Alfred de Zayas: A new social contract for the new millennium

Inter­view with Professor Dr. iur. et phil. Alfred de Zayas: 


„… intro­duc­tion of a world parlia­men­tary assembly is worth considering …“

The new mill­en­nium is going to confront mankind with new and complex chal­lenges: When the United Nations had been estab­lished in 1945 the world popu­la­tion amounted to only 2.5 billion people and had been poli­ti­cally divided into two blocs. 78 years later 8 billion plus people inhabit the globe with the former bi-polar world order seemingly gone. Addi­tional state actors have joined the concert of global powers and a para­digm shift seems the order of the day.

Alfred de Zayas is Professor of Inter­na­tional Law at the Geneva School of Diplo­macy. He has held senior posi­tions with the United Nations and Secre­ta­riat of the High Commis­sioner for Human Rights. We asked Professor Alfred de Zayas about the current state of global affairs, envi­saged shifts as well as future challenges:

Ques­tion: After World War II the UN had been set-up, whereby its statutes has reflected the power struc­ture based on the former victor-states: A total of five World War II winner-states seem still in control of the five perma­nent member‚s seats of the 15-nation UN Secu­rity Council. Inter­na­tional orga­niza­tions are poised for an increase of future importance and after 75 years a reor­ga­niza­tion of the UN seems overdue: Where do you see the grea­test demands respec­tively which plans of reform do you consider most pressing?

AdZ: A reor­ga­niza­tion of the UN and espe­ci­ally the Secu­rity Council has become overdue. A UN commis­sion has been studying options for more than 10 years. At his time, Secre­tary General Kofi Annan proposed an expan­sion of the member­ship of the Council from 15 to 25 in order to achieve a better parti­ci­pa­tion of all regions and count­ries: With more influence and repre­sen­ta­tion for states like India, Indo­nesia, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico as well as Japan and Germany. In my report to the General Assembly in the year 2013 I have intro­duced a number of cons­truc­tive reforms5 with some of them executed:

In 2013 the book ‚Trans­forming the United Nation‚s System: Designs for a Workable World‚ by Joseph Schwartz­berg was published by the UN. The book conveys the need for elec­toral reforms of the General Assembly, the possi­bi­lity of a weighted elec­toral system, propo­sals for a World Parlia­men­tary Assembly with repre­sen­ta­tives of civil society elected by the people as well as options for reforming the Secu­rity Council like incre­asing member­ship and aboli­shing the veto. Further, conver­ting the Economic and Social Council into a new struc­ture of regional assem­blies, a streng­thened Human Rights Council as well as the coor­di­na­tion of specia­lized agen­cies, fonds and commis­sions with an increased parti­ci­pa­tion of NGOs and other none govern­ment actors.

Ques­tion: What you suggest had to be kept in mind first and foremost? 

AdZ: The prio­rity for the United Nations and our world is peace. That is why peace must be reco­gnized as a human right1. As early as November 1984 the United Nations passed a reso­lu­tion Res. 39/112 on the right of all peoples to live in peace, but it has not progressed: Instead hundreds of new wars had occurred since World War II. In 2014 UNESCO has passed a decla­ra­tion on the Culture of Peace3 as well as the Consul­ta­tive Committee of the Human Rights Council. However, the last reso­lu­tion of the Human Rights Council for the right to peace has turned out weaker than the old reso­lu­tion 39/11. The ille­gi­ti­mate refusal to have the right of self-deter­mi­na­tion exer­cised has become one of the most common causes of wars. The United Nations would consis­t­ently have to ensure, that refe­renda were enforced by preven­ting disputes over self-deter­mi­na­tion to turn into local, regional or inter­na­tional wars. As stated in para­graph 80 as the opinion of the Inter­na­tional Court of Justice on Kosovo, one should finally accept that the prin­ciple of terri­to­rial inte­grity cannot under­mine the peoples‘ right of self-deter­mi­na­tion4. Enfor­cing the peoples‘ right of self-deter­mi­na­tion, as stipu­lated in Article I of the UN Covenant on Civil and Poli­tical Rights, repres­ents an emin­ently peace-promo­ting – and conflict avoi­ding strategy.

