Session: Ensuring/Insuring Against Vulnerability and Insecurity

Human Security and Disasters Stream


Day 2, Parallel Session 2C: 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Location: Storey Hall (Building 16), Conference Room 1, Level 7, Room 7

Chair: Dr Blythe McLennan (RMIT University)


Gavin Mount Ethnic Vulnerability and Environmental Hazards 

  • Presenter and main author: Dr Gavin Mount (University of New South Wales)
  • Abstract: What is the empirical relationship between environmental hazards and the vulnerability of ethnic minorities and how might it be understood as a normative problem in international politics? Drawing upon empirical research on ethnopolitical conflict and geo-spatial crisis mapping of ecological hazards, this presentation furthers the proposition that ethnic minorities are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of environmental hazards. It will demonstrate that there are empirical grounds to regard the relationship as a major challenge for international relations and that these dynamics have been under-examined in the field. The research complements and reinforces emerging conceptual and policy analysis on a broader trend in the politics of vulnerable peoples towards building resilient communities as a strategy for sustainable solutions. A preliminary review of existing diplomatic and security initiatives suggests that the problem, viewed as a mutual or shared threat, is leading to diplomatic co-operation rather than competition and appears to be functioning as a ‘diplomatic glue’ even in regions of geopolitical tension. Overarching geostrategic dynamics and underlying ethnopolitical tensions are, however, likely to pose challenges for addressing this issue.
  • About the presenter: Gavin Mount is a lecturer in global politics at UNSW Canberra (ADFA).  His primary research area is on the international politics of ethnic conflict. Gavin’s current research explores theoretical debates on transformation in world politics and the policy implications for global security posed by non-state actors and the securitisation of non-military issues. In 2010, he received a Commendation for Teaching global security to military practitioners. His main publications are: The Problem of Peoples: Global Politics, Ethnicity and the Struggle for Legitimacy, (LAP, 2010) and book chapters: “A World of Tribes?” (MacMillan, 2000) and “Nationalism” (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
Nhai Pham Mitigating the Cost of Natural Disasters: A Paradox in the Decision to Purchase Optimum Insurance 

  • Presenter and main author: Nhai Pham (La Trobe University)
  • Abstract: Climate change has been confirmed to alter the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, resulting in greater losses in recent years. Sustainable development can only be obtained with the presence of good adaptation policies against such huge loss. Among various public policies against natural disasters is insurance. Studies on the theory of demand for insurance have proposed that risk-averse consumers will choose to be fully insured. However, the theory is only discussed under the condition of actuarially fair insurance without any governmental subsidies, which is no longer practical in the context of developing countries. This presentation extends the theory further by analysing it under “not actuarially fair” insurance and with some subsidies from the government. It provides a theoretical analysis on how government subsidy has altered the decision to purchase optimum insurance and confirms that a paradox is in existence regarding that decision. Failure of the agricultural insurance in Vietnam is also examined, offering insightful implications for public policies toward natural disasters and climate change adaptation in developing economies.
  • About the presenter: Nhai Pham is a PhD student financed by the Australian government at the School of Economics, La Trobe University. She was a faculty member at the Faculty of Management and Tourism, Hanoi University (Vietnam) from 2004-2011. Her research interests include climate change adaptation and natural disaster risk mitigation under uncertainty. Her current study, which is on the economics of natural disasters in Vietnam, includes discussions on disaster preparation and preparedness, cost benefit analysis of disaster mitigation policies, the role of insurance in mitigation disaster risk, and especially policy implications for developing countries.
Robin Cameron Reconciling Resilience and Security in Critical Infrastructure Protection

  • Presenter and main author: Dr Robin Cameron (RMIT University)
  • Abstract: This presentation offers a human-centric conception of the security of critical infrastructure. It responds to the securitisation of domestic urban spaces and the arrogation of resilience concepts towards the goals of national security by conceptualising how an existential account of security can retain the vital relational and adaptable social concerns of resilience in its original iterations. An existential security perspective views infrastructure as more than just utilities servicing instrumental means but also organisations of people and things imbued with social meaning that can play a role as a vital connective fabric within and between communities. 
  • About the presenter: Robin Cameron is the program manager of Human Security research and research fellow in the Global Cities Institute at RMIT University. Robin has research interests in the following fields:
    • Human security;
    • Critical security studies;
    • International Relations theory;
    • Theories of order and control;
    • Global criminology;
    • Counter-terrorism, 9/11 and the war on terror, in particular the effects on social cohesion and community resilience; and
    • The incorporation of foreign policy and global discourses into local practices of social order and control.