This is the full transcript of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres's Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture 2020 speech. (From the website: nelsonmandela.org) July 18, 2020
Tackling the inequality pandemic:
A new Social Contract
for a New Year
Excellencies, distinguished guests, friends,
It is a privilege to join you in honouring Nelson Mandela, an extraordinary global leader, advocate, and role model.
I thank the Nelson Mandela Foundation for this opportunity and commend their work to keep his vision alive. And I send my deepest condolences to the Mandela family, and to the government and people of South Africa, on the untimely passing of Ambassador Zindzi Mandela earlier this week. May she rest in peace. I was fortunate enough to meet Nelson Mandela several times. I will never forget his wisdom, determination and compassion, which shone forth in everything he said and did.
Last August, in my holidays, I visited Madiba’s cell at Robben Island. I stood there, looking through the bars, humbled again by his enormous mental strength and incalculable courage. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison, 18 of them at Robben island. But he never allowed this experience to define him or his life.
Nelson Mandela rose above his jailers to liberate millions of South Africans and become a global inspiration and a modern icon. He devoted his life to fighting the inequality that has reached crisis proportions around the world in recent decades – and that poses a growing threat to our future.
COVID-19 is shining a spotlight on this injustice.
Today, on Madiba’s birthday, I will talk about how we can address the many mutually reinforcing strands and layers of inequality, before they destroy our economies and societies.
Dear friends, The world is in turmoil. Economies are in freefall. We have been brought to our knees – by a microscopic virus. The pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of our world. It has laid bare risks we have ignored for decades: inadequate health systems; gaps in social protection; structural inequalities; environmental degradation; the climate crisis.
..."The pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of our world. It has laid bare risks we have ignored for decades: inadequate health systems; gaps in social protection; structural inequalities; environmental degradation; the climate crisis..."
Entire regions that were making progress on eradicating poverty and narrowing inequality have been set back years, in a matter of months.
The virus poses the greatest risk to the most vulnerable: those living in poverty, older people, and people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions. Health workers are on the front lines, with more than 4,000 infected in South Africa alone. I pay tribute to them.In some countries, health inequalities are amplified as not just private hospitals, but businesses and even individuals are hoarding precious equipment that is urgently needed for everyone – a tragic example of inequality in public hospitals.
The economic fallout of the pandemic is affecting those who work in the informal economy; small and medium-size businesses; and people with caring responsibilities, who are mainly women. We face the deepest global recession since World War II, and the broadest collapse in incomes since 1870.
One hundred million more people could be pushed into extreme poverty. We could see famines of historic proportions. COVID-19 has been likened to an X-ray, revealing fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built.
It is exposing fallacies and falsehoods everywhere: (1) The lie that free markets can deliver healthcare for all; (2) The fiction that unpaid care work is not work; (3) The delusion that we live in a post-racist world; (4) The myth that we are all in the same boat.
Because while we are all floating on the same sea, it’s clear that some of us are in superyachts while others are clinging to the floating debris. Dear friends,
Inequality defines our time.
More than 70 per cent of the world’s people are living with rising income and wealth inequality. The 26 richest people in the world hold as much wealth as half the global population.
But income, pay and wealth are not the only measures of inequality. People’s chances in life depend on their gender, family and ethnic background, race, whether or not they have a disability, and other factors. Multiple inequalities intersect and reinforce each other across the generations. The lives and expectations of millions of people are largely determined by their circumstances at birth.
In this way, inequality works against human development – for everyone. We all suffer its consequences.
We are sometimes told a rising tide of economic growth lifts all boats. But in reality, rising inequality sinks all boats. High levels of inequality are associated with economic instability, corruption, financial crises, increased crime and poor physical and mental health.
Discrimination, abuse and lack of access to justice define inequality for many, particularly indigenous people, migrants, refugees and minorities of all kinds. Such inequalities are a direct assault on human rights.
Addressing inequality has therefore been a driving force throughout history for social justice, labour rights and gender equality.
