This seminar introduces the concept of human security and presents it as a highly contested concept. It begins making it clear that human security is not a theory as often assumed. In spite of the fact that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) introduced the concept in its 1994 development report, the rationale behind the idea was not really new. However, the UNDP elaborated on the idea and formalised it, which came to be known as development-based and has been adopted by a few states in East Asia, most notably Japan and Thailand. The development-based approach poses a direct challenge to other concepts of security, such as national security, collective security, common security, and comprehensive security. Overall, human security has come a long way but is still struggling to stay relevant today. At the conceptual level, critics regard human security as too amorphous. At the policy level, the concept is faced with challenges as its policy instruments remain far from effective. The concept has also come under criticism from scholars subscribing to different theoretical traditions, including liberals who advocate the responsibility to protect (R2P), realists and critical theorists. This seminar argues in defence of human security but contends that the development-based approach is inadequate and stresses the need for the protection of people against sources of threat to them defined in terms of physical violence (including armed conflict and the most serious crimes) and natural disaster.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Sorpong Peou is a Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University and a member of the Yeates School of Graduate Studies. He joined the Department 01 July 2013 following a three-year term as Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Winnipeg (2010 to 2013), and served as Department Chair from 2013-2016. Prior to his appointment in Winnipeg, he was Professor of International Security at Sophia University (Tokyo, Japan) and Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Singapore).
In addition to a PhD in International Relations and Comparative Politics from York University (Canada), Dr. Peou holds a Master of Arts (MA) in Political Science from York University (Canada), and a Bachelor of Arts – Honours (BA – Hon) in Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Waterloo (Canada). Dr Peou’s research and teaching interests are generally in the fields of International Relations and Comparative Politics, with specialization in Security and Democracy Studies, and a focus on the Asia-Pacific region.