Archive for SSP related News and Videos

Malinas: the epitome of inclusion

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In an article published on May 25th, El País highlights the vast multicultural mosaic of Malinas, a Belgian city situated just 25 kilometres away from Brussels whose citizenry is made up of 128 different nationalities and religions. In times of pressing terrorist threats and constant polarization, the official records show that this particular city has managed to keep its Muslim residents away from joining radicalized ISIS forces in Syria. This relative success can be explained by a “carrot and stick” approach that has focused on providing more resources to the police, more security cameras and, most importantly, comprehensive initiatives of inclusion. These initiatives include after-school centres for vulnerable youth, investments in public spaces and no-segregation policies for the development of living spaces.

The author includes the testimony of Alexander Van Leuven, an anthropologist specialized in anti-radicalization who claims that what makes Malinas different in terms of inclusiveness is the fact that everyone within the community is considered to be a valuable citizen, regardless of his or her background or financial means. The egalitarian strategy of the city ensures that anyone with talent and hard work can have a worthy future. In the words of its Mayor, Bart Somers, the key is to leave behind the clichés of seeing Muslims as either victims or criminals and moving forward with an inclusive vision where everyone has the opportunity of a prosperous life.

The Salaam Mechelen project, an initiative started in 1995, perfectly exemplifies this vision. The gist of the project is to use soccer as a means to unite the community: players of all nationalities and origins who are required to display exemplary academic performances in order to play and get together to enjoy the activity in an atmosphere of respect for the rival.

Malinas, the “city of hope”, demonstrates that having an integrated and cohesive society is not only possible under the right policies of inclusiveness, but also highly desirable.

To see the original article in Spanish, click here.

*Featured image by Demi Alvarez.

Professor Reddy On the True Nature of a Shared Society

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In a blog post written late last week, Professor Sanjay Reddy attempted to address the question, ¨What is a Shared Society?¨ His writing explores the limits of current approaches to human rights and stresses the importance of cultivating pervasive,common humanity in order to make progress in community building.
Attributing the advancement of the Shared Society concept directly to Club de Madrid, Reddy suggests that a Shared Society is composed of three themes: individual dignity, a recognition of social pluralism, and collective responsiblity. Reddy writes:

¨Understood in these terms, the idea, and ideal, of a Shared Society can be applied on any scale.¨

Reddy echoes a core principle of the Shared Societies Project, saying that

any successful initiative ¨must be grounded in an idea of shared responsibility that can motívate the campaigners and society at large.¨

Reddy is an Associate Professor of Economics at the New School for Social Research in New York. He also Works as a research associate for Columbia University´s Initiative for Policy Dialogue. He has worked as a Fellow at Harvard University´s Center for Ethics and Center for Population and Development Studies. Reddy is an independent adviser to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, and is a co-founder of the Global Consumption and Income Project.
His post came just two days after he joined Club de Madrid member Roza Otunbayeva, and others, as part of a high-level UN panel discussion on the role of Shared Societies in the fight against global poverty.
A link to Professor Reddy´s blog post is posted here.

“A lack of integration undermines the sense that there is such a thing as “the common life” in our cities”

Khan London

In an age when division and polarization seem to be the norm in globalization, London’s Sadiq Khan is passionately advocating for a more integrated society. Speaking at City Hall on November 14th at the Mayor of London’s Social Integration Conference, Khan commented in front of an audience of mayors from around the globe on the need for integration in society:

A lack of integration undermines the sense that there is such a thing as “the common life” in our cities; It breeds mistrust, it grows anxiety and the fear of crime, and it can fuel the development of division.

He warned his fellow mayors against a lax approach to solving the issues of division in cities, commenting “A hands-off approach to social integration simply doesn´t work.” He elaborated that:

Promoting social integration must mean assuring that people of different faiths, ethnicities, social backgrounds, and generations don’t just tolerate one another or live side by side, but actually meet and mix with one another on a genuine level and connect in meaningful ways. Perhaps as friends and neighbours as well as citizens.

More than just commenting on the moral need for integration within cities, Khan spoke on the tangible benefits of social integration. He commented on this, saying that social integration “can help reduce mental health issues, it can stop the vulnerable from becoming isolated, and it can enable people to contribute fully to their community, increasing social mobility and helping people develop new skills and fulfil their potential.”

As a first step the Mayor of London mentioned “spreading greater understanding of the problem within cities, administrations and communities” adding that “there is no one project that will fix this, it will require work and effort across the board”.
We are pleased to see Mr. Khan’s remarks align closely with those of the Club de Madrid´s Shared Society Project (SSP), which seeks to build an inclusive and safe society that respects diversity and protects human dignity, especially when he makes the important point that it is not enough to tolerate people living side by side.

 

Picture credit: http://www.newstatesman.com/

Aung Sang Suu Kyi Committed to Peace and Inclusiveness

General Assembly Seventy-first session 10th plenary meetingGeneral Debate

Aung Sang Suu Kyi addressed yesterday the United Nations General Assembly for the first time as Myanmar’s leader. Myanmar is currently in a process to achieve peace after more than a decade of conflict, and the Club de Madrid has been involved in this effort supporting effective dialogue in the country, while trying to achieve a Shared Society during this democratic transition.

Aung Sang Suu Kyi key notes were the following:

About the peace process

  •  “Over six decades of internal arm conflict, a complex task to be addressed (..) National reconciliation is a major challenge for my Government”
  • “Union Peace Conference, 21st Centyru Panglong Conference, is based on principles of inclusiveness and Union. The conference is a first step on the journey to national reconciliation”

 

About the Rakhine State

  •  “We do not fear international scrutin”
  • “ We will adopt a sustainable, peaceful and a holistic approach focus on development in Rakhine State”
  • “There has been persistent opposition from some quarters to the establishment of the commission lead by Kofi Annan. However, we are determined to persevere in our endeavor to achieve harmony, peace and prosperity in the Rakhine state.”
  • “I would like to take the opportunity to ask for the understanding and constructive contribution of the international community”
  • “By standing firm against the forces of prejudice and intolerance, we are reaffirming our faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person.”

