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writing for godot

There is no pursuit of a common good in current development trends.

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Saturday, 04 July 2020 17:51

Human rights: Food for a non-neutral thought  ‘HR and the common good’


Human Rights Reader 534

1. Government and corporate policies (that all to often are indistinguishable) are important factors in determining development and indeed human rights (HR) policy. Any analysis that ignores the impact of this relationship risks seriously misinterpreting reality. (Susan Sechler) We must particularly look at the government and corporate policies that help create the destructive craving for profit that characterizes development policy making.


2. Take, for instance, technologies: they are not neutral; the introduction of new technologies will (eventually) benefit everyone a little while, (most likely) benefitting some a great deal more.* Or take private foreign investment: it has served the needs of a rich elite and not improved the conditions of those rendered poor. (Frances Moore Lappe)

*: Socially and HR appropriate technology does exist! It: a) will be labor intensive, b) will be HR (gender and LGBT) sensitive, c) will contribute to change income distribution in society, d) will take the use of resources into consideration and e) will be ecologically defensible.


3. We tend to forget the philosophers’ maxim of a ‘common good’ that is reached when the private interest, corporations included, is subordinated to the public interest. So, you see? There is no pursuit of a common good in current development trends. Consensus has not really been reached on this, mainly because the happiness of the majority is hampered by the unrestrained pursuit of profit of the 1%.  What we in reality have is a situation of constant (often veiled) aggression and violence of big corporations and individuals against the 99%.


4. There is no common good either when TNCs capture politicians to favor their business deals. TNCs install ex-politicians and ex-high ranking bureaucrats in their boards of director; they also bribe current politicians, members of parliament and bureaucrats seeking their protection. Unfortunately, this ‘politico-enterprise corruption’ has also now crossed over to men in uniform, the ones that have the monopoly of the force (and are in charge of crushing demands for HR). (Daniel Pizarro)


5. In this context, economic development has more often than not only meant applying directed-social-transformation-measures that fit the needs of the development model I describe above.** (Andreas Fugelsang) If only we can demonetize the goals of development then we will see that social gain can indeed justify economic costs or even losses. But this is very different from postponing health and nutrition and other social objectives to maximize economic growth (vide Covid 19…); the latter is simply unacceptable --and this, not only from the HR perspective…

**: Linking current development indicators to gains in GDP tells us that violated rights can only be reversed at the speed of …the way to slow increases of GDP, i.e., 30 years…?


Deterministic development vs sustainable development (Elisabeth Graffy)


6. The role of international organizations in development will remain modest, potentially conflicting, if and because it reflects the priorities and goals of the countries rendered rich that hold most of the political sway in development work. This is as it has been historically, so why would we realistically expect the nature of their roles change?


7. The manner in which development efforts are undertaken legitimizes or delegitimizes (mostly) knowledge held and solutions proposed by claim holders. Put another way, sustainable solutions are likely to be found in-the-way-things-are-done as much as in-what-is-done on the ground.


8. Do not be fooled: It is non-technical conflicts that have impeded long-term disparity reduction. The take home message here then is: a) technical recommendations are hitting deaf ears; b) scientific rationality does not govern the world --economic interests do!; and c) turning to the leading bureaucracy for answers leads to dead ends.


9. The United Nations was built on a concept of sustainable development that is exactly the opposite of globalization, i.e., the drive and strategy of the latter for eliminating national sovereignty to make the maximum use of the free flow of capital and investments in support of the transnational system the rich control. Development for the UN was a concept based on the idea that, in the end, everybody taking part in it was going to be more. But in globalization ‘sustainable’ development is based on the idea that, only ‘in the end’ (when?), everybody would have more.*** The New Right that continues to push globalization is basically void of an ethical content although is expert in expertly mobilizing (manipulating?) people’s feelings. So, therefore, this phase of capitalism is bound to eventually come to an end. (Roberto Savio)

***: Just ponder: A world in which the cost of advertising per capita surpasses that of education, and in which the financial system reaches volumes 40 times superior to those of production of goods and services, is a world clearly against the concept of development.


10. As a timid response, the moderate Left feels that the existing international alternative of social protection floors and sustainable development goals are more than enough. However, without strong social struggles, this political current may end up in the World Bank’s net. If a ‘new social contract’ is what is now being called for development to be sustainable, should not progressive (not necessarily moderate) Left forces be its main proponents and drafters? (Francine Mestrum) Beware: Too often, social protection really becomes structural-assistance-with-limited-transformational-potential of the lives of those assisted; it becomes a social bribery…


Bottom line

-Any policy has three components in which the leading role is played by ideology: a) From where do we depart? i.e., problem situation we want to remedy; b) Where do we want to go, i.e., objective of the desired situation; and c) How will we execute the policy?, i.e., the strategy. From the HR perspective, a good policy has to be all-inclusive. (Julio Monsalvo)


11. Human rights have, at best, been over-studied and under-acted upon. (Kul Gautam)


12. We have too often tended to mistake endless negotiations on HR for action. (J. G. Speth) But action here primarily depends on a HR analysis, because it is the analysis that determines the action (excuse the circularity here). In the absence of the right questions and answers, action can only be irrelevant (false premise ...false promises). (Susan George) Unlike science, development failure is measured in continued marginalization, misery and death.


13. Because today no nation --and indeed virtually no village-- has the liberty of self-determination, the changes to push for achieving genuine HR-based development will only come from an organized popular movement for social change. This movement cannot hope to prevail unless it becomes global in scope. (David Sanders and David Werner)


14. So, let us dispel a myth: The decision-makers have no greater knowledge than any ordinary citizen could have if s/he was fully informed of the alternatives. (Ignacy Sachs) Does this then mean that ‘real’ development will have a better chance if people do what is needed --against the official development agents? Food for thought…


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

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-If education is expensive, what is the cost of ignorance? (Joaquin Craviotto)

-I see Eleven Sins Against Humanity (and against HR) that have been the core of my learning of many years that simply, but powerfully, teaches us about what is wrong with society and with development:

1. Politics without Principles.

2. Wealth without Work.

3. Enjoyment without Conscience.

4. Knowledge without Character.

5. Business without Morality.

6. Science without Humanity.

7. Religion without Compassion.

8. Rights without Responsibilities.

9. Power without Accountability.

10. Development without Sustainability and

11. Laws without Justice. (Anwar Fazal)

-As a ‘possibilist’ challenged and wanting to get things done, I still see a great opportunity. John Schaar once said “The future is not one where we are going to do, but we are creating. The paths are not to be found but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination”. Every development victory, however small, must be shared and celebrated. The glow inspires and grows. (A. Fazal) your social media marketing partner
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