The vision and promise of the United Nations is that food, healthcare, water and sanitation, education, decent work and social security are not commodities for sale to those who can afford them, but basic human rights to which we are all entitled.
We work to reduce inequality, every day, everywhere. In developing and developed countries alike, we systematically pursue and support policies to change the power dynamics that underpin inequality at the individual, social and global level. That vision is as important today as it was 75 years ago.
It is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our agreed blueprint for peace and prosperity on a healthy planet, and captured in SDG 10: reduce inequality within and between countries.
Dear friends, Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many people around the globe understood that inequality was undermining their life chances and opportunities.
They saw a world out of balance. They felt left behind. They saw economic policies channelling resources upwards to the privileged few. Millions of people from all continents took to the streets to make their voices heard. High and rising inequalities were a common factor.
Violence Against Women & the Anti-racism Movement
The anger feeding two recent social movements reflects utter disillusionment with the status quo.
Women everywhere have called time on one of the most egregious examples of gender inequality:
Violence perpetrated by powerful men against women who are simply trying to do their jobs.
And the anti-racism movement that has spread from the United States around the world in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing is one more sign that people have had enough:
Enough of inequality and discrimination that treats people as criminals on the basis of their skin colour;
Enough of the structural racism and systematic injustice that deny people their fundamental human rights.
These movements point to two of the historic sources of inequality in our world: colonialism and patriarchy.
The Global North, especially my own continent of Europe, imposed colonial rule on much of the Global South for centuries, through violence and coercion.
Colonialism created vast inequality within and between countries, including the evils of the Transatlantic slave trade and the apartheid regime here in South Africa.
After the Second World War, the creation of the United Nations was based on a new global consensus around equality and human dignity.
And a wave of decolonisation swept the world.
But let’s not fool ourselves. The legacy of colonialism still reverberates.
We see this in economic and social injustice, the rise of hate crimes and xenophobia; the persistence of institutionalised racism and white supremacy.
We see this in the global trade system. Economies that were colonised are at greater risk of getting locked into the production of raw materials and low-tech goods – a new form of colonialism.
And we see this in global power relations.
Africa has been a double victim. First, as a target of the colonial project. Second, African countries are under-represented in the international institutions that were created after the Second World War, before most of them had won independence.
The nations that came out on top more than seven decades ago have refused to contemplate the reforms needed to change power relations in international institutions. The composition and voting rights in the United Nations Security Council and the boards of the Bretton Woods system are a case in point.
Inequality starts at the top: in global institutions. Addressing inequality must start by reforming them.
And let’s not forget another great source of inequality in our world: millennia of patriarchy. We live in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture. Everywhere, women are worse off than men, simply because they are women. Inequality and discrimination are the norm. Violence against women, including femicide, is at epidemic levels. And globally, women are still excluded from senior positions in governments and on corporate boards. Fewer than one in ten world leaders is a woman.
Gender inequality harms everyone because it prevents us from benefiting from the intelligence and experience of all of humanity. This is why, as a proud feminist, I have made gender equality a top priority, and gender parity now a reality in top UN jobs. I urge leaders of all kinds to do the same. And I’m pleased to announce that South Africa’s Siya Kolisi is our new global ambassador in the United Nations and European Union Spotlight initiative, engaging other men in fighting the global scourge of violence against women and girls.
Dear friends, Recent decades have created new tensions and trends.
Globalisation and technological change have fueled enormous gains in income and prosperity. More than a billion people have moved out of extreme poverty.
But the expansion of trade and technological progress have also contributed to an unprecedented shift in income distribution. Between 1980 and 2016, the world’s richest 1 percent captured 27 percent of the total cumulative growth in income.
Low-skilled workers face an onslaught from new technologies, automation, the offshoring of manufacturing and the demise of labour organisations.
Tax concessions, tax avoidance and tax evasion remain widespread. Corporate tax rates have fallen.
This has reduced resources to invest in the very services that can reduce inequality: social protection, education, healthcare.
And a new generation of inequalities goes beyond income and wealth to encompass the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s world.
Deep disparities begin before birth, and define lives – and early deaths.