Ques­tion: In case those overdue reforms by the UN were not attended, could this even­tually lead to the estab­lish­ment of parallel organizations? 

AdZ: Unfort­u­na­tely yes, since the fate of the world has been too much influenced by the World Economic Forum and other globalist‚s actors. A World Parlia­men­tary Assembly would be better and more demo­cratic. In my report from the year 2013, addressed to the General Assmebly5, I stated:

Among other initia­tives of civil society the intro­duc­tion of a World Parlia­men­tary Assembly 6 or a United Nations Parlia­men­tary Assembly were worth to consider. The former Secre­tary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali declared: „A United Nations Parlia­men­tary Assembly – a global body of elected repre­sen­ta­tives – could entrust our insti­tu­tions of global gover­nance with unpre­ce­dented demo­cratic legi­ti­macy, trans­pa­rency and accoun­ta­bi­lity.„7

It would be the stated goal to elimi­nate demo­cratic defi­cits and provide a voice to the global public opinion of all citi­zens regar­ding global decis­ions by elected offi­cials. Such an assembly could be estab­lished either by a vote of the General Assembly under Article 22 of the UN Charter or on the basis of a new inter­na­tional treaty between govern­ments to be flanked by an agree­ment linking them with the United Nations. None of the mecha­nisms require a change or reform of the UN Charter. Contri­bu­tions from citi­zens by parti­ci­pa­ting in an inde­pen­dent World-Assembly or Parlia­men­tary Assembly of the United Nations in an advi­sory capa­city, repre­sen­ting both people and states, would confer increased legi­ti­macy on global decisions.

Ques­tion: The work of the poli­tical scien­tist Arjun Chowd­hury reve­aled, that two thirds of all count­ries world-wide seem unable to secure their own basic needs. Without help from the outside they would either collapse or been taken over. How could such poten­tial of conflicts be defused or contained best?

AdZ: Inter­na­tional aid does not mean charity. It’s about helping deve­lo­ping count­ries to feed them­selves. So far, the Inter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund and the World Bank have largely failed.8    The preven­tion of conflicts remains the most urgent task of the United Nations. There are enough special commis­sions and commit­tees. What is missing is the poli­tical will of the rich count­ries. Of course, our planet can feed ever­yone, but with the right prio­ri­ties in place. The world is wasting billions of money  in armed conflicts, the arms race or produc­tion of even more deadly weapons. In the United States, at least 40% of the budget is wasted on mili­tary spen­ding. That must have an end and our mantra should state: Disar­ma­ment for deve­lo­p­ment. A human right for deve­lo­p­ment corre­spon­ding to Article 1 of the UN Charter and UN Decla­ra­tion on the Right to Deve­lo­p­ment does exist indeed. Mean­while the SDG – Sustainable Deve­lo­p­ment Goals – are supposed to be met by 2030. This is abso­lutely possible, but will require conti­nuous activities.

Ques­tion: The global condi­tions today reflect extreme dispa­ri­ties. Agenda 21 – an UN action plan from 1992 – was intended to coun­teract the looming threat of future uphe­avals. What has been achieved so far? What went wrong against this plan? Where do you see today’s prio­ri­ties and most important need of actions?

AdZ: Agenda 21 was a noble idea. It was caused by the euphoria after the implo­sion of the Soviet Union as reflected in the book by Francis Fuku­yama “The end of history”. But the problems persist and have grown bigger since then. Defo­re­sta­tion, as we know it from studies by the WWF, has steadily been progres­sing in Brazil, Africa and Asia. Biden allows the US to return to the Paris Climate Agree­ment again and the climate change – and biodi­ver­sity conven­tions might get streng­thened. Further­more, the exis­ting mecha­nisms regar­ding the UN Envi­ron­mental Program (UNEP) will require a much better finan­cing. Unfort­u­na­tely, too much money has been wasted on wars and the arms race. My report to the Human Rights Council from 2014 refers to that issues10.

Ques­tion: Might a Secu­rity Council of global alli­ances with a more balanced power struc­ture form a suitable alter­na­tive and able to break the given blockades?

