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Kamala Sarup: Security Of Life

Security Of Life

By Kamala Sarup

''My children and I fled to Kathmandu. I don't ever want to go back to our village. We are too scared.'' Prabha Adhikari said in Kathmandu. ''We only have what's here in these days'', says Prabha. "The rest has been burned or destroyed. We've got to start our lives all over again due to the war. We need to find jobs and our children need to go to school. We have nothing."

" I have two children. They are 10 and 11 years old. They were terrified and crying. They told me they thought they were going to die. My children are very sad." says a local resident Suresh in Jhapa.

"I used to be able to make enough money per day selling fruits", says 28-year old Suresh. "The money I made before really helped my family. We, the children living in Jhapa, want the war to stop now so that all children in Nepal can go back to school and we can earn money for our family", He says.

"I've worked in Baglung for the past 15 years and this is the worst it's ever been", says Dr. Nilam Thapa (name changed). "People are really suffering. Everything's shut down so there's no work. Many doctors, nurses and health workers have fled from the villages and there is a lack of drugs. We see a real decline in health because people can't afford to pay for health check up". He further says "We've run out of drugs to treat patients and the situation is getting desperate."

"The children need something to distract them from what is happening in Nepal". A young journalist Chiranjibi Budhathoki from Media Point says. "Children are the most vulnerable group in Nepal, thousands have had their most basic rights violated: the right to protection from armed conflict, the right to education, the right to health care, and the right to play.

Conflict traumatize children for years. Whether displaced by war or living in a war zone, Children have the right to an education". Budhathoki from Media Point, Kathmandu further argued. "We all want to be safe from violence and intimidation. Women, men and children who have never held a gun are declared targets. Women are denied the protection of the law when they are beaten and threatened in the name of tradition". Chiranjibi says.

Nepal today finds itself at a critical juncture conflict, and newly emerging political, social and economic challenges are seriously undermining the lives and well-being of Nepali children and women. Ongoing violence, instability and insecurity also threaten future progress and are directly affecting the everyday existence and survival of thousands of children and women in Nepal.

"Leaders have failed to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of those they represent, especially the rights of children and women. People feel more vulnerable than ever because the roots of insecurity.," Chiranjibi Budhathoki said.

Over the past 9 years, the crisis has had far-reaching, negative humanitarian, economic, political, security and social implications. Survival has become a daily challenge as people flee violence risking their lives and losing their livelihoods in the process. For these reasons, there is an urgent requirement for leadership for human security in Nepal.

"The humanized security approach to human security recognizes that states can be both sources of violence, and central to the ability to control violence".Security analyst Peter, from International University in New Jersey says. "Security is best achieved through development, not through the use of force". Peter argued.

" Rural people in Nepal speak of declining public safety as an element of increasing insecurity in almost every district, in both rural and urban areas. Increasing crime is linked to breakdown in social cohesion, difficulties in finding employment, hunger, increased migration, drugs and drug trafficking". Peace activist Janu Shah said.

"The roots of human insecurity are many and varied. The easy availability of small arms is also directly linked to the increase in violent crime. In the context of political conflict, small arms help fuel violence and insecurity. Many of these human-made tragedies could be prevented by controlling access to and availability of small arms - domestically and internationally. One fact that is key to the spread of violence is the availability of small arms and light weapons". Peter said.

The escalation of social, economic or political tensions into open confrontation is thus a major obstacle to sustainable human development in Nepal. Development strategies which emphasize the foundations of good governance therefore offer the best chance for sustainable human development under peaceful conditions. "Human security can be achieved only through a political culture based on genuinely shared values. Human rights values become an essential part of socialization and learning processes and thus a central feature of the political culture of a society". Budhathoki added.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the right to security of persons as a fundamental human right, together with a right to life and liberty. The Lysöen Declaration on cooperation also recognizes this right with regard to the newly emerging human security issues including the "promotion of human rights" and the "fostering of democracy and good governance" among the key objectives for cooperation on promoting human security.

Amartya Sen recently says" A broader understanding of human security is extremely important precisely because it affects human lives. The idea of what is called "national security" is somewhat more remote from human lives, in the sense that it is often defined in terms of military preparedness and other features of national policy. Defense can, of course, be important for the lives of people within a nation, and to the extent that this is so, that consideration can be fully covered within the idea of human security itself".

"We should consider community building. We should emphasize the importance of peace and democracy as a key concept. There is no security without effective means and political will to fight poverty". Educationalist Nanu Smith says.

A human security perspective taking the latter into account therefore encourages development which is sustainable - not episodic, responsive not rigid, preventive - not reactive. This was clearly inspired by the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights in 1993 and its paradigm that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.

Peter said "Violence breeding violence, the result and as precursor to ever greater violence. Unless the conflict is transformed and adequately addressed, violence may continue. Violence also adds the challenge of the suffering, devastation, trauma, and physical and human destruction it brings to a community. In this case, healing, reconstruction, rehabilitation, and reconciliation become vital as well, with the need to overcome, and go beyond, the suffering, pain and devastation brought by violence". He added.

"Warring parties require assistance not only in negotiating peace agreements but also in sustaining and consolidating the peace. There are three main components of peace building: strengthening political institutions, reforming internal and external security arrangements, and revitalizing the economy and the nation's social fabric. Human security concerns need to be at the forefront of peace building efforts". Budhathoki added.

Threats to individual security come not only in the form of direct violence killing, war, attack, assault, abuse, rape but also in the form of structural violence denial of basic human needs, exploitation, marginalisation, suppression, and structural violations of human rights.

"In conflict, human rights gain in importance, with recognition for and protection for the rights of all peoples fundamental for the positive transformation of the conflict. When violence is used, human rights are violated. When the conflict remains, the challenge is even greater. Our civil society and ourself also should promot peace as a right, with respect and celebration for political, civil, social, economic and cultural rights of all individuals.

What is needed for this: cooperation, involvement, participation, solidarity, and working together, building upon the contributions that can be made by all individuals basing this also upon respect for and recognition of the rights of all human beings." He says.

"We can have no peace without sustainable development", has been said by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. And obviously without peace we can have no security". Annan added. The Millennium Declaration of the United Nations also stresses that UN has a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level.

UN report says "Human Security is a concept that encompasses almost every aspect of our lives, our physical security, security from abuse of human rights, the possibility to live the lives we choose in peace, in decency and free from fear for ourselves, for our families, and for the future". Muthien says "The interlinking of the development agenda with human rights has strengthened both the human rights and development systems, but the success of these frameworks still depends on the willing compliance and cooperation of governments.

It is true, human security focused on protecting individuals and communities against violence. Thus, conflict, crime and repression - should be given equal attention in the human security agenda.

UNDP has identified nine dimensions of human security which reflect both the list of causes of human insecurity and the human development agenda: economic security, financial security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, gender security, community security and political security. According to UNDP, strengthening human security requires attention to each of these dimensions.

The human insecurity is higher in communist countries because they lack equitable distribution mechanisms.

We have questions, What is the purpose of reframing security as human security? The challenge is to go beyond, to see: how do we deal with the root the conflict?


(Kamala Sarup is editor of )

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