Glossary of Terms and Definitions

abatement technologies

Technologies that reduce emissions or that decrease their harmfulness by changing their chemical composition (Chapter 9).


Refers to a change in aqueous solutions (water) where the concentration of hydrogen (H+) or hydronium (H3O+) ions is increased as a result of the dissolution of substances that donate or liberate such ions, such as carbon dioxide, CO2 (Chapter 12).

ad hoc war crimes tribunals

Temporary courts established to apply the laws of armed conflict to violators (Chapter 18).

African National Congress (ANC)

The largest primarily Black South African anti-apartheid organization before the end of apartheid and after that, the predominant and majority political party in South Africa (Chapter 19).


The ability to engage in action under one's own power and control (Chapter 11).


Illegal armed conflict (Chapter 18).


Weakness of will; engaging in a practice in the full knowledge that it is harmful, as in the example of the smoking doctor. Aristotle described this as one of the impediments to moral behaviour (Chapter 21).

Allee effect

An ecological effect, wherein once the population density of an animal species falls below a certain level, the individuals become less able to reproduce themselves and to recruit new members into their population. The 'anthropogenic Allee effect' is a human-generated feedback loop where reproduction is hindered by human influences (Chapter 12).

Alliance Party

A centrist or moderate political party in Northern Ireland that draws support from both unionist and nationalist communities (Chapter 19).

alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

Methods used to resolve conflicts peacefully through dialogue and outside of judicial processes, such as mediation and negotiation (Chapter 19).


The absence of (world) government (Chapter 18).


Operating contrary to the forces tending toward increasing entropy or disorganization; self-organizing (Chapter 11).


Proposed term denoting a geological era following the Holocene in which the geological, climatological and ecological characteristics of Earth have been noticeably changed as a result of the activities of a single species, Homo sapiens, which some mark from the onset of industrialization and which greatly sped up after the Great Acceleration of the 1950s (Chapter 1, Chapter 11).


Centered on the human as the standard case or the locus of value, usually indicative of belief in human moral superiority and right of exploitation (Chapter 11).


Caused by the actions, policies or decisions of humans (Chapter 11, Chapter 16).

anti-personnel landmine (APL)

Conventional weapon of war that detonates on impact. The Ottawa Convention (1999) deemed APLs illegal for all states that ratified the treaty (Chapter 18).


The legal system of racial segregation in South Africa, adopted as a formal policy in 1948 and dismantled in the 1990-91 negotiations between the then white supremacist government and the African National Congress (Chapter 19).

apex predator

A large consumer species that takes a position at the top of the trophic pyramid of an ecosystem; quite often humans are now the apex predators in many ecosystems, having displaced the endemic species, such as bears (Chapter 12).

Asian values

A term used to connote the argument that security and community are more valuable in an Asian context than freedom and democracy, and that this justifies policies and activities that would be considered unjustifiable in the West (Chapter 4).

asylum seeker

A person fleeing persecution that has not yet been formally declared refugee by the UNHCR or other governing body but has applied for formal sanctuary to the state where they currently live (Chapter 7).

asymmetrical peace agreements

Peace agreements or treaties to end armed conflict between two parties of unequal military and political power, normally characterized by the surrender of one party to the other (Chapter 19).

asymmetry of power

When two parties to a conflict have obvious or drastic differences in power, e.g., the United States and Vietnam (Chapter 19).

autochthonous traditions

Native to the indigenous traditions of place and locality (Chapter 8).


Self-organizing and self-maintaining (Chapter 11).


The number, variety and variability of living organisms, and how these vary according to location and change over time (Chapter 5).

biological capacity

The ability of an ecosystem to produce useful biological materials and to absorb carbon dioxide and other wastes (Chapter 3).


An ecologically and geographically defined area, or biogeographic unit, that is smaller than an ecozone, but larger than an ecoregion or an ecosystem. (See operationalization by Vilhena & Antonelli, 2015.) (Chapter 17)


Largely applied to agricultural practices, it refers to preventative measures designed to mitigate or reduce the risks associated with transmitting infectious disease to humans from other living organisms (e.g., crops, livestock, invasive species, pests), later broadened to include an array of harmful biological agents including chemical compounds (Chapter 17).

biotic pyramid

Energetic relations among organisms in an ecosystem conceptualized in terms of a pyramidal structure. The base is composed of green plants that trap solar energy via photosynthesis, with smaller and smaller amounts of biomass being supported at successively higher levels of food chains or webs due to energy losses in the process of converting the body of one type of organism into the body of another (Chapter 11).


Bosnia and Herzegovina are the two regions of former Yugoslavia where much of the armed conflict took place between 1991-95 and that today are officially known as 'Bosnia and Herzegovina' although sometimes referred to simply as 'Bosnia' (Chapter 19).


The referendum passed by British voters in 2016 that required the United Kingdom to exit the European Union by 29 March 2019. The actual event occurred on 31 January 2020 (Chapter 5 and Chapter 19).


Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO), typical for the large-scale production of animal products as in the expanded cattle and dairy industries that now dominate the markets in most OECD countries and elsewhere (Chapter 12).

