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Justice not war

President Bush has rallied his troops for what he calls “The first warof the 21st century”. What is your view of this crisis, where, briefly, do you stand? This is the question we are putting to people around the world, especially those with their own public reputation and following. Our aim, to help create a truly global debate all can identify with.
Federico Mayor
6 February 2003

Despite the efforts of the UN and several states, the US government appears decided to solve the Iraqi case by military action, thus disregarding the results of the UN inspections and the serious objections of many people, institutions and governments all over the world. Even if the inspectors verified the possession by Iraq of armaments of a kind that could objectively be considered a threat to world security, there are other ways of disarming than mass bombing and warfare. The authority of the UN would be further undermined, and to unleash a war would certainly cause even more death, misery and desperation to an already oppressed people. I know well that predictions about the course of a war are very seldom accomplished, but it always guarantees more suffering, torture and inhuman behaviour.

Despite the disinformation campaigns, the great majority of world public opinion sees preventive war as inadmissible, and a contravention of universal principles of justice. War will not help build a more peaceful and democratic, a freer and safer world.

At this time, it is vital to combine efforts and voices in order to identify and work towards a remedy for the factors that have led to the current situation. In order to bring about a radical change in current unilateral tendencies, there is a need to consolidate an ethical and legal framework that can offer the world's peoples hope of human dignity on a global scale, in a multilateral context.

To this end, I believe that the UN system needs to be fortified and democratised in order to perform fully the functions entrusted to it in the Charter. The G8 superpowers have demonstrated their inability to achieve world governance: multilateralism appears again indispensable. There is an urgent need to establish codes of conduct that guarantee its fulfilment by the states and supranational public and private bodies; to achieve the ratification of the statute of the International Criminal Court by all countries; to hold a General Assembly on peace, justice and security, in order to establish legal and ethical frameworks and punitive mechanisms for transgressors, and thus reduce the possibilities of violent action for isolated fanatical terrorist groups and to increase international cooperation promises. More than 30,000 human beings die every day of hunger and lack of access to basic health services. That is our only combat, our first objective - to avoid the “silent genocide” whose misery lies at the roots of radicalisation and violence.

It is not war but international justice and well-coordinated international cooperation that will substantially reduce many imbalances on a global scale and will lay the foundations for just and lasting peace.

© Federico Mayor 2003

Originally published as part of a debate on 6th February 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. II

See also Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


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