Impact of refugees crisis on Western Balkans and EU

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Why refugees need jobs, bank accounts, and insurance

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Politics and Education

Aung San Suu Kyi shared her experience on political, economic and social transition which Myanmar went through.  She spoke about the dynamic changes Myanmar is going through and challenges that the country is still facing. The lecture was hosted by the Lech Walesa Institute and the University of Warsaw.

Human security in developing world

Much in the same way that Amartya Sen introduced ethics into economics, Mahbub Ul Haq and his team posited in the 1994 Human Development Report (HDR), that “security”, until then associated with the prerogative of states in realist international relations and political science theories, should be seen from the point of view of people. The best way to achieve security (both at the global, national and societal levels), they argued, is to increase that of people. In the 1994 HDR, Human Security was broadly defined as “freedom from fear and freedom from want” and characterized as “safety from chronic threats such as hunger, disease, and repression as well as protection from sudden and harmful disruptions in the patterns of daily life – whether in homes, in jobs or in communities” (UNDP, 1994). Since then, a healthy debate has been raging both in academia and in policy circles around definitions of Human Security. Some focus on a narrow definition of “freedom from fear” that concentrates on safety from physical violence and threats, while others defend a broader definition that also refers to threats to livelihood (“freedom from want”) and indignities (“freedom to live in dignity”).

Interest in Human Security has been pursued in at least two different fields: When discussed in the context of international or national security, Human Security is juxtaposed with state-centered paradigms of security by proposing a people-centered answer to the questions of whose security (that of people in addition to states), security from what (from non-traditional sources, direct and indirect sources of violence, including structural violence) and security by what means (through development and human rights intervention, in addition to policing and military). When discussed in the context of development, Human Security refers to the assurance that the process and outcome of development is risk-free. It draws attention not just to levels of achievement, but to securing gains made by deliberately focusing on “downside risks”, such as conflicts, wars, economic fluctuations, natural disasters, extreme impoverishment, environmental pollution, ill health, and other menaces.

This Kapuscinski development lecture on human security was delivered by Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh, who has been teaching this subject at Columbia University and at the Institute of Political Sciences (Sciences Po) in Paris for over a decade and has developed a comprehensive textbook for students and worked with the Human Security Unit at the UN on a guidebook for practitioners.

The lecture covered the following:

  • What is Human Security? Origins, definitions, critiques, uses and implications
  • What are the added values to the fields of traditional security, Human Development and Human Rights?
  • How has the concept been adopted or rejected at the global and regional levels?
  • What are the operationalization principles and implications for policy and programming?
  • How can human security/insecurity be measured?

Human rights violations as obstacle to development

The lecture examined the context and consequences of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 on the development of the country. It showed how the combination of dictatorship exercised by a restricted national elite called akazu (literally “the small house”) – helped by a complacent international community – with a three-decade ideology of ethnic hatred led the country to the destruction of more than one million human lives, representing approximately 13% of the whole population of Rwanda at that time. The genocide committed in Rwanda exemplifies not only how gross violations of human rights hamper development, but also how, when they reach an extreme level of violence, they may even bring the destruction of almost the entire social fabric and the abolition of any kind of morality and any sense of hope, a situation beyond which there is no possible survival for any human community, not to speak of development. Conversely, the lecture shows the link between the successful reconstruction of the Rwandan society after 1994 and the first steps of development, characterized in recent years, not only by increased investment, but also by the establishment of a national system of checks and balances and the global improvement of governance. It also sheds light on the outstanding challenges ahead and the hopefully the improved role that the international community, including the European Union Eastern New Member States, can play to help Rwanda consolidate and qualitatively elevate its development.

Dignity and responsibility in international development

HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, offered the keynote lecture entitled “Dignity in Development: Our Common Responsibility to Reach the Millennium Development Goals”.

First, he presented a series of statistics related to word population and the distribution of income, which showed that the large majority of the world population is deeply poor, a fact that is damaging to both world economy and human dignity.

The intervention continued with a brief introduction of the MDGs – what they are, when they were adopted and what is the current level of achieving them.

To illustrate better what the human development means and how one may really relate to MDGs, he chose the child mortality rate statistics, identifying for the audience several examples and telling the story of Norway’s several generation efforts to reduce child mortality.

The key to achieving goals such as MDGs, HRH told the audience, is to think about the persons in less favourable situations similarly as if they were persons one knows, not just statistics. The reason for following such goals, he continued, is to preserve “human dignity”, one of the few values that can have universal appeal.

He concluded the lecture with several examples from his Goodwill Ambassador work, encouraging the audience to think about one definite goal each of them may and could achieve during the next year in order to improve his/her life and make the world a better place.

Women in development

Text of the full speech (check against delivery)

The lack of trust in leaders and the urgent challenges of poverty, inequality, conflict and climate change demand a new model of leadership and development. The 21st century is the time for inclusion and women’s full and equal participation. An effective post-2015 development agenda requires a focus on promoting human rights, ensuring public participation and tackling structural inequalities.