Religioni, culture, diritti umani

Mio intervento conclusivo al convegno internazionale "RELIGIONS, CULTURES, HUMAN RIGHTS: COMPLEX RELATIONS IN EVOLUTION" organizzato a Roma da "Religions for peace" (12-13 Maggio 2010)

I think that these two days of discussion and debate have been very fruitful. It is difficult to summarize such an articulated and deep analysis of the interplay between the different religious conceptions and human rights. If you allow me, I would suggest that this conference has shown that maybe we should add one more right to the long and somewhat debated list of human rights: the right to differ, the added value that difference brings to the social and political environment, including international relations. The right to difference is one crucial element of human condition in the XXI century, and should be taken very seriously; it should not be confused with mere tolerance or with the process that sometimes leads us “to agree to disagree”.
So if difference is to be understood as a really fundamental human right, at the same time there must be some area of overlapping consensus of all religions on what should be defined as a truly human right. You are all aware of the drift that exists between the supporters of fundamental natural rights and the ones – like the anti-foundationalists - that do not believe in the very idea of “fundamental rights” common to all mankind. It is the well-known debate on how universal are human rights.
Listening to the different interventions and paying attention to the different perspectives, I think that one should try to find a common ground in pragmatic terms, rather than on a theoretical level. From this point of view, it seems to me that in terms of the basic structure of the human rights complex one point that all religions share in one way or another is the so-called “golden rule”. As you know, this rule exists in both positive ("do to others what you would like to be done to you") and negative form (sometimes referred to as the “Silver rule”: "do not do to others what you would not like to be done to you"). But could be found in nearly all religious tradition. At any rate, I believe that this could be a first step towards a shared idea of human rights. The challenge here is to apply the golden rule not only to the inter-individual relationship, but also between communities and in the international arena. The human solidarity that we should envisage is not a global uniformity but unity in diversity. We must learn to appreciate and tolerate pluralities, multiplicities, and cultural differences. Only a true and sincere dialogue rooted in this attitude could really defeat any attempt to consolidate a single global hegemonic framework.
There are at least three modalities of dialogue: the pragmatic-utilitarian which is based only on the self-interest of the parties involved; the moral-universal which the philosophical framework of the universal declaration of human rights; and the ethical-hermeneutical approach. In such a dialogue, partners seek to understand and appreciate each other’s life stories and cultural backgrounds, including religious and spiritual traditions, as well as existential agonies and aspirations. In contrast to the abstract and formal character of general rules and legal norms, ethical-hermeneutical dialogue enters into the “thick” fabric of lived experiences and historical sedimentation (cf. Fred D. Dallmayr, Justice and cross-cultural dialogue: from theory to practice, in Michàlis S.Michael e Fabio Petito [edds], Civilizational Dialogue and World Order, Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2009)
From this ethical-hermeneutical point of view, a first important area on convergence could be found in the wide domain of what has been called “human security”. This means to make sure that all individual and communities enjoy some reasonable level of protection against threats not only to their existence but also to their connections and values. Human security is the horizontal and holistic dimension of security: state-centered security and security understood in a Hobbesian way, in terms of preservation of life are both essential, but are only parts of the overall picture. Religions could give a contribution to shape a concept of security which is wider than the traditional one. For instance, in international relations we hear a lot about security communities understood as alliance of states, but much less about communitarian security, that is an idea of security based on the commonality of personal and social conditions, based on an alliance of individual and open communities well beyond the traditional national borders.
This leads me to the second area where religions can play a role in supporting rights, which has to do with identities. On the one side, religions rightly underline the need of protect cultural and spiritual identities; on the other side, initiatives and fora like the Alliance of Civilization and Religions for Peace help creating the awareness of a shared identity, a collective identity that can be crucial if we really want to see a concrete implementation of the idea of global common goods, like the environment and food and water for all the inhabitants of this planet.
WE must admit that sometimes we lose the ability to fully understand the meaning and the implications of the words we use, especially in political and diplomatic communication.
As a matter of fact, during this seminar I’ve heard some criticism, that I fully share, about the alleged opposition that exists between “the west” and “the rest”. To be more specific, an example of the inaccurate language that dominates the political and cultural debate in our society is another dichotomy that is often used, I mean the one referring to “Islam” vs. “the West”.
On one side, we use the word “West”, which is, strictly speaking, a geographical denomination, as a set of ideas, cultural features, institutional arrangements and economic organization that we tend to consider in a rather unitary way.
