“Letter to the G20”: The same response? Not again

Sunday, April 12, 2020

It has become obvious that the G20 –founded in 2008 to reduce the scandal produced by the autarchic G6, G7 and G8– has been a complete failure, since it has increased the social gap and has left behind the most vulnerable ones.  We are entering a new era, in the face of potentially irreversible processes such as climate change. We must therefore respond as wisely and firmly as possible, and invent without delay new measures at a global scale

The coronavirus pandemic has once again highlighted the shortfalls and lack of resources that have prevented us from reducing –if not from avoiding– the magnitude of consequences, and from downsizing not only the material damage but, above all, the human casualties...

In the face of the current outbreak of coronavirus –COVID-19– we cannot further tolerate an economy based on speculation, relocation of production and war. We must replace it by an economy based on knowledge and the promotion of a global sustainable development, allowing a dignified life for everyone and no longer excluding 80% of mankind, as it is currently the case.

When we see the radical difference there is between investments devoted to potential conflicts and resources available to face recurrent natural disasters (fire, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis...) or health catastrophes such as the current pandemic, we are horrified to realize that the concept of “security” that is still favoured by major weapon manufacturers is not only obsolete but highly prejudicial for mankind. Therefore, it is of the utmost urgency to establish a new concept of “security” under the close scrutiny and direct involvement of United Nations.

Health is the most important asset, and both its treatment and prevention aspects should be taken into account, always dealing with it with the highest professional expertise, and leaving aside any other consideration. Because health is a right everyone is entitled to. Great progress has been achieved in medical science, but just a small portion has been shared. The big challenge is being able to share and enlarge knowledge.

Gradually, epidemics –which have always existed and will continue to exist– will become serious pandemics because “human mobility” will keep on growing.  Until some decades ago, their propagation was very scarce because the vast majority of mankind was confined to small spaces and the transmission of disease outside its borders was unlikely.

We are presented everyday with images of the remarkable performance of health workers who take care of all coronavirus patients with the highest standards of professionalism and humanity, despite the dwindling resources they have available due to the unquenchable aspiration to weaken the State that has prevailed in recent years (this is how current democracies are “dying”...). We praise and applaud the invaluable work that continues to be carried out by all those who work in essential industries (such as nutrition, transport, distribution, regulation of citizens’ everyday behaviour, cleaning, disinfection...), as well as the involvement of military and security forces in emergency situations.  It is under these circumstances that we become aware -and we should never forget it again- of the impact caused by cutbacks in research capability, and by the reduction of the industrial network and many of the most relevant sectors of public health which should –from now on– always be prepared for eventualities having the same nature and seriousness as the current one. 

In the “Letter to the G20” that has just been signed by “world leaders as a response to the global coronavirus crisis”, the measures agreed upon are exactly the same as those implemented to tackle the 2008 financial crisis, that is, the same measures which led to the present situation and proved that markets cannot solve global challenges. To be able to cope with global threats, a proportionate response from “We, the peoples” is needed. Only a democratic multilateralism –and not the plutocracy that represents the power of one sole country– will allow us to rise to the occasion. Why should the reins of our common destiny be put in the hands of 20 countries when there are currently 196 countries? Problems will not be solved by “big powers” (financial, military, energy and media industries) but rather through the voice and joined hands of all peoples. The letter should have been addressed to United Nations to reinvigorate multilateralism instead of its main opponent.

The time has come –and potential irreversibility makes it even more urgent– to redirect the current gloomy trends of the neoliberal drift, which have led us to ignore the appeals of the scientific community pressing us to take without delay all relevant steps against climate change and the implementation of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals, 2030 Agenda) agreed by the UN General Assembly in November 2015 “to transform the world”.

Science must support citizens so that they stop being at the mercy of large international corporations and a few governments. Information that is so readily available today must be adequately checked so that, in the short term, our path towards the future is based on knowledge and not interests.

