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CALENDAR OF EVENTS

August 2020
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Speeches

H. Rajaonarimampianina: Address to UPF-Africa “Peace Talks” Webinar

Address to UPF-Africa “Peace Talks” Webinar, July 4, 2020

From the outset, I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers of the Peace Talks Webinars, organized by the International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP), for this significant initiative to provide a platform for a discussion about the post-Covid-19 era. We have been called upon to reflect and present our vision of the post-Covid 19 world, at a time when, as we speak, many countries, to mention only the United States and Brazil, are struggling to combat this pandemic.

My country has just started to face this crisis. Unfortunately, we are only beginning the journey to deal with the number of infected persons and mortality. The information that I have received is alarming. The human, social and economic consequences for Madagascar, like many other countries, are, of course, as yet unpredictable and unspeakable. But they might be grave or even disastrous. We can only be appalled by this situation.

The theme chosen by UPF for this conference, "Rebuilding and Renewing Our Nations in the Post-Covid-19 World: Interdependence, Mutual Prosperity and Universal Values," is very timely. I am currently conducting numerous international consultations, meeting thinkers and actors of tomorrow, and spearheading the activities of a number of think tanks. I would like to share with you some observations, some research pathways and suggestions for a world that has been transformed by this pandemic.

Feedback from the countries affected by these seven months of the crisis allows us to draw some observations.

First is the fact that the pandemic is not selective as to its victims: rich or poor, young or old. Poor or advanced countries are affected in the same way. In the post Covid-19 world, the poor and those left behind will be far more numerous, especially in the countries that are considered the poorest, many of which are on the African continent. Moreover, this crisis has further highlighted the interdependence of people and countries and, as a corollary, the indispensable solidarity between them, between us.

This interdependence of countries has very quickly shown its limits and weaknesses in recent months because of this stark observation: It was not an interdependence but in reality dependencies of different kinds and at different levels.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) and its policy of liberalization have led to relocations in recent decades. The Covid-19 crisis demonstrates the relevance of the notion of proximity and the inevitable relocations that will follow; and this comes in order to re-establish the vital autonomy of proximity.

In the future, we will inevitably witness a resurgence of economic nationalism that will undermine WTO regulations through the relocation of industries and economic activities. All this upheaval should enable a philosophy of enlightened interdependence to emerge, preserving the global balance of economies and nations and anticipating crises of a health, ecological, social and financial nature, for the good global functioning of humanity. Interdependence should also take into consideration the principles of proximity and solidarity.

This interdependence also inevitably affects systemic organizations such as the United Nations and the African Union because they have the macroscopic, global, holistic vision that facilitates interactions and feedback loops. There is a need to reconsider the role and philosophy of their dismemberments. I am thinking in particular of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the WTO.

Africa has been the most resistant to the pandemic, according to the statistics. The current situation creates an opportunity for Africa to fast-track the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which would make Africa less dependent on the rest of the world, thus improving the relations of interdependence between African countries. This will also accelerate industrialization in Africa and lead to the realization of the Aspirations set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

Due to Covid-19, the world and society have lost their bearings:

  • We can see the insufficiencies of medicine, which led to a situation of choosing those we were going to save and those we had to abandon.
  • We are witnessing a mistrust towards and between scientists, especially when it becomes clear that some of them are subservient to the lobbies of large pharmaceutical groups driven by the unbridled desire for profit, serving private or minority interests.
  • We are witnessing a breakdown in the relationship between those who govern and the governed.
  • Governments have used the institution of a state of health emergency as a pretext to restrict citizens' freedoms at will, particularly freedom of expression. In some cases, the pandemic has even concealed strategic shortcomings by some governments in a timely manner. Such shortcomings are obvious signals of bad governance, institutional weakness or lack of vision, if not absence of vision.

On the bright side, if there were to be a temporary beneficiary in this upheaval we are experiencing, it would be nature. It has reclaimed its rights. The earth has started to breathe again, the atmosphere has been cleaned up thanks to the significant reduction in gas emissions, ecosystems are reborn, the inevitable massive erosion of biodiversity has come to a halt or at least slowed down. This is evidence that there is still hope and, above all, that an ecological strategy is still possible and must be undertaken.

We still face looming threats: scarcity of resources, hunger, climate challenges, pollution, ecology, the ocean, deforestation, and the destruction of the habitat of many animal species leading to their extinction. All this must be resolved as rapidly as possible. We also have to deal with wars and their consequences, which undermine development and increase poverty and insecurity, leading to the obligation or temptation to migrate.

Against this backdrop, I have repeatedly called for a global agreement between countries of destination and the countries of origin of migrants so that rich countries invest in the countries of departure and encourage migrants to stay in their various communities. Such an agreement will reduce social exclusion and cost rich countries less while serving the interests of poor countries. This could be achieved if the focus is placed on global solutions for international solidarity to poor countries with donors through debt relief, with total or partial debt cancellation.

This crisis has opened up many new fields of possibility. In addition to everything that is being discussed today, I would like to draw on the experiences I have gained during my career to share some of the avenues of research and reflection.

I used to be a chartered accountant, and I still am, because it is a skill you don't lose. It is in this capacity that I have reflected on the possibilities of developing accounting systems in order to show in the accounting balance sheets the environmental effects of degradation or pollution as well as the consideration of human resources. Companies should no longer be concerned only with assets and finances.

I was minister of finance. I am sensitive to the re-establishment of the link between value and utility, particularly in the economic and financial world. I am making progress in terms of reflections and research aimed at developing wealth indicators because GDP and growth are currently insufficient to describe the various issues that the lockdown has brought to light. Indicators such as GDP and growth do not take into account local solidarity and informal mutual aid, or the degradation of the essential ecological and social heritage. I am also of the view that social entrepreneurship must be protected.

I was president of the Republic of Madagascar. It is by virtue of this experience that I will propose the following in the coming times.

Recommendations:

First of all, a return to the very foundation of politics, which has to do with the organization of a city, a state and the exercise of power in an organized society. These considerations must be tied to the universal values necessary for the true prosperity of humanity.

Secondly, a radical reform of democracy and of the processes for appointing the representatives of the people and their leaders. This is because countries like ours are suffering from the multiplication of leaders who wish to seize power but who lack the capacity to govern.

Such a reform should entail allowing trained persons to occupy positions, persons who can approach the world with a systemic vision and are capable of leading the world in an uncertain and complex environment. And it is also a question letting go of people full of arrogance and those who display amateurism.

I am now convinced that education, science and culture are essential elements of a value system in which human evolution is embedded.

I believe that the International Summit Council for Peace should, by its nature and vocation, convey the message of peace because it is needed for development, to preserve the minimum rights of individuals and populations, and to strengthen social cohesion.

To conclude, I would like to draw your attention to a paramount and distinctive component of human beings: the human spirit. Spiritual and family dimensions are insufficiently taken into account in decisions or in the great turning points of humanity, such as the one we are experiencing. I have never been oblivious of this: I am a Christian educator and deeply concerned about this. In my vision of the world, I see the spiritual dimension as inseparable from the secular aspects. I am also aware that trials are inherent in the life and enlightenment of human beings and of humanity.

This pandemic has demonstrated the limits of humankind in this century of blossoming scientific and technological knowledge and financial power. Social initiatives should no longer be considered as social, charitable or philanthropic acts but should be part of citizen and public commitments, both individual and collective.

I am confident that it is in times of trials and weakness that we can be used by an immanent dimension that transcends us to create a new world, which, as far as possible, would be better than the one we are turning the page on.


To go back to the UPF-Africa Peace Talk article, click here.