Thursday, March 7, 2013


25 June 2002


I am happy to be here again. I wish to thank Mr. Hayashi for this kind invitation. He has been a good friend and has given me a great deal of encouragement and support in my work both in the field of education and in my involvement in human rights, peace and justice issues. This is my third lecture here. It is a pleasure to be able to visit your schools, meet the teachers and other people in this city.

The theme for my first lecture here in 1999 was “Education.”.  The second lecture was titled “Human Security - An International Perspective.” This was in the year 2000. Today I have been requested to speak on “Human Security and Education.”

As some of you may know I have been a University teacher for 41 years. During this period I have had a very special interest in Human Rights and Peace. Now having retired from a regular job my wife and I have started a “Center for Continuing Education” for adults in Colombo, Sri Lanka. One of the purposes of this Center is to teach English. The content of texts used is issues oriented. Students are encouraged to read about and discuss contemporary issues that confront us in the world we live in. One of these is Human Security. I will have more to say on this Center at the end of this lecture.

Three well known names are today associated with the discussion on Human Security. The names are Keizo Obuchi, the late Prime Minister of Japan, Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize winner, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Lamont University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University and Prof. Sadao Ogata formerly of Sophia University and later United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. I had the privilege of being a student of Prof.Ogata when she was a professor at the International Christian University, in Mitaka, Tokyo is the early 1970s.

When Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi died “The Nation” - the well-known daily of Thailand published an editorial which praised him for his commitment to Human Security. In a major speech in Tokyo he had addressed the many-sided problems of human security.

Prof. Sadao Ogata’s commitment to and work for refugees in the world is well-known. She had to deal with the vast refugee problems that are associated with many of the wars both external and internal that have been taking place and continue to take place in the world.

National Security and Human Security

Security is generally understood in relation to the means that states use for the maintenance of national sovereignty, territorial integrity, financial stability, law and order. It is associated with stable government whether democratic, authoritarian or even naked dictatorships. Substantial amounts of funds (in some states three to four percent of GNP) are spent on the security forces including the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Police. Nation states give primary importance to what they perceive as national interest, which is always interpreted to mean the interests of its citizens. In practice this may or may not be true.

We live in a world in which international relations are managed on this principle of national interest. It is often proclaimed that national interest requires the preservation of national sovereignty and hence national security. States form alliances (NATO) sign security treaties (USA and Japan) to preserve their security. These alliances or treaties often supersede national sovereignty but are interpreted domestically as necessary to preserve national security against perceived threats from other states. States are primarily concerned with their national security and spend much of their time and budgets to enhance this.

But conflicts have not decreased in the world. The nature and range of conflicts have actually increased; the number of civilian casualties keeps increasing. In the 20th Century alone over 100 million (100,000,000) people have been killed in wars both international and internal. This number continues to increase and individuals, communities and groups actually feel more insecure today. The twentieth century has been described as “The Century of Total War.” The twenty-first century it is feared may turn out to be “The Century of Total Destruction.”

The fundamental task facing people is to find ways of resolving conflicts without recourse to violence. This requires first and foremost education. We have to ask ourselves the simple question “Why people fight.” The answers however are not simple. That is why we study history, politics, international relations and many other disciplines at various levels of education.

But human suffering is caused by other reasons as well. In fact some of these causes are hidden and not easily visible like wars and other acts of violence. There are social, economic and now increasingly environmental causes that bring suffering and death. There are acts of discrimination and violence against women and children that we have to be aware of.

What is Human Security

At an International Symposium in Tokyo in July, 2000 Prof Amartya Sen raised the questions “What is human security? And why is it important?” In doing so he referred to an observation that Prime Minister Obuchi made in a keynote address to another conference, the first "Intellectual Dialogue on Building Asia's Tomorrow," which was held sometime earlier. Mr.Obuchi had said "It is my deepest belief that human beings should be able to lead lives of creativity, without having their survival threatened or their dignity impaired." It is in this context that he invoked the idea of "human security," describing it as "the keyword to comprehensively seizing all of the menaces that threaten the survival, daily life, and dignity of human beings and to strengthening the efforts to confront these threats."

Prof. Sen discusses Human Security under the following headings: (1) Security of Survival, (2) Daily Life and the Quality of Living and the (3) Dignity of Human beings. I have summarized below in a simplified form certain points made by Prof. Sen. I have added some of my own comments.

The Security of Survival

This requires Health, Peace and Tolerance. Problems relating to health include the emergence and spread of particular diseases, such as AIDS, new types of malaria and drug-resistant diseases. Relating to peace and tolerance, he says, we have an increase in civil wars with the use of powerful and destructive weapons resulting in the killings of innocent people trapped or caught in the crossfire and in some cases deliberate persecution of minorities - racial, linguistic and religious. 

