According to Oxfam, the eight richest persons in the world possess just as much wealth as the poorer half of humanity, i.e. 3.6 billion people. Other statistics also indicate that the gap between poor and rich is widening. By the same token, mounting inequality has dramatic repercussions: it jeopardises the political stability of countries, impedes efforts to combat poverty and makes the world economy more crisis-prone. Many people are losing their trust and confidence in the political system and feel like they have been left by it to twist in the wind. Inequality moreover cements the distribution of power and opportunities in society, threatening to become a Pandora's box over the long term.
Developments over the past few decades offer one explanation for the rise of conservative right-wing and populist movements: an economic system that benefits especially the top one per cent of humanity also explains disenchantment and political alienation among the remaining 99 per cent.
But how can this widening scissors movement be closed again? Recipes to date - structural reforms, more growth and redoubled efforts to combat poverty - are not having the desired effect. Inequality is not an engine of growth. On the contrary - it puts the brakes on economic development. In other words, more equal societies grow faster and better. And they have additional advantages: less crime, better health, less poverty. We want to have a wide-ranging, lively and open discussion about the impact of global inequality and how we can reverse this trend in a socially just manner over the long term with you and international experts, policy-makers, trade unionists and activists within the framework of this year's "International Week of Justice".
Today people are more mobile than ever before – but under greatly varying conditions. One in every seven persons is a migrant or fleeing somewhere. In spite of all the risks involved, thousands of people decide to leave their homeland day-in, day-out. Some move from the countryside to the city, others to safer or more prosperous parts of the country. Significantly fewer people cross national borders to reach other countries and continents. Exodus and migration are one of the 21st century’s most pressing political and social challenges.
The International Theme Week 2016, entitled »Time for Justice«, was staged under the banner of »people on the move«. We discussed the complex factors and policy options available to shape one of our century’s major challenges: »migration and exodus«.
Why do people leave their homes? Does Europe assume it's responsibility towards migrants and refugees? These two questions were at the core of many events of the International Week of Justice 2016.
With here microphone, Andrea Protscher captured what activists, experts and politicians have to say about the current situations in Syria, Afghanistan and countries of the global South, as well as about the highly controverial EU-Turkey-deal and the responsibility of the West. She also listened to a special bird and concludes: It is natural for living beings to migrate - and this topic is likely to move all of us for a very long time.
The FES-Podcast is available here for listening (in German):
Financial crash, climate change, environmental degradation – our times are marked by global crises. On top of it all we are witnessing a widening gap between rich and poor, while trust and confidence in democracy is on the wane. While the old industrialised countries are digging in to defend the profits they reap through globalisation, newly industrialising countries are catching up, growing in leaps and bounds. Both groups are scrambling for natural resources, markets and consumers – without worrying about the long-term consequences. Other countries are being left behind to twist in the wind.
There is an urgent need for structural changes and end to unlimited growth. What is needed is profound change towards greater social justice and environmental sustainability.
But how can this change be shaped and structured? Period of crisis will only become times of new beginnings if societal learning processes take hold, political mentalities change and alternatives surface. That is why it is important to designate topics, discuss issues and identify partners.
The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung tackled this challenge in the fourth international theme week »Time for Justice!«. It took place under the banner: #JUSTAINABILITY – paths towards just and sustainable societies. Experts and guests from all the world’s regions outlined and debated political alternatives in discussions and at conferences, over film, music and theatre.
Decent work is a key element to just societies.
And it is a human right that is independent of the social, cultural or economic foundations of a country. We understand »decent work« to mean: a right to work, free choice of where one works, decent and fair conditions, protection against unemployment, the same wage for the same work and free trade unions.
The status, standards and organisation of work as well as the rights of employees vary. Precarious and exploitative employment such as, for instance, suppression of a societal dialogue and autonomous trade unions always, however, contributes significantly to injustice and development blockages.
In many regions of the Global South, social insecurity – informal employment, deficient social security, low levels of participation in society – are a constant. But pressure on social achievements is also mounting in the industrialised countries. This crisis of work is a global phenomenon. Answers and solutions must be sought globally.
Under the banner of »Justice at Work!« the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung addressed this debate in the third international theme week of »Time for Justice!«. We looked for political alternatives together with experts and guests from all regions of the world in panel discussions, special conferences, workshops and readings.
Economic growth is still considered to be the engine of societal development – but no longer completely. Deregulation and liberalisation have boosted the profits and wealth of a few over the past decades, while social inequality has grown. The economic and financial crisis has once again shown that economic conditions have to be changed – globally!
How can we change things so as to benefit the common weal? How can we make our societies socially more just, ecologically more sustainable and more sensitive to gender? We are looking at different perspectives to find solutions for a more just social order which is not one-sidedly subject to the whims and vagaries of markets and global competition.
Justice is a crucial foundation for economic development and prosperity. In times of advancing globalization, there is an urgent need for new strategies and directions in order to be able to bring about a more just world. The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung faced up to this challenge by making »Economics and Justice« the topic of the International Justice Week 2012!
We worked jointly with experts and guests from all the regions of the world to demonstrate policy alternatives in panel discussions, conferences, workshops and readings.
Various dimensions of justice are regaining importance in national and international political debates. From a social democratic perspective, the three major global crises – social injustice, climate change as well as the economic and financial crisis – all go hand in hand with the question of which global policies could lead to just solutions. However, no country in the world can meet these challenges alone: answers must be sought at the international level.
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung made these questions of global justice the focus of debate within the framework of an International Week of Justice and sought policy answers in various conferences, panel discussions, readings and exhibitions on social, financial, climate and gender justice.
From the Arab Spring to the Global Health Fond, from the exploitation of workers to the social recognition of women - our brochure documents the highlights of the International Week of Justice 2011.