AdZ: I view this scep­tical. In any case, China and India should be more closely engaged. They entail 2.8 billion people, who must not be negle­cted. Both states should be incre­asingly involved in peace­kee­ping measures. Peace­kee­ping by the United States and NATO has not worked. In addi­tion, the United States has committed the grea­test crime against peace since the Nurem­berg Trials, namely the 2003 inva­sion of Iraq, which Kofi Annan had branded an „illegal war“. Worse still, the US had corrupted the system into a “coali­tion of the willing”, whereas a total of 43 states had parti­ci­pated in this revolt against the UN Charter and inter­na­tional law. All those have been UN member states supposed to be bound by the UN Charter – in parti­cular by Art. 2 (4). Instead it turned into a grotesque viola­tion of inter­na­tional law and mega-crime against peace and stability.

I would like to see the powers of the UN Secre­tary General expanded for exer­cising his right of initia­tive, e.g. with the autho­rity to refer legal ques­tions for assess­ment directly to the Inter­na­tional Court of Justice. There are many mecha­nisms in the UN exis­ting, which have been unde­r­uti­lized. The UN should act proac­tively and show much more initiative.

Ques­tion: The Asian states are rated only second within the struc­tures of the World Bank and IMF, but are about to exert decisive influence on economic growth globally: Do you see a need of reform for these inter­na­tional orga­niza­tions, as their statutes seem outdated by dating back to the 1945 as well?

AdZ: The Bretton Woods insti­tu­tions should be reformed or abolished. In prin­ciple, they prima­rily serve the inte­rests of the United States, but not the world commu­nity. Other multi­la­teral agree­ments could be created. Unfort­u­na­tely World Bank and IMF have acted too often against the UN Charter. The policy of so-called ‚austerity measures‘ or ‚cost cuts ‘ in the social domain should finally be discon­tinued. However, ‚austerity drives‘ should find their way into the sector mili­tary. It means: No arms race, no wars and no ‚regime change‚ acti­vi­ties any more, like with Ukraine in 2014 & 2022 respec­tively or Bolivia in 2019. Further, the terms of lending by the IMF should undergo radical reforms9.

Ques­tion: In their report – “The Crises of Demo­cracy” – on the ‚governa­bi­lity of demo­cra­cies‘ to the Trila­teral Commis­sion (Source: Crozier, Michel / Huntington, Samuel P./Watanuki, Joji: The Crisis of Demo­cracy. Report on the Governa­bi­lity of Demo­cra­cies to the Trila­teral Commis­sion. New York: New York Univer­sity Press 1975) the three authors conclude, that the demo­cratic process in the USA is not influenced by external factors … but rather threa­tened by the „internal dyna­mics of demo­cracy itself, through a highly educated, mobile parti­ci­pa­tory society”. Has this very conclu­sion in 1975 in that report addressed to its prin­ci­pals trig­gered the subse­quent assault by trans­na­tional forces against the ‚middle class‚ as still exis­ting pillar of our indus­trial society by attemp­ting to get rid of them as a supposed unwel­come competition?

AdZ: We are not aware of any demo­cracy in the United States – it looks like an empty bowl, a label, a farce. In Switz­er­land we enjoy a semi-demo­cracy, whereas Swiss citi­zens may enact their right for an initia­tive by propo­sing new legis­la­tion. In Switz­er­land the right of refe­ren­dums have conti­nuously been exer­cised. The United States are ruled by lobbies, the mili­tary-indus­trial complex and the Wall Street of course. With the option to vote every two and four years, the right to vote is not demo­cratic – it repres­ents not a real choice: A progres­sive candi­date has abso­lutely no chance – like e.g. Congress­woman Tulsi Gabbard, who had been finished by the press. The US elec­tions resemble sporting events by betting on team A or B. Like­wise “repre­sen­ta­tive demo­cracy” will fail, because its repre­sen­ta­tives do not repre­sent citi­zens, but lobbies. The middle class remains more or less power­less. In addi­tion, there rule fake news with crucial infor­ma­tion missing, which will expose the crowd to mani­pu­la­tion and indoctrination.

