“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

La mujer, “piedra angular de la nueva era”

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Me lo dijo el Presidente Nelson Mandela en 1996 en Pretoria, cuando yo le manifestaba mi decepción por la escasa aceptación que en aquel momento había conseguido la cultura de paz frente a la cultura de imposición, violencia y guerra que había prevalecido durante siglos. “Se debe a que desde el origen de los tiempos unos cuantos hombres han mandado sobre el resto de los hombres y la totalidad de las mujeres”. En efecto, la inmensa mayoría de los seres humanos nacían, vivían y morían confinados en muy reducidos espacios. Y eran, lógicamente, silenciosos, temerosos, obedientes… “Si quieres la paz, prepara la guerra” era el siniestro proverbio que todos seguían –y siguen hoy gobernantes irresponsables- marginando a la mujer “en la casa, la cocina y la costura”… 

”¡Lo vamos a cambiar todo!”, han proclamado millones de mujeres el 8 de marzo de 2018. ¡Qué bien! ¡Qué bien que la igualdad sin cortapisas permita establecer los nuevos rumbos que tanto deseábamos y que el poder absoluto masculino impedía! 

Gracias a la tecnología digital, los seres humanos ya pueden hoy saber lo que acontece en todo el mundo y expresarse libremente. “Cambiar el mundo, amigo Sancho, no es locura ni utopía sino justicia”, escribió Cervantes. Se trata ahora, ahora por fin, de poner en práctica la lúcida expresión con que se inicia la Carta de las Naciones Unidas: “Nosotros, los pueblos… hemos resuelto evitar el horror de la guerra a las generaciones venideras”. Entonces era prematuro. Y “los pueblos” fueron representados exclusivamente por Estados y por hombres. 

En la conversación que mencionaba al principio, el Presidente Nelson Mandela completó su aseveración del papel central de la mujer en la nueva era “porque la mujer sólo excepcionalmente utiliza la fuerza cuando el hombre sólo excepcionalmente no la utiliza”. 

El pilar fundamental de todos los derechos humanos es la igual dignidad. Así lo corrobora la Carta de Derechos Fundamentales de la Unión Europea del año 2000 que, al parecer, no han leído atentamente la mayoría de los actuales líderes europeos. Ahora sí, después del 8 de marzo, puede tener lugar la transición histórica de la fuerza a la palabra. De esta manera buena parte de los inmensos caudales que se destinan hoy a la defensa de los territorios podrían invertirse en la seguridad alimentaria, sanitaria, medio ambiental y educativa de los habitantes de estos territorios tan protegidos. 

Es intolerable que frente a las grandes amenazas globales - nuclear, extrema pobreza, cambio climático- y con procesos potencialmente irreversibles, no existan recursos cuando el G7, la Unión Europea y el gobierno español se han apresurado a incrementar (¡hasta el 80% en el caso de España!) los presupuestos de defensa. 

Es igualmente intolerable que la insolidaridad y la falta de apoyo al desarrollo para una vida digna en sus lugares de origen, haya resultado en miles de inmigrantes ahogados y desaparecidos en el Mediterráneo… 

Mujer, igualdad total. Ha llegado el momento de esclarecer tantos horizontes sombríos. Todavía estamos a tiempo. Como en los versos de Tennyson en Ulises: “Venid, amigos míos,/ aún no es demasiado tarde para buscar un mundo nuevo../.. con la voluntad de resistir, de no rendirse”...

Desvivirse para vivir armoniosamente, para, todos distintos, sentirnos unidos por unos principios universales que guían nuestro destino inexorablemente común. Como en el barco leonardino que, cuando se abate la tormenta y se encrespan las aguas, súbitamente no hay a bordo mujeres y hombres, pobres y ricos, negros y blancos, jóvenes y adultos... sino únicamente pasajeros que deben colaborar afanosamente para mantener el buque a flote… 

“El Roto” nos advierte magistralmente en su viñeta del 9 de marzo de que es imprescindible que a partir de ahora todos los días del año ratifiquemos con nuestra conducta lo proclamado el 8 de marzo, de tal forma que este día sea el principio de todos los días, el principio de la inflexión histórica hacia la nueva era en la que los seres humanos vivan, como recomendaba Miguel Hernández en uno de sus preciosos versos, “con el amor a cuestas”.




What keeps us irresponsibly silent?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Where are the voices that were proclaimed so much? The voices of the marginalized, of the forgotten, of the young whose future is darkened even more by a handful of currencies, of the academic, scientific, artistic communities ... that should be at the forefront of the great popular mobilization that today is imperative and urgent? Only women, fortunately, seem to have understood that now, in the face of potentially irreversible processes, the time has come for "We, the peoples," as so lucidly and prematurely expressed in the United Nations Charter...