Wisdom consists today in promoting the evolution of governance so that revolution is no longer seen as the sole answer. To resort once more to outdated solutions would be equal to siding with the excellent cartoon published by El Roto in “El País” on April 5th: “When everything is over nothing will be the same... except for the usual, of course!”.

Progress achieved by medical science in recent years -vaccines, antibiotics, surgical practices, in-depth knowledge of pathophysiology, molecular regulators, mechanisms of genetic expression and epigenetic conditioning, cell signalling, enzymatic diagnosis and physical introspection...- has improved the standard of life and longevity of populations. Great advances have been achieved but the adequate means have not been provided to ensure that they benefit all human beings, equal in dignity.

The big challenge is now the capacity to share and enlarge knowledge. Until a few decades ago we did not know how the majority of the inhabitants of our planet lived. Now we do know and, therefore, if we don’t ensure access for everyone to reasonable levels of goods and services, we become accomplices.

Healthcare must be comprehensive and available for everyone. The time for passivity and fear is over, and we must proclaim loud and firmly that society will not make any concession when it comes to issues on which many times life itself depends.

The future is still to be done. And democracy is in jeopardy.  The future we dream of will emerge from global awareness, from worldwide citizenship, that will soon achieve equity and will at last be able to express itself and will no longer be invisible, silent, and submissive. At last, citizens will be able to freely demonstrate in the streets and the cyberspace.  At last the power of reason will prevail over the power of force. At last, everyone and not just a few. At last, the participation of citizens. At last, speech will shed light on the dark paths of tomorrow.


Foundation for a Culture of Peace

Federico Mayor Zaragoza, President of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, President de the Spanish Association for Science Progress (AEAC)

DEMOSPAZ-UAM (University Institute of Human Rights, Democracy, Culture of Peace and Nonviolence) 

Manuela Mesa, codirector of DEMOSPAZ

Carlos Giménez, director of DEMOSPAZ

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Premio Nobel de la Paz 1980. Presidente Honorario de la Fundación Servicio Paz y Justicia en A. Latina

Roberto Savio, President of “Othernews”

Rosa María Artal, journalist

Emilio Muñoz, Promoting Partner of AEAC

María Novo, Professor emeritus of Environmental Education and Sustainable Development

Vicente Larraga, Founding Partner of AEAC

Enrique Santiago, Jurist, expert in Human Rights and International Law

Montserrat Ponsa Tarrés, journalist

Rafael Monzó Giménez, president of the Centre UNESCO Valencia/Mediterráneo

Jose Luis Ramón Moraleda, Justice official

Anna Jarque, expert in performing arts in values education

Mercedes Dumont, psicóloga

Miquel Segura, president Centre Internacional per a la Creativitat Audiovisual

Alberto Guerrero Fernandez, Presidente Fundacion Española de Asociaciones Centros y Clubes UNESCO

Francisco Morales Garcia, psicólogo, director de Servicios Sociales Comunitarios en la Diputación Provincial de Granada

Antonio damian requena segovia, estadístico del Cuerpo Superior del Estado

Celestino Olalla Lorenzo, Presidente Ong Otromundoesposible

Santiago Serrate Ollé, director de orquesta 

Ángeles Saura, artista y docente UAM, Cátedra UNESCO Educación en Justicia Social

Juan D. Tutosaus, médico jubilado

Antonio Lameiro Couso, Profesor jubilado de Etica y Filosofía en secundaria 

Rafael Sánchez Sanz, Subdirector General África Fundación Sur

Juan José Tamayo, Director de la Cátedra de Teología y Ciencias de las Religiones "Ignacio Ellacuría" Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Professor K.M. Stokes, President, The University for Sustainability

Jorge Álvarez, Presidente de la Academia Española de la Radio

Jean-Jacques Lafaye, escritor y geopolitólogo

Márius Rubiralta, ex Rector de la Universidad de Barcelona. Profesor del Campus de la Alimentación de Torribera (UB)

Francisco Sierra Caballero, Catedrático Universidad de Sevilla. Presidente de ULEPICC

