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Hon. Prof. Bob Carr

Former Foreign Minister of Australia & Industry
Professor, University of Technology S
ydney – AUSTRALIAHon. Prof. Bob Carr served as the Minister for Planning and Environment and as Leader of the Opposition until his election as Premier in March 1995. Hon. Prof. Carr received the World Conservation Union International Parks Merit Award for creating 350 new national parks. He was a member of the International Task Force on Climate Change convened by Tony Blair. Hon. Prof. Carr has served as Honorary Scholar of the Australian American Leadership Dialogue. Being the author of several books, he was appointed as the Professor of Industry in Climate and Business at the University of Technology Sydney in May 2019. Hon. Prof. Bob Carr discussed the importance of building peaceful, just and strong institutions to combat the challenges of internal conflicts, protecting the journalists and human rights defenders who risk their lives to monitor and report human rights violations. By focusing on the Agenda 2030, with the motto of “Leaving No One Behind”, Hon. Prof. Carr also underlined the role of collaboration between the states and non-governmental organizations to mitigate the national and international crisis.

We live in a time of substantial challenges. The global warming, which is confirming its reality year by year, shapes the world we live in and the challenge of producing a world where there is peace, justice and strong institutions. The leadership of the UN Secretary-General in drawing the world’s attention to the persistent challenge of climate is very valid because the problems we face in achieving peace, security and robust institutions is all greater given the difficulty the people of this planet have in surviving against sometimes catastrophically forceful changes in the way the natural world works.

Humanity has witnessed tragically a retreat of the civic space where people could operate independently of the government, make constructive criticisms, seek information and fight for their rights. For a lot of people, for far too many, the opportunity of speaking out and advancing the frontiers of freedom is becoming restricted and we need the views of global participants on the evidence of this. The civic space is becoming restricted and is not being expanded. The rulers can be persuaded to stick to the norms of political contestability and pluralism, by respecting the views of others, and not persecuting people for holding dissident opinions.

Today, societies tend to celebrate a dissident, especially when the forces of the state are turned against them. They represent a great vote of confidence in our culture, in our civilization, and we need more leaders to see that and to be persuaded not to resort to the easier task of closing down dissident voices, of limiting the room for difference or not permitting people who think they discriminated against or repressed to speak out and draw attention to their case. This has particular sensitivity to people already disadvantaged, in most cases, women and girls, immigrants, including those who suddenly find themselves without a nationality, at loose in the world, seeking a new home and persons of color, many times in the context of increasing conflicts and violence.

It is important to defend those who are now risking their lives seeking to disseminate public information. As a journalist myself, I feel particularly sensitive about the reporters, who are at risk in many jurisdictions from seeking the truth, and inform the public accordingly. There are many journalists in prison across the world. The UN has charted hundreds of cases where people have lost their freedom by attempting to exert their energies to obtain information. In the times of crises, people are empowered by their right to access true public information. Human rights defenders are traveling to riskier parts of the planet to monitor and report the case of people who have been dispossessed and are at risk. They need our support as well.

Agenda 2030 is declared to “leave no one behind” and therefore advancing sustainable development through human rights was elevated as an essential process promotion, protection of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, all this scene is essential to mitigate the national and international crisis. Member states and national human rights organizations and civil society need to speak again about the integration of human rights to create peaceful and just and strong institutions. The great threat is the shift in the world’s climate patterns and the destabilization of all aspects of human interaction as human beings living together on the planet. It calls for promoting democratic values integrally linked to SDG #16. The public should have confidence in the way its judicial systems, public ethics in public institutions work play themselves out.

Sadly according to Freedom House, there are 14 consecutive years in which global freedoms have declined. The humanity needs strong and respected global institutions; however, the freedom of the World 2020 challenged us by finding “the unchecked brutality of autocratic regimes and the ethical decay of democratic powers are combining to make the world increasingly hostile to fresh demands for better governance.”

The call should be towards an accountable governance that society needs to achieve together by rallying behind every effort in this direction. Report 2019 reminded us that the UN recorded and verified a total of 397 additional killings of human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists across the world. In 41 countries out of 190 countries or jurisdictions, where these violations can occur, member states and intergovernmental organizations have an obligation to protect the defenders and the reporters; otherwise, the recorders of fundamental rights being undermined or corroded.

In conclusion, the information is in fact vital. The world can’t make the right decisions if denied access to information about the condition of life on the planet. So, I would like to encourage everyone to push the agenda, to push the frontier so that we can see more clearly where to protect those at risk and entrench more robustly the rights to the fair hearing, we think, which goes with being a human being on planet Earth.