- Our activity and impact in 2020
- STWR’s research and writing
- Campaigning and events
- Future plans and projects
From the start of 2020, severe warnings were issued from the United Nations about an expected downward spiral of war, climate emergency and economic desperation. An alarm was sounded over unprecedented hunger levels in Africa. Customary reminders were released about increasing income inequality in most countries, with 162 billionaires now owning the same wealth as half the planet combined. But all this was before the coronavirus crisis spread throughout the world and led to an unprecedented surge in humanitarian needs. It wasn’t long before reports were issued about the worst food crisis of at least 50 years, a phenomenal rise in extreme poverty levels, and a record high of forcibly displaced people. Malnutrition still remained a leading cause of death and ill health worldwide.
Much of STWR’s activities throughout the year were focused on raising awareness of this unimaginable humanitarian emergency. Our website and social networking platforms featured key political events in which wealthy nations failed to adequately respond to the critical needs of poorer countries by genuinely cooperating and sharing international resources. This included calls for the G20 to cancel ballooning poor country debts so they can devote public funds to fighting COVID-19; opposition to the IMF’s continued promotion of austerity policies; and civil society proposals for a new social contract based on human dignity and social justice. Above all, STWR supported calls for the mandatory worldwide sharing of a ‘People’s Vaccine’ – free of intellectual property rights and equally available to all people.
We also rallied behind support for key United Nations agencies, such as the World Health Organization as a leading voice in promoting Health for All, and the World Food Programme which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat the surge in global hunger. The United Nations’ 75th birthday further provided a moment to reflect upon the mounting challenge of realising its founding principle of ‘achieving international cooperation in solving international problems’.
Much of our website content was devoted to new economic paradigms that reflect the principle of sharing, like the visions for a degrowth society (‘commoning, sharing and working less in more equal societies’); for wellbeing economies that prioritise human flourishing ahead of GDP; and for a new doughnut economics that accounts for the planet’s natural limits while safeguarding the rights of marginalised communities. We also continued to expose how dangerously far off track nations remain on climate targets, and the increasing reality of ‘carbon inequality’ (in which the richest 1 percent of humanity are responsible for more emissions than 3.1 billion people combined). Our advocacy position on climate policies also remained firmly in line with the vision of a truly ‘global’ green new deal, one that places the principle of equity and ‘fair shares’ at the heart of international action.
Overall, STWR’s website has become a valuable resource of influential civil society thinking around the need to radically redistribute economic wealth, power and resources for the common good. This included, among many examples, high-profile calls for a temporary basic income to be received by the world’s poorest people in response to lockdown measures. Another notable proposal supported by STWR was for a Global Fund for Social Protection that can help deliver publicly-funded healthcare and education, as promoted by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. A special mention must also be given to Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention 'For the planet’s resources to be shared in a just and respectful manner, not plundered', which we strongly supported and promoted across our online networks.
The year 2020 ended much as it began on a note of rising outrage and massive street protests. Despite the pandemic, citizens around the world defied lockdown restrictions to fight against growing inequalities and social injustices. Many of these mass demonstrations were focused on racial and civil rights, but still the mainstay reflected a growing call for economic and social rights such as living wages, decent jobs and universal public services. STWR continued to monitor and highlight these events during the year, which increasingly pointed to the viability and urgency of our campaign for Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Rights (see more below).
Our writing and editorial work throughout 2020 all reflected this growing demand for economic sharing based on the implementation of fundamental human rights. At the start of the pandemic, STWR set out its vision of a ‘people’s bailout for the world’s poorest’, which also drew upon our core campaigning vision for an emergency global relief effort. Our various other articles and blogs similarly reflected the need for a peaceful mass movement on a global scale, putting the needs of the poorest first as we transition to a more equal and sustainable world.
These writings by STWR’s co-workers were augmented by our ongoing publications by Mohammed Mesbahi. An updated version of our book on achieving a worldwide basic income was released in April, published in a quality paperback format by Troubadour publications. The core STWR team further promoted this unique companion book for basic income activists, which included a contribution to an academic forum coordinated by the Great Transition Initiative (based on an opening essay by Professor Guy Standing).
Later in the year, we published a compilation of articles by Mohammed Mesbahi under the title ‘Studies on the principle of sharing’. This is another formative book for STWR that provides an accessible introduction to global justice issues from a more spiritual perspective. It also serves as a companion for our flagship publication, Heralding Article 25, that is intended to appeal to the ordinary citizen of goodwill as much as the engaged political activist. Our major work on world governance is also progressing to its final stages of completion, and is set to be a seminal treatise for our organisation that will open up many new opportunities for campaigning and advocacy work.