 Ques­tion: After 1975 and that signal against the middle class, the growth of the middle class in Western count­ries has actually been reversed. Like­wise, the current ‚lock­downs‘ seem to target the middle again. Who are the ulti­mate bene­fi­ci­a­ries of such tendencies?

AdZ: The large trans­na­tional corpo­ra­tions – they grow and support them­selves. It was auda­cious how banks and their respon­sible ‚banks­ters‚, who had caused the great economic crisis over the years 2007 – 2008, had been bailed out instead of being brought to justice.

Ques­tion: Prior to hot wars, so-called “sanc­tions” are often applied. How do you see such precur­sors – just short of war?

AdZ: From my point of view sanc­tions are considered methods of non-targeted – or indis­cri­mi­nate weapons, which kill indis­cri­mi­na­tely and result in ‚coll­ec­tive punish­ment‘. Both offenses are prohi­bited under inter­na­tional – and huma­ni­ta­rian law. The economic sanc­tions by the US imposed on Cuba, Vene­zuela, Syria and Iran consti­tute viola­tions of the UN human rights trea­ties and Geneva Conven­tions. They violate the right of life of the poorest and have caused thou­sands of victims, like 40,000 casu­al­ties in Vene­zuela in 201810 without coun­ting the ones over the follo­wing years. Sanc­tions sanc­tions fall under the crimes against huma­nity in viola­tion of Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the Inter­na­tional Criminal Court. These offenses may also be labelled as ’state terro­rism‘ by expo­sing people to innu­me­rable suffe­rings and arbitrariness.

With regard to Inter­ven­tions, I have made clear in nume­rous of my reports to the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council and stated: The criminal doctrine R2P – Respon­si­bi­lity to Protect or duty to inter­vene – accor­ding to Orwel­lian news­peak, repres­ents a pure hoax in order to under­mine the prohi­bi­tion of violence as per Article 2 ( 4) of the UN Charter. Instead it repres­ents only a reso­lu­tion (Res. 60/1) from the year 2015 and fails to weaken the ius cogensthe manda­tory law – as an over­ri­ding prohi­bi­tion of violence accor­ding to the UN Charter.

Further, inter­ven­tions without Secu­rity Council autho­riza­tion, like in the wake of the conflicts in Yugo­slavia (1999), Iraq (2003), or in Nagorno-Kara­bakh by Azer­baijan with Turkey (2020), consti­tute a crime of aggres­sion under the Rome Statute, which falls under the juris­dic­tion of the Inter­na­tional Criminal Court in The Hague: It can open inves­ti­ga­tions in due process, which may end with convictions.

Ques­tion: Moun­ting global problems and an increase of the world popu­la­tion have posed immense chal­lenges. What role and contri­bu­tions for solving that situa­tion do you expect from world religions?

AdZ:  The world‚s reli­gions bear a share of respon­si­bi­lity for the misery we are expe­ri­en­cing. Reli­gion is not just a rite – not just belie­ving in Jehovah, Christ or Allah. But reli­gion means commit­ment, means not only worship but also pro-active charity. I am a Catholic myself and regret that the Catholic Church has done too little in their fight against disaster capi­ta­lism – accor­ding to Naomi Klein – and not fought more strongly and have it declared in total contra­dic­tion with the New Testa­ment. I am very concerned about the radi­cal­iza­tion of Islam, a reli­gion that seems very much in need of reform. There are of course good priests, bishops and popes. There are good Protes­tant pastors, rabbis, and good imans. But I don’t think the majo­rity of them live up to their respon­si­bi­li­ties. I am concerned that reli­gions could be misused once again to not promote peace, but incite crusades or jihads against people of other faith.

Ques­tion : Are the world reli­gions still suffi­ci­ently placed at the centre or being pushed further and further aside to the fringe by secular or over­whel­ming poli­tical forces?

