2 Human Security Foundation Documents and Related Resources

Thomas Ditzler, Patricia Hastings and Sabina Lautensach

Learning Outcomes & Big Ideas

  • Learners will be able to explain the origins and early development of the human security concept, including key international conferences and their outcomes.
  • Learners will be able to identify at least two principles of human security that make it distinct from more traditional concepts of security.
  • Learners will also be able to access key informational sites to obtain historical documents, specialized information and reports on evolving events and issues.


The selection of foundation documents for human security is a daunting task; selected resources must be clear, cogent, and illuminate the core elements and overarching principles of an especially broad and complex concept. In addition, sources must provide information of sufficient heuristic value as to inform policy and foster development and evaluation of programmes and responses. To provide continuity, the list should include not only historically significant international treaties and agreements, but recurrent and periodic resources that address evolving circumstances.

In pursuit of these requirements, we have divided this effort into three general sections. First, we shall provide an overview of the origins of the human security concept, citing a few key events and related documents; second, we shall present an annotated list of significant human security foundation documents and related resources. In some instances we shall also include commentary on respective documents’ development, and any special political, contextual or situational issues that would contribute to understanding the documents’ intent. Third, we shall list key recurring resource documents and special publications that have demonstrated their utility as monitors of contemporaneous human security issues. These are often annual, occasional, or near real-time reports produced by agencies and programmes of the United Nations, national governments, universities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or other human rights/human security related organizations.

This is not purely a reference chapter but one that introduces the various institutions that picked up on human security early and contributed to its growth from. The contributions listed here give a realistic record of the growth of the human security field. They illustrate the power relationships between those least secure and the political institutions in charge of protecting them; and by explicating those relationships they help establish the basis for empowerment. In keeping with the special purpose of this chapter its format differs from the rest; authors, publishers and URLs are specified in footnotes and not in the book’s bibliography. While web addresses tend to outdate relatively quickly, the respective institutions tend to maintain those documents in their archives for much longer.

Chapter Overview

2.1 Origins and Development of the Human Security Concept

2.2 General Foundation Documents for Human Security

2.2.1 The Charter of the United Nations and the United Nations Website

2.2.2 The Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, with Protocols Additional of 1977 and 2005

2.2.3 Protocols Additional (1 and 2) to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949

2.2.4 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and Relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (Protocol III), December 8, 2005

2.2.5 Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

2.2.6 Manual on the Rights and Duties of Medical Personnel in Armed Conflicts

2.2.7 The Commission on Human Security

2.2.8 Human Security of Children

2.2.9 A Conceptual Framework for Human Security

2.2.10 The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

2.2.11 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

2.2.12 The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

2.2.13 International Labour Organization (ILO)

2.2.14 World Food Programme (WFP)

2.2.15 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

2.2.16 World Health Report – World Health Organization (WHO)

2.2.17 The Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN)

2.2.18 The Multilaterals Project – The Fletcher School, Tufts University

2.2.19 Guiding Principles on Internal DisplacementUN Office For The Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

2.2.20 Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response                             

2.3 Key Recurring Resource Documents, Publications and Websites

2.3.1 The Human Security Report Project (HSRP)

2.3.2 The Mini-Atlas of Human Security

2.3.3 Landmines and Land Rights in Conflict Affected Contexts

2.3.4 Disaster in Asia: The Case for Legal Preparedness

2.3.5 Making an Impact: Guidelines on Designing and Implementing Outreach Programmes for Transitional Justice

2.3.6 What’s New – The UN Trust Fund for Human Security

Resources and References

Questions for Discussion

Extension Activities & Further Research

List of Terms

Suggested Reading

2.1 Origins and Development of the Human Security Concept

As the concept of human security emerged in the 1990s, advocates quickly recognized the need to shape a definition that could adequately define the central organizing principles of the concept and provide a common language. Following is a brief overview of some of the more frequently cited events and documents.