More than 50 percent of 20-year-olds in countries with very high human development are in higher education. In low human development countries, that figure is three percent.
Even more shocking: some 17 percent of the children born 20 years ago in countries with low human development have already died.
Looking to the future, two seismic shifts will shape the 21st century: the climate crisis, and digital transformation. Both could widen inequalities even further.
Some of the developments in today’s tech and innovation hubs are cause for serious concern.
The heavily male-dominated tech industry is not only missing out on half the world’s expertise and perspectives. It is also using algorithms that could further entrench gender and racial discrimination.
The digital divide reinforces social and economic divides, from literacy to healthcare, from urban to rural, from kindergarten to college.
In 2019, some 87 percent of people in developed countries used the internet, compared with just 19 percent in the least developed countries.
We are in danger of a two-speed world.
At the same time, by 2050, accelerating climate change will affect millions of people through malnutrition, malaria and other diseases, migration, and extreme weather events.
This creates serious threats to inter-generational equality and justice. Today’s young climate protesters are on the frontlines of the fight against inequality.
The countries that are most affected by climate disruption did the least to contribute to global heating.
The green economy will be a new source of prosperity and employment. But let’s not forget that some people will lose their jobs, particularly in the post-industrial rustbelts of our world.
And this is why we call not only for climate action, but climate justice.
Political leaders must raise their ambition, businesses must raise their sights, and people everywhere must raise their voices. There is a better way, and we must take it.
Dear friends, The corrosive effects of today’s levels of inequality are clear. We are sometimes told that the rising ...
Confidence in institutions and leaders is eroding. Voter turnout has fallen by a global average of 10 per cent since the beginning of the 1990s.
And people who feel marginalised are vulnerable to arguments that blame their misfortunes on others, particularly those who look or behave differently.
But populism, nationalism, extremism, racism and scapegoating will only create new inequalities and divisions within and between communities; between countries, between ethnicities, between religions.
Dear friends, COVID-19 is a human tragedy. But it has also created a generational opportunity. An opportunity to build back a more equal and sustainable world. The response to the pandemic, and to the widespread discontent that preceded it, must be based on a New Social Contract and a New Global Deal that create equal opportunities for all, and respect the rights and freedoms of all.
This is the only way that we will meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, agreements that address precisely the failures that are being exposed and exploited by the pandemic.
A New Social Contract will enable young people to live in dignity; will ensure women have the same prospects and opportunities as men; and will protect the sick, the vulnerable, and minorities of all kinds.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement show the way forward. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals address precisely the failures that are being exposed and exploited by the pandemic.
Education and digital technology must be two great enablers and equalisers. As Nelson Mandela said, and I quote, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” As always, he said it first.
Governments must prioritise equal access, from early learning to lifelong education.
Neuroscience tells us that pre-school education changes the lives of individuals and brings enormous benefits to communities and societies. So when the richest children are seven times more likely than the poorest to attend pre-school, it is no surprise that inequality is inter-generational.
To deliver quality education for all, we need to more than double education spending in low- and middle-income countries by 2030 to $3- trillion a year.Within a generation, all children in low- and middle-income countries could have access to quality education at all levels.
This is possible. We just have to decide to do it.
And as technology transforms our world, learning facts and skills is not enough. Governments need to prioritise investment in digital literacy and infrastructure.
Learning how to learn, adapting and taking on new skills will be essential.
The digital revolution and artificial intelligence will change the nature of work, and the relationship between work, leisure and other activities, some of which we cannot even imagine today.
The Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, launched at the United Nations last month, promotes a vision of an inclusive, sustainable digital future by connecting the remaining four billion people to the Internet by 2030.
The United Nations has also launched “Giga”, an ambitious project to get every school in the world online.
Technology can turbocharge the recovery from COVID-19 and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Dear friends, Growing gaps in trust between people, institutions and leaders threaten us all.
People want social and economic systems that work for everyone. They want their human rights and fundamental freedoms to be respected. They want a say in decisions that affect their lives.
The New Social Contract between governments, peoples, civil society, businesses and more must integrate employment, sustainable development and social protection, based on equal rights and opportunities for all.
