Human Security Approaches ‘Can Highlight Blind Spots, Gaps in Understanding Today’s Interconnected Crises’, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the informal plenary meeting of the General Assembly on human security, in New York today:

It is a pleasure to join you today for this discussion on human security — a framework for bold, decisive, collective action at a time of growing uncertainty and turbulence.

I recently returned from my Ramadan solidarity visit to Egypt and Jordan.

When I hear the words “human security”, I think about the 2 million humans in Gaza who have no security at all, desperately seeking protection from hunger, disease and relentless Israeli bombardment.

And I think about Israelis who feel a terrible absence of human security, deeply traumatized by the terror attacks of 7 October and subjected to indiscriminate Hamas rockets.

Nothing can ever justify those attacks.  But nothing can justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

The devastating Israeli air strikes that killed World Central Kitchen personnel yesterday bring the number of aid workers killed in this conflict to 196 — including more than 175 members of our own UN staff.

This is unconscionable — but it is an inevitable result of the way the war is being conducted.  It demonstrates yet again the urgent need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the expansion of humanitarian aid into Gaza — as the Security Council demanded in its resolution last week.  The resolution must be implemented without delay.

Our world faces very serious challenges.  Conflicts, the climate emergency and a global cost-of-living crisis are combining to reverse decades of development gains.

Many countries are struggling to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Deepening divisions and growing inequalities are leaving people with a heightened sense of anxiety and even fear.

While global standards of living may be higher than ever, six out of seven people around the world report that they feel insecure.  This is feeding a global epidemic of mis- and disinformation, which in turn is undermining trust in institutions and adding to instability.

We need to shift the trajectory, rebuild trust and bring people together around common solutions.

At the global level, I have convened the Summit of the Future in September to update and strengthen our outdated multilateral frameworks so that they are aligned with today’s realities and can deal with today’s challenges.

Our proposed changes to these global frameworks are aimed at boosting human security by reinvigorating the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, investing in prevention and resilience, safeguarding our climate and our planet and rebuilding equity and trust through a renewed social contract. But global solutions on their own are not enough.

The concept of human security, with its emphasis on people and prevention, has an important role to play in strengthening links at the local, national and regional levels, and creating momentum to tackle our shared challenges.

I commissioned my fourth report on human security to foster this dynamic and contribute to a safer, more prosperous, more secure world for all.

The report focuses on the practical and operational value of human security, building on the experiences of Member States, regional and intergovernmental organizations and the United Nations at Headquarters and in the field.

It showcases examples of the human security approach in action:  supporting national peace and development objectives; strengthening regional cooperation; improving collaboration across the United Nations system and our partners. And it illustrates how human security can guide strategies, partnerships and tools to reduce risks, enhance trust, and prevent and mitigate the impacts of crises and shocks.

The Sustainable Development Goals are in deep trouble.  More than halfway to 2030, countries are lagging behind on more than half the targets.  Some countries have gone into reverse on the most fundamental goals of eliminating acute poverty and hunger.

The lesson of the repeated shocks of recent years is that we must future-proof development efforts.  We need to safeguard development gains and prevent them from being lost during crises — whether political, economic, health or climate-related.

The human security lens can help capture emerging risks across different sectors, creating a better understanding not only of insecurity, but of perceived insecurity — which can be just as dangerous.

It promotes the systematic integration of prevention into development, climate action and peacebuilding strategies.  This means prioritizing investments in early warning, social protection and other measures to maximize social cohesion and protect the security of every individual.  These ideas are closely linked with our call for a renewed social contract, anchored in human rights and based on trust, justice and inclusion.

Human security can also enrich our analysis of the major challenges of our time, including climate change and biodiversity loss, digital transformation and the spread of conflict and displacement.

From Lebanon to South-East Asia, human security projects have brought together stakeholders to address interlinked issues including food security, employment and social protection and pandemic recovery.

Human security approaches can highlight blind spots and gaps in our understanding of today’s interconnected crises.  They can provide a universal benchmark to assess the effectiveness of development, humanitarian and peacebuilding efforts.  And they can integrate the analysis of immediate risks with longer-term perspectives, prioritizing resilience and capacity-building to deal with future shocks.

Human security has proven its value as a framework to focus on supporting people to live in dignity, free from want and fear.  It can help accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda, prevent the emergence of future crises and deliver the hope people need.

I urge all countries to use the important tool of human security to address today’s multilayered crises — and to integrate its insight into our efforts to prepare for future challenges.

For information media. Not an official record.