[GLOBAL EYE]Human security is paramountThe World Economic Forum meets annually in Davos, a picturesque ski resort in Switzerland. This year, the summit meeting, generally called the Davos Forum, focuses on the theme of ensuring global security and promoting global growth.
You might wonder why “security” is on the agenda since the Cold War ended more than a decade ago. Of course, the post-war insurgency in Iraq, increasing cases of suicide bombings and the nuclear capability of North Korea are constantly posing threats to the world. But certainly not every nation has such security concerns.
The Davos Forum takes the meaning of security beyond the military concept. It is “human security” that the nations have gathered to discuss.
This concept of human security spans a wide range of issues. The nations would plan how to achieve and sustain development and growth of the human race by eliminating all the evils that hinder a civilized life.
Global terrorism and wars are not the only factors that threaten stable living and sustainable prosperity. Mass starvation, shortage of water, destruction and pollution of the natural environment and the spread of contagious diseases have been major concerns of many nations.
Moreover, uncertainty and instability posed by financial insecurity, inconsistent policy decisions and dishonest corporate practices are the obstacles to a stable life and prosperity of the world.
Klaus Schwab, founder and president of the World Economic Forum, said the world economy cannot achieve sustainable growth without human security, and claimed that what the world needs most for security and prosperity is “peace.”
But it is never easy to define the meaning of peace. Whom does peace concern and when does it end? Preserving the peace has been used to justify wars and suicide bombings. Sometimes, a military retaliation is couched as an action to achieve peace. Peace cannot be attained by the sheer will and effort of a single superpower, a business giant or a certain non-government organization. Global peace can only be achieved when each and every government, company and civil group joins forces based on the passionate love for humankind.
The representatives and leaders of the national governments, business giants, academia and non-governmental groups are gathered in Davos. Despite the impressive gathering, the Davos Forum has been criticized as a feast of fancy, empty words that never lead to any visible improvement.
At the annual meeting, the participants need to sincerely discuss the threats, risks and paradoxes of the world and the international identity crisis that globalization has caused.
When the participants are willing to share the burdens and show enlightened leadership that can guide the world to mutual prosperity based on understanding and persuasion, the Davos Forum could become something more substantial than a pretentious party of empty words.
In order to apply what has been discussed at the World Economic Forum to real life, the world’s governments need to provide for secure lives and give predictable and consistent policy directions to their citizens. Companies need to try to improve the quality of life by developing environmentally friendly technologies and products and display transparent and fair corporate practices. Non-government organizations should show unbiased judgment and responsible actions according to their convictions.
When the three entities cooperate in creating a peaceful co-existence, the world can take another step toward improving overall human security.
The answer to human security can be found when we, Koreans, begin to see our own problems from the perspective of the world and treat international problems as our own challenges.
Korea will send troops to Iraq to participate in the reconstruction of the war-torn country. The troop dispatch is an example of Korea’s contribution to the improvement of the human security for the afflicted citizens of Iraq.
In the future, we could pursue upgrading the Korea-U.S. alliance from military cooperation to an alliance for human security that promotes universal values of the human race.
Peace would mean stable, predictable living. Political chaos and policy-related uncertainty and insecurity are fatal to the national economy and corporate activities. However, Korea is still suffering from an economic decline, and even as other world economies are improving. Behind the prolonged slump lie political disorder and Korean society’s murky prospects.
The country’s politicians seem to stake everything on the April National Assembly elections. Interest groups are acting only on behalf of themselves and are not concerned about the ultimate good of society. The populist government is busy pleasing the voters and hasn’t corrected its own moral failings.
In the midst of the chaos, economic entities are longing for peace of mind. Korean diplomacy is lost between self-reliance and the Korea-U.S. alliance. Health and environmental disasters constantly threaten the very lives of the citizens.
Youth unemployment rate has soared, and early retirement at age 45 has become a routine practice. Living above the unreliable social safety net, Koreans see too many holes in the human security.
The enlightened leadership incorporates issues both inside and outside the nation and gives us confidence and hope for the future. The only key to overcoming the chronic shortage of leaders is enlightened leadership.
* The writer, a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo, is the chief editor of the Monthly NEXT.
by Byun Sang-keun