In the Name of Human Security:
UNESCO and the Pursuit of Global Governance
by James P. Kelly III*
the United Nations has been promoting a human security agenda. On
January 1, 2001, in response to the outcome of the United Nations
Millennium Summit, the government of Japan initiated the formation of
an independent Commission on Human Security (the "Commission"). The
over-arching mission of the Commission is to secure "freedom from fear"
and "freedom from want."
May 1, 2003, Mrs. Sadako Ogata, former United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees, and Professor Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate in economic
science, presented the report of the Commission to the United Nations
Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. The Commission's report is titled "Human
Security Now: Protecting and Empowering People."1
report proposes a new security framework that centers directly and
specifically on people. The Commission concentrates on a number of
distinct but interrelated issues concerning conflict and poverty:
protecting people in conflict and post-conflict situations; shielding
people forced to move; overcoming economic insecurities; guaranteeing
essential health care; and ensuring universal education.2 In its
report, the Commission formulates recommendations and follow-up
the Commission's opinion, although the state remains the primary source
of security, it often fails to fulfill its security obligations and, at
times, has even become a source of threat to its own people. In the
Commission's view, human security complements state security by
enhancing human rights and strengthening human development. By
enhancing human rights, human security seeks to protect people against
a broad range of threats to individuals and communities. By
strengthening human development, human security seeks to empower them
to act on their own behalf.3
Commission's findings and recommendations regarding the pursuit and
realization of human security raise important questions regarding the
interplay between global governance and state sovereignty. To the
extent that multilateral institutions and non-governmental
organizations perceive that a state is not adequately meeting the human
security needs of its citizens, what powers should they have to
intervene in the situation?
recent years, officials from the United Nations, World Bank,
International Monetary Fund, and Organization for Economic Co-operation
and Development have become more focused on the human rights and
development agendas of their client states. However, their efforts have
been limited to improving the capacity of their client states to
improve the lives of their citizens. By articulating an
all-encompassing right to human security that focuses exclusively on
the protection and empowerment of individuals and does not rely
exclusively on the state for solutions, the Commission opens the door
to a model of global governance that reserves the right to ignore state
article will explain that, while the Commission's report merely opened
the door to a new model of global governance, the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ("UNESCO") has walked
through the door by implementing three programs designed to promote the
UN's human security agenda. These programs include the Management of
Social Transformations, the Coalition of Cities Against Racism, and the
Ethics of Science and Technology. These UNESCO programs, the
implementation of which has gone virtually unnoticed by globalization
and global governance experts, will heighten the debate over whether
multilateral organizations or states will have ultimate control over
meeting the human security needs of individuals.
The Commission provides the following definition of human security:
protect the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human
freedoms and human fulfillment. Human security means protecting
fundamental freedoms?freedoms that are the essence of life. It means
protecting people from critical (severe) and pervasive (widespread)
threats and situations. It means using processes that build on people's
strengths and aspirations. It means creating political, social,
environmental, economic, military and cultural systems that together
give people the building blocks of survival, livelihood and dignity.4
the opinion of the Commission, human security encompasses all human
rights, including civil and political rights, which protect people, and
economic, social and cultural rights, which empower people. Protection
strategies, set up by states, international agencies, NGOs and the
private sector, shield people from menace. Empowerment strategies
enable people to develop their resilience to difficult conditions.
According to the Commission, both strategies are required in nearly all
situations of human insecurity, though their form and balance will vary
May 2004, the United Nations established the Human Security Unit
("HSU") within the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs. The overall objective of the HSU is to place human security in
the mainstream of UN activities. The HSU is also responsible for
managing the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security ("UNTFHS"),
which was initially funded by Japan. For the most part, the UNTFHS
provides emergency relief and development assistance grants in war-torn
or post-conflict areas.6
the UNTFHS provides short-term human security through financial aid in
emergency situations, the HSU attempts to promote long-term human
security solutions through activities within the United Nations system.
