Integrated Regional Development Planning (IRDP): Human Security

In the past decade, developing countries have made remarkable progress in economic growth and social development. However, some are completely excluded from receiving the benefits of the growth and have sunk into a greater poverty. Furthermore, with the rapid expansion of new information and communication technologies and international trade, globalization has become a strong integrating force. Globalization has brought about new opportunities and challenges. It has created wider markets for trade, larger capital flows and improved access to new technologies and credit. While benefiting certain countries or groups, globalization is also marginalizing and distressing the vulnerable and disadvantaged regions and peoples. Globalization is driven by market forces and liberal ideology that advocate free market, privatization, free movement of factors of production and the like. These policies may promote efficiency, but not necessarily equity and social justice. At the same time, a parallel pattern of conflict, displacement, environmental degradation and chronic poverty continue to persist. Disparities between the rich and the poor have grown both between and within countries, bringing despair and a receding hope for a more equitable world.

To respond to these challenges and transcend conventional approaches to development, initiative of the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) on human security was launched in 1999. This was concurrent with the shift in perceptions of security from a focus on defense of territory from external attack to the protection of communities and individuals from threats to their lives and livelihoods. Within the theme of social dimension, the main activity of UNCRD is focusing on human security.

Human security has provided UNCRD with an enhanced understanding of sub-national actions to achieve global goals of security, peace and development, under a hybrid "protection and empowerment" framework characterized by five principles: (i) People-centred; (ii) Multidimensional (involving environmental, social, economic, cultural, political and institutional/governance aspects of security); (iii) Integral; (iv) Context-specific; and (v) Prevention-oriented.

UNCRD has mainstreamed the concept of human security in its training and research activities, and making operational human security in the context of regional development, highlighting the added value of the human security approach. Based on this concept, UNCRD has worked on developing analytical and capacity-building instruments that facilitate a better understanding of the existing conflicts from a multidimensional/multi-sectoral perspective, analyze vulnerability and conflict, and assess existing capacity to address the problems in specific regions/territories, all aimed at enhancing policy making and local and regional development planning. These instruments have been tested in various real situations and contexts, especially in the cases with communities.

UNCRD is firmly dedicated to integrating the concept of human security into its activities of regional and local development, and contribute to the commitments expressed in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and The Future We Want, leading to the prospective post-2015 Development Agenda, including Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


The UNCRD project aims at promoting the concept of human security by building the capacity of developing countries to effectively address the three aspects of human security: freedom from fear (conflict); freedom from want (creation of sustainable livelihoods) and freedom to live in dignity. In this regard it will strengthen the capabilities and resilience of local communities to protect and safeguard them from severe and pervasive insecurities arising from political, social, environmental, economic, military and cultural threats. In this regards, the specific objectives are:

  1. To increase understanding and acceptance of the concept of human security among African, Latin American and Asian countries;
  2. To identify the most critical and pervasive human security threats in African, Latin America and Asia; and
  3. To support efforts to incorporate human security principles into regional and local development planning.


The following are the areas where UNCRD focuses its activities:

  • Conducting human security assessment to identify the most critical and pervasive threats, analyze vulnerability in specific territories, and also design the protection and empowerment strategies needed to respond to these threats;
  • Widely disseminating the findings of the assessment/research through workshops and seminars and publications;
  • Conducting trainings on the human security concept, assessment methods, tools to reduce vulnerability and incorporating human security assessments in territorial development planning and project formulation; and
  • Developing network with collaborators including UN organizations, aid agencies, central/local governments in Africa, LAC, and Asia, countries, universities, training and research institutes etc.