Measuring Human Security

Methodological Challenges and the Importance of Geographically Referenced Determinants
  • Taylor Owen
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security book series (NAPSC)

Abstract: Human security is a new and contested concept. Although it is gaining legitimacy in many academic and policy communities, many argue that it has no single accepted definition, no universal foreign policy mandate, and no consensus-commanding analytic framework for its measurement. For others this is of little concern; that “human security” was the coalescing force behind the International Convention to Ban Landmines and the International Criminal Court is enough to prove that it is both representative of popular sentiment and legitimate as a tool of international policy making. Increasingly central in this debate over the utility of human security is the feasibility of its measurement. This paper first argues that measuring human security—despite its critics' concerns—is a worthy academic exercise with significant policy relevant applications. Then, by analyzing the four existing methodologies for measuring human security, it is argued that all fall victim to a paradox of human security. After introducing the notions of space and scale to the measurement of human security, a new methodology is proposed for mapping and spatially analyzing threats at a subnational level.


Human security measuring human security hotspot analysis human security thresholds Cambodia 


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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Taylor Owen
    • 1
  1. 1.Address correspondence to Taylor OwenThe University of Oxford, Jesus CollegeOxford

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