Labour market policies, combined with constructive dialogue between employers and labour representatives, can improve pay and working conditions. Labour representation is also critical to manage the challenges posed to jobs by technology and structural transformation – including the transition to a green economy.The Labour movement has a proud history of fighting inequality and working for the rights and dignity of all.
The gradual integration of the informal sector into social protection frameworks is essential.
A changing world requires a new generation of social protection policies with new safety nets, including Universal Health Coverage and the possibility of a Universal Basic Income.
Establishing minimum levels of social protection, and reversing chronic underinvestment in public services including education, healthcare, and internet access are essential.
But this is not enough to tackle entrenched inequalities. We need affirmative action programmes and targeted policies to address and redress h....
Historic inequalities in gender, race or ethnicity, that have been reinforced by social norms, can only be overturned by targeted initiatives.
Taxation and redistribution policies also have a role In the New Social Contract. Everyone – individuals and corporations – must pay their fair share.
In some countries, there is a place for taxes that recognise that the wealthy and well-connected have benefited enormously from the state, and from their fellow citizens.
Governments should also shift the tax burden from payrolls to carbon. Taxing carbon rather than people will increase output and employment, while reducing emissions.
We must break the vicious cycle of corruption, which is both a cause and effect of inequality. Corruption reduces and wastes funds available for social protection; it weakens social norms and the rule of law.
And fighting corruption depends on accountability. The greatest guarantee of accountability is a vibrant civil society, including a free, independent media and responsible social media platforms that encourage healthy debate.
Dear friends, For this New Social Contract to be possible, it must go hand in hand with a Global New Deal.
Let’s face facts. The global political and economic system are not delivering on critical global public goods: public health, climate action, sustainable development, peace.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought home the tragic disconnect between self-interest and the common interest; and the huge gaps in governance structures and ethical frameworks.
To close these gaps, and to make the New Social Contract possible, we need a Global New Deal: a redistribution of power, wealth and opportunities.
A new model for global governance must be based on full, inclusive and equal participation in global institutions.
Without that, we face even wider inequalities and gaps in solidarity – like those we see today in the fragmented global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Developed countries are strongly invested in their own survival in the face of the pandemic. But they have failed to deliver the support needed to help the developing world through these dangerous times.
A New Global Deal, based on a fair globalisation, on the rights and dignity of every human being, on living in balance with nature, on taking account of the rights of future generations, and on success measured in human rather than economic terms, is the best way to change this.
The worldwide consultation process around the 75th anniversary of the United Nations has made clear that people want a global governance system that delivers for them.
The developing world must have a far stronger voice in global decision-making.
We also need a more inclusive and balanced multilateral trading system that enables developing countries to move up global value chains.
Illicit financial flows, money-laundering and tax evasion must be prevented. A global consensus to end tax havens is essential.
We must work together to integrate the principles of sustainable development into financial decision-making. Financial markets must be full partners in shifting the flow of resources away from the brown and the grey to the green, the sustainable and the equitable.
Reform of the debt architecture and access to affordable credit must create fiscal space to move investment in the same direction.
Dear friends, Nelson Mandela said: "One of the challenges of our time … is to reinstil in the consciousness of our people that sense of human solidarity, of being in the world for one another and because of and through others.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced this message more strongly than ever. We belong to each other.
We stand together, or we fall apart. Today, in demonstrations for racial equality … in campaigns against hate speech … in the struggles of people claiming their rights and standing up for future generations … we see the beginnings of a new movement.
This movement rejects inequality and division, and unites young people, civil society, the private sector, cities, regions and others behind policies for peace, our planet, justice and human rights for all. It is already making a difference.
Now is the time for global leaders to decide: Will we succumb to chaos, division and inequality?
Or will we right the wrongs of the past and move forward together, for the good of all?
We are at breaking point. But we know which side of history we are on. Thank you.
Report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (www.cpj.org) June 3, 2020
Amid COVID-19, the prognosis for press freedom is dim.
