Center for Strategic Decision Research


Human Rights, Human Responsibility, and Human Security

Prof. Dr. -Ing. Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie
Former President of Indonesia


It is very difficult to know where to begin when talking about human rights, human responsibility, and human security at the International Workshop on Global Security and the War on Terrorism. In our turbulent world, in which uncountable actors are transforming the political landscape with remarkable speed and in which societies are struggling to take the right path, we must ask if it is correct to assume that only states are in a position to provide security for individuals and collectives and to protect them from harm. We must also ask if threats-from narco-terrorism to pension-fund fraud, which causes insecurity-can be associated with global security. Finally, we must ask if global security is a synonym for neo-liberalism, the internationalization of capital, technology convergence, or the contemporary manifestation of the historical process of expansionism, accompanied by state violence, environmental degradation, or population displacement. 

These are just some of the questions we must ask when trying to understand and create an efficient and peaceful security paradigm, one that does not threaten our environment as we focus our attention on gross human rights violations, mass population displacements, and destruction that threatens both individuals and communities. 

No doubt everybody in every society, no matter their race, ethnicity, culture, religion, heritage, social standing, education, age, or sex, would prefer to be educated rather than be illiterate or ignorant, independent rather than dependent, free rather than enslaved, healthy rather than sick, alive rather than dead. These desires are at the root of widespread insecurity and the current threats. 

To prevent insecurity and eliminate the threats, basic changes in societal beliefs and practices must take place, enabling human rights to be established as a necessary good. 


In 1945, the Charter of the United Nations addressed this need by reaffirming "faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small." However, now the idea that human rights should be universal is highly controversial. 

Unlike in the West, the societies of developing countries rate the interests of the community above those of the individual. Depending in particular on political stability and economic growth, this ranking has strengthened social cohesion and enabled populations to pull together to surmount difficult challenges. In the West, individual behavior is part of overall productivity, supported by such structures as social security, health security, retirement security, and human security. However, community action and family bonds will never disappear in the West, since they are universal human values that are part of life, culture, and the rule of law. Whether or not people are religious, they must live according to their nation's constitution and laws, which express the cultural and moral values of their society. 

While community action and family bonds rate high in developing countries, not everyone there enjoys the benefits of Western forms of security. Because good nutrition and education are still lacking, productivity, competitiveness, and lawfulness are still at very low levels. Unemployment rates are very high, and the constitution and laws are still being perfected. 


To help people in developing countries become more tolerant and understanding, those who live in developed countries, along with national, international, and multinational organizations, must begin a transparent dialogue with political as well as ethnic groups and minorities in the under-developed areas. In this way the people will be able to make peaceful and swift changes. Because they have successfully transformed themselves into a prosperous civil society, the West and other developed areas should be able to understand the problems facing developing countries as they move toward more prosperous circumstances. 

The West and other developed societies should be tolerant and patient while assisting developing countries to become future competitive partners. Requiring complete human rights adherence as a condition for receiving development assistance could discourage the successful use of collective rights such as the right to development. 

However, certain universal human rights must be considered from the very beginning of the transformation process, for example, protection of the individual from abuses such as torture, unlawful killing, enslavement, and racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination. 

A global economy comes with global problems, and these demand global solutions based on ideas, values, and norms respected by all cultures and societies. Recognizing the equal rights of all people requires a foundation of freedom, justice, and peace, but it also requires that rights and responsibilities be shared equally, allowing all men and women to live together peacefully and fulfill their potential. A better social order, both nationally and internationally, cannot be achieved by laws, prescriptions, and conventions alone; global ethics are also needed. Human aspirations can only be realized when agreed-to values and standards are applied to all people. 


Human responsibilities seek to bring freedom and responsibility into balance and to promote a move from indifference to involvement. If a nation or a government seeks to maximize its own freedom, but do it at the expense of others, many people will suffer. If humans maximize their freedom by plundering the natural resources of the earth, then future generations will suffer. 

