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62nd session of the UNGA

May 22, 2008

Mr. President,

Let me join the previous speakers in commending your leadership in convening today’s thematic debate of the General Assembly on human security. 

            Human security is an ancient concept that is new to us. It is new because the term has entered developmental and political analysis in the 1990s and accelerated in usage in the early years of this century. However, the concerns for human security are as old as human society and form the basis of human civilization. Food and physical security were the overriding concern of early civilizations and they continue to be central to this day especially given the current global food crisis and ever-frequent occurrence of devastating natural disasters around the world.


            What is new is globalisation - the extent to which our fates have become intertwined with those who previously would have remained isolated from us. Also new is the fact that most wars are now intrastate. Regionalism, ethnicity, mass migration and communal violence are more threatening than before. Ninety percent of the casualties of conflicts are civilians. In essence, human security means safety for people from both violent and non-violent threats. It is a condition or state of being characterized by freedom from pervasive threats to people's rights, their safety, or even their lives. It is an alternative way of seeing the world, taking people as its point of reference, rather than focusing exclusively on the security of territory or governments. Like other security concepts - national security, economic security, food security, and environmental security - it is about protection. Human security entails taking preventive measures to reduce vulnerability and minimize risk, and taking remedial action where prevention fails.


            Human security is also reflected in the history of social and political thought. I will take but two examples. In the thought of Hobbes people surrender a degree of liberty to the State as protection against anarchy. The security of the state is the overriding concern.  In the thought of the Enlightenment individual freedoms and liberties guarantee human security by limiting the powers of the State. The security of the individual is the overriding concern. These debates continue to this date but they present a false dichotomy. It is the combination of rights and responsibilities of the state and those of the individual that guarantee human security. However, the human security perspective does analyze means and results from the point of view of their impact on human beings as it is a people-centered concept.


Mr. President,


            The idea of human security is not new to the UN. Great strides were made in the conceptualization of human security with the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the 1940s. Since then numerous covenants have further defined the civil, political, economic, and social rights, as well as the rights of children, women, minorities, and indigenous peoples. This forms the edifice of the rights-based approach to development, including the right to development itself.


Quest for definition and applicability of human security by academia and policy-makers burgeoned in 1990’s and early years of the 21st century. The specific phrase "human security" is most commonly associated with the 1994 UNDP Human Development Report that advocated attempting to capture the post-Cold War peace dividend and redirect those resources towards the development agenda. Most importantly the report outlined a change of emphasis from the state security to that of a human being, which included economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political dimensions.


Human security entails the freedom for each and every segment of the society to live a decent life; provision of an environment for everybody to develop his/her potential and not be discriminated against because of his/her gender, race or religion; and being protected from crime and environmental hazards, in other words people can exercise these choices safely and freely.


Advancing the human security agenda has been further explored in the 2003 report of the Commission on Human Security. The prime merit of the human security concept we see in that it addresses in a comprehensive manner the triple-tier freedom outlined in the Millennium Declaration, i.e. freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to live in a healthier and cleaner environment.


Mr. President,


Mongolia is strongly committed to ensuring human security and promoting human-centered development. The National Security Concept of Mongolia (1994) identifies advancement of human security as one of fundamental pillars for strengthening its national security. Furthermore, national development strategies, including a national program on “Good Governance for Human Security” (2001-2004), our MDGs and MDGs-based national development strategy up to 2021 are all aimed at ensuring human security of Mongols.


With a view to sharing experience and advancing further the human security agenda Mongolia also hosted a number of regional and international conferences over the recent years. The 5th International Conference of New and Restored Democracies in 2003 committed more than 100 participating countries to human security and human development within the framework of promoting democracy through adoption of and follow-up to the Ulaanbaatar Declaration and Plan of Action. Substantive discussions on human security issues were also held at the ARF workshop and the OSCE/Mongolia conference hosted in Ulaanbaatar back in 2005 and 2007 respectively. In addition, within the framework of advancing Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status a specific study was carried out in collaboration with the United Nations on my country’s economic and ecological vulnerability and its implication on human security in 2004, the findings and recommendations of which have been further reflected in the policy documents of the Government.


Mr. President,


We believe that the reflection of human security concept in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document was an important step forward. Furthermore, the relevant recommendations of the Human Security Commission deserve, in our view, a closer consideration, including those related to the protection of people in violent conflict, protection of people on the move, providing minimum living standards everywhere, ensuring universal access to basic health care and basic education, encouraging fair trade and markets to benefit the extreme poor around the world. In this respect, my delegation remains hopeful that today’s thematic debate will facilitate a focused exchange of views on the multidimensional scope of the human security and explore ways of its application within the framework of the United Nations.


I would like to close my statement with a quote from the 1994 Human Development Report: "In the final analysis, human security is a child who did not die, a disease that did not spread, a job that was not cut, an ethnic tension that did not explode into violence, a dissident who was not silenced. Human security is not a concern with weapons - it is a concern with human life and dignity."