UNESCO is at the forefront of these HSU efforts.
UNESCO HUMAN SECURITY AGENDA AND PARADIGM
has pursued the UN human security agenda by sponsoring international
conferences on human security in different regions, including the Arab,
Latin America, and East Asia regions.
instance, the International Conference on Human Security in the Arab
Region brought together experts from the Arab region and the
international community, including ministers from Jordan; government
officials from the Middle East and North Africa region; local and
international civil society organizations, non-governmental
organizations and academics; and members of United Nations agencies and
The participants discussed the merits and the shortcomings of the human security concept in the Arab region and determined that:
At a minimum, every citizen should enjoy access to education, health
services and income-generating activities. Citizens who are unable to
meet their basic needs through their own efforts should have public
The concept of human security and its underlying values of solidarity,
tolerance, openness, dialogue, transparency, accountability, justice
and equity should be widely disseminated in societies. To that effect,
human security should be incorporated at all levels of education.
Civil society should be mobilized to participate in the promotion of
human security. Special efforts should be made to mobilize women's
associations, academics, professional organizations and the private
4. Human security should be achieved especially at the local and at the
community levels. However, resources are not always available in
sufficient amounts. Therefore, the State has a role to play in
mobilizing resources and allocating them among those who need them.
Many aspects of human security are deeply rooted in the Arab culture
and Islam. Therefore,there should be no difficulty in adopting or
implementing them in the Arab region.7
the end of the meeting, the HSU agreed to continue to work in
partnership with UNESCO and to promote a broader acceptance for human
security among the member states of the League of Arab States.
addition to convening regional conferences for the specific discussion
of human security, UNESCO is implementing several programs that advance
a UNESCO Human Security Paradigm that the author of this article has
constructed in the form of Exhibit 1. The UNESCO Human Security
Paradigm consists of a brief narrative that shows how a series of
independent terms and phrases adopted by UNESCO Member States or
officials, in fact, form part of a coherent programmatic roadmap for
the pursuit of human security. The UNESCO Management of Social
Transformations ("MOST") Program, Cities Against Racism Program, and
Ethics of Science and Technology Program implement different parts of
the UNESCO Human Security Paradigm.
UNESCO SOCIAL AND HUMAN SCIENCES
HUMAN SECURITY PARADIGM
RIGHTS are understood through PHILOSOPHICAL DIALOGUES which shape HUMAN
RIGHTS EDUCATION which prepares people for DIALOGUES AMONG PEOPLES
which give rise to a GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS which inspires ETHICAL VALUES
which serve as a foundation for UNIVERSAL NORMS which include SOCIAL
RESPONSIBILITY which prompts SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH which produces
KNOWLEDGE which generates POLICY and INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY which are
disseminated through the SHARING OF BENEFITS which encourages CAPACITY
BUILDING which enables SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT which produces SOCIAL
TRANSFORMATIONS which further HUMAN SECURITY which leads to a CULTURE
SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH AND POLICY LINKAGE: THE UNESCO MOST PROGRAM
in 1994, the UNESCO MOST Program was established to promote
international, comparative and policy relevant research on contemporary
social transformations and issues of global importance 8.
|To achieve its goals, the MOST Program aims to:
|1. Promote a further understanding of social transformations,
|2. Establish sustainable links between social science researchers and decision-makers,
|3. Strengthen scientific, professional and institutional capacities, particularly in developing countries, and
|4. Encourage the design of research-anchored policy.
