Human Security as a promotional tool for societal security in the Arctic: Addressing Multiple Vulnerability to its Population with Specific Reference to the Barents Region.

Arktisen alueen haasteet inhimillisen turvallisuuden näkökulmasta.

Project Website:

Project Description

The concept of human security embraces a broad meaning including a range of issues from physical security to mental and psychological well-being. According to Human Development Report of the UNDP (1994), which popularizes the concept, human security includes seven categories of threats: economic, environmental, personal, health, food, community and political security. These are however placed under two narrower classifications, namely, ‘freedom from fear’ and ‘freedom from want’. Human security, unlike human rights, which is universal and applicable everywhere upholding the same normative value, is a choice for policy priorities. The concept may not necessarily be understood in all of the regions of the world in a similar way for each different region being different in their characteristics with different meaning of security threats as well as different challenges facing each of the particular regions. Whether the agenda developed within the concept is applicable to the Arctic, and if yes, then how, has been questioned in recent years. Not all the challenges the concept of human security presents are perhaps prevalent in the Arctic, nor are the challenges prevalent in the Arctic similar to that of the other regions. Yet the Arctic population faces a complex set of human security challenges, mainly due to the changes caused by rapid climate change, and the other changes linked to climate change, such as due to growing industrialization.

Despite the interests and recognition of its relevance, very little research has been conducted upon the possible framework of human security taking into consideration the unique challenges facing the Arctic; as well as upon the impacts (negative and positive) of human security on its population. Indigenous and local communities, the central victims of the prevalent human security challenges, have attracted no remarkable attention from this particular angle, which certainly has potential for greater policy preferences. The complex southern administration of the peripheral Arctic region, in its policy instruments, does not very well reflect the regional concerns of the population within the framework of human security understanding. The promotion of human security naturally ensures promotion of societal security since society as a whole is the referent object of security studies, and considered society as a site where collective identity is maintained. Against the background of these aspects, this project explores for a balanced way of development to aim for a sustainable mitigation of the challenges in order to enhance greater societal security. The specific focus within this project is on the Barents region (in particular, the Northern parts of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Northwestern Part of Russia), which, beside climate change, is facing impacts from numerous human activities, such as mass scale natural resource exploitation.

The project addresses the following questions:

  • How and why the concept of human security in response to its philosophical foundation is applicable to the Arctic region, and amongst the Arctic communities? How the concept of human security enhances the understanding of societal security, in particular in the context of the population of Barents region?
  • In which way the challenges facing the Arctic population are important to look at from human security perspective? In what sense the application of the concept is differently envisaged in the Arctic context? While security to the maintenance of traditional subsistence and livelihood through activities, such as hunting, fishing, reindeer herding etc., are important for the community identity, particularly in the case of indigenous people; how important it is in the real life Arctic situation, specifically in the context of the indigenous and local communities of the European High North (the Barents region)? How does the impact of globalization, such as impact of tourism or of extractive industrial development (which conceivably ensure economic capability) interplay with the security to the preservation of traditional values and livelihoods? In other words, how is the economic security measured against community security of the Arctic population?
  • How does security to enabling people, such as by involving local and indigenous communities in the decision-making, and allowing them to be consulted and to express their free, prior and informed consent, can be enhanced where a right-based approach of human security can be achieved? In what ways the corporate responsibility can be integrated within the right based approach of human security?
  • How other social dynamics caused by demographic changes, such as by an increase in incoming population due to industrial development, may contribute to different challenges in an interaction amongst indigenous, local and incoming population?
  • How can the other apparent sociocultural challenges pertaining to health and well-being (particularly important in the context of, for example, food safety and security, access to fresh water as well as to health care facility etc.) of the Arctic population be perceived from human security perspective?

Main Activities

  • Research and knowledge building.
  • Scholars-stakeholders dialogues.
  • Guest lectures.
  • International conference / Workshops
  • Publishing of periodic newsletters
  • Maintaining project website

Main Outcomes

  • Scientific articles in international refereed journal
  • Edited volume from international publishers
  • Electronic News Letters
  • A synthesis report with recommendations

Project Partners 

  • Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law / Arctic Centre
  • University of Lapland
  • Academy of Finland

Project duration: January 2015 – December 2018 (48 months)


Arktisen alueen haasteet inhimillisen turvallisuuden näkökulmasta.

HuSArctic -projektin tavoitteena on osoittaa, millaisia inhimilliseen turvallisuuteen liittyviä haasteita arktisen alueen asukkaat kohtaavat. Tutkimuksella halutaan ymmärtää ja kehittää yhteiskunnallista turvallisuutta arktisella alueella.

Projektin tavoitteena on tuoda lisäarvoa käynnissä olevaan keskusteluun arktisen alueen asukkaiden, erityisesti paikallis- ja alkuperäiskansayhteisöjen, haavoittuvuudesta ja mukautumiskyvystä muutosten edessä. Erityishuomiota kiinnitetään Barentsin alueeseen, joka on kohdannut lukuisia ihmisen toimintaan, kuten kaivosteollisuuteen, matkailuun ja öljy- sekä kaasuteollisuuteen, liittyviä haasteita.

Projektin tavoitteena on myös löytää tapoja, joilla voidaan parantaa alkuperäiskansayhteisöjen mahdollisuutta osallistua päätöksentekoon ja ilmaista vapaaehtoinen sekä tietoon perustuva ennakkosuostumus ja edistää neuvotteluvelvollisuuden toteutumista. Inhimillisen turvallisuuden näkökulman avulla halutaan löytää keinoja ratkaista terveyteen ja hyvinvointiin liittyviä sosiokulttuurisia haasteita.

Nelivuotisella projektilla (2015–2018) on useita partnereita ympäri maailmaa, muun muassa Ruotsista, Norjasta, Venäjältä, Yhdistyneestä Kuningaskunnasta, Kanadasta ja Australiasta.

   Core Project Team

Project Lead
Dr. Kamrul Hossain
Senior researcher

Dorothée Cambou
Post-Doc researcher

Dr. Vigya Sharma
Post-Doc researcher

Anna Petrétei
PhD researcher

Gerald Zojer
PhD researcher

Tahnee Prior
PhD researcher

Shaun Cormier