The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) issued the first Human Development Report (HDR); many have since followed. The independent report was commissioned by the UN Development Programme with the note that “its editorial autonomy is guaranteed by a special resolution of the General Assembly (A/RES/57/264), which recognizes the Human Development Report as an independent intellectual exercise.” The report was based on the premise that “people are the real wealth of nations.” Copies of all reports are available from, United Nations Development Programme, 20 Years of Global Human Development Reports, 1990-2011.

UNDP Human Development Report [PDF]. This iteration of the HDR focused specifically on the development of the human security framework; it is considered a milestone in the evolution of human security. It declares unambiguously that the proper focus for security is the individual, not the state; a clear reprise of the 1990 report. This chapter addresses human security exclusively, noting that human security ultimately emerges from the context of sustainable development. The report also presented “A World Social Charter” that described the political and social values necessary to create a truly “global civil society.”


UN World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen). This report describes the summit at which the construct of human security was disaggregated into in seven core areas:

  1. Economic security
  2. Food security
  3. Health security
  4. Environmental security
  5. Personal security
  6. Community security
  7. Political security.

The impetus for the development of the core areas arose, in part, from the criticism that human security was vague and overbroad. The website has three sections:

  1. World Summit for Social Development Agreements: The Copenhagen Declaration, the ten commitments, and the Programme of Action
  2. World Summit for Social Development Documents: All official texts of the Summit
  3. World Summit for Social Development Statements: An archive of all 370 statements made at the Summit


The intent of the UNDP’s 1994 Human Development Report was further illuminated in 2002 in Keizo Takemi‘s presentation, “Evolution of the Human Security Concept, Health and Human Security: Moving from Concept to Action,” delivered at the Fourth Intellectual Dialogue on Building Asia’s Tomorrow. At the time, Keizo served as Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and Member of the House of Councillors in the Japanese Diet. In 2006 he was named by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to serve as a member of the High Level Panel on UN System-Wide Coherence in Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance, and Environment. Keizo is currently a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, a senior fellow at the Japan Center for International Exchange, and concurrently a professor at the Tokai University’s Research Institute of Science and Technology Noda, 2002).


In 2003, Sabina Alkire published “Conceptual Framework for Human Security”, in which the author proposed, “The objective of human security is to safeguard the vital core of all human lives from critical pervasive threats, in a way that is consistent with long-term human fulfillment” (pp. 15-40). Alkire’s paper clarifies key terms, traces the historical background and evolving interpretation of human security and examines the interactions between human security and other policy frameworks.


In May 2006, Richard Jolly and Deepayan Basu Ray published “The Human Security Framework and National Human Development Reports: A Review of Experiences and Current Debates.” The authors provided clear support for shifting the focus of security from state boundaries and preservation of strategic national interests maintained by protected military resources, to protection of individuals and communities across a range of threats.

See Suggested Readings for Section 2.1.

2.2 General Foundation Documents for Human Security

One might profitably argue the value of a more comprehensive list, but our intent is to cite sources providing the most concise overview of critical themes and cross-cutting issues. The authors note that a recent internet search of the term human security yielded no fewer than 45,700,000 results! It is hoped the following resources will provide sufficient initial information as to impel astute readers to develop a more personal list as part of their respective continuing inquiries into the evolving role of human security in world affairs.

Due to the high degree of inter-relatedness of human security concerns, selected parts of many foundation documents may often fit in a number of the ‘Seven Human Security Categories’ cited in the 1995 Copenhagen World Summit, and in the interest of simplicity and brevity we reference only the general themes. Also note that in addition to treaties and other binding instruments, certain international human rights/human security instruments may be characterized as either or . Conventions are legally binding instruments under international law; declarations are not legally binding, but as a practical matter often have referential or moral authority that may create de facto political force.

2.2.1 The Charter of the United Nations and the United Nations Website

The UN Charter was signed on the 26 June 1945, in San Francisco, at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, and came into force on 24 October 1945. Not surprisingly, this is the first source for many in search of foundation documents in human security. Here one finds an easy to navigate source of all relevant information about the UN, from historic data on origin, development, structure and organization, to the UN’s relationship with member states, and current initiatives.

