Round Table on Human Security

On 14 July 2008, Office for Cooperation with NGOs, Council for Civil Society Development and Center for Peace Studies organized a round table entitled “Perspectives of Promotion of Human Security during the Croatian Membership in the UN Security Council”.

Opening speeches were made by dr. Igor Vidačak, Head of the Office for Cooperation with NGOs, Mr. Ninoslav Šćukanec, member of the Council for Civil Society Development, Ms. Marina Škrabalo, moderator of the round table and Mr. Andrej Dogan, representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, who later on gave a short overview of Croatian activities in the UN Security Council.

In this context, one presented the Croatian endeavor to contribute to harmonization of the standpoints of the EU member states both within the Security Council and with other strategic partners such as the United States. Issues that are relevant to Croatia in the framework of the Security Council are definitely those of regional nature, such as the question of Kosovo. However, one also underscored the fact that during its forthcoming presidency of the Security Council (in December this year), the Republic of Croatia will be in position to select the issue for an open debate. In addition, one also underscored the importance of the Croatian presidency of the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee.

In the debate which followed, the representatives of media and civil society organizations emphasized the lack of acquaintance of the Croatian public regarding the Croatian membership in the Security Council. Mr. Dogan agreed with that to a certain extent, explaining it with the large volume of workload as well as the continuity which makes media coverage more difficult. In this context, he mentioned Mr. Babić who is in charge of PR activities at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations. One also raised a question of possibilities of cooperation with civil society in the area of developmental aid and gave information that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration established a special Department of Developmental Aid whereat all interested representatives of civil society were invited to participate with their suggestions and initiatives.

The second part of the round table began with the presentation of dr. Davor Božinović, Croatian Ambassador to NATO, who presented the concept of human security from the viewpoint of collective defense. He underscored how the concept of human security is indivisible from fundamental democratic principles; by adopting the latter and participation in the work of prominent security organizations, Croatia is being enabled to influence the human security. 

Mr. Matjaž Kovačič, Head of the Department for International Organizations and Human Security of the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented activities of the Human Security Network, interstate organization founded in 1998, which includes 13 countries. The Network aims to promote human security above all at the international level, but also through personal engagement of the ministers of foreign affairs in terms of promotion of the concept of human security in the wide spectrum of related activities.

Claude Demers, representative of Canadian Embassy in Zagreb presented the Canadian view of the concept of human security, which is focused on individual security and the concept of “freedom from fear”. He underscored the Canadian stance that there is no legal or jurisdictional framework that would protect the sovereignty of states or freedom of individuals as regards crimes against humanity, which implies the right of international community to carry out human interventions.

The last presentation was given by Mr. Gordan Bosanac from the Center for Peace Studies. He focused on the presentation of ideas related to the possible proactive Croatian engagement in the Security Council, particularly during Croatian presidency in December 2008. He highlighted that Croatia is in front of the unique position to select its side in the security discourse with regard to the long-term interests of human security, instead of selecting it according to the interests of the most powerful states in international associations. Furthermore, he presented some concrete proposals for Croatian engagement at both international and national level.
Some proposals for more active Croatian security policy are as follows:
  • initiating the first thematic session on human security within the Security Council
  • Croatian engagement in drafting and stimulating the implementation of the Action Plan of possible conclusion of Security Council on more effective operationalization of human security
  • proposing Security Council and the UN General Assembly to detach the Unit for Human Security from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs or to establishing a separate Office for Human Security
  • revision of the Croatian Strategy for National Security
  • initiating the drafting of the National Program of Human Security and Peace Building
In the discussion that followed, the questions were mostly posed to Mr. Dogan concerning the potential acknowledgment of the proposals presented by the Center for Peace Studies. Given the scope and the concreteness of the proposals, Mr. Dogan was not able to provide a final answer, however he expressed an interest in future cooperation.

The conclusions of the round table may be reduced to the common denominator of the need for more intensive cooperation among the competent state institutions and civil society organizations in all segments of public policy, including the Croatian membership in the Security Council. In this context, one expressed the view that the initiative for cooperation between the civil society and the state should be mutual and continuous, and underscored that the present round table is only the first in the set of meetings between relevant representatives of civil society and the state with regard to the issues of international character.