Building a Resilient Human Security Framework

If the recent US (59) missiles’ attack against Assad’s Al-Sharyat Air Base northwest of Damascus early April 7th is considered symbolic coming in response to deadly Syrian chemical attacks against innocent civilians then one would anticipate that no further attacks will be forthcoming. In short has the Syrian regime learned the painful lesson? A troubling question only time will tell if turns to be true. However, the news coming from Washington has indicated that if the Syrian regime under Bashar Al- Assad were to persist in using deadly chemical weapons attacks against his own population Washington will not hesitate once again to use stringent “hard power measures” to stymied Assad’s military capabilities despite the risks of a new Russian – American confrontation.

President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, FL, on Thursday, April 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A Geostrategic Paradigm Shift?

Indeed, it is difficult to characterize the recent American military act as a geostrategic paradigm shift in Middle Eastern politics because to gain such an attribution there has to be a clear American strategic vision aimed at addressing Middle Eastern humanitarian crises. President Erdogan has truly characterized the US attack as a positive development and a “serious step” but not sufficient on its own to protect the Syrian people. Thus, the six –year chronic conflict has resulted in a humanitarian tragedy on a massive scale whereby Syria has lost its image as a beautiful civilized country for years to come. Such a situation has been repeated across the Middle East and North Africa with dramatic humanitarian consequences. From this perspective there is a need to shape and crystalize a comprehensive humanitarian security framework to protect civilians as a matter of priority.

This is why it is important to quote President Erdogan’s statement coming at an opportune time: “The international community has the capability to stop the regime and terrorist organizations. I hope the active stance that the United States displayed in Idlib is a beginning with regards to such developments“. Admittedly earlier efforts – since the end of the World War II and the Cold War era – invested by the International Community to protect civilians from the repercussion of wars have not succeeded opening the door for establishing a much needed resilient comprehensive Human Security framework. It’s important to pinpoint, review and apply the advantageous conclusions reached to in the form of R2P (Responsibility to Protect) in conjunction to the widely controversial concept of humanitarian intervention. Such a more popularly satisfying human security initiative will have to take into account all the prominent humanitarian precedents and the Covenants and International Treaties to complement the recent global human security efforts.

The area we are talking about is much larger than military security. The previous Secretary General Kofi Annan has given us an extensive outlook in concise words on what Human Security framework means: freedom from want, freedom from fear, and the freedom of future generations to inherit a healthy natural environment”. Hence; it becomes increasingly important for citizens to activate their humanitarian efforts to be in line with states responsibly to protect civilians from genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity and terrorist acts. In today’s term, civic society organisations and associations are playing relatively positive diverse roles in monitoring, updating data and information on global atrocities, and more significantly proposing new innovative solutions aimed at mitigating human security crises.

Furthermore, it seems essential to keep citizens as active and dynamic members of the International Community consistently informed about hot topic events through means of social communications across the globe. Lessons learned from past failed and successful experiences are necessary for charting new innovative paths for tackling humanitarian crises. More active pioneering assertive efforts such as the Turkish proposal to establish “Safe Heaven Zones” have become a necessity that has to be translated into concrete measures as and when the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq comes into conclusion. What makes the responsibility to protect civilians a more pressing is the dire demand for changing the prevalent rules of the Security Council whereby the permanent members may resort to veto power to stop any decision on the pretext of endangering global peace and security.

An Active and Effective Agenda?

Reforming the Security Council though essential should be part and parcel of addressing critical human security challenges across various geopolitical arenas such as the following interactive and inter-dependent phases of a new proposed 4th leg – dimensional formula: Making-Peace, Keeping – Peace, Building- Peace, and Human Development.

From this perspective, it is salient to grasp the specific learned experiences of rising powers in the MENA region or beyond to see how the international community can shape a new structure of a global human security approach with all the necessary implementation and mechanism needed for each phase. This comes at a time when the war against terrorism by states and non-states actors are taking different forms and interpretations largely depending on the intersection and contradictions of strategic interests.

Hence, the new Commission on Human Security established in January 2001 need to follow on its good working through the launching innovative formulas including the 4th leg- dimensional formula proposed in my paper. What is true that even if we debate and interpret the foreseen and unpredictable global challenges there has to be a new consensus among the nations of the earth to create a global human security – rights approach fulfilling the interests of people across the universe a matter that can take much time, effort and costs. Alongside the effective much needed support of states and non-states entities (NGO’s). Always aware of the shocking and unforeseen events that will happen anyway but needs more focus, emphasis and a new surge to mobilize conventional and new technological capabilities to adapt to the new realities.

Finally, the time has come not only to place people at the forefront of the agenda of Great Powers’ global meetings but to think of new innovative pragmatic mechanism that can turn theory into active effective practice suited for the 21st century.

Ahmad Shikara

Member of the faculty at the EmiratesCenter for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) in Abu Dhabi since 2000. There he works in the Training Department and in Human Resources. He recently published on the ramifications of Iraqi elections. In the past he conducted extensive research at the ECSSR and has conducted graduate and faculty seminars focusing on the effect of resource scarcity on the Arabian Gulf and the United States. Dr. Shikara, and before joining the ECSSR, served on the Political Science Department at the United Arab Emirates University (1980-1994), as an honorary professor at the Institute of Developing Economies in Japan (1994) and as a research fellow in the Department of Political Studies at the University of Auckland, New Zealand (1996-2000).

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