Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND) Intervention at the Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations General Assembly Hall, New York City

General Assembly Hall
17 and 18 February 2022, New York
Presented by Jonathan Granoff, Council Member of PNND

 Please accept the gratitude of PNND for this opportunity to share some thoughts on human security as a framework that is being advanced by the United Nations, including by Secretary General Guterres in Our Common Agenda, in order to adequately address security issues of today and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Human Security involves an integrated approach to successfully address gross economic inequity and the burden of suffering caused by poverty, protecting the climate, effectively and justly responding to pandemics, ensuring the health of the oceans and the regenerative processes of the natural world and resolving international conflicts in ways that meet the security needs of all. A disproportionately national and military approach to security does not meet this challenge. A human security approach integrates the SDGs and serves as a realistic and accurate foundation for solidarity and multilateralism.  

These ideas are integral to Assuring our Common Future, the online parliamentary handbook on disarmament for security and sustainable development, that was jointly released by IPU, PNND and other partners in November 2020. The handbook includes sections on Disarmament, climate and sustainable development and on Pandemics and disarmament, public health and economic sustainability, which highlight cooperative international processes, offer recommendations for parliaments and parliamentarians, and provide examples of effective policy and parliamentary action.

PNND and IPU have been organising a series of global parliamentary workshops on key topics in the handbook, including Disarmament, public health, and pandemics on November 9-10 last year and Nuclear disarmament and human security on January 19 this year. The next global parliamentary event on the handbook is on March 10 on Disarmament that saves lives: parliamentary action to control small arms and light weapons.

Nuclear weapons and threats of nuclear war thwart global security and consume over 100 billion dollars annually, while budgets for public health, shifting to a climate-friendly economy and economic development are insufficient. Parliamentarians are invited to endorse Fulfil the NPT: From nuclear threats to human security, which addresses these issues.  

It would be remiss to ignore that although a policy at the very foundation of the United Nations Charter in Chapter V Article 26 is an unfulfilled call for lessening the diversion of human and economic resources for military expenditures, that global military expenditures are around $2 Trillion per year, and that nine nations are spending trillions to modernize and make more usable their nuclear arsenals. The SDGs are inadequately funded, are pursued in silos, and are in desperate need for resources such as political will, institutional commitment, diplomatic focus, and economic expenditures. It is a disproportionate emphasis on a security model that does not focus on the very purpose of states – to ensure that their people are free from want, fear and indignity. It is based on an old Roman empire concept: Prepare for war and thus obtain peace. Is that realistic today? National militarism has a place but not the only place. A people centered focus on obtaining realistic security must have a prominent place at the table. Human security, its time has come. It is what integrates the SDGs and is needed to address global threats.

The uniquely modern threats to everyone on the planet such as pandemics, health of the oceans, protecting bio-diversity, and the very climate itself cannot be met at the level of nations. These threats require a new level of multilateral cooperation, human solidarity, and a focus on realism, what hard science is informing us rather than ideology. Such a shift in thinking has been urged strongly and clearly by UNDP, the UN Human Security Trust, and most recently by Secretary General Guteres forward to UNDP’s excellent New Threats to Human Security in the Anthropocene: Demanding Greater Solidarity where he called for the utilization of the concept of Human Security to accelerate achievement of the SDGs.

The World Academy of Art and Science along with the Global Security Institute are working with the  UN with a focus on mainstreaming this important dynamic concept that can enhance  cooperation and respond to the concern of some nations which view multilateralism as diminishing sovereignty that must be negotiated as a quid pro quo.  Human security allows for reframing security whereby all states can successfully address their core function – ensuring the security, well-being, dignity, safety and health of their people. This does not diminish participating nations but actually enhances their strength.

When the concept of the modern state as we know it was created in Westphalia in the 17th Century the impact of  today’s technology and social organization on the very stability of the regenerative processes of the natural world could not be imagined. Today the way the most influential nations pursue security by brandishing nuclear weapons has reached a logical paradox: the more the weapons are perfected the less security is obtained. On the other hand where there is a focus on people common interest appear quite pronouncedly and the framework changes. Parliamentarians are well versed on effectively addressing real people’s daily life needs. Bringing this perspective into international affairs is needed. Its expression in  enhanced multilateralism is not a diminution of sovereignty but is realized as fulfillment of its basic purpose – to take care of people.

Parliamentarians hear and feel the real needs of people and are exactly the place where leadership for this necessary shift can be best generated. It is urged therefor that human security be part of the framing of issues related to international affairs. It is already the way parliaments address their domestic issues, but today we can and must live with the ancient motto of the Upanishads. The world is one family.