Rethinking Human Security

Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 116, No. 4, pp. 585-610, Winter 2002

27 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2008

See all articles by Gary King

Gary King

Harvard University

Christopher Murray

University of Washington - Health Metrics and Evaluation

Abstract

In the last two decades, the international community has begun to conclude that attempts to ensure the territorial security of nation-states through military power have failed to improve the human condition. Despite astronomical levels of military spending, deaths due to military conflict have not declined. Moreover, even when the borders of some states are secure from foreign threats, the people within those states do not necessarily have freedom from crime, enough food, proper health care, education, or political freedom. In response to these developments, the international community has gradually moved to combine economic development with military security and other basic human rights to form a new concept of "human security". Unfortunately, by common assent the concept lacks both a clear definition, consistent with the aims of the international community, and any agreed upon measure of it. In this paper, we propose a simple, rigorous, and measurable definition of human security: the expected number of years of future life spent outside the state of "generalized poverty". Generalized poverty occurs when an individual falls below the threshold in any key domain of human well-being. We consider improvements in data collection and methods of forecasting that are necessary to measure human security and then introduce an agenda for research and action to enhance human security that follows logically in the areas of risk assessment, prevention, protection, and compensation.

Suggested Citation

King, Gary and Murray, Christopher, Rethinking Human Security. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1082914

Gary King (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1737 Cambridge St.
Institute for Quantitative Social Science
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-500-7570 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://gking.harvard.edu

Christopher Murray

University of Washington - Health Metrics and Evaluation ( email )

Box 356340
1925 N.E. Pacific Street
Seattle, WA 98195-6340
United States

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