Human security is fundamentally concerned with helping people to deal with unforeseeable threats and sudden downturns, whether international financial crises, environmental disasters or incapacitating illnesses. In this paper I argue that NGOs, as one of the most visible sets of actors in the related fields of human development and human rights, can play a significant role in helping to achieve human security. NGOs are especially well suited to action for human security because of their size and reach, closeness to local populations, willingness to confront the status quo, and ability to address transnational threats through coalition-building. While NGOs face many obstacles in reorienting their activities explicitly towards human security, including the cyclical nature of the aid monies on which many of them depend and the high costs of networking, I argue that the human security framework will nonetheless attract many NGOs to its approach.
This publication is Hauser Center Working Paper No. 12. The Hauser Center Working Paper Series was launched during the summer of 2000. The Series enables the Hauser Center to share with a broad audience important works-in-progress written by Hauser Center scholars and researchers.