On the other side, we use the word “Islam”, which is a term with a strong religious and cultural connotation, as a geo-political definition of an important area of the world. Here the terminology is crucial. Not only we put side-by-side two definitions that in principle are not comparable, but also we assume that each term implies a unified and homologue portion of the world.
Of course, this is not the case. Let start from the West. For instance, there are deep differences between the European and the American culture. Just to mention some of them, I would point to the skepticism of the American public toward “the big society”, that is, the intervention of the Administration and political power in the economic life. To the eyes of many Americans, the welfare state in Europe, that represents one central element of the so-called “European model”, is a manifestation of the “socialist” turn of the Old Continent. We saw how difficult was for President Obama to make the Congress approve the new legislation on health care. My point here is that even the West, in its different articulations, is a very plural and diverse world.
The same considerations go for the “Islam”. We know perfectly well that the declinations of the Islam are very different, and that there are important distinctions according to the history of the countries considered and to the specific brand of the Islamic faith. There are approximately 1.2 billion Muslims in the world, disseminated, in terms of significant presence, in almost 100 countries. Now, it would be very difficult to put in the same category, from the point of view of the political systems, countries like Egypt and Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Pakistan and Albania. Not to mention many “western” countries with important and sometimes historical presence of Muslims, like France, Germany, and the United States.
One more remark has to do with the debate on the “completeness” of the lists that enumerate human rights. One interesting element that surfaced during the process that led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the fact that the document was understood as an attempt to present a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. Therefore we could consider the Universal Declaration both as a point of arrival and as a starting point, provided that we always expand the area and scope of human rights without subtracting anything to that common standard of achievement. Human rights, whatever is the philosophical and religious background from which we evaluate them, can only evolve through addition; and any addition should be the shared result of a complex process of dialogue and mutual recognition and respect. Religions could highlight that human rights are not only a system of entitlements or trumps to avoid the repetition of the tragedies of the past, but also powerful “ethical” lens to look with hope and confidence towards our future.
But identity should not be understood, today, as being monolithic in a more and more interconnected and diverse world. WE should make a distinction between identity and belonging. One’s identity is the result of multiple belongings that make identity a concept that should be always related to a series of affiliations, both given and elective. For instance, if I had to describe my identity from an anthropological point of view, how could I define myself? Maybe as a Indo-European individual, or a human being of Caucasian species, who speaks a late Latin dialect: Italian; as a believer in a religion originated in the Middle East, Christianity, in his “Roman” and institutionalized version, Catholicism; as an individual or “political animal” – to quote Aristotle – who lives in a social institution of Gallo-Germanic brand, modern state; as an human being or «homo oeconomicus» who earns his means of survival thanks to an Anglo-Saxon system of exchange of goods, capitalism. Even if we consider in a static way what we are now, in this present moment, a series of differences makes its appearance. Belongings are given, but there are also “elective” belongings. Identity is born out of this “melting pot”. It changes incessantly, in substantial or marginal amount , not only because of the prominent relevance, in any given situation, of our different «segments» of belongings, but also due to the interaction with other identities, which are in turn made of several constitutive elements.
A beautiful page written by Amin Maalouf shows in a very clear way this truth, which creates also the risk of a sense of displacement and uneasiness, along with a new social and political awareness. «Isn’t typical of our time the fact that it made all men somehow migrants and members of minority groups? We are all forced to live in a world that doesn’t look very much like our country of origin; we all have to learn other idioms, other “languages” and codes; and we all have the impression that our identity, like the one that we imagined since our childhood, is under threat. Many left their native land and many others, without abandoning it, do not recognize it”. (Amin Maalouf, In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong, Arcade Publishing, New York 2000).
My final remark is about the fact that in any religious tradition we can find the same basic idea of “universal brotherhood”. That is usually considered, in political and diplomatic circles, as an utopian perspective, without any roots in reality, and with no impact. On the contrary, I think that religions could give, through the concept and practice of universal brotherhood, some more concrete and democratic meaning to the vague and somewhat oligarchic idea of global governance. There are many possibilities for religions to forge pragmatic, pro-active and creative ways of combining justice, community and dialogue in international relations.