Here are 10 symptoms to track
By Katherine Jacobsen
The COVID-19 pandemic has sent public health officials scrambling, the global economy into shock, and governments everywhere into crisis. It has also reshaped the way journalists work, not least because many authorities in many countries have cited the contagion as a reason to crack down on the news media.
It is possible that responses to the coronavirus could shift the long-term paradigm for journalism in unforeseen ways, in the same way the attacks of September 11, 2001, fueled the global expansion of anti-terrorism laws – and in turn, ushered in an uptick in the jailing of journalists that continues today.
Global press freedom violations that CPJ has documented in relation to the pandemic can roughly be divided into 10 categories to monitor (with examples cited):
1. Laws against “fake news”
The pandemic has provided governments with a new excuse to wield laws criminalizing the spread of “fake news,” “misinformation,” or “false information” — and offered a reason to implement new ones. Over the past seven years, the number of journalists imprisoned on charges of “fake news” or “false news” has climbed, according to CPJ research.
Carlos Gaio, a U.K.-based senior legal officer with the Media Legal Defence Initiative, told CPJ that “fake news” laws will continue to spread as governments try to control messaging about the virus, affecting journalists and fact-checkers alike. “It’s a very complicated subject to outlaw something like that [and it] is very, very dangerous,” Gaio said.
Disinformation is a real problem, but these legal measures give governments latitude to decide what they consider to be false....
2. Jailing journalists
Arresting journalists has long been a tactic of authoritarian governments looking to silence critical reporting; at least 250 journalists were jailed worldwide at CPJ’s last annual count in December. With COVID-19 in circulation, imprisonment could be deadly; journalists are held in unsanitary conditions and forced into close proximity with others who could be infected. CPJ and more than 190 partner organizations have called on authorities worldwide to release all journalists jailed because of their work.Nonetheless, arrests continue.
In India, authorities in Tamil Nadu state arrested on April 23 the founder of SimpliCity news portal and accused him of violating the antiquated Epidemic Diseases Act and other laws. The website had alleged government corruption in food distribution efforts related to the pandemic.
Jordan’s military arrested two journalists for satellite channel Roya TV on April 10 in relation to a report on worker complaints about the economic impact of a curfew.
Somali authorities arrested an editor for Goobjoog Media Group on April 14 and accused him of spreading false news and offending the president’s honor after the journalist posted criticism on Facebook of the government’s handling of the crisis.
3. Suspending free speech
Some governments’ emergency measures have revoked or suspended the right to free speech for the duration of the emergency.
Liberia’s constitution protects freedom of expression “save during an emergency” and affords presidential power to “suspend or affect certain rights, freedoms and guarantees” during a state of emergency like the one imposed April 11.
Honduras on March 16 declared a temporary state of emergency that suspended some articles of the constitution, including the one that protects the right to free expression (though the government reversed that measure days later).
4. Blunt censorship, online and off
Authorities in several countries suspended newspaper distribution and printing in what they called an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. Elsewhere, media regulators have blocked websites or removed articles with critical coverage.
Tajikistan blocked independent news website Akhbor on April 9, after it reported critically on the government.
Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, ordered radio station Ekho Moskvy to take down an interview with a disease expert, and news website Govorit Magadan to remove an article about a local pneumonia death.
5. Threatening and harassing journalists, online and off
Government officials and private citizens alike have responded to critical reporting on the pandemic response with violence and threats. In places where the reporting environment was already hazardous, the situation has grown more fraught.
Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, threatened a Novaya Gazeta reporter after she wrote on April 12 that Chechens had stopped reporting coronavirus symptoms for fear of being labeled “terrorists.”
Haitian journalists were assaulted by unidentified men at the government’s National Identification Office on April 2 as they investigated claims that the office was violating COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing.
Ghanaian soldiers enforcing restrictions related to the pandemic assaulted journalists in two separate incidents in April.
6. Accreditation requirements and restricted freedom of movement
Authorities have restricted journalists’ ability to move about freely, such as if they want to report during curfews, or enter hospitals to get a first-hand account of health care. Sometimes the press is granted special access, but requiring members of the media to have government-issued press credentials allows leaders to decide who gets counted as a journalist.
