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ISA at UNAI: Talking Human Security in an Uncertain Time

ISA at UNAI: Talking Human Security in an Uncertain Time


By David Andersen-Rodgers, Kerry Crawford, Anjali Dayal, and Michelle Jurkovich


In the 21st century, a comprehensive approach to security problems requires willingness to understand and respond to the security problems that individuals face. Moreover, as ISA and United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) fully understand, dialogue between scholars and decision-makers is key to achieving progress toward understanding immediate and long-term threats to individuals, states, and the international community. Civil society, state leaders, international organizations, and scholars are still trying to reach a consensus on the meaning of human security writ large, the most useful metrics for tracking and understanding problems such as hunger and violence against civilians, and the best practices for mitigating violent threats and chronic needs.


By engaging in exchanges of ideas between academics and practitioners, we stand to improve scholarship and practice alike. To this end, we participated in an ISA/UNAI workshop at UN headquarters in New York on July 10, 2017. The workshop brought us together with UN experts working on the topics of peacekeeping, human rights, human security, and conflict-related sexual violence to explore pressing challenges in effective policy making. In a time of shifting global political arrangements and priorities, the questions that have always been central to human security are as pressing as ever: What does it mean to practice ‘security’ or to call a problem a ‘security problem’? Whose security lies at the heart of security studies and practice and how do we achieve security? What efforts can states, international organizations, and civil society take to mitigate immediate and chronic threats like hunger, displacement, armed conflict and violence, and conflict-related sexual violence and exploitation? These are questions without easy answers, but we are confident that the frank and lively dialogue among the workshop’s participants sparked new ideas that will inform our current and future research and, with any luck, strengthen the ties between the academy and the UN.


We would like to reiterate our appreciation for UNAI, which hosted the event, and to Joel Oestreich and ISA for making the ISA at UNAI program possible. The workshop was helpful in bringing academics and policymakers together to “bridge the gap” with the objective of learning from each other’s experience and expertise.


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