Body Count: Rationale and Methodologies for Measuring Human Security

Non-refereed Journal Article

Owen, Taylor (2002) Body Count: Rationale and Methodologies for Measuring Human Security , Human Security Bulletin .

Human security is a new and contested concept. Although gaining legitimacy in many academic and policy communities it has no single accepted definition, no universal foreign policy mandate and no consensus-commanding analytic framework for its measurement. For many political activists this is of little concern; the fact that ‘human security’ was the coalescing force behind the International Convention to Ban Landmines and the International Criminal Court is enough to prove that it is both representative of popular sentiment and legitimate as a tool of international policymaking. Increasingly central in the debate over the utility of human security is the feasibility of its measurement. This paper first argues that measuring human security - despite its critics’ concerns - is a worthy academic exercise. Then, by analyzing the four existing methodologies for measuring human security, it is shown that the narrow conception of human security outlined in the proposed Human Security Report, with its limited number of indicators and narrow definition of the concept, is currently the most feasible. Finally, with the hope of covering a wider spectrum of potential insecurities, an extension of the Human Security Report’s approach is suggested to include deaths from disease and disasters.

Link to article (full text)


Taylor Owen

Taylor Owen

PhD student in Geography at University of Oxford