Today, on October 19th, we celebrate 96 years from the date of birth of Dr Bohdan Hawrylyshyn, and the National Human Responsibility Day in Ukraine. In this context, we propose to recall the Bohdan Hawrylyshyn’s article written by him in 2015 for Ukraiinska Pravda online media. In the article Dr Hawrylyshyn described how the idea to create the Declaration of Human Responsibilities has evolved. The article also touches upon the global values which we protect now in Ukraine.
Bohdan Hawrylyshyn, 2015
At the end of World War II, the United States helped rebuild the world through the Marshall Plan. Eleanor Roosevelt, who headed the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, was the driving force behind the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). On December 10, 1948, the General Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly. It had an exclusively advisory nature, but raised high hopes. Some of them were implemented, but difficulties appeared almost immediately. It was believed that governments have not only the opportunity, but also the duty to ensure the rights of their citizens. Governments have become overburdened and unable to fulfill the expectations of citizens.
Even then, the world operated on the basis of fierce competition between people, groups and countries. Within countries, the rights of only the wealthier members of society were secured, such as their children’s access to high-quality education or the right to adequate health care. This limited the ability of the majority of the population to secure similar rights. Much discontent arose with even greater criticism of governments, making effective governance more difficult.
Take, for example, the USA. This country has a small proportion of very rich people, but about 45.3 million people live below the poverty line. The gap between the rich and the poor is the largest among the 20 developed countries. This difference has a number of negative consequences: the state of health is almost the worst, part of the mentally ill is the largest, as well as the cost of healthcare per person, numerous cases of deprivation of liberty. This is well described in the book Ill Fares the Land by Tony Judt.
A similar situation arose in relations between countries. All democratic countries “preached” to poorer countries the need to observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but they themselves made it difficult for poor countries to ensure the rights of their citizens. American, French, German, and multinational companies located in other countries sold home-produced goods to African countries at a high price, and bought raw materials from them too cheaply. African countries thus remained poor, and therefore it was impossible even for fairly honest governments to satisfy the most essential, vital rights for their citizens, such as access to fresh water, primary education or any health care system.
A significant increase in GDP per capita is noticeable in almost all countries. The sense of well-being, according to classical economic reasoning, should also increase. However, there is no direct connection between GDP growth and a sense of well-being. In some countries, such as Costa Rica, where GDP per capita is very low, the happiness index is very high – 7.3 points out of 10 (12th out of 88 countries). In other countries, where huge competition between people and companies creates a lot of pressure to do better and better, the relationship between high GDP and feelings of happiness is reversed. For example, from the beginning of January 2008 to April 2011, more than 60 employees of France Télécom committed suicide.
So, we can conclude that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and brutal competitive relations have led to a situation where everyone wins less and loses more.
The world needs a transition to a new paradigm, where everyone would gain something – the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities (UDHR), and a transition to cooperation.
Can Ukraine help the world in this transition?
Thanks to the Maidan and Russian aggression, Ukraine has undergone a transformation from a pluri-ethnic country to a pluri-ethnic, patriotic, political nation. This nation made a choice in favor of Europe, the European values of freedom, truth and human dignity.
When people began to be brutally attacked on the Maidan, another transformation of Ukrainians took place: medical, psychiatric, educational, and religious services were created. These services were created by individual professionals in their fields without orders or assistance from the authorities, but out of a sense of duty to their fellow citizens and country. Each of the initiators of various services was joined by other qualified people. Real cooperation appeared. Moreover, similar parallel services did not arise on the Maidan, there was no competition!
There are similarities between the above and direct democracy, as in Switzerland. The Swiss Parliament elects seven members of the Federal Council (government) from the four largest political parties. The members of the Federal Council are not representatives of their parties, but they carry with them their ideology. The decision-making process requires consensus rather than simple voting. Each of the members of the Council expresses their concerns about the topics they care about: representatives of the socialist party will try to get more money for education and health care, representatives of the liberal party – better conditions for business, and so on. Thus, everyone gets something and no one loses.
The values and behavior of the Maidan (a sense of duty and cooperation), as well as the Swiss consensus, are necessary to heal the world.
More and more people from different countries and different professions are talking about duties and responsibilities. Part of humanity seems ready to move to a winning paradigm.