Chapter VII

Section of the United Nations Charter that grants the Security Council the right to authorize war (Chapter 18).

civil society

The social sphere of voluntary cooperation, distinct from the spheres of political and economic competition (Chapter 4). The ‘public sector’ (public institutions outside of government) and the ‘private sector’ (for-profit organisations). The former can include any organisation, association, community of shared interests or beliefs that contribute to what might be construed as ‘public interest’ (Chapter 15).

clientelism/clientelistic state

A state that depends on relations of patronage where its political culture is steeped in corruption and clientelist practices (Chapter 8).

climate justice

Applying the principles of justice (distributive, procedural, punitive, restorative, intergenerational) to address the inequities between culprits and victims of climate change (Chapter 9).

cognitive dissonance

The conflict arising from two strongly held beliefs or perceptions that cannot be reconciled; some theories of learning implicate cognitive dissonance as a strong motivator to reorganise prior knowledge. Its negative potential includes the denial of obvious truths (Chapter 10).

Cold War

Period of intense rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union following World War II (Chapter 18).

collective intentionality

Intentional states, such as beliefs, desires or intentions that are shared by a grouping of humans or other social animals (Chapter 11).

compétence de guerre

A French term that means the legal right of states to go to war (Chapter 18).

Concert of Europe (1815)

A system designed by the great powers to manage international affairs following the Napoleonic Campaigns (Chapter 18).

conflict management

A process of limiting the negative or open hostilities between parties to a conflict while also working to increase positive peace that focuses on improving social and economic conditions (Chapter 19).

conflict resolution

The peaceful resolution of a conflict (Chapter 19).

conflict transformation

Transformation of the grievances underlying a conflict (Chapter 19).

consensual paranoia

Collective projection by a human group of hostility, aggression and threatening behavior onto another social grouping so as to justify responding in kind (Chapter 11).

conservative révisionnistes

A group of historians of African history, like Bernard Lugan (2004), L.H. Gann and Peter Duignan (1971), that has attempted to put a more positive light on the role of the European colonists. Their work is in contrast to most postcolonial theories and theories of postcolonial state ‘dependency’ that are universally critical of the colonial era and have tended to dominate African area studies (Chapter 14).

Convention on the Prevention and the Punishment of Genocide

An international treaty that criminalized efforts to destroy a particular group due to its ethnic, linguistic, cultural or religious affiliation (Chapter 18).

Conventional Development Paradigm (CDP)

The belief that the market forces and trends that dominated development during the past centuries will continue to shape global development during the coming decades. The future is conceived as an extension of the present (Raskin et al., 2002, p. 22). The antonym in the literature is the New Ecological Paradigm (Chapter 1, (Chapter 21).


Legally binding instruments under international law (Chapter 2).


The belief that the growth of populations and economies can continue forever, unencumbered by physical limits (Chapter 1).

crisis of governability

The clash of two trends: one being the growing demand for good governance (justice, equity, fairness, accountability, etc.) and the second the decreasing quality of governments in many countries, to the point of kakistocracy (Chapter 21).

criterion-based human rights

Human rights that can be evaluated according to universal criteria such as those found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Chapter 4).

cultural capital

Pierre Bourdieu described three states of cultural capital: ‘long-lasting dispositions of mind and body’ (embodied state), cultural goods (objectified state) and original properties associated with certain institutions (institutionalised state). Cultural capital, its display and exchange, plays an important role in the social dynamics of schools (Chapter 21).

cultural relativism

The belief that any culture’s values and beliefs are as valid as those of any other culture. This belief gained acceptance as a principle as people became more critical of traditional colonialism and its wholesale oppression of Indigenous cultures worldwide. It went hand in hand with moral relativism, which is equally unhelpful for anyone searching for ways to strengthen human rights (Chapter 15).

cultural safety

“[A] condition perceived by vulnerable recipients (patients or students) that inspires them with the confidence that no psychological harm will come to them in their dependent situation. It includes all the provisions and considerations contributed by the practitioner in meeting that requirement but it is defined by the beholder” (Lautensach & Lautensach, 2011b) (Chapter 15).

customary international law

Unwritten international law that emerges from a pattern of behaviour of states (Chapter 18).

cyber attack

Any type of offensive maneuver that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks or personal computer devices (Chapter 18).

de facto socio-economic segregation

Segregation in reality, though not by law. This situation characterizes the relationship between Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland today, and persisted in the United States even after legal racial segregation was struck down by the US Supreme Court (Chapter 19).

dead zone

An area in which oxygen levels in the water are too low to support most marine life (Chapter 10).


Not legally binding, but as a practical matter often have referential or moral authority that may create de facto political force (Chapter 2).


The loss of animals in a bioregion, particularly large animals high on the food web; this can refer to individuals, populations or species (Chapter 12).


The strategy to decrease the impact of an economy to the extent that it does not exceed the maximum sustainable threshold of ecological support systems. This concept only refers to growth that requires physical resources subject to such limits, not other, non-material forms of growth such as learning (Asara et al., 2015) (Chapter 3).

demographic momentum

The growth rate of a population at any given time will reflect its current age structure (Chapter 12).

demographic transition

The change a society makes, with the help of modern sanitation, vaccination, and other public-health-related procedures, when it goes from having a high birth rate and a high death rate to having a low death rate and subsequently a low birth rate (Chapter 12).


