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The Politics of a New Generation Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Lewis Best, Australia Apr 10, 2006
Child & Youth Rights , Poverty , Human Rights   Opinions
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As a 17 year old, I nevr know if I should be commenting on social issues that i see around me. Sure, I know that many encourage the participation of youth in various levels of decision-making, policy formulation and the such, but sometimes i still feel as if I need to know more, or experince more, before I can comment on society and politics.

But then again, who makes anyone else more 'qualified,' to use a better term, than another person? At any rate, theres something that I have noiced recently, and has perhaps been playing itself out for quite some time. To me, the real politics of our time seems to be played out by the public; by lobby groups, action groups, opinion articles in established newspapers, through the media and through the general public voice. Politicians, on the other hand, have found themselves tangled in beaurocratic red tape, forced to shake hands, committ to various projects, but rarely follow through. At a domestic level, the extent to which this carries itself out may vary incredibly, as I am only speaking from personal experience and my own views and context. However, in the area of international politics, red tape seems to trip many a politician up, while lobby groups and the public are left standing, waiting for definitive action, while receiving watered-down pledges and communiques which amount to, well, not much. Or rather, nothing that the internationl public wants, or in fact needs.

I realise that this is a generalisation. However, in my opinion, it is time to stop advocating political correct solutions, and is time to start pushing for right and effective solutions to international problems. I am personally very passionate about the global campaign to end poverty, and I see the Millennium Development Goals as the definative document on hw to halve global poverty by 2015. Yet time is running out, fast. There is less than 10 years left, and the OECD nations, as a whole, haven't even pledged to give 0.5% of their GNI, let alone 0.7%. Political correct dealings often lead to inadequate responses to pressing problems, and in the 21st century, this needs to stop. Is it really that hard for a government to pledge 0.7% of its GNI to international aid and development programs? Does the EU and the USA need to continue with its trade policies, which are crippling many developing countries? Will a relaxation on unfair trade policies really hurt these developed countries economies to the extent where they will loose vast amounts of money?

I recently read that in a survey of a sample group of Americans, they thought that the American governemnt gave somewhere between 10% and 25% of its GNI to internationa aid programs and initiatives. Only a very small percentage estimated correctly that the US government gives below 1% of its GNI towards aid programs.

For the global movement against poverty, 2005 was a year in which many pledges were made. Many were incredible and much-appreciated, while others were less than what was expected.For 2006 and beyond, it is up to the international public to keep our governments accountable, and let them know how we want them to tackles issues such as poverty. The Global Call to Action Against Poverty recently renewed their call for the eradication of extreme poverty by 2015 in a recent international planning meeting in Beirut. In the "Beirut declaration," GCAP demands four things, which the developed and developing world must take into account. They are:
• Public accountability, just governance and the fulfilment of human rights
• Trade justice
• A major increase in the quantity and quality of aid and financing for development
• Debt cancellation

Are these demands too much? No. Can the world afford it? Yes. Is there enough political will in our governemts to enact the changes needed? Not yet.

The politics of social justice has been given the international platform it needs. It is not just the movement against poverty that can experience massive changes, but any movement that focuses on social justice (and this encompasses many varied and different movements) and equality can come out and make a difference.

The politics I see played out by many of the politicians involved in government is not the politics that i see when I look at the world's movements against injustice. That politics is a 'politics' that has passion and energy, and an unbreakable willbehind it. It transcends the boundaries between the Left and Right, and resonates with the core of humanity.

Yet, it seems as if many governments are fearful of enacting change. Nelson Mandela said that "it sometimes fall upon a generation to be great." He also said that that generation can be us.

No, I'm not calling for a "worldwide revolution," or for sume revolutionary generation to be raised up in order to enact change themselves. No. What I do wish for, however, is the realisation that the 21st Century calls for a new type of politics. It calls for a new type of involvement from the average citizen, from you and from me. It calls for an involvement that will heal the scars that the world has from the 20th centruy, where the most people die in war than in any other time period preceeding it in human history. It is crying for help, and crying out for a generation that will step up to the plate. The world saw the beginnings of such a movement in 2005, but for the movement to continue, it must go beyond the celebrities, and fall into the back pockets of the average citizen worldwide.

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