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INTRODUCTION Kevin M. Cahill, M.D. Human security is increasingly recognized as a basic right for all people. It is an essential for the development of a healthy society as well as for the protection of the individual from the arbitrary power of the state or the threat of harm from criminals and terrorists. Human security transcends national borders and restrictive laws, viewing every person as deserving of fundamental freedoms and universal rights. For humanitarian workers personal security is a sine qua non. Professional humanitarians know that danger is an almost inevitable part of most complex emergency situations in which they struggle to offer assistance and help bring order out of chaos. The experienced humanitarian learns how to predict and prepare for trouble and minimize risks. Nevertheless, even the best-organized humanitarian programs may be thwarted or aborted by a climate of violence and insecurity. Unarmed humanitarian workers are particularly vulnerable in such situations. In fact, today more innocent civilians and humanitarians are lost in the crossfires of conflicts than are the armed combatants. On rare occasions the tragic death of one humanitarian can help re-focus the determination of the entire world to find better ways to preserve and even expand our precious human security. When Sergio Vieira de Mello was killed in the line of duty in Baghdad on 19 August 2003, his death was mourned in numerous memorial services in many parts of the world. Memorial services are appropriate at a time when the impact of sudden death seems overwhelming, and, in this case, they allowed those who knew, admired, and loved Sergio cahill.qxp 10/1/2004 1:36 PM Page xix to struggle with their own grief and loss and pain and anger. Such services provide a necessary catharsis for those who survive death in this lonely, yet still lovely, world. Emotions and decorum do not encourage careful scholarly analysis at memorial services. But with the healing of time we can move beyond mourning and create, from the ashes of those who go before us, new and better programs to protect the innocent, and alleviate the pains of those who are ill and oppressed. For example, physicians are accustomed to performing an autopsy on the deceased, not merely to confirm the cause of an individual death but to find clues to prevent further tragedies, to learn from the finite past that the living, and future generations, might enjoy a safer existence. Viewed in this way an autopsy is a final gift. This volume on Human Security for All is, I think, one that Sergio would have wanted to offer his family, friends, and co-workers as a final part of his rich legacy. In this book the contributors discuss some of the major themes to which Sergio devoted, and for which he ultimately sacrificed, his life. It is most fitting that this tribute takes place in a university. The admirable purpose of institutions of higher learning is—and has always been—the evolving and endless search for meaning and vision and, maybe, truth, including the attempt to understand the emotions and passions and thoughts—or distortion thereof—that lead to wars and famines, conflicts and disasters. Academia tries to translate the tragedies of humanity into knowledge and to help create the traditions and values that sustain our civilization. In fact, Sergio had often participated in the teaching efforts of the Center for International Health and Cooperation and its academic arm, the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University. He shared his wisdom and experience with a new generation training for international humanitarian and relief work. He knew that, in the harsh reality of his work, in the midst of conflict and chaos, there was rarely “neutral space,” even for humanitarians . He recognized that “neither dignity nor equality could take root in the absence of basic security.” The safety of humanitarian workers is an absolute fundamental if they are to be able to contribute to healing and rebuilding war-torn societies. This was his life’s task, his noble goal. Shortly before going to Iraq he wrote, “we are, once again, at a xx INTRODUCTION cahill.qxp 10/1/2004 1:36 PM Page xx crossroads: we will make the most of it and regret nothing. Unless we aim for the seemingly unattainable, we risk settling for mediocrity.” This book, based on Sergio’s vision, considers some of the most difficult topics facing humankind today, and we clearly cannot afford mediocrity. INTRODUCTION xxi cahill.qxp...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780823247950
Related ISBN
9780823223985
MARC Record
OCLC
610041381
Pages
256
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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