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Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Human Security Conference
“The Contribution of the Human Security Approach to the Post-2015 Development
The objective of the conference to is to raise awareness on the added value of the human
security approach in addressing current and emerging challenges in Latin America and the
Caribbean and to promote the usage of the approach as a tool for developing effective
policies and programmes by Governments and non-governmental bodies, as well as regional
and sub-regional intergovernmental institutions. Furthermore, the conference will offer a
forum to exchange views on how human security could be included in the implementation of
the post-2015 development agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean. Drawing on the
experiences of national Governments, non-governmental organisations and UN projects
funded by the UNTFHS, the conference will provide an opportunity to share lessons learned
and best practice examples, while exploring ways to apply the human security approach as a
people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-oriented policy framework
and programming tool to address the specific challenges faced in the region.
Over one and a half days, a series of interactive panel discussions will stimulate exchanges on
the application of human security from the perspective of national and regional planning
processes towards current issues relevant to Latin America and the Caribbean, including
urban violence and citizen security, inclusive social and economic development, public health
and the impact of climate change and natural disasters. Panellists and participants will share
their first-hand experiences in implementing the approach in Latin America and other regions
and will examine ways to integrate best practices and lessons learned into future policies and
programmes at the regional, national and local levels. In all these cases, by considering the
context, the root causes and the manifestation of a broad range of challenges on Governments
and people, the human security approach shows its value as a flexible and responsive
framework that is aptly suited to the current discussions on the post-2015 development
Human security is a people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-oriented
framework that considers the broad range of conditions that threaten the survival, livelihood
and dignity of people, particularly those who are most vulnerable. By identifying the concrete
needs of populations under stress, human security highlights the complexity of the challenges
that confront the human condition and promotes integrated solutions that ensure greater
coherence and stronger impact.
As a result, the advancement of human security gives rise to more tangible and sustainable
outcomes that comprehensively address the root causes behind current and emerging
challenges; identify priorities based on the actual needs, vulnerabilities and capacities of
Governments and people; and advance solutions that strengthen the protection and
empowerment of all peoples and communities. The combination of these elements helps to
bolster actions taken by the United Nations, Governments and other actors in support of
human security and people’s aspirations to be free from fear, want and indignity.
Since the 1994 UNDP Human Development Report which launched human security as a
distinctive concept within the UN, a wealth of lessons have been learned in applying the
approach through projects funded by the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS) and
others. At the same time, a strong political framework of support has been established within
the UN and beyond, with the Human Security Network and the Friends of Human Security at
the forefront of these efforts. Subsequently, on 10 September 2012, the General Assembly
adopted by consensus the resolution “Follow up to paragraph 143 on human security of the
2005 World Summit Outcome” (A/66/290). The resolution reflects the agreement of the
Member States on a common understanding of human security, having at its core the
following elements:
the right of people to live in freedom and dignity;
people-centered, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-oriented responses;
human security recognizes interlinkages between peace, development and human rights,
and equally considers civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights;
human security is distinct from responsibility to protect; it does not entail the threat or use
of force or coercive measures; it does not replace State security;
human security is based on national ownership; it seeks national solutions, which are
compatible with local realities;
governments retain primary responsibility for ensuring the survival, livelihood and
dignity of their citizens; international community complements these efforts, while
greater cooperation and partnership is required among Governments, international and
regional organizations and civil society;
human security does not entail additional legal obligations to states.
More recently, the latest report of the Secretary-General (A/68/685) provides an overview of
experiences and lessons learned on the application of the human security approach by
national governments, regional organisations, UN Country Teams and non-governmental
entities. These examples illustrate the value of the human security approach to overcome the
obstacles to sustainable development, reduce the likelihoods of conflict and provide a life of
dignity for all. Building on these best practice examples and the broad political commitment
for human security, the Human Security Unit (HSU) as the focal unit for human security
activities within the UN system adopted its Strategic Plan for 2014-2017 which points the
way forward for mainstreaming human security in the activities of the United Nations and
extending its global awareness and usage over the next four years.
Human Security in Latin America and the Caribbean
There have been significant improvements across a number of human security areas in Latin
America and the Caribbean. At the same time, the region shares several common and
interrelated challenges that threaten its progress in key areas. In particular, the heavy burden
of violent crime in some countries not only contributes to high rates of homicide and physical
violence but it also threatens the economies of these countries, limits people’s choices and
disrupts their daily lives. Meanwhile, the impact of climate change and recurrent natural
disasters threaten the region’s fragile ecosystems, compromising its water resources and
agricultural productivity, damaging homes and businesses, and undermining its food and
health security. At the same time, inequality remains one of the greatest threats to
development and stability by fostering persistent poverty and exclusion and breeding social
unrest, resentment and violence.
In 2003, the Organization of American States had already highlighted the importance of
human security in its Declaration on Security in the Americas which noted that “the security
threats, concerns, and other challenges in the hemispheric context are of diverse nature and
multidimensional scope, and the traditional concept and approach must be expanded to
encompass new and non-traditional threats, which include political, economic, social, health
and environmental aspects”. More recently, many in the region have recognized the added
value of the human security approach including the Governments of Chile, Ecuador, Costa
Rica, Mexico and Panama who have elevated human security on their domestic and
international policy agendas.
