Statement by Ambassador H.E. Palitha T.B. Kohona
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations

Informal Consultation convened by Ambassador Yukio Takasu, the Special Adviser
of the Secretary-General on Human Security

Human Security 
14th November, 2011

Mr. President,

I thank you, Mr. Takasu, for this opportunity to discuss the issue of Human Security and for the excellent work already done.  I would like to make a few comments from Sri Lanka’s perspective on what Human Security entails.  First and foremost, the concept should encompass the human person and his needs in their entirety. The need to respect the principles incorporated in the Charter of the United Nations have been referred to already.  As fellow human beings, we value very much the principles encompassed in the major human rights treaties and declarations.  For example, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Rights of the Child Convention, the Torture Convention, the Human Rights Declaration, etc.  These must most certainly be reflected in the concept of Human Security.  We also firmly believe that the principles encompassed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights must be given equal prominence.  Human Security cannot entail a one sided approach.  This will only ensure that human security is understood and implemented in an incomplete sense.  In our view it is important to address the challenge of the MDGs and their follow-up honestly and with commitment.   Without advancing the MDGs, the concept of Human Security will not be advanced in a comprehensive manner.


Let me explain.  A human being who is hungry, who is cold, who has no shelter, who has no education, who has no access to healthcare, who has no access to culture, is highly unlikely to pay much attention to the need to respect his fellow being’s needs for personal security, for life, for personal wellbeing, for religious freedom, for the free expression of thought, etc.  So, when we define Human Security, it is necessary to take a holistic approach and deal with all aspects without qualification. 

In the modern world, we are also confronted with other challenges which impact on Human Security.  Environmental degradation, climate change and sea level rise come to mind immediately.  If we do not honestly and with determination address these elements, it is quite likely that a vast number of human beings will be the victims of food shortages, energy issues, water shortages, habitat issues, employment challenges, dislocation, etc.  Therefore, we also think that when the question of Human Security is defined, it is of critical importance to encompass emerging and established threats of this nature. 

There are also unpredictable threats that can affect Human Security.  In our own case, we experienced the Asian tsunami which left a scar that will not disappear for centuries.  Similarly, countries of the boarder region have suffered from terrorism, massive floods, earthquakes and droughts.  These challenges need to be addressed in a proactive manner and mechanisms to respond to them need to be considered in the context of Human Security. 

Finally, Mr. President, it is true that there are various global mechanisms that have been established to address many of these issues.  These mechanisms are doing excellent work.  We must, as the international community, confront these issues with the long term future in mind rather than as short term goals.  We also need to ensure that the global mechanisms are coordinated better, further strengthened where necessary and given the opportunity to realize their intended mandates.  Adequate funds for these mechanisms are a critical need.  What we must avoid is sacrificing our long term futures for short term political advantage.  Human Security must be mainstreamed in the work of these organizations.  It is also important to avoid being pushed into reflect concepts such as R2P in the broad idea of Human Security.  In our view, R2P requires a different debate and it is a long way from conclusion.   

Thank you.


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