A Human Responsibilities Declaration could complement and strengthen the Human Rights Declaration and help make the world a better place. Justice and peace for all is a prerequisite for sustainable growth, which is necessary to transform a developing nation into a prosperous society. 

During such transformation, universal as well as restricted human responsibilities and rights will exist side by side. Once the transformation has been completed successfully, the restricted human responsibilities and rights may become universal. 

Individuals, societies, and nations need both freedom and independence to enjoy the human rights and responsibilities formulated and endorsed by the Inter Action Council in September 1997. There are three ways for freedom and independence to be obtained: 

  • Simultaneously, as was the case for the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and others; 
  • Freedom first, followed by independence, as demonstrated by the United States, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, and others; 
  • Independence first, then freedom, as for Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

History has shown that all three methods can effectively transform societies into prosperous societies. 

The countries that achieved freedom and independence through the first approach obtained them through evolution and revolution. Those that followed the second approach went through an accelerated evolution and revolution and those that used the third went through an accelerated evolution only. 

However, all three approaches are based on sustainable political stability and sustainable economic growth. 

So powerful are the barriers to evolutionary social change that fundamental institutional change typically results from external shocks or threats rather than internal evolution. The resulting turmoil may produce a reorientation of social institutions that supports either economic growth or economic collapse, and even the loss of sovereignty. Societies with highly developed technology may quickly achieve self-sustaining growth, but societies without it may experience continuing stagnation. 

The rich get richer because existing ideas are the source of new ideas. 

High-income regions such as Western Europe, North America, Japan, Israel, some oil-producing countries in the Middle East, and the newly-industrialized countries and Oceania-some 30 countries-account for about 16% of the world's population and 58% of the world's GDP. They also account for around 87% of all scientific publications and patents, an astounding 99% of which are European, U.S., or Japanese. Scientific expertise is even more unequally distributed than income. 

But it does not matter if a country has an agriculture-based economy, a services-based economy, or a manufacturing-based economy. What does matter is the country's ability to organize itself effectively around the premise that productivity determines prosperity. Domestic firms that produce low-quality products using unsophisticated methods hold back national productivity. Foreign firms that bring in new technology and advanced methods will boost productivity and local wages. 


A nation's prosperity is a reflection of what both domestic and foreign firms choose to do in that nation, and will eventually result in a lack of distinction between foreign and domestic firms. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is now a vehicle for sustainable productivity and economic growth. 

As a basis for generating wealth, comparative advantage has given way to competitive advantage, since the latter brings about a superior level of productivity in the creation of valuable products and services. Competitive advantage can also improve the standard of living and encourage investment, insight, entrepreneurship, and innovation. 

Foreign Direct Investment can help to manage both assets and production. It can lead to increased resources and capital, enhanced production technology, new skills, innovation, and improved organizational and managerial practices, as well as enable access to international marketing networks. If the environment is conducive, all of these benefits can be reaped by domestic firms as well as the wider economies of the host countries. Whatever the motivation, Foreign Direct Investment can play an important role in accelerating growth and economic transformation. 

Foreign Direct Investment received by developing countries varies: 22% for Asia, 14% for Latin America and the Caribbean, and 1% for Africa; 63% is received by the developed world. Race, ethnicity, culture, religion, geography, and strategic location do not influence FDI. The only factors that bear are the existence of entrepreneurship, freedom to innovate, and the country's political and economic environment. Entrepreneurship and innovation can thrive only when people are free to think, act, and live according to their own beliefs, protected by a functioning, high-quality system of law based on human rights and human responsibilities. 

When dogma rules a culture or way of life, productivity cannot be sustained and the economy will not grow. This is true of several Catholic, Islamic, Hindu, Confucian, and Communist societies in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. However, other forces can accelerate change that produces sustainable productivity and economic growth. For example, in the case of Korea and Taiwan, it is the continuous external threat coming from North Korea and Mainland China; for Singapore and Hong Kong, a lack of renewable energy sources or natural resources has led them to depend on their human resources, and they have become excellent in the services and manufacturing sectors. 