Refers a change in to aqueous solutions (water) where the concentration of dissolved oxygen drops as a result of warming or other changes (Chapter 12).

disability-adjusted life year (DALY)

Frequently used to measure deaths at different ages and disability. One DALY basically equates one lost year of ‘healthy’ life (Chapter 5).


The movement of invested funds away from a specific industry or business (Chapter 9).

domestic crime

Offences that occur within a single national jurisdiction (Chapter 13).

dualistic thinking

Either/or thinking that allows for no shades of gray, often with an implied good/bad polarization (Chapter 11).

Earth Charter

An ethical framework for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century; it seeks to inspire in all people a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the whole human family, the greater community of life and future generations (Chapter 16).

ecological integrity

An ecosystem has integrity when it is deemed characteristic for its natural region, including the composition and abundance of native species and biological communities, rates of change and supporting processes. In plain language, ecosystems have integrity when their native components (plants, animals and other organisms) and processes (such as growth and reproduction) are intact (Bosselmann, 2010) (Chapter 3).

ecological marginalization

The displacement of disempowered groups in a society towards lands of poor productivity, caused by the capture of scarce resources by more powerful sectors of society; because those lands often cannot support large populations, the effect is ecological deterioration and sometimes violent conflict and displacement (Chapter 10).

ecological rationality

Holistic rationality that grasps our human place within the biosphere and makes decisions compatible with the long-term survival of life on Earth (Chapter 11).

ecological security

Securing the integrity of ecological support structures (ecosystems and the ‘services’ they supply) for the purpose of supporting the ecological pillar of human security (Chapter 16).


A dynamic complex of plant, animal and microorganism communities, and the nonliving environment interacting as a functional system (Alcamo et al., 2003) (Chapter 3, Chapter 5).

ecosystem services

The benefits humanity obtains from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as regulation of floods, drought, land degradation, and disease; supporting services such as soil formation and nutrient cycling; and cultural services such as recreational, spiritual, religious and other nonmaterial benefits (Alcamo et al., 2003) (Chapter 3, Chapter 17).


The appearance of large-scale patterns of organization not observable on inspection of the isolated parts of a complex system (Chapter 11).


The ability to ‘feel one another's feelings’; to resonate emotionally with others (Chapter 11).


The set of circumstances or conditions, especially physical conditions, in which a person or community lives, works, develops, etc., or a thing exists or operates; the external conditions affecting the life of a plant or animal (SOED, 2007) (Chapter 3).

Environmental Performance Index (EPI)

This index by Yale University and Columbia University, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, ranks countries on 24 performance indicators. These run across 10 issue categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality (Chapter 5).

environmental refugee

A person who no longer gains a secure livelihood in their traditional homelands because of what are primarily environmental factors of unusual scope (Myers & Kent, 1995: 18); this status is not yet recognised by UNHCR as a refugee (Chapter 7).

environmental security

Defined as security from “critical adverse effects caused directly or indirectly by environmental change” (Barnett, (2007, p. 5) (Chapter 1).

equity and equality

Equity refers to equal access to opportunity and services according to individual needs, whereas equality is the principle of treating every person the same. Only the former takes into account differences in opportunity (Chapter 9).

erga omnes

A Latin phrase used in international law as a legal term to describe obligations owed by states toward the community of states as a whole (Chapter 6).


Evaluating other peoples and cultures based on the values and understandings of one’s own culture (Chapter 4).

exponential growth

Any increase of a variable over time in which the increments steadily increase, such as the compound interest of an investment or a growing population of cells that divide in two at a constant rate. In some cases the doubling time remains constant; in others it, too, shortens over time (Chapter 10).


The cost or benefit of an action that is not felt by the actor in the short term. The number of externalized costs depends on the extent to which the actor’s thinking is informed by short-term self-interest (Chapter 10).

extinction debt

Can occur when a species is reduced to few remaining members that find it difficult to reproduce (due partly to the Allee effect); in spite of the fact that the species still exists, it is already doomed to disappear (Chapter 12).

fallacy of misplaced concreteness

Mistaking the abstract for the concrete, taking the concept itself for the underlying reality from which it is derived (Chapter 11).

food security

There are multiple potential definitions (Weiler et al., 2014). One, in relation to human security, is “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 2016) (Chapter 17).

food web

Describes the trophic interactions between the species in an ecosystem (producers, consumers, decomposers). While formerly often referred to as the ‘food chain,’ the recognition that interactions seldom form chains, but rather, are normally interlinked in a highly complex web makes 'food web' a more accurate term (Chapter 12).


Usually referred to as the 'ecological footprint,' this is the area of productive land (and water) required to meet the demands of a human individual (or group, community, country or global population); its normalized unit is global hectares (gha). It is often compared with the biocapacity of the available territory in order to determine whether overshoot has occurred (Chapter 12).

formal dwelling

In South Africa today, a structure that was originally built according to government approved plans, including much of the housing in townships (Chapter 19).

Four Pillars Model of human security

Sociopolitical security, economic security, health-related security and environmental security (Chapter 1).

fragile state

A state in which a country is unable to guarantee order, security or the well-being of its citizens (Chapter 8).