Similarly, the UN system sees much value in the application of human security and its ability
to respond to multidimensional challenges. For example, PAHO has been instrumental in
examining the interlinkages between health and human security and has developed technical
guidelines on the application of human security and its relation to improvements in health.
Furthermore, the recent UNDP Regional Human Development Report titled “Citizen Security
with a Human Face: Evidence and Proposals for Latin America” highlights the need for
comprehensive policies based on knowledge of local needs and carried out with the active
involvement of communities. Meanwhile, UNTHFS-funded projects in 19 countries across
the region have gathered a wealth of evidence on the added value of the human security
approach to a number of challenges in Latin America, including urban crime and violence,
climate change and natural disasters, rural development, indigenous rights, and public health.
The conference will include participation of Governments from across the region, United
Nations Country Teams in Latin America, international donors and representatives of civil
society, academia, the philanthropic sector, the private sector, and other relevant
Panel Discussions
Keynote Address
The keynote address will provide an overview of the trajectory of human security, its
principles and key lessons learned. It will highlight the added value of the human security
approach to current and emerging challenges in Latin America and will open discussions on
the contribution of human security to the post-2015 development agenda.
Panel 1 – The impact of violence and crime on development in Latin America
Violence and crime remain a persistent challenge across Latin America. Throughout the last
decade the region, and particularly certain sub-regions, have suffered an increase in violence
often related to drug trafficking and smuggling and accompanied by growing crime rates and
a subsequent increase in fear among citizens. At the same time, the mutual dependency
between sustainable economic growth and peace has been well established. Studies have
shown that countries with higher levels of peace tend to experience faster economic growth,
while higher levels of social harmony lead to a greater resilience to internal and external
shocks. Subsequently, as we assess the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) across the globe it has become increasingly evident that countries and regions most
affected by violence are less likely to reach their targets.
With this in mind, the first session will explore the importance of significantly reducing all
forms of violence in Latin America and the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for
sustainable development beyond 2015. Reflecting on a range of experiences applying the
human security approach to improve citizen security in the region, panellists will discuss how
reducing violence and crime cannot stem from a single isolated policy or action. As
highlighted in the Latin America Regional Human Development Report 2013-2014,
approaches to reduce violence and crime must include multi-sectoral actions and policies that
include preventive measures, institutional reforms, sufficient public investment, changes in
the relationship between the State and communities, broad and sustained political will, and
the adoption of more modern and effective systems of intervention. Rather than focusing on a
one-size-fits-all model, the panel will demonstrate how the human security approach can be
applied in the design of policies and programmes that are people-centred and tailored to the
various contexts in Latin America with clear goals to address needs in the short, medium and
long term.
Panel 2 – Health and human security
Despite unprecedented achievements towards improving global health over the past 20 years,
health-related targets of the MDGs are far from achieved. In addition, disparities between and
within countries remain, and efforts to improve health and the provision of health care can
fail to reach the most vulnerable groups within populations. Therefore, healthy societies are
not only dependent on our continued commitment to enhance the availability of health care
and to strengthen our disease prevention systems; they are also shaped by social, economic
and environmental conditions, which if not addressed can impede our progress in this pivotal
Today in Latin America and the Caribbean – particularly in some countries or sub-regions – a
number of factors including lack of access to clean water and sanitation, under-nutrition,
abject poverty, violence, poor housing and unsafe environmental conditions undermine our
progress in public health. In addition, threats such as sudden disasters are often felt greatest
among the poorest and those most vulnerable. Subsequently, as challenges to health security
have become progressively more complex with significant implications for all, the urgency of
a comprehensive approach that highlights the specific cluster of factors that contribute to
poor health and possible health pandemics is more paramount today than ever before.
Accordingly, in this session panellists will discuss the intertwined relationship between the
principles and practices underlying the human security and public health approaches and the
added value of adopting the human security approach to achieve sustainable and universal
access to healthcare.
Panel 3 – Natural disasters and climate change: A threat to human security for all
Climatic fluctuations and natural disasters disrupt harvests, deplete fisheries, erode
livelihoods and increase the spread of infectious diseases. Meanwhile, the convergence of
climate change with demographic trends, rapid urbanization and increased competition over
dwindling water and natural resources can result in social stresses with far-reaching
implications for national, regional and international stability. Because the human
consequences of climate change and natural disasters are multiple and often devastating in
nature, a comprehensive and integrated approach that helps to reduce the social, political,
economic and environmental consequences of climate change is an urgent priority.
By focusing attention on the combined risks of climate-related threats, the human security
approach highlights the interconnectedness and the cross-sectoral consequences of climate
change and its impact on the different domains of human security. Drawing on examples
from Latin America and other regions, this session will highlight how the human security
approach advances comprehensive solutions that ensure coherence, improve local capacities
and sustain political commitment to provide the necessary assistance to address the risks
associated with climate change and climate-related disasters.
Closing Remarks
Summation of the deliberations and the way forward, including how best to include the
human security approach in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda in
Latin America and the Caribbean.