The United Nations website offers access to a large collection of foundational documents, programmes and publications. Information is organized under general content areas including Peace and Security, Development, Human Rights, Humanitarian Affairs and International Law. Beginning in the selected area one may easily pursue specific issues. The site also serves as the official source for evolving situations or issues in which the UN has an ongoing interest, and provides access to the recurrent documents and reports of many of the UN’s programmes and organizations.[1]

2.2.2 The Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, with Protocols Additional of 1977 and 2005

From their origins in the aftermath of the horrific Battle of Solferino, Italy in 1859 to the present, the International Red Cross Movement and the Geneva Conventions illuminate the best efforts of the international community to protect those affected by armed conflict. These four Conventions and three Additional Protocols represent the body of international law that protects non-combatants in areas of armed conflict. Specifically, these include wounded, sick and shipwrecked soldiers who are who are no longer participating in the hostilities (), civilians, health and aid workers, clergy and prisoners of war. The cogency and brevity of the conventions surprises many and, in their entirety, the compilation of all four conventions occupies only five-eighths of an inch of shelf space (ICRC, 2014).

2.2.3 Protocols Additional (1 and 2) to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949

These instrument describes two protocols: the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), and the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Conflicts (Protocol II) Protocol. In both instances the Protocols Additional reaffirm the existing Geneva Conventions, but add additional provisions to accommodate changes in warfare since the end of World War II (ICRC, 1977/96).

2.2.4 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and Relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (Protocol III), December 8, 2005

This instrument concerns the addition of third “distinctive emblem” to represent the presence of the International Red Cross/ Red Crescent. The text notes that ”Since the nineteenth century the Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems have been used as universal symbols of assistance for armed conflict victims. With the adoption of an additional emblem – the red crystal – a new chapter in their long history has just been written.” Document provides an overview of origin and development of the Red Cross Distinctive Emblem.

2.2.5 Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has a unique international mandate to promote and protect human rights as a part of the UN’s commitment to the universal ideal of human dignity. Specific site content includes a brief history of the Office’s, mandate, mission statement, and structure. Of particular interest are the tabs concerning access to the media center, publications and library, and links to related organizations (UN, 2020).

2.2.6 Manual on the Rights and Duties of Medical Personnel in Armed Conflicts

As the title indicates, the focus of the effort here is to illuminate those parts of the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols that pertain specifically to health care in circumstances of armed conflict. Each of the three chapters states the relevant articles of the conventions, accompanied by references to concordant Convention articles and explanatory text (Baccino-Astrada, 1982).

2.2.7 The Commission on Human Security

The home page of the Commission was established under the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS) in 1999 in response to challenges identified at the United Nations Millennium Summit, noted elsewhere. During the Summit, Secretary General Kofi Annan called upon the world community to advance the twin goals of “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear.” Here, Annan referred to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s State of the Union Address of January 6, 1941, now informally known as the “Four Freedoms Speech.” In his address Roosevelt proposed four fundamental freedoms that people “everywhere in the world” should enjoy: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. The first two Freedoms represent values protected by the U.S. Constitution, but the second two endorsed, in forceful terms, a right to economic security and a human rights view of foreign policy. Roosevelt’s address is believed by many to have created the plinth on which the moral imperatives of the human security paradigm rest. According to their website, “Since 1999, the UNTFHS has committed over USD 350 million to projects in over 70 countries(OCHA, n.d.).

In 2016, the UNTFHS published the Human Security Handbook [PDF], which reaffirms and updates the concept on the basis of three freedoms, extending from Annan’s two: the freedom from want, freedom from fear, and freedom to live in dignity (p. 4). Strategies for human security are people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific, prevention-oriented, and promote protection and empowerment (p. 7).

2.2.8 Human Security of Children

Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2000): Machel 10-Year Strategic Review [PDF] (2007) constitutes part two of a follow up to the Landmark Impact of Armed Conflict on Children [PDF] (1996). UNICEF provides the following description of the Machel study:

For those not familiar with the original study, this 236 page text is an essential document on the subject of war and children. Released in 2009, it touches, in-depth, on each guiding principle and sector related to reconstruction and stabilization as well as offering a wealth of data and reference.