Fragile States Index (FSI)

The index, produced by The Fund for Peace, includes 12 conflict risk indicators used to measure the condition of a state at any given moment. The index examines four areas – cohesion, economic, political and social and cross-cutting – with three indicators for each of these. Three primary data streams (quantitative, qualitative and expert validation) are triangulated and subjected to critical review to calculate the final FSI scores (Chapter 5).

freedom of religion

As noted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to believe and practise one’s religion in private and in public, and the right to change one’s religion (Chapter 4).

Geneva Conventions (1949)

Four treaties which set the legal standards for the protection of victims of war. In 1977, two Protocols were drafted to extend the provisions of the 1949 Conventions to non-traditional warfare (Chapter 18).


Conceived in 1944 by a Polish-Jewish lawyer, Raphael Lemkin, in his treatise Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, to denote the destruction of a nation or an ethnic group by means of a coordinated plan of different actions which are aimed at the destruction of the essential foundations of national groups that will eventually bring about the annihilation of the groups themselves (Chapter 6).

global environmental governance (GEG)

GEG is global governance as it relates to the environment; its fundamental principles are democracy, equity and care. The general aim of GEG is to protect, provide and prevent as follows: 1. protect, conserve and sustain the global environment for human flourishing and for the inherent value of nature; 2. provide the necessities of life for human and social development, including providing stability and security to human individuals and societies, as well as the entire community of life, for current and future generations; 3. prevent harm, inequity and suffering as well as the crossing of catastrophic tipping points for life on Earth (Chapter 20).

global governance

As a single, global governing body is absent or limited, global governance takes the shape of local, national and international individuals and institutions, governmental and non-governmental, that seek to influence either local behaviour that has a global impact or collective global behaviour that has a local, regional or global impact. The heightened role of individuals and non-governmental organizations in helping shape global behaviour is unique to global governance (Chapter 20).

Global Peace Index (GPI)

This Institute for Economics and Peace index ranks independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness. It comprises 23 indicators of the absence of violence or fear of violence in three thematic domains: ongoing domestic and international conflict, the level of societal safety and security, and the degree of militarization (Chapter 5).


Defined by Roland Robertson (1992, p. 8) as “the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole” (Chapter 4).


An amorphous term that generally implies social constructs created to govern, or regulate, human behaviour. They are rooted in societal norms and values, sometimes translated into institutions and laws, and implemented by individuals, families, societies, governments, and non-governmental organizations. Local and national governance typically refers to hierarchical government-sanctioned institutions and the rule of law. Governance, when done for just purposes (as opposed to totalitarian, authoritarian or fascist governance models), focuses on the fundamental relationships needed for harmony, for stability, for security: harmony between individuals living together with other individuals and harmony between societies that live together with other societies (Chapter 20).

grantability of a right

Whether a right is grantable is determined by the extent that its exercise is free from dependence on physical resources. For example, the right to self expression depends mostly on the amount of tolerance a society is prepared to extend towards individual members and their personal ambitions and aspirations. This renders it quite grantable. In contrast, the right to clean water depends mainly on how much water is locally available, how many people are using it (equitably) and how much infrastructural capacity exists for wastewater processing and recycling. These dependencies render it not grantable in principle (Chapter 15).

grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and Protocols

A special category of violations which are considered so serious that all states, regardless of where they were committed or by whom, have a duty to apprehend the perpetrators and to prosecute them (Chapter 6).

grounded legitimacy

Coined by Kevin Clements, this term describes values, beliefs and practices that are grounded in traditions, customs and folkways, but capable of legitimating modern political, economic and social institutions (Chapter 8).

health security

The activities that may minimize risks or impacts of acute events on the collective health of a population living within a defined region (Chapter 17).

hemispheric asymmetry

The lateralization of function between the two cerebral hemispheres of the brain (Chapter 11).

hierarchy of needs

A concept of Abraham Maslow (1943), who argued that human needs can be understood hierarchically, and that the ‘higher’ needs are only pursued if and when the more basic needs are satisfied (Chapter 4).

hors de combat

Out of action due to injury or damage (Chapter 2).

Hothouse Earth scenario

This scenario is based on a global runaway greenhouse effect that may well render the planet uninhabitable to all but microorganisms. The planet Venus is thought to have undergone such a process (Chapter 9).


In the traditional Palestinian peacemaking process,  hudna (an Arabic word) is a period where parties to the conflict avoid encountering one another completely, kind of a 'cooling off' period before they enter into the process of Sulha to bring closure to the conflict and injuries that may have followed from it (Chapter 19).

Human Development Index (HDI)

The UN Development Programme’s HDI provides a comparative analysis of international human development indicators relevant to human security. This gives a composite measure of a country’s average achievements in three basic aspects of human development: health, knowledge and income (Chapter 5).

human rights

Basic rights and freedoms provided for in international treaties since 1945 (Chapter 18).

human security

The proper referent for security should be the individual rather than the state. In this paradigm a people-centered view of security is necessary for national, regional and global stability (Chapter 8).

human trafficking

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by improper means (force, abduction, fraud or coercion) for improper purposes, including forced labour or sexual exploitation (UN, 2000, article 3, para A) (Chapter 13).

humanitarian intervention

A controversial extension of the just war theory to one that legitimises war when it is prosecuted for reasons of human security, e.g. protecting the human rights of people in another country or liberating them from oppressive rulers (Chapter 4).


