Human security has become a buzzword in international relations in recent years, reflecting the shifting paradigms of “security” and “development.” Perhaps nowhere has this been more apparent than in East Asia in the wake of the economic crisis of the late 1990s. In a May 1998 speech given in Singapore, the late Keizo Obuchi, then minister for foreign affairs, expressed his deep concern for the human toll that the crisis was taking in the region, calling for the mobilization of intellectual resources to respond to these human and social consequences. His initiative resulted in the creation of An Intellectual Dialogue on Building Asia’s Tomorrow, launched by JCIE at the request of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in collaboration with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).

The dialogue series began with a conference held in Tokyo in December 1998 on the theme of “The Asian Crisis: Meeting the Challenges to Human Security.” Regular meetings were held in the ensuing years to further explore the potential of human security as a new policy framework and to seek ways to translate the concept into concrete action. The conference reports have been published in the volumes listed below.

This Intellectual Dialogue series played a significant role in the establishment of the Commission on Human Security in 2001, based on the initiative of the Government of Japan. The Commission completed its activities on February 24, 2003, and submitted its Final Report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in May 2003.