Thursday 01 January 2015

Strategic leaders need an understanding of the realities of national power and the best ways to implement strategies and policies. Some of the key elements of global power evolve over time and so our approaches to national security problems must also adapt and develop. Human Security is one emerging paradigm for addressing today’s global security challenges. The United Nations Development Program’s 1994 Human Development Report argued that insuring freedom from want and freedom from fear for all persons was the best path to tackle global insecurity. Twenty years later, Human Security advocates now argue that a people-centered view of security does better serve national, regional and global stability.

Key elements of this Human Security approach include: economic security, an assured basic income for individuals (only about a quarter of the world’s people are economically secure with unemployment constituting an important factor underlying political tensions and ethnic violence); food security, all people at all times having both physical and economic access to basic food (the problem often is often poor food distribution and not just a lack of purchasing power); health security, the guarantee of a minimum protection from diseases and unhealthy lifestyles; environmental security, protecting people from the short- and long-term ravages of nature and the deterioration of the natural environment; personal security, protecting people from physical violence (whether from domestic or external threats from violent individuals or groups); and political security, developing a society that honors basic human rights. The UAE has demonstrated an innovative commitment to this Human Security approach. 

According to the UAE Ministry of International Cooperation and Development, last year alone, the UAE provided 60 tons of medical aid to Guinea worth US $5 million, provided US $360 million to support the humanitarian situation in Syria, and provided direct humanitarian assistance to the Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons in neighboring countries (Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq). Through its Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, the UAE conducted a large-scale Food Fortification Program in Afghanistan to reduce deaths and disabilities associated with nutritional deficiencies among women and children and also offered food assistance to the Republic of Malawi. Through Human Appeal International, the UAE implemented a Dh 2 million humanitarian campaign in the Palestinian territories, where it distributed clothes, food, blankets and heating fuel to about 30,000 Palestinian families. With its Project to Assist Pakistan, the UAE distributed 20,000 food baskets among displaced families and 1600 tons of basic food aid to 20,000 displaced families at a cost of US $1 million. Through the Red Crescent Authority (RCA), the UAE provided medical assistance worth over Dhs 2.2 million to Palestinian thalassemia patients in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, provided relief to victims of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, presented aid relief to Syrian refugees in Lebanon at a cost of Dh 5 million, distributed Dh 2 million worth of food baskets to Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip affected by floods, offered assistance and scholarships to the outstanding students of low-income families in Jerusalem, and provided over Dh 36.66 million to some 100,000 people affected by the floods in Malaysia. 

This very impressive commitment leaves no doubt that the UAE can exert significant soft power among other nations by setting such an example and taking a stance aligned with its cultural values. The focused delivery of human aid to those most in need is a powerful demonstration of Emirati compassion and an influential tool of statecraft for national leaders. Acting internationally in support of a Human Security agenda is yet another innovative way the UAE is making a positive difference in the world. As importantly, adopting such emerging approaches also demonstrates that UAE strategic leaders remain open to new ideas and capable of dealing with an ever more uncertain world in flexible yet highly responsive ways. This is a hallmark of superb strategic agility.