Paesi emergenti per un approccio nuovo

Chiara Andreola, della rivista Città Nuova (edizione on-line), mi ha fatto oggi la seguente intervista sulla "mediazione" turco-brasiliana relativa al programma nucleare iraniano

Ormai al balletto diplomatico sul nucleare iraniano ci avevamo fatto il callo: dopo anni di tentativi a vuoto, scorrendo i titoli dei giornali veniva la tentazione di non fermarsi nemmeno più a leggere qualcosa sull'argomento, in attesa solo – forse – delle sanzioni Onu a Teheran. Eppure, nel silenzio di molti media – e non solo in Italia – sembrerebbe che l'impresa impossibile di giungere ad un accordo sull'arricchimento dell'uranio all'estero per usi civili – dall'energia alla medicina – sia riuscita a Brasile e Turchia. Il presidente Lula già da tempo si era espresso a favore della prosecuzione del dialogo con l'Iran, impegnandosi attivamente in questo senso. Secondo l'accordo l'Iran invierà 1200 chili di uranio arricchito al 3,5 per cento, ricevendone indietro altrettanti arricchiti al 20 per cento – ben al di sotto della soglia necessaria per le armi nucleari. Sembrerebbe quindi che siano caduti motivi alla base delle minacciate sanzioni, caldeggiate in particolar modo dagli Stati Uniti. Tuttavia i dubbi e le inquietudini rimangono ancora molti, soprattutto in attesa della notifica all'Agenzia internazionale per l'energia atomica (Aiea) prevista per la prossima settimana. L'accordo costituisce comunque un significativo fattore di novità sotto molteplici punti di vista: ne parliamo con Pasquale Ferrara, capo dell'unità di analisi del ministero degli Esteri.
Certo si può capire perché la Turchia, Paese confinante con l'Iran, abbia interesse nella mediazione: il Brasile, invece, sta dall'altra parte del mondo. Che cosa ha spinto Lula ad impegnarsi nel negoziato?
«Prima di tutto occorre ricordare che sia il Brasile che la Turchia sono in questo momento membri di turno, a termine, del Consiglio di Sicurezza dell’Onu. Inoltre, il Brasile sta ormai emergendo come potenza di carattere globale: ha un ruolo propulsivo nel G20, e vuole porsi come punto di riferimento per una nuova collocazione dell'America Latina sulla scena mondiale. Da tempo il Brasile svolge ad esempio una politica a globale nel settore dell'energia: basti pensare alla compagnia petrolifera di Stato Petrobras e alla sua crescente attività in Africa. A questo si aggiungono le perplessità della diplomazia brasiliana e latinoamericana in genere sul sistema delle sanzioni: viene spesso citato il caso di Cuba, dove anni di embargo hanno paralizzato in parte l'economia, senza alcun risultato politico rilevante. Anche la Turchia, d'altra parte, aspira ad un ruolo regionale in Medioriente. Bisogna però tener presente che questo è solo un primo annuncio. Ci sono problemi tecnici e giuridici per la Turchia a dar corso all’arricchimento del combustibile nucleare iraniano sul proprio territorio; molto probabilmente servirà comunque il supporto di altri Paesi, in particolar modo di quelli del Consiglio di sicurezza dell'Onu, e dell'Aiea. Ad ogni modo, è interessante questo sforzo da un lato di uscire dallo schema violazione/sanzione e dall’altro di far funzionare nuovi equilibri mondiali con nuovi attori. Evidentemente Brasile e Turchia cercano entrambi di evitare uno scenario nel quale dovrebbero decidere se votare o meno nuove sanzioni all’Iran nel Consiglio di sicurezza di cui fanno parte in questo momento».
Ciò che non è riuscito all'Onu, all'Aiea e a tanti altri è riuscito infatti a due Paesi emergenti. Siamo davanti ad una rivisitazione in chiave moderna dell'asse dei non allineati?
«Il contesto è molto diverso da quello degli anni Settanta: qui si tratta di due membri importanti del G20, non di outsiders rispetto a un blocco. Più che altro sono Paesi che iniziano a prendere sul serio l'idea di sovranità responsabile e a far sentire la propria voce, per arrivare a una nuova governance globale».
Gli Stati Uniti, tuttavia, appena prima dell'accordo si erano espressi con toni molto duri: il segretario di Stato Hillary Clinton si era addirittura detta certa che i negoziati sarebbero falliti. L'emergere di un nuovo modello di governance è condannato a scontrarsi con le grandi potenze, che non abdicano al loro ruolo di “baby sitter” della comunità internazionale?
«Il baby sitting si sta spostando all'interno degli organismi multilaterali, come confermato anche dalla linea dell'amministrazione Obama. Bisogna però riconoscere che il punto è molto difficile da dirimere: non si può dimenticare che l'Iran ha portato avanti a lungo un programma nucleare clandestino, pur essendo parte del Trattato di non proliferazione. Inoltre Teheran ha tergiversato a lungo sul tema rifiutando anche il pacchetto proposto dall'Unione europea, che oltre all'arricchimento dell'uranio all'estero prevedeva una serie di accordi economici e commerciali, e incoraggiava l'Iran a svolgere un ruolo regionale costruttivo. La cautela è quindi giustificata dai precedenti di violazione degli accordi internazionali, che condizionano le trattative attuali. Peraltro c’è da chiedersi onestamente se le negoziazioni siano partite su basi corrette. Infatti la richiesta originaria all’Iran, la precondizione per avviare qualunque negoziato, era di sospendere l'arricchimento. Il che, a ben vedere, ha poco senso, essendo proprio quello l'oggetto delle trattative. È ancora presto per dire se l'accordo sarà effettivamente rispettato, ma speriamo che questa volta l'Iran garantisca la chiarezza e la trasparenza necessarie».
Quindi, Paesi nuovi per uno schema nuovo?
«Più che altro Paesi con un approccio più fresco al negoziato, perché non avevano partecipato alla fase iniziale. Se la cosa andrà a buon fine, si potrà dire che tutti ne saranno usciti vincitori. In ogni caso, questo accordo segna un importante elemento di novità: è la dimostrazione che gli equilibri mondiali si stanno spostando con l'emergere di nuovi protagonisti, e che forse esistono ulteriori, ampi margini negoziali che andrebbero sempre esplorati fino in fondo prima di arrivare alla logica delle sanzioni.