Feedback on the potential need for a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities was initiated during the meeting of the members of the Supervisory Board of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences (WAAS), which took place in September 2013 in Ottawa. Together with my colleagues from the Academy, I raised the issue of the need for UDHR and suggested preparing a preliminary list of duties. I worked on the list with Oleksandra Telychko, my 23-year-old Ukrainian assistant in Geneva, where I am the President of the Renaissance Foundation. My assistant is quadrilingual, has two university degrees from France and is getting a third at the University of Geneva. I informed the President of SAMN that Oleksandra would help me by reviewing everything that had been done in the past regarding the idea of the need for UDHR l. She was quickly appointed a junior scientist of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
The process of distribution of the proposed list of UDHR has begun. In November 2014, a conference was held in Almaty (Kazakhstan) with the participation of members of SAMN and the World University Consortium (a consortium of stakeholders in the promotion of a new paradigm in higher education in the 21st century). To emphasize the importance of the role of the younger generation in the transition to the new paradigm, I asked my assistant to go to Almaty to present the Proposed Declaration of Human Responsibilitiesp. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Academy of Medical Sciences wrote after the conference that Oleksandra Telichko coped with this extremely well.
However, there was another initiative. Two 22-year-old Ukrainian women, who already have a bachelor’s degree, studied the functioning of the UN General Assembly and proposed that two representatives of the younger generation be included in the Ukrainian delegation to the UN. We asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to accept these two persons as official members of the delegation. This was done for the first time during the independence of Ukraine since 1991. One of the tasks of the young representatives was to prepare the foundation for the presentation of the Proposed Declaration of Human Responsibilities during the General Assembly’s discussion of the Millennium Development Goals for 2015-2025. Our two young delegates have established good relations with young delegates from other countries, working with them to propose better youth policies and promote the adoption of UDHR.
Recently, I have received a letter from the Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the UN, in which he wrote that two young women worked very effectively in various committees and that the inclusion of representatives of the younger generation in the delegation should become a common practice.
Last year, Bishop Borys Gudziak, rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv, who is now based in Paris, said: “Ukraine’s transformation has reminded Europeans of their values.” He added that it was the students of UCU in Lviv who were the first to go to their Maidan before November 29, 2013 and called on the youth to do the same in Kyiv. The above quote emphasizes the important role played by the young generation in the transformation of the Ukrainian people. This implies that the transformation of the government of Ukraine will also be carried out by young people.
Even before the Maidan, in 2013, we started the “Youth will Change Ukraine” (MZU in Ukrainian) program.
Its mission is to transform without revolution the structure of political power, the economic system, social policy, and environmental policy. How does the program work? Active young people aged 20-35, with a good education in one of the mentioned fields, with knowledge of the English language and interested in a better future for Ukraine, form groups of 5 to 7 people. Each group has a lawyer, a political scientist, an economist, a sociologist and an ecologist, or a cultural anthropologist, or people who have experience or a strong interest in these areas. Formed groups study the experience of several European countries that have reached the highest level of human and economic development, and which are characterized by:
– full political freedom (transparency and openness of government);
– a certain level of economic well-being for the entire population;
– social justice, especially in the spheres of education, health care, unemployment, pension provision;
– symbiotic coexistence with the biosphere (nature, environment, not its exploitation, destruction and pollution).
The clear goal of the above is to define and study the constituent elements for the future “architecture of the social order” of Ukraine, which corresponds to the four characteristics mentioned above. These young people continue to work on the transformation of Ukraine in two different ways: some of them are forming groups and preparing for the 2015 elections to city and regional councils. They will be the ideological, programmatic and moral majority. Others will create groups according to professional criteria (finance, education, health care, environmental protection) and join the executive authorities. In the future, a new political party of a wide spectrum (socialist, centrist and liberal) may appear.
When Ukraine becomes transformed, living and acting according to the new paradigm will spread to the majority of the population, its civil society, educational, political and business spheres.
When the world moves to a new paradigm, a much larger part of its population will be able to enjoy their rights, as stated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
To sum up, the world is not healthy. It needs help to heal, revive the values of freedom, human dignity, the rule of law, social justice, rather than focusing only on money. The transition from the situation, when one wins to the situation, when all win, requires changing relationships, acting out of a sense of duty and in a spirit of cooperation.
Ukraine can help in this process, because it itself has gone through a very painful transformation of the nation, its values and behavior, mentioned above.
We are taking the first step on the way to change – we are organizing an International Conference to start acting with joint efforts.
Text of the Declaration of Human Responsibilities: https://bhfamily.org/en/declaration-human-responsibilities/