|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
87th & 88th Meetings (AM & PM)
‘Our Challenges Are Shared; So, too, Is Our Commitment to Enhance Freedom from Fear,
Freedom from Want, Freedom to Live in Dignity’, SAys Secretary-General
Introduces Report on Human Security to General Assembly;
Panel: ‘People Centred Responses: The Added Value of Human Security’
Citing the rise of borderless threats – pandemics, natural disasters and financial turmoil - and the ways in which such ills impacted the daily lives of millions of people worldwide, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon today backed the concept of “human security”, and urged Member States to consider the survival, livelihood and dignity of individuals as the fundamental basis for their security.
Pointing to the recent food price spikes and economic downturn, as well as the fact that last year alone, more than 200 million people had been affected by natural disasters, and that conflicts had driven a record 42 million people from their homes, the Secretary-General introduced his report on human security to the General Assembly with a sombre warning: the interconnected nature of the world meant crises and catastrophes today can transcend borders and threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people as never before.
“Our challenges are shared; so too is our commitment to enhance ‘freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom to live in dignity’,” he said, echoing the doctrine set out in the landmark 1994 United Nations Human Development Report, which first explored the notion of human security. “We must ensure that the gains of today are not lost to the crises of tomorrow,” he said, calling for actions focusing on people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific and preventive strategies at every level. “This is the human security approach,” he said.
Such an approach, helped address both current and emerging threats, as well as their causes. It would also help to support early warning systems that offset the impact of such hazards. Secretary-General Ban said “the focus is on building Government and local capacities by identifying concrete needs of populations under stress; developing solutions that are rooted in local realities; and building partnerships that are targeted, cost-effective and capitalize on comparative advantage”.
The concept of human security, underpinned the work of the United Nations, which sought to help war-torn societies rebuild; to prevent and respond to natural disasters; and to bolster health care and education. It was also a critical tool in increasing the cohesion of the Organizations’ efforts, instead of adding layers to the work of the United Nations, he said, urging the international community to continue strengthening the political, social, environmental, economic and cultural systems that were the building blocks of stability, security and human dignity.
The Secretary-General introduced his report ahead of an informal panel discussion on “Human-centred approaches: the added value of human security”, which was followed in the afternoon by a formal debate in the Assembly on the subject.
The panel, moderated by Sanja Štiglic (Slovenia), Acting General Assembly President, included Sonia Picado of Costa Rica, member of the Advisory Board on Human Security; Sir Richard Jolly, Honorary Professor and Research Associate at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and Co-Director of the United Nations Intellectual History Project; Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet; and Sakiko Fukuda Parr, Professor of International Affairs at the New School and Interim Dean for Academic Affairs at the Milano New School for Management and Urban Policy.
Mr. Jolly, who was among the main architects of the 1994 Human Development Report, said the concept of human security had very much been a creation of the United Nations. Like the other panellists he said that, in terms of perception and application, the concept of human security was still evolving. “We are learning by doing,” he said, adding that the Secretary-General’s report demonstrated the value of the principle as a broad frame for undertaking an analysis of the threats affecting people in regions, countries and communities.
As for the value added by undertaking human-centred responses to security, he said such an approach bolstered traditional security precepts by drawing the attention of decision-makers to “human priorities” beyond traditional security concerns; informing the general public and raising awareness to a wider range of threats, so that domestic resources could be allocated accordingly; opening the way to a more efficient use of resources; and shifting attention from traditional security threats, to, among others, strengthening disaster preparedness, lowering regional tensions, and preventing the outbreak of civil conflict.
He went on to discuss some of the arguments against the concept, including the notion that protection of national sovereignty was the fundamental building block for global security, the fear that human security opened the door to further Western dominance or interference, and that the concept was just too broad or vague. As for the national sovereignty argument, he said that it was clear that major social gains could be achieved by shifting expenditures away from military concerns and towards social development. Regarding Western interference, he acknowledged that, while the human security concept did “list” human-centred threats, it nevertheless stressed national ownership of any specific response, largely by countries scaling up actions to enhance their own development.
For his part, Mr. Nambiar said, in the decade following the end of the cold war, Sadako Ogata, former High Commissioner for Refugees, had sought to uncover the political, economic and social factors that promoted or hindered the security of displaced persons. That was because, in countries undergoing internal conflicts, humanitarian agencies were left to provide emergency assistance, negotiate with Governments or with de facto rulers for safe passage or open borders.
The concept of “human security”, which grew out of that context, was later taken up by Japanese Prime Minister Obuchi in 1999, leading to two major international initiatives by Japan: the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, founded in 1999; and the initiative to set up the Commission on Human Security. The Trust Fund had played a critical role in channelling financing resources to field-based projects, allocating approximately $323 million to 187 projects in over 60 countries.
When Member States addressed the Assembly in the afternoon, most speakers acknowledged that the intersection between humanitarian action, development, human rights and conflict resolution required specific human-centred responses, but there was stark disagreement over how such actions would be carried out and who should take the lead in implementation.
Costa Rica’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, said human security connected and complemented the goal of ensuring national and international security and that of ensuring the security and well-being of people. The concept could help States design and implement policies and strategies against emerging threats beyond state and military concerns. It had a people-centred approach, which meant it was useful in promoting social integration and equity.
Yet, Venezuela’s representative said that, as far as he knew, the concept of human security had not been accepted or defined by Member States. It was worrisome that a human security unit within the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had already been created. Venezuela had doubts about the concept, as its scope was too broad and ambiguous and was concerned about the attempt to “securitize” the economic and social development agenda.
If that happened, he warned, it would legitimize the use of force by powerful States to violate the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of other States whose population they considered to be at risk. He said the issue was best handled by the Assembly, in line with Charter principles. It must focus on development, since it was through the exercise of the right to development that human beings could assure their welfare. States should implement humanist and “solidarity-based” policies, where equality, justice and freedom reigned.
Later in the debate, the representative of the United States said human security and national security were inextricably linked, with each supporting the realization of the other. For example, by creating governance structures and laws that protected human rights, or developing economic mechanisms that provided business opportunities, “we are able to create security and support basic needs.” When people, including women and children, were allowed to live freely and empowered to achieve their full potential, it was not only individuals that prospered, but nations as well. He added that human security should be considered in light of the need to have national ownership of development initiatives.
Also speaking during the debate were the representatives of Spain (on behalf of the European Union), Nauru (on behalf of Pacific small island developing States), Australia (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum), Mexico, Egypt, Bangladesh, Slovenia, Philippines, Cuba, Japan, South Africa, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Russian Federation, Brazil, Hungary and Thailand.
