Archive for Experts comment on SSP

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.

After the shocks of 2016, the world risks turning inwards. Here’s how that can be avoided


Simon O’Connell, Executive Director of Mercy Corps Europe, published a few days ago an article about global challenges of 2016. You can read it in the following link. The article’s main idea is that we as individuals and as civil society organizations have a responsibility to listen to different opinions, build bridges and to find common ground between different groups in particular those excluded from globalisation benefits.

He argued that “to ensure no-one is excluded from global prosperity and opportunity is as relevant now as it ever was”  and suggested that “we have a responsibility to do better (…) based on principles of Shared Societies and respect for others” including a hyperlink to the Shared Societies Good Practices Guide.

We are pleased to see Mr. O`Connell’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, especially when he highlights the important point about the roots of disaffection and growing disparity in our societies.

We have recently developed a fruitful collaboration with Mercy Corps within the Shared Societies Project activities in Myanmar organizing a joint roundtable on interfaith dialogue this year. You can find further information in the following link. We will be meeting Simon in January to deepen our co-operation and continue working to find common objectives to strengthen Social Inclusion and “to ensure no-one is excluded”.

This post was originally post at the World Economic Forum website. It was was written by Simon O’Connell Executive Director, Mercy Corps Europe.

Image: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem


Brazil, indigenous people; after 40 years, little has changed

In 1967 the Figueiredo report caused an outcry after it revealed crimes against Brazil’s indigenous population: genocide, torture, rape and enslavement during the military dictatorship were described in it. The report was first silenced and then “lost” for the last 40 years. Thanks to an investigation conducted by The Guardian, it has been rediscovered, highlighting again the terror against Brazilian indigenous tribes, raising the question of whether their situation has improved over the years or not. The answer is that after all these years their reality is too much the same and that the implementation of the IX Shared Societies Project Commitment “Promote respect, understanding and appreciation of diversity” is far from being reached.

The document, was submitted by the public prosecutor Jader de Figueiredo Correia. The over 7,000 pages-long text held the Indian Protection Service (widely known as the SPI) responsible for much of the catalogue of atrocities and suffering caused and even for the extermination of some tribes, the very people it was supposed to protect.

Under its founder Marshall Cândido Rondon, the SPI started with high ideals, but it later suffered from bureaucracy and corruption. This neglect worsened into a terrible litany of persecution and exploitation on the part of SPI officials.

When the investigation was released it caused a huge social and political storm. In 1969 the Sunday Times, sent writer Norman Lewis to investigate. His article, ‘Genocide’, shocked the public and led to the founding of Survival International. Despite all of the outcry and the fact that 134 officials were charge of being allegedly involved in more than 1,000 crimes, nobody was jailed. The National Truth Commission, which is investigating human rights violations between 1947 and 1988, believes that some tribes, such as those in Maranhão, were completely wiped out. In one case, in Mato Grosso, only two survivors emerged to tell of an attack on a community of 30 Cinta Larga Indians with dynamite dropped from aeroplanes. Figueiredo also details how officials and landowners lethally introduced smallpox into isolated villages and donated sugar mixed with strychnine.

The report was believed to have been destroyed by a fire at the agriculture ministry soon after it came out, prompting suspicions of a cover-up by the dictatorship and its allies among the big landowners. The document was highly embarrassing for the military regime and a censored press ensured it was rarely mentioned again. The SPI was replaced by another agency, Funai, but tribes continue to struggle against illegal loggers, miners, government dam-builders and ranchers

Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry, has stated that nothing has changed when it comes to the impunity regarding the murder of Indians. “Gunmen routinely kill tribespeople in the knowledge that there’s little risk of being brought to justice – none of the assassins responsible for shooting Guarani and Makuxi tribal leaders have been jailed for their crimes. It’s hard not to suspect that racism and greed are at the root of Brazil’s failure to defend its indigenous citizens’ lives,” he said.

“This documentation, which was hidden for many decades, sheds light on conflict situations that endure today. For states like Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná, Bahia and Amazonas, it contains lots of information that can help reveal once and for all the truth behind many forms of violence against Indians today and provide an insight into the real owners of the land in dispute.”

It is sad that the indigenous people have been seen as an obstacle to progress when they should have been recognized as guardians of the environments whose warnings about the destruction of the habitat and their way of life have been vindicated by subsequent events.  The rest of us are only beginning to understand their insights about the precarious of the balance of nature.