Call for reason

Numerosi intellettuali e cittadini europei ebraici hanno sottoscritto un "appello alla ragione" nel quale fanno stato del loro impegno a favore di una politica piu' equilibrata dell'attuale governo israeliano in relazione agli insediamenti in cisgiordania e a Gerusalemme Est.
We are citizens of European countries, Jews, and involved in the political and social life of our respective countries. Whatever our personal paths, our connection to the state of Israel is part of our identity. We are concerned about the future of the State of Israel to which we are unfailingly committed. Israel faces existential threats. Far from underestimating the threats from its external enemies, we know that the danger also lies in the occupation and the continuing pursuit of settlements in the West Bank and in the Arab districts of East Jerusalem. These policies are morally and politically wrong and feed the unacceptable delegitimization process that Israel currently faces abroad.For these reasons we have decided to take action based on the following principles:
1.The future of Israel depends upon urgently achieving peace with the Palestinian people on the basis of the Two States Solution. As we all know, this is urgent. Israel will soon be faced with two, equally disastrous choices: either to become a state in which Jews would be a minority in their own country, or establish a regime that would be a disgrace to Israel and lead to civil unrest.
2.It is essential therefore that the European Union, along with the United States, put pressure on both parties and help them achieve a reasonable and rapid solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict. History confers on Europe a particular responsibility in this region of the world.
3.While the final decision belongs to the sovereign people of Israel, our commitment to Israel as Jews of the Diaspora obliges us to work towards reaching a just solution. Systematic support of Israeli government policy is dangerous and does not serve the true interests of the state of Israel.
4.Our objective is to create a European movement that will allow the voice of reason to be heard by all. This movement is non-partisan. Its aim is to ensure the survival of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. This depends on the creation of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.