Daily Life and the Quality of Living

When the Asian economic crisis came it deeply affected the daily lives of people who had earlier felt falsely secure. Even here in Japan the economic crisis of the last five years in particular has in many ways affected the life styles of people and has broken the self-confidence and complacency of the 1980s.  There was at that time a kind of “I don’t care what happens elsewhere” attitude especially among young people. The days when admissions to universities assured a comfortable life time job are over in Japan. The market economy and globalization do not assure security. There are times of growth and periods of “downturn”. State and society have to provide Human Security when periods of downturn occur.

As Professor Sen. asserts we need not only social and economic provisions such as basic education and health care but also political participation, especially by the weak and the vulnerable, since their voice is vitally important. This requires the establishment and efficient working of democracies with regular elections and the tolerance of opposition, but also the cultivation of a culture of open public discussion. Democratic participation can directly enhance security through supporting human dignity.”

Schools and hospitals must be developed. The role of information technology in the context of the communicational revolution is important. The preservation of the global environment especially the pollution of our air, water, and global warming are all vital elements in the search for human security. The richer countries have a special responsibility to make a major contribution they being largest consumers of the worlds resources and consequently the biggest polluters of the earth.

Dignity, Equity and Solidarity

Human dignity based on Equity is a major objective in the pursuit of Human Security. Extremely poor peoples’ lives lack dignity. The way out is greater equality both economic and social. Political freedoms and power can come only through the realization of the former. In recent years great advances have been made by women's movements in gaining more rights for women and for the achievement of gender equity. Where rights have still to be achieved awareness has been created. Inequalities and indignities of other kinds - related to class, caste, ethnicity, social opportunity, and economic resources remain in many societies.

As it has been repeatedly stated by advocates of Human Security, development is not only about the growth of GNP per head, but also about the expansion of human freedom and dignity.

Globalization and a Global Commitment

There are signs that can be seen which point to a growing commitment across the world to confront inequality and insecurity with greater global solidarity. The global problems and even protests against globalization themselves now take a globalised form. We repeatedly see protesters gathering in the major cities of the world. They come from many different corners of the world.

According to Prof.Sen globalization is not an entirely new phenomenon. Over thousands of years, globalization has shaped the progress of the world, through trade, travel, migration, and dissemination of knowledge.

He refers to old Sanskrit texts in India from about two and a half thousand years ago. This is the story of what is called "kupamanduka" (in Sanskrit) or the well-frog - a frog that lives its entire life within a well and is suspicious of everything outside it. The scientific, cultural and economic history of the world would have been very limited had we lived like well-frogs.

Today many NGOs - Medecins sans Frontieres, OXFAM, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others - have been able to draw the world's attention on issues of poverty and insecurity in a way that hardly any NGO could fifty years ago.

On the positive side there is an increasing coordinated resistance to the forces that make human survival so insecure. As Professor Sen remarks “We live in a world that is not only full of dangers and threats, but also one where the nature of the adversities are better understood, the scientific advances are more firm, and economic and social assets that can counter these menaces are more extensive. Not only do we have more problems to face, we also have more opportunities to deal with them.”

In this the second part of my lecture I will focus on education. We have to educate ourselves first. I mean education in its broadest sense. The popular meaning of education is often understood to mean educating children from childhood until they are young (university going) adults. Today we need education at all levels. Some people who need to be educated most are parents, teachers, university professors, business men and women, community leaders, politicians - in fact people from all walks of life. All these people must be educated on what Human Security means.

In educating people, especially young people I recommend two annual publications that are easily and freely available. I refer to (1) The Human Development Report published by the United Nations and (2) The State of the World’s Children published by UNICEF. Both are available here in Japan in English and Japanese. The UNICEF report with several interesting pictures and charts is easier to read and understand. Junior High and Senior High school students may begin with this. Teachers and University students should read both reports in which a wealth of information is available. I need not say that many other publications are available. But the above two should be essential reading.

The State of the World’s Children

I give below some facts and comments from the State of the World’s Children - report of 2002.

“Ensuring the rights and well-being of children is the key to sustained development in a country and to peace and security in the world.

“Investing in children is, quite simply, the best investment a government can make. No country has made the leap into meaningful and sustained development without investing significantly in its children.”

“Say Yes for children” campaign proclaims that “all children should be free to grow in health, peace and dignity.” Kofi Annan

In the last ten years …three million (3,000,000) fewer children under five die each year, due in large part to immunization programs and the dedicated efforts of families and communities. In developing countries 28 million (28,000,000) fewer children under five suffer the debilitating effects of malnutrition. More than 175 countries are polio-free, and 104 have eliminated neonatal tetanus. Yet despite these gains, more than 10 million children (10,000,000) still die from mostly preventable diseases, some 600 million children still live in poverty; and more than 100 million – the majority of them – girls are not in school.

Some targets to be achieved:

Reduce infant and under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) by 33%.
Most occur in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.