Nazanín Armanian, Profesora de relaciones internacionales y periodista 

Antonio Maíllo Cañadas, profesor de latín y coordinador general de IULV-CA de 2013 a 2019

Ernesto Alba Aragón, secretario general del Partido Comunista de Andalucía

Manuel Pineda Marín, europarlamentario

Toni Valero Morales, profesor de historia y coordinador general de IULV-CA

Alvaro Leyva Duran. Constituyente colombiano, ex ministro, constructor de Paz

Juan Rodríguez Corrales, Presidente del Centro UNESCO "Campo de Gibraltar"

Marisa Tejada Azul, actriz y directora de La Fábrica de Sueños 

Manuel Bestratén Bellovím Presidente de MIESES GLOBAL (Movimiento Internacional por la Excelencia, la Salud Empresarial y la Sostenibilidad)

Ton Dalmau Llagostera, Impulsor de microeconomies sociales

Ramon Clotet Ballúsm Miembro de Fundación Triptolemos para el desarrollo del Sistema Alimentario

Juan Manuel de Faramiñán Gilbert, Catedrático emérito de la Universidad de Jaén

Miguel Angel Invarato, Gestor Cultural y Presidente "Traductores del Viento.org"

Jose Esquinas Alcázar, Catedrático y ex directivo de Naciones Unidas/FAO

Bernabé López García, profesor de Historia Contemporánea del Mundo Árabe, UAM

Victoriano Fernández Fernández

If you want to join send an email with your name, surname and profession: info@fund-culturadepaz.org

On the subject of the coronavirus crisis: this time at last, we shall not forget

Monday, April 6, 2020

“We soon stopped recalling

 what once was unforgettable”.
(Rephrasing Borges)

Up to now, as soon as the first humanitarian reactions to tragedies were left behind, human beings tended to forget and go on with their daily patterns and routines, paying no attention to deep wounds that had not yet been healed. That’s exactly what happened recently in Haiti. And, immediately after the earthquake on January 14th 2010, I wrote in an article entitled “Briefly said: Haiti”: “Leaders should know that the civil society shall find its own voice, especially in the cyberspace, and it shall become louder and louder. We will be able at last to look into the eyes of those who have survived and tell them: the time for non-solidarity and oblivion, the time for disaffection has come to an end”.

I also echoed many times the words Forges used to repeat in his vignettes: “And don’t forget about Haiti”.  I advised him: “You should keep insisting because you remind us that we have a short memory when it comes to the December 2005 tsunami; the earthquakes in Peru, China... and Dafur... and the events that devastated Haiti only 15 years ago”.  I visited Haiti and wrote: “The last soldiers / went away / and peace broke out / in your lives, / when there were no reporters / to show the world how you lived and died every day... / You will no longer be killed / by bullets and fire. / You will die again / from oblivion. / As usual”.

In a world that is armed to the teeth but where there is no technology and no trained personnel to deal with natural disaster through a major joint action coordinated by the United Nations... everything remains the same. We must do everything possible against this seemingly inexorable course of events so that international leaders become aware that the time has come to implement a global and sustainable development as a substitute for the current economy of speculation and war... To cast aside at once the plutocratic groups who have been the masters of our common fate due to our own irresponsibility.

100,000 buildings have been destroyed, there are more than one million displaced persons, 150,000 people have contracted cholera and more than 3,500 deaths should be added to the 300,000 victims of the earthquake. This could have been a good reason to believe that their cries for help would not go unheard... but because the UN were cast aside and the rulers of the world were the most prosperous and powerful, international support was drastically reduced and the great tragedy nearly felt into oblivion. Instead of stretching hands, people were armed and raised their hands. And the big majority of distracted people did not even realize that it is everyone’s responsibility to plant the seeds of love and justice.

