Ventotene international seminar 2014
This week I was in Ventotene, a rock in-between the Mediterranean sea. The island is worldwide-known for the Manifesto written during the II World War by Altiero Spinelli (1907-1986), along with fellow prisoners Ernesto Rossi and Eugenio Colorni, while confined on this island during the fascism period in Italy.
Italian political theorist and a European federalist, Altiero Spinelli conceived a glimmer of peace and unity in the union of the European states way before the actual creation of the European Union we know today. The Ventotene Manifesto, eventually entitled "Per un' Europa libera e unita" (For a free and united Europe) was advocating for a federation of European states which could unite to fight the war in order to reestablish peace against the fascist and nazis powers through the design of a new political system and a strong political action aimed at forging new powers to give birth to an international democracy and thus to restore an equilibrium for an "organized peace".
While on the island, getting to know young engaged Europeans campaigning for a federal Europe through the movement that Mr. Spinelli initiated, the European Federalist Movement, I was mesmerized by the presence of an ever bigger movement, the World Federalism, working for global unity. Founded in 1947 this planetary citizens movement, with member and associate organizations around the world, advocates more just and effective global governance through the applications of the principles of democratic federalism to world affairs. World Federalism tackles global problems, as international justice and rule of law, human rights, peace and conflict prevention, environmental challenges and climate change, global warming, nuclear weapons and wars, economic governance, poverty eradication and international security.
How to solve global problems? How to unite and find solutions?
I had a round table interview with representatives from the countries of Canada, Pakistan, Israel, Argentina, United States and Spain for Europe and asked them about their vision for a world unity, what it means and how it is achievable in our times.
"World Federalism means solving problems at the level they occur," Camila from Buenos Aires told us, "so it is good to discuss about global solutions but, in order to reach them, we need to analyze the problems where we are and use a multi-level global governance approach, meaning that we solve problems at our local level first, to be able and ready to solve national problems and international ones."
"In Europe," Eduard from Spain continues, "the rise of nationalism and populism, especially visible during our latest European elections last May, is a product of the economic uncertainties we are facing today. These fears and recession create a favorable ground for a re-nationalization which breaks the path towards a more effective political integration of Europe. People from Cataluña, where I am from, want to be independent from Spain because they feel their sovereignty has been eroded due to global inter-dependence and cultural diversity." To me, however, cooperating for unity and towards the achievement of a single shared political project and a common political horizon are the solutions. As in Europe we say, "Unity in Diversity" as a way of working and of cultural and economic enrichment.
In Israel Tom and Shimri are active in the campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) where a global network of parliamentarians and non-governmental organizations advocate citizens' representation at the United Nations. The aims are to foster the creation of national and local networks of individuals, non-governmental organizations and parliamentarians advocating g a UNPA in their sphere of influence and to facilitate contacts and debates with potentially like-minded parliaments and governments.
To put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the only possible goal for progressive politics can be full human, civil, democratic and political rights for everyone living on this land. "The creation of a Federalist state for Israel and Palestine could be the solution for peace," Shimri stated. However, as politics is unfolding nowadays, the creation of the state of Palestine must be a priority to establish a federalist state. As of now though, due to the political unwillingness and the non-cooperation of the territories, this solution is far away, not impossible but that needs a more structured long-term strategy.
"In Pakistan there is few information-sharing and awareness-campaigns on world federalism. We have various issues that need to be considered to reach economic and social wealth. We are talking about fighting economic inequalities and social taboos, as well as poverty and hunger issues. I think world federalism is not an utopia but can be rightly implemented if a strong task force of engaged people get to know about it and start advocating in my country," Arshia from Islamabad stated.
"In the United States, and especially San Francisco, the movement is felt and there is a high political consciousness, as well as social and political participation to the cause. What we see and what we would like to see in the future is a healthy sense of autonomy, stability and a specialization per state so that each one can equally contribute to the well-being and the economic welfare of the country," Niku commented. "Living in Dubai I see now differences in the human approach and in the social behaviors, and I hope I can get to talk about it in the United Arab Emirates."
"Set priorities, make decisions, act together. We need to improve what we have and build upon it," Nic from Ottawa commented, "it is about the emotional connections we create, by learning and sharing about our activities and campaigns in our countries," he added. "Ventotene is the place where Altiero Spinelli conceived a United Europe, but we need to keep the legacy and the fire alive to be able to build a stronger world community where the mosaic of people encounter and discuss about a World Constitution in which the universal values can be spread and put forward: human rights, security and peace."
As a takeaway, I left the island with a profound desire for solutions. In Europe for instance, we are experiencing a deep unemployment and an economic recession that drive people (especially the young generation) to move from one place to another without finding the right job nor an opportunity where they can unleash their potentials. Unfortunately I do not hold the solution in my pocket and I do not know how to solve this great issue of my generation. I just wish that more people, like the ones I met in Ventotene, are and will be willing to push for change and positive and proactive actions, motivated by the public interest of creating social welfare, sustainable production and consumption and general well-being and happiness. I wish that governments, along with the private sector, could be active agents to include youth in the society, creating cohesion and security.
Integration as Altiero Spinelli conceived it was about peace against war. Now the war is economic and even worse. We need to keep in mind a humble sense of human frailty that characterizes us all as part of Earth and as human beings. With this, we should be fully mindful and empathic people that care about the world we live in and are willing to push for an extraordinary positive human change.
One humanity, one voice, one world manifesto.