AdZ: The world reli­gions have been pushed aside since long. In fact, there is a new “secular-Reli­gion“ respec­tively „substi­tute-Reli­gion“ in place known as „human rights“. Those kind of “human rights” have been abused dogma­ti­cally. In my reports to the General Assembly and to the Human Rights Council, I have often referred to the “weapo­niza­tion of  human rights” and have it proven. The idea of “human dignity”- the source of all human rights – seems lost. It can be seen how human rights are applied selec­tively: one time this way – next time the other way around. One sees how viola­tions of human rights committed by our “allies” are ignored or tole­rated, and only acts of our “enemies” or “geopo­li­tical oppon­ents” would be denounced. I call this “human rights à la carte”. It can be observed ever­y­where how certain human rights are abused in order to margi­na­lize or abolish human rights in the real sense. In the West, the right to private property rules above all. However, there remains precious little concern for the right to food, water or shelter. Further, human rights in line with the Zeit­geist enjoy enormous ‚popu­la­rity‚. I feel it similar to “ fashion trends”,  such as those “new” LGBT rights . Why such a thing – aren’t we all the same? Don’t we all have the same rights or is there a desire to create special rights or privi­leges? Anyone who does not comply uncon­di­tio­nally will be imme­dia­tely put in the corner. What has remained of the right to freedom of expres­sion today? Do we all have to hold a uniform opinion or suffer discri­mi­na­tion with social exclu­sion after having infringed on it?

Ques­tion: Even before the epoch of great secu­la­riza­tion, Jean-Jack Rous­seau assumed that Chris­tia­nity, with its claim to autho­rity and its focus on the after­life, had been under­mi­ning the unity of the state. In his work “The Social Contract (1760)”, Rous­seau urged a kind of “repu­blican state reli­gion” or “civil reli­gion” to coun­teract those perceived weak­ne­sses of the state. Have exces­si­vely strong secular-indus­trial deve­lo­p­ments since then even­tually led to a reversed situation? 

AdZ:  Exactly – Chris­tia­nity is the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew V, 1–9). Chris­tia­nity matches the seven works of mercy (Matthew XXV, 36–37). Rousseau’s “social contract” is based on a certain idea­liza­tion of the human being, which does reflect a certain mora­lity and ethics. Rous­seau believed in human dignity and the good in people. Today people pay lip service to human dignity – but nothing more. It’s shocking how good ideas and moti­va­tions have turned into terrible dysto­pias. Think of „La Terreur“  – the Reign of Terror under the French Revo­lu­tion and  the Comité de Salut Public – the Welfare Committe  by then –  or its “Master of Virtue” Maxi­mi­lien Fran­çois Marie Isidore de Robes­pierre. Think of Pol Pot in Cambodia. Fana­tics will always exist, unfortunately.

Ques­tion: In 2011, a scien­tific study by the ETH Zurich has shown: 147 super-connected trans­na­tional corpo­ra­tions control more than 40% of the global economy. Does this mino­rity of trans­na­tional mono­po­lists seek to extend similar control over the poli­tical sphere on top of their economic interests?

AdZ: They have been doing that for a long time and with success. It’s unbe­lie­vable how they act against the social policy of many states. I have analysed the infa­mous “free trade agree­ments” and the investor protec­tion chap­ters in two reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, and I have been able to point out horrific cases. The so-called investor-state dispute sett­le­ment Arbi­tra­tions – for the sett­le­ment of disputes between inves­tors and states – violate contra bonos mores – all good manners- and are an aberra­tion. This arbi­tra­tion has prevented many states, for example, from raising minimum wages or from closing envi­ron­men­tally hazar­dous indus­trial plants like certain mines12.

Ques­tion: The scien­tific maga­zine ‚New Scien­tist‘ called those global cartel struc­tures a ‚capi­ta­list network‘. It is diffi­cult to speak about some­thing that holds so far only to an unspe­cific name. Could you think of a better desi­gna­tion for those supposed global rulers of the world?

AdZ: Naomi Klein in her book ‚The Shock Doctrine‘ speaks of ‚disaster capi­ta­lism‘. I would use terms like finan­cial mafia or vulture capi­ta­lists.

