HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY:

SECURITY FOR ALL

TOWARDS A NEW SECURITY POLICY

Maj Britt Theorin, Ambassador, Sweden
President of the International Peace Bureau, Geneva
Member of the EU Parliament and of The Canberra Commission

 


"There are two ways of solving conflicts, through negotiations and through violence./The first one is aimed for human beings and the other for wild beasts". (Cicero)

That wisdom is still valid. Unemployment, social tensions, and growing injustices create human conflicts. Insecurity, chaos and conflicts leave their marks on our societies. How we solve our conflicts monitor how far mankind has developed and matured. Through negotiations as beings or through violence as wild beasts.

In formulating a security policy for the next millenium we have to learn this lesson. We have to learn from history but not repeat history. We must meet the challenges of our time . Conflict-resolution, international relations, economic relations, trade foreign aid, cooperation with neighbouring countries are far more important parts of common security policy than a common military defense. We have to solve conflicts instead of militarily fighting them out. And only if the global society learns how to discover conflicts in time, how to analyse, handle conflicts and solve them, will the people of the world achieve the highest degree of security.

Which are the most important threats to security and peace today, and in the future? What are the underlying sources if insecurity? How can these threats be met? How can we build a society contributing to peace and security?

The war in Yugoslavia is an example of new insecurities and conflicts taking place inside instead of between nations, growing from social - ethnic and religious confrontations. Those conflicts cannot be solved by military means, by cannons or guns. They demand political, economical, cultural and diplomatic means and new organisations instead of old military ones.

"Theory is the way the mind works to understand the reality it confronts". (R. Cox, 1993)

To be able to discover and see reality as it is, we need to develop new concepts, or "glasses", able to discover, analyse and deal with new situations and new phenomena. The security of most states are in many ways characterised by cold war thinking and cold war organisations.

During the Social Summit, organised by the United Nations in Copenhagen a year ago, it was stated that the threat of deepening personal insecurity, associated with the frightening increase in poverty, will fan intolerance. Social tensions are becoming international tensions and this is affecting peace and security. (Report of UNRISD´s 30th anniversary conference, 1993, p.4))

Other equally important security challenges arise from threats to the earth's life-support systems, to the global environment, the proliferation of conventional small arms, the terrorisation of civilian populations by domestic factions, and gross violations of human rights.

Consequently, to be able to discover, analyse and remedy these sources of insecurity, our security concept will need to be widened beyond the security of states and military aspects of security policy. Global security must be broadened from its traditional focus on military methods and the security of states, to include the security of people, and security of the planet. (The Commision on Global Governance, Our Global Neighbourhood, 1995, p. 78)

The insight of the new sources of insecurities must give way to new concepts, new policies and new methods and instruments. Security can no longer focus only on military threats and external aggression, nor on military solutions. Instead a real security policy should contribute to greater efforts in non-military strategies.

The security concept I am thinking of is the one outlined in the report from the Commision on Global Governance where the focus is the security of the people and the planet, and based on the concept of Common Security, Comprehensive Security and Human Security.

The concept of Common Security recognizes that lasting security will not be achieved until it can be shared by all, and that it can only be achieved through cooperation, based on the principles of equity, justice and reciprocity. Comprehensive Security emphasizes changing the present miltary-based notion of security. Among its dominant ideas are cooperation, confidence building, transparency, gradual disarmament, conversion, demobilisation, and demilitarisation. Human security is a very recent concept, a people-centered approach that is concerned with basic human dignity. Human Security (Human Development Report) includes safety from chronic threats such as hunger, disease, and repression, as well as protection from sudden and harmful disruption in the patterns of daily life.

A security concept built on these components would guarantee a broad and holistic security policy that regards the security of people as important as the security of states. Ultimately the two objectives are not in conflict: states cannot be secure unless their citizens are secure.

Conflict resolution with Peaceful Means

A security policy that puts people in the center demands new methods to meet threats with different forms of prevention as economic, social and political support, as well as new methods for conflict resolution.

A broad spectrum of non-military capacities must be developed and qualitative goals and visions must be formulated on terms of non-mililtary operationalisation. This can be prevention in various forms, mediation, or other conflict resolution methods with peaceful means. Analysing capabilities to foresee and understand conflicts must be developed to contribute to peaceful conflict resolution. Further, financial and manpower resources should be devoted to strengthening early conflict warning, conflict prevention, community building and mediation efforts. This wouId be a more adequate reaction than re-equipping and organising Cold War armies.

Once a possible threat is detected there is need for support in various forms; reconciliation, mediation, education and economic and political support. It is only by looking at all the aspects of a possible threat, or a conflict, that we will contribute to a peaceful solution of conflicts. A peaceful solution and reconciliation is the only human-, democratic-, rational-, political- and economically viable solution to a conflict.

What role can organisations like yours or individuals have in building a new security policy? Is this not a task for states alone? No, now more than ever there is a need for involved citizens to take part.

