Master Conference: "Challenge of the Democratic Leaders of the 21st Century:: Achieving Peace and Happiness for the Integral Human Being and Mother Earth" - Dr. William Soto Santiago
To all the authorities and leaders present in this precinct of Democracy, thank you very much for responding affirmatively to the call of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace for CUMIPAZ 2016. Your presence at this Summit is a clear expression of everyone's commitment to work together, to make noble ideals of a more just, inclusive and peaceful society a reality.
Abraham Lincoln once said: No man is good enough to govern another without his consent. This phrase illustrates the functioning of our democratic systems, where the people renounce part of their freedoms and rights, to grant them the power (to a few) to make decisions, and the power to act in their representation to carry them out.
The strength of this premise clearly highlights the consistent obligation of leaders: to seek the best for their fellow citizens. The good leader is one who, in addition to governing and directing the destinies of institutions, consecrates his life to the service of society.
To fulfill this task, every political leader must visualize in his mind and in his heart the trust and acceptance that he must generate in others to govern them, and that he is also the repository of the dreams, goals and expectations of individual and collective life, which will influence, necessarily, the welfare, prosperity and happiness of an entire nation.
In 2015, UN Member States, together with different non-governmental organizations and citizens of the world, established 17 Sustainable Development Objectives (ODS) with targets for 2030; Global objectives to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure the prosperity of peoples.
This UN proposal is a route already drawn for governments to work with the purpose of seeking improvement, happiness and peace of the human family. They represent a true paradigm shift to impact the four fundamental dimensions of sustainability: social, cultural, economic and environmental, and these must be incorporated as guidelines for the private sector, implementing sustainable economic models. It is essential to transmit and teach them to civil society through education in schools, colleges, and universities, and in general, to the entire community so that it becomes aware of its importance and is empowered.
Objective 16: "To the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable and institutions at all levels," calls for major transformations, urges States to work for Peace as an inalienable right for every human being.
Peace is an intrinsic right of the person, which encompasses all fundamental rights.
For a nation to live in peace: justice, freedom, equality, security, respect for life and dignity of the human being, regardless of their culture, nationality, origin, gender, language, socioeconomic position, political or religious opinion, are demanded. This right to peace is the one we must promote and safeguard so that others are guaranteed.
We need leaders with political will, who govern with ethics, justice and equality, over their personal interests, to achieve the right to Peace.
The rulers have a fundamental role in the development of transformative policies, they represent the soul of each nation; therefore, their leadership will determine the country's direction.
The leader's love for his people and respect for their diversity, guarantees justice and the right to equality, more than the entire political Constitution of the country.
All social actors recognize and share the desire to build peace, to end poverty, discrimination and intolerance; they coincide on the need to provide access to quality education, public health, economic development, a healthy environment, water and proper nutrition.
It is essential for leaders to work for the recognition and implementation of human rights and to strive with special emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable groups of peoples who have been segregated for centuries because of their ancestral origins and cultures. And I am directly referring to our native peoples.
That is why, on behalf of all those present, as citizens of the Americas and other continents, I congratulate the Organization of American States (OAS) on the recent adoption and immediate proclamation of the American Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, on June 15th, in the framework of its General Assembly.
With these actions, the OAS becomes a reference to the other regional blocs, in what concerns the promotion and protection of the rights of our native peoples.
But now it is necessary and urgent to strengthen and implement these rights. The call is to all sectors to promote the accommodations for discussion and collection of the proposals of our native peoples for the rapid and correct implementation of their rights.
In that sense, the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace has, since July 2015, been conducting the Encounters of the Children of Mother Earth; Activities in which the peoples and nations of North America, Central America and South America are preparing proposals based on their ancestral knowledge, with the purpose of strengthening their rights, to help restore Mother Earth, the rescue and protection of their ancestral values and cultural identity, and our adaptation as humans to climate change.
