Food for changing a thought (part 1)
Human Rights Reader 388
IF THE POLITICS ARE NOT FAVOURABLE TO SPEAKING TRUTHFULLY ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS THEN CLEARLY WE MUST DEVOTE MORE ENERGY TO CHANGING THE POLITICS. (M. Moses) Part 1/2
1. These days, international politics is too fragmented to achieve much, especially as so many political leaders are guided by corporate interests. (H-J. Luhmann) As a consequence, nation states, rich and poor, have had less and less ability to lead independently from that influence. In the zero-sum game we live-in, compromise is hard to achieve, because the success of one party (the one with more corporate backers) is almost assured.(i) This is why unregulated markets continue to miserably produce consumer goods that nobody seems to need, and fail to produce in sufficient quantity and quality those badly needed, such as medicines, simply because private investment in these goods does not pay. (i): As Warren Buffett said, “There’s been a class warfare going on for the last 20 years and my class as won”.
2. The productivist paradigm above is reinforced by an all-too-complying mix:
-of scientific knowledge (that adds the rational justification needed),
-of ideological/political positions (proclaiming that private enterprises are more efficient than the public domain),
-of dominant values (asserting the consumers’ absolute sovereignty and the survival of the fittest), -of popular myths (e.g., the one of the individualist, self-made man),
-of false knowledge (e.g., genetically modified organisms or GMOs will improve production and combat hunger), and -of overvalued facts (e.g., the contributions of the dominant elites to each historical period). (adapted from Jose Luis Vivero) http://biogov.uclouvain.be/staff/vivero/jose-luis.html
”Participation is a right held by all people to engage in society and in the decisions that impact their lives.”
Now that we have entered the age of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) it’s essential to link the new ‘2030 Agenda’ with human rights, which although mentioned in the preamble is not to be found after that. We are told by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, that the SDGs build on previous UN Declarations and fully integrate the Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) developed by the UN. This sounds quite nice, but the track record of most governments and UN programs shows that Declarations and the HRBA are more rhetoric than reality. One of the key elements of the HRBA is the Right to Participation, explicitly recognised in the UN’s Declaration on the Right to Development of 1986. However, participation is one of the most ignored and obstructed human rights — folks from the ‘bottom’ have no place at decision-making meetings at the ‘top’. It’s clear that we must fight for the implementation of this right.
So if communities want to benefit from the SDGs, the key is to struggle and win a seat ‘at the table’, and then to participate meaningfully. What’s that?