Published on 19 June 2008
Translations available in: français (original) . Español .

Presentation of the Charter to Colombian officers, May 2008

by Gustavo MARIN
Associated Central Topics: The military and responsibility .
Associated General Topics: Conflict management . Culture of peace .

A key document for dialogue in a difficult sociopolitical context

The Charter of Human Responsibilities was presented to the 300 officers of the Colombian Military Academy during the mission carried out in Colombia in May 2008 in the context of the work to build a global alliance of military personnel, by Gustavo Marin (Programme Director at the FPH and Director of the Forum for a New World Governance), with the French General (retired) Patrice Mompeyssin, Director of CiDAN (Good Citizenship, Army, Defence, Nation), the German Colonel (retired) Manfred Rosenberger (facilitator for the alliance of military) and Richard Pétris, (Director of the School of Peace in Grenoble, France). Gustavo explained the origins of the initiative, the philosophical and political roots that inspired it, the participative and intercultural methodology that made it possible to draw up the current version of the Charter, the facilitation work carried out by the International Charter Facilitation Committee, the appropriation of this Charter by various citizen alliances and socioprofessional networks, etc. He referred to South Africa’s Freedom Charter, to the pioneering efforts of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, to the philosophical reflections of Hans Jonas and Hannah Arendt...

Gustavo stressed the need to make this Charter of Human Responsibilities not only a “third pillar” of world governance (alongside the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations), but also, and especially in the case of Colombia, an essential ethical reference to guide the role of the armed forces in the Colombian conflict.

The Charter was projected onto a large screen in the centre of the military academy’s lecture hall. Gustavo read out and commented on three principles:

* Lasting peace can only be expected from freedom, justice and processes for reconciliation which are respectful of human dignity and human rights.

* The exercise of power is legitimate where it serves the common good, and if it is accountable to those over whom it is exercised.

* In reaching decisions about short-term priorities, evaluation of long-term consequences must concur with ethical priorities of justice.

Next Richard Pétris focussed his talk on new security and defence concepts and the conference was brought to a close by a presentation given jointly by Patrice Mompeyssin and Manfred Rosenberger on the lessons from building peace in Europe after the Second World War, in particular through the example of Franco-German fraternity.

Following these presentations a very animated debate took place with the officers. Some questions were particularly hotly debated: How can the Charter of Human Responsibilities help the Colombian army to defeat the FARC? Lasting peace can only be expected from justice, but what kind of justice? How can the Colombian army wage war and respect human rights? What role can be played by dialogue between the army and civil society in building a lasting peace?

This experiment illustrates the relevance of the Charter of Human Responsibilities as a document of reflection on ethical dilemmas, particularly those of actors confronted with a violent conflict.

Several hundred copies of the new version of the Charter of Human Responsibilities booklet will be sent to Henry Medina and his team in Colombia - partners of the alliance of military personnel - to be distributed to the officers of the Military Academy, the Ministry of Defence, the command of the armed forces, the leaders of the associations for retired officers, the Colombian association of economists, partners of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation - partner of the FPH in Colombia -, etc.


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