The Women, Peace-Builders

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Women, the cornerstone of the new era," as President Nelson Mandela told me in 1996 in Pretoria. "She will be the one who, with her inherent faculties, puts into practice the culture of peace and non-violence. Because women only exceptionally use force. And man only exceptionally does not use it”. 

I transcribe below a document written by Andre Sheldon, Director of the Global Strategy of Nonviolence:

“As Sumaya Farhat-Nasser and Gila Svirsky explain in a joint declaration, “the women’s peace movement in Palestine and in Israel believes that the time has come to end the bloodshed. The time has come to lay down our weapons and our fears. We refuse to accept more warfare in our lives, our communities, our nations. We refuse to go along with the fear. We refuse to give in the violence. We refuse to be enemies.”


Friday, January 20, 2017

In the face of serious global threats, we, the citizens of the world must come together at once!

For the first time in history humanity is facing potentially irreversible processes that could lead to points of non-return if corrective actions are not taken on time.

It is essential to promote on a global scale awareness of the unacceptable irresponsibility we could be accused of if we don’t react vigorously to redress current trends.

In September 2015, in the “Joint Declaration on Social and Ecological Emergency” ( endorsed in the first place by Mikhail Gorbachev, Mario Soares, Garry Jacobs, Colin Archer, Roberto Savio and François de Bernard, we had already suggested that, within a context of non-solidarity that was becoming increasingly egoistical, xenophobic, racist and fanatical, actions should be taken immediately to address environmental issues, social inequalities and extreme poverty, and to eliminate nuclear weapons. We had also stressed that we could no longer postpone the reinstatement –initially through the establishment of an extraordinary permanent meeting– of the United Nations as a democratic multilateral system, a system that was set aside by neoliberalism and replaced by plutocratic groups (G6, G7, G8, G20).

As was the case with other recent manifestos and global calls (Statement of Nobel Peace Laureates, Barcelona, December 2015; Campaign on “Disarmament for Development”, at the initiative of the International Peace Bureau, Berlin, September-October 2016...), any information  eventual response was silenced by the huge media power, always keen to favour a submissive and misinformed attitude from audiences.

The Paris Agreement on climate change (COP), signed during the meeting held by the United Nations on this topic, as well as the proposal of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the 2015-2030 period were seen as positive steps in the right direction.

But soon the expectations became less optimistic not only because resources were still too scarce to allow implementation of SGDs and the COP, but also because the OXFAM-INTERMON report had confirmed that wealth was progressively concentrated in a few hands: thousands of people were helplessly starving to death daily while 4.000 million dollars are invested in arms and military expenditure while development assistance had experienced a radical reduction, forcing many human beings to flee from their wretched homelands... to find upon their arrival -if they were fortunate enough to reach their destination- closed doors and hands -and minds!-  at the end of their dreams...

The situation of social and ecological emergency was already a cause of concern and everybody expected that diagnoses would soon give rise to immediate treatments that would be specially tailored for new generations, since this is the inalienable duty of the present ones.

And suddenly Mr. Donald Trump, United States President-elect, appeared on stage. The Republican party has always favoured US hegemony and has strongly opposed a democratic multilateralism (remember how it opposed to the League of Nations in 1919; to the United Nations System, especially in the eighties, when it entrusted worldwide governance to autarchic groups; it refused to endorse the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989; it placed the World Trade Organisation outside the scope of the United Nations; it ignored the Resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council when Iraq was invaded in 2003...).

Statements made by President-elect Donald Trump concerning nuclear weapons, his rejection of United Nations and his intention to breach the Agreements on Climate Change represent a global threat that cannot be tolerated.

We cannot accept in any way the immediate risk for humanity as a whole and, in particular, for young and future generations posed by the behaviour of the leader of the most powerful country in the Earth, who has repeatedly ignored the warnings of the scientific community –he has in fact nominated as Secretary of State a former Chief Executive of the Exxon Mobil Company, who during more than fifteen years (1980-1996) generously funded pseudo-experts whose task was to deny the adverse effect of CO2 and other “greenhouse” gasses emissions on the Earth’s habitability!

Until very recently, “We the Peoples...” -as lucidly referred at the  beginning of the Charter of the United Nations- were unable to express themselves. Today, with the new digital technology, they can express ourselves freely. And we know what happens worldwide. Now, we must raise our voices. Otherwise, we would become accomplices. Accomplices of a crime of silence.

