Santiago Castellá Surribas | Genocide, the look at the Holocaust as the foundation, as the basis of a pedagogy of human rights

Santiago Castellá Surribas | Genocide, the look at the Holocaust as the foundation, as the basis of a pedagogy of human rights

Good morning. Thank you for your presence and thank you to the GEAP, the organization of this third CUMIPAZ. Thank you for finding myself with such selected speakers and with an interested audience.

If the speaker that preceded me brought up the educational issues of an education for peace and the human rights, I am going to go in what I consider that this education should have, and specially (and this is the theme to my speech):

Genocide, the look at the Holocaust as the foundation, as the basis of a pedagogy of human rights

To place the experience of the Holocaust at the center of the explanation of human rights. And I will try to justify the reason for this proposal and how to develop it.

Less than a dozen years ago, when President Barack Obama assumed the presidency of the United States, he did it with these words, he said: "The world has changed and we have to change with it.”

And indeed, in recent years, the 21st century, there have been radical changes, transcendental in the world, which will undoubtedly affect the human condition.

Said the great philosopher Ortega and Gasset: "Since we have the duty to sense the future, we also have the courage to affirm it.”

And indeed, globalization brings us two major changes. The first, we perceive more clearly, is the immediacy in social relations; everything happens instantly, online, everything happens instantaneously, without needing to delay; but the component that seems most interesting to me to understand the new international society, is that a large part of social relations take place in a space without territory.

The cloud has appeared, the network, a new space where the territory no longer exists, an absolutely unlimited space, where we can create as many countries, as many nations, as many communities as we want. After 40 centuries of humanity fighting for the conquest of territories, because the territory was power, because the territory was natural wealth and exploitation of the people who were in it, we suddenly witnessed the birth of a new deterritorialized world.

Some authors, some thinkers, speak of a new digital Zionism, the creation of homelands, of virtual communities in a network. And this is a vital opportunity for humanity, but at the same time implies, I believe, a risk that we have to assume, which is that for the first time since the speech of modernity, since we can place around the protestant reform, enlightenment modernity was born around the Europe of Westphalia, and for the first time the claim to universality can be broken.

Communities may appear, as some authors say: “Facebook nations”, closed communities, self-referenced, Islamic states that have their own logic (to put it in some way), absolutely differentiated communities, that do not interact with the language of reason with the rest of the world and that raise a frontal opposition to the values, to the principles of universalism, that constitute the base of the ethical construction of a world in common.

For the first time, I repeat, we can see that the universalist speech of modernity, the ability of all of us to have a rational discussion about ethical principles and reach common conclusions, break down. But in addition, in this new world marked by globalization we are doomed, forced if they want, to be more free than ever.

Our grandparents, our ancestors, were born with a fairly closed identity package. They knew what nation they were born in (that largely determined their religion), they worked from what their parents had worked or - those who had more luck - than they had studied, their genitality marked what would be their sexual condition, they had to take few decisions in your life. To a large extent, marriage, in some cases military service, was the most disruptive experience of change they had in their lives.

Currently all our identities are changing, contradictory, multiple, liquid. Nobody works from what their parents worked and surely has little to do with what they have studied, and each one makes his or her curriculum of tailor-made studies. The homelands are blurred. We have multiple homelands and loyalties, loyalties at times to communities that are above our national loyalties; our sexual identities are determined by the affective choices that we decide to have throughout our life; our religions become a collage of multiple personal interpretations.

In short, we are more than ever obliged to freedom, forced to moral autonomy; and this produces fear, this produces an absolute perception of risk; and as that old oriental saying says: “Beware of the fears that come at night and steal your dreams”.

Indeed, fear means that part of the population - seeking security - is forced to new integrisms, to want to revive, recreate, artificially reproduce traditional ways of life already lost; to try to build traditional ideologies in a closed way, in a non-dialogue way, because that produces security.

Young people of second, third, fourth generation of immigrants in Europe, not religious practitioners, who try - in an idealization of an Islam that gives them a comprehensive response to all their fears - rebuild their security. But also young people of the Judeo-Christian civilization who are driven by uncertainty and fear of having to choose, determine, choose, do as Unamuno said: "who already are", faced with this vital choice of life, resort to fanaticism, fundamentalism, to new populisms.

Today the world is no longer explained in the right and left tension, but it is this great tension between cosmopolitan liberalism and populist communitarianism.