 

About Migration

  •  “Investigating roots and addressing causes of irregular migration to build peace and respect to human rights”
  • “Migrants contribution to global economy (…) collaboration between host and origin countries”

 

To listen her full speech, click here.

To read more about CdM project, click here.

 

Photo Credit: UN/Cia Pak

 

Is Immigration Represented in your Parliament?

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In recent years, European countries have grown increasingly diverse and welcomed immigrants from all parts of the world. It goes without saying that successful integration of the recently arrived immigrants is essential to creating an equitable Shared Society and preventing ethnic, racial and demographic tensions.

One way of measuring integration is by assessing the level of political representation of immigrants. Having high level politicians that represent your needs in the legislative or executive branches is a vital part of successful integration. The Pathways Project, a collaborative effort of several European universities, seeks to do just that, by focusing its effort on diversity assessment among several European parliaments. The findings reveal that the Spanish parliament has a long way to go, while 10% of Spanish citizens are immigrants or first generation citizens, they make up only 1% of MPs.[1] In this regard Southern Europe in general is more backwards than Northern Europe, as Italy and Greece have similar statistics. Northern Europe, led by the UK and the Netherlands, has the highest proportion of immigrant MPs at 11 and 13%, respectively. One could offer a historical argument to explain the discrepancies among the countries, by pointing out that the UK and the Netherlands are historically maritime powers that have welcomed immigrants for many decades from their former colonies.

Encouragingly for Spain though, individual attitudes on immigration are much more positive; however, the authors of the report posit that the tide might change if Spanish citizens experience negative consequences of the immigration wave that came at the dawn of 2000s.   Countries of Southern Europe should carefully examine the inclusive policies of the UK and Netherlands in order to either replicate the policies adjusting for their individual countries or create new policies with inclusivity in mind. Increasing the percentage of immigrants and first generations MPs is an effective way of promoting several of the goals of Shared Society, such as Commitment II, creating opportunities for minorities and Commitment VIII, fostering a shared vision of society at the local and national level by increasing visibility and communication between different identity groups.



[1] Criado, Miguel Angel. “El Congreso Español Es El Que Tiene Menos Miembros De Origen Inmigrante.” Elpais.com. El Pais, 15 Feb. 2016. Web. <http://elpais.com/elpais/2016/02/15/ciencia/1455521726_813402.html>.

Shared Societies Project Ideas at World Humanitarian Summit

WHS

 

Over 65 Heads of State and other influential personnel are gathering in Istanbul, Turkey from May 23-24, 2016 for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, organized by the United Nations and hosted by the Presidency of Turkey, to address the reforming humanitarian system as it relates to the current, migration crisis. The aim of the conference is to come up with a more comprehensive framework, aimed to tackle the needs of millions of people who have been displaced from their homes due to conflict or climate disasters, and are consequently more prone to hunger, poverty and overall human misery. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made an emotional plea to the participants of the conference in his opening remarks, saying: “Today, we declare: We are one humanity with a shared responsibility. Let us resolve here and now not only to keep people alive, but to give people a chance at a life in dignity.”

The concept of human dignity, as mentioned by Ban-Ki moon and later on in the summit by participants of the conference in various workshops and seminars, is also embedded in the definition of a ´shared society, as defined by Club de Madrid´s Shared Society Project (SSP). In order to form a stable, safe, cohesive society respect for everyone´s dignity and human rights is essential. Migrants should be treated as equal members of the society who are in distress. Political leaders of each country thus are responsible for shaping their politics in such a way that will delegitimize the often racism-driven intercommunity conflicts. During the round table meeting held the first day of the Summit on Political Leadership to End and Prevent Conflict, many leaders committed to the responsibility to steer their country´s politics in a direction which will protect human rights, dignity without use of force, in turn creating a more stable society[1].

SSP`s Commitment VII[2] , which addresses the need for an inclusive education system committed to the concept of shared society, was addressed at the summit as it relates to the inclusivity of the education. If education is made available to refugee children, it will be pivotal in reducing the vulnerability and increasing self reliance of refugees in the future, which is on the Agenda of the Summit. What adds to the saliency of this issue is the demographics of the refugees. In 2014, 51% of the refugee population were children and about half of them were not attending primary school[3]. Securing education for these children should not be viewed as a cost, but rather an investment in the future.

At a time when 125 million people face humanitarian crisis, tangible political action from the international community is needed and must arrive promptly. SSP recognizes this conference as a step towards such action, especially given that the leaders present at the summit will tackle the responsibilities to which they committed in turn creating a more stable, safer world. The uniqueness of the summit lies in its “top down” approach of addressing challenges of human suffering caused primarily due to migration crisis, as it is the leaders themselves, rather than grassroots organizations, that have gathered to address this challenge. As UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson expressed during the Summit, instead of fearing or fighting this change, “We need to stand up for the beauty of diversity in our societies.”

 

 

[1] From the Report of the Secretary-General for the World Humanitarian Summit titled “One Humanity: shared responsibility.” https://consultations.worldhumanitariansummit.org

[2] Commitment VII: Ensure an education system that offers equal opportunity for developing the knowledge, skills, capacities and networks necessary for children to become productive, engaged members of society and that demonstrates a commitment to a shared society and educates children to understand and respect others.

[3] From the Report of the Secretary-General for the World Humanitarian Summit titled “One Humanity: shared responsibility.” https://consultations.worldhumanitariansummit.org

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