HUMAN RIGHTS, SECURITY, AND
By Mahbub ul-Haq
Editor's Note: When he passed
away on July 16, 1998, Mahbub ul-Haq, "Loved by God" as the name
means in Arabic, was a world-renowned pioneer of human development and security
studies. He is best remembered as a scholar-administrator who moved easily
between the worlds of government and academe. He had the extraordinary gift
to put complex ideas into simple but eloquent words. I came to appreciate
this gift when he led a small group of us at the Toda Institute conference
of June 1997 to draft the text of the Universal Declaration of World Citizens.
Most of us signed the Declaration, a few refused on the grounds that Mahbub
had served as Finance Minister in General Zia ul-Haq's (no relation) cabinet
in Pakistan. Despite this reservation, there was universal respect for the
focus on the urgent problems of world poverty he brought to the World Bank,
as Vice-President, and at the United Nations Development Program, as the
Director of World Development Reports. His lasting legacy is the publication
of the UNDP reports since 1990, which have provided the counterpoint to
the World Bank's World Development Reports. While the latter have focused
on the physical aspects of development, the former have developed a "human
development index" that takes life expectancy, adult literacy, and
educational enrollments into account, producing a ranking of countries significantly
different from the World Bank's per capita income rankings. Following his
retirement from the UNDP, he inaugurated a new series of Human Development
Reports in South Asia published by his Human Development Center in Islamabad.
All his life, he fought valiantly for the transfer of resources from military
to human development projects.
His equally gifted wife and lifetime partner Khadija Haq,
Chair of the North-South Roundtable, survives Mahbub. She wrote to me of
her Mahbub: "He was an extremely caring and loving husband and a father.
He was always there for his family and friends. I do not know how I am going
to cope with this great personal and professional loss, as we were lifelong
professional partners. It will be impossible to fill the vacuum created
by his absence, but I am striving to pursue his causes as far as I can.
The Human Development Center to which he devoted the last three years of
his life will continue its operations with the same conviction and intellectual
rigor. He was working on many projects, including the forthcoming Report
of the Human Development Center on the theme of "Crisis of Governance
in South Asia."
Toda Institute has lost a great friend and collaborator
to whom this issue is dedicated. The following essay by Dr. Haq will also
appear as Chapter 4 of a forthcoming volume, Worlds Apart: Human Security
and Global Governance (London: I.B. Tauris, 1999).
Photo of the late Dr. Haq and his family.
Both the concept of human security and the institutions of global governance
are going to change dramatically in the 21st century. The conceptual framework
for this change must address these three issues: (1) What is the new concept
of human security? (2) What policy implications does it have for the global
framework of development cooperation between rich and poor nations? (3)
What change does it require in the existing institutions of global governance,
particularly in the United Nations?
A New Concept of Security
I firmly believe the concept of security is being transformed. Security
is increasingly interpreted as :
- Security of people, not just territory;
- Security of individuals, not just nations;
- Security through development, not through arms;
- Security of all the people everywhere -- in their homes, in their jobs,
in their streets, in their communities, and in their environment.
It is time to recognize that most conflicts are within nations, not between
nations. Of the 82 conflicts in the last decade, 79 were within nations
and 90 percent of the causalities were civilians, not soldiers. When most
conflicts are between people, not between states, and when these conflicts
are often over diminishing income and employment opportunities, not over
territorial disputes, why is the United Nations still landing peacekeeping
forces in these countries? Isn't development today better than troops tomorrow?
Unfortunately, we are still fighting the battles of tomorrow with the concepts
Many perceptions about human security are likely to change fairly quickly.
To begin with, human security will be regarded as universal, global, and
indivisible. The same speed that has brought many modern products and services
to our doorsteps has brought much human misery to our backyards. Every drug
that quietly kills, every disease that silently travels, every act of terrorism
-- if we imagine that they all carry a national label of origin much as
traded goods do, we will realize with shock that human security concerns
are more global today even than trade. No nation can protect the security
of its people without global understanding and agreements.
