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Inclusive Human Security

We believe that traditional notions of national security have committed our country to failed policies, giving rise to deeper insecurity. We propose a redefinition of security in terms of basic human needs, rights and responsibilities. Human security, as opposed to national security, guarantees access to food, clean water, health care, education and employment. It recognizes the right of people to participate in important decisions that affect their lives and respects the integrity of creation. Human security would emerge from a “globalization of solidarity” that promotes international cooperation to preemptively manage conflicts before they turn violent. Human security must become the basis from which the United States engages the world.

A deeper look at “security”

The following brief paper on security was prepared in the spring of 2006  by the Ecumenical Working Group on International Issues (EWGII) as an introduction to a series of meetings with Congressional staff on various aspects of security. The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns is a member of the EWGII.

As the Washington, D.C. representatives of Christian churches and organizations we want to encourage a conversation about security on Capitol Hill. We believe that current U.S. national security policy is not making us as a people or our neighbors more secure; nor is it providing long term protection against terrorism. We are convinced that there are viable alternative routes to security that will be more effective and less costly – in terms of human life, civil liberties, environmental damage and even national treasure.

The new direction we propose for U.S. national security policy is rooted in some of the most basic principles of our faith tradition:

·       that every human person has intrinsic dignity and is of equal value: therefore the security of one person or nation cannot be guaranteed while ignoring or undermining the security and well-being of others;

·       that human beings are part of the community of all life; therefore we are called to work for authentic human freedom and the global common good;

·       that we are called into right relationship with each other and with all of creation; therefore global solidarity – the commitment to work together with all to seek the well-being of all - should be the defining value of international relations.

We believe that security for the people of the United States cannot be guaranteed unilaterally, to the detriment of the security of others. An effective national security policy must acknowledge the integration and interdependence of communities around the world. Real security in which we can thrive will emerge only from a comprehensive commitment that engages diverse nations and peoples to promote sustainable human development together.

The foundation for genuine national security has to be inclusive human security,

·       guaranteeing that all people have access to food, clean water, healthcare, education and employment;

·       recognizing the right of people to authentic freedom, self-determination and full participation in important political and economic decisions that affect their lives;

·       supporting the establishment and strengthening of international institutions and mechanisms subject to the rule of law that provide physical security as needed, protecting all people from violence, genocide, terrorism, crimes against humanity, torture and nuclear attack;

·       investing in international capacity to prevent deadly conflict, provide conflict mediation and promote post-conflict reconciliation;

·       and protecting the integrity of creation, which is an integral component of enduring security.

Other countries -- especially those struggling to overcome poverty -- should be able to see that the U.S. is their firm ally in providing human security for their people. We have to be global good neighbors. Relying on overwhelming military might to ensure our own national security ignores the root causes of the threats we face and the potential for effective collaborative action.

We have to commit ourselves unequivocally as a nation to pursuing the global common good in full cooperation with the family of nations. Instead of strengthening our commitment to international cooperation, U.S. leaders have tended to see our country as somehow beyond the need for such relationships. The negative political and psychological impact of the U.S. claim to exceptionalism is enormous.

We urge a fundamental shift in thinking about what, in the long run, will make us secure.



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