Participating in the informal panel discussion were the representatives of Argentina, Colombia, Iran, Japan, Egypt, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, India, and Pakistan.
The Assembly will reconvene tomorrow at 10 a.m. to conclude its debate.
The General Assembly met this morning to consider the Secretary-General’s report on Human Security (document A/64/701), and hold a panel discussion on “People-Centred Responses: The Added Value of Human Security”.
The report was submitted as part of the follow-up to the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit, at which the Heads of State and Government committed themselves to discuss and define the notion of human security. It provides an update on developments related to the advancement of that concept over the past five years and takes stock of discussions on human security, its various definitions and its relationship to State sovereignty and the responsibility to protect.
Among other things, the report outlines the principles and the approach for advancing human security and its application to the current priorities of the United Nations. Key human security initiatives undertaken by Governments, regional and subregional intergovernmental organizations, as well as the organizations and bodies of the United Nations system, are presented as examples of the reach of this important concept and its growing acceptance.
“Broadly defined, human security encompasses freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom to live in dignity. Together, these fundamental freedoms are rooted in the core principles of the Charter,” the Secretary-General says in the report, and adds that those principles are also reflected in the many human security-related initiatives and activities undertaken by United Nations agencies, funds and programmes and by intergovernmental organizations.
He goes on to say that today’s multiple, complex and highly interrelated threats affect the lives of millions of people worldwide. Indeed, natural disasters, violent conflicts and their impact on civilians, as well as food, health, financial and economic crises, tend to acquire transnational dimensions, moving beyond traditional notions of security. While national security remains pivotal to peace and stability, there is growing recognition of the need for an expanded paradigm of security.
“Calls for such a broader concept of security are rooted in the common issues faced by all Governments,” the Secretary-General says, stressing that no matter how powerful or seemingly insulated Governments may be, today’s global flow of goods, finance and people increases the risks and uncertainties confronting the international community. It is in this interconnected environment that Governments are invited to consider the survival, livelihood and dignity of individuals as the fundamental basis for their security.
With all that in mind, he concludes that the application of human security calls for people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific and preventive responses. Such an approach helps focus attention on current and emerging threats; identifies the root causes; and supports early warning systems that help mitigate their impact. Moreover, it promotes multi-stakeholder responses that enable the protection and empowerment of people and communities. “Together, these aim to advance freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom to live in dignity for all,” he says.
Welcoming delegates to the formal debate and panel discussion, SANJA ŠTIGLIC ( Slovenia), Acting General Assembly President, recalled an informal thematic debate in May 2008, where around 40 States had taken the floor to explore ways to follow up on the reference to human security in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. Meantime, the Friends of Human Security and the Human Security Network had contributed greatly to clarifying conceptual discussions and advancing operational aspects of human security. Today’s gathering was a chance to move discussions forward, guided by a knowledgeable panel and moderator.
BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General, said the interconnected nature of the modern world meant that crises transcended borders and threatened the lives and livelihoods of millions. No region was left untouched and no country was immune. The global financial crisis had disrupted jobs and economic security in both developed and developing countries. Food price spikes had left more that 1 billion people hungry and more than 17,000 children were dying of malnutrition every day. Furthermore, more than 200 million people last year were affected by natural disasters, and violent conflict had displaced more than 42 million. Meanwhile, the H1N1 flu pandemic had highlighted the human and economic costs of health emergencies.
“Today it is increasingly clear that the health of one community has serious implications for the health of all communities,” he continued, stressing: “Our challenges are shared; so too is our commitment to enhance ‘freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom to live in dignity’.” That was why his report called for an expanded understanding of security where the protection and empowerment of people formed the basis and purpose of collective actions. As such, those actions must focus on people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific and preventive strategies at every level. “This is the human security approach,” he said.
Continuing, he said that human security was fully in line with the provisions of the United Nations Charter. The concept strengthened State sovereignty by providing Governments with effective tools that looked at root causes of persistent and emerging threats. As a result, human security supported early warning systems that diminished the impact of such threats. “The focus is on building Government and local capacities by identifying concrete needs of populations under stress; developing solutions that are rooted in local realities, and building partnerships that are targeted, cost-effective and capitalize on comparative advantage,” he said.
That combination not only improved the resilience of Governments and people to insecurities, it contributed to greater human, national, regional and international security. Further, such an understanding of human security was also at the core of the work of the United Nations. And significant progress had been made to integrate human security into the work of the Organization.
“The United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security has provided resources to rebuild war-torn societies; prevent, mitigate and respond to natural disasters; and strengthen food security,” he said, adding that it had also invested in improving access to health care and education in times of crises; and mobilizing community leadership. Human security was also an important tool for advancing our efforts to build “One United Nations”.
In a project implemented in the United Republic of Tanzania, for example, it was noted that “the human security approach required United Nations organizations to work as One and to combine their respective expertise. This helped to further strengthen the impact of the project.” Instead of adding layers to the work of the United Nations, human security provided the Organization with a framework to capitalize on its comparative advantages, “to bolster our actions, to galvanize our work, and to revitalize its partnerships”.
“Let us continue our combined efforts to strengthen the political, social, environmental, economic and cultural systems that are the building blocks of stability, security, and human dignity,” he concluded.
Informal Panel Discussion
Panellists at the informal panel discussion on “human-centred approaches: the added value of human security”, moderated by Ms. Štiglic, included Sonia Picado of Costa Rica, member of the Advisory Board on Human Security; Sir Richard Jolly, Honorary Professor and Research Associate at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and Co-Director of the United Nations Intellectual History Project; Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet; and Sakiko Fukuda Parr, Professor of International Affairs at the New School and Interim Dean for Academic Affairs at the Milano New School for Management and Urban Policy.
Ms. PICADO admitted that the concept was not yet well understood. In Latin America, which had undergone many changes in the past 30 years, authoritarianism had given way to democracy. The region was the first to commit to a democratic charter, signed on 11 September 2001 in Peru. Although its democracy was not perfect, the region drew on “democracy” as a common language, creating from it a common platform to tackle inequity and to ensure a safe environment for its people.
Part of human development was to live without fear or want, but no country could have development without security. In turn, there could be no security without human rights, she continued. Thus, the concept of human security was useful for overcoming social problems facing marginalized people, such as women. It was not treated in Latin America as an existential concept, but as something to be implemented in practical terms. It enabled countries in that region to develop instruments to enable people to become “masters of their own future”. It was a way to integrate the principles of human rights, human development and human security. It was the basis upon which countries could strengthen planning strategies to cope with natural disasters.
