Human Security and Natural Disasters


  • Edited by Christopher Hobson, Paul Bacon and Robin Cameron

    ISBN-13: 978-0-415-73799-9
    March 2014

    Human Security and Natural Disasters

    “Human security” is an approach that rejects the traditional prioritization of state security, and instead identifies the individual as the primary referent of security. It offers a way of broadening our perspective, and recognizing that the most pressing threats to individuals do not come from interstate war, but from the emergencies that affect people every day, such as famine, disease, displacement, civil conflict and environmental degradation. Human security is about people living their lives with dignity, being free from “fear” and “want”. To date, there has been a strong tendency to focus on insecurity caused by civil conflict, with less attention on issues to do with environmental security. This volume addresses the threat posed by natural disasters, which represent an increasingly major human security threat to people everywhere.

    In looking at natural disasters, this book also refines the human security approach. It does so through developing its previously unexplored interdisciplinary potential. This volume explicitly seeks to bring the human security approach into conversation with contributions from a range of disciplines: development, disaster sociology, gender studies, international law, international relations, philosophy, and public health. Collectively these scholars unpack the “human” element of “natural” disasters. In doing so, an emphasis is placed on how pre-existing vulnerabilities can be gravely worsened, as well as the interconnected nature of human security threats. The book presents a variety of case studies that include the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and the 2011 “triple disasters” in Japan.

    About the Authors

    Christopher Hobson is Assistant Professor, Waseda University, Japan, and Visiting Research Fellow, United Nations University.

    Paul Bacon is Associate Professor of International Relations, School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University, and Deputy Director of the European Union Institute, Waseda University, Japan.

    Robin Cameron is Research Fellow in the School of Global, Urban and Social Sciences, RMIT University and Program Manager for Human Security & Disasters at RMIT Global Cities Research Institute, Australia.

  • “he human security concept compels us to question prevailing norms and institutions at every level in order to understand why certain individuals and communities fall victim to deprivation and abuse. This excellent collection takes the human security debate forward by focusing upon natural disasters, an area that has been very much under-explored. It is global in outlook and theoretically sophisticated, and it deserves to be read widely for its diverse and authoritative insights.”

    Prof. Edward Newman, University of Leeds, UK

    “Freedom from want and freedom from fear, the basic tenets of human security, are never threatened more than when a disaster strikes. At a time when the UN has committed to mainstreaming human security across its policies, this book provides essential insights into how human security can help deal with natural disasters. Rich in their analyses and insightful in their conclusions, the contributions show clearly the potential of human security to shape state responses.”

    Prof. Matthias C. Kettemann, University of Graz, Austria