They behave quite like racke­teers, gangs­ters, crooks or cutthroats.  Anti-trust criminal legis­la­tion should be brought into effect against them, because they engage in schemes and frauds that are against the good of people. Their latest hoax is called ‚Great Reset‚ – ‚The Great Turn­around‚: An attack of epic dimensions.

Ques­tion: What control elements do these globa­lists have to use due to their (too) small numbers or “ staff shortage”, if compared with the world population?

AdZ: The number of actors is indeed limited, but they have their ’secret socie­ties ‘ – de facto secret socie­ties respec­tively not-so-secret circles. The outwardly visible orga­niza­tions are known as the World Economic Forum, Atlantic Council, Council on Foreign Rela­tions, Club of Rome, „World Govern­ment Summit“, Trila­teral Commis­sion and of course the Bilder­berger. In addi­tion there are foun­da­tions, such as the Bertels­mann Foun­da­tion from Germany, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Aspen Insti­tute, the Heri­tage Foun­da­tion or the American Enter­prise Insti­tute in the US and others.

Ques­tion: Are the remai­ning six U.S. media cartels and three (last) autho­ri­ta­tive press agen­cies controlled by govern­mental or supra­na­tional circles?

AdZ: The media cartels are Orwel­lian cons­tructs, enemies of freedom of expres­sion, enemies of plura­lism, enemies of human dignity. They mani­pu­late us all. It is almost impos­sible to escape them, as the Internet has also been controlled and censored, as quickly demons­trated by dealing with ’search engines‘ e.g. from Google, Bing or Ecosia: Poli­ti­cally correct results are given prio­rity. It takes great persis­tence to find the infor­ma­tion you are looking for on the last pages with luck. The algo­rithms are the weapons of the cura­tors over the Internet to hide infor­ma­tion harm­lessly behind all data garbage.

Ques­tion: Do you see conflicts of inte­rest in the fact that 193+2 UN member states allow parts of their UN orga­niza­tion to be alimented by finan­cial means of trans­na­tional sources?

AdZ: The United Nations needs money: It is a great pity that CERN – the Euro­pean Council for Nuclear Rese­arch - after their deve­lo­p­ment of the World-Wide-Web, had not donated the enormous income poten­tial from that source to the world for free. If every user of the Internet had just given away one cent to the UN, the funding of the UN would have been secured for decades and there would not have been a need for any other ques­tionable cross-finance.

Ques­tion: What measures do you propose to effec­tively limit and push back the poli­tical and mono­po­li­stic ambi­tions of trans­na­tional entities?

AdZ : You would have to start with educa­tion. During three years of my law studies at Harvard,  the word ‚ethics‘ had never surfaced. One is condi­tioned to make money only and use all means to be a winner: ‚The Winner takes it all‘ – that is the menta­lity of most lawyers and Wall Street repre­sen­ta­tives. No one sees himself as a member of a society. It’s all about ‚indi­vi­dua­lism‘ – the so-called ‚adver­sary system‘ accor­ding to Anglican common law.  Not even most of all judges seem inspired by the idea of ‚justice‘.  It’s all about pure ‚posi­ti­vism‘, and applying unjust laws in a way to preserve the status quo.

Of course, anti-trust criminal laws against mono­po­lies could put some limits on economic crimi­na­lity. In addi­tion to fines, however, manage­ment bodies, such as boards of direc­tors, should face jail sentences, if convicted. That, they would remember quite well.

Ques­tion: What do you under­stand under the new formula, known as “The Great Reset”?

AdZ: A great hoax to ensure that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We don’t need a top-down economic order that conforms to the ideas of only self-appointed elites. The World Economic Forum should be dissolved. A properly funded World Social Forum, which has been orga­nized from the bottom up would be preferable to the WEF. It is neces­sary to remain vigi­lant against corrup­tion based on known human weak­ness and nature, and to coun­teract with crea­ti­vity the under­mi­ning of human rights and economic exploitation.

Ques­tion: Mr. Schwab from the WEF said: “Now is the historic moment not only for the survival of the system, but also to fight for its trans­for­ma­tion: For the post-Corona era.” What could Mr. Schwab possibly have unders­tood under “system”?