They will be, as predicted by Nelson Mandela, the "cornerstone" of the new era. It is necessary to act without delay if we want these new times become a reality. Facing the global challenges that threaten humanity as a whole -nuclear, extreme poverty, climate change- we cannot postpone our reaction... because tomorrow may be too late.

I never tire of repeating that it is ethically inadmissible that more than 4 billion dollars are invested in arms and military expenditures every day, while thousands of people die, most of them girls and boys from one to five years old. However, it is a shame! that not only the investments in defense have not decreased but, at the request of President Trump, they have increased ... And in Spain the government has hurried to announce, without having any protest immediately after, that will increase it 80%!

On the other hand, the proposals to carry out the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and the Agreements on Climate Change that would allow the great transition from an economy of speculation, productive delocalization and war, to a knowledge-based economy for a global, human and sustainable development, have slowed down.

And silence.


The unusual President Trump has announced with great fanfare that he will not put into practice the measures that would prevent a further deterioration of the habitability of the Earth, so wisely promoted and endorsed by his predecessor.


And silence.

In cyberspace, where there must be millions of "whatsApp" and "twitters" to warn the Republican President of the United States that if he continues to seriously affect the future of humanity, we will stop buying American products...

And silence.

Trump further marginalizes the United Nations and reinforces the nonsense and inefficient plutocratic groups (G7, G8, G20) invented by Reagan  and Thatcher’s neoliberalism...


And silence.

When it is more urgent a new concept of security, and work of and lifestyle... When it is essential to invent a different future and remind us every day that the future is still in the to-do list (perhaps already for a short time)... we look on the other side, the governors appear discouraged and obedient, the media, almost all the voice of their master, are taken care in distracting the peoples....

And silence.

Here is what I wrote in Berlin on October 22, 2011. Today is much timelier:

"I pretended I did not know ... and now I bear the responsibility in my conscience, sleepless night and day.


It is an unavoidable

duty

contemplating

the whole world.
There are no excuses.


We can no longer

claim

that we did not know.


Hurry up
because we never

know

if we could take

the next step.

The inscrutable
mystery

of existence

does not allow

delays.

Take advantage of

every moment.

Do not waste
a moment.

Yes, wait

but do not wait calmly. "



Let us not wait for one more moment:  let us raise our voice in order that   great popular outcries allow us to look in the eyes of future generations and say: "We have done our duty."

Education? Philosophy

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The first thing that the new Director-General of the UNESCO -Mrs. Audrey Azoulay- has done is to send a message to the world on the occasion of the World Philosophy Day -November 16th- which also coincided with the day she took office as head of the Directorate General of  UNESCO.

Philosophy is essential if we aim to be “free and responsible” -such as an “educated human being” should be according to article 1 of the UNESCO’s Constitution. Philosophy is a must if we want to fully exercise the unique capacities of human beings: thinking, imagining, foreseeing, creating! As stated by the Director-General in the first part of her message, philosophy shall allow us “to transform human societies”, to implement all radical changes that the current worldwide situation urgently needs. “Progress -told me once in Oxford Prof. Hans Krebs- consists in seeing what others too can see..., and thinking what no one else has ever thought”.

Today it is essential and most urgent to promote Philosophy at all levels of education, taking into account that most approaches and reports   mistakenly consider education to be the same than training, and knowledge to be the same than information (and what is even worse, the same than news).

Philosophy and arts education are essential to be able to “direct one’s own life with sense”, according to the wise words of Francisco Giner de los Ríos. “Philosophy creates the intellectual conditions for change, sustainable development and peace”, as highlighted by the Director-General. And she ends up saying: “I call upon all Member States to take up this message, which resounds in the heart of UNESCO’s mandate”


What a good start for Director-General Audrey Azoulay and her difficult mission! It’s a very positive sign. I wish her all the best.

P.S.: President Trump has announced once again -he’s done it already twice!- that United States shall withdraw from the UNESCO at the end of 2018. It is obvious that Trump -who has scorned the agreements signed by his predecessor on the Earth’s habitability- does not realize, with his habit of only looking at himself, the damage that his attitude could cause not only to American young people and children, but also to the entire world. The remedy, which can still be effective, lies in Philosophy, in UNESCO...

Pope Francis: the solution is the culture of peace on a world level

Monday, January 29, 2018

Pope Francis, in his traditional speech at the beginning of the year before the Members of the Diplomatic Corp accredited to the Holy See, delivered on January 8, addressed with clarity and courage the essential question of peace.

I recommend reading the full text, but I have selected some paragraphs below that I consider particularly important:

"Peace is not built by vaunting the power of the victor over the vanquished. Future acts of aggression are not deterred by the law of fear, but rather by the power of calm reason that encourages dialogue and mutual understanding as means of resolving "..." Peace is consolidated when nations can discuss matters on equal terms. This was envisaged a hundred years ago –on this very date – by then President of the United States, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, who proposed the establishment of a General League of Nations with the aim of promoting for all States indistinctly, great and small alike, mutual guarantees of independence and territorial integrity...”

