Plenary Session

Human Security: Problem-Solving and Critical Perspectives

Date: 12 December, 2015 (Sat.) 13:00 – 17:00
Venue: International Conference Room, Kiyoshi Togasaki Memorial Dialogue House, ICU
Japan Association of Human Security Studies (JAHSS)
ICU Social Science Research Institute (SSRI)
ICU Rotary Peace Center
The plenary session will be free of charge for everyone.


13:00 – 13:20 Introductory Remarks

13:00 – 13:05 Prof. Michio UMEGAKI (President, JAHSS/Keio University)
13:05 – 13:10 Prof. Wilhelm VOSSE (Director, SSRI)
13:10 – 13:20 Conference Theme. Human Security: Critical and Problem-Solving Perspectives
– Prof. Giorgio Shani (Program Chair, 5th Annual JAHSS Meeting)

13:20 – 14:20 Plenary Session I. Human Security and Global Health

– Rt. Honorable. Keizo TAKEMI (Member of the House of Councillors, The National Diet of Japan)

Chair: Prof. Michio UMEGAKI (President, JAHSS/Keio University)
14:00 – 14:10 Ambassador Hideaki Asahi (former Ambassador of Japan to Timor Leste) TBC
14:10 – 14:20 Q&A
14:20 – 14:30 Break

14:30 – 15:30 Plenary Session II. Problem Solving and Critical Theory in Human Security: Two Sides of the Same Coin

– Prof. Kinhide MUSHAKOJI (ex-President JAHSS)

Chair: Prof. Wilhelm VOSSE (Director, SSRI)

1. The Human Security Problematic:
Human Security is a legal/Ethical approach where the Technocratic Paradigm needs to be a problem solving tool in a historically determined ethical field. Human security defines critically any specific ethical field, and provides a universally defined problematic which demands a pluralistic non-technocratic judgement for any planners to develop a radical plan. Problem solving in human security is basically non-technocratic and critical, given priority to the free will of the empowered people over state-based technocratic decisions.
2. The Case of Human Insecurity of the Victims of Nuclear Explosion Radiation.
The human insecurity experienced by the victims of radiation of Nuclear Explosion requires a series of policy decisions which is left to technocratic planners. Their decisions are necessarily determined by their bureaucratic responsibilities which cannot be separated from the historical and ethical context within which the decisions are made. This creates a situation where the technocratic assumption that the experts know the scientific answer to any question. We need to develop, as John Fried man points out a critical planning based on the collective desires of the concerned people who should be always consulted about their well-informed decisions.
3. Metanoiya and Metanoetik: Etik/Noetik/Meta-noetik
Tanabe Gen proposes an approach which helps us define human security in the historical context of the Constitution of Japan based on the Japanese historical experience of creating victims of its colonialist aggressions with unacceptable experience of human insecurity. The Metanoia of the Japanese people should provide a historical and ethical approach to human security through a metanoia science of metanoetik, putting Ethics at the centre of a critical thought “noetic” which should be relativized by a meta-approach of critical thinking, which does not give a technocratic answer but rather a critical questioning of the existential field.

15:15 – 15:30 Q&A
15:30 – 15:45 Coffee Break

15:45 – 16:30 Plenary Session III. Denaturalizing Human Security: Beyond Problem-Solving and Critical Theory

– Prof. Mustapha Kamal PASHA (Aberystwyth University)

Chair: Prof. Yoichi MINE (JAHSS General Secretary/ Doshisha University)

Despite divergence between various shades of Human Security discourses, their normative promise has been naturalized in official thinking and popular consciousness; human security has become an integral part of ‘common sense’ (in a Gramscian mode), shaping international development thinking and foreign policy rhetoric. As self-consciously normative projects seeking ‘to protect the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfilment,’ human security discourses have contributed towards raising public awareness of durable and sudden threats to ‘vulnerable populations’, mobilized resources in areas obscured by traditional commitments to ‘national’ security, and spawned new partnerships between state and civil society actors in creative and imaginative ways. Injecting ‘ethical’ considerations to the pursuit of national interest, human security discourses have also underscored the salience of international cooperation and the centrality of good governance to ensure peace and prosperity.
This presentation seeks to denaturalize the apparent affinity between human security discourses and human security. These discourses, it is argued, not only play a diminutive role in advancing human security but (more controversially) actively enhance human insecurity. In the first instance, human security discourses promote a reductionist logic in the garb of expanding the menu of ‘security’. In the second instance, human security discourses merely enhance the permeability of the State in the name of the ‘threatened’ individual. Essentializing the human either in terms of abstract universalism or cultural relativism, human security discourses merely circumvent the difficult task of engaging the socially ‘thick’ individual or the ‘relational’ Self entangled in the web of political economy and its cultural idioms. More significantly, the production of (human) insecurity is inextricably tied to the reproduction of sovereign power and/or its metamorphosis into governmentality. Furthermore, the vulnerability of the human comes at a high price: the growing reach of the State and its organic intellectuals and functionaries. Greater the insecurity, greater is the penetrability the State to protect, save, and salvage the vulnerable human. How can the State provision human security without expanding its own powers? Conversely, how can human security avoid governmentality?
This presentation does not fault human security discourses on standard positivist logics of operationalization, testability, measurement, or prediction. It also eschews critique of liberalist underpinnings or essentialist accounts of the human. The problem lies at deeper levels: the inability to link human security to politics as well as the failure to acknowledge the ubiquitous presence of the State in these discourses, particularly in the lives of those deemed vulnerable. Human insecurity is not as much the product of natural or even social factors as much as politics, namely the authorization of exclusions (and inclusions). Without attending to the processes and mechanisms of exclusion (and inclusions), human security is likely to be trapped in the illusory universe of ethical thinking, both mystical and politically benign. On the other hand, the dependence of human security to raison d’être, congealed in policy, only guarantees an ambivalent purgatorial space to the presumed advancement of human security. Nothing could be further removed from ethics than the subordination of human security to raison d’être.

16:15 – 16:30 Q&A

16:30 – 17:00 Roundtable Discussion


Prof. Timothy SHAW (University of Massachusetts, Boston)
Prof. Jane PARPART (University of Massachusetts, Boston)
Prof. Surichai Wunga’eo (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand)
Chair: Prof. Giorgio Shani (Program Chair, 5th Annual JAHSS Meeting)

The Plenary Session will be followed by the JAHSS General Meeting. The meeting will take place in the international conference room. All members welcome.