“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.

Saving Venice

Monday, December 2, 2019

Venice is a world heritage. It belongs to all of us. We must work together to ensure that this cultural heritage is preserved. As it’s the case with Notre Dame. As it’s the case with the Amazon. Neglecting the democratic multilateralism and entrusting the governance of our common destiny to only a few countries -in fact, to one sole country- is another huge mistake of the prevailing plutocratic system.

I must insist once more that we cannot tolerate that 4,000 million dollars be invested per day in military expenses and in the weapon industry while thousands of people are dying from hunger and extreme poverty, most of them girls and boys ranging from one to five years old. There is an ever-increasing, unquenchable need for funds allocated to territorial defence... But is there anything left for the inhabitants of these territories? What are the resources allocated to ensuring a dignified life in areas that are overprotected by means of increasingly efficient and expensive war devices? What technologies are being developed to cope with natural disasters, fire, floods, earthquakes...?

Mankind is still lacking access to the five priorities established by United Nations -food, water, healthcare, environment care and education- and we have not yet the ability to prevent and to address global threats. With Barack Obama as President of the USA, in the fall of 2015 there was a reason for hope: although the advice of scientists concerning ecological deterioration and the irreversible nature of some of the processes had been ignored for years, Obama finally succeeded in triggering a response from the keenest observers and having them sign -within a multilateral frame- the Paris Agreements on Climate Change and the Resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at “Transforming our World”. Everything seemed to indicate that the extremely serious situations resulting from the action of irresponsible political leaders would at last be addressed.

But hope quickly vanished: as could be expected given the well known hostility of the Republican Party of the United States toward multilateralism, the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA led to a demand, immediately accepted by the G7, of more funds being allocated to defence, and the announcement that the SDGs and the urgent agreements on climate change would not be put into practice... And this serious offence committed by the implausible President of the USA against humanity as a whole did not give rise to any institutional or personal reply!

I’m referring to the above to make it clear to us all that rescuing Venice is part of the change of direction we must make without delay at a planetary scale. A great popular clamour -both in the streets and in the cyberspace- is now urgent if we want to promote a new concept of security allowing to address the above mentioned priorities, and thus to ensure a dignified life for all human beings, and a resolution of all conflicts - within a multilateral frame- through word and not force.

For the first time in history we are confronted with an imminent case of intergenerational responsibility because -due to the above mentioned irreversibility of some processes- the habitability of the Earth as a whole could be affected and the historic mistake of not having been able to avoid this consequence could fall upon current generations.

Venice is drowning... And at the same time the sea level is rising. Many centuries ago the course of rivers was altered and walls and big dams were built. More than three decades ago -I remember the actions taken by UNESCO in the nineties- a very interesting hydrological study was made to assess if the “high waters” could be held with 78 mobile dams or floodgates suitably located at the entrances of Venice lagoon... The MOSE (Experimental Electromechanical Module designed in the late eighties) was upgraded and it looked as though its implementation would be a suitable solution for the preservation of the “aquatic city”. Once more large sums were invested in bombers and rockets to the great satisfaction of big corporations of the war industry, while the implementation and efficient operation of the dams that could “isolate” the lagoon of the Adriatic Sea was delayed. The construction of the system of floodgates finally started in 2003 and it should have been operational by 2016.

35 million tourists every year! Everybody should visit -either personally or through the media- and enjoy the City of Canals, one of the most incredible World Cultural Heritage Sites. The neoliberal drift is coupled with a greater social gap, force as the only rationale and a progressive deterioration of the Earth’s habitability, the reason for the later being that, for the first time in the history of mankind, many of the features that are typical of our current way of life have an ecological impact. It is absolutely unacceptable that, despite the fundamental agreements that were reached in 2015 concerning the Climate Change, The Republican President Donald Trump still continues to set the pace of life in the whole Planet without anyone opposing his plans. Up to now. Venice, the Amazon, California fires... these could be the triggers for a popular reaction. The time has come for “We, the peoples”. The time has come to cease being mere spectators and to become the actors of our own destiny.

Now at last “We, the peoples”

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The time has come for citizens to get involved without delay in both local and global governance in order to be able to tackle the irreversible processes that have today become a serious threat for the standards of living of the planet Earth.

