Deputy Secretary-General Urges ‘Mobilization for Humanity and Humanism’, at General Assembly Informal Thematic Debate

18 June 2014

Deputy Secretary-General Urges ‘Mobilization for Humanity and Humanism’, at General Assembly Informal Thematic Debate

18 June 2014
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General Urges ‘Mobilization for Humanity and Humanism’,

At General Assembly Informal Thematic Debate


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks to the General Assembly Informal Thematic Debate on Human Security, in New York today:

I want to express my appreciation to the President of the General Assembly for convening this informal debate on the concept of human security.  I am sure that you will further discuss how the principles that underpin human security — freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom to live in dignity — can be reflected at all levels and in all Member States.

This is an appropriate moment to hold such a debate.  In resolution 66/290 of September 2012, Member States agreed for the first time on a common understanding on human security.  This resolution also requested the Secretary-General to produce a report for the sixty-eighth General Assembly showing how this understanding can be implemented.  We can now begin to review our progress.

We gather at a time of strains and challenges, as well as of openings and opportunities in the world.  Technological change has been profound.  The hopes and aspirations for a future based on sustainable development and a life of dignity for all have come to be shared by millions throughout the world.  Yet, we are confronted with formidable challenges.  In many regions, inequalities and disparities of income and wealth are widening.  Vulnerable groups are too often left behind, far behind.  We also face the pressures of a warming world — climate change in different forms.  We are not at peace with nature.

Political instability, often involving bitter sectarian violence with heavy human loss and population dislocation, is generating unrelenting cycles of suffering and loss.  At times, we see development gains, achieved through painstaking work over the course of many years, reversed with shocking speed by violence and conflict or by natural disasters.

Earlier this year, the Secretary-General released his third report on human security.  This report is based on contributions from Member States, regional organizations, the United Nations system, NGOs and academic institutions.  It catalogues a wealth of examples and lessons learned in removing obstacles to sustainable development and tackling poverty.

Governments are starting to rise to the challenge.  Reports from Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia and Lithuania show how adopting an approach focused on human security is allowing Governments and people to develop national and local solutions to seemingly intractable problems.  The 14 Pacific Island Countries and Territories, as well as Peru, Nepal and Madagascar, have also been highly receptive to the human security approach.

It is clear that the principles enshrined in human security, including the right of people to live in freedom and dignity, can help us in our efforts to achieve peace and security.  These principles can have a positive impact on dealing with challenges as diverse as climate change, rural poverty, rapid urbanization and post-conflict reconstruction.  They have also helped underpin much of the successful work the United Nations has been able to carry out around the world.

It is 20 years since the term “human security” was introduced at the United Nations.  Substantial contributions have been made by Member States since then.  We now need to look ahead and consider how the underlying principles of human security also can be applied to our post-2015 development agenda.

I would finally like to pick up on what the President of the General Assembly has said about broadening and deepening our debate.  I would like to add that there is, in my view, a deeper reason to now elevate and live up to the principles of human security.

We see around us in the world a brutalization, a blatant disrespect for human rights and humanitarian law, and a scale of violence which is almost incomprehensible.  Innocent men, women and children are killed, maimed or abused, often in the name of ethnic or religious exceptionalism.  This is done in order to instil fear as a way of extending power.  This blind violence, this terrorism, must come to an end.

We now, more than ever, need a mobilization for humanity and humanism.  We need to place people and their security in the centre.

Thank you for your attention.  I wish you a successful thematic debate.

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