Now, more than ever, it is of paramount importance that we realise the extent to which our planet is in crisis and that we act upon this knowledge in order to facilitate major change. Quite simply what is necessary is a redistribution of the world's resources and the embracing of the principle of sharing at all levels of society.
The current population of the world is 6 billion, 20% of whom enjoy the luxuries of ‘first world’ living, having 85% of the world’s resources at their disposal. This leaves the vast majority, 4.8 billion people, ‘surviving’ on 15% of the world’s resources. Almost 2 billion people officially live in poverty and almost half the world’s population survive on less than $2 per day. As a result, 33,000 children die every day in developing countries, and one woman dies each minute during childbirth. It is estimated that by the year 2020, 1 in 3 people will not have access to an improved water supply.
One would believe that with increased media coverage and public awareness of these issues over the past 20 years, we should now be witnessing at least some degree of change for the better. Two decades on, and where are we? Aid to developing nations has slumped from 0.35% to 0.21% of GNP. Majority world debt has increased by a staggering 400%; armament expenditure has increased by nearly 50%. The status of women has become ever more precarious. In lieu of any responsible commitment to raise quality of life international corporations continue to invest and produce mainly where wages, taxes, trade and financial regulations and environmental safeguards are at their lowest. Money and finance remain unregulated at the global level resulting in instability, recession and financial risk in the majority world.
We must ask ourselves why we live in a world of such immense inequality whilst our resources are plentiful. What has created this unjust divide and is there a viable alternative? How long will the rich nations continue to resist implementing the principle of sharing into world affairs?
There currently exist hundreds of organisations attempting to mitigate the disastrous consequences of our unjust economic policies. However, without global measures and global institutions it is impossible to see how we might re-distribute wealth from rich nations to poor nations so that these issues can be addressed at a fundamental level.
Such measures have often been put forward, and continue to be. In 1980 and 1983, the Brandt Commission published the most widely known and respected report on development issues to date. Made up of numerous heads of state, they closely examined the issue of international development and global inequality. In a sweeping series of measures addressed to the global public, governments and international agencies the Brandt reports called for a full-scale restructuring of the global economy. It outlined a new approach to Global Development and an emergency program to end poverty in developing nations.
Although the Brandt Reports still remain the biggest selling books on development issues to this day, it is clear that there has been global apathy in implementing these measures.
We stand ready to share
If those in power applied the principle of sharing, the injustice of poverty in a world of plenty would be eradicated. It would end the constant humiliating need for charitable aid and pave the way towards a new era of peace.
STWR call for a summit of world leaders to mobilise a major international relief programme targeting hunger, poverty, aid and debt. We ask them to mobilise immediate supplies of food, clean water and medicine for the majority world through the creation of a global clearinghouse for food storage and distribution, a global food assistance programme and food financing agency, and local agriculture and rural development programmes. To provide basic necessities in the poor regions of the world including food, water, energy, health care, basic housing and sanitation, education and basic infrastructure. To expand financial assistance to poor nations by increasing contributions from the minority world. Furthermore it is imperative that the minority world begin partial or unconditional debt forgiveness for the majority world.
World leaders can only make major democratic changes with the awareness and backing of the international public. We at STWR are trying to raise awareness of these issues and propose solutions to them based on the principle of sharing.
"Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 28