Club de Madrid offers support for democratic changes in Myanmar


President of the Club de Madrid, Wim Kok, and Member Kjell Magne Bondevik led a mission to identify potential work to support national efforts in  transition to Democracy

Wim Kok, President of the Club de Madrid and former Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Prime Minister of Norway, led a second high level mission of the organization to Myanmar between 30 of May and 2 of June to identify potential work to support national efforts in  transition to Democracy through the Project: “Accompanying Change, Fostering Democracy and Building Shared Societies in Myanmar”.

They met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who welcomes Club de Madrid efforts to support the democratic transition in Myanmar, Minister U Aung Min, responsible for the peace negotiations with the ethnic groups, new elected National League for Democracy members of their Executive Committee and other key national and international stakeholders in the country.

These two missions, the first one took place in February 2013- were intended to build trust among Burmese authorities, democratic movement, civil society, ethnic groups and other relevant stakeholders in order to identify a potential long-term initiative to provide Burmese leadership accompaniment, counsel and support in facing the daunting challenges of democratic transition, including the probable increased tensions as the country gets closer to the 2015 general elections.

The Club de Madrid assists in the identification of politically sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by today’s leaders, developing practical recommendations, action plans and implementation strategies. The direct exchanges with current leaders on a peer to peer basis, and the Member´s ability to deliver the right message at the right time are an essential part of its work and are the core of the Club de Madrid’s impact

Tipping Point: Can South Africa and India End Systematic Violence Against Women?

Women demonstration


As the world keeps its eyes on India and anticipates the government to act quickly to create a more equal society where women are treated on equal footing to men, a girl’s gang-rape and murder in South Africa also triggered political outrage.

According to statistics, on average, a woman is raped every four minutes in South Africa. The brutal gang-rape and horrific mutilation of the 17 year old Anene Booysen outraged the nation and triggered protests against a culture of systematic violence against women and children. However, rights group complain that rape has become normalised in South African society and better education about and greater penalties for sexual assaults are needed.

Lindiwe Mazibuko, parliamentary leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, said: “It is time to ask the tough questions that for too long we have avoided. We live in a deeply patriarchal and injured society where the rights of women are not respected. Indeed, there is a silent war against the children and women of this country – and we need all South Africans to unite in the fight against it.”

Radio stations across South Africa interrupted broadcasts with a chime every four minutes between 6am and 6pm last Friday to symbolize the women and children raped each day. In 2010-2011, an average of 154 rapes a day was recorded in South Africa, more than double the rate in India.

President Jacob Zuma called on the courts to “impose the harshest sentences on such crimes, as part of a concerted campaign to end this scourge in our society.”

Childline spokesman Joan van Niekerk said that politicians are very good at making speeches and campaigns that make no difference. He went on to say:

“So we want to see action. We want to see changes in the application of the law and we want to see further reform of our Sexual Offences Act. We need better-trained police, further law reform and the application of laws that have been passed.”

More importantly, what South Africa and India need is a change of attitude towards women and instating women as equal to men in order to tackle the root causes of this pandemic of sexual violence.



Chandrika Kumaratunga: “When inequality is horizontal, the disadvantaged group feels the discrimination more sharply”


“Studies have ascertained that when all communities living within a State are guaranteed equal opportunities—economically, socially, politically—and their identities are respected and given free expression, they will become a productive, vibrant part of the State, celebrating the richness of its diversity, while building a united, strong, and stable country. Such a society is called a Cohesive or Shared or Inclusive Society.”

Club de Madrid member and former President of Sri Lanka Chandrika Kumarantunga presented this conclusion during her keynote address at the 2012 Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Lecture Series in Nigeria. The theme of her address was “Unity in Diversity; Building Shared and Inclusive Societies for Peace and Prosperity.” Her speech focused on the connections between levels of violence and economic failure of a State and its degree of inequality.

“When inequality occurs among groups which have similar economic and social status—that is, horizontal inequalities, the disadvantaged group feels the discrimination more sharply. Perceived injustice as well as frustration and despair caused by continued social marginalization, economic deprivation, and political defeat have been known to result in violence.”

Madam Kumarantunga offered case studies of the appearance of this trend throughout the world. She then drew upon her own experiences as the leader of Sri Lanka from 1994 to 2005 to offer advice to nations working to create or improve their Shared Societies.

“The challenge of the 21st century for many nations remains the enterprise of erecting pluralist, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural states. This requires that we manage the existing diversity within our Nations, directing the richness of this diversity towards positive change in order to build Free, Democratic, and Prosperous Societies. We need to accept and celebrate diversity, not reject it. The combined efforts and skills of peoples of different communities can only enrich our Societies, not damage them.”

Read the full lecture of Chandrika Kumaratunga, “Unity in Diversity; Building Shared and Inclusive Societies for Peace and Prosperity”


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