Arab Human Development Report 2009

21 Jul 2009

Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries

This is the fifth volume in the series of Arab Human Development Reports sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and independently authored by intellectuals and scholars from Arab countries.


Like its predecessors, this Report provides eminent Arab thinkers a platform from which to articulate a comprehensive analysis of their own contemporary milieu. It is not a conventional report produced by the United Nations. Rather, it is an independent publication that gives a voice to a representative group of Arab intellectuals whose sober and self-critical appraisals might not otherwise be heard in the particular circumstances of the region. The views of the authors are supplemented by an opinion poll conducted in four Arab countries—Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco and the Occupied Palestinian Territory—that represent a range of political and cultural contexts for the Report’s analyses. A special Youth Forum convened for the Report also provides insights from young Arabs.


Inspired by UNDP’s 1994 global Human Development Report on human security, the present study takes up that subject as it concerns the Arab countries. Its starting point is that, seven years after the publication of the first Arab Human Development Report, the region’s fault lines as traced in that analysis may have deepened. The question thus arises: why have obstacles to human development in the region proved so stubborn?


This new Report proposes that the answers lie in the fragility of the region’s political, social, economic and environmental structures, in its lack of people-centred development policies and in its vulnerability to outside intervention.


Together, these characteristics undermine human security—the kind of material and moral foundation that secures lives, livelihoods and an acceptable quality of life for the majority. Human security is a prerequisite for human development, and its widespread absence in Arab countries has held back their progress.


Table of Contents

  • Foreword, team and table of contents
  • Chapter 1: Applying the concept of human security in the Arab countries
  • Chapter 2: The environment, resource pressures and human security in the Arab countries
  • Chapter 3: The Arab State and human ecurity - performance and prospects
  • Chapter 4: The personal insecurity of vulnerable groups
  • Chapter 5: Challenges to economic security
  • Chapter 6: Hunger, nutrition and human security
  • Chapter 7: Approaching health through human security - a road not taken
  • Chapter 8: Occupation, military intervention and human insecurity
  • Chapter 9: Concluding reflections
  • Bibliography and references
  • Annex I: Human development indicators in the Arab countries
  • Annex II: Indicators of governance in the Arab countries
  • Annex III: The human security survey

Document Highlights

  • This Report is an independent publication.
  • Widespread absence of human security in Arab countries has held back their progress.
  • Human security focuses on enabling peoples to contain or avert threats to their lives, livelihoods and human dignity.
  • The region faces growing challenges to the security of its population from environmental stresses.
  • Ethnic, religious, sectarian, and linguistic differences can be associated with persistent group struggles.
  • The relationship between the state and human security in the region is not straightforward.
  • The concept of human security provides a framework for recentring the Arab social contract on vital yet neglected priorities.