Trans-humanism and Cyber-culture

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A public side event was held on Wednesday June 14, 2017 at the Palais des Nations focusing on Trans-humanism and Cyber-culture, the objective of this event presented by Osman El Hajjé, followed by Juan Garcia, Alfred Fernandez and Alfred de Zayas was to reflect on the relationship between human rights and science and technology. This is of crucial importance when developments in biology, nanotechnology and computers in particular pose fundamental human rights challenges. It is a matter of looking at science in the light of human rights and of placing respect and protection of rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights – especially cultural rights – at the center of sustainable human development.

The Trans-humanism definition, explained deeply by Alfred Fernandez, is a movement to slow aging in the capacity physic. Singularity is the moment when in the years of 2040 to 2080 that technologies will take over the humans. Big companies such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook are investing billions of dollars wanting technologies to regulate global warming and not humans, but it will take over humans eventually.

The topic’s event was chosen due to the fact that there is a huge gap between developing countries and developed countries explained Juan Garcia. Everyday, more and more futuristic robots and technologies are being created in every domain almost starting a technological revolution. More precisely is focus on two domains, which are the organic domain of the human beings; either to make it better or to recreate it. Secondly, the information ad communication technic is creating virtual spaces. Trans-humanism by definition is the social and scholarly advancement development that attests the craving to on a very basic level enhance the human body and its present condition. This is done through procedure of innovation development to upgrade physical and mental limits.

In general, when technologies evolves it only evolves with the communication, however many types of technologies are evolving and creating robots in every domains, as stated earlier. The distinguishing of technology that affects human and science to recreate can already be made.

To conclude, we have seen that everyday the world is advancing as well with its technologies and on how technology is placed in every department with each a very specific ask to follow, now the question to be thought of is, Can trans-humanism and cyber-culture develop it self to a point where we will live in harmony with machines? Or is the development of trans-humanism going too far where robots will control us?

 

Eloise Christophi

“The Right to International Solidarity: Meeting with the Independent Expert on the revised draft declaration”

Last Thursday, 8 of June, a public side event on the right to international solidarity was held at room IX of the UN Palace. OIDEL co-organize this event with the Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII and other NGOs of the CINGO WG on international solidarity. The event was opened and moderated by Jorge Ferreira.

Msgr. Ivan Jurkovic, Nuncio to the United Nations, first introduced solidarity as a broad concept that involves a fact or condition, a principle, a moral value. It is founded on the idea that we are debtors of society and, being ethical in nature, its implication for human life is also ethical. However, despite being all these things, it is currently unrealized, under threat. It gives way to the States’ sovereignty, when in theory both concepts are not opposed, since the principle of solidarity is linked to the principle of subsidiarity.

In this line, Ms. Virginia Dandan, Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity and author of the draft declaration on the human right to IS, added that, in a time when nationalism and segmentation are arising, IS must come to stop them. Its definition and implementation are explained in the draft, as well as the obligations that it entails. However, Ms. Dandan was clear that IS necessarily means action; it cannot be left behind in plans. And, since IS is already a principie in people’s lives, it is therefore necesary to make sure that it becomes a pinciple in the life of governments as well. You can find the link of the draft declaration here: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Solidarity/ProposedDraftDeclarationSolidarity.pdf

Following on, Mr. Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, stressed the relevance for his mandate of the recognition of such a right. He also spoke about the need of working on a draft declaration on the human right to peace, even though the States deem there are no legal grounds for it.

Finally, it was Ms. Maria Mercedes Rossi, from the Associazione, who intervened. She explained how IS has an individual and a collective dimension. She said the latter corresponds to the African way of thinking: “I am because we are”, while the former corresponds to the Western way, which she finds rather arrogant. She also questioned the States’ allegation according to which the human right to IS has no legal basis and defended the need of making a right out of it in order to make it effective.

Afterwards, during question time, Ms. Dandan, and Ms. Rossi explained the difference between preventive solidarity, which tackles root causes and has a long-time frame, and reactive solidarity, which is deployed ex post (i.e. after a natural disaster, calamity) and has an instant time frame. They declared that preventive solidarity is the one that is needed, using the example of starvation in the world, which has root causes that have to be dealt with.