In describing the text and its’ source material UNICEF notes that:

The 1996 Machel Study challenged the world to recognize that ‘war affects every right of the child.’ This follow-up report analyses the progress – and challenges – of the subsequent decade. More than 40 UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions – along with children from nearly 100 countries – contributed to this review, which was co-convened by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF.[2]

2.2.9 A Conceptual Framework for Human Security

Alkire offers a general working definition of human security that incorporates an examination of it in context. The paper provides a clear compendium of central organizing concepts that are critical to understanding the large and diverse spectrum of issues engaged by the Human Security concept (Alkire, 2003).

2.2.10 The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1984 (resolution 39/46) and it is an international human rights instrument comprising three parts. Part 1 defines torture, specifies obligations of states to establish jurisdiction to prevent torture, and, in its instance, to pursue legal action. Part 2 concerns the responsibility of states to report and monitor torture allegations and empowers the Committee Against Torture to investigate allegations. Part 3 governs mechanisms for ratification, entry into force, and amendment of the Convention (UN 1997).

2.2.11 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

The full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III) on the 10 December 1948. The UDHR document comprises a preamble and 30 Articles that recognize the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights notes it is the culmination of the combined efforts of, “representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.” To ensure the greatest dissemination of the document, the UN website informs readers that, at present, there are 379 different translations of the UDHR available in HTML and/or PDF format (UN 1948).

2.2.12 The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

The Covenant is a part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). It is a multilateral treaty that was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1966 and came into force in March 1976. In general the Covenant speaks to the obligation of the signatories to respect individual civil and political rights including the right to life, electoral rights, the rights to due process and a fair trial, and freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly (UNOHCR, 1966).

2.2.13 International Labour Organization (ILO)

In describing mission and intent, the International Labour Organization website notes that it is:

the international organization responsible for drawing up and overseeing international labour standards. It is the only ‘tripartite’ United Nations agency that brings together representatives of governments, employers and workers to jointly shape policies and programmes promoting Decent Work for all. This unique arrangement gives the ILO an edge in incorporating ‘real world’ knowledge about employment and work.

The ILO website home page displays eight general topic headings:

  1. About the ILO
  2. Topics
  3. Regions
  4. Meetings and Events
  5. Programmes and Projects
  6. Publications
  7. Labor Standards
  8. Statistics and Data Bases.

As with other specialized agencies of the UN, the ILO website also provides timely information about evolving issues, key resources, and commentary on policy initiatives (ILO, 2020).

2.2.14 World Food Programme (WFP)

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food-aid arm of the United Nations system. Given the tragic persistence of food insecurity, many human security advocates and researchers find this to be among the most frequently accessed websites. WFP notes that food aid is one of the many instruments that can help to promote food security, which is defined as access of all people at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. The website explains that policies governing the use of World Food Programme food aid must be oriented towards the objective of eradicating hunger and poverty; they note that: “The ultimate objective of food aid should be the elimination of the need for food aid,” (an especially good functional description of sustainability). Targeted interventions are needed to help to improve the lives of the poorest people—people who, either permanently or during crisis periods, are unable to produce enough food or do not have the resources to otherwise obtain the food that they and their households require for active and healthy lives.

Consistent with its mandate, which also reflects the principle of universality, the WFP website notes they will continue to:

  • Use food aid to support economic and social development
  • Meet refugee and other emergency food needs and the associated logistics support
  • Promote world food security in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations and FAO.

The core policies and strategies that govern WFP activities are to provide food aid:

  • To save lives in refugee and other emergency situations
  • To improve the nutrition and quality of life of the most vulnerable people at critical times in their lives
  • To help build assets and promote the self-reliance of poor people and communities, particularly through labour-intensive works programmes

2.2.15 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

This organization’s website addresses virtually all aspects of food security. General search categories include World Food Situation, Food Security, Hunger and Food Safety (FAO, 2020).

