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22 / 09 / 2004
Jaume Saura: Universal values are still appropriate but new dangers exist

The president of the Institute of Human Rights of Catalonia, Jaume Saura, has presenting the conclusions for the Dialogue "Human Rights, Emerging Needs and New Commitments", held from 18 September as part of Forum Barcelona 2004

More information about Human rights, emerging needs and new commitments

The president of the Institute of Human Rights of Catalonia (IDHC), Jaume Saura, explained in his intervention that: "The 21st century and globalization present new challenges, such as the reformulation and rethinking of the 1948 Declaration of Universal Rights". In the opinion of Saura, "universal values are still appropriate but now new dangers exist and therefore the contents have to evolve".

In this sense, Saura explained that the project of the Emergent Charter of Human Rights exists, "and is a catalogue of values and principles that could be debated by international civil society" and requested that: "we open up the project of the Charter to all those taking part in the Dialogue so that they can add their contributions and ensure that the document is adopted in the next Social Forum of Porto Alegre in 2005".

Saura said that: "The point of departure continues being the right to life, but all rights cannot be reduced to this right". "It is important to think about standards of living and about quality living, which includes fundamental rights and emergent rights", he added.

As spokesman of the IDHC, Saura demanded: "The right to a basic income to give meaning to real freedom: without equality there is no freedom". In his opinion, the capacity to choose makes sense of citizenship and this takes on meaning "if there is a material existence" and if this material existence "improves social solidarity".

Jaume Saura also talked about the right of women: "Egalitarian democracy must integrate itself across the board, it is necessary to bring about a change in conditions for women". The president of the IDHC went on to explain "migration and its causes are different for men and women, and for that reason we call for a strengthening in organizations and women's movements so that they can present new proposals to improve the mechanisms of protection for women".

Saura stated that: "in a pluricultural and multiethnic world a great violence exists in terms of identity" and pluriculturality, according to his explanation, is being put forward on a global, national and local scale, meaning that "it is necessary to harness respect for diversity and, mainly, for those people who have been traditionally excluded from the political arena". In this sense, he referred to the indigenous peoples and the adoption of a universal declaration for their rights, and for minorities.

Saura also spoke of cities and their "devastating diagnosis". By doing so, he made reference to "segregation, degradation of the environment and the generation of urban or social apartheid" that is evident in present-day cities. In his point of view, these effects are "the reflection of privatization of public spaces".

For the president of the IDHC, "globalization has increased the responsibility of cities and only the cities per se can offer a counter effect before the perverse aspects of globalization. And he went on to add that: "it is the cities that can lead social change, urban innovation knows no limits".

Another of the rights that the IDHC has mentioned has been the right to development, which means "in permanent construction and reconstruction"; according to Saura: "it is important to reinforce the multidimensional nature of this right and to decentralize it" and to do so "it is necessary to reinforce the legal guarantees of this right and to create a new international economic world order".

Saura explained that "the right to development is the right to have minimums, to have food, water, work and the right to have a future, that is to say, waving the external debt", and added that "to achieve the previous rights it is necessary to have the right to have rights", which "requires the reinforcing of the mechanisms that guarantee human rights and international law".

"We requested the obligatory jurisdiction of the International Penal Court over all individuals and jurisdiction in the Penal Court of Justice", pointed out Saura. In addition, he also requested the reformation of the United Nations so that it includes obligatory mechanisms to defend human rights.

Finally, Saura highlighted that it is vital "to make justice compatible in the retributional sense, which means, as a punishment and in its reparational sense".