November 5, 2018
Researchers of JICA Research Institute (JICA-RI) participated in the 4th World Social Science Forum (WSSF), which was held between September 25 and 28, 2018, at the Fukuoka International Congress Center in Japan. The Forum was hosted by the International Social Science Council, consisting of academies, universities and institutes with major interests in the social sciences. At a parallel session held on the 27th, Nobuko Kayashima, who was director of JICA-RI at the time (now principal research fellow), gave a presentation on JICA-RI’s research project titled “Human Security in Practice: East Asian Experiences” and Senior Research Fellow Ako Muto introduced the policy note that summarizes JICA-RI’s policy recommendation on human security.
Kayashima explained the background to the commencement of this research project. She said that even after a common understanding on the concept of human security was reached at the UN General Assembly in 2012, the operationalization of the concept remained contested. With no international research cooperation being promoted, JICA-RI’s commencement of this research project was triggered by an awareness of this issue. Thirty-six researchers and practitioners from East Asia participated in the research, which began with an investigation of how the concept of human security was understood in the region. Over 100 interviews were carried out toward a wide target, including government officials, lawmakers, researchers, NGO activists and journalists. The research examined 10 East Asian case studies by addressing how national sovereignty is dealt with when pressing human needs arise, how comprehensive support is provided, and how bottom-up empowerment is promoted. In addition to one policy note and 14 working papers, the research has resulted in the publication of two books, “Human Security Norms in East Asia” and “Human Security and Cross-border Cooperation in East Asia.”
Senior Research Fellow Muto introduced the three recommendations based on research findings put forward in the policy note. She emphasized that 1) capacity enhancement of government protection and people’s empowerment complement each other. When a disaster occurs, the ability of the people to empower themselves temporarily declines. Support by outside actors, such as donors, for the strengthening of a government’s function of protection will contribute to human security. However, during the recovery that follows, the priority of the assistance should shift to the empowerment of the people. 2) To make sure that assistance reaches the people during emergency situations, government and non-government stakeholders should promote horizontal collaboration, confirm the people’s needs at the local level and assess the people’s needs precisely. In addition, 3) outside actors should carry out assistance that respects the recipient government’s sovereignty. Building mutual trust in times of peace in such ways will enable the provision of appropriate assistance during emergency situations without raising any suspicion by the recipient government that the assistance is an infringement of its sovereignty.
Furthermore, JICA-RI Visiting Fellow Yoichi Mine (professor, Doshisha University), who was involved in the research, gave an outline of related publications and appealed to the importance of network-building by both academia and practitioners in East Asia. Professor Eun Mee Kim of Ewha Womans University in the Republic of Korea said that human security should be promoted on a global level toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Professor Ren Xiao of China’s Fudan University talked about the practices of human security at a national level. Lastly, Professor Emeritus Carolina Hernandez of the University of the Philippines added that the promotion of human security at various levels is important. An active panel discussion was also held.