Addressing the Root Causes of Human Insecurity
Caux, Switzerland 18-23 July 2008

The first Caux Forum for Human Security brought together 300 people from 52 countries.

During the 5-day conference, led by 25 expert panelists, they addressed the ‘root causes’ of human insecurity under six headings: social and economic conditions, armed conflicts, environmental factors, good governance and the rule of law, wounded memories, religious and cultural dimensions.

More than ever, the complexity of the world's problems demands a new level of cooperation between actors from different fields. A multi-sector, multi-level approach has been a feature of Caux conferences for 60 years. The holistic format of the Forum enabled the cross-pollination of thinking and experience between these six interdependent aspects of human security. The interaction with people of diverse backgrounds was much appreciated by participants, who included those working at the 'grassroots' and leaders in their respective fields.

Here is a sampling of comments made during the plenary sessions and panel discussions. Please note the full speeches available for download in PDF from some of these participants:


Ambassador Thomas Greminger, Switzerland, Head of Political Affairs Division IV Human Security, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
My division, with a staff of 75 people, has been dealing with the Human Security concept for some years. So it is interesting for me to see...whether some totally fresh perspectives will emerge [from this conference]. It is exciting that the Human Security concept is being discussed with an holistic approach, whereas my division is mostly concentrating on the ‘freedom from fear’ aspects. 

Rajmohan Gandhi, India, professor, author of a biography of his grandfather, the Mahatma
The computer, the internet, the cell phone have made this the age of the citizen. My vision is that in this age, innocence and decency will have power, the weak will gather strength, individuals will reinforce one another and influence governments and together we will say to tyrants and to ourselves that cruelty, oppression and indifference shall not prevail. <Download his speech>

Scilla Elworthy, UK, Chair, Peace Direct
Often this kind of gathering can be a talk-shop, going nowhere. But I have a feeling that the way it is shaping up it’s going to lead to more concrete ways of making sure that human security becomes understood by governments, and that concrete actions are taken by governments in the human security area. <Download her interview>

Knut Vollebaek, Norway, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
This is a dangerous conference! Asking about the root causes may cause upheaval both in our own lives and in the societies in which we live. My position was established in 1992 when Europe realized that it had not got rid of its wars. Tensions between ethnic groups – long suppressed by dictatorships and outside enemies – surfaced again, even more violently than before. No-one had tried to address the root causes. Too often we deal with the symptoms rather than the causes, and so we do patchwork.

Katherine Marshall, USA, Visiting Professor, Georgetown University
The meeting outlined issues in an honest way – for example the broader impact of the festering Israel-Palestine conflict and repercussions of US policies on Iraq and Iran. The spiritual core of the Caux culture is particularly conducive to the kind of delving discussions that are sorely needed. I was fascinated to rediscover an organization that has played an important role in peace-making, particularly in the remarkable reconciliation of France and Germany after World War II. The courage to dig down into root causes, to bring out bitter memories in an effort to shed some new light and show compassion and understanding is a welcome feature of Caux. (From her blog, available at: <Download her text published on 30 July 2008>

Rt Hon Clare Short MP, UK, former Secretary of State for International Development
Global warming will not be solved by technological fixes. What is required is a revolution as profound as the end of feudalism, to create a world in which all share equally the resources of the planet. This will take profound social and political change. In my view the world situation is going to get worse, and politics will become fascistic and nasty. So a parallel dialogue is needed, calling for more generous politics. I would like to see a Caux Declaration, around which people like us, and many others across the world, could organize. And then a worldwide movement. <Download her speech>

Cobus de Swardt, South Africa, Managing Director, Transparency International
We are arguably the first human generation with the possibilities – political, social and technological – to co-create a world where all live without socially-created insecurity. Overcoming corruption, particularly in extractive industries, is crucial. 60% of the world’s poorest people live in resource-rich countries. Transparency International is asking companies to publish what they pay governments, and asking governments to make public what they receive from companies. If that were to happen, 50% of corruption would end. 

Hussein Hassouna, Egypt, Ambassador of the League of Arab States, Washington DC, Member, UN International Law Commission
The rule of law is crucial. Without it there can be no prosperity, no freedom. International disputes can only be settled within a legal framework. And it is the rule of law which emphasizes the equality of all citizens. Each society has its own values, characteristics, cultural heritage. But there are certain minimum world standards, and we must not let those standards fall.

Florence Mpaayei, Kenya, Executive Director, Nairobi Peace Initiative - Africa
The moral authority of leaders is essential to human security. Our attitudes will determine whether we are able to resolve conflict. It requires real listening and a readiness to consider new ways. And if we are to be a bridge, we have to be willing to be walked on.

