UN Approach to Human Security

The UNDP Human Development Report of 1994 introduces the concept of human security, which focuses on the people (UNDP 1994: 22). The same document points out that the term ‘security’ has long been interpreted too narrowly-used in the context of “security of territory from external aggression” and thus suggests that human security involves much more than just the absence of conflict. This formally shifts the emphasis from state security to human security. The report further qualifies human security as “safety from chronic threats such as hunger, disease, and repression as well as protection from sudden and harmful disruptions in the patterns of daily life – whether in homes, jobs or communities” (UNDP, 1994: 23).

OUN – Organization of United Nations
UNHDR – United Nations Human Development Report
UNDP – United Nations Development Program
CHS – Commission on Human Security

In addition to the basic features of the concept of HS (Lesson 00 01) the basic threats can also be seen through the seven dimensions of HS:
(1) Economic Security – unemployment, job insecurity, income inequality, inflation, underdeveloped social security and homelessness;
(2) Food Security – the problems of physical and economic access to food;
(3) Health Security – threats to life and health and inadequate access to health services  (Lesson  04 05);
(4) Environmental Security – the degradation of ecosystems, pollution of water, air and soil;
(5) Personal Security – physical violence, war, discrimination, domestic violence, child abuse;
(6) Community Security – ethnic tensions and violent conflicts;
(7) Political Security – state repression and violation of human rights (UNDP, 1994: 24-33).

The Commission on Human Security (CHS) was established in January 2001. The first report of this commission, Human Security Now, was published in 2003. According to this report, the concept of HS seeks to “protect the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfillment “(CHS, 2003). This report adds the Freedom to Live in Dignity to the vital objectives of human security which thus means respecting the basic principles of democracy, rule of law and human rights and freedoms.

The efforts and initiatives of the UN, in the development of the concept of human security, were presented in the report A More Secure World (2004) at the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. It has been acknowledged that a wide range of threats exist, that threats endangering national security and the security of individuals are connected- and therefore there is a greater need for better cooperation in order to eliminate the aforementioned threats, and a greater necessity for approaches that will cover both human and national security issues (United Nations, 2004).

un-approachIn the report In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All (2005), Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Deprivation and Freedom to Live in Dignity are given as the basic elements of human security. It emphasizes that security cannot be achieved without development and that conversely, development cannot be attained without security and neither of these can be achieved without respect of human rights. That same year, the UN General Assembly adopted The Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit, which confirms in paragraph 143 (Outcome Document A / RES / 60/1) that: “all individuals, in particular vulnerable people, are entitled to Freedom from Fear and Freedom from Want, with an equal opportunity to enjoy their rights and fully develop their human potential” (General Assembly, 2005).

In 2012, The General Assembly adopted UN resolution 66/290 entitled “Follow-up to paragraph 143 on human security of the 2005 World Summit Outcome.” With this resolution, human security has been defined as “an approach to assist Member States in identifying and addressing widespread and cross-cutting challenges to the survival, livelihood and dignity of their people.” In accordance with this resolution the concept of human security, among other things, means:

“The right of people to live in freedom and dignity, free from poverty and despair. All individuals, in particular vulnerable people, are entitled to Freedom from Fear and Freedom from Want, with an equal opportunity to enjoy all their rights and fully develop their human potential” (General Assembly, 2012).

General Assembly resolution 66/290 was an important milestone in the 20-year evolution of the implementation of human security within the UN system.