Today, we, citizens of the world must raise a huge clamour in the cyberspace, and make it clear to President Trump that, if he persists to fulfil his dark purposes, there will be millions of human beings, driven by their profound concern to ensure the common destiny and, in particular, the future of young people, who will no longer buy products from or supply products to a country whose leader represents a hazard with irreversible consequences for humanity as a whole.

All human beings equal in dignity, “We, the peoples...” will lead the way towards a future free of nuclear weapons, a future where everyone will enjoy the appropriate conditions to live a decent life in a controlled ecological environment. The future must still be built. It's time for action. Tomorrow might be too late.

Now that it’s within our reach, let’s start the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace, from force to word.

Citizens of the world, the time has come to unite! Starting from 20 January 2017, we ask you to convey through the new comunication media your firm resolution to go ahead if Mr. Trump doesn’t change his program.

In the face of a global threat, a global response must be given to anyone who prevents us from fulfilling our supreme duty: taking care of the new generations. To betray them would be a huge historical mistake.

If we succeed in preventing these gloomy expectations from being met, “We, the peoples...” should be able to take the next step: the reinstatement of multilateralism that will allow a smooth transition along the first stages of the new era.

It is necessary to remain alert and vigilant, with an attitude permanently proactive, wide spreading  this message, suggesting eventually improvements and, above all, requesting support to very concrete aspects of it.

What are the Solutions to New Challenges?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

In this moment of very somber horizons, to learn once more from President Mikahil Serguéyevich Gorbachev, the “man who changed the world”,… and from Roberto Savio, who keeps a firm and visionary position in face of the immense media power, driven by the “markets”, promoters of fanatic and unbelievable behaviors, that represent today one of the most relevant threats to overcame, in order to be able to redress the present trends…

And from Martin Lees, in favor of a “systemic” approach, when the present strictly economic approach does not take into account the social and environmental dimensions… Yes, dear colleagues, to learn a lot from many of your excellent interventions….

As a scientist, who has been working in neonatal prevention of irreversible neuronal diseases, I must warn on the risk of reaching points of no return if timely treatments are not applied! Timely treatments!: we have many, too many, diagnosis… many “think tanks”… many brilliant ideas… but only very seldom we have treatments before is too late…

In social and environmental matters, we are now facing global problems that must be addressed without any further delay: yes, we are in the anthropocene… and, if not timely addressed, the habitability of the Earth could be deteriorated and the legacy to future generations would reflect an inadmissible intergenerational irresponsibility!

As it is rightly stated in the title of this meeting, “…what are the solutions to new challenges?”. “New” challenges, as emphasized yesterday by President Gorbachev.

New challenges in a new era:
·        Digital era: is the first opportunity for change of the humanity’s history in which the 95% of human beings were being born, living and dying in 50 square kilometers… They were invisible, obedient, fearful, silent… submitted to an absolute male power based always in the reason of force and not in the force of the reason… Based always in “si vis pacem, para bellum”… (if you wish peace, prepare war”…).

And, suddenly, in the new era of information and communication, the human beings are progressively aware of what happens in the world, they can express freely and raise their voices… and, particularly important, the women, always marginalized, can start, not in a mimetic way but with their inherent faculties, to take part in the decision making… This is extremely important, because I will never forget what President Mandela told me in Pretoria in 1996: “Women will be the “corner stone” of the new era… because they only exceptionally use force, when the man only exceptionally doesn’t use force”…

Yes: we are entering a new era in which the starting phrase of the UN Charter (1945) will become a reality: “We, the peoples… have resolved to save the succeeding generations from the horror of the war”…

But, immediately after, only States… and after, weakening the Nation-State, the markets… and after, the great neoliberal “domain” (military, financial, mediatic, energetic…) that not only substituted the UN by plutocratic groups (G6, G7, G8, G20…) but the “democratic values” (that must “guide” humanity, as enshrined in the UNESCO’s Constitution) by “marketing rules” worldwide.