It will be recognized that poverty cannot be stopped at national borders.
Poor people can be stopped, but the tragic consequences of their poverty
travel without a passport. Drugs, AIDS, pollution, and terrorism can strike
with devastating speed in any corner of the world.
That it is easier, more humane, and less costly to deal with the new
issues of human security upstream rather than face their consequences downstream
will be recognized. Did the cost of $240 billion in the past decade due
to HIV/AIDS make sense when even a small fraction of that amount invested
in primary health care and family-planning education in the developing world
could have prevented such a fast spread of this deadly disease? Was it a
great tribute to international diplomacy to spend $2 billion in a single
year on UN soldiers to deliver humanitarian assistance in Somalia a few
years ago when such an amount invested a decade earlier in increasing food
production might have averted the final tragedy, not for one year but maybe
It is sometimes argues that military expenditure is vital for national
security, that development is useless if a country loses it independence
to external aggression. No one will deny genuine needs of national security.
The trouble arises when there is a serious imbalance between national and
human security. We have recently witnessed the economic and social disintegration
of the former USSR which, despite possessing enough nuclear weapons to destroy
the world ten times over, could not feed its people or provide them with
productive jobs and decent social services. We have seen that, in 1980,
the military to social spending ratio was the highest in Iraq (8:1), Somalia
(5:1), and Nicaragua (3.5:1), and yet these three countries could not protect
their national security or national sovereignty of their people. On the
other hand, Costa Rica spent nothing on its military, having abolished its
army in 1948, and spend one-third of its national income on education, nutrition,
and health; it is the only prosperous democracy in a troubled Central America.
We need a new concept of security today -- reflected in the lives of
the people, not in the weapons of their country. We must move away from
arms and use the emerging peace divided to finance the social agenda of
Let us face it. We have only phased out the Cold War in East-West relations,
not in the Third World. No leader from the Third World participated in the
disarmament talks in Geneva, even though 22 million people in poor lands
have died in more than 120 conflicts since the Second World War. The main
casualties of the Cold War were in the Third World, yet this 80 percent
of humanity was forgotten when peace was finally made between the East and
the West. There is no forum today discussing issues of peace and disarmament
in the Third World.
Isn't it time to ask the leaders of the Third World:
- Why do they insist on spending two or three times as much on arms as
on education and health of their people?
- Why do they have 18 times more soldiers than doctors?
- How can they afford air-conditioned jeeps for the generals when they
lack even windowless schoolrooms for their children?
Isn't it time to ask the leaders of the rich nations to fix a concrete
timetable -- say, the next three years -- to:
- Close all foreign military bases in developing countries?
- Convert all existing military aid into economic aid?
- Accept a new code of conduct for arms transfers, particularly to trouble
spots and to authoritarian regimes?
- Eliminate subsidies to arms exporters and retrain their workers for
jobs in civilian industries?
- Accept greater transparency in revealing information about arms trade
and military debts?
The next major challenge is to reduce the huge arms spending of more
than $170 billion a year in poor nations and invest the money instead in
the welfare of their people. Nowhere is the imbalance between the imperatives
of human security and territorial security more acute than in South Asia.
The new concept of human security can be best illustrated in the context
of South Asia today where, when military spending is falling all over the
world, it continues to rise in South Asia.
A recent report, Human Development in South Asia 1997, has pointed
out quite graphically that South Asia (with a population of 1.2 billion
people) has emerged as the poorest, the most illiterate, the most malnourished
and the least gender-sensitive region of the world. It is home to more than
half the world's illiterates and more than 40 percent of the world's absolute
poor. South Asia started side by side with East Asia in 1960, but East Asia's
per capita income is now 27 times higher than South Asia's. What is more,
South Asia had now fallen behind even Sub-Saharan Africa in per capita income,
adult literacy, child nutrition, and many other social and human indicators.