It’s been years since the UNESCO, the Club of Rome, the United States National Academy of Sciences and the UN panel of scientists first requested and then urged to monitor the prejudicial effects on environment -soil, sea and air- produced by “greenhouse” gasses emissions and resulting from the burning of fossil fuels, especially those used for industrial, transport and cooling activities.

To ensure that these urgent calls would not be ignored and that the appropriate measures would be implemented, it was essential for democratic multilateralism to swiftly and efficiently operate and, therefore, to provide United Nations with all personnel, defence and financial resources that were needed to allow an efficient and urgent response.

Neoliberalism not only ignored the many requests from the scientific and academic communities, it also put the common fate of mankind in the hands of just a few countries (G6, G7, G8, G20 plutocratic groups), who submissively obeyed their master’s voice and took decisions based on short term financial interests, without taking into account the obvious deterioration signs such as the climate change and the melting of polar ice caps.

In the autumn of year 2015, and owing largely to President Obama, Paris Agreements on Climate Change were signed and UN approved the 2030 Agenda, which contained the Sustainable Development Goals for “Transforming our World”.

The period for hope did not last very long: President Donald Trump sidelined United Nations, as his predecessors of the Republican Party had done in the past, and he then proclaimed that the Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives regarding climate change would not be implemented.

And silence prevailed. Silence from the European Union which was still seen by many countries as the main reference with regards to universal values that should prevail.

Silence also from big global consortia, the most faithful guardians of communication and information media. 

And silence -the most baffling silence- from the academic, scientific, artistic and literary communities... that is, from intellectuals.

All were absent-minded, all looked elsewhere, instead of caring about future generations just behind us, instead of letting Mr. Trump know that no outrage would be committed against humanity without being punished. 

The American President asked for more money for defence, and all countries remained silent and submissive, and immediately said they would increase their investment in military expenditure and weapons.   Apparently more than 4 billion dollars per day were not enough to ensure territorial defence... although thousands of people were dying every day from hunger and extreme poverty, most of them boys and girls ranging from one to five years old.

The time has now come to take notice of what is happening and raise our voice, now that for the first time in history we, the peoples, can freely express ourselves.

We should bear in mind Stephane Hessel’s words urging us to become angry and commit ourselves, and José Luis Sampedro’s advise to young people when he told them they should “change direction and embark on a new ship”.

It is today urgent to establish a new concept of security, so that these big amounts of money are no longer invested exclusively in armies and weapons for territorial defence, but also in efficient prevention and response systems allowing us, for example, to deal with fires that have -in America itself- reduced to ashes thousands of acres without any essential step being taken during one whole year to protect the forests and with no available ground and air technology  for an efficient  response.  The same applies to other natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, tsunamis... In a word, we have prepared ourselves and have gathered thousands of soldiers in barracks in order for them to tackle military conflicts, but not to deal with natural disasters, in order for them to be ready to protect the property of land, but not the well-being of people living there.

Once again, if the opportunity was given to United Nations to act as it should, all human beings, equal in dignity, would have access to the five social priorities set by UN System: food, drinking water, high quality health services, environmental protection and education.

I must insist: a new concept of security is needed to be able to tackle global threats. Faced with problems that have an impact on humanity as a whole, all citizens of the world should react.  We must indeed admit that, in terms of quantity, most countries are irrelevant. Compared to India or China, each with more than 1 billion inhabitants, most nations of the world have no weight, if an objective analysis is made. But they might be extremely influential in terms of quality, if they show with their actions, their projects, their vision of the future, etc. that they have the ability to correct current worldwide trends and to enter the new era full of hope.

The time has come to hear the voice of “We, the peoples”, especially the voice of women and young people who have taken on today responsibilities they were not allowed to assume up to now.

Because I’m deeply concerned about the silence of some of our leaders and the statements of others (such as those made by the heads of IT corporations), I’ve come to believe that the time has come to promote without any further delay big worldwide demonstrations from the “peoples”, as citizens were referred to so prematurely and so wisely in the Charter of the United Nations in 1945, citizens who are today our only hope.