2.2.16 World Health Report – World Health Organization (WHO)

Generally regarded as the “best first source” for general health information, this document has a broad array of topics and data, divided into sections on the WHO itself, health topics, health security, data and statistics, media center, publications, countries, programmes, projects and related resources. The most recent report online dates to 2013. (WHO, 2020).

2.2.17 The Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN)

IRIN is a humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In December 2010, IRIN released “How to sound knowledgeable in Cancun: Selected articles on the humanitarian implementation of climate change.” This collection of articles addresses funding, changing technology, adaptation and mitigation, forecasting, and cost-benefit analysis concerning the humanitarian implications of climate change. The authors note that Haiti, the monsoon flooding in Pakistan, and the danger of WMD technology in the background of many volatile geopolitical areas are reminders of the importance of disaster management within the reconstruction and stabilization framework (IRIN, 2019).

2.2.18 The Multilaterals Project – The Fletcher School, Tufts University

The Multilaterals Project began in 1992 and the effort was originally intended to make environmental agreements more accessible to the general public. The scope of the effort has expanded to now include the texts of international multilateral conventions and other instruments; treaties concerned with human rights, commerce, and trade; laws of war and arms control; biodiversity; cultural protection; and other areas.

2.2.19 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement – UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)[3]

It is a sad truth that whatever the specific number of displaced persons is at any moment, that number is invariably measured in multiples of tens of millions. In his introductory comments for this OCHA produced resource, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egland referred to Secretary General Kofi Annan’s observation that, “internal displacement is the great tragedy of our times. Internally displaced people are among the most vulnerable of the human family.” It is not an overstatement to say that this document should be considered an essential reference for any student of human security. The narrative style and organizational structure of the work is striking similar to the Geneva Conventions and brings gratifying clarity and utility to an extraordinarily complex issue.

2.2.20 Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response

This book, commonly called the Sphere Handbook, is by The Sphere Project. The website describes the Project as a “voluntary initiative that brings a wide range of humanitarian agencies [PDF] together around a common aim – to improve the quality of humanitarian assistance and the accountability of humanitarian actors to their constituents, donors and affected populations.” The Sphere Handbook “is one of the most widely known and internationally recognized sets of common principles and universal minimum standards for the delivery of quality humanitarian response.” Established in 1997, the Sphere Project is not a membership organization. Governed by a Board composed of representatives of global networks of humanitarian agencies, the Sphere Project network today is a vibrant community of humanitarian response practitioners. The handbook itself addresses humanitarian standards for virtually all sectors of humanitarian response including hygiene; nutrition and food aid; shelter, settlement and non-food items; and health services. The book also has several very helpful appendices that provide protocol forms for health services assessment, health surveillance forms, and related topics (Sphere, 2018).

See Suggested Readings for Section 2.2.20

2.3 Key Recurring Resource Documents, Publications and Websites

2.3.1 The Human Security Report Project (HSRP)

The Human Security Report Project is an independent research centre is affiliated with Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. The HSRP tracks global and regional trends in organized violence, their causes, and consequences. The Project publishes research findings and analyses in the Human Security Report, Human Security Brief series and in the Mini-Atlas of Human Security. The website is clear and well organized and the project notes that materials are available in hard copy, but are also available online.[4]

2.3.2 The Mini-Atlas of Human Security[5]

The Mini-Atlas is a product of the HSRP mentioned above, but we make special note of it because it is a particularly useful and informative resource for monitoring events. The atlas is described as an “illustrated guide to global and regional trends in human insecurity, the Mini-Atlas provides a succinct introduction to today’s most pressing security challenges. It maps political violence, the links between poverty and conflict, assaults on human rights—including the use of child soldiers—and the causes of war and peace.”

2.3.3 Landmines and Land Rights in Conflict Affected Contexts[6]

Published by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian De-mining, this publication addresses the impact of land rights issues in de-mining campaigns related to the return of displaced populations and the restoration of the agricultural sector.