In south Asia, 830 million people lack elementary sanitation, 340 million
have no access to safe drinking water, 400 million people are illiterates
with two-thirds of them women, and more than 500 million people survive
in absolute poverty. But South Asia's poverty has not inhibited the affluence
of its armies. Military spending is currently running $14 billion a year
in nominal prices -- or at around $50 billion a year when converted into
purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars that provide a better international
There are three disturbing trends in south Asia military spending. First,
military spending in South Asia is largely independent of national poverty.
India ranks 142 in the world in terms of real per capita income (PPP dollars),
but first in total arms imports. Pakistan's rank is 119 in real per capita
income and 10th in arms imports procurement during the 1988-1992 period
as did Saudi Arabia even though Saudi Arabia is 25 times richer. Second,
South Asia is sailing against the prevailing global winds of reduced military
spending. While it went down by 37 percent globally during the 1987-1994
period, military spending in South Asia went up 12 percent. The total number
of soldiers was reduced by 16 percent globally during the same period, but
increased 8 percent in South Asia. While military holdings of combat aircraft,
artillery, ships, and tanks went down by 14 percent in the world, they went
up by 43 percent in South Asia. Third, there is a major risk involved when
two desperately poor nations, like India and Pakistan, have nuclear arms
and remain locked in a bitter confrontation after 50 years. There is a further
risk of a social explosion when modern jet fighters are parked on their
runways even as poor people sleep on city pavements.
The human cost of military confrontation between India and Pakistan is
becoming quite prohibitive. For instance, Pakistan recently spent around
$1 billion to acquire three Agosta 90B submarines from France. This sum
could have financed a year of primary school education for the 17 million
children now out of school, safe drinking water for all 67 million people
lacking this facility at present, and family planning services to an additional
nine million couples. India's contemplated purchase of $4.5 billion worth
of modern military equipment could finance instead primary education for
the 45 million children denied such education, safe drinking water for the
226 million people with no access to such facility, and family planning
services for an additional 22 million couples.
If South Asia were to reduce its military spending by about 5 percent
a year, on a par with what has already happened in the rest of the world
in the last 10 years, it could reap a peace dividend of around $125 billion
in the next 15 years. This would be enough to provide universal basic education
and primary health care, safe drinking water to all, adequate nutrition
to the malnourished, family planning services to all willing couples, and
credit facilities to the poor and the deprived for obtaining sustainable
livelihoods. In other words, a 5 percent annual cut in military spending
can finance the entire agenda of South Asia for basic social services and
credit to the poor as well as position these nations for accelerated advance
in the 21st century.
South Asia's choice between arms and people illustrates the choices that
each society needs to make today. Without human security, national security
becomes a mere illusion. Human security is a powerful, revolutionary idea
that forces a new morality on all of us. Human security is a concept emerging
not from the learned writings of scholars but from the daily concerns of
people. It is reflected every day in the shriveled faces of innocent children,
in the anguished existence of the homeless and the fears of the jobless,
in the silent screams of the persecuted, in the giant despair of the victims
of drugs, AIDS, terrorism, and in spreading pollution. Human security demands
a new pattern of human development -- development that is woven around the
aspirations of the people, women and men alike. It requires a new pattern
of development cooperation and global governance.
A New Framework of Development Cooperation
The new partnership between the North and the South should be based on
justice, not on charity; on an equitable sharing of global market opportunities,
not on aid; on two-way compacts, not on one-way transfers; on mutual cooperation,
not on unilateral conditionality or confrontation. Consider this telling
contrast between national and international safety nets: rich nations channel
an average of 15 percent of their gross national product (GNP) to their
own 100 million poor -- those below a poverty line of around $5,000 a year.
