Human Security in a Changing World
Thursday, 15. August 2002

'Good governance and democracy play a big role in the elimination of hunger, poverty and insecurity,' said a leader of the reconciliation process in Somalia yesterday. Osman Jama Ali is the Deputy Prime Minister in the Transitional National Government of Somalia, and he was speaking at a conference on 'Human security in a changing world' at the international centre for Initiatives for Change, in Caux, Switzerland.

Osman Jama Ali was born into a nomadic family; he lost his parents when he was one year old, but went on to win a scholarship to university, and became a Cabinet Minister for twelve years in Siad Barré's regime. 'We made a lot of mistakes through ignorance, fear of the future or fear of losing position,' he said. 'In many Third World countries, access to power means access to resources for personal benefit,' he went on. 'Many people of my age have to accept that they have a share in the disasters that have overtaken our countries.' He had aplogised for the mistakes that he had made, he said.
'Human security is imperilled not by blind fate or natural disaster but through man's irresponsibility,' Edy Korthals Altes, former Dutch ambassador, and an honorary president of the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WRCP), speaking at the opening of the six-day conference on Tuesday evening. Only determined action could avert the mortal danger, he went on. A 'fundamental change of attitude, a real change of heart' was required.

'For the first time in human history, human beings are capable of destroying all life on earth,' the Dutch author of the book Heart and Soul for Europe continued. 'There is a bitter irony in the fact that the triumphs of science and technology, which have done so much to improve the conditions of life, have also created an apocalyptic potential for destruction.' He condemned 'strategic doctrines which envisage the actual use of military means for conflict resolution' and 'simplistic notions of good and evil nations'. They were bound to lead sooner or later to collective disaster. The paradox, he continued, was that rising military expenditures lead not to enhanced security, but to greater insecurity. He called for a reversal of the dictum 'If you want peace, prepare for war.' A new concept of security, he said, should be based on: 'If you want to avoid war, you must creatively and actively pursue policies leading to a just and durable peace.'
François Fouinat, the Executive Director of the Commission on Human Security, a newly created study project headed by Mrs Sadako Ogata, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Nobel laureate Professor Amartya Sen, spoke of the need to link human security and human development. 'Most "preventable deaths" have occurred from lack of the basic services, caused by disruption resulting from conflict,' he said, citing Angola, Congo and Liberia. He saluted the report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (CISS) The Responsibility to Protect, on which Cornelio Sommaruga, the President of Caux - Initiatives of Change served. 'Promoting "freedom from fear" and "freedom from want" encompasses dealing with the two main problems mankind is facing since its origins,' Fouinat concluded.

Also speaking at the opening meeting, Cornelio Sommaruga warned that the authority of the State and of supranational bodies is reaching its limits in the control of the negative aspects of globalization. 'The missing control of market fundamentalism is of serious concern,' he said. He called on civil society to take its responsibilities, 'religious communities, business, academia - and individuals'. He recalled the Caux Political Round Table, which east year had issued a call for good governance. The Caux Political Round Table meets again this week.

Christoph Spreng, Andrew Stallybrass