UNESCAP Working Paper Series (WP/09/03) From Human Development to Human Security: A Prototype Human Security Index

UNESCAP Working Paper Series (WP/09/03) From Human Development to Human Security: A Prototype Human Security Index

Monday, October 12, 2009
Working paper series

Since 1990, the Human Development Index has revolutionized discussions about
human development. However, it suffers from two deficiencies, which can now be mitigated:
geographic incompleteness and insufficiently “on-target” representation of economy,
knowledge, and “a long and healthy life” at the level of the individual. This report summarizes
attempts to rectify those deficiencies.
In addition, steady advances in attempts to characterize different aspects of the human
condition have resulted in indicators, covering varying numbers of countries, on a wide variety
of subjects. If one were challenged to create an index on the condition of people-centric
Human Security (Human Security is currently being used to describe a peoples' sense of inclusion, of being valued, of
being safe from perniciousness (by other individuals, organized crime elements, or from corrupted
governmental or corporate impositions), basic comfort (as opposed to “luxury”) and freedom), such as the authors of the Human Development Index faced in 1990 and
expanded qualitatively in 1994, one could now begin to do so – at least for the sake of
discussion and resultant improvements. A prototype Human Security Index is presented and
initially assessed here.
This paper extends a paper (Hastings 2008) with additional data, and is designed to
complement the Hastings (2009) on geographically extending the Human Development Index.
Initial findings are consistent with those of some sustainability and governance
indicators – that stereotypical material development needs to be harmonized by good
governance aimed at peacefulness, fair circumstances to all people, long-term environmental
sustainability. The data show that most countries are characterized (in the draft indices) by
one or more relative strengths, and also one or more weaknesses, which might help them to
focus on areas for improvements. Indeed, no country ranks above 0.800 (on a 0-1.000 scale
as in the Human Development Index) in all components.

Another initial result of this work is a form of documentation that GDP-“developed”
economies are not necessarily highly developed societies, in terms of equitability, social
fabric, or human security. These societal characteristics are arguably more important to
contentment-happiness-satisfaction than raw GDP per capita. Where the Human
Development Reports of United Nations Development Programme pushed the envelope
significantly from GDP per capita to include health and education, the equitability and social
fabric documentation now beginning can push the envelope even farther. Thanks to the work
of many organizations, we may now begin to further characterize human security and societal
development, and perhaps rectify challenges faced by societies in such dimensions of life.