National Liaison Committees are active in fifty nine countries. The
MOST Program also incorporates seventeen international research
The priority areas of the MOST Program are:
|1. Globalization and governance
|2. Multicultural and multi-ethic society
|3. Urban development and governance
|4. Poverty eradication
|5. Sustainable development and governance and
|6. International migration.
has a goal to make the MOST Program an acknowledged and respected
international resource for improving the relation between policy-making
and social science in identified regions of the world and by serving as
a clearinghouse for the undertaking of social science research that
enhances the activities in policy areas relating to the themes of the
UNESCO Social and Human Sciences sector.
short, the unstated goal for the MOST Program is to spread the
influence of the UNESCO Social and Human Sciences sector throughout the
world by having it identify areas of social transformation concern and
having it convene and coordinate the work of cooperative regional
social science research institutions and policy think-tanks.
February 2006, UNESCO sponsored a MOST conference in Buenos Aires,
Argentina the purpose of which was to bring together social scientists
from around the world to help the UNESCO Social and Human Sciences
Sector ("UNESCO SHS") develop an online clearinghouse of evidence-based
social science research that can be relied upon by UNESCO SHS in
promoting policies that produce "social transformations."
key outcome of the final document adopted at the Buenos Aires MOST
conference was a call for the creation of sustainable networks at the
national and regional level to link social science research efforts
with policy outcomes desired by UNESCO SHS:
due respect for the autonomy of social science research, we encourage
the establishment of new networks and the strengthening of existing
ones at the national and regional level to bring together social
scientists, policy-makers, and non-governmental and grassroots
organizations around their shared concern for the urgent demands of
social and economic development.
call attention to the existence of fora of Ministers for Social
Development at regional as well as subregional levels in developing
countries and suggest the creation and consolidation of permanent
nexuses between the latter and the above-mentioned networks.
therefore suggest that the International Forum on the Social Science
Policy Nexus, otherwise known as the Buenos Aires Process, be organized
regularly in order to formalize and promote this linkage between both
types of networks at the international level.9
evaluating the impact of the Buenos Aires MOST conference on the
economic development aspect of human security, one needs to appreciate
that there are critics of the first two phases of global capital
development: neoliberalism and Washington Plus. The neoliberal policy
framework (a.k.a. the Washington Consensus) prescribes that the
contemporary growth of global relations should be approached with
laissez-faire market economics through privatization, liberalization,
and deregulation. In the second, Washington Plus phase, "core
neoliberal policies are undertaken in tandem with more measures that
address corruption, transparency, financial codes and standards,
unsustainable debt burdens, the timing and sequencing of capital
control removal, social safety nets, poverty reduction, corporation
citizenship and so on." 10 The World Bank and IMF are viewed as the
primary sponsors of these two phases of global capital development.
the Buenos Aires MOST conference, critics of neoliberalism and
Washington Plus expressed their desire for a reorientation away from
neo-liberalism in the direction of a "reformist" re-distributive global
social democracy that promotes economic human security.
essence, without expressly stating its intentions or the evidence upon
which it is basing its actions, UNESCO SHS has unilaterally rejected
the neo-liberal or Washington Plus approach to global capital
development in favor of a reformist re distributive global social
democracy. By forming and relying upon a network of regional experts
who share UNESCO's enthusiasm for social democracy and wealth
redistribution, UNESCO SHS will be able to solicit and secure research
that will support re-distributive economic policies and legislative
proposals. UNESCO SHS will partner with international civil society and
non-governmental organizations to lobby for the adoption of such
policies and proposals in representative countries, with or without the
cooperation of government officials.
HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION AND DIALOGUES AMONG PEOPLES: THE UNESCO INTERNATIONAL COALITION OF CITIES AGAINST RACISM
International Coalition of Cities against Racism is an initiative
launched by UNESCO SHS in March 2004 to establish a network of cities
interested in sharing experiences in order to improve their policies to
fight racism, discrimination and xenophobia.11
its practical manifestations, racism includes "racist ideologies,
prejudiced attitudes, discriminatory behavior, structural arrangements
and institutionalized practices resulting in racial inequality . . . it
is reflected in discriminatory provisions in legislation or regulations
and discriminatory practices as well as in anti-social beliefs and
ultimate objective is to involve the interested cities in a common
struggle against racism through an international Coalition. In order to
take into account the specificities and priorities of each region of
the world, regional Coalitions are being created with their respective
programs of action (i.e., Africa, North America, Latin America and the
Caribbean, Arab States, Asia-Pacific and Europe). Under the
coordination of a "Lead City" which is to be identified, each regional
coalition will have its own Action Plan. The cities that become
signatories to the Coalition agree to integrate the Action Plan into
their municipal strategies and policies.13
European Coalition of Cities against Racism was announced in a common
Declaration, adopted at the closure of the Fourth European Conference
of Cities for Human Rights, which was held in Nuremberg in December
Coalition already has some of Europe's major cities among its initial
membership: Barcelona, London, Lyon, Nuremberg, Paris, and Stockholm.
procedure for becoming a Coalition City is a two stage process that
takes into account the requirements of the decision-making processes of
the various municipalities:
Signature of a Declaration of Intent conveyingthe strong interest of
the municipality in membership of the Coalition and its Ten-Point Plan
of Action; and
Signature of an Act of Accession and Commitment by which the
municipality fully adheres to the Coalition and its Ten-Point Plan of
Action. Signing municipalities agree to implement the Plan of Action by
incorporating the Plan into their municipal policies and strategies and
to allocate the financial and human resources necessary to accomplish
the contemplated actions.
finalized Ten-Point Plan of Action is composed of ten commitments
covering the various areas of competence of city authorities such as
education, housing, employment and cultural activities. In the case of
the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism, the Ten-Point Plan of
1. To set up a monitoring, vigilance and solidarity network against racism at city level;
To initiate, or develop further the collection of data on racism and
discrimination, establish achievable objectives and set common
indicators in order to assess the impact of municipal policies
3. To support victims and contribute to strengthening their capacity to defend themselves against racism and discrimination
To ensure better information for city dwellers on their rights and
obligations, on protection and legal options and on the penalties for
racist acts or behavior, by using a participatory approach, notably
through consultations with service users and service providers;
To facilitate equal opportunities employment practices and support for
diversity in the labor market through exercising the existing
discretionary powers of the city authority;
The city commits itself to be an equal opportunities employer and
equitable service provider, and to engage in monitoring, training and
development to achieve this objective;
7. To take active steps to strengthen policies against housing discrimination within the city;
To strengthen measures against discrimination in access to, and
enjoyment of, all forms of education; and to promote the provision of
education in mutual tolerance and understanding, and intercultural
To ensure fair representation and promotion for the diverse range of
cultural expression and heritage of city dwellers in the cultural
programs, collective memory and public space of the city authority and
promote inter-culturality in city life; and
10. To support or establish mechanisms for dealing with hate crimes and conflict management.14
two years, Coalition members must send to UNESCO and the Coalition
Secretariat a report on their implementation of the Ten-Point Plan of
UNESCO International Coalition of Cities Against Racism, Discrimination
and Xenophobia enables UNESCO SHS to directly promote the UN human
security agenda at the local level, with the assistance of mayors and
city officials whose constituents may believe that government officials
at the state and national level are not adequately providing for their
human security needs.
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND THE SHARING OF BENEFITS : THE UNESCO ETHICS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM
UNESCO SHS Ethics of Science and Technology Program addresses
bioethics, particularly regarding genetics, as well as other forms of
applied ethics. It aims to strengthen the ethical link between
scientific advancement and the cultural, legal, philosophical and
religious context in which it occurs. UNESCO's strategy in this area is
to act as a standard-setter on emerging ethical issues, to disseminate
information and knowledge and to help UNESCO member states build their
human and institutional capacities.15
first major success in bioethical standardsetting was the Universal
Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, adopted by UNESCO's
General Conference in 1997 and subsequently endorsed by the United
Nations General Assembly in 1998.16 The International Declaration on
Human Genetic Data was adopted in 2003.17 On October 19, 2006, UNESCO's
33rd General Conference adopted a third standard-setting text, the
Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights.18
International Bioethics Committee ("IBC"), the Intergovernmental
Bioethics Committee, and the World Commission on the Ethics of
Scientific Knowledge and Technology advise UNESCO's actions in ethics
of science and technology. UNESCO provides the secretariat for these
bodies as well as for the Inter-Agency Committee on Bioethics,
established by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2001.
