Human security and natural disasters

This project will explore the theoretical and practical implications of applying a human security framework to natural disasters. In so doing, it engages with major critiques of the human security approach, and questions its ‘value-added’. The workshop examines recent cases, such as the 11 March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, the 2009 “Black Saturday” bushfires in Australia and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Looking at these and other catastrophes, the workshop also considers the geographical scope of human security and how it operates in different cultural contexts, as well as the role of civil society and the protection needs of vulnerable people, including women, children, elderly people and minorities. Through combining theoretical discussion with practical experiences and insights, the workshop will make an important contribution to academic debates and develop policy recommendations for actors engaged in disaster preparation and responses.

Key questions include:

  •  In applying human security to natural disasters, what do we learn about the concept and its utility?
  • What does a human security approach entail in terms of preparing for, responding to, and rebuilding after natural disasters?
  • How do the consequences of natural disasters interact with other forms of human security, such as conflict and poverty?
  • How can more vulnerable people – such as women, children and elderly people – be better protected?
  • What similarities and differences exist between the impacts of natural disasters on human security in developed countries compared with developing countries?
  • What specific capacities can civil society bring to the protection of human security during and afternatural disasters, and how can these contributions be better coordinated with efforts of government and other actors?
Start By 20 February 2012
Completed By 20 February 2013
Funding Japan Foundation


Researcher(s) Robin Cameron, Paul James, Paul Bacon (Wadesa University), Christopher Hobson (United Nations University)
Program Human Security and Disasters
Location(s) Tokyo – Japan