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By François Houtart
This project, still provisional, fruit of an international elaboration of jurists and social leaders, is presented by the World Forum of Alternatives to Social Movements and Organizations present at the «Peoples' Summit» in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 , to receive your comments and proposals before their formal presentation during the 2013 World Social Forum in Tunis.
We live in critical times for the permanence of the life of nature and humanity. The attacks on the planet are multiplying, affecting all living species, ecosystems, biodiversity, even the climate. The life of the peoples is destroyed by the dispossession of their territories. The monopolistic concentration of capital, the hegemony of the financial sector, deforestation, monoculture, the massive use of toxic agents, but also wars, cultural imperialism, austerity policies and the destruction of social achievements, are the daily bread of Humanity.
We are living in times of a multidimensional crisis: financial, economic, food, energy, climate, a crisis of the system, of values and of civilization, with the logic of death. Such a historical moment does not allow partial answers but demands the search for alternatives.
We live in times marked by the demand for coherence. The Resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Covenants of the United Nations on Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), the Charter of Rights and Duties States' Economic Affairs (1974), the World Charter for Nature (1982), the Declaration on the Right to Development (1986), the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (1992), the Charter of the Tierra (2000), the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), among others, require the articulation of an overall vision and a system decision-making, ecological, economic, political and cultural, at the service of life.
We live in times in which human beings realize that they constitute the conscious part of a nature capable of living without them, and that they are progressively destroying it, as a result of the irrationality of their predatory actions, guided by the logic of profit and profit. capitalist accumulation and fueled by the anthropocentric vision of infinite linear progress on an inexhaustible planet. Going from anthropocentrism to biocentrism is a condition for survival.
We are living in times where the actions of social and political movements multiply, fighting from below for ecological justice and for the collective rights of peoples. The perception of the life of Humanity as a common project, shared and conditioned by the life of the planet, was expressed in several documents such as: the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples (Algiers, 1976), the Universal Declaration of Women Indigenous People of the World (Beiging, 1995), the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, 2010). This requires an effort that must be intensified and distributed, respecting specificities.
To restore the rights of nature and build interhuman solidarity at the planetary level, intrinsically linked tasks, a new initiative is imposed today, parallel to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is destined to redefine, in an overall (holistic) vision, the fundamental elements of the collective life of humanity on the planet, with the aim of proposing a new paradigm and serving as a basis for the convergence of social movements and politicians.
It is about:
I. to move from the exploitation of nature, as a natural resource, to respect for the earth as the source of all life;
II. to privilege the use value over the exchange value in economic activity;
III. to introduce the principle of generalized democracy in all human relations, including relations between men and women and in all social institutions and
IV. to promote interculturality to allow all cultures, knowledge, philosophies and religions to clarify the reading of reality; participate in the development of the ethics necessary for its permanent construction; and contribute to the anticipations that allow us to say that “another world is possible”.
This is the paradigm of the "Common Good of Humanity" or "Good Living", as the possibility, capacity and responsibility to produce and reproduce the existence of the planet and the physical, cultural and spiritual life of all human beings in the world. Hence, the proposal for a Universal Declaration.
Universal Declaration of the Common Good of Humanity
I. Respect for Nature as the source of life
Article 1 - Establish the symbiosis between the earth and the human race, a conscious part of nature
Nature is the origin of the multiple forms of life, including Humanity, who have the earth as their home. The core and the earth's crust, air, sunlight, atmosphere, water, soils; rivers, oceans, forests, flora, fauna, biodiversity; seeds, the genome of living species, are all constituent elements of its reality. Nature must be respected in its beauty and fundamental integrity, in its balance and richness of ecosystems that produce and reproduce biodiversity, and in its capacity for regeneration. It is the responsibility of the human race, as its conscious part, to respect ecological justice and the rights of nature, which also form the basis of its own existence and of the Common Good of Humanity.
