Monday, June 30, 2014

Caux Forum featured at Human Security conference

Human Security is 20 years old. The anniversary was commemorated by a gathering in Oxford of academics, diplomats and UN officials from over 20 countries. The three-day conference, hosted by Oxford Brookes University, heard from every continent of the impact of the human security approach to global challenges.

Japanese Deputy Ambassador Akio Miyajima speaking at a dinner at the Human Security conference (Photo: John Bond)Huw Beynon from the UN Office for Human Security said that the Human Security Trust Fund has funded projects in over 90 countries. The largest donor – over $400 million – has been Japan, and Akio Miyajima, Japan’s Deputy Ambassador to Britain, outlined ways in which these funds have advanced human security. Alejandro Estivill, Mexico’s Deputy Ambassador, described how the adoption of a human security approach to his country’s problem of illegal migration had enabled them to develop a humane and workable policy.

Among the papers presented was ‘The Caux Forum for Human Security – a focus on the human factor’.

In it John Bond, joint convenor of the Caux conference on Just Governance for Human Security, pointed out that human security is a radical concept. ‘Instead of building walls and creating armies to keep malcontents away from us, human security urges us to reach out to those malcontents and transform the conditions in which they live.’ He detailed how this approach had succeeded in a variety of situations of conflict and tension.

‘The challenge now facing us,’ he concluded, ‘is how to implement this approach more widely across the world.’

He argued that we should not underestimate the power of conscience. ‘Human security proposes that our security depends on our willingness to promote security for others. But this is not just an appeal to self-interest. It is also a challenge to the conscience, and conscience can be a powerful force for change.’

A campaign of conscience, he pointed out, demands a high level of integrity. ‘Mahatma Gandhi’s principle, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, is fundamental to effective action. This is the challenge which the Caux Forum has addressed, and continues to address through the Forum’s successor conferences.

‘In this we receive cooperation from a wide range of organisations, including the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs. As a senior Department official said: “Caux has a focused approach on personal experiences, individual responsibility and ‘life skills’. Our approach tends to be more structural. Thus the Department of Foreign Affairs and Caux act in a complementary way.”’

That puts it well, Bond concluded. ‘Good structures are needed. They are created by people of integrity, vision and courage. But even the best structures can be corrupted, especially if citizens are apathetic. Everything depends, in the end, on the human factor.’

Download John Bond's speech in PDF

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