r Ministry of Defence - Sri Lanka

Incorporating Human Security Doctrine for Sri Lanka’s Present-Day Context

February 17, 2023

by Methma Ranaweera

Published on Colombo Telegraph on 08th February 2023

The seventh UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has stated that “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.” This accurately depict the complexity as well as the importance of human security. Human security is commonly understood as prioritizing the security of people, especially their welfare, safety and well-being, instead of that of states. In modern arena “it is argued that human security is poverty, population displacement, hunger, disease, environmental degradation, and social exclusion.” [1] The recognition given to development, peace, security, and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. It can be identified as encapsulated in the concept of human security.

The human security framework was developed by the “United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the 1994 Human Development Report (1994 HDR) and significantly this concept was broadened in the 2000s by the Commission on Human Security (CHS) which was designed to reframe understandings of insecurity as well as introduce new approaches and tools for reducing vulnerabilities, particularly by non-state actors.”[2] The UNDP suggests that “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear” are the two main components of human security. These correspond to the concepts of freedom from “deprivation” and freedom from “violent conflict,” respectively, according to terminology used by the Commission on Human Security. It is identified “that the main risks Human security are organized violence and relative poverty.” [3] “Organized violence is caused by social and economic inequality, by group aspiration for being dominant or incapability to maintain collective consensus and relative poverty is a condition in which some groups are perceived as relatively better than others. This creates collective frustrations which lead to collective violence” [4]

In recent past, Sri Lanka has dealt with many human security challenges. They can be identified as the civil war which was there for nearly three decades, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the countrywide protests in which people from different socioeconomic, cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds came together to call for deep political and democratic reforms, and accountability for economic mismanagement and corruption. As a result of it, the President resigned on 14th of July 2022. However, it can be identified that Sri Lanka is facing an economic crisis and is still in the process of overcoming it. This economic crisis is a result governance system of the country failing to identify human security as a high priority.

Historically, Sri Lanka is considered one of the more stable and secures countries in the South Asian region. In the years after independence, it gradually dawned on the government that maintaining national security was a crucial and most challenging contemporary issue faced by the country. Even though there were deep sense of peace building measures done to restore the country, yet national security was led to an unstable situation. It is mainly because of short sightedness, inadequate decision making, conducting own agendas in the country. Unfortunately, there were no common agenda to the country.
There has been considerable discussion of ways that human security can assist in identifying insecurities and the general operating principles and implementing development-related projects. Yet, “there is a lack of an evidence base and accuracy of the information for operationalizing and ensuring human security remains an obstacle” [5] At the moment the country is in a crisis, if the government does not take necessary measures and consider the policy recommendations given by the stake holders this situation might escalate and country may lead to extreme poverty. Further they need to adopt Humanitarian principles and address human suffering to ensure the right of civilians under local and international law to be protected from discrimination, violence, torture, and other serious violations of human rights; they also stress the right of civilians to receive, in exceptional circumstances, material assistance necessary for their survival.

As per Article 27(1) of the constitution describes directive principle as ‘The Directive Principles of State Policy herein contained shall guide Parliament, the President and the Cabinet of Ministers in the enactment of laws and the governance of Sri Lanka for the establishment of a just and free society.’ And further in the Article 27(2) (a) states that ‘The State is pledged to establish in Sri Lanka a Democratic Socialist Society, the objectives of which include – the full realization of the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons. The most important article is that Article27 (2) (c). Accordingly, the realization by all citizens of an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, the continuous improvement of living conditions and the full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural opportunities; it is the duty of the State shall recognize and protect the family as the basic unit of society The State shall recognize and protect the family as the basic unit of society as per Article 27(12). However, it is obvious that the basic unit of the society is now challenged due to the crisis situation. The cost of goods is increasing day by day and the wages of citizen do not increase parallel therefore it is been challenged undoubtly.

Sri Lanka needs common goals to ensure human security. Therefore, government can adopt goals that are suggested and available internationally. For example, sustainable development goals. “On 1st of January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at a historic UN Summit – officially came into force.  Over the next fifteen years, with these new Goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. The SDGs, also known as Global Goals, build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. While the SDGs are not legally binding, governments are expected to take ownership and establish national frameworks for the achievement of the 17 Goals. Countries have the primary responsibility for follow-up and review of the progress made in implementing the Goals, which will require quality, accessible and timely data collection. Regional follow-up and review will be based on national-level analyses and contribute to follow-up and review at the global level” It is an identical progress that “United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for 2023–2027 articulates the collective vision and contribution of the United Nations system to support Sri Lanka to accelerate actions towards the achievement of the SDGs. It is anchored in a rights-based approach and is underpinned by the principle of leaving no one behind as the country makes progress on all three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental.”

Even though Sri Lanka has shown a positive trend towards this, the current situation of economic security is threatening. It is uncertain and unpredictable. And most of the time there is no plan for the distribution of the necessary items and citizens of the country are not used to producing them on their own. They are solely dependent on the import items. Furthermore, the quality of the items that are made in Sri Lanka for Sri Lankan people is most of the time at very high prices or very low in quality. Therefore, some of the triumphs in SDGs are challenges at present.

Even though, Human security is established in the past two decades it can be identified as a people-centred approach to foreign policy that recognizes that lasting stability cannot be achieved until people are protected from violent threats to their rights, safety, or lives. In essence, “human security means safety for people from both violent and non-violent threats. It is a condition or state of being characterized by freedom from pervasive threats to people’s rights, their safety, or even their lives.” It is important to state that once human security is established individually national security will eventually establish.

When implementing the human security doctrine in Sri Lanka initially is necessary to give an interpretation to human security which leads to national security eventually. And then it needs to have development goals, long-term and short-term. Furthermore, Sri Lankan needs to work for common goals without leading personal agendas and reliable and unbiased decisions to ensure human security as well as national security. And also establish a mechanism to get accurate information regarding national issues.

Published Date        -    08/02/2023
Source            -    Colombo Telegraph

Methma Ranaweera is an Intern (Research) at the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS), the premier think tank on National Security established under the Ministry of Defence. The opinion expressed is her own and not necessarily reflective of the institute or the Ministry of Defence.

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