She cited several examples of good practices currently being implemented in Latin America, saying that Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador and Peru had used money from the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security to bolster human security in the wake of natural disasters. El Salvador and Honduras supported microenterprises run by women, and in former guerrilla areas, money was invested on youth development.
Mr. NAMBIAR observed that insecurity, by tradition, was seen as threats posed by States to other States. But, in the face of increasing threats from non-State actors, the big challenge became one of balancing the protection of State security with the need to safeguard civil liberties and civil life. In the face of globalization, States found themselves having to recognize that the process of development often had an adverse impact on vulnerable people. In response, marginalized communities were finding ways to group together through information technology. With the sources of insecurity becoming largely internal — as ethnic, religious and political groups competing for power and resources — the nature of war changed from inter-State to mostly intra-State conflict.
He said, in the decade following the end of the cold war, Sadako Ogata, former High Commissioner for Refugees, had sought to uncover the political, economic and social factors that promoted or hindered the security of displaced persons. This was because, in countries undergoing internal conflicts, humanitarian agencies were left to provide emergency assistance, negotiate with Governments or with de facto rulers for safe passage or open borders. The concept of “human security,” which grew out of that context, was later taken up by Japanese Prime Minister Obuchi in 1999, leading to two major international initiatives by Japan: the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, founded in 1999; and the initiative to set up the Commission on Human Security.
The Commission understood that the concept of human security addressed not just physical safety, but the sense of security that came from having enough to eat, a place to live, employment, access to health care, and education, he said. Seeking to narrow its attention on people facing critical and pervasive threats, the Commission chose to address the problems of socially excluded groups, where the question of inequality was seen as key. A two-pronged approach emerged, centring on protection and empowerment, which the Commission recognized would require a range of interventions. Judicial and institutional set-ups needed tackling, and an access to basic needs widened. The interventions would have to involve bottom-up endeavours in community-building, and empowerment of women.
Amartya Sen was another important person responsible for the development of human security, he said. In his latest book, Professor Sen argued that the ability of reasoning played an important role in making societies less unjust. The world was not completely just, and reason must be applied to eliminate what were clearly remediable injustices. But, using reason could produce different suggestions: in a hypothetical situation involving three children fighting over a flute, a Marxist egalitarian might choose to give it to the poorest; a Rawlsian libertarian might give it to the one who built the flute; and the Bethamite utilitarian might give it to the one who could play the flute. The three arguments pointed to different types of impartial and non-arbitrary reasoning. In Mr. Sen’s view, to reconcile the disparities, people must address them through an understanding of justice that was truly inclusive.
But, said Mr. Nambiar, people had a tendency to contain their difference. They had a compulsion to resort to racial and cultural stereotyping, resisting gender equality and creating a culture of fear emanating from the “other”. How States could conduct an open dialogue in a society driven by paranoia was uncertain. At the very least, maintaining harmony within society would involve scrupulous adherence to due process in the pursuit of legal redress, and adherence to the ordinary norms of decent civic behaviour. It was a practical approach to “the growing interdependence of vulnerabilities facing people and communities”.
He said the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security had played a critical role in channelling financing resources to field-based projects, allocating approximately $323 million to 187 projects in over 60 countries. For example, in Bolivia, it supported a project to protect and empower adolescents. The broad understanding of human security as outlined in the World Summit Outcome Document and further defined in the Secretary-General’s report, was at the centre of the Organization’s work. In additional to the valuable support provided by Greece, Japan, Slovenia and Thailand, there was a growing list of States willing to contribute to it.
Sir RICHARD JOLLY, Honorary Professor and Research Associate of the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, and one of the main architects of the landmark United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 1994 Human Development report, which had introduced concept of “freedom from fear and freedom from want”, said the concept of human security had very much been a creation of the United Nations. He said that earlier report had opened by stressing that for too long, the concept of security had been interpreted narrowly, related more to the protection of nation States than people. But, over the past 15 years, it had become clear that economic turmoil, natural disasters, pandemics and other humanitarian issues were threats that could overrun national borders and affect all countries.
The Secretary-General’s report made a major contribution to the continuing efforts to refine the definition of human security. It listed the efforts to apply the principle by regional groups and at least 14 United Nations agencies. It also highlighted the efforts of the Trust Fund. “In terms of perception and application, the concept of human security is still evolving. We are learning by doing,” he said, adding that the Secretary-General’s report also demonstrated the value of the principle as a broad frame for undertaking an analysis of the threats affecting people in regions, countries and communities.
Turning to the value added by undertaking human-centred responses to security, he said such an approach bolstered traditional security precepts by making decision-makers aware of “human priorities” beyond traditional security concerns; informing the general public and raising awareness to a wider range of threats, so that domestic resources could be allocated accordingly; opening the way to a more efficient use of resources, both domestic and non-governmental; and shifting attention from traditional security threats, to, among others, strengthening disaster preparedness, lowering regional tensions, and preventing the outbreak of civil conflict.
He went on to discuss some of the arguments against the concept, including the notion that protection of national sovereignty was the fundamental building block for global security, the fear that human security opened the door to further Western dominance or interference, and that the concept was just too broad or vague. As for the national sovereignty argument, he said that it was clear that major social gains could be achieved by shifting expenditures away from military concerns and towards social development. Regarding Western interference, he acknowledged that, while the human security concept did “list” human-centred threats, it nevertheless stressed the need for countries to take action themselves, largely by scaling up actions to enhance their own development.
As for the “too big, too vague” argument, he said that was a real issue and that many theorists who supported the concept had wondered: “Are we getting value added or just renaming old problems?” Mr. Jolly did not think so, and believed that addressing individual security, rather than simply renaming old issues, could actually prompt discussion of new ways to tackle lingering social and economic challenges. Perhaps Governments should consider the “trade off” of continued spending on traditional security matters, rather than on social areas that dealt more with individuals.
Highlighting some proposals on the way forward, he called for more country analyses of human security applications and implementation results; more regional analysis to inform such national reports on, for example, military spending versus social spending; an international report with a statistical analysis of human security and what countries were doing about it; and the establishment of training courses in application and implementation of human security. Specifically, he said that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs might develop such courses. Concluding, he said: “I am of the conviction that human security is indeed a concept that has many opportunities for the future for many countries, regions and the United Nations as a whole.”
