Migration and Human Security

Boys on road in Somalia

(Photo: Somalia - Jacob van Garderen)

Building on earlier and ongoing collaborative work, this research project focuses on human security to challenge traditional notions of security and development that have historically framed migration and other development policies.

  • The Migration and Human Security research project has three distinct research lines:

    • The new concepts have emerged from attempts to give practical meaning to socioeconomic and cultural rights and provide a normative framework for evaluating development outcomes, both within national territories and internationally.

      The human development framework tends to focus on reconceiving and redirecting development within a national territory, whereas the human security framework deals with the security of persons and communities in a wider variety of situations, such as vulnerabilities resulting from migration, political persecution and environmental degradation.

      The human security and human development concepts broaden the scope of investigation by going beyond conventional sources of insecurity, such as violence and war, and traditional measurements of development, such as monetary income levels.

      The concept of human development draws on the important work of Amartya Sen and focuses on the broad range of circumstances, including education levels, health and distribution of resources, that impact on persons’ capabilities and range of choices and options in life.

      Human security encompasses freedom from want and indignity next to freedom from fear, and pays attention to non-conventional sources of insecurity, such as environmental degradation, food scarcity, population displacement and institutionalized forms of gender violence.

      Both seek to focus thinking about prioritization within sectors (as in the Millennium Development Goals programme) and between sectors. Human security thinking in particular contributes to thinking beyond now partly obsolete framings of issues in terms of supposedly largely self-contained (for both explanation and evaluation) national boxes. It looks at diverse, situation-specific, interacting threats and how they affect the lives of ordinary people, especially the most vulnerable.

    • This line of research analyses aspects of human security and human development in various dimensions. In particular, a major transnational force is international migration, which affects the lives of people in both countries of origin and host countries.

      Migration is fuelled by human insecurity and underdevelopment, and policies aimed at dealing with migration flows are a major determinant of social justice in the field of human mobility flows as one important dimension of contemporary globalization.

      The Migration, Gender and Social Justice research project (2010-2013), which was funded by the Canada-based International Development Research Council (IDRC), is being coordinated by Thanh-Dam Truong. The project’s main objective was to coordinate and synthesize work on the feminization of migration, in partnership with a group of universities and research institutes, mainly from the global South.

    • A further area we address is climate change: its causes and effects, and especially the politics, legal contours and ethics of possibilities for reducing and modifying such change and for adapting to the changes which are now underway.

      We welcome inquiries from students with interests in these topics.

      Full details of this ongoing project

    • Over half of the world’s population lives in cities. This will have risen to 66% by 2050.

      Cities in Asia and the sub-Sahara in particular are faced with mass migration from rural areas. As a result, the poor population in these cities is growing at a rapid rate. Globalization, technological change, international migration and growing inequality are increasing the complexity of the social structure and cultural make-up of cities worldwide.

      By exploring how social changes affect city life, researchers can help cities to flourish. In this Erasmus Initiative, researchers from different disciplines work closely together to identify the conditions for equal opportunities in life, safe living environments and harmonious co-existence for an increasingly diverse population.

      Full details of this project

      ISS Project Researchers
      Primary researchersAffiliated researchersPhD researchers
      Des GasperCathy WilcockSaba Kuntar
      Thea HilhorstAntony OtienoMausumi Chetia
      Peter Knorringa Jaffer Latief Najar
      Kees Biekart  
      Karin Astrid Siegmann  
      Inge Hutter  
      Joop de Wit  

Project researchers

Primary researchersAffiliated researchersPhD researchers
Des Gasper (project coordinator)Sylvia Bergh (Civic Innovation research group)Beatriz Campillo
Ali BilgicKarin Astrid Siegmann (Civic Innovation research group)Mausumi Chetia
Katarzyna GrabskaRoy Huijsmans (Civic Innovation research group)Stefania Donzelli
Jeff HandmakerSilke Heumann (Civic Innovation research group)Kenji Kimura
Helen Hintjens Mahardhika Sadjad
Cathy Wilcock