AdZ: Now is indeed the oppor­tu­nity to make the global economy more people-friendly, to change prio­ri­ties and focus on the right to educa­tion, health and better working condi­tions, as well as on human rights.  Fine words and lip service have been paid to this by the WEF. But I doubt that Klaus Schwab actually wants a system that makes it harder for the elites to get hold of ever­y­thing.  A system of laws that strives for the good of the people, puts people above profit, abolishes tax havens and wants to limit specu­la­tion – that’s what I want to see!

Ques­tion: Who created the exis­ting „system“, operated it world­wide or has been respon­sible for it until today?

AdZ: These are the banks and the mili­tary-indus­trial complex as well as trans­na­tional busi­ness struc­tures, in asso­cia­tion with the consul­ting and audi­ting firms, such as Price Water­house Deloitte, Ernst & Young or KPM . My reports to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council examined the role of the large law firms, which, toge­ther with banks on behalf of large corpo­ra­tions such as Google or Apple, created sophisti­cated legal cons­tructs that harm and defraud society.

In my 2016 report to the General Assembly A / 71/286 5, I suggested the follo­wing measures on the topic of tax and mili­tary spen­ding, among others: “… A draft bill in the UK seeks to reco­gnize the right of indi­vi­duals to opt out of wars for moral reasons and not pay taxes for wars considered immoral. If govern­ments reco­gnized this right and used the taxes of consci­en­tious objec­tors of war services for conflict preven­tion measures, it would be a signi­fi­cant step for civi­liza­tion.”13

Tax avoid­ance, tax evasion and tax havens deprive count­ries of the income neces­sary to fulfil human rights treaty obli­ga­tions, fight poverty, improve the admi­nis­tra­tion of justice, guarantee legal assis­tance for victims of human rights viola­tions, build infra­struc­ture, create jobs and provide employ­ment along with social secu­rity, quality health services and free education …

To this end,  Dwight D. Eisen­hower remarked aptly13: „Every weapon made, every warship laun­ched, every missile fired is ulti­m­ately a theft from all those who are hungry and not fed, who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms not only needs money. It also consumes the sweat of its workers, the genius of its scien­tists, and the hopes of its children.“

Ques­tion: The Execu­tive Director of the WFP, D. Beasley, has warned of the worst huma­ni­ta­rian crisis in 75 years that the world could face in 2021: “135 million people are already on the verge of star­va­tion due to mili­tary conflicts – but because of Covid-19 the number of victims would double to 270 million. Does this ‚golden oppor­tu­nity‘ (Prince Charles) or ‚great oppor­tu­nity‘ (K. Geogiewa – Chairman of  IMF) for the so-called Great Reset justify 135 million deaths from starvation?”

AdZ: As I wrote recently in an article for the South-Center 14 not with regard to the Great Reset but refer­ring to a new Social Contract, among others: “The post-Covid world requires a new social contract. The Secre­tary-General of the United Nations should convene a world confe­rence based on multi­la­te­ra­lism and inter­na­tional soli­da­rity. This would bring a para­digm shift for the prevai­ling economic, trade and social models. Govern­ments bear respon­si­bi­lity for unba­lanced resource allo­ca­tions when­ever mili­tary spen­ding takes prece­dence over invest­ments in health, educa­tion and people-centered infra­struc­ture. A new func­tional para­digm for human rights should address previous fault lines and enact new cate­go­ries of enab­ling rights, inherent rights, proce­dural rights and terminal rights to ensure human dignity and deve­lo­p­ment for all.”15

Ques­tion: Would it make sense to promote as well the sustainable indus­tria­liza­tion of previously negle­cted regions in the inte­rior of the conti­nents in accordance with the Belt & Road Initia­tive as part of the expan­sion of the New Silk Road toge­ther with China?

AdZ: I consider this to be sensible and neces­sary. But that would require better suitable opinion leaders with the mass media, who instead are mostly found on the side of the exploiters.

Ques­tion: Does govern­ment inter­fe­rence in private and family life in the wake of the Covid-19 lock­downs, consti­tute viola­tions of Article 8(2) of the ECHR – Euro­pean Conven­tion of Human Rights?

