Human Security for All

“The only people who should be allowed to govern countries with nuclear weapons are mothers, those who are still breast-feeding their babies.” ― Tsutomu Yamaguchi

May 11, 2021 – Human Security for All


1. Deep Dive with Jonathan Granoff
2. Announcements: Gorbachev/Shultz, Voices Youth Award Call for Nominations
3. Member Spotlight: Barbara Newsom
4. Call to Reflection: Vicki Garlock
5. Education: Captain No-Nukes
6. Instagram Fireside Chat Friday Series #4: Interview with Kehkashan Basu
7. News: George Shultz (1920–2021) American Statesman and Nuclear Abolitionist by Michael Krepon
8. Book Nook: The Guns of August
9. Voices Shoutout: Back From the Brink
10. Voices Event: May 13, 100 Seconds to Midnight: The Moral Imperative for Climate Protection and Nuclear Disarmament

Read the full newsletter


with Jonathan Granoff

Jonathan Granoff is President of the Global Security Institute, and a Voices Founding Member.

We asked Jonathan Granoff…..

How serious is this moment in human history? 

Jonathan Granoff: The course of conduct of today’s major nations could prevent billions of people from coming into this wondrous world and sharing the opportunity to live, learn and love. 

It is not an exaggeration to state forcefully that today humanity is faced with unprecedented existential threats to the actual survival of civilization. However, states pursue security with an emphasis on the military capacity of the state rather than the well being of people. Human Security should be the first duty of every state and today to obtain it new thinking and action is needed. 

The Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists this year moved to100 seconds to midnight, with a dire warning : “the international security situation is now more dangerous than it has ever been, even at the heart of the Cold War… the potential to stumble into nuclear war – ever present – has grown”.  And relying on nuclear weapons only makes addressing other threats more difficult.  

US Secretary of Defense Austin at the recent Climate Summit stated forcefully that climate change also presents an existential threat to humanity. If we reflect on lessons from the challenge of the Covid pandemic, destruction of biodiversity and topsoil, water shortages, and the health of the oceans we are struck by the realization that not one nation, nor even a group of nations, can solve these problems. These problems remind us of a truth the wise have shared since time immemorial: we are one human family. These recent challenges require global cooperation and not constant hostility and fear. 

Values are expressed by allocations of money. The world spent nearly $2 Trillion in military outlays last year and less than $31 Billion for the United Nations. 

The codification of adversity by the 9 nuclear-armed states (US, Russia, China, UK, France, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea and India) moves the world farther away from realistic human security. These states are modernizing their arsenals with new capacities and weapons.  These states account for the vast majority of military expenditures. For example, recently the Biden administration requested a 2021 military budget of US$753 billion. This increase of US$12.6 billion from last year is more than the total 2021 budget for the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the cost anticipated for the nuclear weapons complex over the next 30 years is projected to consume US$2 trillion. This profligacy is being copied by other nations. It is the wrong bus. 

As Mikhail Gorbachev presciently wrote in 2017: “it all looks as if the world is preparing for war,” including nuclear war.

This dance macabre moves to the tune of two contrary doctrines through which security is pursued – strategic stability and, at the same time, the pursuit of military advantage. With nuclear weapons the threat to use them first remains part of the doctrine of deterrence. In other words, the reasons are incoherent. Worse they neglect the reality that accident, madness, or foolish miscalculation remains a daily risk. 

What is needed is the clarity and coherence of pursuing Human Security and addressing cooperatively the very real threats that must be met by working together. Human Security focuses on ensuring a clean sustainable environment, education, jobs, culture, community, health, food, and the flourishing that comes from freedom of worship, conscience, human rights and the rule of law. 

While brandishing nuclear weapons at each other over 70% of the world’s malnourished children are in Pakistan and India where each has a third of their children suffering from this scourge. For these children what does the security of the state mean? Moreover, what would happen if these nations used their nuclear weapons? Answer. Enough soot in the stratosphere to destroy the agricultural system of the planet to feed its human inhabitants and an end to civilization within a decade. 

Human Security starts with the premise that the reality of the natural world must be the foundation of our pursuit, rather than just focusing on human created institutions. The institution of the state has become an idol, an end in itself, such that we protect it with weapons which if used will kill us all and, ironically, the more we perfect the weapons the less security we obtain. The state is a tool to address real human needs rather than an end in itself. It is a human creation which means it can be molded to meet our needs.  

Voices: Is there something all of us can do in response…even a small step?

Jonathan Granoff: The Nobel Peace Laureates have suggested that all of us should demand that all political leaders answer three questions:

1. What are you doing to protect the climate?

2. What are you doing to eliminate poverty?

3. What are you doing to eliminate nuclear weapons? 

If we can cause our leaders to put their skills to addressing these issues the pursuit of realistic human security will follow. 

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