They are contrary to human responsibility towards nature, the Common Good of Humanity and Good Living, and therefore subject to sanctions, all practices that destroy the regenerative capacities of "mother earth", such as wild exploitations of natural wealth, the destructive use of chemical products, the massive emission of greenhouse gases, monocultures that exhaust soils and aquatic reserves, the irrational use of energy and the production of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Article 2 - Restore harmony between all the elements of nature
The peoples of the earth have a duty to live in harmony with all the other elements of nature. No development action will be initiated with the danger of serious and irreversible damage to the life of nature, which is also the basis for the reproduction of the physical, cultural and spiritual life of humanity. The information and prior consultation of the communities or peoples concerned by mineral extraction projects, public works or any form of use of natural resources, will be the principle to be respected.
They are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity and, consequently, any action, institution and any environmental system that implement development models contrary to the integrity and reproduction of the ecological system will be sanctioned.
Article 3 - Caring for the earth, the basis of all physical, cultural and spiritual life
Nature is a unique and finite reality, source of life for all species that inhabit it today and also for all living entities that may be born in the future. The land can be managed by human beings, with the necessary guarantees of continuity in management, but it cannot be appropriated, nor made merchandise, nor be a source of speculation. It cannot suffer systematic and irreversible aggression by any mode of production. Natural wealth (mineral, oil, ocean, forest resources) are collective assets that cannot be appropriated by individuals, corporations, or financial groups. The elements of the earth (soils, air, water, seas, rivers, jungles, forests, flora, fauna, spaces, genome, etc.) must be managed, extracted and treated respecting the reproduction of ecosystems, biodiversity, life of species, the balance of metabolism between nature and human beings, the well-being of current peoples and future generations.
They are contrary to the constructive respect for nature, to the Common Good of Humanity, and for that reason they are excluded and subject to sanctions, the contamination of water, soils, the seas, patents on nature, the privatization of the land , the commodification of natural wealth and of the natural elements necessary for the reproduction of the life of living spices, in particular, water, oxygen and seeds.
Article 4 - Regenerate the land
The land must be urgently restored in its regenerative capacity. All peoples and human groups are obliged to contribute to this end. Inventories and audits regarding environmental impacts are imposed, as well as evaluations and repairs of the damages caused. All peoples and individuals, and particularly industries, corporations and governments, have the duty to reduce, reuse and recycle the materials used in the production, circulation and consumption of goods.
They are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity, and therefore subject to sanctions, the artificial decrease in the life expectancy of products, the waste of energy and other raw materials, the irresponsible deposits of hazardous waste and the omissions or postponements of ecological restoration.
II. Economic production at the service of life and its continuity
Article 5 - Use social forms of economic production and circulation, without private accumulation
It is necessary for the Common Good of Humanity and Good Living that people, institutions and economic systems give priority to social forms of ownership of the main means of production and economic circulation: community, family, communal, cooperative, citizen , public, thus avoiding the processes of individual or corporate accumulation that unjustly cause social inequalities. The control of the production and circulation of goods and services by workers and consumers will be organized according to the multiple appropriate social forms, from the cooperative to citizen participation and nationalization.
It is contrary to the Common Good of Humanity, and therefore the appropriation by individuals or corporations of means of production and circulation for the purpose of private capitalist accumulation is prohibited.
Article 6 - Give priority to use value over exchange value
The economic system of production and circulation is destined to satisfy the needs and capacities of all peoples and of all individuals on the planet. Access to use values is a fundamental right required by the production and reproduction of life. Exchange value, the product of commercialization, must be subjected to use value and not serve the accumulation of private capital, nor the formation of financial bubbles as a result of speculation and a source of deep social inequalities.
They are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity, and therefore are prohibited, all individual or corporate actions of economic circulation that commercialize use values as mere exchange values, instrumentalize them with advertising for irrational consumption and encourage speculation for the private accumulation of capital. They are also contrary to the Common Good of Humanity: tax havens, bank secrecy and speculation on food products, natural wealth and energy sources. Public and private “odious debts” are declared illegal, as well as poverty, as the result of an unjust social relationship.
