Statement by ambassador Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, Permanent Representative of Cuba, at the thematic discussion of the United Nations General Assembly on Human Security. New York, 22 May 2008.
Cuba welcomes your interest to revitalize the United Nations General Assembly. We must take full advantage of the potentialities of this organ, which belongs to all by equal, where there is no place for hegemonism, where there is no obsolete right to veto, where we all have the right to vote.
There are many relevant issues that require the Assembly’s serious attention. The question of human security is undoubtedly one such issue. But it is by no means the only one, nor is it the most urgent. We hope that other issues of the utmost interest for the future of our Organization can be discussed in detail by the Assembly in the near future.
We have seen all too frequently how concepts that have never been agreed upon are used and promoted in documents and proposals of Member States and of the Secretariat. The so-called Human Security is a case in point.
We reject the attempts by some to impose and implement ambiguous concepts, which are not clearly defined, for that could turn them into easily manipulated instruments to justify any action and attempt against the sacred principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of States.
Each one of us has probably our own definition of the paradigm of Human Security. It is hence necessary to review the issue and reach a consensual agreement regarding the components of such concept, its scope and role within the United Nations system. So it was agreed on by the Heads of State at the 2005 Summit. We hope that this debate will be the first step toward this aim, and that from now on, the consideration of this sensitive matter remains permanently open to the participation of all Member States by equal.
There is not a higher objective for the Cuban Revolution than the achievement of equal opportunities for each and every member of society to enjoy their rights and develop their full human potential. Likewise, we contribute as possible so that other peoples of the world can achieve this objective.
As such, we are determined to support all legitimate actions aimed at resolving, both the root causes behind them and the dramatic facts that bring about the tragedies that affect the security and progress of all human beings of our times, without applying the restrictive approaches advocated by the North, mainly by the most powerful countries, with their international strategies and actions.
By no means are we calling the international community or the United Nations to remain impassive at the needs of human beings, including their legitimate aspirations for security. On the contrary, we are demanding once again, from this rostrum, a resolved and urgent action to seek just and lasting solutions to the growing problems affecting the security of the human race and of each one of its individuals.
How to achieve the objective of guaranteeing human security, that is, the comprehensive security of each person on the planet? There are neither simple answers nor easy solutions to this question.
We are faced today with the huge challenge posed by the unjust, unequal and unsustainable international order of which we are victims. We live in a world that privileges a minority that makes up less than 20% of the planet’s population and prevents the development and wellbeing of the remaining 80%.
How can the security of all human beings be guaranteed while faced with obstacles such as unequal trade, impenetrable markets of the industrialized counties for our products, instability and growing speculation in the financial markets, restrictions to the transfer of technology and abusive brain drain?
We are convinced that if the conditions of underdevelopment and poverty in which four-fifths of humanity live are not reversed; if 1.1 billion people are not brought out from extreme poverty; if the lives of 8 million children who die before their first birthday are not saved; if 854 million hungry are not fed, if 876 million illiterate adults are not taught to read and write, then human security will simply be an empty rhetorical phrase.
What human security can we talk about when every four seconds a person starves to death, most of them children under 5 years of age?
If the UN and its development infrastructure are not preserved; if a new socially-oriented financial architecture is not created; if transnational corporations continue to control our economies; if the modest commitment to devote 0.7% of the First World’s gross domestic product in official development assistance is not fulfilled, and what little they give does not cease to be increasingly conditioned; if the external debt is not canceled, which our countries have paid off many times over and yet it continues to grow and to bleed 20% of our exports, then the insecurity of human beings will continue to prevail.
The human race will not survive if the unsustainable production and consumption model of the industrialized countries is kept, which pollutes and degrades 60% of the planet’s ecosystems, depletes the natural resources and is responsible for 76% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Global warming, the threat of the rise of the sea level, the indiscriminate logging of forests, the use of food to squander fuels in the US and Europe’s cars, the exhaustion of fossil fuels, the irrational use of the sources of water, inter alia, pose serious threats to the security of human beings. There cannot be human security without sustainable development.
The dramatic and unstoppable rise of food and fuel prices, with its devastating consequences for the majority of countries, is a telling case in point of the very serious dangers that stem from the current world order. As long as food and energy insecurity exist, there will not be human security.
Human Security is incompatible with the existence of more than 30 000 nuclear weapons in the world today, more than 12 000 of which are ready to be used immediately. There will not be human security as long as nuclear disarmament is not achieved and the world continues to spend far more resources to produce weapons than to save lives.
If the political models of the North continue to be imposed, if the right to independence and self-determination is not respected and the diversity of cultures and political models is not comprehended, conflicts and insecurity will continue. Let us recall that the imposition of cultures and artificial borders by the colonial Powers as an historical element inseparable from many of the current conflicts and problems.
No paradigm of security can be accepted that allows some powerful States to impose themselves by force and by war and to set themselves up as inquisitors of the developing countries, while they engage in or pretend to ignore the human rights violations in the so-called “war on terror”.
There will not be human security if the political manipulation of human rights continues; if selectivity, partiality and double standards do not cease; if economic, social and cultural rights are ignored; if the right to development is not promoted as a priority; if all human rights for all human beings are not protected, if it is not recognized that there cannot be democracy without development.
The industrialized countries should leave behind once and for all their demagogy on the political freedoms and rights, while at the same time they do little or nothing to eradicate poverty and to ensure development in the South.
A credible human security must be based on the premises that there cannot be democracy without freedom, popular participation, social justice, individual and collective wellbeing, human solidarity, without acknowledging that sovereignty lies in the people; and that there cannot be sovereignty without national independence.
Sadly, the world has the resources and technological and human potential to meet many of these challenges. With barely 10% of the more than a trillion dollars used every year in military expenditure, the Millennium Development Goals could be reached. Extremely modest as they are, it could be at least one step ahead.
While millions of people starve, the world produces 10% more food than it really needs. Who can we explain that 3 of every 4 hungry people in the world are farmers or fishermen, that is, food producers?
The most powerful countries should start by implementing the unmet agreements on international cooperation adopted at the major UN conferences and summits and fulfill their commitments once and for all. The concept of human security cannot be used to restate, forget or distort the commitments undertaken and objectives set by the Member States, particularly in development matters. This is not about creating new concepts to address old and well-known issues.
History shows very clearly that peace and security cannot be imposed by force or by war, and that military operations do not lead to lasting solutions.
Very little is talked about the principle of consent, the sovereignty of the States and the right to self-determination, while too much is talked about vague concepts of security, without taking into account the fact that peace and security are not imposed, but they are reached through development and equal opportunities for all citizens, guaranteeing a true participation in the design of their own destiny.
In a nutshell, there is no pretext whatsoever to violate the principles of International Law and the Charter of the United Nations. Said principles are the only guarantee that developing countries have to defend their independence through legal means.
Our Organization’s Charter must be respected, and its purposes and principles cannot be rewritten or distorted, nor can they be restricted or conditioned. The Charter is not one among other instruments of Law, but the cornerstone of the United Nations and of the precarious international order that still survives. It is the foundation of the collective security system, and hence, of human security.
Cuba will not accept that any paradigm of security be imposed, whatever its name, that does not fully respect these premises. We will not endorse any definition of human security that could be used to justify violations to the sovereignty of States and that opens loopholes to those who, conceiving war as a multimillion-dollar business, seek to legitimize their interventionism and unilateral actions by force.
If only the current world order could be changed by agreement of this General Assembly and the dire challenges facing humanity could be solved as a result of our discussions on Human Security. But it is not so. It is useful and necessary to discuss. But rhetoric should yield to practical actions. We must act urgently. There is no time to lose.