2.3.4 Disaster in Asia: The Case for Legal Preparedness [7]

This advocacy report is published by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and highlights how better national and sub-national legislation can help to significantly reduce the human suffering caused by the growing number of natural disasters. The text takes a rule-of-law approach broadened to include housing, land, and property rights in addition to judiciary reform and criminal confinement. The report serves as a useful working model that both describes and advocates for the potential power of law in shaping both national and regional approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation response, and recovery.

Associated reports

“World Disasters Report” and “Disaster Response and Contingency Planning Guide”

2.3.5 Making an Impact: Guidelines on Designing and Implementing Outreach Programmes for Transitional Justice [8]

Author: Clara Ramirez–Barat. Publisher: International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). The ICTJ states that it “works to redress and prevent the most severe violations of human rights by confronting legacies of mass abuse. ICTJ seeks holistic solutions to promote accountability and create just and peaceful societies.” In this paper author Ramirez-Barat presents a highly useful synopsis of the principles of transitional justice by describing the process in the form of the natural history of a successful initiative. The text seeks to provide strategies for outreach initiatives “for prosecutions, truth telling, and reparations programmes, and to provide practitioners with practical guidance in the design and implementation of outreach programmes for transitional justice measures.” She also provides practical guidance on the development of outreach programmes, and considers the tasks of working with diverse audiences. It has long been noted that successful transitional justice is a key issue in helping troubled peoples break the cycle of violence. This paper provides the language, concepts, and techniques to help readers become informed about the tasks of such initiatives by providing practical guidance in the design and implementation of outreach programmes.

2.3.6 What’s New – The UN Trust Fund for Human Security

This resource is regularly updated and reports on UN initiatives, regional programmes and events, and the UN’s Human Security Newsletter. News and activities about the UNTFHS, as well as associated resources are also offered.

Resources and References

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is human security and how is it different from traditional state (national) security?
  2. Critics note that the concept of human security, while laudable, is too broad to actually become operational. Do you agree? Discuss.
  3. What is the reason most treaties or instruments are developed?
  4. What is the basic goal of international humanitarian law?
  5. What are the characteristics of international humanitarian law, human rights law, and Geneva law that are distinct from each other?
  6. Over time, Geneva Law or the Law of War has changed to deal with changing technology and the circumstances surrounding war. What additions or changes would you make for current times? What changes would you predict in the next 50 years?
  7. Imagine a future 10 years hence, where there are no international instruments or treaties covering international humanitarian law, human rights law, and Geneva law. What 10 documents would you want to create to define international rules? Discuss a rank order with colleagues.
  8. What is the most persuasive motivation that would cause a country or region to ban certain methods of warfare (e.g. flame, chemical, nuclear, land mines, bombing, biologic, improvised explosives, psychological, rape, starvation, siege, other)?
  9. What should be basic humanitarian rights for civilians in conflict areas?
  10. How might social or culture issues affect the way in which one interprets international humanitarian law, human rights law and Geneva law?
  11. Article XIX of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights notes that:
    • Everyone shall have a right to hold opinions without interference.
    • Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

    The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

    • For respect of the rights or reputations of others
    • For the protection of national security or public order, or public health or morals.

    This was written at a high level and does not necessarily embrace recent advances in electronic media (i.e. Internet).

    Should the Declaration of Human Rights specifically address the Internet and future changes? Is access to the internet a “right”? Should it be recognized as a “utility” such as electric power or water? Should governments restrict communicators from use of the Internet? Is it fair to look at the status quo from a previous time as the baseline? For example, in 1985 the Internet was a concept, but not in existence and people did “fine.”


