UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 3 | Feb.
Centre to zero in on human security
Annual report on global violence among goals
by Michelle Cook staff writer
Mapping the incidence, severity and consequences of global violence
will be the major focus of UBC's new Centre for Human Security.
Part of the Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues, one of the
centre's major goals will be the production of an annual Human Security
Report, modeled in part on the United Nations' high profile Human
"The Liu Centre's strong stress on interdisciplinary research and
the fact that its director, Lloyd Axworthy, pioneered the concept
of human security as Canada's foreign minister, makes it an ideal
place to focus on human security issues," says the centre's director,
"The traditional goal of national security has been to protect
the physical integrity of states, but secure states do not necessarily
mean secure citizens. Indeed, for most of the 20th century far more
people were killed by their own governments than by foreign armies."
Protecting states from external attack by other states is decreasing
in relevance in a world where more than 90 per cent of armed conflicts
take place within countries, not between them, he adds.
In addition to mapping global violence -- criminal as well as
political -- the report will chart policy responses to that
violence -- from preventive diplomacy missions to strategies for
addressing the root causes of violence.
While the report will commission new research in a number
of areas, a major objective will be to "translate" academic research
to make it more accessible to the policy community -- including
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) -- and to educators, the media
and the interested public.
After three years working at the UN as Kofi Annan's strategic planning
director, Mack says he was surprised at how little influence academic
research had on the policy community.
"This is mostly because officials rarely see the findings that
conflict researchers produce, let alone the data on which they are
based," he says. "Few UN diplomats, for example, believed that there
had been a large upsurge of ethnic conflict around the world in
the 1990s. In fact the number of armed conflicts declined by more
than 35 percent. Finding out why this reduction took place will
help us understand how to reduce global violence in the future."
Too often, Mack says, governments and NGOs design policies for
preventing violence without access to the best research on prevention.
"It's a bit like a prescribing medicine without diagnosis," he
The first report is scheduled for release in 2003. The centre
will work in partnership with institutions worldwide, including
the developing world, to produce it.
Mack comes to UBC from Harvard University's Program on Humanitarian
Policy. Prior to joining the UN in 1998 he held the chair in International
Relations at the Australian National University.