Why western countries have accepted to put the reins of world governance, of 193 countries, in the hands of 6, 7, 8… 20 countries?
Why Europe –only a monetary union- has accepted that “the markets” appoint governments without elections in Italy and Greece, the cradle of democracy?  Why the European countries have not take into account the wonderful Charter of Fundamental Rights of the year 2000? Article number one: dignity… Please, leaders of Europe, take into account the Charter to be true democracies and not market-driven shortsighted nations. It has been, instead of an important increase in the aid to development, a sharp reduction. I remember when in the United Nations the keyword was to share… and now, all the countries not only the most developed countries, do not assist the less developed ones, and exploitation –as in the shameful case of coltan- has substituted international cooperation.

Yes, “all human beings equal in dignity”, this is the newest oldest solution.

New challenges”… But, at this moment, we must face global challenges without global institutions, without prospective and systemic analytical capacity.

New challenges without young actors? The cooperation of youth is indispensable.

New challenges with only answers to the old questions. We must change not only the answers but the questions…

And the first new challenge to overcome is be wise enough to change the concept of security: we are always talking about the “military security” related with frontiers and territories. But what about the people living inside these frontiers? What about the security of their food, water, health, environment, education?...

These are the issues of a new concept of security that from now on must be taken into account.

“There is no any challenge beyond the human distinctive creative capacity”, told John F. Kennedy in June 1963. The future is to be invented! Every human being able to create: this is our hope.

We can think otherwise, we can anticipate, we can imagine new ways of action!

We have excellent references to inspire us:
-         The UN Charter (1945).
-         The UNESCO’s Constitution (1945).
-         The Human Rights Universal Declaration (1948).
-         The 1993 Montreal World Plan of Action on Education in Human Rights and Democracy.
-         The 1993 Vienne Conference on Human Rights.
-         The 1994 Religions and a Culture of Peace Declaration.
-         The 1995 Declaration on Tolerance.
-         The 1999 Declaration and Programe of Action on a Culture of Peace.
-         The 2000 Earth Charter…

Yes, we must address the new challenges in a new way: it’s time for action. It’s time to urgently apply a new concept of security…social and environmental security, security to face natural and man-made catastrophes…

Now we have 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In 2000 we had only 8… and were scarcely addressed.

Now we have agreed in Paris the measures to control climate change. We have good diagnosis and prescriptions… but no treatment. The IPB (International Peace Bureau) of Geneva has started  a very important campaign: “Disarmament for Development”: with only 10% per year and country of the immense amount invested in armament and military expenditures, the environmental and extremely poverty challenges could be dealt with, without affecting the “military” security!

It is inadmissible –I repeat this to myself every dawn- that everyday die of hunger at least 20.000 persons, most of them children of 1-5 years, while 4 billion are invested in weapons and military security…

At present, the markets, particularly those related with the media, are leading the world governance. But before long, “We, the peoples”… will raise their voices… and the scientific, academic, artistic, intellectual communities will be at the forefront of the peoples mobilization!

As a biochemist, I wrote many years ago in the blackboard: evolution (as in nature) or revolution. The difference is de “r” of responsibility!

To be responsible we must have without delay new answers to new challenges… and we must be aware that “the peoples” will not remain obedient and silent anymore. They are becoming citizens of the world and they can express freely and request tolerance zero with intolerance; no fanaticism, racism, phobias; solidarity with those that are in need: “intellectual and moral solidarity” as enshrined in the UNESCO’ Constitution, taking into account the social aspects and not only the economical growth…

It is indispensable to know the roots  of fascism and fanaticism. If you plant hate you will collect terrorism. If you sow seeds of insolidarity,  you will collect violence… Those who decided to invade Iraq based on lies and without the UN agreement, are responsible of many insurgences and violences today.

What is need are multilateral democratic institutions –that the republican party of US has also under minded- with the refoundation of the United Nations System.  Genuine democracy is the solution: an Universal Declaration of Democracy (ethical, social, political, economical, cultural and environmental) has been drafted…

OXFAM has reported that less than 100 persons have more wealth that half of humanity (3.5 billion of human beings!). The “peoples” will not accept this anymore.

We live in a new context, we live in a new global framework where the  absolute power, the profound social gaps, the inequalities… will not be tolerated anymore. Now, the global citizens can raise their voice…

Yes: a new concept of security, with the reins of the common destiny in the hands of “We, the peoples”…

Yes, at least, from force to word, from a culture of imposition and domination to a culture of encounter, dialogue, conciliation and peace.

Yes: instead of “si vis pacem para bellum”, “si vis pacem, para verbum » !

From force to word : this is the solution, the answer, the dream.