"The evolution of organized civil society and its participation in the universal agenda for Human rights and Mother Earth." - Deputy Olga Ferreira
Dr. Carlos Iafigliola, Deputy of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay: We will begin presenting who will be the first presenter for this morning; Representative, host, from here in Paraguay, Olga Ferreira, President of the Commission on Human Rights and the House of Representatives, and a much more extensive resume, but we are summarizing the resumes here; and the topic that the Representative will be addressing is The Evolution of the Organized Civil Society and its Participation in the Universal Agenda for Human Rights and for Mother Earth. Go ahead Representative.
Good morning to all, national and international authorities, peace activists, distinguished delegates. A very good morning, and I receive you all in my country with an open heart and thank you so much for being here, in our beloved Paraguay.
The Evolution of the Organized Civil Society and its Participation in the Universal Agenda for Human Rights and of Mother Earth, is my topic.
I begin with: The basis for human rights is always a person’s dignity. This is not a new idea, but rather a synthesis of what has been said in many philosophical and legal texts, written by famous speakers on the theory of human rights. In effect, the consideration of human dignity is above positivist perspectives and because of it nobody can legitimately impede another person from enjoying their rights. As Professor Carl Piso well said, who was Rector of Mexico’s National University and President of the Iberoamerican Institute on Constitutional Law, the concept of human dignity is not conducive to individualism; on the contrary, it recognizes the value of the community. I demand respect for my human dignity before the state, groups and other persons who possess the same dignity.
I am aware of everything I owe others and how much I need it. I communicate using a language that I learned from my peers just like many other aspects and thoughts that make up my own personality, and each and everyone has their own dignity that I must respect.
So, on one hand, the notion of human dignity singularizes the person from other living beings due to its reasoning, will, liberty, and equality, and on the other hand, the notion of human rights as a set of attributes recognized by legal instruments to make the idea of everyone's dignity effective. It permits a human existence from diverse scopes that are related to each other, such as the individual, social, political, economic, and cultural. It should also be remembered here; one of the intrinsic characteristics of human rights: its historicity. This characteristic is linked to the irresistible evolution of the new civilization with the recent problems, needs, and challenges. The progressive recognition of human rights is the result of the universal history and civilization, and consequently subject to evolution and modifications. That is to say, the appearances of the needs that did not exist previously, allows the birth of rights that must be protected.
Precisely, one of the examples is to ensure a safe sustainable and ecologically balanced environment that, up until a few decades ago, it did not matter or pose a problem, or did not present the magnitude that various countries currently have, and many of those problems affect the entire world, like climate change with the threat that, if the proper urgent and needed actions are not taken, the impact on human rights can become critical to a majority of the global population.
From this approach, the sustainable right refers to the form of progress that satisfies the present needs without compromising the future population’s ability to satisfy their own; with balanced integration of the essential pillars of development, economic growth, the social, political, and institutional progress, and environmental aspects.
As referenced by the International Labor Organization, even though the world has lived through several decades of economic benefits without precedent, poverty and inequality continue to be the principle obstacles for sustainable development and global stability, reason why more work should be done in the creation of more and better productive and quality jobs that, while simultaneously preserving the environment, enable the social inclusion of general well-being and, above all, the reduction in poverty.
As well noted in 1999 by Ocampos and Rodriguez in their work, “Towards the Strengthening of Civil Society in Paraguay: A pending challenge”, citizen participation in monitoring the compliance of human rights within the local development scope and the incorporation to the planning process of public management in Paraguay required two other basic conditions, historically: the existence of social organizations and representative civil associations that transcends beyond the mere assertion, and that commit themselves in a process of coordination and planning in public and private sectors; and institutional mechanisms and areas that facilitate the identification of objectives, the simplification of procedures in the area of promotion and access to adequate services and social investments pertaining to the population’s needs, and that encourage their participation in decisions and actions to face. Therefore, following this line of thought, it was clear that a new content to initiative interventions of civil society became necessary. For example, the idea of citizen participation in the framework of sustainable development, taking into serious consideration the resource constraints facing the consumption levels and the same need to defend the environment.
I want to pause briefly here. In our national congress, we are very accustomed, when speaking of laws that focus on human rights in full, we call on public audiences so that there is a real participation in the elaboration of laws, in the modifications, and above all, for control monitoring to follow; That way we are quite closely united in this, the citizens and civil organizations, and the nation’s parliament.
All these thoughts, including the very concept of the human being as a subject of rights, have given way to a model of organized civil society, not only for its unique work in its field of choice, but especially today, with respect to its evident refueling that entails work that, with significant incidence on the impact on the public policy agenda, legislative initiatives, and in the consolidation of the political impact at a global level; in this type of contribution, it can only come about with due strategy, and above all, with the ability to unity a state roadmap and the authors provided from civil society.
We have… regarding this particular topic, I can say as a parliamentarian… that since I have been parliamentarian I have had the honor of carrying forward many activities with civil society organizations that gave very important results, and here it is also important to highlight the National Climate Change Bill presented by various colleagues, currently being studied by diverse commission advisors from the House of Representatives; said legislative proposal expresses its statement of reason that will initiate a national policy on climate change that will be embedded transversally in the national development plan, given that, for Paraguay the adaptation to climate change is a priority established in the National Development Plan 2014-2030. The national energy plan, of transport, of forests, of forestation, reforestation, agriculture, livestock farming, and of the industry, should be in agreement with the national policy on climate change. Also in the honorable Chamber of Senators, they are analyzing a bill that seeks to elevate the environmental secretary, known as SEAM, to the ranks of Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. Similarly, although not less important, there have been several public events that have taken place on the field of human rights and the environment, from the parliamentary front, Childhood and Adolescence, which is under my coordination, has organized a talent show competition this year with the motto “Lets Value and Respect Our Environment,” which has served to raise awareness amongst our children about the importance of the natural landscape environment and emblematic places of their communities.
It is natural that new challenges arise, that require new perspectives, new training and, above all, imagination and creativity to choose, and apply mechanisms that strengthen the respect for human rights, citizen participation, respect for the environment; and I am convinced that we will be moving towards a civil state society synergy that, as a tool to reach general well-being, will acknowledge, in sustainable development, the center of gravity that conditions its performance.
To conclude my intervention, I want to remind you of a thought: The environment is very important because when we destroy our natural resources and they become scarce, we struggle for them. We hope to enter reason to unite state and civil society forces with the purpose that in the world we do not reach the extremes of fighting and dying for natural resources, that up until now, we have at hand.
Ladies and gentlemen, have a very good stay in this blessed country; I hug each and every one of you, and I challenge you all to fight for peace; for peace, fight.
May God bless us all; thank you very much.