“WE, THE PEOPLES...”

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Adopting a Universal Declaration on Democracy to enter into a new era in the proper way

In San Francisco in 1945, at the end of the Second World War, United Nations was founded under the American leadership of President Roosevelt, with a Chart beginning with the following words: “We the peoples are determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war". Today more than ever it is important to bear in mind that it is humanity as a whole that should be taken into account... Governments should come in second place, after the people... 

Universal principles and values are often not complied with in the daily life of our “Global Village”. The perverse actions of leaders who consistently infringe the basic rules of human coexistence are tolerated without United Nations having the possibility to take immediate action; government responsibilities are left to the vagaries of the market; capital, weapons, drugs and people trafficking is allowed without any sanction being imposed because we are lacking the regulatory and punitive mechanisms which are typical of the only legal and ethical framework that exists: United Nations, consisting in “us”, that is, in all peoples of the world.

All united, unequivocally. All together to defend the values that will prevent social disruptions, marginalization and exclusion. All together to provide the necessary vigour to all measures taken to quickly mitigate the “physical vulnerability” we are suffering from. We must also, all together, take corrective actions to address the “moral vulnerability” of our time, as I already asked for in a paper having this same title and published 17 years ago. We must all be in favour of life. And be able to anticipate.

Life can be threatened in many ways… When acts of terrorism are perpetrated, when human trafficking is tolerated and, above all, when we show no solidarity to the hundreds of emigrants who reach our European beaches (if they finally make it...) searching for a “better future” and not being welcomed as they expected... An attempt on someone’s life is an unjustified crime. An attempt on the life of thousands of helpless citizens is an atrocious action that causes consternation and indignation, and impels us to strive more resolutely than ever to strengthen solidarity between all inhabitants of the Earth.

We must keep aware and vigilant. In times of great human tension, we can only find the right path if we think big, if we think of everyone.  If we think small, if we only bear in mind a few of us, we will fail. Moral legitimacy requires liberty, equality and justice to be implemented at a global scale.

It is very difficult to appeal to moral values when you are fighting against those who dwell in darkness. It is indispensable to reinforce without delay the United Nations system providing it with all personnel, financial, technical and defence resources it requires to take immediate action, anticipate and prevent as it has always done. At the end of the Second World War -a war where the most abominable practices of genocide and holocaust were implemented- peoples around the world had no possibility to take action because most of them were born, lived and died in a few square kilometres, they knew nothing about what was going on beyond their immediate environment, they submitted to absolute power invariably exercised by men, and they remained silent and fearful. In the last three decades -owing largely to digital technology- human beings have gradually become aware of what is happening all over the world, they can now freely express themselves and, above all, there are now men and women. All equal in dignity. All with the unique capacity of creating! They should all be united to try to straighten up many of the current trends, and join hands against all those who are putting at risk peace and coexistence with their mean and short-sighted behaviour.

We need United Nations to be strong enough, with the support of each and every country of the Earth and, above all, of the most powerful, in order to “save succeeding generations from the scourge...” United Nations should have full authority to implement the 2030 Agenda aimed at “Transforming our world”, by ensuring an integral, endogenous, sustainable and human development, and doing whatever is needed so that resources of all kind -and, in the first place, knowledge- are adequately allocated, while preserving the infinite diversity of mankind -which is our most valuable asset- thanks to the power conferred on UN by a set of core values accepted by people of all faiths and ideals.

United Nations must become again the organization that allowed the world to rise from the ashes of the Second World War; that approved in 10 December 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is a far-reaching guideline that has become today more urgent than ever and should be the rule for global governance. Seventy years have elapsed since this planetary moral compass was created, and it is now up to “We, the peoples” to request the adoption of a Declaration on Democracy, which is the only framework that can guarantee the full exercise of human rights and the assumption of inter generational responsibilities.

We now have a voice; it’s time to raise it. We cannot keep quiet any longer and accept that natural resources belonging to less developed countries continue to be exploited by countries that should have rather helped them with their endogenous development; neither can we accept the exodus of the most talented individuals nor the ever-increasing abyss between the standards of living of the rich and the poor. The great number of excluded and hungry people -every day thousands of human beings die from hunger- compel us to amend without delay our current patterns of development, because what is at stake is not only our present instability but also the standards of living of futures generations on the planet Earth.

The role played by United Nations in peace building, which has been an essential part of its mission, has been gradually replaced by its peace keeping and humanitarian assistance role, while in the global scenario the “peoples” have been swept aside by private and public conglomerates operating without a “code of practice”, something that only United Nations could establish at a supranational level.