Reduce maternal mortality ratio by 50%

Reduce severe and moderate under-5 malnutrition by 50%

Provide universal access to safe drinking water and
Universal access to sanitary means of excreta disposal

Provide universal access to basic education and completion of primary education by 80% of children

Reduce adult illiteracy rate to 50% of the 1990 level

Improve protection of children in especially difficult circumstances

On changing the world with children

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes: “the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” that childhood is “entitled to special care and assistance.”

Half of all new cases of HIV occur in young people 15 to 24 years old. There are an estimated 1.4 million children (1,400,000) under the age of 15 living with HIV worldwide. 80 per cent of children under the age of 15 living with HIV are children living in Africa.
4.3 million children (4,300,000) under the age of 15 have died from AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic.
More than 13 million children (13,000,000) aged 14 or younger have been orphaned by AIDS

On Conflict:

Of the 35 million refugees (35,000,000) and displaced people in the world, 80 per cent are women and children.
Between 1990 and 2000, 2 million children (2,000,000) were slaughtered, 6 million (6,000,000) injured or permanently disabled and 12 million (12,000,000) left homeless because of conflict.
Between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of those who die or are injured in conflict are civilians – mostly children and their mothers
Conflict has orphaned or separated more than 1 million children from their families in the last decade of the 20th century.

On Discrimination

Of the more than 100 million (100,000,000) out-of-school youth, that is children who do not go to school, 60 million (60,000,000) are girls.
Between 60 million (60,000,000) and 100 million (100,000,000) women are “missing” from the world’s population – victims of gender-based infanticide (killing of babies after birth), feticide killing of unborn babies), malnutrition and neglect. 90 per cent of domestic workers, the largest group of child workers in the world, are girls between 12 and 17 years old.
In some areas, HIV infection rates are five times higher for girls than for boys.

Summing-up - Poverty and Education

Children are the hardest hit by poverty: It causes lifelong damage to their minds and bodies. More than half a billion children (500,000,000) live on less than $1 a day. Education is the key to ending poverty. As mentioned above more than 100 million children are out of school because of poverty, discrimination or lack of resources.

The first United Nations Summit on Children opened in New York on 8 May 2002. There was a World Summit on Children in 1990 but it was not an official UN Conference. Nearly fifty five years after the founding of the United Nations children in several countries especially among the poorer countries face a variety of problems as we have noted above.

Children constitute almost one-third (that is 2,000,000,000) of the world’s total population of 6.1 billion (6,100,000,000) Everyday 129 million (129,000,000) children are born. Of these one in 12 dies before the age of five years from preventable diseases. Seventeen out of every one hundred children (9 girls and 8 boys) do not go to school at all. In addition it is estimated that 100 million children (100,000,000) are forced to work in semi-slave conditions. 300,000 children are conscripted to fight in wars – usually within countries such as civil or ethno-nationalist wars. Sixty per cent of the world’s refugees are children.

When we discuss Human Security we have to give top priority to the welfare of children, especially their right to live and grow-up in a safe and healthy environment with adequate facilities for a proper education.

What is to be done?

The theme of today’s lecture is Human Security and Education. As I have mentioned above we must first educate ourselves. Then we should educate others. Instructing and tutoring students to pass examinations (important as it is) is inadequate. Exposure to knowledge and accumulating facts alone is not enough. That is not true education. Education must be values oriented and should create consciousness. Theory must lead to practice, and practice in turn must help us to refine theory.

We have to be action oriented. Each person can do something to create a better world. This can be done as individuals, as families, students and teachers in schools and universities, in the community in which we live, at our places of work and as nations and states. We can give some of our money however small the sum. Those who cannot afford to give cash can give their time in voluntary work. As the saying goes time is money. My suggestion is give two to four hours of your time a week or the equivalent in money. The time given need not be given every week. Four hours a week equals 208 hours a year or 26 working days. Time can be set apart when you have your holidays or during week-ends. Some people may want to give more time or money. The important thing is that we all participate voluntarily according to our ability and the time we have.

I have indicated above the numerous problems we face in the world today. Each person must make a choice about particular issue he or she wishes to engage in. There are voluntary organizations or NGOs engaged in a wide range of issues. Make a choice after study and evaluation.

I have given importance to volunteerism. That is easily done. But equally important are our duties and responsibilities as citizens of the state. The state uses your tax money for various purposes. Official Development Assistance (ODA) given by the Developed countries to the Developing countries is from the taxes people pay. It is therefore our duty as citizens to see that these funds are properly budgeted and spent with transparency and accountability. As suggested by Prof.Sen this means taking an interest in government, politics and international affairs. This we must do to the best of our ability. Young people today have become apolitical. They cannot afford to be so in a world that is full of problems. This is a challenge that you have to face. I wish you well in meeting these challenges.  

No comments:

Post a Comment