DECLARATION OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN NETWORK OF BIOETHICS UNESCO (REDBIOETICA UNESCO)
DECLARATION OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN NETWORK OF BIOETHICS UNESCO (REDBIOETICA UNESCO) CONDEMNING THE UNILATERAL DECISION OF THE UNITED STATES TO SUSPEND ITS ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION TO UNESCO.
The members of the Board of Directors and the Advisory Committee of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Bioethics UNESCO (Redbioética UNESCO) hereby express our strongest condemnation of the decision by the U.S. government’ not to pay its annual share of US$ 65 million to UNESCO, representing 25% of the budget of the Organization, in retaliation for the recent decision of the 36th UNESCO General Conference to accept Palestine as a member of the Organization, by an affirmative vote of two thirds of its member countries.
The Redbioética UNESCO considers that the sovereign decision of the international community to accept Palestine as a member country is a major step towards peace in the world, especially in the Middle East, and it has been a call for sanity, common sense and the Palestinian people’s right to be internationally recognized as an independent country. UNESCO has been guided in that decision by the best interest of the defense of human rights in all countries as it aims to “contribute to peace and security by collaboration on education, science and culture among nations “, as stipulated in its Charter. Only by including Palestine in UNESCO can the other countries cooperate with that nation “to prepare (their children) in the responsibilities of freedom ” and thus protect the rights of all the world’s inhabitants.
By taking the reprisal action to suspend payment to the Organization, the United States not only repudiates a democratic decision taken by most countries, but it also drastically reduces the operating capacity of UNESCO in defense of the rights of disadvantaged populations across the world and their access to education, science and culture. At the international community of nations, the fact that a particular decision does not coincide with the particular policies of a member state does not give the latter authority or the right to withdraw its financial support to the Organization, since what is at stake specifically is human rights and peace, rather than the particular interest of each country.
Thanks to the support received from UNESCO’s Regional Program of Bioethics (Office in Montevideo), the Redbioética UNESCO has over several years proclaimed and defended the universal principles of bioethics, particularly social justice and the right to health. Our achievements include a training program in bioethics in the Region that has graduated more than 1200 professionals; the production of numerous publications that address bioethical issues in the region; and the organization of seminars and conferences which promote a secular, pluralist and progressive bioethics in line with the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights unanimously proclaimed by the UNESCO General Conference in 2005. In this context, Redbioética UNESCO expresses its strong condemnation and outrage at the undemocratic attitude of the U.S. to withdraw its share of the countries’ subscriptions to UNESCO, motivated explicitly for their own interests. Not only are we concerned about the foreseeable financial consequences that will restrict many projects around the world, but also because such an attitude shows contempt for the will of the international community.
UNESCO has been a pioneer in human rights as proclaimed in its statements and implemented in its actions, making the union of these with social justice the very pillars of bioethical work. That is why the Latin American and Caribbean Bioethics Network UNESCO (Redbioética UNESCO) cannot remain indifferent to the U.S. unilateral approach that endangers the defense of human rights not only in the Middle East but around the world, to the extent that UNESCO will not be able to fulfill its task of ensuring education, providing advice on science policy, and promoting recognition and appreciation of the cultural heritage of peoples, especially those who need it most.
As stated above and in the conviction that economic violence cannot trump justice and the majority will of the community nations, and that the unconditional support of its members will help UNESCO overcome this inconvenience and be further strengthened, the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Bioethics (Redbioética UNESCO) declares that:
• This action by the U.S. and its consequences, take the form of unilateral retaliation against the sovereign decision taken by UNESCO to accept Palestine into its membership.
• Condemns the attitude of the nations that supported the U.S. in its opposition to the incorporation of Palestine to UNESCO.
• Expresses its willingness to communicate its repudiation of the U.S. action. to the highest executive authorities and legislative bodies in all countries of the Region.
• Proposes that the governments of the countries that voted in favor of the inclusion of Palestine to UNESCO take charge, to the extent of their abilities, to alleviate the deficit caused by the intemperate attitude of the U.S. and the countries that supported it.
The Latin American and Caribbean Network of Bioethics UNESCO (Redbioética UNESCO) calls for all its members to disseminate this statement and to denounce any attitude which denies the foundations of human rights, such as equality, freedom and solidarity, from the countries exercising hegemony of power in the world, and to be more involved in defending a progressive and secular bioethics, rooted in the realization of human rights and social justice.
In Buenos Aires, on the 23rd day of November 2011.
Dr. Victor B. Penchaszadeh
President, Latin American and Caribbean Network of Bioethics UNESCO
(On behalf of the members of the Board of Directors and the Advisory Committee)