‘Human Security Is More Than an Abstract Concept,’ Deputy Secretary-General Says; ‘For a Hungry Family, Human Security Means Dinner on the Table’

4 June 2012

‘Human Security Is More Than an Abstract Concept,’ Deputy Secretary-General Says; ‘For a Hungry Family, Human Security Means Dinner on the Table’

4 June 2012
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

‘Human Security Is More Than an Abstract Concept,’ Deputy Secretary-General Says;


‘For a Hungry Family, Human Security Means Dinner on the Table’


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks to the General Assembly plenary meeting on human security, in New York, 4 June:

It is a pleasure to join you all this morning.  Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your thoughtful presentation and indeed for having convened this session.  Today, we carry forward years of discussion on human security.  But let us remember that human security is more than an abstract concept.  For a hungry family, human security means dinner on the table.  For a refugee, human security is shelter and a safe haven from the storms of conflict or disaster.  For a woman caught in conflict, human security is protection from harm.  For a child living in poverty, human security is the chance to go to school.

This concept goes beyond threats to physical safety.  People around the world suffer abiding fears and anxiety because they lack enough food, a place to live, a job, health care, education and the freedom to live in dignity.

Human security calls for people-centred, holistic actions that help Governments and communities to strengthen early warning about looming crises, identify the causes of insecurity and take steps to close policy gaps.

Even as we continue to work for a consensus on a common understanding of human security, there is progress on the ground.  The United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security has supported over 200 projects in 70 countries.  The Fund’s resources are making a measurable difference in people’s lives.  From rebuilding war-ravaged communities to protecting people exposed to extreme poverty, economic shocks and natural disasters, the Fund is creating change that lasts.  It is responding to the complex problem of traffic in people, arms and illicit substances.  And it is helping reduce and prevent violence in cities.

I hope that the valuable lessons learned from the Trust Fund’s projects can be applied to other United Nations activities around the world.

We have an important opportunity to advance the cause of human security in just over two weeks at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro.  Rio+20 will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform ideas and aspirations into bold action for sustainable development.  The build-up to Rio has already borne fruit.  The themes of the Conference have generated a global debate — on equity, on the green economy in the context of eradicating poverty and on the institutional framework for sustainable development.

The issues are complex, and that is reflected in the intensity of the negotiations.  But we see great engagement from Governments, and we expect up to 130 Heads of State and Government to attend.  They will be joined by an estimated 50,000 business leaders, mayors, activists and investors.  Rio should provide us with a new road map for sustainable development.

One of the most important deliverables should be agreement on a process to define a set of sustainable development goals that will build on the Millennium Development Goals.  Rio should also provide mechanisms that stimulate our economies to create decent jobs; provide social protection to the poor and vulnerable; and support a healthy environment.  This will significantly advance human security.

I urge you to carry out your discussions today with the goal of helping the millions of people who struggle each day with a sense of profound insecurity and who deserve to overcome poverty and despair, and live in freedom and dignity.  Thank you.

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