Lasting Peace and Social Justice
Replay the panel discussion and read the summary below
Lasting Peace and Social Justice: Solutions for More Inclusive Societies (Panel 5)
Chaired by: Jean-Pierre Filiu, Professor of Middle East Studies, Sciences Po, PSIA/CERI. | Student Greeter: Yiyin Zhang, PSIA student, Master in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action.
- Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director, Oxfam International
- Paul Collier, Professor of Economics, Oxford University; PSIA Faculty
- Ollin Pérez Raynaud, PSIA student, Master in International Public Management
- Vandana Shiva, Activist; Founder of Navdanya Association
Stating the impact of inequalities on democracy and stability, panelists discussed solutions for a more inclusive society, raging from developing local governance to rethinking decades of economic policies.
The impact of inequalities on democracy and stability
Executive Director of Oxfam International Gabriela Bucher opened the discussion by describing the impact of inequalities on democracy. “Extreme inequality is an issue that all of us, most of all, our government leaders can no longer ignore,” she said, mentioning how social disparities undermine minorities‘ rights and have a correlation with violence. In order to support a more inclusive society, she advocates for higher taxation on wealthy people, quoting the example of Costa Rica which managed to achieve a almost total universal health coverage. She also supports a better inclusion of gender inequalities in social policy, referring to the usually low participation rate of women in peace talks.
Inequalities as a result of individualistic policies in a globalized world
Paul Collier from the department of economics of Oxford argues that today’s inequalities are mostly due to a “half-century” of individualistic policies that have undermined the communitarian norms that should shape human societies. He believes that “a healthy society works by a sense of community and a sense of reciprocity.” Vandana Shiva, an Indian scholar and an environmental activist, stresses the fact that inequalities are a result of globalization, what she believes is a predominantly Western process that creates economic polarization and various forms of social divisions, such as gender inequalities and racism.
Solutions to address inequalities
Panelists also highlighted the local governance as a key tool to tackle inequalities. Master student Ollin Pérez Raynaud said social justice could not be achieved without better political representation. “There is very little political willpower to discuss the policy preferences of less represented groups” she argues, stressing the obstacles of minorities to have a political voice, and the fact that even democratic government tend to only provide opportunities for communities to have their say on specific issues, instead of engaging on an ongoing basis with minorities to understand the needs. Student panelist said: “the more budget and decision-making power is given to local politics, the more democratic engagement will happen in populations at all levels.” Bucher also argued that creating local democracy is doable by informing people on how they can participate in the local actions, and by convincing central authorities that local governance is not a competitive rather a complementary path that contributes to the democratic process.
All panelists agreed on the importance of building a sense of community responsibility. In particular, Paul Collier emphasizes the need for everyone to bear its responsibility, meaning that “it is not about screaming to defend our rights, nor our anger against a few billionaires”, but rather acting and providing help to needy people. In such a society, he argues, people would have the capacity and agency to be commonly productive, instead of being individually productive. Following Paul Collier’s arguments, Shiva also emphasizes the need to move towards participation and a sense of community responsibility.
Shiva also advocates for reversing globalization to stop extraction and domination, moving away from the paradigm of control over nature, to the understanding that we are part of the planet and the freedom of other species is vital for the well-being of the planet and for our well-being. “We're at a very precarious moment, but we are also at a moment where the best of our humanity can be called out to create a community of hope” she says.
(c) An article written by Aude Dejaifve, PSIA student in the Joint Master in Journalism and International Affairs, 2021
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