But they earmark only 0.3 percent of their GNP for poor nations, which contain
1.3 billion poor people with incomes of less than $300 a year. Yet a public
perception persists in the rich nations that their aid money could be better
employed at home. Rich nations do not recognize that even if they stopped
all their aid today, their domestic social safety nets would only increase
from 15 percent of GNP to 15.3 percent of GNP -- perhaps not the most handsome
bargain in history.
Globally, however, it is not just the marginal role of aid that matters
but also distribution. Aid today carries all the scars of the Cold War era.
Only one-third of ODA is ear-marked for the 10 countries containing two-thirds
of the world's absolute poor. Twice as much ODA per capita goes to the wealthiest
40 percent in the developing world as to the poorest 40 percent. Egypt receives
$280 a year per poor person; India receives only $7. And less than 7 percent
of bilateral ODA is directed toward human priority concerns -- primarily
health care, basic education, safe drinking water, nutrition programs, and
family planning services.
Aid has been directed toward strategic allies in the Cold War, to authoritarian
regimes, to high military spenders. Even today, two and a half times as
much per capita ODA goes to high military spenders as to low military spenders,
with strategic allies getting preference over poor nations. For example,
El Salvador receives 16 times as much ODA per poor person from the United
States as does Bangladesh, even though Bangladesh is five times poorer.
Just as there is little link to the oft repeated objective of eliminating
global poverty, there is also little discernible link between technical
assistance and the sacred mantra of national capacity building. After 40
years of technical assistance, 95 percent of these funds (more than $15
billion a year now) still go to foreign consultants, despite the outstanding
national expertise available within the developing countries. Africa receives
around $6 billion a year in technical assistance, yet its human development
indicators are among the lowest in the world. It has received more bad advice
per capita than any other continent. No other form of assistance deserves
as much radical surgery as technical assistance does today.
A determined attempt must be made to design a new framework of development
cooperation to fit the new imperatives of human security. The following
proposals are offered as a contribution toward this objective.
First, let the motivation for development cooperation be based on fighting
the growing threat of global poverty rather than the receding threat of
Cold War. Security may no longer be threatened by the prospect of a nuclear
holocaust, but it is certainly threatened by the travel of global poverty
across international frontiers in the form of drugs, AIDS, pollution, illegal
migration, and terrorism.
Second, let us demonstrate to skeptical publics that reallocating priorities
in existing budgets can finance human development. Consider the new 20:20
vision. The developing countries would commit an average of 20 percent of
their budgets to human priority allocation from the present 10 percent --
by reducing military expenditures, by privatizing inefficient public enterprises,
and by eliminating low-priority development expenditure. The rich nations
would raise their human priority allocation from the present 7 percent of
ODA to around 20 percent.
This new global human compact, which was endorsed in principle by the
World Social Summit in Copenhagen in March 1995, requires no new resources,
but it does require considerable courage and skill. The human payoff? Within
ten years, all children could be in school, primary health care and clean
drinking water could be available to all people, family planning services
could be provided to all willing couples, and severe child malnutrition
could be eliminated.
Third, let us redress the growing imbalance between short-term emergency
assistance and long-term development support. While the United Nations spent
less than $4 billion on peacekeeping missions during the first 48 years
of its existence, it spent more than $4 billion on such missions since in
1994 alone. And for every dollar of humanitarian assistance, about 10 dollars
go for soldiers -- as in Somalia. It is time to review this strange and
disturbing imbalance and to recognize that if there are diminished funds
for socioeconomic development, there are likely to be many more emergencies
in the future.
This brings up two policy implications. One is that the donors must be
convinced that allocations for UN peacekeeping operations should come out
of their defense budgets, not out of their limited ODA budgets. Peacekeeping
operations are an extension of their security requirements, not a gift to
the poor nations. The other is that the development role of the United Nations
must be strengthened. This means that the United Nations must be given a
clear mandate for sustainable human development, be provided assured sources
of development financing, and have a forum for global economic decisions
at the highest level in a Human Security Council, as discussed below.