The following are just 10 of the many interpretations of the meaning of globalization: 

1. Globalization refers to multilateral trade and expansion of the global marketplace. Trade barriers are gradually reduced, and domestic economies are opened up to foreign investment. 

2. Globalization involves states taking steps to reduce impediments to international trade. This includes negotiating for lower tariffs, less intrusive trade policies, and greater freedom for capital to cross borders. 

3. Globalization is more than an economic process; its roots and implications are inherently social. Globalization through technology has led to commonality if not sameness. 

4. Globalization is a process that not only expands markets but advances social, technological, and political integration, moving humanity toward a kind of global civilization. 

5. Globalization is a social process that reduces geographical constraints on social and cultural arrangements. 

6. Globalization is changing our perceptions of time and space and producing a geopolitically redefined world. 

7. Globalization is a process in which social and political convergence is occurring at an unprecedented rate and on a universal scale. 

8. Globalization is the modern term for imperialism, a process that destroys local identities and spreads capitalism to the last corners of the earth. It is driven by "manic logic," through which capitalism is creating an inhumane world. 

9. Globalization has been occurring for many centuries, spreading both ideas and capital, for good and for bad. 

10. Globalization is the context in which the pursuit of security must take place. 

History has shown that external forces can reorient institutions faster than internal evolution. Therefore, to make change predictable, we must develop national, regional, and international mechanisms and systems to handle globalization. 

As we do, we must keep in mind that we live in a world in which, despite years of literacy programs, over one billion adults still cannot read or write and over 100 million children of primary school age are not able to attend school every year. We must also recognize that life expectancy is below 60 years in 45 countries, mostly in Africa but also in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti, Laos, and Papua New Guinea. Life expectancy is less than 50 years in 18 countries, all in Africa, and is just 37 years in Sierra Leone. In addition, we must remember that children under five die at rates in excess of 100 per 1,000 in at least 35 countries, again notably in Africa. Non-African countries in which this occurs include Bangladesh, Bolivia, Haiti, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, and Yemen. 

Adding to these numbers is the fact that the annual population growth rate in the poorest countries is three times the rate of that in high-income countries. Also, the most inequitable income distribution patterns among countries supplying such data to the World Bank are found in poorer countries, particularly in Latin America and Africa. For example, the most affluent 10% of Brazil's population account for almost 48% of income, followed by 43-46% in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Paraguay, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. In comparison, the most affluent 10% in the United States, where income distribution is among the most inequitable of the advanced democracies, account for 28.5% of the total. 

Democratic institutions are commonly weak or non-existent in Africa, Latin America, much of Asia, and Islamic countries of the Middle East. After more than 150 years of independence, Latin America has failed to consolidate democratic institutions. 

The foregoing statistics, together with the globalization process, may be some of the most pertinent threats to human and global security we collectively face today. 


Terrorism is the systematic use of terror or unpredictable violence against governments, public figures, or individuals to attain a political objective. It has been used by political organizations with both rightist and leftist objectives, by nationalistic and ethnic groups, by revolutionaries, and by the armies and secret police of governments themselves. 

Terrorism's public impact has been greatly magnified by the use of modern communications media. Television coverage of acts of violence brings the events directly into millions of homes and exposes viewers to terrorists' demands, grievances, or political goals. 

Modern terrorism differs from that of the past because its victims are frequently innocent civilians who are picked at random or who merely happen into terrorist situations. Terrorism has now become the hallmark of a number of political movements stretching from the extreme right to the extreme left, and is most commonly identified with individuals or groups attempting to destabilize or overthrow existing political institutions. Lacking popular support, these extremists substitute violent acts, including kidnappings, assassinations, skyjackings, bombings, and hijackings, for legitimate political activities. Technological advances, such as automatic weapons and compact, electronically detonated explosives, give terrorists a new degree of mobility and lethalness. 