As a conclusion, Ms. Dandan stated that the road to right’s protection is a long one. International Solidarity is a choice one has to make; poverty is a fight that must be fought every single day. Sympathy will not do; as she said, even dogs can feel.

However, the actual conclusion was made by someone from the public, who requested to speak and quoted Pope Francis: “Nothing in Nature lives for itself. Rivers don’t drink their own water. Trees don’t eat their own fruit. Sun doesn’t give heat for itself. Flowers don’t spread fragrance for themselves. Living for others is the rule of Nature.”

 

Eugenia de Lacalle

2017, USA and the Human Rights Council

IMG_6498In the context of the 35th session of the Human Rights Council, the Graduate Institute, together with the United States Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, organized last Tuesday, 6 of June, an event in which Ms. Nikki Haley, the U.S Ambassador to the UN, talked about her country’s position regarding human rights. Early that morning, she had already addressed said Council and stressed the importance of supporting the participation of civil society and of adopting a resolution on Venezuela.

Despite its title, the lecture revolved around two main points: the negative aspects of the Human Rights Council’s functioning and the ways in which these aspects should be improved, leaving little time for discussing about the US.

According to Ms. Haley, the Council is following the path of its predecessor, the Human Rights Commision. The latter lost the world’s trust due to its failure to act whenever human rights were being violated, and was therefore replaced. Currently, the Council’s lack of intervention in the greatest violations of our time undermines its credibility, reinforcing the suspicion that it is not a good investment of time and money. To prove her point, the Ambassador mentioned the cases of Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, China and Zimbabwe, among others. She justified her special concern with the Venezuelan situation by explaining that every major conflict first starts with singular human rights’ violations, and then escalates wildly.

Through these examples, Ms. Haley showcased how the Council puts political interests ahead of its duty of being the world’s advocate on human rights. Consequently, she mentioned three minimum changes that she deems necessary. First of all, violators should not be able to hold seats in the Council – and she cited the case of Cuba, who states that its belonging to the Council proves its respect to human rights. – Therefore, she calls for a change in the selection and reelection of members. Secondly, item 7 of the Council’s Agenda should be removed, since having a particular provision for Israel does not place countries on equal footing. Finally, (and this is something the Ambassador stressed through the whole lecture) abuses must always be called out, and violators must always be condemned.

Before the end there was a time for questions, which the public seized for bringing up some of the US’ most controversial issues, such as its actions during the Cold War, its current relationship with Saudi Arabia or its refusal to accept refugees. Struggling to remain firm, and sometimes beating around the bush, Ms. Haley stated that the US is trying to lead and therefore needs to deal with all countries, even if they are violators of human rights, although this does not mean that they should not be publicly condemned. She also affirmed that the US is strong on human rights, and that that is shown though its budget. Moreover, she proclaimed that the Council must change and that, if this is not the case, the US will pursue the protection of human rights outside of it.
Perhaps this was the most remarkable statement since, when facing the question of wether or not the US will withdraw from the Council –and being forced to commit and say yes or no – the Ambassador said she would not commit: “We have to wait and see”.

Eugenia de Lacalle

Agenda 2030: the role of Human Rights Education

The seminar How can Human Rights Education and Training be promoted through the Education 2030 Agenda, especially Target 4.7? is organized by the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education on Tuesday the 30th of May at the Palais des Nations (Room XXV, 14h30 -16h30).

This meeting was planned with the co-sponsorship of the States Platform on Human Rights Education and Training (Brazil, Costa Rica, Italy, Morocco, The Philippines, Senegal, Slovenia and Thailand) and the UNESCO Liaison Office in Geneva.