Consisting of or relating to ideas (Chapter 16).

illiberal democracy

A term emphasized by Zakaria (1997) that describes the rather sudden post-Cold War rise of states that held elections and declared themselves ‘democracies,’ but remained illiberal or not free (Chapter 14).

Indigenous peoples

The first or aboriginal inhabitants of an area. Sometimes added to this definition is the establishment of a state by non-aboriginal inhabitants, especially since the beginning of European imperialism in the 16th century, although many discussions today among Africans and others do not consider the establishment of a 'settler' state by Europeans a defining quality of being Indigenous (Chapter 19).

Indigenous-settler relations

Relations between the aboriginal inhabitants of an area and the dominant society of a state created by European imperialism (Chapter 19).

infinite substitutability

The assumption that any resource can be replaced by an alternative resource once its price renders it unattractive to consumers (Chapter 10).

informal housing

In South Africa, makeshift or improvised housing not built according to an approved plan (Chapter 19).

Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)

Integrates complex analyses of food insecurity and malnutrition situations (Chapter 17).

intentional homicide

The intentional killing of one person by another (Chapter 5).

intergenerational justice

The notion that people who are currently alive have a moral duty to care about the welfare of future generations and to limit their claims on critical resources (Chapter 10).

internally displaced person (IDP)

A person who was displaced within their country of residence as a result of conflict, persecution or natural disaster (Chapter 7).

International Court of Justice (ICJ)

Principal organ of the United Nations that renders legal decisions in disputes arising among nation-states. The ICJ may also issue advisory opinions at the request of the UN General Assembly or Security Council (Chapter 18).

international crime

Offences that are recognised in international law and against the world community, not necessarily involving the profit motive (Chapter 13).

International Criminal Court (ICC)

Established in 2002 as the world’s first permanent court with the authority to prosecute individuals who commit serious offences (Chapter 18).

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)

Ad hoc war crimes tribunal established by the UN Security Council in 1994 to prosecute human rights violations resulting from the 1994 Rwandan genocide (Chapter 18).

International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY)

Ad hoc war crimes tribunal established by the UN Security Council in 1993 to prosecute war crimes associated with the series of wars in the former Yugoslavia (Chapter 18).

International Military Tribunal (IMT)

Tribunals established in Nuremberg and Tokyo in 1945 to prosecute German and Japanese war criminals (Chapter 18).


An uprising of Palestinians against Israeli military occupation. The first took place in 1987 in Gaza and the West Bank; the second in 2000 (Chapter 19).

Irish Republican Army (IRA)

The paramilitary movement in the 19th and 20th centuries aimed at uniting Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland (Chapter 19).

Jevons paradox

A phenomenon in which, in the face of continually improving technological efficiencies, shows us doing nothing but consuming more and more (Chapter 12).

jus ad bellum

Latin for 'law in advance of war,' this term describes laws that regulate the right of states to enter into war (Chapter 18).

jus cogens

A Latin term that refers to a compelling, or highest, law which cannot be violated or abrogated by any other country (Chapter 6).

jus in bello

Latin for 'law during war', this term refers to legal principles that govern the conduct of soldiers in time of war (Chapter 18).


From the Greek word kakistos, meaning "the worst," refers to the phenomenon of a government being recruited from the ranks of those least qualified, leading to governmental failure through incompetence, negligence or hidden interests. Worldwide, kakistocracies seem to have increased in number since the beginning of the 21st century (Chapter 21).


Kastom is a pidgin word used to refer to traditional culture, including religion, economics, art and magic in Melanesia (Chapter 8).

Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928)

Treaty that limited the right of states to go to war (Chapter 18).

keystone species

A keystone species plays a crucial role in how a particular ecosystem functions without which the ecosystem would collapse into a fundamentally different form or cease to exist (Chapter 9).

lethal raiding

A form of intergroup conflict observed in chimpanzees whereby a ‘raiding party’ from one group attacks and attempts to kill members of another group (Chapter 11).


A term that refers to the classical notions of political freedom. In Western liberal democracies, political freedom has been closely tied to the protection of the individual rights of citizens as might be defined in the French Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen or the US Bill or Rights. It contains the ideals of individualism as well as of personal responsibility, as in Rousseau’s first line in The Social Contract (1762): “Man is born free; yet everywhere he is in chains.”  Ultimately, the democratic ideal is that liberalism is an expression of the local citizenry, supported by local governing institutions (Chapter 14).


There are many debated definitions (Carr, 2015), but the classic is “A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, while not undermining the natural resource base” (Chambers & Conway, 1992, p. 6) (Chapter 17).

London Charter (1945)

Treaty that established the post-World War II war crimes tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo (Chapter 18).


The hypothesized Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA), marking the origin of life on Earth at about 3.5 million years ago, from which all other life forms evolved. This is sometimes depicted at the centre of the tree of life which displays relationships among living organisms outlined on the basis of genetic similarities (Chapter 11).

marginalized communities

Communities or groups that exhibit significantly lower socioeconomic status, political representation, cultural status or other forms of empowerment than the rest of their social environment (Chapter 9).