It has now become clear that global governance cannot be the task of just a few -let alone of the “markets”- but should rather be based on generally accepted principles. The responsibility for peace and justice does not rest solely on the ruling class. Peace and justice depend on all of us, and they should both be constructed inside our minds and homes to prevent violence from occurring within our social environment or against it.

When we see the radical difference between investments devoted to potential conflicts and resources available to face recurrent natural disasters (fire, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis...), we are horrified to realize that the notion of “security” that is still favoured by major arms manufacturers is not only obsolete but also highly prejudicial for humanity as a whole. Therefore, it is of the utmost urgency to establish a new notion of security under the vigilant supervision and the direct participation of United Nations.  A new strategy is now urgently required to prevent any violation of the fundamental right to life from going unpunished. If we want to minimize the number of extremist and dehumanized terrorists we should bear in mind what security means currently, at the dawn of a new century and a new millennium...

Today big powers still think that military strength is the sole expression and reference for “security”. It is a big and costly mistake to deal only with war issues and totally neglect many other aspects related with “human” security, the latter being -in any case- the only thing that should really interest us. 

When we see that arsenals are crammed with rockets, bombs, planes and warships, submarines... and we turn our heads and see thousands of human beings who are dying from starvation everyday or who live in extreme poverty conditions without having access to adequate health services... we have no other choice but to recognize and condemn the gradual deterioration of the Earth’s habitability, being aware of the fact that action must be taken without delay to avoid us from reaching points of no return in essential issues related with our legacy for future generations. 

Food security, access to drinkable water and health services, quick, coordinated and effective action to face emergencies: this is the only security that “We the peoples...” deserve and dream about.

I must insist that the solution is democracy at a local and global scale: the voice of the peoples, of all peoples. Only this will allow us to reach the “intellectual and moral solidarity” proclaimed by the UNESCO Constitution, one of the most enlightening documents of the 19th century which begins as follows: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”. Building peace through education provided to all during our entire life.  

We’ve always lived within the context of the law of the strongest. ”If you want peace get ready for war” said an old and especially perverse proverb. We now have to make the transition from a culture of conflict to a culture of relationships “in a brotherhood spirit”, as stated in article one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

I like to emphasize that the past has already been written. The only thing we can do is to describe it and we must do it as accurately as possible. It is important to remember in order not to repeat our mistakes but rather learn from them. The only thing we can do with the future is to write about it because it is yet to be done.  But we must write the future all together, seeking inspiration in the great universal values, pleading for the dignity of all human beings and bearing always in mind that we are all different from one another and we only exist as long as others exist, and we cannot be without the others...

We, different from one another, but bound together by a set of universal values that guide the destiny we inevitably share.  Like in Leonardo’s boat, when the storm rages and the sea ripples, then suddenly there are no men and women, no poor and rich, no black and white, no children and adults abroad... but only passengers who must restlessly strive to keep the ship afloat... Let’s have meetings and discussions to submit our own proposals and get to know the proposals made by others.  In order to invent together a new future with a human face... 

Is there any better opportunity than the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to adopt a Declaration on Democracy in the headquarters of United Nations? And we already have a rather elaborate draft on the ethical, social, political, financial, cultural and international dimensions of democracy (https://declaraciondemocracia.wordpress.com/ ). What is needed now is knowledge and political willingness. “We, the peoples” -who are no longer impassive spectators but committed actors- undertake to call for the adoption of this declaration. Genuine democracy at all levels is the only way to correct current gloomy trends.

Published in Público, October 9th

Profesor Vicent Martínez Guzmán

Friday, August 24, 2018

El Profesor Vicent Martínez Guzmán, sembrador de paz, de paces, ha culminado la fase visible de su excepcional trayectoria humana y educativa. Se ha ausentado pero son tantas las semillas que sembró y la luz que emanó sobre la convivencia pacífica, la justicia y la libertad que seguirá estando presente, como referente primordial, en el comportamiento cotidiano de tantísimas personas que le mantendrán en sus brújulas y de muchísimas más que lo incorporarán. 

Sentía por él una admiración y una amistad extraordinarias. Seguirá donde estuvo, donde está: en la vanguardia de la cultura de paz y de la no violencia que prevalecerán en la nueva era que se avecina. Seguirá siendo “un crit de la consciencia”. 

A todos sus familiares, discípulos y amigos mi más profunda condolencia.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan passed away

Saturday, August 18, 2018

To his wife, family, relatives and all the members of the United Nations System, my deepest condolences. 

He was always in the forefront in favor of equal human dignity, peace and full exercise of the human rights. 

Kofi Annan will always remain for all of us and many people in the world as a reference and guidance in our everyday behavior. 

With highest esteem, 

Federico Mayor Zaragoza 
Former Director General of UNESCO (1987-1999) 
President of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace