Credit: CTBTO 2015

Interview: Human Rights for All in an Equal World

Following is the text of an interview Milena Rampoldi of a German NGO, ProMosaik e.V. conducted with Ramesh Jaura, Director-General and Editor-in-Chief of the International Press Syndicate with headquarters in Berlin and associate headquarters in Tokyo and Toronto. Jaura is also co-founder and President of the Global Cooperation Council established in 1983. This interview was carried by Pro Mosaik on 24 January 2016.

Milena Rampoldi: Which are the most important objectives of INPS?

Ramesh Jaura: The International Press Syndicate (INPS) and its flagship, IDN-InDepthNews focus on Issues Beyond the News – news that is either often overlooked by the mainstream media or is disseminated without any background and context. Genuine and fair global governance built on the bedrock of social justice and global citizenship, a culture of peace facilitating a nuclear weapons-free world, and South-South, North-South and triangular cooperation in the interest of ensuring human rights and civil liberties are the lynchpins of the news and analysis we provide.

INPS also focuses on sustainability within and beyond the framework of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that aim to transform the world by 2030, while we recognise the fundamental importance of cross-cultural communication reflected in trends in arts and culture.

INPS provides news and analysis reflecting the concerns of the marginalised sections of the societies in rich, middle and low-income countries and building bridges between citizens and public institutions, whether national, sub-regional, regional, international, inter-governmental or non-governmental with a view to making information more democratic and participatory.

MR: What are the main issues you talk about internationally?

RJ: The main international issues we address are fostering global citizenship, raising awareness of the need for a nuclear weapons free world, and sustainable development.

The three issues are in fact interrelated: A feeling that beyond our local and national existence, we are citizens of a globalized world, a world that never before was so close to us and yet distant as it is mow, a world that constrains us to feel like global citizens. Because even local and national problems have acquired global dimensions and global problems impact individuals in countries around the world, and unless we address these from that perspective, we would never succeed in solving these whether they appear tiny or huge.

As global citizens, we need to be aware that nuclear weapons – unlike small weapons that have the potential to create havoc, albeit over limited stretches of land – are weapons of mass destruction. Which once deployed, would impact the remotest corners of the world, indiscriminately killing men, women and children and causing unforeseeable and perhaps irreparable damage to the environment – thus making life on planet Earth nearly uninhabitable.

Viewed from this perspective, humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are devastating and pose a veritable threat to development, in fact make sustainable development impossible. It is with this in view that on September 25, 2015, countries adopted a set of goals “to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.”

Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and people like you.

MR: What are the best strategies to fight for human rights?

RJ: Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 General Assembly resolution 217 A as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.

The fight for human rights needs a multipronged strategy that aims at: ending poverty in all its forms everywhere; ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture; ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages; ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning; achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls; ensuring access to water and sanitation for all; ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; and promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.

The fight for human rights should inevitably involve reducing inequality within and among countries; making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns; urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources; sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation, halting biodiversity loss; and promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies.

MR: Which are the most important local issues for you?

RJ: We look at local issues from a global perspective. Because as exploited above, local issues reflect the issues the humankind is confronted with on a global scale: poverty, hunger, lack of education, access to water, sanitation, and health facilities. Equally the lack of gender equality and preponderant social and economic inequality plague the society at local levels too. These are the issues that are of enormous importance to us.

MR: ProMosaik e.V. thinks that it is fundamental to connect NGOs and to write about their work. What do you think about it?

RJ: Yes, indeed. Non-governmental and civil society organizations have come to play a vital role in today’s world at the local, national, sub-regional, regional and international levels. This is because they feel the pulse of the marginalized and deprived sections of the people.

However, it is important to ensure that also the NGOs and CSOs remain transparent and accountable to the general public and are not viewed as infallible. We at INPS are open to reporting the NGO activities. In fact we work in close partnership with the Global Cooperation Council that was set up in 1983 as North-South Forum with a view to promoting genuine dialogue between the developing and industrialized nations.

MR: Which best strategies should be implemented to promote peace?

RJ: Peace is not the absence of armed conflicts and localised or larger wars. Peace has to be embedded in a culture of peace. As the UNESCO Constitution says: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.”

The same Constitution highlights that “a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind”.

Priority therefore should be given to building peace in the minds of men and women – by peace education, education for non-violence, tolerance, acceptance, mutual respect, intercultural and interfaith dialogue and reconciliation.

Peace strategies need be guided by thinking and actions that promote understanding between conflicting and warring parties. This is easier said than done as experienced by currently 16 peacekeeping operations led by the United Nations. And yet such efforts must continue. (24 January 2016)

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