Thailand urges stress on human security, NATION

UNITED NATIONS – Thailand on Tuesday called on the international community to put human security and people-centered development at the heart of policy and urged the world to renew its commitment to protecting fundamental freedom and human rights.

Speaking at the 55th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan said a people-centered development policy was not possible if the world could not ensure that its people were protected from abuse.

“One cannot have support for human security and effectively pursue people-centered development if one is unable to ensure that people are protected from the worst form of abuse, suffering and deprivation.

“One cannot claim to put people at the center of development efforts if one is unwilling to create political conditions whereby people are able to pursue their lives free from threats to their dignity and personal safety,”Surin said in his speech.

He said it was difficult to talk about human security when 1.2 billion people through out the world lived on less than US$1 (Bt42) a day, about 90 million children did not complete primary education and 1.2 million women and children under 18 were sold into prostitution each year.

Therefore, Surin said, “Thailand believes that human security can only take firm root if the basic needs of people are fulfilled and people are free from social and economic threats to their well-being.”

The idea of putting people at the center of development is nothing new but is gaining momentum, the minister said.

“This paradigm of development sees development as a means to promote people’s welfare and interests rather than an end in itself.

“It looks beyond quantitative indicators of growth and focuses more on how to nurture the capabilities of people in society so that they are empowered and are able to make a positive contribution to a country’s development efforts,” Surin said.

He expressed hope that the meeting on “Financing for Development” next year would come up with effective measures to generate greater international financial assistance to support sustainable development and address poverty.

He also called on the international community to redouble its efforts to assist displaced persons through out the world.

Speaking to The Nation on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting, Surin said Thailand had for decades borne the burden of housing hundreds of thousands of displaced people and insisted that the international community needed to do more to help the country shoulder the problem.

Surin also urged the world to give equal attention to the growing prevalence of methamphetamines. “Their small size and low cost of production make methamphetamines readily accessible to all sectors of society and therefore difficult to suppress,” he said.

Thailand and the UN Drug Control Program will host the International Congress on drugs from October 11 to 13.

Surin also mentioned the HIV/Aids epidemic at the General Assembly and called on the UN secretary-general to try harder to coordinate international action against the spread of HIV/Aids. On the issue of the digital divide, Surin said less than 2 per cent of the world’s people were connected to the Internet despite all the hype and that a large portion of mankind had never even heard a dial tone.

“If this discrepancy in information technology and/or the digital divide are not reversed soon, the developing world will be left far behind the rest of the world,” Surin warned.