Forth, let us search for an innovative model of development cooperation
based on human security, not on outmoded ideas of charity, that would embrace
three new mechanisms:
1. A new mechanism to facilitate payments by one country to another for
services rendered -- services that are mutually beneficial and by their
mature cannot be mediated by markets. Examples include environmental services,
the control of narcotic drugs, and the control of contagious diseases (such
2. A new mechanism to facilitate compensation for damages when one country
inflicts an economic injury on another. Compensation can be thought of as
fines payable by countries that depart from internationally agreed rules
of conduct. Some examples of conduct leading to economic injury: encouraging
brain drain from poor nations, restricting the migration of low-skilled
labor in search of international economic opportunities, and restricting
exports from poor countries. Compensations for such injuries would in a
sense be voluntary, because they could be avoided by refraining from engaging
in objectionable behavior.
3. A new mechanism of automatic resource mobilization for global objectives
that embrace common human survival: a shared price for shared human existence,
particularly for environmental protection. Hugh sums may need to be raised
through tradable permits for carbon emissions, through an international
carbon tax, or through other such measures that make attending to matters
of common human survival automatic, not subject to national legislative
Fifth, let us broaden development cooperation to include trade, investment,
technology, and labor flows. Comprehensive accounts should be prepared to
ensure that what is given with one hand is not taken away with the other
and that the focus of efforts continues to be on opening up global market
opportunities. Recall that startling conclusion of Human Development Report
1992: developing countries are denied $500 billion of global market opportunities
every year while receiving a mere $50 billion in aid. To move the North-South
dialogue from charity to a more mature partnership is perhaps the most urgently
needed policy initiative today.
Sixth, let us link the aid policy dialogue to the new issues of reduced
military spending, better national governance and greater emphasis on sustainable
human development. Persuasion is better than coercion. Constructive alliances
for change with domestic policy makers are better than outside intervention.
An enlightened policy dialogue is better than an inflexible conditionality.
And a two-way compact is better than one-way pressure.
More important, however, is to introduce much greater transparency into
the policy dialogue. Aid has been unpopular at both ends because the policy
dialogue is entirely between governments -- not people -- with no discernible
objectives defined or served. It is difficult to sell the message of aid
to suspicious publics if aid's link with global objectives is not clearly
spelled out and regularly monitored.
These issues are controversial, but an honest dialogue must begin around
an entirely new framework of development cooperation to satisfy the emerging
imperatives of global human security.
A New Architecture for Global Governance
At the same time, human security demands a new framework of global governance.
In the search for a human world order, global markets or automatic mechanisms
cannot achieve justice for all nations or all people. Global institutions
are needed to set rules, to monitor "global goods" and "global
bads," and to redress widening disparities.
All sorts of scenarios can be drawn up for the global economic and financial
institutions of the 21st century, but one thing is certain: We are likely
to witness an evolution at the global level similar to the evolution that
we have already seen at the national level in the past century. That is
why we should start giving serious thought to possible structures for a
world central bank, a global taxation system, a world trading organization,
an international investment trust, and even a world treasury. Some of us
may not live to see all these global developments, but our grandchildren
surely will. So let us at least begin with the rough architecture.
Let me just focus in the remaining paragraphs on a few reforms in the
United Nations system to make it more responsive to the new requirements
of global human security.
Both pillars of national security and human security were clearly foreseen
at the birth of the United Nations 50 years ago. No less an authority than
the U.S. Secretary of State, in a 1945 report to the U.S. president on the
establishment of the United Nations, stated his conviction that: "The
battle for peace has to be fought on two fronts. The first is the security
front where victory spells freedom from fear. The second is the economic
and social front where victory means freedom from want... No provisions
that can be written into the Charter will enable the Security Council to
make the world secure from war if men and women have no security in there
homes and jobs."
The United Nations developed and perfected many of its peacekeeping techniques
during the onset of the Cold War immediately after the birth of the UN.
