July 05, 2017

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Security and Human Rights

Dr. Khine Khine Win

We will not enjoy security without development; we will not enjoy development without security; and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights. I totally agree with Kofi Annan, former UN Security General when he said we will not enjoy security and development without respect for human rights. Respect for human rights plays a  crucial role in enjoyment of security and development.
Let’s see the view from security perceptive. There are seven areas in human security according to UNDP’s human development report. They are Economic security, Food security, Health security, Environment security, Personal security, Community security and Political security.  All areas are important, no doubt. However, I myself strongly believe that among them political security is the most important to achieve the rest of security.  Myanmar is one of the member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN. In ASEAN political-security is an important pillar and it plays a critical role because peace and security are vital to development, cooperation, and other activities. ASEAN vision 2020 states “ASEAN have created a community of Southeast Asian Nations at peace with one another and at peace with the world, rapidly achieving prosperity for our peoples and steadily improving their lives”.
From human rights perceptive, article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR states that, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. In this regard, security of a person is a basic entitlement guaranteed by UDHR. Although every person deserves the natural right to life, liberty and personal security, it is not uncommon for a lot of people to suffer from human rights violation due to political reasons. Liberty and personal security are interrelated to political security.
Let me take an excerpt from High Commissioner Message at Human Rights Day 2015, “ fifty years on, many people are still unaware of the existence of the International Bill of Human Rights and many countries around the world still have much to do to build political institutions, judicial systems, and economies that allow ordinary people to live with dignity”. As a human being, to live with dignity is very basic principle of human rights.
From both security and human rights perceptive, political security is concerned with whether people live in a society that honors their basic human rights. Violations are most frequent during periods of political unrest. And also human rights violations are often among the first warning signs of looming conflicts. It is a fact that instability and security directly affect human rights because they have negative impact on right to life, freedom and physical safety. Instabilities undermine social and economic development and negatively affect the comprehensive application of human rights. In turn, human rights violations are the root causes of every form of insecurity and instability. In the context of security and stability, we need to bring protection of human rights to the forefront. In this regard, human rights issues should be prominent, not incidental. This highlights that stability, security and respecting human rights are intertwined. We cannot defen one at the expense of the other.
Toward security, development and human rights, governments have to respect universal value of democracy and human rights in practice for there to be stable system of security.
Only when there is political stability, can economic development be realized and only when there is socio economic development can stability be witnessed as politics and economic are interrelated. In Myanmar, the country’s democracy is still in its infancy. As Nation’s future totally depends on peace, prevalence of peace in the country is crucial.  However, responsibility of working for peace lies not only with our leaders, but also with each of us individually. We have  all duties to build peace, maintain peace and respect human rights.
To conclude, let me quote the words by 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, “Peace and freedom cannot be ensured as long as fundamental human rights are violated. Similarly, there cannot be peace and stability as long as there is oppression and suppression.”


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