In January 12th 2020, only ten years after this tragedy, “El País” published an article signed by Jacobo García entitled “Lessons from Haiti” who, among other things, said the following: “... In just a few hours, the airport in Port-au-Prince had become too small to welcome the dozens of planes filled with food, tents and firemen... President Clinton held in Montreal a conference that was attended by donors and NGO’s from all over the world... A decade later, famine is spreading in a country where 1.2 million people live in a food emergency... 60% of the approved financial aid never reached Haiti". Despite the extraordinary efforts of United Nations and the Red Cross, Haiti’s vulnerability remains unabated. The “lessons” learned have not been put into practice.

We should feel ethically compelled to prevent the same thing from happening again with the “coronavirus lessons”. All citizens of the world without exception -since, in the face of global threats, there is no room for individual distinctions- must stop being abducted and stunned spectators and become resolute actors so that no one forgets again what should have never been forgotten; so that indicators of welfare are measured in terms of health, participation, standard of life and creativity, instead of taking solely into account the GDP which only reflects economical growth and is still unequally distributed; so that a new concept of security is established to protect not only the territories but also the human beings who live in them, making sure that they all have access to food, drinking water, health services, a protected environment and education; so that the governance is no longer in the hands of plutocratic groups and an efficient democratic multilateralism is restored; so that the 2030 Agenda (SDO) and the Paris Agreements are finally put into practice, taking particularly into account the irreversible processes.

In the midst of the virus crisis let’s bear in mind -so we can truly learn the lessons of the past and can implement them everywhere- the situation that prevails in countries that have always been neglected by the “big ones”, such as the locust plague that is currently ravaging Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia; the victims of AIDS and dengue fever; and the victims of the growing international lack of solidarity with refugees and migrants.

In short: Now at last! Now at last! when for the first time in history we have our own voice, “We, the peoples” should not forget the lessons of Haiti and the coronavirus inducing us to start a new era at a global scale and to radically change our behaviour as individuals and as a global community, so that everyone and not only a few can have the dignified life we all deserve.

“Order!” On the 75th anniversary of United Nations, building a new world order has become an urgent matter

Monday, January 13, 2020

“Order!” shouted in the House of Commons John Bercow, the peculiar and efficient speaker, with his strong and resolute voice. And we all felt comforted to see how the diverse and sometimes extravagant representatives of UK peoples managed to keep the composure they need to carry out the tasks they have been entrusted with.

The time has come for “We, the peoples” –as so wisely and prematurely proclaimed at the beginning of the Charter of the United Nations– to bear in mind future generations and request “order” from worldwide political leaders, because for the first time in history we are faced with global threats that are potentially irreversible and, unless we take urgent action to redirect current trends, points of no return could be reached regarding the Earth’s habitability.

For decades, scientists have insisted that we must urgently do whatever is needed to see that economy guarantees the full exercise of rights inherent to all human beings without exception, and consumption patterns do not cause any prejudice to nature and our standards of living.

In the 1950s, UNESCO created the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the International Geological, Hydrological and Oceanographic Programmes, and soon after “Man and the Biosphere”... and the Club of Rome which, under the charismatic leadership of Aurelio Peccei, already warned us about “the limits of growth”... and United States Academy of Sciences who in 1979 alerted that “greenhouse” gas emissions were not only experiencing a steady increase, but still worse... the reuptake capacity of seawater was also decreasing due to continued damage to phytoplankton caused by offshore dumping and washing of oil tankers, instead of using adequate port facilities...

Not only did the “Great Dominion” (military, financial, energetic and media powers) remain deaf to the urgent appeals of Ecology organizations, but it also committed a true crime with the creation of powerful foundations that hired “pseudo-scientists” to argue exactly the opposite.

And this was happening precisely when neoliberalism, headed by President Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, embarked in a long process aimed at marginalizing democratic multilateralism –which had already been openly opposed by the Republican Party of the United States in 1919, with the League of Nations–, thus challenging the spheres of competence of almost 200 countries, and entrusting planetary governance to an oligarchic and plutocratic group, the G6 which really was one sole power –the American G1– and later became the G7, G8 and G20. That was the beginning of the drift we are faced with today at a global scale, together with the added urgency of having to tackle uncontrollable phenomena such as the climate change. As put forward by the European Union in Lisbon in 2000, corrective measures to tackle the economy and the serious social unbalances must necessarily “be based on knowledge”.

