Human Security and Disasters

HS_Mullaitivu Church_Sri Lanka

Hundreds of people were killed when the Catholic Church at Mullaitivu was hit by a tsunami on the morning of 26 December 2004. Rebuilt marble columns in the Church now bear the names of the dead. Researchers in the Global Cities Institute have been working with communities affected both by the tsunami and the war since 2004. Mullaitivu, Sri Lanka, October 2011.

How can cities harness their immense resources to cope with crises?

This program focuses on the pathways for recovering from conflict, for building resilience, and for reducing disaster-vulnerability.

Research focus

From the perspective taken by this program, security is human-centred. It focuses primarily on communities and persons rather than only on abstracted understandings of state sovereignty, military defence, or border security. Promotion of health, protection against violence and projection of sustainable environmental and economic practices requires reflexive policies that effectively build upon existing communal and political-cultural dynamics in order to foster resilience and harness creative and productive responses to crises and conflict.

The program focuses on pathways for recovering from conflict, building resilience and reducing disaster vulnerability. This can be achieved by understanding and building on the strengths of cities and working to reduce the forces promoting violence and vulnerability to disaster. For many cities in our region, and throughout the world, this is a key factor in any hope of sustainability.

Description of program

The program applies a broad definition of human security based on United Nations’ models of peace-building, development, community sustainability and resilience. The program conducts research on conditions which contribute to community vulnerability to conflict, crisis and natural disasters. The program also conducts research on emergency management, recovery and community resilience. Focusing on both local and international sites, our research is designed to contribute to public and scholarly discussion on human security and disasters, public policy, the effectiveness of agencies who work in disaster and human security in both the government and non-government sectors, and communities’ own capabilities, governance, peace-building, recovery and resilience.

Research themes

From the perspective taken by this program, security is human-centred. It focuses primarily on communities and persons rather than only on abstracted understandings of state sovereignty, military defence, or border security.  Promotion of health, protection against violence and projection of sustainable environmental and economic practices requires reflexive policies that effectively build upon existing communal and political-cultural dynamics in order to foster resilience and harness creative and productive responses to crises and conflict.

Through its expertise on people-centred security and globalization, the program is undertaking studies on:

  • Local and global conditions that contribute to community vulnerability to conflict, crisis and natural disasters;
  • Human security approaches to conflict resolution, peace-building, and development;
  • Disaster prevention, management, recovery and community resilience;
  • Organized crime and criminal violence;
  • Governance and political stability, particularly in crisis vulnerable locations and communities;
  • The cultural and communications dimensions of conflict, disaster management and recovery;
  • Health and sustainable development;
  • Effective management of human and natural resources in post-disaster conditions;
  • Disaster and conflict mitigation and prevention;
  • Justice, law and governance in post-conflict communities;
  • Reconciling cultural difference and other antagonisms that contribute to conflict and vulnerability;
  • The role of climate change and other environmental conditions that contribute to disaster and conflict.

Contact

For more information on Human Security, please contact the Program Manager, John Handmer.

Brochure