Martens Clause

Named after Fyodor Martens, a Russian Diplomat who introduced it at the 1899 Hague Conference, refers to principles of humanity that must guide the conduct of belligerents during armed conflict and the clause now also forms part of the Genevan Conventions and Protocols and several other treaties (Chapter 6).


Any intermediate scale that can be located between larger and smaller systems or scales (Chapter 17).

metaphysical metaphors

Imagery derived from our experiences of living in the world that we imaginatively project into the deep structure of reality, beyond what physics can observe, in order to explain to ourselves ‘how it all works’ (Chapter 11).

mirror neurons

A select set of nerve cells in the brain that are activated not only when an individual moves, senses a touch or experiences an emotion, but also when that individual perceives another organism moving, sensing or feeling; they ‘mirror’ the actions or reactions of the other (Chapter 11).

mitigation and adaptation

Strategies for addressing climate change based on the assumption that some climate change is now inevitably taking its course. Mitigation focuses on lessening the impacts while adaptation focuses on learning to live with them (Chapter 9).

nationalists (Northern Ireland)

Those in Northern Ireland who want the whole of the island of Ireland to be one state (Chapter 19).

natural capital

The stock of ecosystems in a region that provides resources and services on a sustainable basis; it also includes all non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels and minerals (Chapter 21).

natural law

Laws that are found in either nature or religion (Chapter 18).

negative peace

The cessation of hostilities or armed conflict (Chapter 19).

neoclassical economics

This school of thought in economics is based on three defining elements: methodological individualism, utility maximization and market equilibrium (Chapter 12).


A contemporary movement that aims at the liberalization of markets, free trade and, generally, removal of ‘the state.’ In the contexts of developing countries, the term is generally used to refer to the ideological fervour of economic development practitioners that began in the 1980s (Chapter 14).

neural network

Interconnected clusters of neurons whose coordinated firing produces specific results under certain circumstances (Chapter 11).

non-intervention principle

Restriction on the right of states to go to war to instances of self-defence, collective self-defence and after Security Council authorization (Chapter 18).

norm-based human rights

Human rights that can be evaluated according to whether or not they improve on an existing situation (Chapter 4).

Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC)

A cross-community political party in Northern Ireland co-founded in 1996 by a Catholic academic and Protestant social worker and active until 2006 (Chapter 19).


Net primary productivity (NPP), a measure of the rate of formation of plant biomass globally every year, representing the total amount of solar energy captured by photosynthesis after what is utilised by plant cellular respiration has been subtracted from the gross amount produced (Chapter 11).

nuclear weapon

Considered a weapon of mass destruction (WMD), nuclear weapons were first used at the close of the Second World War by the United States against Japan. Today, the spread of nuclear weapons is one of the most dangerous trends in world politics (Chapter 18).

ontologically objective

Having a mode of existence that is independent of what human beings may believe, desire or otherwise intend regarding it (Chapter 11).

ontologically subjective

Having a mode of existence that is entirely dependent upon human consciousness, such as, beliefs, desires and intentions (Chapter 11).


The branch of philosophy that addresses issues of existence and reality (Chapter 11).

Operation Defensive Shield

The Israeli government’s massive military crackdown beginning in March 2002 in response to the second intifada that began in 2000 (Chapter 19).


A way of studying the Orient (principally Anatolia, the Middle East and North Africa) from a European perspective, criticised by Edward Said and others for homogenizing its object of study and making the reality fit the image (Chapter 4).


The condition in which a population uses more resources from the available environmental support structures than what those structures can sustainably provide in the form of ‘ecosystem services.’ This can be viewed as overpopulation or over-consumption or, more accurately, a combination of both (Chapter 1, Chapter 3).

Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)

Created at the conclusion of an Arab League meeting in 1964 as an organization recognized as representing the Palestinian people with the goal of liberating them from Israeli rule through armed struggle (Chapter 19).


A model or pattern; a framework for structuring thought (Chapter 11).

peace process

Prior to the second half of the 20th century, armed conflicts among European states normally ended with a peace treaty predicated on the surrender of the weaker, and thus defeated, party. In the second half of the 20th century, the term 'peace process' came into use when rather than surrender, parties to a conflict negotiated terms acceptable to both to cease the armed conflict without a formal surrender (Chapter 19).

peacekeeping operation (PKO)

A multinational force authorized by an international organization and mandated to keep the peace in a specific country or region (Chapter 18).

political hybridity

Political institutions and processes which blend or combine traditional and modern forms of governance and legitimation (Chapter 8).

positive law

A law that results from the consent of nation-states (Chapter 18).

positive peace

In a post-conflict environment, efforts focused on addressing and remedying underlying issues of social and economic inequalities or injustices in the living conditions and relationship between parties to the former conflict (Chapter 19).


Mutual benefit (Chapter 14).


Unit of concentration, parts per million, a common unit in quantitative chemical analysis (Chapter 3).

precautionary principle

This principle states that, given the fact that scientific evidence is bound to remain forever incomplete, serious dangers concerning large parts of populations ought to be addressed not by focussing on the most probable benefits, but with the goal of causing the least probable harm (French, 2000, p. 113) (Chapter 21).

prima facie

A Latin phrase that, in legal practice, means ‘at first sight’ or taken at face value (Chapter 6).

procuring efficiency

The cost at which a unit of a resource can be extracted, processed, or otherwise brought to market; it is often set in ratio to the financial return from the sale of the unit (Chapter 10). See also, the discussion on peak oil in Chapter 3.