Article 7 - Promote unexploited and decent work
The production and circulation processes must ensure the workers a decent, participatory work, adapted to a family and cultural life, favoring their capacities and ensuring an adequate material existence.
Contrary practices are opposed to the Common Good of Humanity and Good Living. For this reason, all modern forms of slavery, servitude and exploitation of labor, in particular of children, for the purpose of individual gain or private accumulation of surplus value, as well as all limitations on the freedom of organization of children, are prohibited. Workers.
Article 8 - Rebuild the territories
Faced with “globalization”, which has favored a unipolar economy, the concentration of decision-making powers, the hegemony of financial capital and the irrational circulation of goods and services, it is essential to rebuild territories as the basis for food and energy sovereignty and the main exchanges; regionalize economies on the basis of complementarity and solidarity and, for the peripheral regions, “disconnect” from the hegemonic economic center, to establish commercial, financial and productive autonomy.
They are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity and that is why the constitution of monopolies and oligopolies is prohibited, whatever their fields of productive, circulation or financial activity are.
Article 9 - Ensuring access to common goods and universal social protection
There are common goods essential for the life of individuals and peoples that constitute imprescriptible rights. It is about food, habitat, health, education and material and immaterial communications. Various forms of citizen control or social property exist for the effective organization of access to these goods and services. "Universal protection" is a right of all peoples and individuals, and a duty of public authorities, which must be ensured by an adequate fiscal policy.
It is contrary to the Common Good of Humanity and for that reason, the privatization of public services with the purpose of contributing to the accumulation of capital is prohibited. Speculation on food, habitat, health, education, communications is subject to sanction; as well as all corruption in the exercise of the respective rights.
III. Democratic collective organization as a basis for participation
Article 10 - Generalize democracy as a construction of the subject
All peoples and human beings are subjects of their history and have the right to a collective social and political organization that guarantees it. This organization has to ensure harmony with nature and access for all to the material bases of life, with production and circulation systems built on social justice. To achieve these objectives, the collective organization must allow the participation of all in the production and reproduction of life on the planet and human beings, that is, the Common Good of Humanity. The organizing principle of this goal is the generalization of democracy in all social relations of family, gender, work, political authority, between peoples and nations and within all social, political, economic, social, cultural institutions. religious. Along with the political forms of participatory democracy, participation in all sectors of common life, economic, social and cultural will be encouraged.
They are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity, and Good Living, all non-democratic forms of organization of the political, economic, social and cultural life of society. Genocides are condemned as irreparable acts of discrimination. All discrimination based on gender, race, nation, culture, sexual preference, physical or mental capacity, religion and ideological belonging are subject to sanctions.
Article 11 - Establish equal relations between men and women
A particular importance will be given to the relationships between men and women, unequal since time immemorial and in the various types of societies that have followed one another in human history. All institutions and all social and cultural systems must recognize, respect, care for and promote the right to a life to the full of women, equal to men.
Social and economic practices, institutions, and cultural or religious systems that defend or apply discrimination against women are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity. All forms of male domination are susceptible to sanctions, and, in particular, differences in economic salary income and the non-recognition of intra-family domestic work linked to the reproduction of life.
Article 12 - Prohibit war
Democratic international relations do not allow the use of war to resolve conflicts. Today peace is not guaranteed by the arms race. The disposition of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons directly endangers the life of Humanity. Armaments became a business. Its manufacture causes an enormous waste of energy, natural wealth and human talents; and its use entails, in addition to the loss of life, serious environmental destruction.
They are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity, and therefore the following are prohibited: the manufacture, possession and use of weapons of mass destruction, the accumulation of conventional weapons to ensure regional hegemony and control natural resources; hegemonic regional pacts, the military solution to solve internal political problems.
Article 13 - Building a State on the Common Good
It is the role of the State, as a collective administrator, to ensure the common good, that is, the general interest against individual or particular interests. That is why democratic participation is needed to define the Common Good (the Constitutions) and for their applications. All the peoples of the earth, in the plurality of each of its members, organizations and social movements, have the right to political systems of direct or delegated participation with a revocable mandate. Regional governments and international organizations must be built on the democratic principle, in particular the United Nations. The same is true for all institutions that represent sectors of activity or specific interests, such as industrial companies, farms, financial or commercial organizations, political parties, religious institutions or trade unions, NGOs, sports or cultural groups and humanitarian institutions.