CPJ research shows that this leaves open the possibility that they will exclude those not affiliated with major outlets or those who report critically on the authorities.
Indian police assaulted at least four journalists in three separate incidents in Hyderabad and Delhi on March 23 as they transited to or from work during the lockdown, even though national authorities have stated that journalists are exempt from the restrictions.
Nigeria required journalists to carry a valid identification card to move around certain locked down areas, including the capital Abuja, and designated only 16 journalists as allowed to enter the president’s villa.
7. Restricted access to information
Laws on freedom of information that allow journalists to request government data and records have been suspended. Government proceedings that journalists usually attend have moved online, with varying degrees of access for the press. In the U.S., Trump’s antagonism to journalists sets a poor example for U.S. state and local officials.
Gaio told CPJ that these trends are likely to persist. “[Governments] will make it more difficult for officials to provide information. Access to information will take longer, and it will make it more complicated for journalists to access public spaces because of infection risks,” he said.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on March 23 signed a measure into law that suspends deadlines for public authorities and institutions to respond to requests for information, and does away with appeals in case of denial. (Brazil’s Supreme Court overturned the measure on April 30, according to news reports.)
United States governors and mayors have created a patchwork of access to press conferences around the country. In Florida, the governor on March 28 barred one reporter from attending a press conference after she asked about social distancing measures.
8. Expulsions and visa restrictions
In order to control the narrative of how the government is responding to COVID-19, some states are being inhospitable to foreign media, which in some places has traditionally enjoyed greater latitude than locals to report critically.
China and the United States have been engaged in a tit-for-tat over journalist access since early in 2020. Among the developments: In February, China forced out three Wall Street Journal reporters, ostensibly in retaliation for a headline on an opinion piece about COVID-19. In March, the U.S. imposed a limit of 100 on the number of visas for Chinese state media; China retaliated by terminating visas for at least 13 U.S. reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.
Egypt expelled Guardian reporter Ruth Michaelson in retaliation for her report on March 15 that cast doubt on the government’s official statistics regarding the pandemic.
9. Surveillance and contact tracing
Governments around the world are monitoring mobile phone location data and testing or rolling out new tracking apps to follow the spread of COVID-19, according to news reports. the surveillance could imperil source confidentiality. The systems are introduced with limited oversight, and could endure long after the pandemic.
“There’s always a concern that emergency situations create new baseline expectations for what kind of surveillance the government is authorized to conduct. We certainly saw this through 9-11, but I think the same issue is presented here,” said Carrie DeCell, a staff attorney with the Knight First Amendment Institute in New York. “Actions that might be justified in that particular context certainly would not be justified once governments get a handle on this pandemic and once the crisis subsides somewhere in the near future.”
David Maass, a senior investigative researcher at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, agreed that once law enforcement is given a new technology, it’s difficult to take it back. “We’ve seen that today they’re using it for this very dangerous virus, but we don’t know what will happen later.”
Telecom companies in Italy, Germany, and Austria are turning over location data to public health officials, though aggregated and anonymized; governments in South Korea and South Africa are monitoring individual cell phone locations, and Israel authorized security agents to access location and other data from millions of mobile phone users.
10. Emergency Measures
Hungary’s parliament on March 30 approved a set of emergency laws enabling Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree.
Thailand introduced on March 26 a state of emergency that allows the government to “correct” reports it considers incorrect and allows for charges against journalists under the Computer Crimes Act, which carries five-year prison penalties for violations.
With many countries still under states of emergency that grant authorities power to rule by decree — and the virus only beginning to take hold in some developing countries – even more restrictions could be on the way.
Katherine Jacobsen is CPJ’s U.S. research associate. Before joining CPJ as a news editor in 2017, Jacobsen worked for The Associated Press in Moscow and as a freelancer in Ukraine, where her writing appeared in outlets including Businessweek, U.S. News and World Report, Foreign Policy, and Al-Jazeera.
Committee to Protect Journalists (www.cpj.org)