a significant extent, UNESCO SHS staff and independent experts on the
IBC, not representatives of UNESCO member states, produced the three
UNESCO standards-setting documents in the field of bioethics.
Additionally, at the behest of UNESCO SHS, independent experts will be
providing interpretative commentary on the articles contained in the
Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. Finally, UNESCO
SHS staff and independent experts, not representatives of UNESCO member
states, will be responsible for drafting model legislation based on the
provisions contained in the three standards-setting instruments.
emphasis on UNESCO staff and independent experts, rather than UNESCO
member state representatives, in drafting and implementing the
provisions of the standards-setting declarations in the field of
bioethics dilutes national sovereignty. Considering the scope of the
provisions of the declarations, especially in connection with "social
responsibility" and the "sharing of benefits," this is a dramatic human
security development with far-reaching implications for global
14 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, titled
"Social Responsibility and Health," sets a high standard for
governments with respect to the promotion of health and social
development and articulates the purposes to which scientific and
technological progress should be directed.
14 contains two important principles. First, that the promotion of
health and social development for their people is a central purpose of
governments for which all sectors of society share responsibility.
Second, that progress in science and technology should advance:
1. Access to quality health care and essential medicines, especially for the health of women and children;
2. Access to adequate nutrition and water;
3. Improvement of living conditions and the environment;
4. Elimination of the marginalization and the exclusion of persons on the basis of any grounds; and
5. Reduction of poverty and illiteracy.19
the two principles expressed in Article 14 set the foundation for
compelling states and their corporate citizens to prioritize scientific
research and development in a manner that promotes human security.
Although, unlike a binding treaty, the Declaration is non-binding, the
adoption of the Declaration by UNESCO member states and its promotion
through commentary and model legislation convey an international
interest in ensuring that the human security, rather than commercial,
aspects of scientific research and development should take priority.
Declaration's Article 15, titled "Sharing of Benefits," is similarly
demanding. The core principle of the Sharing of Benefits clause is that
benefits resulting from any scientific research and its applications
should be shared with society as a whole and within the international
community, in particular with developing countries. According to the
Declaration, benefits may take any of the following forms:
1. Special and sustainable assistance to, and acknowledgement of, the persons and groups that have taken part in the research;
2. Access to quality health care;
3.Provision of new diagnostic and therapeutic modalities or products stemming from research;
4. Support for health services;
5.Access to scientific and technological knowledge; and
6.Capacity-building facilities for research purposes.20
the interest of human security, Article 14 subjects states and their
corporate citizens to international standards regarding the development
and ownership of scientific research and products. Although
non-binding, these standards encourage the production of commentary and
model legislation that could have the effect of discouraging scientific
research and product development.
pursuit of the United Nations human security agenda raises important
considerations regarding global governance in an age where
globalization makes it possible for multilateral institutions to direct
their efforts at individuals with minimum regard for state sovereignty.
Through its human security paradigm, which includes the creation of
regional social science research and policy networks, the promotion of
human rights education and dialogues at the local municipality level,
and the adoption and promotion of bioethical standards that call for
social responsibility and the sharing of benefits, UNESCO has created a
mechanism for pursuing human security, regardless of the competencies
or desires of individual states.
*James P. Kelly III is the Director of International Affairs with the Federalist Society.
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3. "Human Security Now: Protecting and Empowering People," p. 2.
|4. Id. at 4.
|5. Id. at 10.
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|16. "The Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights." United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
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| 20. Id.