And the possibility of education, surely the only possibility as seen by the great pedagogues, the main revolutionaries of the 20th century, those who understood that the revolution was not made with a ski mask, but was done in the classrooms; as the great pedagogues understood, education is the only one that can articulate the formation of people who maintain this universal ethical conscience, inspired by the values of modernity, in the enlightened values of freedom, equality and fraternity.

And to be able to transmit this, the deep knowledge of the genocide suffered by the Jewish people, suffered by the Gypsy and Romany people, suffered by people because of their sexual orientation, by their political ideologies, to know in depth what happened in the Europe of the Second World War, in 1945 when this war ends, the deep conscience of humanitarian failure, when Jorge Luis Borges wrote: “If at some point nature had as an aim to create an intelligent being, today we know that it has failed”; or as the philosopher Javier Muguerza says: “After Auschwitz, after the Soviet gulag, after Hiroshima (note that he leaves nothing with a head puppet), after how bad the Nazis were, but how bad the communists were also Soviets, how bad the American liberal-democrats were, after Auschwitz, after the gulag, after Hiroshima, there is no room for enlightened thought”.

1945 showed us that reason is capable of generating monsters, which as the great painter had anticipated, surely the great Spanish enlightened Francisco de Goya, the dream of reason provokes monsters.

And to understand in depth that the students read Primo Levi, that they understand which were the extermination machineries so well articulated by the German engineering, that they understand this factory to exterminate people taking the maximum benefit possible, that they understand the capacity of depravity, that they understand -as José María Mendiluce used to say- that all human beings carry a little son of a bitch inside and that we can make them grow or keep asleep.

That they understand the depth of the tragedy that lived the Second World War is basic so that they can understand how at that moment the world, in 1945, at the San Francisco Conference, decided to put human rights as one of the elements articulating the new order international. And for the first time in history something magical happens: the sacred principle, sacrosanct of the sovereignty of the State; that sovereignty that is proclaimed absolute, unlimited, full of the State, is counterbalanced, is countered by a new principle: faith in human rights, the principle of dignity of the human person; for the first time in history, States are told: “you are sovereign, but stop before the aggressions against the dignity of the human person”.

And this small principle, which had been born at the dawn of Westphalia when, in the treaties of Osnabrück and Münster, the principle of religious tolerance was placed for the first time, notice what a weak philosophical principle: “I can tolerate the other, the one who is wrong, to one who is not of my only and true religion”.

This weak principle, in 1648, will quickly give way to the principle of religious freedom: "If I can tolerate other religions, other religions may exist, I will have to regulate religious freedom." 1668 - first law of religious freedom in England. And a few years later: "If I can tolerate that in the most important (in the dialogue of man with the transcendent, with the hereafter, with the gods) there is freedom, why not in what is of Caesar, in giving in the government of men by men, there can be no freedom? ».

It will not take 20 years for the First Declaration of Human Rights in the context of the British Revolution, which will quickly jump into the independence processes of the British colonies: Virginia, Vermont, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, which will jump to the French Revolution with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, answered by Olympe de Gouges with the relation of Rights of Women and Citizens, criticizing the patriarchal nature of the French Declaration; and in a short time everyone is organized with constitutions that begin to have their Declaration of Human Rights, which begin to have their own Declaration of Fundamental Rights, where civil and political rights are included economic, social and cultural rights by the first time - and we must remember it - in the Mexican Constitution.

Well, the jump so that Human Rights cease to be a matter essentially of the internal jurisdiction of the States is given after the Holocaust, is given after the Nuremberg trials, is given by the lawyer Lemkin when he raises the regulation of the genocide.

It is at that moment when the international community is aware that the regulation of human rights cannot be left in the hands of the States, and it is when the principle of dignity emerges, as a constitutional principle, of the new International Law of the person. For the first time the sovereignty of the State ceases to be unlimited, full and absolute; it collides, it has to stop before the dignity of the human person.

It is true that the birth of this principle has been tremendously complex; and this conflictual pedagogy that was proposed to us is basic so that the student understands that it is not a consensual arrival point in which we can relax, but that the defense of human rights and the dignity of the person is a progressive, constant path, full of conflicts.

When they commission René Cassin and Eleanor Roosevelt to make a Human Rights Treaty with a human rights tribunal, it turns out that they fail to put the States of the world in agreement; It turns out that the tension between east and west, between the communist countries and the capitalists makes it impossible to make a Human Rights Treaty.

