Jul 15, 2008

New Global Leadership as a Guardian of Human Rights and Human Security

Mr. Svilanovic chairs Working Table I [Democratization and Human Rights], Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. He served as the minister of foreign affairs of Serbia and Montenegro from 2000 to 2004. He received a SYLFF fellowship in 1990–1991 while working on his master’s thesis in civil procedure at the University of Belgrade.


Human Security: A Vague Concept

It is common knowledge that maintaining the territorial security of nation-states through military power has failed to improve their total human condition. In response, the international community has moved to combine economic development with military security and other basic human rights to form a new concept of "human security." Unfortunately, by common assent the concept lacks either a clear definition or any agreed-upon measure of it. Some commentators argue that human security represents a new paradigm for scholars and practitioners alike. Despite these claims, however, it remains uncertain whether the concept of human security can serve as a practical guide for academic research or governmental policymaking, simply because not all neologisms are equally plausible or useful.


The Reality concerning Human Security

Sometimes reality is so brutal and so obvious that neither academic definitions nor a consensus is needed in order to conclude that someone’s security and basic human needs and rights are being severely jeopardized. The international community has no clue about how to improve the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are among the world’s 10 most-insecure countries for living, sharing the top-worst-10 positions with 8 countries in Africa. In Iraq and Afghanistan efforts are being made, not only through humanitarian operations but via a military presence, intended to impose some kind of democratic regime. So what can we expect from common efforts to root out poverty and fatal but curable diseases in Africa?


A Call for New Global Leadership

Obviously, what is needed is new global leadership with a new approach, presented by different actors in the political and social arenas, that can set deeper the roots of our commonly shared values where they have already been seeded, as in Eastern Europe, but even more important, to work out how we can spread the seeds of the crops we cultivate to where the soil is not yet ready but where many would benefit from their yields, as in Africa. Whether we want it or not, whether we like it or not, whether we see it as a paradox or not, we are jumping into a global order that is not so obvious, that no one fully understands. Whether we understand this new order or not is one issue, but we almost have no choice but to cope with this situation, because it influences our daily lives. It would be good if we would learn more about globalization trends, because this knowledge might help us to know how to conduct our lives under the new circumstances. In contrast to what one might rely on and assume as given, human-rights protection, sustainable peace, development and social cohesion, which are the main features of human security, are not only a matter of concern for national and international decision-makers, but are first and foremost the responsibility of every citizen.


The Side Effects of Economic Growth

We can say with great certainty that the foundations of our society have been severely shaken by the economic, social, and cultural revolutions of the later part of the 20th century. A great many of the solutions and structures that existed in the past have been destroyed by the extraordinary dynamism of the economy in which we live. This is throwing an increasing number of men and women into a situation in which they cannot appeal to clear norms, perspectives, and common values, in which they do not know what to do with their individual and collective existence. This is true of institutions such as the family, but also of political institutions that were the foundation of our civilization—the public sphere. Politics, parties, newspapers, organizations, representative assemblies, and states—none of these operate as they used to and as we had supposed they would continue to operate for a long time to come. At present there are no global-scale regulations or institutions that say what we should do or should not do regarding some of the newly emerging challenges, such as the fight against terrorism and nuclear proliferation. In the case of Kosovo, for instance, the current international community is divided on how to resolve the situation. Meanwhile, more often than we would like, we find ourselves without clearly applicable laws that, in this period of global transition and transformation, must be replaced by deeply rooted and widely accepted values and principles to guide us forward. The modern economy cannot operate endlessly without some kind of reference to social traditions and to a new set of values and patterns for collective actions, including those to promote social cohesion and education for democratic citizenship.


Potential Leaders to Improve Human Security

Globally cherished icons can dramatically improve human security. Instead of presenting any conclusion that should contain a definition of what new global leaders who might become guardians of improvement of human security worldwide should be, let me draw your attention to the work of one of today’s top fashion models, Liya Kebede from Ethiopia, whose annual earnings total millions of U.S. dollars. Most of you know her from the cover pages of VOGUE magazine, but she has also created the Liya Kebede Foundation dedicated to the welfare of mothers and children (see, and she is a WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Her foundation’s mission is to raise awareness of the need to improve the conditions of mothers and children and to fight the horrible facts that each day an average of 1,600 mothers die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, and that nearly 11 million children die each year before they reach their fifth birthday, including 4 million who die within the first 28 days of life. Liya is not only a goodwill ambassador who serves as a good example for other influential global celebrities who easily attract public attention, but she is becoming a real global leader herself and a guardian of human security in Africa.

Thank you.

Goran Svilanovic

Goran Svilanovic*

University of Belgrade


Received fellowship: University of Belgrade (Master), 1990
Sylff Prize Winner 2004

Currently the Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), which is a regional cooperative framework for the South East European countries, aimed at inspiring development and bringing benefits to the people of the region.

A Serbian diplomat and politician, he previously served as Co-ordinator of the OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (2008-2012). In November 2004, he became Chairman of Working Table I (democratization and human rights) of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, where he served until the end of 2007. He was a member of the Senior Review Group of the Stability Pact, which proposed the transformation of the Stability Pact into the Regional Co-operation Council.

From 2000 to 2004, Mr. Svilanovic was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was renamed to Serbia and Montenegro in 2003. Between 2000 and 2007, he was a Member of the Serbian Parliament. He was President of the Civic Alliance of Serbia political party (1999-2004).

Mr. Svilanovic earned a Ph.D. from the Union University in Belgrade, Masters and undergraduate law degrees from the University of Belgrade. Since 2008, he has been Assistant Professor of Law at the Union University in Belgrade.


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