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[afro-nets] Food for a trillion dollar thought


  • Subject: [afro-nets] Food for a trillion dollar thought
  • From: Claudio Schuftan <claudio@hcmc.netnam.vn>
  • Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 23:32:37 +0700
  • User-agent: Internet Messaging Program (IMP) 3.1

Food for a trillion dollar thought
----------------------------------

Human Rights Reader 74

FIVE DECADES OF DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE HAVE COST THE WORLD OVER
1 TRILLION USD: HOW MUCH IN IMPROVED HUMAN RIGHTS IS THERE TO
SHOW FOR THAT?

Development in the wrong direction?:
1. Development cooperation can neither be reduced to fighting
terrorism nor can development policy remain a repair shop for
the longstanding damage done by a whole series of wrong --
purportedly anti-poor (??)-- economic policies.

2. Those responsible for those wrong policies, i.e., the (macro)
economic and trade policy makers, we have not seen and still do
not see as the persons or institutions to whom we should be ad-
dressing our angry criticism. Ergo, we have been sending the
letter to the wrong address...

3. We, as part of civil society, should therefore, not look to
Development Ministries and Development Policy Agencies, but
rather to Ministries-of-Trade- and-Finance-senior-officers to
take our claims to. [Our claims should also go to the private-
sector-that-so-clearly-influences-the-latter and interprets
business ethics only as (sometimes) 'honest-book-keeping' and
not as ethics also shouldering a clear responsibility for domes-
tic and Third World poverty. In the same context, do not over-
look the fact that the existing body of laws is like a tailor-
made-suit that fits the interests of the more privileged in the
private sector].

4. In part, this has happened, because in our development and
human rights (HR) work we have not focused on finding the hidden
(or not so hidden?) connections between the different forms of
injustice, inequality and HR violations we witness day-in-day-
out and their (sometimes removed) basic causes.

5. That is why this Reader has insisted we need ideology: to be-
come aware of how hidden (political and philosophical) assump-
tions influence us, our theories and our praxis. The price for
showing contempt for ideology has been that many of us are li-
able for grave past and present political mistakes.

6. The Reader has many times, and in different ways, pointed out
that --in the words of E.F. Schumacher-- 'markets are the insti-
tutionalization of individualism and irresponsibility' and that
the basic principle of Capitalism is money-making which is al-
ways valued higher than democracy, HR, environmental protection,
or any other value dear to us. So, changing the rules of the
game will mean, first, changing this basic principle. (Note that
the right to 'material acquisition or accumulation' has falsely
been portrayed as another HR...!!).

7. The Reader has also repeatedly made calls to de-mystify the
false division many among us still see between what is consid-
ered to be political and non-political: HR is politics, as is
food, health, education, the environment...and we unfortunately
have little sustainable progress to show for in any of these
fronts.

Claudio Schuftan
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
mailto:claudio@hcmc.netnam.vn

--
Through much of this Reader I distilled arguments found in sev-
eral issues of D+C the German development journal, the book 'The
Hidden Connections', by Fritjof Capra, the book 'Heading South,
Looking North' by Ariel Dorfman and the book 'Refugiado del Iraq
Milenario' by Claudio Sepulveda.