

Prof. Daisaku Higashi from The University of Tokyo emphasized in his note the changes in international perspective of the Peace-building process. After the end of the Cold War in 1989, UN Security Council started to create the resolutions which mobilized the international community to support building new democratic governments in post-conflict states. In the first ten years, the peacebuildings were mainly conducted by the UN framework. However, in rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan, the US tried to lead the peacebuilding process which demonstrated a lot of lessons for the future peacebuilding efforts; it needs to have inclusiveness and the robust roles of the international organizations, such as the UN, as a credible third party. The UN will be challenged by the future peacebuilding activities, especially in the Middle East due to Arab Spring.

Education is the key

Chairman of the symposium Prof. Miki Sugimura from Sophia University subsequently mentioned, that education plays a crucial role and is the most important factor of a long term human security. Prof. Higashi agreed and added that a smart concept for rebuilding is essential and plays a crucial role. Soon after the earthquake he visited Tohoku and experienced the hardships of Tohoku people, but also the potential for building up renewable energy in this region. Installing Wind Turbines offshore and solar panels inland of Tohoku would open up possible arrangements for local government becoming actively involved in shaping the structure of new communities.

Concluding the symposium's outcome, Prof. Popovski pointed out the necessity to have a holistic view on the interconnection of natural disasters, human security and peace building processes and appeal to the UNU/jfUNU Fellows to develop this view in their further studies.