The final panellist, SAKIKO FUKUDA PARR, Professor of International Affairs of the New School and the main author of several UNDP Human Development Reports, said the concept of human security could be a framework for analysing responses to conflict and endemic poverty. The theme of human-centeredness and freedom from fear and freedom from want were at the core of the principle. There was very little disagreement that development and peace went together and must somehow be synergistic. The real value added of the concept was that it examined the relationships between physical security and socio-economic aspects of human well-being.
It also highlighted the fact that threats caused by “unstable environments” deserved the same amount of policy attention as external or more traditional threats. She said that conflict prevention policies could, in fact, address human security matters. Some theorists supporting that view said that, when economic opportunities and political power were not equally distributed in a society, especially among religious or ethnic groups, tensions rose and often, conflict could erupt.
“When you have low levels of income in a country it is difficult to set up effective institutions,” she continued, adding that, through the human security lens, public policy should target both economic growth, expansion of social opportunities and conflict prevention. Conflict prevention measures that also targeted such social concerns, especially the equitable distribution of domestic and external resources among all groups, must be the new priority, she said, stressing that the concept of human security could point the way forward. “For me, human security is not just old concepts with new names, it’s a new framework for analysis and setting policies,” she said.
In an exchange with panellists, some States said the concept was difficult to grasp, questioning why it was necessary to outline a new concept to capture issues already being dealt with: economic and social development; the promotion of human dignity and rights; and security. Some said the Secretary-General’s report and the panellists had defined a scope that was overly broad. Doubts expressed in 2005 had not been sufficiently addressed, some others said — would the principle of human security encompass intervention by external players who could act without the consent of Government? If yes, who had the power to decide who would intervene and when, if Governments were unwilling? For example, developed countries were the cause of the economic and financial crisis — who had the right to intervene in that case? How was the principle of human security distinct from the right to protect?
One speaker from the Near East noted that, while the nature of wars had changed, the motivations for going to war were the same. In his region, insecurity arose from the intervention of powerful States into their affairs. Another speaker noted that none of the panellists had addressed the root cause of human insecurity that were also at the heart of climate change, persistent poverty, and other such problems. Social inclusion and equity, rather than poverty, was the cause of insecurity.
Others asked for clarity on the role of the United Nations in operationalizing the concept, with some suggesting that the Peacebuilding Commission might be able to play a part. But a larger question, for some, was how human security could advance intergovernmental processes, if at all, saying that the present discussion was academic and different from normal intergovernmental discussions. If the concept had entered into international use much earlier, would the United Nations have approached certain issues differently — for example, the issues surrounding the energy, financial and food crises? They also asked how human security could be applied to the Millennium Development Goals, and other social problems such as human trafficking, arms proliferation, and the issue of migrants.
Responding, Ms. FUKUDA PARR pointed out that the Millennium Development Goals covered only one chapter of the Millennium Declaration. She observed that there were no “Millennium Security Goals”, such as ensuring that each person be free from threats of violence. Through a study she conducted, she found that 61 countries were particularly challenged and deserving of support in that respect. Aside from being conflict-ridden, they also had the highest levels of poverty and were farthest from reaching the Millennium Goals.
Ms. PICADO called for a distinction to be made between human development and national development. From the viewpoint of national development, security was seen as a military concept. Yet, insecurity for groups at highest risk of violence, such as migrants, trafficking victims, and so on, called into mind the protection and promotion of human rights. Human security did not seek to perpetuate a regime of repression, but to promote “unity to work together on the development of the human being”. She cited post-earthquake Haiti as an example of international cooperation to ensure human security, in a way that was different from providing assistance after a war or invasion.
Mr. NAMBIAR said that, for the concept to evolve from an academic notion to one that could be operationalized, all States needed to reach a certain comfort level. Obtaining freedom from want, fear, indignity and the principle of inclusiveness were important issues that merited consideration at the international level, he argued. Communities no longer lived in isolation, because of advances in technology. Unless those issues were addressed, they would continue to pose obstacles to human development. The concept was applicable to all countries, which each experienced human security problems in different guises. Nations needed to help each other to tackle common problems, and to ensure that countries exercised their sovereignty in a transparent way. Sovereignty, in this sense, implied not only a monopoly on authority, but also a sense of responsibility “of doing what one had to do”. The issue of consent was a valid one, but the goal was not to reach consent through ultimatums.
Mr. JOLLY added that human security was a useful concept to stimulate thinking amongst Governments concerning fears people had within their countries. But it was Governments that had the obligation to determine priorities and the trade-offs involved. He, too, believed that human security had a universal application, and that the United Nations could support its pursuit by conducting national surveys and providing assistance to implement actions arising from them.
Participating in the exchange were the representatives of Argentina, Colombia, Iran, Japan, Egypt, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, India and Pakistan.
JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that addressing human security threats meant finding ways of bridging gaps between security and humanitarian assistance, human rights and development. In effect, a holistic and comprehensive approach based on the promotion of human rights was essential, he said, noting that fighting poverty and promoting people-centred and socio-economic development could contribute to both improving human security and to the achievement of internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals. He highlighted the Union’s commitment to the fight against poverty and the importance of the Treaty of Lisbon.
He called for the international community to strengthen efforts to promote the protection of civilians in conflict situations with a focus on strengthening national capacities. Additionally, challenges caused by the presence of mines and other unexploded ordnance needed to be addressed, as these devices served as obstacles to the return of refugees and other displaced persons, humanitarian aid operations, reconstruction and economic development. More needed to be done on prevention and mediation, the protection of children and women, he stressed, citing the appointment of Special Representative of the Secretary-General Margot Wallström as an important step.
Supporting the operationalization and implementation of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, he underlined the relationship between those issues and human security in that they were both people-centred. In addressing the effects of climate change on human security, he noted that the Copenhagen Accord required urgent action on adaptation to adverse effects and should prioritize the most vulnerable developing States, specifically the least developed countries, small island developing States, and Africa. Finally, he believed that the concept of human security did not bring additional layers to the work of the United Nations, but rather focuses and complements its activities.
MARLENE MOSES ( Nauru), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said that the security of small island States rested largely in the hands of others. The recent financial crisis, the issue of climate change and the subsequent effects of each — all man-made disasters — were not caused by small island States. However, they forced these States to rely on multilateral institutions and the international community for help in preserving some measure of human security for the people.