We were leaving the Second World War, we were leaving the great humanitarian barbarism and we were unable to make a Human Rights Treaty. Great idea from René Cassin and Eleanor Roosevelt: "If we cannot make a treaty, let's do two. Let's make one of Civil and Political Rights and one of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and that each, that each State, accept whoever wants. And we will make a statement in advance: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. " Well, this Declaration, which was only a declaration, a mere declaration without legal value, a mere universal poem without legal value, will gradually gain strength.

It was born tremendously weakened, it was born tremendously weakened: the socialist states (8) refused to vote in positive. They said that the Universal Declaration, on December 10, 1948, in Paris, said that the Declaration that was born had a tremendously liberal whiff and that they could not vote for it; What was missing was a declaration of bourgeois rights, which lacked the social and economic rights of the working classes.

South Africa refused to vote: what was the barbarity of blacks and whites being the same for Apartheid South Africa? And Saudi Arabia refused to vote: "Blacks and whites may be equal, but men and women have the same rights (he said), this goes against Sharia."

It was born, therefore, weakened; but as it took 20 years until 1966 to make the two human rights treaties, which will not come into force until the year 76 (30 years later): in these 30 years there is an alchemy, a magic, an unexpected reaction. The United Nations decides that if there are no mandatory human rights texts for the States, the Declaration is sufficient, that the obligation to protect human rights that is in the United Nations Charter must be interpreted that empty juridical concept (nobody knows what the human rights), because we are going to interpret that human rights are what the Declaration says.

And based on this Declaration we will begin to demand that the States comply with them. How? Sending special rapporteurs, mere scholars that when there was a conflict situation explained what was happening; they did not oblige the State, they explained what was happening; but the State had the colors before the international community, it fell from shame when they accused her of violating human rights, she sought justifications: "No, I do not violate them. It is that I am fighting against terrorism, it is that I am in a situation of war, it is that it is the propaganda of the opposition ». But in the end they began to correct it. And these special rapporteurs, mere scholars, little by little are gaining strength and are doing urgent actions, calls for attention to the United Nations before violations.

And on this basis, the new Human Rights Council approves a universal periodic review: All the States of the world, regardless of what obligations they have assumed, have the obligation, every five years, to present themselves before the United Nations with all their human rights record, with all the information of the special rapporteurs, all the reports presented, where they will be analyzed, will be examined, they will be made an integral audit of their human rights.

And based on this, to this Declaration of the 48 so weak, which had no legal force, suddenly appears the Declaration of the General Assembly that establishes the obligation to protect: "All States have an obligation to protect people"; and from here we have built a building where human rights, where the dignity of the person, is placed before any sovereignty of the State.

And this happens, moreover, at a time when sovereignty is diluted, when states have become too small to make norms; Any regulation has to be done in coordination with at least the interests of your region, with other states of your region, within the framework of Mercosur or coordinated with the European Union, if not with international standards set by the World Trade Organization, marked by the big transnational agencies.

States lose autonomy to legislate, lose autonomy, become too small in front of the great transnational powers; but at the same time they are too big to apply the norms, too big for their reality to apply the norms equally; they lose power, they lose sovereignty above, and below with sub-state entities; but at the same time the human being is organized more and more in a strong civil society that claims universal, and this is the great force of humanity.

That International Right called to regulate relations between States is increasingly a global right, no longer between nations, but a right of humanity, which sets ethical principles such as human rights, such as the protection of the environment, such as self-determination of the peoples, such as the right to peace, as the right to development, which enter into the internal life of States, altering their relations with their citizens and raising what Francisco de Vitoria, the school of jurist theologians, had already advocated centuries ago Spaniards of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when they spoke of a natural sociability of humanity.

We are assisting, it seems to me, from the hand of human rights to a new right no longer international: to a global right, which is the one that has to guarantee universality, and at the same time the one that has to register the ethical principles that allow the free, democratic coexistence of the whole of humanity. And, or we educate students in this new conception of the world, in this world that is changing rapidly and that leads them to uncertainty, fear, but also to have more possibilities than ever to be what everyone wants to be, or we educate them in the conflictual, dialogical formation of these values without any fear.

We know that no rational discussion can triumph by convincing us that it is better to violate human rights, that violence over peace is better. We know that using reason we will gain insurance, because they are principles that are inscribed in the most intimate DNA of humanity.

That is why it is especially necessary to motivate from this dramatic event in Europe, which marks a turning point in modernity; motivate from the Holocaust, to deeply understand the dignity of the person, the equal dignity of all human beings, to jointly build a better world.

Thank you very much.