It will focus on Human Rights Education and Global Citizenship Education as established in target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The organisers  believed useful to bring together various initiatives to update all stakeholders, including the Member States. It will be an occasion to discuss monitoring mechanisms and practices, together with difficulties and obstacles.
OPENING REMARKS:
H.E. Mr MAURIZIO ENRICO SERRA, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Italy

Mr ABDULAZIZ ALMUZAINI, Director, UNESCO Geneva Liaison Office

PANELISTS
LYDIA RUPRECHT, Team Leader, Education for Sustainable Development & Global Citizenship, UNESCO

GILBERTO DUARTE SANTOS, Crime Prevention & Criminal Justice Officer, Education for Justice, UNODC

ELENA IPPOLITI, Human Rights Officer, Methodology Education & Training  Section, OHCHR

VILLANO QIRIAZI, Head of the Education Policy Division,Council of Europe (tbc)

GIORGIA MAGNI, Junior Researcher, International Bureau of Education, IBE-UNESCO

MODERATOR
CLAIRE DE LAVERNETTE, Chair of the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education and Learning

 

Integral Human Development – Transforming Our World: the Holy See and the 2030 Agenda:

Yesterday, 18 of May 2017, took place an event in the UN about the view of the Holly See of the Agenda 2030.

The event was introduced and moderated by the Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See in the UN, Archbishop Ivan Jurkoviç. Archbishop Jurkoviç recalled the message of Pope Paul VI to the General Assembly of the United Nations and the will of the Holly see to work together with the objectives of the UN. As Paul VI said “Your Charter goes further, and our message moves ahead with it.”

After the message of Archbishop Jurkoviç, there was a message from the Director General of the United Nations at Geneva. Michael Moeller underlined the timeless message of Pope Francis of “being compassionate”. He mentioned the important role of religion to face nowadays challenges, especially those of the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030. He referred the convergence of aims of the UN with the Catholic Church when it comes to target those most in need. Moeller was glad to see that Pope Francis saw the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030 as a sign of hope in a world of fragmentation and he stressed that this process involves the Catholic Church at all stages. Finally Moeller remarked the harmony between the Pope Encyclical Letter Laudatio Si’.

The third speaker was Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the UNCTAD. He emphasized that the 2030 Agenda reinforce the mission and work on the UNCTAD, especially when it mentions the importance of inclusion. New challenges have appeared the last years – Migrants, Climate Change…- and new solutions need to be found. On this regard, Kituyi mentioned the importance of public-private partnerships in multiple fields.

The biggest intervention was done by the keynote speaker Cardinal Turkson, Prefect of the Holy See Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. For Cardinal Turkson sustainable development is the best way to realize inclusive prosperity. In line with what Pope Francis has said during his intervention at the General Assembly of the UN he urged to put an end to the world poverty. This challenge is especially important considering that the widen gap between the first world and the third world. The conditions of the poorest have further deteriorated. Part of the problem as he said is the individualistic ideology of economy that is anchored on the selfishness of the human being.

These problems require a comprehensive solution, as the 17 goals and 169 targets of the 2030 agenda. The Holy See welcomes this approach and is happy to observe that this agenda is fully consistent with the recognition that all human beings have a common dignity. This idea of common dignity facilitates the comprehension of the common good, which is not an abstract collective thing, but a conception of good conceived for the needs of each individual, as well as their communities and groups. Although human beings are autonomous, we cannot forget two essential features: its dignity and that they are created for coexistence.  With the 2030 Agenda the International Community has considered this comprehensive dimension of the human being, and has decided to ground this document with solidarity instead of egoism.

On this comprehensive vision of the 2030 Agenda the role of religion cannot be neglected. This is way Cardinal Turkson stressed the important role of freedom of religion shaping the way we interact with our neighbors. Moreover, interreligious dialogue plays an essential role on this regard, and it must be a priority for the succees of the 2030 Agenda. Although, it is not only the lack of finance that is causing our problems, but the lack of peace and dialogue. Pope Francis has stressed this point multiple times.

Finally Cardinal Turkson, mentioned that in order to achieve this change of paradigm, to move beyond egoism to solidarity and to stop our indifference to the marginalized the Holly See has done some organizational changes. Pope Francis has merged four existing Pontifical Councils (Cor Unum, Justice & Peace, Migrants & Itinerant People and Health Care Workers), into the new Dicastery for Promoting integral Human Development, which is called to promote the integral development of each and all persons in the light of the Gospel.