The protection of human rights and fundamental freedom should be the central focus of the international community, she said, as well as a State’s responsibility to protect those rights. The concept of human security should be used to augment and facilitate the success of existing international initiatives, such as the Millennium Development Goals and the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation. She called for more effort to address the root causes of problems, highlighting that, while the Secretary-General’s report placed climate change in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, no amount of development could save the small islands from disappearing if global warming continues.
“We must not obscure responsibility,” she said. “We must not blame the victim.” Climate change was a problem caused by major emitting countries failing to adequately reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet produced dire impacts for the small island States by stretching their institutional capacity and undermining prospects for sustainable development. Calling for the Security Council to act upon the resolution on climate change and its possible security implications, she noted that it has a legal duty to address security threats posed by climate change.
ANDREW GOLEDZINOWSKI (Australia), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, said, while countries might disagree about the different types of security challenges, it was possible to see with awful clarity what “human security” actually meant. Small island communities were grappling with the simultaneous threat of sea-level rise, extreme weather events, the decline in the viability of fisheries, changes to traditional patterns of subsistence agriculture, and with the consequent pressures on inter-communal relations. For those communities, the interconnectedness of security threats needed no explanation. To put the vulnerability of small island States in context, when cyclone Heta hit Niue in 2004, it damaged 90 per cent of housing and wreaked destruction estimated at more than five times its gross domestic product, or the equivalent of 200 years of exports.
He said development, human rights and freedom from conflict were interdependent and mutually reinforcing. To achieve those conditions, individuals in developing States needed to have their voices heard in their own countries, and also at the United Nations. The effective review of the Mauritius Strategy would be one way to ensure those voices were heard. Climate change was another threat to Pacific islands that must not be forgotten. Further discussion was needed on the definition of human security and how to address root causes. The international community needed to go further to ensure the security of all peoples, especially those of the small island States. Their vulnerability to security threats could only be abated through collective international effort.
JAIRO HERNÁNDEZ-MILIAN (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, said complex threats, such as the global and economic crisis, rising food prices along with climate-related emergencies, protracted conflicts and transnational crime and health concerns, had shown multidimensional effects that in some cases exceeded or reduced the capacity of individual Governments to respond in isolation. Today’s new insecurities were global and interdependent, and could involve multiple actors going beyond military power. Peace, security, development and human rights were indivisible, where acting against one of these dimensions would impinge on the other. Human security, therefore, connected and complemented the goal of ensuring national and international security and that of ensuring the security and well-being of people.
He said the human security perspective could help States design and implement policies and strategies against emerging threats beyond state and military concern. It had a people-centred approach, which meant it was useful in promoting social integration and equity. It needed to be better integrated in multilateral efforts through partnerships and synergies. Current partnerships included the Commission on Human Security, the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, the Friends of Human Security and the Human Security Network. Regional and subregional organizations had also played a role.
He explained that the Human Security Network considered a broad spectrum of issues, such as anti-personnel mines, small arms and light weapons, protection of civilians in armed conflict, and transitional justice and peacebuilding. Human security was not limited to the absence of conflict, but to creating conditions to prevent conflict. As such, the Human Security Network also involved itself in issues relating to HIV and AIDS, environment, poverty alleviation, climate change and human rights. The concept brought an added value to national policies, and mainstreaming it into United Nations activities would promote a sense of local ownership and healthier state-society relations. However, mindful of the different perspectives around that concept, the Network would like to focus on it practical added value. Its preference would be a procedural resolution that reaffirmed paragraph 143 of the World Summit Outcome that would take note of the report and enable further consideration of human security issues at the sixty-sixth session.
CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico), noting that his delegation co-chaired the Group of Friends on Human Security, said the interdependence and transnational character of both traditional and new threats had forced States to adopt human security measures, or those that took into account the safety and well-being of individuals and communities. “It is a big challenge but not an impossible one,” he said, adding that relevant strategies must simultaneously address State security and poverty eradication, disaster risk reduction and environmental protection, among others. Mexico welcomed the Secretary-General’s report, which contributes to a greater understanding of the concept, and gave a timely focus on several situations in which the concept had been applied.
He said the report also addressed concerns about the relationship between human security and human rights. Indeed, human security was not a legal regime, so it did not generate new obligations. Because of its complementary nature, it contributed to the rule of law and ensured that individuals were at the centre of all actions. Human security did not create new duties for the United Nations, but it focused the Organization’s efforts in such areas as development, security and human rights. He called on the United Nations to make further progress in areas vital to human security, including peacebuilding; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; curbing the spread of small arms; ending systematic violations of human rights; and tackling environmental degradation. He hoped that human security would become a pillar of decision-making in the United Nations and the wider international community to address the most serious scourges affecting the world today. He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations, and as Chair of the Contact Group, he urged all Member States to continue the debate on human security.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said discussions on human security should be based on Charter principles, such as respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-intervention in matters that were essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State. It should also be based on international humanitarian law, with due respect to the right to self-determination of people under occupation. Egypt believed that people were not inherently vulnerable, but became so due to their socio-economic contexts. That was particularly true of women; children; migrants; refugees; internally displaced persons; asylum-seekers; national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities; indigenous peoples; persons deprived of liberty; and peoples under occupation. For that reason, the discussion on human security should centre on development, as well as human rights. Countries undergoing conflict or emerging from one needed special attention to prevent a relapse into violence, and to ensure accessibility of humanitarian assistance. Policies that attempted to enforce economic blockades, deprivation and collective punishment should be blocked.
Continuing, he said pursuit of human security meant adopting a cooperative approach to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, through international support to national capacity-building efforts. Assistance should be given to States to meet their national obligation within the universal periodic review mechanism of the Human Rights Council, supported by regional review mechanisms such as the African peer review mechanism. States should commit to supporting the activities of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes in the field of comprehensive human development, with special attention to health, education and the advancement and protection of women and children. They should tackle with more determination the issues of landmines, illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and exploitation of resources. To do so, they needed to agree on a comprehensive, multidimensional and integrated approach to overcome the negative repercussions of ongoing international crises, be they related to food security, environmental security, energy security, combating hatred and incitement, terrorism and human trafficking. They needed to be able to respond to challenges that impeded people’s realization of their potential, thus bolstering the ability of developing countries to achieve their development goals. Further, States should be careful not to use human security as a backdoor to introduce or implement controversial concepts, nor to justify intervention in the domestic affairs of States.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh) said his Government saw human security as an “emerging concept” and believed that a definition of the principle that included the idea of “freedom from fear and freedom from want” could provide guidance for all nations. Bangladesh saw direct links between human security and the international development agenda and, as with many least developed countries, understood that one lost crop resulting from a flood or cyclone could be the single biggest threat to human security. “Indeed, if there is no food to eat, the ‘freedom to live in dignity’ is a far cry.”