Despite the fact that –with the aim of allowing the new Century and Millennium to start under a good omen– relevant benchmarks-roadmaps were approved during the 1990s such as the “Earth Charter”, the  “Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace”,  the “Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union”, the UNESCO Resolution on the “Responsibility Towards Future Generations”... despite the end of the abominable racist practices of the apartheid thanks to the magical action of Nelson Mandela, and the no less surprising transformation of the Soviet Union into a Community of Independent States thanks to the unexpected Mikhail Gorbachev... despite the happy presence of extraordinary leaders in Europe, Latin America, Asia... despite the fact that, thanks to digital technology, thousands of “uninformed” human beings –who were born, lived and died in a few square kilometres, and knew nothing about what was going on beyond their immediate environment– would at last become “citizens of the world” and, what is still more relevant, could start to express themselves freely, giving voice to peoples that up to now had remained silent, fearful, obedient, submissive... despite the fact, above all, that women, who were placed under the dominance of male absolute power since the dawn of time, will now gradually take hold of the public scene, and will finally achieve full equality with men, and become –in the words of Mandela– “the cornerstone of the new era”... despite the fact that young people began to peacefully put forward –as symbolized by the 15M and Fridays for Future– their demands for brighter prospects...

... Despite all the above, the dawn of the 21st century has been marked by the overwhelming power of “markets”, the untamed privatization, the gradual influence of mass media that transform human beings into abducted spectators instead of actors willing to defend their principles, the abuse of technology that could, if well managed, be useful to channel many of the current excesses...

The big “magnates” of the Earth have succeeded in their incessant, unscrupulous attempt to globalize non-solidarity, indifference, ignorance, irresponsibility... They used simulation and lies as a rationale for Iraq's invasion, and they didn’t allow United Nations to look for appropriate solutions for conflicts such as the ongoing tragedies of Syria and Yemen... nor did they agree to discussing alternative ideas other than those offered by “dominant countries” to deal with the “Arab Spring”.

In the Autumn of 2015 –thanks to President Obama who had already solved high risk situations such as those affecting Iran– an Agreement was reached in Paris, within the framework of UN, in order to restrain climate change –even Pope Francis wrote the ecological letter “Laudato si”!– and Obama also signed together with the most densely populated countries the UN General Assembly Resolution on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at “transforming our world”.

Everything seemed to have been at last appropriately rearranged with global governance entrusted to democratic multilateralism and the simultaneous decay of plutocratic groups... until some months later Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States and only a few hours later he proclaimed “America first” and he said that he would not implement neither the Paris Agreements nor the 2030 Agenda.

And these unfortunate decisions did not give rise –in the era of the Anthropocene!– to the immediate opposition of other worldwide leaders... Because, contrary to what had happened at the end of last century, these leaders no longer exist today.

In the four months that have elapsed since 2015, the situation has deteriorated at a global scale and, in some respects, as in ecology, we are about to reach limits that should never be crossed. Wherever we look: Latin America with Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia...; Africa with Libya...; the Arab world with Syria...; or the East...

On the 75th anniversary of the creation of United Nations by President Roosevelt, there seems to be only one solution, as in 1945, to tackle the multiple and complex issues we are facing today: multilateralism, “We, the peoples”... the possibility for 196 countries to join together, discuss and decide, by proportional voting, which urgent measures must be taken without delay... the actions needed to efficiently implement the SDGs, the new concept of security that will allow not only the defence of territories but also of their inhabitants. I must insist once again that it is intolerable to invest 4,000 million dollars per day in weapons and military expenses while thousands of people are dying from hunger and extreme poverty, most of them girls and boys ranging from one to five years old.

In October 2020, on the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, a great popular clamour –especially from women and young people– must give rise to a great historical shift that will allow the world governance to be entrusted to a multilateral democracy. It is up to “We, the peoples” to proclaim “order!” in the face of the current troubled situation of the world.