The Launch of the International Human Solidarity Day was opened by the Chair of the Second Committee, H.E. Tiina Intelmann, followed by a statement from H.E. Ali Hachani, the president of Economic and Social Council. Mr. Ali Hachani stressed that embracing the value of Solidarity would be critical in order to reach the MDGs, particularly where poverty and hunger are concerned. He also reaffirmed the commitment of ECOSOC to pursue efforts to build solidarity within the international community, and create an environment favourable to developing countries in its impact on poverty alleviation.
Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo noted that the UN Development Agenda, which was defined by the UN global conferences and summits since the 1990s, was firmly embedded in the principles of solidarity. It was pointed out that new forms of solidarity were emerging that went beyond the provision of ODA, and were contained in some of the initiatives on innovative sources of financing for development. Global initiatives and national policies were needed to support economic solidarity, a dimension of solidarity evident in the activities that had evolved as a means for societies and groups to address social, economic or environmental challenges inadequately met by government or the market. Examples include the work of cooperatives, mutual societies, voluntary and civil society organizations, foundations and associations which conduct business in pursuit of social, environmental and community goals.
After the unveiling of the logo for International Human Solidarity Day, a keynote address was delivered by H.E. Lech Wałęsa, former President of Poland, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of the ‘Solidarity’ movement. Mr. Wałęsa stated that human solidarity on a global scale would be needed to combat poverty and starvation, conflict, and environmental degradation causing climate change, as these ills would have consequences for the entire world. Disease and epidemics were destroying the most productive groups in society. He urged that partnerships be formed based on common interest and solidarity, and for all to oppose the vision of the world as a battlefield of nations.
Mr. Wałęsa put forth the proposal to create a fund that would allow individuals to personally contribute a small sum of money per year to help others live a dignified life. People helping people, as opposed to government helping people, for purposes such as education, food and health care would build solidarity between human beings, and allow children the opportunity to improve their fate. The fund could be administered by the Secretary-General. Governments would be responsible to inform citizens about the fund and provide tax exemptions for contributions made to it.
Mr. Wałęsa drew attention to the struggle that occurred in Poland twenty six years ago when almost no one believed that it could succeed. The solidarity movement had transformed Europe, brought freedom and allowed for development. He stated that at present there was a need for the right platforms to provide opportunities to build a global solidarity movement to face current global challenges, and that improvement can always be made when people come together.
In a statement made by the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh, it was noted that the current era is one that has seen significant progress, with increased well-being for many, but one-quarter of the world’s population still lives on $1 a day and inequality is on the rise and the voice of the poor is not heard. The UN must be a tool for change.
The Permanent Representative of Belgium discussed the narrow and broad concepts of solidarity. Defined narrowly, it was one of self-interest, and that our own self-interest should lead people to do something about the world’s problems because in a global village, one’s poverty becomes another’s problem. Speaking of solidarity more broadly, he made a reference to John Rawls’ “veil of ignorance” which asks what principles of law and governance one would choose if they were unaware of what their position in society would be. There has always been a limit to solidarity in space and time. The problem of space, where for many individuals, loyalties end at the border of the nation state and not to a broader community. The problem of time relates to the need for individuals to enlarge their circle of concern beyond the current generation. With the duty of memory was also the concept of sustainable development where we should invest in today for future security.
The Permanent Representative of Brazil stated that solidarity has played a critical role in poverty reduction in Latin America. On the national level, he cited solidarity through targeted social assistance funds and cash-transfer schemes such as Bolsa Familia which is projected to reach 11 million individuals by the end of 2006. An example of international solidarity given was a levy on airline tickets that had been signed on to by 18 different countries. The Representative went on to say that spurts of humanitarian assistance were not enough to combat global challenges and that assistance must be stable and predictable.
The elimination of poverty and inequality was called for by the Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso, who noted that solidarity was the foundation of society and would be required for development. He spoke of the benefit of making community-based existence a part of modern development. In the region, sub regional groupings such as ECOWAS, SADEC, IGAD and AMU had designed far-reaching development objectives, and measures undertaken had led to reductions in poverty.
Statement by H.E. Mr. Ali Hachani, President of ECOSOC
Statement by H.E. Mr. Ahmed Al-Haddad, Chef de Cabinet, Office of the President of the General Assembly
Statement by Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs
Keynote address by Mr. Lech Walesa, former president of Poland, Nobel Prize Laureate and founder of the ‘Solidarity’ movement in Poland
Statements by Permanent Representatives
UN News Centre story
UN Radio Story
Launch of the International Human Solidarity Day at the UN Headquarters in New York
Lech Walesa welcomes the Launch of the International Human Solidarity Day