"What the Friends of Human Security aim to achieve --
Measure progress by change in the lives of people"

By H.E. Mr. Yukio Takasu, Ambassador of Japan in charge of Human Security
On the occasion of 9th Ministerial Meeting of the Human Security Network
18 May 2007, Ljubljana

State Secretary Šter,
Minister Stagno,
Ladies and Gentleman,

I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Government of Slovenia for inviting me as a guest to the 9th HSN Ministerial Meeting. I am also grateful for the gracious hospitality. It is the second Ministerial Meeting for me after the last one in Bangkok. I feel honored and privileged to represent Japan and speak about my vision of human security.

Human security is much talked about and gaining increasingly wide support not only in the United Nations but many regional and global arena. Particularly after the concept was affirmed in the consensus Outcome of the World Summit in September 2005, the relevance of human security is widely acknowledged. I would like to pay high tribute to the members of the HSN, whose initiatives have contributed a great deal.

The essence of human security seems to me the conviction that a human being is entitled to live a healthy, dignified, fulfilling life, irrespective where he or she is born. Not only to be protected from various fears and insecurities but also to be empowered and to be allowed to develop his or her ability to the maximum extent possible. And it is a concern of not a state alone but of the international community as a whole.

The security of people cannot be achieved unless peace -- free from conflict, development -- free from poverty and diseases, and human rights -- free from violence and discrimination are realized for every individual. Therefore, it is essential to take a human-centered, integrated, multi-sector approach. Such human security approach requires full participation of all actors; interested governments, international organizations and the civil society. The importance of leadership and collaboration by those committed such as members of the Network and countries like Japan cannot be over-emphasized in order to mobilize global support and make it universally accepted.

At the last Ministerial Meeting, I had the honor to propose the creation of an informal support group called "Friends of Human Security". Today, I would like to discuss first the activities of the FHS and then my view on the collaboration between the Friends and the Network and the direction to which we might follow.

(Friends of Human Security)

An increasing number of countries started to demonstrate strong interest in human security and take new initiatives since the adoption of the World Summit Outcome. We recognized it important to follow-up the WSO and to collect the energy of various initiatives for forming stronger partnership. Japan therefore called upon others to join in a wide global informal forum of friends of human security. The FHS met for the first time in October 2006 in NY under my chairmanship. At the second meeting held in last April under the co-chairmanship of Japan and Mexico, representatives of 33 countries including the US and Russia and influential developing countries like India and Indonesia had constructive discussions and came to the meeting of mind on following points.

  • It would be counter-productive to focus on a legal definition. Rather, based on the common understanding, generally in line with the broad concept provided by the Commission of Human Security, the Friends should focus concrete steps and projects which will have real impact and changes in the lives of people, particularly the vulnerable people.
  • The Friends will collaborate in mainstreaming human security approach in those UN activities related to MDGs, humanitarian assistance, climate change, peace-building, and protection of children.

The Friends agreed to compile information on on-going and planned initiatives and activities and distribute it as a UN document and to consider a debate on human security at UNGA at an appropriate occasion. The Group will meet again around coming October to review progress.

(Collaboration between the FHS and the HSN and future direction)

No doubt, there are differences of emphasis on various aspects of human security. Every county, every community, every individual will have different sense of most serious fear and insecurity, reflecting the condition and circumstance under which they are placed. For some, it may be violence, or conflict, or landmines. For others, it may be poverty, or unemployment, or health problem. Various initiatives have also different focus, reflecting their interest. However, strengthening partnership and combining efforts will lead to much more significant results. The Friends and the Network can play an important role by promoting dialogue, common understanding, and collaboration.

First, the FHS is an open-ended, informal forum of representatives who are supporters of human security and willing to work together to make its approach better reflected in UN activities and to carry out joint activities. The Friends is not to compete with the Network. Rather, the two groups will play complementary and supporting role by sharing information and good practices. For instance, the initiative by the Network to promote better protection of children in the UN FORA will receive favorable support from many Friends countries.

Second, the Friends and the Network should promote expanding understanding and support of human security by interested governments, organizations, and members of the civil society. Disseminating the concept on the ground is particularly important. The more wide range of policy makers, practitioners from the top to the ground share the conviction and value of human security approach in every human endeavor -- be it in public sector or private sector, center or local, for men or women, for majority or minority, the more secure, dignified living condition we will be able to create for individual. We should work to expand the understanding of the conviction and value of human security as broadly as possible. Each human activity will take the form of specialization, but it will have less long lasting effect, without taking into account the nexus of peace, development and human rights.

Lastly, we should shift from concept to practice and develop actions. The relevance of human security is judged by significance of concrete action. Through action, I argue, we should measure progress not by input but by real impact and change in the lives of people. And those responsible for such action are accountable to all stakeholders by this measurement. For instance, human security approach is not satisfied with aggregate amount of investment in economic growth or in education. It insists on actual improvement in livelihood of individuals or in learning and knowledge of students. Being a broad concept, and major concern and insecurity vary from one to another, each human security initiative must have a clear order of priority. Many concerns and challenges are with us. But the most serious insecurity has to be identified for each case for action, reflecting capacity to realize change. And concentrate our efforts and resources there. In my view, post-conflict peace building is one such area. Human trafficking is another area. Achievement of MDGs is also another important challenge. Japan will develop concrete actions in these areas, together with interested Friends.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

We are witnessing strong interest in and expectation to the relevance and added-values of human security approach in many parts of the world -- including here in Europe. We should take advantage of this momentum and try to mainstream the concept and move to practice. Let us hope the Network and the Friends work together to realize real change in the lives of people.

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