Whenever conflict broke out between nations, the first order of business
was to arrange zones of peace, and initiate a dispute-settlement mechanism.
Security Council powers were often invoked (under Article VII) to impose
embargoes against the aggressor nation, particularly on arms shipments and
on some forms of trade. Conventions and treaties covered all phases of war
between nations: prohibiting biological warfare, censuring bombardment of
civilians, ensuring humane treatment of prisoners of war under the Geneva
Most of the real action in he past 50 years was in the Security Council.
The first pillar of security -- national security -- consumed most of the
attention in UN corridors. The second pillar -- human security -- was largely
The end of the Cold War caught the United Nations off guard. It has not
yet recognized that most conflicts are now within nations, not between them.
Nor has it accepted that these people-centered conflicts require a new concept
of people-centered security. But the secretary-general of the United Nations
made an eloquent reference to the issue of human security in a 1994 speech
to the Preparatory Committee of the World Summit for Social Development:
"The Summit is a time to respond to the new imperatives of human security
all over the globe... Human security can no longer be considered as an exclusively
national concern. It is a global imperative... The United nations can no
longer fight the battles of tomorrow with the weapons of yesterday."
The recent UN interventions in trouble spots around the world -- Somalia,
Rwanda, and Bosnia -- betray this lack of adjustment to the new realities.
Soldiers in blue berets are being sent to countries that cry out for socioeconomic
reforms. External intervention is being organized, hastily and thoughtlessly,
in situations that can be handled only through domestic action. After all,
who are the combatants in Somalia and Rwanda? Who are the embargoes meant
to punish? Who are the UN soldiers dispatched to separate? When people fight
within a nation, it is a radically different situation from that when nations
fight. Yet the United Nations is applying to these new situations the same
peacekeeping methods it applied to conflicts between nations.
It is time for the United Nations to adjust to the new imperatives of
global human security. That requires at least the following steps:
- An early-warning system to forecast "potential Somalias."
- A reinterpretation of Article VII to define circumstances and modalities
through which the United Nations can intervene in internal crises.
- A permanent Peace Corps to give assistance to countries in tackling
their socioeconomic problems upstream.
- A significant enlargement of the development role of the UN system.
- An apex body, such as a Human Security Council, to consider the nature
of global human security crises and make prompt decisions to resolve them.
- A UN General Assembly directly elected by the people, or at least a
two-chamber General Assembly.
Let me focus on the last two proposals only.
The threats to global human security come from internal conflicts; they
also emerge from what can best be described as "shared global crises."
The case for a new Human Security Council rests on the premise that all
nations -- North and South -- have a major interest in attending to these
crises emerging from narcotics trade, diseases (such as AIDS), global pollution,
and international terrorism. These emerging global threats kill no less
certainly than do the occasional wars -- and perhaps far more regularly
and on a much larger scale. They pose a persistent threat to both rich nations
and poor. They demand the establishment of a Human Security Council to defend
the new frontiers of global human security and to fill critical gaps in
the system of global economic governance.
First, the Human Security Council could provide leadership in tackling
the shared global economic crises. This role of the council will be of particular
interest to rich nations, because they are a shrinking minority in a fast-expanding
global population and can no longer protect their people exclusively through
their own efforts. They need the cooperation of the majority of the world's
people. The developing countries' incentive to cooperate will be increased
global attention to their poverty problem -- attention that a Human Security
Council should bring since many of these global crises cannot be resolved
without attacking the root causes of deepening poverty in the developing
world. The council would be a logical replacement of today's ad hoc and
ineffective arrangements, providing continuous attention to these issues,
professional analysis of issues taken together, strategic policy options
to the global community, adequate financial resources, and follow-up actions
and monitoring systems.
Second, a Human Security Council could help establish an early-warning
system and the modalities for global assistance in internal conflicts. The
present Security Council, wholly inappropriate for this task, should confine
its role to peacekeeping operations for conflicts between nations. For conflicts
within nations, an entirely different system should be evolved through the
Human Security Council.
