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Human Security at the UN


The Human Security Unit (HSU) released its Strategic Plan for the period 2014 to 2017. Drawing on the wealth of experiences and lessons learned over the past two decades, the goals and objectives set out in this Strategic Plan point the way forward for mainstreaming human security in the activities of the United Nations and extending its global awareness over next four years. 


The President of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly convened a thematic debate on human security entitled, "Responding to the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century: Human security and the post-2015 development agenda" on 18 June. The debate provided an opportunity for Member States and participants to exchange views on the third report of the Secretary-General on human security (A168/685) and to discuss how human security might be included in the post-2015 development framework.



The third Report of the Secretary-General on Human Security was released on 23 December. The report is based on a wealth of information gathered in response to questionnaires sent to Governments of all Member States, regional organizations, the United Nations system, academic and research institutions, and non-governmental organizations. It provides numerous examples, across a range of thematic areas, where the value of the human security approach to our determination to reduce the likelihood of conflicts, overcome the obstacles to sustainable development, and promote a life of dignity for all is presented. 


On 8 May World leaders gathered in the Economic and Social Council Chamber at the United Nations in New York for a High-Level Event on Human Security to reflect on the added value and lessons learned from implementing the human security approach and consider the future integration of human security into the work of the United Nations.




On 10 September, the General Assembly adopted by consensus resolution 66/290 entitled “Follow-up to paragraph 143 on human security of the 2005 World Summit Outcome” in which Member States agreed on a common understanding on human security. This seminal achievement marks the first time that the Assembly has agreed on a common understanding on human security after seven years of discussion. The consensus agreement paves the way to formally apply human security within the work of the United Nations.



A Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly was held on 4 June to discuss the report of the Secretary-General. 



The second Report of the Secretary-General on Human Security (A/66/763) was released on 5 April. The report proposed a common understanding on human security based on the views expressed by Member States.




In November, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on human security, Mr. Yukio Takasu, convened Informal Consultations with Member States to ensure broad participation and inputs on the notion of human security and possible areas in which its application could bring added value to the work of the United Nations. 



As a follow-up to A/RES/64/291, on 14 April, the Office of the President of the General Assembly convened an Informal Thematic Debate and Panel Discussion on Human Security. While the need for continued consultation was emphasized, inputs by Member States confirmed the emergence of a level of consensus by which the notion of human security could be framed.




The Secretary-General appoints Mr. Yukio Takasu as his Special Adviser on Human Security. 



On 27 July, the General Assembly passed resolution 64/291, “Follow-up to paragraph 143 on human security of the 2005 World Summit Outcome”, in which Member States recognized the need to continue discussions on human security and to agree on its definition in the General Assembly. 



On 20 and 21 May, a Panel Discussion and Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly was convened to consider the report of the Secretary-General (A/64/701).



The first Report of the Secretary-General on Human Security (A/64/701) was released on 8 March. It provided an overview of discussions on human security, and outlined the principles and approach for its advancement and application to the priorities of the United Nations. 



In May, the Office of the President of the General Assembly convened an Informal Thematic Debate on Human Security, attended by more than 90 Member States. The debate focused on the notion of human security, its multidimensional scope and its added value to the work of the United Nations.



The Friends of Human Security – a flexible and informal group of supporters comprising mainly of UN Member States and international organizations – was formed to provide a forum to discuss the human security concept, and to explore possible collaborative efforts to mainstream human security and formulate joint initiatives at the United Nations.




Paragraph 143 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome (A/RES/60/1) notes that “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”. This reference to human security was pivotal in advancing the acceptance and understanding of human security in the United Nations. 



In his final proposal for UN reforms, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan, while not making specific reference to the term “human security”, nevertheless uses its three components: “freedom from fear”, “freedom from want”, and “freedom to live in dignity” as the main thematic principles of the report titled “In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all” (A/59/2005). 




The report by the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, “A more secure world: our shared responsibility”, makes use of the human security concept within the broader agenda of institutional reform in view of the new threats of the twenty-first century. 



The Human Security Unit (HSU) was established in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) with the principal objective of placing human security in the mainstream of UN activities. As such, the HSU works with different stakeholders to highlight the added value of the human security concept through its application under the UNTFHS and other activities. 



Following the CHS conclusion, the Advisory Board on Human Security (ABHS) was established as an independent advisory group. It was tasked with advising the UN Secretary-General on the propagation of the human security concept and the management of the UNTFHS. 


To mobilize support and provide a concrete framework for the application of human security, the Commission on Human Security (CHS) published its final report Human Security Now.



The independent Commission on Human Security (CHS) was established under the co-chairmanship of Sadako Ogata and Amartya Sen to (i) mobilize support and promote greater understanding of human security, (ii) develop further the concept as an operational tool and (iii) outline a concrete action plan for its implementation.



At the UN Millennium Summit, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the international community to advance, as the goals of the new millennium, the agendas of “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want” in United Nations’ efforts to develop better responses to old and new challenges. 



The Human Security Network (HSN), a group of foreign ministers from 13 countries, was formed to promote the concept of human security as a feature of all national and international policies. HSN members include Austria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Greece, Ireland, Jordan, Mali, Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland and Thailand, with South Africa as an observer.



The Government of Japan and the United Nations Secretariat established the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS) under the management of the Office of the UN Controller, with an initial contribution of approximately US$ 5 million. 



The UNDP Human Development Report New Dimensions of Human Security coined the term “human security” within the UN system. The report highlighted four characteristics of human security: universal, people-centred, interdependent and early prevention. It further outlined seven interconnected elements of human security: economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political.