AdZ: The prin­ciple of propor­tio­na­lity must always be upheld. Inter­fe­rence in private and family life is permis­sible only under very specific condi­tions. These condi­tions do not exist today. Ther­e­fore, viola­tions under Articles 17 and 23 of the UN Covenant on Civil and Poli­tical Rights arise, which also consti­tute a viola­tion of Article 8(2) of the ECHR.

Ques­tion: High levels of govern­ment debt and urgen­cies due to global chal­lenges ahead do recom­mend drasti­cally reduced and limited expen­dit­ures on the mili­tary-indus­trial complex in favour of civil deve­lo­p­ment projects world­wide. What are the obsta­cles stan­ding in the way of a global disar­ma­ment initiative? 

AdZ: The mili­tary-indus­trial-finan­cial complex will do anything to prevent the reduc­tion of mili­tary spen­ding. The beha­viour of defence compa­nies such as Lock­heed Martin or Boeing should fall under the legal concept of ‚hostis humani generis‘, which derives from ancient Mari­time Law, which had once had labelled pirates and slave owners ‚enemies of huma­nity‘ and having them declared outlaws and pariahs.

My 2014 report to the UN Human Rights Council includes specific propo­sals14 addressed to various target groups, such as states, parlia­ments, civil society and the UN Human Rights Council, to change the situa­tion. My recom­men­da­tions to the inter­na­tional commu­nity include the follo­wing reform proposals:

“States should provide the Human Rights Council with regular infor­ma­tion on their mili­tary spen­ding in compa­rison with spen­ding on educa­tion, health care, admi­nis­tra­tion of justice etc. States should ensure that their data comply with the requi­re­ments of the Human Rights Council and with­stand its regular review mecha­nism. Govern­ments should be persuaded to devote a larger percen­tage of their budget on the promo­tion of civil, cultural, economic, poli­tical and social rights and to make concrete propo­sals for their shift from the mili­tary to the civi­lian sector. The mili­tary spen­ding of states in conflict zones and inter­na­tio­nally disputed areas that had led to occu­pa­tion, colo­niza­tion and explo­ita­tion should also be subject of regular review.

Sustainable solu­tions in rela­tion to inter­na­tional finan­cial crises as well as displaced econo­mies follow the insight that exces­sive mili­tary budgets and armies as well as nuclear arse­nals repre­sent mere anachro­nisms. Civil society demands trans­pa­rency, accoun­ta­bi­lity and, above all, the right to effec­tive parti­ci­pa­tion in setting budget prio­ri­ties, which must not remain in the hands of defence compa­nies and their lobbyists.”

Ques­tion: The level of defence spen­ding by indi­vi­dual states seems globally widely distorted: U.S. spen­ding in this regard exceeds the cumu­la­tive annual mili­tary spen­ding of the next ten count­ries follo­wing the U.S. in rank of order. What measures do you propose in the long run to have global disar­ma­ment initia­tives more effec­tively enforced?

AdZ: It would be the task of the media for conveying this to the popu­la­tion. But this presumes that the mass media were not subor­di­nated to the mili­tary-indus­trial-finan­cial complex. A non-govern­mental orga­niza­tion like the Inter­na­tional Peace Bureau tried its best, but for example had to close its office in Geneva three years ago due to lack of funding. The UN could and should be even more pro-active in this regard.

Ques­tion: Does this require the crea­tion of possible new inter­na­tional bodies or orga­niza­tions? If so, and taking into account useful lessons learned from your past expe­ri­ences with and within the UN, how could these become orga­nized best?

AdZ: Prio­rity must be given to streng­thening exis­ting mecha­nisms. To this end, the United Nations must be better financed and the Disar­ma­ment Confe­rence in Geneva revived. Under no circum­s­tances must we give up: Gutta cavat lapidemsteady drops will hollow-out the stone. It is a matter of conveying the right messages: If the people knew what we know, they would vote for other poli­ti­cians and enforce a diffe­rent budge­tary policy.

Professor de Zayas – we would like to thank for that interview!

The inter­view was conducted by Unser-Mitteleuropa

German version: Here

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