Extension Activities & Further Research

  1. Concerning Food Security: What are some of the second and third order effects of bringing food into an area suffering from famine? Specifically, what are the potential impacts on local security, economy, farmer incentives, debt, possible diversion, etc.?
  2. Concerning Environmental Security: Some areas of the world are used to dispose of technological or other waste for the developed world. What can be done with international instruments to maximize safety and address local concerns about safety and sustainability issues?
  3. Regarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:Article 6 states that “Everyone has the right to recognition as a person before the law.” How could local culture change this?
  4. An iconic photo of an execution during the Vietnam War was taken on February 1, 1968. It shows South Vietnamese National Police Chief General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong officer in Saigon during the Tet Offensive.[9] Lém was captured and brought to General Loan, who then summarily executed him because, it was contended that, Lém commanded a Viet Cong death squad. On this day, 34 murdered South Vietnamese National Police officers and their families were found in a ditch. They had all been bound and shot, and Lém was captured near the site of the ditch. Some of the executed belonged to the family of General Nguyen’s deputy and close friend; six were General Nguyen’s godchildren. Given this situation: are summary executions justified? What is the status of the Geneva Conventions regarding wars of national liberation?
  5. Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:
    • Everyone has the right to a nationality, and that
    • No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality

    In the last quarter of the 20th century many nations have come into existence and many currently have internal strife that may cause the trend of fragmentation to continue. How is the right to a nationality identity protected? Should nationality be determined by original, current, or choice? How might this affect dual nationality?

  6. Concerning the Convention Against Torture: How does one define torture? In its extreme forms it is easy to identify; try to focus on “threshold effects,” that is, the point at which one would begin to question specific techniques or circumstances.

List of Terms

See Glossary for full list of terms and definitions.

  • conventions
  • declarations
  • hors de combat

Suggested Reading

Section 2.1

Asara, V., Otero, I., Demaria, F., & Corbera, E. (2015). Socially sustainable degrowth as a social–ecological transformation: Repoliticizing sustainability. Sustainability Science, 10(3), 375–384. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-015-0321-9[10]

Chugh, A. (2018, September 19). How to build a model for human security in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. World Economic Forum. Retrieved June 24, 2019, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/09/how-to-build-a-model-for-human-security-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/

Durch, W., Larik, J., & Ponzio, R. (Eds.). (2018). Just security in an undergoverned world. Oxford University Press. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/just-security-in-an-undergoverned-world-9780198805373?cc=us&lang=en&[11]

Shaw, D. M., & Rich, L. E. (Eds.). (2015). Intergenerational global health. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 12(1), 1–4. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-015-9629-5[12]

Steffen, W., Richardson, K., Rockström, J., Cornell, S. E., Fetzer, I., Bennett, E. M., Biggs, R., Carpenter, S. R., de Vries, W., de Wit, C. A., Folke, C., Gerten, D., Heinke, J., Mace, G. M., Persson, L. M., Ramanathan, V., Reyers, B., & Sörlin, S. (2015). Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science, 347(6223), 736–746. dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1259855[13]

United Nations Office. Genocide prevention and the responsibility to protect. (n.d.). Retrieved June 24, 2019, from https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/about-responsibility-to-protect.shtml

Weekes, B., & Stauffacher, D. (2018, December 20). Digital human security 2020 – Human security in the age of AI: Securing and empowering individuals. ICT4Peace Foundation. https://ict4peace.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/ICT4Peace-2018-Digital-Human-Security.pdf

Woodbury, Z. (2019). Climate trauma: Toward a new taxonomy of trauma. Ecopsychology, 11(1), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1089/eco.2018.0021

Back to Section 2.1

Section 2.2.20

Bosselmann, K. (2018). Global governance in the Anthropocene. In D. A. Dellasala & M. I. Goldstein (Eds.), Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene, 4, (pp. 265–269). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-809665-9.10465-3

Costaniza, R., & Kubiszewski, I. (Eds.). (2014). Creating a sustainable and desirable future: Insights from 45 global thought leaders. World Scientific Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1142/8922

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Back to Section 2.2.20


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Landrigan, P. J., Fuller, R., Acosta, N. J. R., Adeyi, O., Arnold, R., Basu, N., Baldé, A. B., Bertollini, R., Bose-O’Reilly, S., Boufford, J. I., Breysse, P. N., Chiles, T., Mahidol, C., Coll-Seck, A. M., Cropper, M. L., Fobil, J., Fuster, V., Greenstone, M., Haines, A., … Zhong, M. (2017). The Lancet Commission on pollution and health. The Lancet, 391(10119), 462–512. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32345-0[18]

Martin, M., & Owen, T. (Eds.). (2015). Routledge handbook of human security. Routledge.