Progressive Unionist Party (PUP)

Particularly in its early history, a primarily working class party in Belfast, Northern Ireland linked to several pro-union paramilitaries and supporting continued union of Northern Ireland with Great Britain (Chapter 19).


The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) is a partnership between the people and Government of Solomon Islands and 15 contributing countries of the Pacific region. Its objective is helping the Solomon Islands to lay the foundations for long-term stability, security and prosperity (Chapter 8).


The dominant theory in International Relations that posits that states exist in a condition of anarchy, resulting in a perpetual struggle for power and the pursuit of their national interests. As a result, states are self-interested and must be self-reliant in order to ensure their survival (Chapter 7).


The ability to reflect back upon oneself, including upon one's own beliefs, motivations and actions (Chapter 11).


Any person who is recognised by the UNHCR as unable to return to the country of their citizenship because they fear prosecution and physical harm on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion (Chapter 7).


The capacity of a system to cope with change, shocks and disturbances and continue to develop;  the ability of a system to deal with disturbance while reorganizing so as to maintain the same overall structure, function and feedbacks (Chapter 9, Chapter 11).

Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

A new concept stating that if governments fail in their responsibility to protect their own citizens, the responsibility is transferred to the international community (Chapter 18).

retributive justice

A system of justice based on the punishment of convicted criminal offenders rather than rehabilitation and/or restoring wholeness to victims and to the relationship between victim and perpetrator (Chapter 19).


A moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain a particular good or service or treatment, or to act in a certain way. All rights come with obligations and are governed by limits, which renders them particularly contestable (Chapter 15).

Rome Statute

Refers to the multilateral treaty that established the International Criminal Court (Chapter 6).

rooted cosmopolitanism

The idea that we can be informed and rooted by our local experiences without losing sight of our global place or our global relationships (Chapter 20).

SDG 13

The thirteenth of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which aims to mobilize US $100 billion annually by 2020 to decrease the global carbon footprint and to promote climate change (Chapter 9).

Se débrouiller

In French-speaking African contexts, a term that refers to the desperate efforts of all people to ‘get by’; as described by Michela Wrong (2002), to do whatever it takes to survive (Chapter 14).


A new state is formed by withdrawing from an existing state. In the case of former Yugoslavia, Slovenia was the first republic to secede, which led the Yugoslav government to send national army to use force to prevent the secession. As the other republics announced secession the Yugoslav war or wars of secession unfolded between 1991-1995 (Chapter 19).


The accusation of imparting security meaning on too many human needs and aspirations that lie outside of the areas of international relations, law enforcement and jurisprudence; this has been suggested as a criticism of comprehensive models of human security, particularly by members of the Copenhagen School (Chapter 1).

Security Council

A principal organ of the United Nations which is empowered to authorize peacekeeping operations, mandatory economic sanctions and military intervention. The five World War victors (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) have a permanent seat on the Council and the power to veto any of the body’s resolutions (Chapter 18).


The legal right of states to use military force in defence of their territory and citizens. Since 1945, self-defence is limited to responses to armed attacks on the territory of the state (Chapter 18).


The spontaneous emergence of order generated within an energetically open, complex system, largely by means of internal, informational feedback loops (Chapter 11).

seven dimensions

The seven dimensions of human security include economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political security; in their totality they cover the same concepts as the four pillars (UNDP, 1994) (Chapter 1).

shanty towns

In the case of South Africa, improvised informal housing has led to the creation of whole towns of such structures in a squatter or settlement area now called shanty towns (Chapter 19).

Shin Bet

The Israeli national security agency with responsibility for counter-terrorist and counter-espionage intelligence and activities (Chapter 19).

Sinn Féin

One of the two largest parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Sinn Féin is historically affiliated with and considered the political arm of the Irish Republican Army (Chapter 19).

social construction

The process whereby we humans create collectively shared, ontologically subjective conceptual structures by means of language and other symbols, and organize our social institutions and our patterns of cooperative activity around them (Chapter 11).

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)

A nationalist political party in Northern Ireland that advocates for reunification with the Republic of Ireland and in 2019 entered into a partnership with the major party in the Republic of Ireland, Fianna Fáil (Chapter 19).

social-ecological systems

A system that represents both biogeophysical units and social actors and institutions (Chapter 17).

sovereignty gap

The incapacity of many states in the developing world to protect citizens and extend basic services to the whole population while being acknowledged by the international community as the sole effective and legitimate authorities in particular places (Chapter 8).


A group of individual organisms or populations that share an adequate number of morphological characteristics, that are able to generate fertile progeny with each other, and that share an adequate amount of genetic information (Chapter 12).

state capacity and effectiveness

The capacity and ability of state institutions to deliver the basic economic, social and political functions of governance effectively and legitimately (Chapter 8).