CONCRETE POLICY IMPLICATIONS

The theoretical framework of these new security concepts has to be filled with concrete policy implications. My proposals are in the following fields:

1. Information, concerning possible sources of insecurity, with
- a center for active crisis prevention where scientists and policymakers can exchange
information, cooperate and coordinate their work
- a network of specialists and research centres in the area of peace and security studies, conflict prevention and conflict resolution with peaceful means, to detect and analyse sources
of insecurity ~
- a network of citizens' movements and other "grass-roots" organisations with a right to
petition to draw attention to situations that can constitute a threat to security
- "Security-ambassadors" as part of an early warning system

2. A prevention and cure structure able to meet the economic, social, environmental and cultural challenges to security
This is the part where you as teachers come in. Such a structure could be built on measures as peace education in school, confidence building, such as seminars and discussions on racism, cross-cultural communication and human rights, and on economic cooperation and development programmes not least with central and eastern European countries.

When discussing preventive strategies and peace building, peace education is of course of vital importance. "Since war begins in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed". (Constitutional Act of UNESCO) Therefore, the question of peace education and conflict training on all levels is central when building a common and comprehensive security. Teaching peace and conflict resolution must be as important as teaching reading, writing and mathematics.

Such peace and conflict solving education must be part of all formal and informal educational processes from preschool age. Just as literacy programmes begin with the training of literacy workers who, in turn, train others to teach, a culture of peace programme could emphasize the training of "peace promoters" who then help develop a "literacy of peace" at a grassrootslevel. This could be done by establishing regional training institutes, just as UNESCO once established institutes for literacy workers. This could be an initiative to take for the European Union together with the UN, OSCE and the European Council because the fact remains: if we want a peacful world we must have peaceful people.

With knowledge, collected from a variety of sources: peace and conflict-researchers, social anthropolgists, psychotherapists and others, constructive conflict-solving models must be created. Human beings with lifelong experience and personal maturity shall take part in the peace-process, not only politicians with lust for power, who often devote their time to verbal
confrontations in the light of TV-cameras.

It will be essential to create a sort of grammar for how to talk to each other in the conflict and not only how to talk about the conflict. We have to create a forum for meetings between human beings and have insight that the difference and complexity is prerequisite for how new solutions shall develop.

Peace is created by all involved, by all parties concerned. Peace does not arise though submission or forced cease-fire. The way to peace goes through the hard work to restore human beings physically, psychologically, socially and even spiritually. Restoring trust and confidence between people goes through concrete practical actions.

A special organ for conflict-handling would be of great value. There must be space for an expansion of the work in the area of conflict-resolution among states. Otherwise there could be a politically independent institute for conflict-resolution like the Red-Cross, wherein an extended research around different conflict-solving models can take place while at the same time practical support could be given to conflict-solving in areas with protracted conflicts. Areas for such an independent conflict-solving body could be to establish a panel of trained third-part consultants and establish capability for initiative for problemsolving in all areas.

3. Reenforcing democracy and the respect of human rights

The situation in many countries today shows that there is still much to do in this area. Values of tolerance and equal value and fundamental rights and freedoms of all human beings need to be repeated. Here education is of course again very important.

First and foremost, governments must show practical evidence of a strong internal and external commitment to these values and to their consolidation and development. A first step in such a strategy could be to initiate and organise a Conference with the European Council on Democracy and Human Rights. This seminar should be on a parliamentarian level, but also open for universities and NGOs. Such a Conference could be decided on as a common action between the Member States. The preparation of such a Conference could produce school material which could be used the same week in schools in all countries as a way to educate the young people on these issues, as well as to produce a wide common discussion on Human Rights and Democracy.

This could be a suitable occasion to revitalise and actualise the European Declaration of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and a first step to give this declaration a more distinguished place.

4. Disarmament and weapons trade.

Europe should take the lead in the field of disarmament and reduction of weapons trade. It is important for governments to show commitment to a continued disarmament in the world and to a total ban of weapons of mass destruction.

Governments and NGOs must also work for a reduction of military expenditures since this is a vital link for peace. World-wide military expenditures continue to consume too large a share of productive resources and capacity, even if some progress has been made to finance development and meet basic social welfare needs that is to meet important threats to security.

Related to the reduction of military expenditure is the question of weapons trade. The international weapons trade fuels conflicts. In order to prevent armed conflicts the international weapons trade has to be drastically reduced and controlled.

Anti-personell landmines must be totally internationally banned, including production, storing, selling and use of landmines and parts of them. In awaiting an international treaty, we have to start at home.

In all these fields you as individuals have an important role to play. To create a strong public opinion. To educate, inform and give arguments, to demand your politicians to act. And not least this is essential when it comes to nuclear weapons.

5. Nuclear weapons

The cold war led to an insane nuclear weapons race, which still can annihilate the whole of humanity. As long as nuclear weapons exist the risk is there. Nuclear weapons have diminished not increased the security of all states, even for the nuclear weapons states themselves. There is now - in a new era when cold war is over - a possibility to build security without nuclear weapons.

6. Conversion of military resources into environmental protection strategy.

The international environment and ecological problems of today are new sources of insecurity and conflict. These great challenges make it necessary to cooperate to be able to mobilise the adequate resources and capabilities for meeting these challenges effectively.

One idea which I proposed when I chaired a UN study, was to use military-related resources for environmental protection and environmental restoration. The point of departure for such an iniative is a two-fold recognition: the need to mobilize adequate resources to effectively meet the challenges of environmental recovery and protection: and the unique potential of military establishments to augment the capabilities of the civilian international community is achieving that objective.

These are our goals. And we can reach them. Because, as Albert Einstein once said; "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding."

Such a peace is built not by governments alone, but by us all. Together we can provide the necessary steps.

 

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