Author: Camila Itatí Visconti
Cooperation instead of violence
The 1945 San Francisco Conference discussed the future international order among delegates from fifty nations, representing eighty percent of the world’s total population. After debates and agreements, the Charter of the United Nations was signed that year and the United Nations began to operate in the pursuit of achieving a world without war, promoting peace and justice and a better standard of living for all humankind. Globalisation has changed the way in which states are linked to each other, and as a global society interconnected by communications, we have started to share certain values, for instance, democracy, freedom, the rule of law, respect for human rights, gender equality and non-discrimination.
By the end of the Second World War, people witnessed the cruelty of war and the devastation that it produced; as a consequence, they tried to develop a better world for their heirs. After that, adults took the commitment and decided to fight for peace, in a context of nuclear threat and cold war that confronted us all with the possible situation of total destruction. Now it is the time for young people to work towards the achievement of the inherited goals. In this context, young people have found that not using violence as a method of conflict resolution, together with the international cooperation between states and international actors, is as difficult as making war. And they have taken on the challenge. Constructing a peaceful world implies reaching agreements, making concessions and exchanging opinions, in other words, peacemaking involves negotiating in the framework of a conflict of interests. However, just as we share on TV a live sporting Olympics broadcast, we watch on our screens how missiles cross the skies, rights are disregarded by governments and international problems remain unresolved.
We cannot deny that we are going through one of the greatest global crises of recent times with the catastrophe resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic that forced us into lockdown, restriction on borders and exchange, and reorganization of industries and life in society, at the domestic and the international level. However, the focus must be on the present and the future. Young people have the role of building a peaceful world where countries are freely tied together through cooperation and diplomacy, where they can represent their interests and participate in the international sphere on an equal level. Therefore, people need to be empowered to express themselves freely in political, economic, social and cultural affairs. People need to voice their thoughts, work for results and develop skills that enable them to overcome current obstacles. People need freedom to pursue this commitment.
Development of citizenship
Evelyn Beatrice Hall said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (The Friends of Voltaire, London, 1906). Since the French Revolution in 1789, the ideals of “liberty, equality and fraternity” and civic education have spread throughout the world. Education is a basic and essential pillar for the development of citizenship. Therefore, the education system must strengthen the exercise of citizenship, designing areas and strategies for political and social participation. However, the system of education is not developing equally worldwide, and as a consequence, the exercise of citizenship is threatened again. Let us take the example of the Argentinian people, where a strange phenomenon occurs. It has one of the few educational systems in the world in which there is 100% free public education in every level: primary and secondary schools and even universities. However, even when people have opportunities to develop a professional career, young citizens feel that citizenship has lost legitimacy. Furthermore, the domestic crisis dates back decades, in every political, social and economic aspect.
I asked about the citizenry issue that Argentina is challenging, to Mr. Ameya Prabhu, in the webinar celebrated by Confederation of Young Leaders on 18 July 2021. He said “Argentina is a difficult question (…), people are very disillusioned with politics, (the country) has structural issues which need to be solved, but it will need a decade to be solved ”. He talked about Argentina as a country near to his heart, and I quote: “maybe people need to be more patient (…) people are very impatient, they want results extremely urgently, immediately (…) what is lacking is patience. If people can be more patient, people can be more understanding (..) that could really make a big difference”.
Citizenship implies exercising the right to elect authorities freely as well as exercising constituted civil, economic and social rights. On the other hand, citizenship means assuming responsibilities, including participation and action in public affairs. From my point of view, many citizens have taken citizenship as the upholding of rights, disregarding the responsibilities that come with the exercise of it. Moreover, the impatience among citizens is the consequence of transferring this responsibility to the government. Disillusioned people have forgotten that they also have the right to be elected.
Achievements for the present and the future
Young people must guide the countries and society to fulfill the values upheld in the 2030 Agenda and to respond to the humanitarian and environmental commitment that transcends geopolitical boundaries. In consequence, countries should continue to encourage cultural exchange, invest in the creation of a new global knowledge, make new technologies available for countries with different economic development, foster sustainable development, and ease communication between young people from different nations.
The youth need their elders’ guidance to work together towards developing a society with a common goal: a peaceful society constructed on the basis of education, which protects the weakest by providing them with tools and theoretical and practical knowledge. Young people need the experience of elders and the skills given by globalisation to complete their mission: the role of younger generations is to fight for their interests without violence, to go back to the bases of citizenship rights and responsibilities, to create change today so that they may enjoy a better world tomorrow.