Work on foreign language translations of STWR’s publications continued to expand in 2020. We now have Italian translations of most of the Studies on the Principle of Sharing; up-to-date German translations of almost all our articles and books; a new Slovenian translation of our book on The Sharing Economy, and an ongoing series of French translations, beginning with Heralding Article 25. One new co-worker based in Paris has committed to translating the entire collection of articles for the book Studies on the Principle of Sharing, and another co-worker based in Montreal has committed to translate into French our original Primer on Global Economic Sharing. Our Japanese mirror websitehas also expanded to include much of our latest guest content, leading to a significant increase in its website hits.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our campaigns and outreach work underwent a shift in emphasis to focus on online activities. We supported many campaigns throughout the year that reflected our call for a fairer sharing of global resources. For example, we participated in the Global week of action of debt cancellation, which called for G20 leaders to implement concrete actions for developing countries in response to a state of global emergency. We joined various sign-on statements for civil society groups, such as the call for a ‘new normal’ from the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice. We also joined the online activities of spiritual groups like the Lucis Trust that highlighted a crisis of consciousness and values that underpins the world’s interrelated political, environmental and social crises.
Other initiatives supported by STWR were more explicitly related to our campaign for Article 25. This included the call for ‘footprint justice’ via the UN General Assembly by The Dutch Platform Fair and Green Economy—an important campaign for legal recognition of the fact that all people require a fair share of natural resources as a basic human right.
Wherever possible, our team attended activist events that upheld similar campaigning priorities to STWR. Some of the key events we supported this year included the Global protest to #FightInequality (held pre-pandemic in central London), where we could display our banners for Article 25; the #NOWAR2020 5th annual global convergence (held online); CAFOD’s faith into action conference for building a better world after the pandemic (online); the gathering for climate justice 'From the Ground Up' (online), and the Mass Poor People's Assembly in Washington D.C. (held via video links online).
Towards the end of the year, it was decided to initiate our own Zoom talks that introduce STWR’s campaigning vision. Our first online event was organised at the School of Advanced Study (University of London) for post-graduate students of human rights. A further event for the general public was held in December under the title: 'Reclaiming the Universal Declaration for We the Peoples of the United Nations'. Subsequent introductory talks were planned for the coming year as a regular activity for STWR co-workers.
Lots of other small-scale initiatives took place to promote our campaign and publications. One project involved a series of short video introductions to the books by Mohammed Mesbahi, as well as the creation of audiobooks (beginning with The Commons of Humanity) that can be listened to via STWR’s website. Some of our volunteer co-workers also dedicated time to advertising STWR’s work and vision on social networking platforms like Facebook and Instagram. A successful initiative of the year was a crowdfunder initiative to raise money for advertising our campaign across central London, beginning with posters on London bus and train stations. The target appeal of £10,000 was almost met by the end of the year, although advertising was put on hold during the lockdown period until footfall resumes in 2021.
1. Book publications and other writings
The past year has given STWR the opportunity to focus our efforts on research and writing, with the aim of completing our voluminous work on world governance that will set the stage for many future activities. We are eager to complete this title as soon as possible in order to write two further books that have been researched and largely compiled, both of which examine the more spiritual aspects of sharing the world’s resources.
At the same time, we aim to publish with Troubadour all remaining books in the series to date, beginning with The Sharing Economy: Inaugurating an Age of the Heart (presently only available to read online). This will be followed by a reprint of Mohammed Mesbahi’s work on the Commons of Humanity, which is only currently printed in a limited edition clothbound. Along with our forthcoming book on world governance, this will result in 7 books being published by Troubadour as part of the series. Lots of work lies ahead to market and promote these books, all of which inform our campaigning vision and priorities as an organisation.
Alongside these new book releases, STWR co-workers will also continue to write articles and blogs wherever possible that explicate our cause for sharing the world’s resources, not only with respect to Article 25 and human rights but also the environmental crisis, new economic paradigms, military conflict and other international issues.
2. Website updates and improvements
Over the coming year we plan to continue expanding our website resources, including with guest content that highlights our core campaigning priorities. The Japanese mirror website is also continuing to gain new visitors as it features more translated content from the English-version site, including the same guest content.
Some technical improvements to our website will be due in the coming year following our switch to a new host provider (Siteground). Furthermore, some redesigning of the homepage and structure of the site is planned to improve its appearance and useability. We also plan to integrate some new functionality into the website, such as an improved book-reading facility and a module for online petitions.
3. Campaigning and networking activities
Assuming lockdown restrictions begin to ease in 2021, our team looks forward to participating again in public events that relate to our campaign for Article 25, both in England and the United States. In the meantime, our plan is to carry on attending and supporting relevant activist forums that are held via internet conferencing. There still remains a lot of scope for us to make links with other movement-builders and civil society organisations that espouse an analogous cause or values to STWR.
We are also expanding our programme of talks to university students and the general public via Zoom. A lot of potential has been discovered for accessing new audiences worldwide through online events, so we plan to continue giving introductory talks for any interested activist groups and concerned citizens.
Other small-scale initiatives are planned for the year, such as the ongoing billposter project to advertise STWR’s campaign for Article 25 across central London, with a view to advertising in other cities over time. New online projects are also planned, including petitions that highlight the need for redirecting public resources into a global fund for addressing the critical needs of the poor. These activities will be publicised through our social networking sites and regular newsletters, which remain our principal mediums of communication with our supporters and the general public.
Supporting STWR's ongoing research and advocacy work