After the intervention of Cardinal Turkson there was the response of the Panellists. Among them, Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of RED Cross, who underlined the role of peace as a cornerstone for the SDGs and stressed the importance of public –private partnerships to achieve the targets of the 2030 Agenda. Also it was interesting to hear Pasquale Lupoli, Senior Regional Adviser for the Europe and Central Asia International Organisation for Migration, who urged about not neglecting the important role of the SDG for migrants problems, a group that haven’t stopped growing in the last 30 years.

Ignasi Grau

REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS Edmund Rice International, May the 4th, Room XXVI

The side event organized by “Edmund Rice International” outlined the situation of the UK policies in the same day in which the UK underwent the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) at the UN.

EPI’s representatives focused on the conditions of refugees in the UK, starting from the consideration of the programs the government has put in action.

The panelists shown that, with regard to the other European countries, the UK receives only the 5% of the total flow of immigrants, number that will easily allow the improvements needed. Nonetheless, wealthy UK finds itself behind poorer countries in the ranking of European States providing quality support to the refugees. In addition, in 2016, 70% of the requests for asylum were refused, either for the absence of a document recognized or the condition of statelessness.

The accepted refugees, according to the regulations, are granted 28 days of accommodation by the government, after which they are left with no house, no employment aid and no support.

From this analysis, ERI recognized a number of charitable safety nets present in England that help refugees through these hard times. Even so, they found that the majority of asylum seekers are marginalized, constantly on the move, living in a limbo with no security or hope for the future.

In April 2017, the British Red Cross published “Can’t stay, Can’t go”, a Report on the condition of asylum seekers in the UK, highlighting how this condition of uncertainty, lack of legal representation and knowledge of the language, is the cause of enormous distress.

The other Report issued by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), “Refugees Welcome?”, focused on the absence of real projects and solutions to address the emergency of refugees. In the document, APPG suggests integrative strategies, English language teaching and to prolong to 50 days the governmental accommodation.

These Reports are in line with the intervention made by the EPI and other member States during the UK session at the UPR. They found though that the answers of the Ministry of Justice to the questions do not mirror the actual situation in the UK.

During the UPR pressure was made to ameliorate the conditions of asylum seekers and their transitions into society; at the same time, the panelists stressed, no attention was given to other very serious issues linked: food poverty and homelessness.

The representative of the “Trussel Trust”, for the elimination of food poverty in the UK, reminded that no data nor attention has been given by the government to address the issue of food poverty. Generally caused by benefit changes and delays, this condition could be easily avoided by governmental interventions and programs.

Homelessness in Northern Ireland is another issue very sensitive and not addressed in the UPR nor by the government. “Welcome” organization’s data show grave marginalization of the problem of a small region with a troubled historical background where the condition of homelessness touches 18,628 persons, 52% of which are single male adults.

In conclusion, the welfare reforms and safety net claimed by the Ministry of Justice at the UPR session, according to the representative of Welcome, cannot be found on the ground. Furthermore, the panelists find necessary for the government to recognize organizations as more than safety net and to implement its project in order to reach the standards set in the international documents that the UK signed.

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Beatrice Bilotti

93th Council of the OIEC:

Last week OIDEL participated in the OIEC Council in Beirut. OIEC – Catholic International Education Office. OIEC is the entity that represents Catholic Education around the world, around the 70% of non-governmental schools are catholic.

The Council of the OIEC was from Thursday 27th until Saturday 29th April. Many issues were discussed but we would like to highlight the presentation of the new OIEC representation around the International Organizations.

Additionally, OIDEL made a presentation on “Education 2030: The role of civil society”. The presentation was an occasion to present the new challenges of the international community and to show the role of Catholic Education in the implementation of the new agenda. Moreover, OIDEL took the opportunity to show how Catholic Education can improve the realization of the right to education in other UN mechanisms.

Among the events OIDEL take part we can highlight the participation of two other events. One was an audience with the President of Lebanon Michel Aoun, in the Baabda Palace. The other one was the participation on a conference on the importance of the TIC for the realization of the right to education. Conference organized by the Lebanese Catholic Education and the Ministry of Education of Lebanon.

The whole trip was a wonderful experience and we look forward that OIDEL can play an important role in this new phase of the OIEC, and we also look forward to contribute with all the regions and countries that are part of it.

 

Ignasi Grau