Any person who is not recognised as a national (or a citizen) of any state in the world. They are unable to obtain citizenship documents from their state of residence because their presence resulted from a conflict, displacement or disaster (Chapter 7).

status quo bias

A bias in perception or in preferences that favours those conditions that one has become accustomed to; it is seen with individuals, groups and entire cultures (Chapter 9).

strong sustainability

Based on the concentric spheres model of social systems being nested within the biosphere, it proposes that social and economic activities are absolutely dependent on sustained support from ecosystem services (Chapter 16).

submerged Lockean consensus

A term introduced by Louis Hartz (1955) to refer to the overwhelming yet unstated agreement among US (and other Western) citizens that one of the primary functions of all local governments is to “protect the things we work for,” as classically defined by John Locke (1690) (Chapter 14).


A traditional Palestinian method of conflict resolution or peacemaking mediated by a traditionally trained peacemaker. Some people would like to apply the method to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today (Chapter 19).


Living within the limits set by global geophysical processes, by ecological support structures and their capacities, by social groups and interactions, and by the basic needs of all living organisms, including Homo sapiens; our favourite corollary, attributed to Steve Goldfinger, is “converting resources into junk no faster than nature can convert our junk into resources” (Chapter 1).

sustainable development

A pattern of economic growth in which resource use is aimed at meeting human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met in the present and through time (Chapter 8).

systems thinking

Thinking in terms of the multiple nonlinear interactions involved in the behaviour of complex systems (Chapter 11).

term dead

An area in which oxygen levels in the water are too low to support most marine life (Chapter 10).


In accordance with the Geneva Conventions and Security Council resolution 1566 (2004), the UN refers to terrorism as actions intended to cause death, or serious bodily harm, to civilians or non-combatants when their purpose is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act (Chapter 5).

The Troubles

A name given to the violent conflict between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland involving attacks by paramilitaries on both sides and a British military occupation of Northern Ireland, beginning in the late 1960s and ending with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 (Chapter 19).

theory of mind

The ability to understand another’s point of view (Chapter 11).

three pillars of sustainable development

This model proposes that sustainability rests on the three pillars of economic, social and environmental sustainability. It implies that the three are equal in their strength and significance, which misrepresents the precepts of basic ecology (Chapter 16).


Specific areas designated for occupation by Blacks and 'Coloureds' under the South African apartheid legal regime, which ended in 1994 (Chapter 19).

transnational crime

Offences “whose inception, perpetration and/or direct or indirect effects involve more than one country” (UNODC, 2002, p. 4); often used synonymously with ‘global crime’ (Chapter 13).

Treaties of Westphalia (1648)

Treaties ending the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) which formally established the nation-state system and marked the onset of modern international law (Chapter 18).

treaty law

Written binding agreements among states (Chapter 18).

Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)

A quasi-judicial commission tasked with assessing applications for amnesty under the post-apartheid government for the purpose of promoting restorative justice in the new democracy (Chapter 19).


An ethic — or a set of values — of  care and interdependence from tribes across Southern Africa. Roughly translated as 'I am because we are,' it places our identity, our humanity, within our relationships to others. This is not at the expense of the diversity of local people, places and cultures, but through that diversity. Ubuntu has been used as a legal and governance principle to heal broken relationships through reconciliation and restorative justice (Chapter 20).

Ulster Democratic Party (UDP)

The loyalist (unionist) political party created in 1981 by the Ulster Defence Association, a paramilitary and vigilante organization in Northern Ireland (Chapter 19).

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)

In 2019 the fourth-largest political party in Northern Ireland, but the ruling party between 1921 and 1972 (Chapter 19).

Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)

A major party to the conflict during the Troubles that lasted nearly 30 years, the Ulster Volunteer Force was a loyalist paramilitary group (Chapter 19).


Those in Northern Ireland who support continued union with the United Kingdom (Chapter 19).

United Nations (UN)

International organization established after World War II (Chapter 18).

United Nations Charter (1945)

The international treaty that founded the United Nations (Chapter 18).

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

A resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 which outlines basic and fundamental human rights (Chapter 18).


The benefit or welfare reaped by the members of an economic unit that share or inhabit a particular system of resource use. Different economic systems are designed to maximise either average utility or total utility (Chapter 12).

water security

The capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being and socio-economic development, for ensuring protection against water-borne pollution and water-related disasters, and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability (UNU-INWEH, 2013) (Chapter 17).

weak sustainability

Based on the concentric spheres model of social systems being nested within the biosphere, it proposes that gains in economic capital can compensate for declines in natural capital (Chapter 16).

Weberian state

The state in Max Weber’s definition is a community successfully claiming authority on the legitimate use of physical force over a given territory. This legitimacy is either rational legal, traditional or charismatic. A Weberian state is characterised by the rule of law and state institutions divided into executive, representative, judicial, administrative and coercive agencies (Chapter 8).

West Bank

An area of former British Palestine that borders Jordan on the east and the Green Line separating it from Israel on the west, north, and south. Three areas were designated under the Oslo Accords with Area A under full Palestinian control, Area B internally controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and Area C under full Israeli control. Many refer to the entire territory including all areas a currently under Israeli military occupation since movement out of Area A into B or C is controlled by the Israeli government under the terms of Oslo (Chapter 19).

white supremacist government

Any government that implicitly or explicitly endows people of European descent with privilege and marginalizes (non-European) people of colour is a white supremacist government, such as South African under apartheid or the United States under Jim Crow laws (Chapter 19).


'I-win-you-lose'; we have limited resources (Chapter 14).


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