The Pope emphasized the importance of "freedom, justice and peace in the world, which are based on the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family," as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms.

He referred to the fact that "the constant pleas for peace rising from land rent for violence seem to be less and less effective in the face of war’s perverse logic. This scenario cannot be allowed to diminish our desire and our commitment for peace, because we are aware that without peace,  integral human development becomes unattainable ... convinced that peace is a necessary condition for development that, at the same time, requires "dealing with injustice and eliminating, in a non-violent way, the causes of  discordance that lead to wars".

I consider important what the Pope emphasized: "The promotion of a culture of peace for integral development requires persevering efforts in favour of disarmament and the reduction of the recourse to the use of armed force in the handling of international affairs."

He also referred to his "Message for the World Day of Peace" this year in which he suggested four "cornerstones" for action: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. He pointed out that "integration is a “two-way process, entailing reciprocal rights and duties” that should be taken into account in this Europe in which hundreds of immigrants arrives daily seeking a better future...

We are facing a moment of inflection. Ecological movements, human rights, equality, democracy and disarmament are among the most powerful social movements of our time and their convergence in the "great alliance" of mobilization for a culture of peace is essential to success. None of these movements can succeed fully on their own ... All of them need a culture of peace to achieve their full objective ... Without peace, there can be no democracy, no universal human rights, no protection for the environment, no equality for women ... This "interdependence" of its different parts is one of the most important and valuable contributions of the culture of peace.


This speech of the Pope is a document of great value and opportunity to which, however, the media have devoted very little space and interest. That is why I return to mine some words of Iñaki Gabilondo: "Do you know the most impressive of this news? It is not news." Most of the media are "the voice of their master" and still do not give the necessary importance to what is really important. They are accomplices.

Attention: 1 January 2018: New year, new life (this may be our last chance) It is of the utmost importance for citizens to stop being a passive audience. It's time for action

Friday, January 12, 2018

We’re paying too much attention to cell phones and “smart” tablets! We must start reflecting, imagining... considering what has not yet been considered... creating!

As stated by Maria Novo, a “time reappropriation” is essential if we want to fully exercise the unique capacities of human beings. Only thus shall we be able to take a new direction, to change -against all odds- current trends which are solely focused on economic growth, on having instead of being.

Since we are facing potentially irreversible processes, global transformations cannot be further delayed and they all require a steady and renewed effort. I fully agree with Amin Maalouf when he says that “unprecedented challenges require unprecedented solutions”.  The time yet to come is still to be built... and it must be invented! “We cannot solve the problems the world is facing today -said Albert Einstein- with the same pattern of thinking that initially caused them”.

As a scientist I’ve focused from the very beginning on the prevention of diseases of the newborn that may cause a permanent damage on his neuronal system (I wrote many years ago a book entitled “Tomorrow is Always too Late”); I’ve always drawn attention on and am increasingly concerned with the need to face -with a new concept of security that shall not only include territorial security but also security of people who live in these territories- big global threats (degradation of the environment, extreme poverty, nuclear weapons).

The approval by the United Nations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the agreements on Climate Change signed in Paris in November 2015 seemed an adequate and timely step to at least keep the situation under control and avoid a greater danger. But neoliberalism -who has led us to the current conceptual, social and economic drift of humanity- has not allowed to allocate to these specific aims the minimum resources required. To make things worse, President Trump has declared that he will not meet the commitment made by his predecessor to address climate change... and the European Union, that has become a weak and strictly monetary organization, has not reacted as strongly as it should to the insult that the behaviour of Mr. Trump represents for young generations all over the world.

Trump and the “soft” leaders found everywhere are ignoring the dramatic and critical message of many thousands of scientists from 184 countries who have alerted that it will soon be too late... The financial interests of a few are still put ahead of the legitimate interests of “We, the peoples”... As recently mentioned by Iñaki Gabilondo, the media power has become so great that the following can be said: “You know what the most amazing thing about this news is? That it is no news anymore”. Most of the media have become “their master’s voice” and continue to disregard these serious warnings. They are accomplices.

And on top of that, we have just learned that the Spanish government “has confirmed to the NATO that its military expenditure will grow by 80%”. We could not have imagined a more unfathomable and malicious way to augur a year 2018 that shall be better than the previous one.

Let’s react! Today we can express ourselves. Through a public outcry at a planetary scale, we, the citizens of the world, must tell the world that we need to take action without delay... and we must let Trump know that if he doesn’t change his attitude, we will no longer purchase American products.

Let’s focus on the essential reasons that should make us transform our daily behaviour! This is the only way we can make year 2018 become the year of a “new life”.