In today's world, various crises threaten people's survival, livelihoods, and dignity. These include armed conflicts, large-scale natural disasters, outbreaks of infectious diseases, and transnational crimes. There are many underlying causes of these crises—such as poverty, discrimination, inequality and climate change—requiring the international community to think and act innovatively and dynamically.
From the perspective of realizing human security and sustaining peace in the face of imminent threats, we attempt to analyze the factors behind these crises in a more systematic way and explore effective approaches to address them through comparative studies of initiatives taken by diverse actors engaged in humanitarian support, sustainable development, and sustaining peace.
Research Project (Ongoing)
Research on the Evolving Humanitarian Action for Forced Migration
Recent humanitarian crises triggered by disasters and environmental degradation, conflicts and instability, poverty, and the COVID-19 pandemic have all featured the forced movement of large numbers of people. The needs and insecurities associated with forced migration dictate the directions and extent of humanitarian action in response to crises of all kinds and across geographical contexts. In turn, population movements and related humanitarian action may result in profound transformations that shape both local societies and global interactions. Understanding what happens to people who must forcibly move, how their assistance and protection needs evolve over time, and how response actors can effectively meet them is an essential humanitarian and development concern for any society.
Research on Resilience, Peacebuilding, and Preventing Violent Extremism: A Complex Systems Perspective on Sustaining Peace
This research project will examine international cooperation for sustaining peace in contexts affected by both traditional armed conflicts and violent extremism. A key challenge in these fragile contexts has been designing, implementing, evaluating, and coordinating effective responses and preventive actions amidst increasing complexity and uncertainty. This complexity derives from numerous factors, e.g., the behavior and organization of non-state armed groups (NSAGs), weak or failed state structures, rising inequality, climate change and natural disasters, and the spread of infectious diseases, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Such a comprehensive approach to address this complexity has yet been explored so far. In this context, this research intends to explore the nexus between resilience, peacebuilding, and preventing violent extremism (PVE), providing a shared framework for bringing about a comprehensive approach to sustaining peace that extends over the dimensions of peace, security, governance, development and humanitarian assistance.
Human Security and the Practices of Empowerment in East Asia
Since its introduction in the Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1994, the common understanding on the concept of human security has gradually been developed through the final report of the Commission on Human Security in 2003 and the UN General Assembly Resolutions in 2005 and in 2012. Given these UN–based global consensus, it is still critically important to promote the further operationalization of the concept of human security.
Contextualizing International Cooperation for Sustaining Peace: Adaptive Peacebuilding Pathways
[Background & Objectives]
As violent and protracted armed conflicts followed by its recurrence are increasing in number and complexity, it became a pressing need to shed light on contemporary forms of international cooperation to resolve conflicts and build peace, and examine its respective challenges, responses and limitations. In this context, the United Nations (UN) launched the “Sustaining Peace” Agenda, presenting a new narrative and approach focused on a long-term comprehensive vision to development, humanitarian, and inclusive peacebuilding activities across the cycle of conflict. The 2016 resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly (2282 and 70/262 respectively) on sustaining peace further reinforce this approach. However, the operationalization of sustaining peace is still largely untried, while the full variety and characteristics of interactions between international, national and local actors in complex conflict-affected situations remains unrevealed.
Past Research Projects
Conflict and Gender Based Violence：The role of aid in help-seeking and recovery process for victims
Due to the heightened vulnerability of the population and the culture of impunity, Gender Based Violence (GBV) is likely to occur within the unique living environment such as violent conflict affected area. GBV not only damages the mind and body of the individuals but also creates high psychological and social barriers to seeking help. Additionally, it is often the case that victims do not receive sufficient physical protection or economic support within a conflict-affected environment.
Obtaining a Second Chance: Education during and after Conflict
There is a growing concern about the interaction between violent conflict and education. Among a wide variety of issues existing in the emerging field, this research focuses on the generations of people who missed out education due to violent conflict. It is critical to ensure a second chance of education for them as education is a part of basic human rights and also functions as an “enabling right" of other fundamental rights of individuals. It is also significant from the perspective of peacebuilding, since those generations of people, mostly youth, can play a key role in war-torn societies either as bearers of peaceful transition and reconstruction or as a major source of violence by being recruited as combatants. Despite the importance, however, how to provide them with second chance education has received little attention both in research and practice. This research attempts to fill the gap by exploring the way to overcome the issue of lost education caused by violent conflict through collecting and analyzing life stories of those who once experienced educational interruptions but obtained second chance education afterward. The knowledge to be acquired through the research is expected to contribute to improving policies and programs on educational development in conflict-affected societies.
Comparative Study of Humanitarian Crisis Management from the Perspective of Bilateral Cooperation Agencies
In addressing humanitarian crises, joint efforts by the global community are not only limited to offers of relief but also include support for recovery activities and the need to establish foundations for the prevention of similar crises in the future. Consequently, it is imperative to catalyze effective collective action in order to achieve the best possible outcomes in these areas. This need for collective action was envisioned by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 46/182 of 1991, at the outset of the present humanitarian system, as a `continuum from relief to rehabilitation and development'. This recognition also requires a cooperation among various actors transcending the humanitarian and development divide. Although JICA's new strategy in 2008 emphasizes the importance of providing integrated and seamless assistance, JICA still faces number of challenges in actual practice which requires the improvement of assistance system.
Based on this background, since January 2015, JICA Research Institute conducted a research project, “Comparative Study of Humanitarian Crisis Management from the Perspective of Bilateral Cooperation Agencies" to compare approaches to international humanitarian crisis management realizing the continuum from the viewpoint of bilateral agencies. In this project, our team conducted empirical research through case studies of six humanitarian crises caused by violent conflicts and natural disasters; Timor-Leste, South Sudan, Syrian crisis, Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami (Indonesia), Typhoon Yolanda (The Philippines), and Hurricane Mitch (Honduras). Until now our team has conducted interviews with international organizations, bilateral cooperation agencies, NGOs, and research institutes at HQ and field level in 13 countries. In May 2016, our team distributed the Messages for the World Humanitarian Summit in a side event. The final outcome of this research project will be published as JICA Research Institute Working Papers and a book.
Human Security in Practice: East Asian Experiences
Since its introduction in the Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1994, the concept of Human Security has received growing attention, and in 2012 a common understanding of the concept was reached at the UN General Assembly. However, the operationalization of the concept remains a contested matter. In particular, there are few researches that conduct comparative analysis on practical problem-solving efforts in the face of serious threats to human security in multiple countries. Against this backdrop, JICA-RI has launched a new research project on human security in East Asia to document existing good practices and promote further operationalization of the concept. The first phase of the project was to inquire into various stakeholders' understanding of the concept of human security as well as their perceptions of serious threats in each country and the region.
Land and Property Problems in Post-conflict State-building and Economic Development
This research focuses on land and property disputes in countries that have undergone strife, shedding light on current conditions and the response of the government in charge and international society. In addition, the problem is assessed based on the belief that their resolution is essential in the peace process of nation-building and economic development. The ultimate goal of this research was to identify the conditions for establishing “proactive peace," achieved in part by comparing case studies of countries such as Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina and East Timor that have been torn by severe disputes in recent years. This research is intended to make a theoretical contribution by classifying nation-building and economic development after disputes based on their characteristics, as well as to achieve a consensus on measures to resolve the land and property disputes so common after conflicts and the response of donors.
Prevention of Violent Conflicts in Africa
Numerous studies have addressed the issue of violent conflict in Africa, but most have tended to focus either on statistical interpretations of the causes of conflict, including poverty and inequality, or on examinations of the political processes of individual countries. This study considers the dynamics of Africa's conflicts from a perspective that combines structural causes and political processes by examining the interface between them, the research niche. "Structure" in this context mainly denotes a socio-economic structure and as used here refers specifically to horizontal inequality (HI) as put forth by the Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity (CRISE) of Oxford University. "Political process" refers to dynamic interaction among diverse political groups operating from backgrounds that include political institutions adopted on short-term bases, influences of neighboring countries (regions), trigger factors, and motivations of soldiers. This study aims at establishing a theoretical framework, comparing cases in about eight African countries, and deriving the policy implications.
Mainstreaming Human Security in ASEAN Integration
Smooth progress in ASEAN integration is hampered by disparities among countries within the region and by non-traditional security issues that transcend national boundaries. This study takes the position that these issues relate to the provision of human security to the populations of ASEAN countries; thus, human security is a central issue in the ASEAN integration process. From this position, the study attempts two objectives: first, to understand the degree to which the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been met by the individual ASEAN members and identify the challenges that lie ahead; second, to determine the most effective formula for cooperation at the regional level, including engagement by Japan, to tackle problems that are not amenable to resolution by a single country, such as transnational crime, disease transmission and environmental degradation.
State-building in Conflict-Prone Countries
In the state-building process that succeeds violent conflict, a core requirement is to establish long-term security through disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and through security sector reform (SSR). This is not an issue confined solely to the security sector, however; it involves a broader area of development effort encompassing enhancement of a community's capacity to accept former combatants. Institutions are needed that can provide the continuous physical care and meet the special needs of ex-combatants who may be disabled, female or children. It is also important to attend to psychological factors by offering mental health care to those wounded in the violence and by affirming the legitimacy of the new state, perhaps by pursuing the truth about war crimes and by identifying those responsible. This study analyzes and compares the state-building processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia and Afghanistan to understand the timing, order and scale of various measures and what forms of involvement or coordination should be undertaken by donor countries and international organizations to support the rebuilding of a state that can expect long-term stability.