Human Security in Asia

with Dr. Robert Bedeski & Dr. Stein Tønnesson

Human Security in Asia

Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 15:00 – 16:30


Reinventing Human Security: The Asian context
The concept of human security has enjoyed some prominence in development and security studies/policy, especially among several Asian nations. While criticized as too broad for policy application, human security can also be faulted as excessively dependent on state direct or indirect actions – i.e. state-centric. An alternative approach is to re-formulate human security as human-centered, or ‘anthrocentric’. From this perspective, human security’s core concern for the ‘safety of individuals’ is refined as ‘Prolong Life, Postpone Death’. Thus the event of individual mortality is seen as the ultimate and inevitable security failure. By examining two historical lives (Chinggis Khan and Chung Ju Yung, founder of Hyundai Industries) the full array of security inputs can be identified, and a working (and quantifiable) theory of human security can be derived.

Dr. Robert Bedeski (PhD, University of California Berkeley) is Professor Emeritus, University of Victoria and a Honorary Professor, University of British Columbia. He is also a Member Emeritus on the Board of Directors at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Previously he held the positions: Visiting Aung San Suu Kyi Endowed Chair in Asian Democracy at the University of Louisville Kentucky (2008-2009); Honorary Doctorate, Mongolia Academy of Sciences; and Affiliate Professor, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington. His most recent books are Human Security and the Chinese State: Historical Transformations and the Modern Quest for Sovereignty (2007) and Eurasia’s Ascent in Energy and Geopolitics: China, Russia, and Central Asia (Co-edited with Niklas Swanström, 2012).

Human Security in China-Myanmar Relations
China has invested heavily in Myanmar, under conditions with a low level of human security. Investments in infrastructure, hydropower, industry, mining, and emigration of Chinese citizens settling in Myanmar cities, have given China a strong vested interest in stable social and political relations in its neighbor country. Since the introduction of the constitutional government in Myanmar, in early 2011, a range of human security issues have come out in the open, through free media, civil society activism – and communal violence, so far it has mainly been directed against Muslims. The situation in the Kachin and Shan states, where armed ethnic groups are fighting against the Myanmar Army, must be particularly worrisome from a Chinese point of view. This presentation seeks to map the human security challenges in Sino-Myanmar relations and gauge how China is likely to protect its interests in a situation of political volatility.

Dr. Stein Tønnesson is a research professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and leader of a six-year research program 2011-16 on the East Asian Peace at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University. The program seeks to explain how East Asia (Southeast and Northeast Asia) made its transition in the 1970s-80s from a situation with intense and widespread intra- and interstate warfare to a situation of relative peace, and to gauge if this East Asian Peace is sustainable. During 2012-13 he led a PRIO project on ethnic conflict in Myanmar, and has just initiated a follow-up project on Elections and Peace, focusing on preparations for Myanmar’s 2015 national elections. He also plans to carry out a small research project on China and Myanmar.


Location: ISDP, Västra Finnbodavägen 2, Stockholm-Nacka. For a map and directions, please go here.

To attend: RSVP to Ms. Silvia Pastorelli at