Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Elders

Who are the international figures who could work with a new United Nations Secretary General to transform that body into one capable of interacting with participatory democratic bodies around the world?
The ready-made group that comes to mind is The Elders, founded in 2007 by Nelson Mandela and comprising a dozen independent, progressive world leaders committed to building peace and advancing human rights. The Elders work on solutions to global problems, from climate change to violent conflict, acting as “a fiercely independent and robust force for good, tackling complex and intractable issues - especially those that are not popular.”
After last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris, representatives of the world’s diverse religions gathered in Chicago and in London to  show their unity, and in February of this year, Pope Francis embraced Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Cuba. Anyone remembering that Cuba was the center of a crisis that almost brought the world to nuclear war in 1962, will be struck by the symbolism of this encounter.
Meanwhile, the leading republican candidate for president of the United States could best be described as the anti-Francis, and upon his return from a triumphant visit to the United States, the Pope alluded to Donald Trump, saying that someone who builds walls instead of bridges is not a Christian.
Francis’ has followed this up with an invitation to Bernie Sanders to speak at a conference on social issues and the environment in Rome on the day after he is scheduled to debate Hillary Clinton in New York. One should put nothing past the Vatican’s latest tenant when it comes to world politics, even if it has taken a millennium to reverse the tragic history of Christian-Muslim relations that began in the eleventh century with Pope Urban’s first crusades. Francis is undoubtedly the most charismatic of current religious figures, with a much larger following than the equally media-savvy Dalai Lama.
Mandela’s Elders would probably welcome the cooperation of other religious leaders, including Iran’s Shia Khatami, a Sunni leader such as Tunisia’s Ghannouchi, a Jewish and a Hindu leader. But such cooperation can only really make a difference if it can recruit major political leaders to its cause - or, said differently, if major current leaders reach out to them for support.
As I wrote in my previous article “The Privatization of Globalization”, the king in his castle was the supreme ruler of lands administered by princes, while today’s presidents are beholden to their nation’s boards of directors. The growing world-wide campaign for participatory democracy will have a better chance of succeeding if it can rely on a world body tailored to such a polity.  This year’s ‘election’ of a new Secretary General of the United Nations is a unique opportunity to move the world body toward one of governance, a role that has consistently been rejected by the world’s lone superpower, the United States, but is embraced by those who would like to see a multi-polar world.
The UN’s success as peace-keeper, whether in terms of Security Council resolutions or the dispatch of blue helmets to troubled areas, has been largely a failure. The disjuncture between a finely-layered bureaucratic structure representing 200 nations, and the proliferation of ad hoc armies that challenge national governments makes that task even more difficult. One can hope that the development of participatory democracy at the national level would diminish the likelihood of such groups arising. On the international level, participatory democracies will be less likely to engage in wars of aggression that seek to transform traditional societies for the economic benefit of the 1%, with resulting profound changes in social mores. Muslim terrorist groups appear to be more determined to impose their view of society than to challenge globalization.  Indeed, as I have written more than once, Islamists come in two basic versions: pro-capitalist and left-leaning. 
As the cherry on the cake, the decisive factor in participatory democracy is likely to be a tilt toward the left accompanied by a revamped UN that will emit guidelines that, as opposed to those structured by globalization, are designed to favor the many over the few.

The Elders
Nelson Mandela - founder
Marti Atissari - Finland
Kofi Annan forer UN Sec Gen
Ela Bhatt - INdia Cooperatiive organizer
Lakhdar Brahimi - Algerian UN diplomat
Gro Harlan Bruntland - deputy chair, ex-Norway Prime Min
Fernando Cardoso - Ex prez Brazil implemented land reform
Jimmy Carter - Ex USPrez
Hina Brulani - Pakistani lawyer women’s right campaigner
Graca Machel - former freedom fighter and ex mined Mozamb
Mary Robinson - ex pres Ireland and ex UN commission h.r.

Desmond Tutu -ex capetown archbishop, Nobel prize,
Ernesto Zedillo - ex Mexico Pres, land reform, inclusive globaliza

No comments:

Post a Comment