Preventative diplomacy requires an advance warning system about what
is to be prevented and when. Human Development Report 1994 mentions
five quantitative indicators for an early-warning system for human security:
income and job security, food security, human rights violations, ethnic
and other conflicts, and the ratio of military spending to social spending.
This is a useful start, but a lot more professional work is required. The
Human Security Council secretariat will need to monitor the situation in
potential trouble spots around the globe and alert council members about
where and when international action is warranted. The United Nations now
reaches crisis areas when it is already too late and when its intervention
often compromises its own credibility.
New guidelines must be prepared on where the United Nations should intervene,
with what objectives, and for how long. UN intervention can be helpful mainly
in preventive development before situations deteriorate. What the United
Nations needs to send countries is real development rather than soldiers,
and it needs to do this far enough upstream to prevent the eruption of an
internal explosion. The international community must recognize that it cannot
police internal conflicts -- it can hope only to prevent them.
Some developing countries worry that human security might be interpreted
as providing a new excuse for UN intervention in domestic crises. This anxiety
stems from a misunderstanding, for it is the present system that is needlessly
interventionist, with a handful of powerful; nations in the Security Council
deciding where to intervene and how, and with soldiers sent to police socioeconomic
conflicts between people or between ethnic groups. It would be far less
interventionist to send development workers, rather than soldiers, to poor
lands according to agreed rules of the game -- in place of the present ad
hoc system -- and to make decisions in a Human Security Council that could
represent developing countries far more adequately than the present Security
Third, the proposed Human Security Council would be responsible for making
structural reforms, each requiring tremendous political courage and continuous
dialogue. The existing dispersed, underfinanced, and uncoordinated UN development
funds and agencies should be integrated into a single UN development authority
commanding significant resources. An adequate resource base must be developed
for multilateral initiatives, preferable through international taxes or
fees. Many proposals are on the global agenda -- a Tobin tax on speculative
movements of international foreign exchange, a tax on fossil fuels, tradable
permits for global emissions, a tax on arms shipments -- each requiring
continuous dialogue at the highest political level.
The UN development programs should be brought together under a single
human-development umbrella. Today's proliferation of field offices, development
reports, and turf battles must come to some merciful end in the interest
of both recipients and donors. The UN development system must be based more
on professionalism and less on political influence, both in the selection
of staff and in the analysis of country development issues.
Some argue that it may not be possible to change the UN charter and establish
a new Human Security Council along these lines. But it would be a fallacy
to seek marginal remedies through a restructured ECOSOC or through changes
in the role and composition of the existing Security Council. If political
will is weak, none of these marginal devices will work in any case. And
if political will is strong, why not accept the challenge of redesigning
global governance for human security?
The other related issue is the representation of the people of the world
in affairs of the United Nations. It is interesting to recall that the United
Nations was created in the name of the people and its preamble starts with
the stirring words, "We , the people...." Yet, in practice, it
has become only an interstate agency, with the voice of the people only
faintly represented through invitations to nongovernmental organisations
for periodic UN conferences and summits.
In order to look after human security, representation in the United Nations
must be given to people, not governments. One interesting idea is to establish
a two-chamber General Assembly, one chamber nominated by the government
(as at present) and the other elected directly by the people. This will
ensure that the voice of the people is heard on all-important global issues
-- constantly, not intermittently.
A great deal is being said about UN reforms these days. The secretary
general presented a comprehensive blueprint to the General Assembly on 16
July 1997. Many of these reforms, however, concern downsizing the UN bureaucracy
and increasing its operational efficiency. Unfortunately, not enough attention
has been given to the new imperatives of global human security for a fundamental
restructuring of the role of the United Nations in the 21st century. That
continues to be the real challenge that all of us must face with boldness
and innovation in the coming years.
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