Philbeck, T., Davis, N., & Larsen, A. E. (2018). Values, ethics and innovation: Rethinking technological development in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. World Economic Forum. Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://www.weforum.org/whitepapers/values-ethics-and-innovation-rethinking-technological-development-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution

Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Lafortune, G., & Fuller, G. (2018). 2018 SDG index and dashboards report. https://www.sdgindex.org/reports/sdg-index-and-dashboards-2018/.[19]

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View a current collection of publications on human security on the UN Trust Fund for Human Security website.

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  1. Retrieved from: http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/intro.shtml on 31 August 2011
  2. For additional information on child rights and violent conflicts, visit the website of The Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) at: http://www.crin.org/ (accessed 18 July 2019)
  3. The Guiding Principles are presented at: https://www.unocha.org/themes/internal-displacement/resources. Additional resources are available at https://www.unocha.org/themes/internal-displacement (accessed 18 July 2019)
  4. Available at: https://css.ethz.ch/en/services/css-partners/partner.html/13296 (18 July 2019)
  5. Available at: https://css.ethz.ch/en/services/digital-library/publications/publication.html/92708 (18/07/19)
  6. Available at: https://www.gichd.org (18/07/19)
  7. Available at: http://reliefweb.int/node/372437 The two associated reports are at http://www.ifrc.org/en/publications-and-reports/world-disasters-report/ and http://www.ifrc.org/global/publications/disasters/disaster-response-en.pdf
  8. Available at: http://ictj.org/sites/default/files/ICTJ-Global-Making-Impact-2011-English.pdf (18 July 2019)
  9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nguyen_Ngoc_Loan; Eddie Adams won a 1969 Pulitzer Prize for this photograph
  10. These authors won the 2017 Springer survey for most influential (i.e. ‘most clicked’) paper in environmental science 2016. They present the conceptual origins of de-growth, systemic social and ecological limits, and the contribution of de-growth to the transformation.
  11. International relations focus but also includes climate change. Focus on global governance.
  12. Extends justice over time and space.
  13. Updates and strengthens the scientific underpinnings of the Planetary Boundaries framework, and denies any prescription about ‘how societies should develop.’
  14. Economic globalisation, digital communication, shifts of economic/political/military power, economic growth, science revolutions, detachment from ecosystems. Detailed concept maps summarise the contents of the book for graphically inclined readers.
  15. Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University. The seven ways are: 1. From GDP to the donut space; 2. Placing the economy within the biosphere; 3. From rational actors to social & adaptable individuals; 4. From a mechanical equilibrium to the dynamic complexity of systems; 5. From growth orientation to redistribution; 6. From growth to regenerative priorities; 7. From addiction to growth to addiction to holistic welfare.
  16. The site summarises metric, policy, subjective/objective benefits, virtue ethics.
  17. The 2016 Report can be downloaded from http://en.unesco.org/wssr2016 - executive summary at www.worldsocialscience.org/activities/world-social-science-report/2016-report-inequality/ (accessed 18 July 2019)
  18. ‘Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today. Diseases caused by pollution were responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths in 2015—16% of all deaths worldwide—three times more deaths than from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined and 15 times more than from all wars and other forms of violence. In the most severely affected countries, pollution-related disease is responsible for more than one death in four.’
  19. Reports country by country performance on the SDGs.
  20. The Social Progress Index is an aggregate index of social and environmental indicators that capture three dimensions of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. The 2018 Social Progress Index includes data from 146 countries on 12 components and 51 indicators (https://www.socialprogress.org/assets/downloads/resources/2018/2018-Social-Progress-Index-Exec-Summary.pdf ). See http://www.socialprogressindex.com/ for the world map and country profiles. http://www.socialprogressimperative.org (significance of global average index). More information is available through http://www.socialprogress.org.
  21. The treaty database with full texts, commentaries, and State Parties (signatories).
  22. Of special interest is the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182), found at http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_ILO_CODE:C182
  23. Find the UN translation project of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights online.

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