Delivering Human Security through multi-level governance

Launched on 16 Mar 2009

This paper, which was jointly published in March 2009 by the UNDP Brussels Office and the United Nations University –Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS), aims at furthering the debate on human security. It considers the incorporation of the concept into policy frameworks and suggests concrete tools to operationalize human security on the ground. The paper emphasizes the role and responsibilities of governance actors at all levels - from the local to the global - in ensuring individuals’ freedom from fear and freedom from want, the two central planks of human security.


The paper proposes a definition of human security encompassing freedom from fear and freedom from want. This differs from the more limited human security definitions, mostly related to physical violence.


The paper goes on to argue that human security must necessarily be provided by a wide range of actors operating at all levels, from local community-based authorities through to the national, regional or global governance institutions. It also suggests that many dimensions of human security are most effectively dealt with either at local, sub-national levels (communities, municipalities, regions), or at a supranational, regional or continental level.


The paper further analyzes the role and influence that the European Union, as a regional organization, has on human security. Its process of regional integration with its emphasis on four freedoms – free movement of goods, persons, services and capital – has direct links to safeguarding the well-being of citizens and thus ensuring their human security. By becoming somewhat of a role model for other regional organizations, and by establishing requirements for entry into the EU, the EU has also played a major role in influencing human security in the candidate countries and in its neighboring states.


The publication finally analyzes other examples of regional integration initiatives fostering human security. Such examples include: the African Union, through its endorsement of the responsibility to protect within the African Peace and Security Architecture, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations through its regional coordination efforts in the face of pandemics; and the Pacific Island Forum efforts to combat environmental threats.


  • The publication proposes an enlarged definition of human security.
  • The paper studies the role of governance actors at all levels to enhance human security.
  • The paper assesses the role of the European Union in promoting human security.

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