I take this opportunity to address such honorable leaders, to make a special call for attention on the urgent need to work for the recognition of the dignity, protection and restoration of the most important BEING: our Mother Earth.
All the States of the World, and especially those of the Americas, must recognize that Mother Earth is a living being; and as a living being, is subject of rights.
That is why, today, the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace shares with you the proposal of the PROCLAMATION OF MOTHER EARTH AS A LIVING BEING AND THE CONSTITUTION OF ITS RIGHTS.
We must defend our Mother Earth from the heinous crimes that have been committed and are still being committed against her. We humans have been destroying it, not realizing that we are destroying ourselves and endangering our very existence.
That is why we congratulate the International Criminal Court (ICC), as it issued a document on September 16th stating that it "will give special consideration to the prosecution of crimes committed through the Rome Statute or that result in the destruction of the environment, the illegal exploitation of natural resources or the illegal dispossession of land."
This decision of the ICC, to sentence on environmental crimes, reinforces the need to establish international environmental regulations that are binding, since it is then that it can be denounced before that international entity, and they will be in the duty to judge on the cases raised.
The Global Embassy of Activists for Peace has been socializing before different international bodies and States the Law projects oriented to the Prevention and Sanction of the Crime of Ecocide and Ethnocide.
With respect to Ecocide, considered by the experts as the highest environmental crime of national and international order, we intend it to be typified in all countries, and at the same time be admitted as the fifth crime of the International Criminal Court, in order to respond to the challenge of curbing the impunity of crimes against Mother Earth; and go after, prosecute and punish those who are destroying it, as well as restore the damage done.
On the other hand, we are aware that there are many resistances and obstacles that the international justice has had, derived from various interests, mainly economic, undermining their efforts to provide a universal, efficient and effective justice, especially on the environmental issue. This led to the regionalization process of justice being observed in most of the international regimes that now exist.
What affects a nation in environmental matters also has consequences in other nations. That is why we propose a regional agreement for the creation of the Inter-American Court for the Defense of the Rights of Mother Earth, decentralized, autonomous and specialized, which has broad competence to get to know the Crime of Ecocide and other environmental crimes committed in our region, to take charge of prosecuting and punishing those who commit them, and to promote Restorative Justice for the damages caused to the Mother Earth.
On this occasion, we would like to officially present the Secretary General of the American States, Dr. Luis Almagro, with a document that the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace has been working on along with experts and the participation of civil society, which we have titled "Proposals for the creation of the INTER-AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTAL CHARTER," and it states:
First: Proclamation of the Constitution of the Rights of Mother Earth.
Second: Framework Law for the Prevention and Sanction of the Crime of Ecocide.
Third: Charter for the Protection of Mother Earth and creation of the Inter-American Court for the Defense of the Rights of Mother Earth.
These proposals, coupled with the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, have solid support in a number of international documents and studies, especially in three of the most important ones promulgated by the United Nations:
- Resolution 37/7 of October 28, 1982 (the Nature Charter), which embodied the commitment of States to take appropriate measures for the conservation of nature and protection of the environment;
- The Earth Charter, disclosed in 2007, recognizing Mother Earth as our common home, and that the well being of humanity depends on the preservation of a healthy biosphere, containing all its ecological systems; and
- the 17 Objectives for Sustainable Development, especially objectives 13 and 15, which express the urgency to take action to combat climate change and its effects, and other damages we are causing the planet, including the loss of biodiversity.
We are aware that these are concepts and documents in which particular interests are being touched and, consequently, we will face many barriers and obstacles. But it is required that the agreements that commonly accept and bind countries, through bilateral and multilateral treaties, translate into actions to achieve the objectives outlined.
Finally, I am grateful for this opportunity to address you, and in particular to share these proposals, which are oriented towards a path of peace that leads to the happiness of the integral human being in harmony with Mother Earth.
This is the CHALLENGE OF THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERS OF THE 21ST CENTURY.
Thank you very much.