Statement By Director-General Yukio Takasu
at the International Conference on Human Security in a Globalized World
Ulan-Bator, 8 May 2000
Prime Minister Amarjargal,
Madam Minister Tuya,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to be able to participate in this important conference on human security. Japan and Mongolia share similar ideas and positions on many international issues, and human security is a concept, to which both countries attach particularly high priority. Until recently, prior to assuming my current post in Tokyo, I represented Japan at the United Nations. On this occasion, I would like to express the deep appreciation of my government for the excellent relations we enjoy with Mongolia, bilaterally as well as in the multilateral context of the United Nations.
In December 1998, the wake of the Asian financial crisis of the previous year, Japan’s Prime Minister Obuchi delivered a policy statement in Hanoi in which he stressed the need to make the 21st century an age of peace and prosperity grounded on human dignity. In other words, we must make it a human-centered century. Since then, Japan has accorded high priority to human security in its foreign policy. In its Diplomatic Blue Book 2000, which will be issued tomorrow, Japan identifies the growing importance of human security concerns as one of the major developments in the globalized world. As a concrete manifestation of this priority, Japan proposed and facilitated the establishment of the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security in order to assist UN programmes in implementing worthwhile projects aimed at alleviating various human security concerns. In the short span of only one year, Japan’s financial contributions to the Trust Fund have exceeded $60 million.
Today I would like to discuss briefly two questions: what, exactly, is meant by the term human security and why human security is so important in today’s world.
What is human security?
There are two basic aspects to human security — freedom from fear and freedom from want. Some countries seem to focus solely on the first aspect. For these countries, human security provides a conceptual basis for taking actions to preserve the life and dignity of individuals in conflict situations. This entails, for example, clearing anti-personnel mines, controlling traffic in and the availability of small arms, establishing international criminal courts and tribunals, and addressing the issue of child soldiers, etc. These are extremely important considerations in the context of the changing nature of conflicts in this post-cold war era. In Japan’s view, however, human security is a much broader concept. We believe that freedom from want is no less critical than freedom from fear. So long as its objectives are to ensure the survival and dignity of individuals as human beings, it is necessary to go beyond thinking of human security solely in terms of protecting human life in conflict situations. The epoch-making 1994 UNDP Development Report discussed the concept of human security in depth, and identified seven main categories of human security — economic security (or freedom from poverty); food security (freedom from hunger), health security (freedom from disease), environmental security (the availability of clean water and air, for example), personal security (freedom from fear of violence, crimes, drugs), community security (freedom to participate in family life and one’s ethnic group), and political security (freedom to exercise one’s basic human rights).
The Japanese understanding of human security is very similar to the comprehensive and inclusive concept advocated by UNDP.
I believe that Japan’s experience since the end of the Second World War in promoting prosperity and the well-being of its people through economic and social development makes it particularly well-prepared to advocate such a broad concept of human security. We are confident, moreover, that this is the direction in which the world will be heading in the 21st century.
We are gratified that the Secretary-General of the United Nations takes a similarly broad view, as described in his recent Report for the Millennium Summit. Although he does not specifically use the term human security, the Secretary-General accords equal priority to measures to achieve freedom from want and those to achieve freedom from fear. He declares that we must put people at the center of everything we do. As he stated, “No calling is more noble, and no responsibility greater, than that of enabling men, women and children, in cities and villages around the world, to make their lives better.”
Clearly, the term human security call for the different concerns in different countries and people, depending upon their natural environment and other conditions. For the people of countries in the South Pacific, such as Palau and Vanuatu, the effects of global warming are the primary threat to their human security. For many LDC countries, absolute poverty is the overriding concern. For the Japanese, the major human security concern is now job security and the aging problem of its population. For Mongolia, perhaps it is the effects of the disaster caused by Zud. Or perhaps it is the concern of the secondary school student in Mongolia, who was quoted in the UNDP Development Report, to which I referred earlier, as saying: “Before, education in this country was totally free, but from this year every student has to pay. Now I do not feel very secure about finishing my studies.” During my stay here, I would be interested in learning how the human security concern of this young girl has been addressed.
Why is human security important now?
Human security is not a brand-new concept. While the ultimate responsibility of a state is to protect its territory and safeguard the survival and well-being of its people, sound governments have long pursued human security as part of their national policy.
However, in my view, the level of attention and high priority accorded to human security internationally these days are a reflection of several developments.
Changes in the nature of conflicts — from inter-state to intra-state conflict — in the post-cold war era and break down of government authority have seriously threatened human security in many parts of the world. When a conflict breaks out in a country where no single government authority is in place, it is meaningless to appeal to the sovereign state’s sense of responsibility to protect the lives and dignity of its people.
Moreover, while globalization has given many individuals unprecedented opportunities for realizing their potential, the benefits of globalization have not been extended to the more vulnerable members of the global village. Increasingly, crises and challenges are emerging that cannot be contained within national boundaries. No government can cope by itself with global challenges such as those posed by disease, crime, drugs, etc.
At the same time, with the promotion of democracy and good governance throughout the world, and with instant global communication, governments have had to become more accountable to the needs of their people. Some human security concerns can no longer be kept hidden from critical global scrutiny. The performance of governments will be judged increasingly by the extent to which they seriously and effectively deal with human security concerns. These are some of the reasons why the 21st century must inevitably become a human-centered century.
Having said that, I must hasten to add that the role of government will not diminish in a human-centered century. Human security efforts will not replace national security arrangements — the protection of territory and the life and property of the people remain the responsibility of government. While national security is prerequisite for ensuing security — that is, the survival and dignity of the individual — it is not the only requirement. Even if a state becomes rich and strong, there is no guarantee that the individuals who live in that state will be safe and rich. The role of government is to provide a foundation or environment that will enable individuals to take care of themselves and to develop their capabilities without