To Ensure Today’s Gains Are Not Lost to Tomorrow’s Crises, Actions Must Be People-Centred, Says Secretary-General, in Human Security Debate

20 May 2010

To Ensure Today’s Gains Are Not Lost to Tomorrow’s Crises, Actions Must Be People-Centred, Says Secretary-General, in Human Security Debate

20 May 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

To Ensure Today’s Gains Are Not Lost to Tomorrow’s Crises, Actions Must


Be People-Centred, Says Secretary-General, in Human Security Debate


Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s remarks to the General Assembly during its thematic debate on human security, today, 20 May, in New York:

I want to express my appreciation to the President of the General Assembly for convening this important thematic debate and panel discussion on human security.

Five years ago, Heads of State and Government committed to discuss and define the notion of human security.

I want to thank Member States for their hard work in advancing the understanding of this important concept.

We are living in an interconnected world.  Today’s crises transcend borders and threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of men, women and children around the globe.

No region has been left untouched.  No country is immune.

The economic and financial crisis has disrupted jobs and economic security in both developed and developing countries.  The food price crisis has left over 1 billion people hungry and more than 17,000 children are dying of malnutrition every day.

Last year, over 200 million people were affected by natural disasters, and violent conflicts have displaced a record 42 million people. Meanwhile, the recent H1N1 flu pandemic has 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.

Our challenges are shared — so, too is our commitment to enhance “freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom to live in dignity for all”.  That is why my report calls for an expanded understanding of security where the protection and empowerment of people form the basis and the purpose of our actions.

We must ensure that the gains of today are not lost to the crises of tomorrow.  And so our actions must focus on people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific and preventive strategies at every level.  This is the human security approach.

Human security is fully in line with the provisions of the United Nations Charter.  The concept strengthens State sovereignty by providing Governments with effective tools that look at root causes of persistent and emerging threats.

As a result, human security supports early warning systems that diminish 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.  This combination not only improves the resilience of Governments and people to insecurities, it contributes to greater human, national, regional and international security.

Such an understanding of human security is also at the core of the work of the United Nations.  And significant progress has 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; strengthen food security.  It has also invested in improving access to health care and education in times of crises; and mobilizing community leadership.

Human security is also an important tool for advancing our efforts to build “One United Nations”.  In a project implemented in 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 provides the Organization with a framework to capitalize on our comparative advantages, to bolster our actions, to galvanize our work, and to revitalize our 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.

I wish you a successful discussion and debate on this important concept.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.