They are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity, and that is why all dictatorial or authoritarian forms of the exercise of political or economic power are prohibited, where non-representative, formal or informal minorities, monopolize decisions without participation, initiative or popular control. Public subsidies to organizations, social movements, political parties, cultural or religious institutions that do not respect democratic principles or practice gender or race discrimination are also prohibited.
Article 16 - Promote interculturality
The Common Good of Humanity supposes the participation of all cultures, knowledge, arts, philosophies, religions and folklores in the reading of reality, the elaboration of the ethics necessary for its construction, the production of its expressions symbolic, linguistic and aesthetic, as well as in the formulation of utopias. The cultural wealth of the human race, created as a heritage throughout history, cannot be attacked. Interculturality supposes the crossed contribution of all cultures, in their diversity, to the various dimensions of the Common Good of Humanity: respect for nature as a source of life, priority to use value over exchange value within a process of justice, widespread democratization, and cultural diversity and exchange.
They are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity and Good Living, and that is why cultural ethnocides, practices, institutions and economic, political and cultural systems that hide, discriminate or commercialize the cultural achievements of peoples, as well as those who they impose a mono-cultural homogenization, identifying human development with western culture. Politico-cultural practices, institutions and systems that require a return to an illusory past, often promoting violence or discrimination against other peoples, are also prohibited.
Article 14 - Respect the rights of native peoples
Native peoples have the right to be recognized in their differences. They need the material and institutional bases for the reproduction of their customs, languages, world views, communal institutions: a protected reference territory, bilingual education, the possibility of exercising their own judicial system, public representation, etc. Important contributions come from them in the contemporary world: the protection of mother-earth, resistance to the extractive-exporter mode of production and accumulation, and a holistic vision of natural and social reality.
They are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity, and that is why actions, institutions and economic, political and cultural systems that destroy, segregate, discriminate or hinder the physical, cultural and spiritual life of native peoples are prohibited.
Article 15 - Accept the right to resistance
All peoples and social groups have the right to develop critical thinking, to exercise peaceful resistance against destructive actions of nature, human life, collective or individual freedoms and cultures, and, if necessary, to insurrection. .
The censorship of thought, the criminalization of resistance and the violent repression of liberation movements are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity. Consequently, such practices are prohibited.
IV. Interculturality as a dynamic of thought and social ethics
Article 17 - Recognize the right to information and the circulation of knowledge
All peoples and individuals have the right to information, to exchange knowledge, knowledge and information useful to the construction of the Common Good of Humanity.
They are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity, and therefore are prohibited, the monopolies of the media by groups of financial or industrial power, the commercialization of the public by advertising agencies, the exclusive and non-participatory control of the States on the content of information and patents on scientific knowledge, which prevent the circulation of useful knowledge for the good life of peoples.
V. Obligations and sanctions for non-compliance with the declaration
Article 18 - The application of the paradigm of the Common Good of Humanity
All the peoples of the earth have the right to any breach or violation of the rights contained in this declaration, which constitutes a set destined to permanently build the common good of Humanity, or the non-execution of the devices provided in it. , must be known, prosecuted, punished and repaired, in accordance with the dimensions or effects of the damage caused, and, when they exist, according to the provisions of national legislation and international law. Transition measures in the short or medium term (reforms and regulations) make it possible to transform relations with nature, prioritize use value, generalize democracy and create multiculturalism. However, they cannot mean a simple adaptation of the contemporary mode of accumulation to the new ecological and social demands.
They are contrary to the Common Good of Humanity and Good Living and therefore void, all the laws of impunity, full stop, amnesty or any other compromise that leaves the victims without justice: nature and its conscious part, the human race.
François Houtart / FMA