Heribert Scharrenbroich, Germany, President of CARE
After the Second World War, millions of Americans and Canadians sent CARE packages to Europe, particularly to Germany, to help people survive. This created a relationship of trust, and that relationship convinced us Germans that we could protect our freedom. Out of that confidence came the social and economic developments which secured democracy in our country.

Geoffrey Lean, UK, award-winning pioneer of environmental journalism
In the past 800,000 years the earth’s temperature has varied dramatically between extremes.. The only steady period has been the last 11,000 years – enabling civilization to develop. We are now climbing out of this period very fast. We must decarbonize our society rapidly and globally. That will require worldwide agreement and, ultimately, an acceptance that every person on the planet is entitled to the same size of carbon footprint.

Lillian Cingo, Manager of Phelophepa Health Train, which serves 45,000 patients a year in rural South Africa
In rural communities, trust is crucial. Lose it, and it takes a long time to rebuild. My work is about explaining, apologizing, clarifying, acting, leading, being led, and learning. It has taught me humility. When I mess things up, I say so. Then we can see together what to do to put it right.

Prince El Hassan bin Talal, Jordan, in a video message to the conference
By 2050 there will be nine billion people on the planet, and the eight Nile Basin countries will need the equivalent of five Nile rivers. Yet across the world, 40 billion tons of topsoil blow away every year. We need a supranational approach, as Europe is developing. <Download his speech>

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew sent a message expressing his keen interest in the matters raised in the Forum. It was delivered by the Orthodox Metropolitan of Switzerland, Jeremie Caligiorgis. ‘The Patriarch regularly takes action on the matters on the Forum’s agenda,’ he said. ‘He has worked with scientists on many initiatives for the environmental protection of the planet, to the extent that he is known as the Green Patriarch.’

Alain Michel, France, Hommes de Parole
‘If people are fighting, it is not because they are Jews, Christians and Muslims but because they no longer are.’ This was said by the Imam of Milan at the 2005 Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace – an initiative which began here in Caux. The following year 150 rabbis and imams met, and last year 270 came together in Seville. Amidst powerful emotion new understanding has grown, and now many of the participants are reaching across the religious boundaries, in Israel, in Gaza and many other places.

Harriet Fulbright, USA, President, J William & Harriet Fulbright Center
What is good government? It is a genuine concern for the dignity and needs of citizens. A concentrated effort to erase corruption. An emphasis on human rights. It requires transparency – a sensible discussion of the issues with a minimum of spin. <Download her speech>

Paul van Tongeren, Netherlands, Secretary-General, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict
We urgently need an infrastructure for peace-building. We have ministries of defence and war colleges; we need similar structures to deal with conflict. During the recent crisis in Kenya, civil society organizations set up dialogues and reduced the violence. We expect conflict in the coming years as we struggle with mass migration due to climate change and pressure on resources. We need to train people to deal with these conflicts.

Brendan McAllister, Northern Ireland, Victims Commissioner
We need to bridge the gap between peaceniks and politicians. When politicians look at a lot of our work, they see people who are too heavenly-minded to be of any earthly use. We need to build relationships between warring parties, but not by going soft on the issues that our politicians confront.

Luc Gnacadja, Benin, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification
Conflict in the Sahel is caused, in large part, by land degradation. The response is mainly military, at huge expense. Yet land degradation is reversible, and our research shows this can be achieved for less than US$500 per hectare.

Peter Vickers, UK, Managing Director, Vickers Oils
We in the developed world need to recognize the price for our reluctance to change is being paid by others before us. Could that give us impetus to change our ways? Fifteen years ago my company followed a hunch and developed biodegradable and renewable lubricants. We're now the market leader, and all over the world ships are using our oils.

Joseph Montville, USA, founder, Program on Preventive Diplomacy, Center for Strategic and International Studies
There is a science to peacemaking. Each war has a particular context, and we have to understand its pathology, its history. Wounded memories are the repositories of hurts and injustices suffered by individuals, groups and nations. Peace requires acknowledgement of wrong doing, contrition, and compensation in some cases. And, ideally, forgiveness.

Mark Bin Bakar, Aboriginal of the Year, Australia
How can Aboriginal people overcome the memory of having their children ripped away and taken to white institutions? After many years at last we have a Prime Minister who, in February, apologized for the suffering. The denial is half gone. Much healing is still needed. But Aboriginal people can now stand up with pride in our country. That is a big step towards respect and healing.

Adrien Zeller, France, President, Regional Council of Alsace
Insecurity encourages the emergence of xenophobia. This is a constant danger in Alsace, a culturally diverse region. But I have seen that creative action by citizens, through religious groups and community organizations, can do much to overcome the tensions.

Chad Briggs, USA, Professor of Environment and Security, Lehigh University
Studies have shown that if you confront people with a risk but don’t offer solutions, they move back into apathy. That’s why in our university, students are not only identifying problems but also solutions. While not discounting the dangers, they are remaining optimistic.


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