He said that “freedom from want” encompassed economic and food security, adequate health care and environmental protection. In a survey conducted in Bangladesh a few years ago, the respondents had identified poverty and unemployment as the biggest problems they faced. When asked what made them feel most “insecure”, more than half the respondents had citied natural disasters, while the majority of the remainder had citied lack of health care. The outcome of the study made it clear that all those issues were so closely linked that the concept could not be confined to one area.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC (Slovenia), aligning with statements by the European Union and the Human Security Network, called for the international community to pay special attention to the humanitarian and developmental challenges caused by the presence of landmines and other unexploded ordnance, which were at the core of the country’s efforts in promoting human security. With the aim of eradicating the landmines from the ground in the South Europe, the Government established the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance, which represented an effective mechanism in comprehensively addressing the problem. The country also placed a focus on civilian protection, he said, particularly women and children, who represented 70 per cent of the causalities in recent conflicts. Slovenia would mark the tenth anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security with a national action plan.
Climate change and its impact on security was an important issue, he said, as climate change exacerbated poverty, diminished available freshwater resources, threatened food security, and threatened both human life and property worldwide. He noted that adaptation to climate change should include capacity-building and an improvement in crisis management. She also cited the country’s efforts in the area of disaster risk reduction and management, in particular through the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative for South-Eastern Europe. Given the growing acceptance of the concept of human security, she expressed support for further discussions and the inclusion of human security on the agenda.
LIBRAN CABACTULAN ( Philippines) welcomed efforts to ensure clarity for those who needed more information, in order to move towards a broader, more committed approach to a people-centred United Nations. In light of apprehensions voiced by delegations this morning, more confidence measures needed to be undertaken. He said a programme of action should be consciously developed and pursued with more information sharing with the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.
To that effect, he said, activities described in the human security newsletters — including on human trafficking — could be expanded to those countries that were unclear about the objectives and intentions of human security. Additionally, those who had already benefited from the Trust Fund could provide feedback to the General Assembly in terms of the transparency and impartiality of the implementation of projects. A higher profile for the Human Security Unit was also needed, with a clear explanation of how its activities tied in or were related to the broader work of other United Nations bodies. With clarity and reassurances on the continued and future application of human security programmes and projects, much more benefit would be gained from that worthy endeavour.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO ( Venezuela) said, as far as he knew, the concept of human security had not been accepted or defined by Member States. It was worrisome that a human security unit within the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had already been created. Venezuela had doubts about the concept, as its scope was too broad and ambiguous. It was concerned about the attempt to “securitize” the economic and social development agenda, which would legitimize the use of force by powerful States to violate the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of other States whose population they considered to be at risk.
He said the issue was best handled by the Assembly, in line with Charter principles. It must focus on development, since it was through the exercise of the right to development that human beings could assure their welfare. States should implement humanist and “solidarity-based” policies, where equality, justice and freedom reigned. Venezuela, for its part, was committed to ensuring the security, prosperity and welfare of all Venezuelans, which was a responsibility it exercised without interference from foreign Powers seeking to impose their ideological paradigms.
The report had spoken of new threats, but ignored systemic problems, he said, such as “systemic aggressions and interventions” carried out by foreign Powers that destroyed or threatened the survival of entire populations. He asked: Who should determine that some States were unable to protect their population? Who should design the appropriate responses? He warned that the concept would be used to justify interventionist measures in countries which disputed the dominant paradigms of capitalism and imperialism. In a diverse world with no single model of democracy, no foreign Power was permitted to impose their doctrine on the world. The welfare, progress and dignity of people could only be achieved with policies that respected the history, culture and traditions cherished by all nations.
RODOLFO BENÍTEZ VERSÓN ( Cuba) said that nearly two years ago, when the Assembly had held its first debate on human security, one thing had been clear: Member States had diverse opinions on how to define the concept and considered it a complex and sensitive issue on which they were far from reaching a consensus. Cuba, therefore, noted with concern that the Secretariat adopted policies or took actions to implement a concept that had not been defined by Member States. In fact, while there was no agreed definition of human security, the Secretary-General’s report contained no fewer than 20 United Nations structures which had carried out projects related to that concept since 1999. “The implementation of ambiguous concepts not clearly defined creates the conditions for its manipulation by certain States in favour of their narrow political interests,” he declared.
To Cuba, there was no higher priority that guaranteeing the equality of opportunities so that all individuals in society could enjoy their rights and develop their human potential. Today, nations faced a huge challenge posed by the current unjust and unequal international order, where 20 per cent of the planet’s population was preventing the development of the remaining 80 per cent. He asked: “How can the security of all human beings be guaranteed in the face of obstacles like unequal exchange, the hermetic closure of the markets in industrial countries to products from the developing world, restrictions on technology transfer and outrageous bran drain?” Indeed, the Secretary-General’s report noted that today some 1.02 billion people were hungry worldwide; 17,000 children died every day and development aid pledges went unfulfilled. If such trends continued, there could be no human security. Further, there could be no human security amid some 22,000 nuclear weapons, some 12,000 of which were primed for immediate use. With all that in mind, he said Cuba rejected any definition of human security that did not fully respect international law and the tenets of the United Nations Charter.
NORIHIRO OKUDA ( Japan) expressed gratitude for the Secretary-General’s report and the organization of the debate, and drew attention to a point articulated in that report: “human security does not entail the use of force against sovereign States” and did not contradict national sovereignty. In that context, the international community should support efforts made by Governments to create the enabling environment for all individuals to fully develop their potential and livelihood.
He also underlined the report’s distinction between human security and the responsibility to protect, as the latter focused on four kinds of severe human rights violations. The added value of human security is its “bottom-up” perspective: it induces policymakers, when dealing with a wide range of problems, to keep a close eye on individuals, households and communities and on their lives, livelihood and dignity. The concept was already being applied in policymaking at the national, regional and international levels, including in United Nations agencies.
He urged the General Assembly to help mainstream the concept throughout the Organization, and he underlined the critical role of the Trust Fund. Japan, he pledged, would continue to operationalize the concept through its bilateral development assistance schemes and through organizing, together with Mexico, biannual meetings of the Friends of Human Security. The concept should also be discussed regularly in the General Assembly, and this first formal debate was “truly an important milestone”. He requested the Secretary-General to submit a further report for that purpose.
BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) listed various problems facing the world, from the financial crisis to food insecurity and high energy and food costs. Countries also struggled with climate change adaptation and managing economies beset by organized crime. States depended on each other for assistance in addressing those challenges. African leaders had underscored the need for human security to be dynamic and broad, defined in the “human security and non-aggression and common defence pact” of the African Union as: “the security of the individual in terms of satisfaction of his or her basic needs [including] the creation of social, economic, political, environmental and cultural conditions necessary for the survival and dignity of the individual, and for the protection of and respect for human rights, good governance and the guarantee for each individual of opportunities and choices for his or her full development”.
The Secretary-General’s report spoke of human security as a people-centred concept, he noted. To that, he added that sustainable development should be at its core. The concept should encompass freedom from poverty, underdevelopment and disease. African leaders had attempted to broaden the concept of security to include a human dimension. Institutions such as the Pan-African Parliament, the Peace and Security Council, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Economic and Social Council all emphasized the continent’s commitment to human security. The successful achievement of their objectives were related to the achievement of peace, security, democracy and good political governance, respect for human rights, and sound economic management.
He urged “appropriate synergies” among the international donor community, the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations to support national ownership, national legitimacy and national capacity-building. For its part, the United Nations should continue to move fast to explore better ways to produce “holistic impact” on the ground, in order to deliver as one. Continued fragmentation and competition among various programmes and projects would compromise the attainment of human security.
CARMEN MARÍA GALLARDO HERNÁNDEZ ( El Salvador) welcomed the progress made in defining and examining the concept of human security. As the Secretary-General had said in his report, Governments maintained the responsibility of ensuring the livelihoods and well-being of their citizens. At the same time, addressing general threats required more than the use of force, and must include actions that bolstered social development, while protecting and promoting human rights. Her country shared the view that human security had emerged as a response to new threats that tended to be transnational in nature. Every day, people and communities saw that their development was being hampered because their security was being eroded by any number of external, borderless threats. Finally she reiterated her Government’s political will to continue debating the impact of implementing human security towards identifying broader strategies to address current and emerging challenges.
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) said the most immediate threat to security in his country came from ongoing terrorism and violence, in particular committed by the Taliban and Al-Qaida. The 30-year-old cycle of violence had to be broken. The lack of governance, rule of law and a stable justice system had to be addressed and engagement of citizens had to be promoted. Human rights abuses must be addressed and the health and well-being of women, children and other disadvantaged groups must be promoted. Transnational issues, such as narcotics trafficking and border control, must also be addressed. Poverty, unemployment and competition for resources and water exacerbated conflict. The proposed civilian surge would help Afghans find a way to take care of their families without resorting to violent or illegal activities.
He said that his Government had introduced reintegration and reconciliation programmes while engaging in intense regional dialogue to build trust. Afghanistan’s recent strategy, which had been endorsed in London, focused on strengthening Afghan capacity through training, mentoring and resourcing and emphasized the importance of building a strong Government with stable institutions that could respond to citizens’ needs and concerns. Coordination within and among local and international actors, however, continued to marginalize domestic leadership in favour of parallel structures. The concept of “human security” would only be useful in practice if the international community was willing to commit to truly understanding the local context of a conflict and to empowering local people to take ownership of their own affairs.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said close interlinks between the Millennium Development Goals and human security enhanced the importance of ensuring security for every human being in achieving those goals. She cited the development of human potential as an important component in creating sustainable human security. Despite voiced concerns regarding the possible or perceived interference in the internal sovereignty of States, the use of force was not envisaged. Early prevention policies to address societal issues were key components promoting human security, peace and conflict prevention. Her country supported human security defined as a freedom from fear, including fear of weapons of mass destruction, she said, underlining the positive impacts of its efforts to reject nuclear weapons. She also highlighted internal stability and inter-ethnic and interfaith peace and harmony as essential components in securing a democratic social structure and peaceful development of civil society.
Commending the political initiatives of Member States in promoting human security at the regional and subregional levels, she proposed a review of field-based prospects for human security by United Nations economic and social regional commissions. Taking into account efforts made for transitioning the concept of human security into a practical sphere, operational activities accompanied by funding and management issues should be addressed. In light of concerns about impacts of climate-related emergencies on human security and the need for rapid responses to emergency conditions, the mobility, adequacy and predictability of the Trust Fund was a key priority, and her country supported voluntary contributions to the Fund and efforts to attract them. As human security could play a vital role in protecting and promoting human rights within the peacebuilding process, she called for its inclusion in Economic and Social Council resolutions, as well as Security Council documents regarding the impact of armed conflicts on vulnerable groups, such as women and children.
FREDERICK D. BARTON ( United States) said implementing human security meant a “people first” approach, focusing on well-being of people and protecting them from pervasive threats such as poverty, hunger, conflict and disease. The concept reflected the values of the United States, and in 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had brought forth in his State of the Union Address the idea that security was founded on every individual in the world being able to enjoy four essential human freedoms: “freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear”. President Barack Obama had echoed those words in a recent speech in which he stated that freedom from fear and freedom from want could only be realized once the personal and material security of a people was ensured, as well.
The United States welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on human security, in which he indicates that protecting human security meant protecting fundamental freedoms. Human security and national security were inextricably linked, with each supporting the realization of the other. For example, by creating governance structures and laws that protected human rights, or developing economic mechanisms that provided business opportunities, “we are able to create security and support basic needs”. When people, including women and children, were allowed to live freely and were empowered to achieve their full potential, it was not only individuals that prospered, but nations as well. He also said that human security should be considered in light of the need to have national ownership of development initiatives.
HASAN KLIEB ( Indonesia) said the report was singularly accurate in pointing out that there were a number of competing definitions about human security. On one hand, that was proof that the concept had garnered the attention of the international community. On the other, it demonstrated the international community’s struggle after many years to agree on a single, encompassing formulation. “This does not bode well for our efforts,” he said. He urged that the simmering debate not detract from the work of the United Nations, which had before it major issues such as poverty, social welfare, pandemic diseases, and prevention of armed conflict.
He noted that the Charter was meant to bring nations together to ponder multiple solutions to past, present and future challenges. Of the new concepts that had arisen from time to time, some had been well-received and others had to be redefined. The “sprawling securitization” of issues — amplifying old concepts by aligning it with “security” — epitomized that trend. In his view, the exact formulization of such sprawling issues was secondary to the primary goals of sustaining national efforts to provide basic health care, or to strengthen law enforcement institutions. States existed to open doors of opportunity and to create a platform for citizens to enjoy, which he believed was the essence of “human security” and the very essence of the United Nations.