Terrorism has been used by one or both sides in the following situations: 

  • In anti-colonial conflicts (between Ireland and the United Kingdom, Algeria and France, and Vietnam and France/the United States) 
  • In disputes between different national groups over possession of a contested homeland (Palestinians and Israelis) 
  • In conflicts between different religious denominations (Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland) 
  • In internal conflicts between revolutionary forces and established governments (Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Iran, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Argentina) 

While high technology is having a positive impact on people's daily lives, it also has a negative impact when misused by criminals and terrorists regionally, nationally, and globally. Large-scale cooperation and synchronized misuse of technology pose a sustained threat to human security. 

To identify and eliminate the networks of terrorists, we need a totally different approach and new technology. Our budgets must be extended to go beyond traditional defense and security needs. Our budgets must now cover current war-scenario needs, including advanced technologies, new structures, new weapons systems, new platforms, and new war tactics. 


Let me conclude my presentation by relating Indonesia's experience as it entered the first century of the third millennium, a time when the threat of globalization and the Asian financial crisis shook the country after almost three decades of sustained economic growth. 

Until Indonesia proclaimed its independence on 17 August 1945, the country had been a Dutch colony for almost 350 years. Once it became the Republic of Indonesia, my country still had to struggle for almost four years to be recognized by the Dutch government and the world in December 1949. 

As a result of the negative influences of colonialism, the quality of life and the skill level of the Indonesian people were low. In Indonesia, as in all former colonial societies, political power was in the hands of the colonial authorities and the principal objective was maintaining order. Traditional cultural and democratic institutions were systematically undermined in the interests of economic exploitation. Economic institutions were designed to ensure the terms of trade imposed by the colonizing forces. 

With such a background, and because more than 95% of the Indonesian people were illiterate in the 1940s, the people of Indonesia could only enjoy their independence but not yet their freedom. 

Since that time, educational resources have grown. Today less than 15% of the population is illiterate and after almost 53 years of independence, the Indonesian people have been able to enjoy their freedom following the resignation of the second president of the Republic of Indonesia on 21 May 1998. 

Indeed, while for 53 years Indonesia was headed by two authoritarian presidents, Sukarno and Suharto, in the last four years Indonesia has been led by three democratic presidents. The first was in office for 17 months, the second, President Wahid, for 20 months, and the third, President Megawati, will hold her post until the next presidential election for a total of 40 months. If everything goes as planned, then the fourth democratically elected president will be in charge for 60 months, as will all following presidents. 

After slowly evolving over a long period, globalization and the Asian financial crisis triggered an accelerated and peaceful change. This change was carried out in two ways: by the establishment of a special People's Consultative Assembly in November 1998 and by the democratic election of members of the newly established political parties in June 1999. In October 1999, the People's Consultative Assembly elected a new president and a new vice president of the country. Only external forces could have so rapidly speeded up social change in Indonesia. 

During the 17 months of the third president's governance, 68 new laws were passed, including laws to enforce human rights and human responsibilities, the ratification of all eight International Labor conventions (ILO), laws that gave autonomy to the provinces and laws that improved political, economic, and human security. During the same period, the government also passed 109 regulations, 248 presidential decrees, and 31 presidential instructions, all dedicated to democracy, a market economy, human security, and freedom and justice for all. Because of this, entrepreneurship and innovation should develop rapidly and lead to sustainable, increased productivity and wealth. 


The government, Parliament, the People's Consultative Assembly, and the people of Indonesia have many current and future national, regional, and international problems to face, and they must solve them without losing momentum for a better quality of life. The international community can provide understanding and a helping hand, but it is the people of Indonesia who must face and solve their problems themselves. 

On the way toward becoming a prosperous civil society, it is not enough to gain independence and freedom. Human rights and responsibilities, free of dogma, must also be secured. With a high-level system of law, citizens can then become entrepreneurs and innovators. 

If negative impacts such as economic stagnation, economic collapse, and loss of sovereignty-as happened in the former USSR, Yugoslavia or in the Balkans-can be avoided, globalization can help overcome powerful internal barriers to change. Indonesia is now on its way to becoming the third largest democratic society, one in which terrorism will be unable to grow. 


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