Dr Brendan M. Howe presented a lecture at the Asia-Europe Institute (AEI) on 13 April 2018 titled Dealing with Human Security and Governance Failures in Myanmar: International Responses, Obligations, and Obstacles. Dr Howe is currently Associate Dean and chair of the PhD Program at the Graduate School of International Studies, Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea. The lecture covered the issues of global governance and human security, focusing on the issue of typhoon Nargis and the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

Global governance today has become an increasingly complex issue. In his lecture, Dr Howe defines governance as the sum of ways individuals and institutions manage their common affairs. It is not only focused on reconciling conflicting interest but also in providing collective goods and security. He also discussed the evolution and understanding of human security as a concept, contrasting the general Western approach vis-a-vis the Eastern understanding of human security.

The human security discourse which emerged after the Cold War exists at the convergence of the concepts of security, development and human rights. There has also been, in general, a differing approach towards the understanding of human security when viewed from a more Western perspective vis-à-vis the Asian approach. The Western perspective such as that championed by Canada focuses on freedom from fear, closely linking the concept of ‘Responsibility to Protect (R2P)’ to that of human security.

On the other hand, human security as advocated by Japan focuses on a more holistic approach to development, mainstreamed into the official development assistance (ODA) of the country. Based on these competing understanding of human security, Dr Howe examined the differing response and approaches that the international community has taken in respect to Myanmar for both the typhoon Nargis in 2008 and the more recent Rohingya crisis.

The lecture was attended not only by students and faculty members of the AEI but also by NGO workers, members of the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations as well as representatives from foreign embassies. The event ended around 4.00 pm with a small token of appreciation presented to Dr Howe by AEI’s Executive Director, Professor Dr Azirah Hashim.

- Prepared by Dr. Nurliana Kamaruddin