Operationalizing human security could be achieved by having United Nations entities work more efficiently and effectively in delivering their services, he said. But national sovereignty needed to be protected, because “it held countries together”. Governments still retained the primary role for ensuring the survival, livelihood and dignity of their citizens.
BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam) welcomed discussions on human security with a view to understanding its application to addressing complex problems in a people-centred way, in multinational efforts. He agreed that the State is responsible for the well-being of its people, but said that, in an interdependent world, cooperation, assistance and partnership were essential and should take into account national ownership and comply with international law.
He said that the focus of the human security approach at the United Nations should be on hunger eradication, poverty alleviation and socio-economic development. As a member of Friends of Human Security, Viet Nam had been doing its utmost to ensure effective implementation of people-centred policies and strategies. His country, in that vein, looked forward to greater international cooperation, assistance and partnership in confronting such challenges as climate change, HIV/AIDS and trafficking in persons. It was also willing to contribute to international efforts in those areas.
ALEXANDER PANKIN ( Russian Federation) said the challenge was for States to draw closer together in their understanding of the concept, as requested in the World Summit Outcome Document. Agreeing on an understanding of that term was necessary before moving forward. The Secretary-General’s report contained useful ideas concerning State sovereignty, responsibility to protect, and national actions already undertaken in support of human security. But, the main goal was not to promote the concept, but to arrive at an understanding. The report did not yet provide a definition, and further negotiations would be needed to arrive at one, taking account of the views of all States. They needed to revisit the paradigm of security with an emphasis on security of the individual. Ensuring State security, which was not referred to in the report, was important, because human security could only be guaranteed within a secure State.
He said it was not realistic to promote the concept in the absence of strong and stable institutions, because that would lay the groundwork for interference in affairs of weaker States. In addition, it was important to define the level of threat to justify intervention. He was encouraged to see repeated reference to the importance of not using force against sovereign States, distinguishing the concept of human security from the right to protect. The section on preventing armed conflict and peacebuilding was not convincing. Upholding human rights standards, as well as economic and social rights were important, but among the factors not considered were the rights of individuals to observe religious and traditional values. The individual’s responsibility to society was totally ignored, as was the concept’s contribution to addressing economic, climatic and food problems. If the concept caused duplication, it could negatively impact a global response to those issues.
Human security could turn into a tool for cooperation only if the definition stated that its purpose was to ensure harmonized action in the socio-economic sphere, and that any response be fully in line with provisions of the Charter.
GUILHERME PATRIOTA (Brazil) highlighted important aspects dealt with by the Secretary-General’s report: protecting vulnerable individuals and cooperation as a tool for achieving that idea; recognizing the complex nature of security challenges; and social participation and involvement of local actors in finding solutions to problems. As surely as States recognized the need not to intervene in domestic affairs of another State, they also recognized the importance of not being indifferent to human suffering. Though the focus of the human security debate lay on the individual and on local communities, speakers could not disregard the role of the State in promoting its people’s well-being. The World Summit Outcome was careful not to mix human security with the more complex and sensitive issue of the responsibility to protect. As far as that text was concerned, those two issues were formally unrelated.
Human security seemed to encompass many different things at the same time, he said, from climate change, to pandemics, protection of children, violence against women, and trade in small arms and light weapons. As a tool for addressing everything, it might in actual practice achieve very little. The report lacked objectivity in the treatment of those subjects. The fact that human security could be applied to so many different contexts, not all of them necessarily interrelated, testified to its limitation as a theoretical tool. The concept was a moral call in defence of the human being, but had limited usefulness for achieving solutions, despite its undisputed moral value.
Many of the questions described as individual areas of concern to human security — such as human rights, social and economic development, and so on — had been the subject of extensive multilateral decision-making, and adding a human security layer to those frameworks did not seem to provide added value. If the intention was to bring the welfare of human beings to the fore, States should steer away from linkages with security and instead move towards humanism, social inclusion and solidarity. The recognition that human development and security were linked should not reinforce a negative trend of indiscriminate use of force and recourse to Chapter VII as a means to deal with world affairs to the detriment of solidarity. Instead of addressing what caused reduced human welfare in less developed corners of the world, the concept looked to respond to ex post impacts of global crises, which was not sufficiently preventative. To be serious about putting humans first, States must muster their effort to reform the international economic, trade and financial systems to design a system more supportive of their development needs. It was not enough to take note of economic unilateralism as a fact of life; the world community must also understand the root causes of that reality.
MARTA HORVATH FEKSZI ( Hungary), supporting the statement made by Spain on behalf of the European Union, applauded the Secretary-General’s approach to human security as a comprehensive concept connecting security, rights and development. She stressed that early prevention of conflicts and prevention of genocide and mass atrocities were an important part of that concept, pointing out that Hungary had prepared a feasibility study towards the establishment of an institute focused on that issue in Budapest.
Human security’s foundation in the promotion of human rights, she added, could become an important tool in tackling the multiple, interconnected crises the world currently faces. She supported the recommendations of the present report towards that end, calling for periodic reporting on the progress of mainstreaming human security in United Nations activities.
JAKKRIT SRIVALI ( Thailand) said around the world, the concept had already taken root as a people-centred, holistic approach that was useful in a world of interrelated and complex threats, which often blurred boundaries and required coordinated responses. The concept had already taken root as a people-centred, holistic approach that was useful in a world of interrelated and complex threats that blurred boundaries and required coordinated responses. Thailand had been the first to establish a ministry dedicated to human security and social development. As a developing country, it placed more importance on freedom from want than freedom from fear, although any discussion of the concept should view it as a balance between the two, allowing people, in the end, to live in dignity.
Perhaps the definitive understanding of human security for Thailand was that, in all its efforts to develop sustainably, the human being must be at the centre of policymaking. That should not be taken to mean that the concept of human security excluded State security or State roles. Rather, it incorporated all of those in a holistic approach, so as to refocus on the individual, recognizing that the individual could contribute enormously to a country’s development. In Thailand’s experience it was evident in its efforts to formulate policies to combat threats such as transnational crime, in particular trafficking in persons and the problem of narcotic drugs. In the realm of health, its human-security-oriented policies were evident in efforts to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS. Thailand was proud to be part of the growing family of supporters of human security.
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