14 Proposals: Speech by Bolivia’s President Luis Arce at the UN General Assembly, September 20, 2022

Discurso de Luis Arce en la 77ª Asamblea General de la ONU

Today we are facing a multiple and systemic capitalist crisis that increasingly endangers the life of humanity and the planet. There is no doubt that the challenges we are facing are becoming increasingly more complex. If we seek a better future for current and future generations, we must not only reflect on the economic, social, food, climate, energy, water and trade crises, but also clearly identify their origin in order to change a system that reproduces the domination, exploitation and exclusion of large majorities, that generates concentration of wealth in few hands, and that prioritizes the production and reproduction of capital over the production and reproduction of life.

But alongside the multiple and systemic crisis of capitalism, we are observing the final stretch of the unipolar world. The construction of a new world order, which we hope will benefit all the states and peoples of the world, is inevitable.

And convinced that “Another world is possible”, from the Plurinational State of Bolivia, we propose:

  1. DECLARING THE WORLD A ZONE OF PEACE

In this regard, we express our concern for the considerable number of armed conflicts that plague humanity, many of them promoted by the transnational corporations of war, but also by the desire to impose a world political and economic order, functional to the interests of capitalism. These conflicts bring with them a great human cost, and in many cases the destruction of our cultural and environmental heritage.

Regardless of the origin, nature or geopolitical explanation of international tensions, the Plurinational State of Bolivia has been and will continue to be committed to the culture of dialogue among nations, through the People’s Diplomacy, but unfortunately we observe the growing deterioration of the multilateral system due to the whim of the capitalist powers of not resigning themselves to the existence of a multipolar world with a balance of power. Multilateralism is the only mechanism that represents a guarantee of respect among States, regardless of their economic or military power. Therefore, we consider that any breach of international peace and security is linked to the insufficient application of the mechanisms provided for in the United Nations Charter or, failing that, to their flagrant transgression.

The countries that make up the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) declared in 2014 that the region is a “zone of peace”, committing ourselves to peacefully resolve our disputes and banish forever the use of force in the region. Along these lines, we advocate for this Assembly to be the space for a great historic agreement, an agreement in which dialogue and diplomacy prevail over any dispute, and the world is also declared a “zone of peace”.

To achieve this goal, it is vitally important, among several initiatives, that the United Nations work tirelessly to achieve a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, so that the historical rights of the Ukrainian people are respected.

The Palestinian state and people should be respected, and NATO should stop thinking about its expansionist plans.

2. REPLACE THE MANUFACTURE OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION WITH FAIR COMPENSATION FOR THE POOR OF THE WORLD

It is precisely the lack of dialogue and preventive diplomacy measures that has dragged us into an era of great tensions worldwide and of growing uncertainty and instability in global security. We are living in times in which the concentration of a large number of weapons of mass destruction in a small group of countries, which, by refusing to eliminate them and prioritizing their geopolitical interests, endanger the peace and security of our planet.

Nine countries now have 12,705 nuclear warheads, 9,440 of which are in military stockpiles, ready for use.

Faced with this dramatic reality facing the world, it is necessary to raise the banner of replacing military expenditures for the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction with a fair economic compensation that the countries of central capitalism owe, morally and historically, to the countries of the periphery and the poor of the world.

3. AGAINST THE COMMERCIALIZATION OF HEALTH CARE, UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS

In the last two years, our peoples have had to face not only uncertainty resulting from conflicts, but also a serious health crisis resulting from Covid-19, which exposed the vulnerabilities and inequalities of health systems around the world, as well as of the financial system and the global economy.

In the face of health systems that only favor those who have the possibility of accessing private insurance, and in the face of those who have turned health into a commodity, it is imperative to strengthen Universal Health Systems in which the State fulfills its obligation to protect and guarantee collective rights, within the framework of the preeminence of economic, social and cultural human rights, thus reducing the effects of the global economic crisis on the most vulnerable sectors of the population.

  • 4. GLOBAL PROGRAM FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY IN HARMONY WITH MOTHER EARTH

Another manifestation of the structural and multiple crisis of capitalism is the food crisis, aggravated by the effects of the pandemic, exacerbated by global geopolitical conflicts, and the multiple ecological crises facing the planet, a situation that has not only affected the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals, but also threatens the most basic rights of millions of human beings.

According to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 report, the number of hungry people in the world has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2021 alone, a total of 828 million people were victims of this scourge, representing 9.8% of the world’s population.

Asia, with 425 million people affected, and Africa, with 278 million, continue to be the regions hardest hit by this crisis, and in Latin America and the Caribbean it affected more than 56 million people.

The food crisis must be urgently addressed by a Global Food Sovereignty Program that guarantees small producers better conditions for production; this implies access to seeds, fertilizers, technology, infrastructure, credit and various forms of private and community access to markets, but also better living conditions in their communities, in full harmony with Mother Earth.

  • 5. REBUILDING THE PRODUCTIVE AND ECONOMIC CAPACITIES OF THE PERIPHERAL COUNTRIES HIT BY THE UNSTOPPABLE LOGIC OF CONCENTRATION OF CAPITAL

In addition to the effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which deteriorated our economies and trade exchanges, today we are facing a sustained expansionary path of inflation, which is one of the main problems. For example, in August 2022, the United States recorded a year-on-year inflation rate of 8.25%, which is the highest in the last 4 decades, and an unprecedented rate of 9.1% in the Euro Zone. In addition, the war between Russia and Ukraine deepened pressures on the prices of energy, food, fertilizers, raw materials and others; thus, as of July 2022, year-on-year food inflation rose by more than double digits in some European countries and in the United States.

In a closely interconnected world, it is important to respond to the needs of our peoples in the post-pandemic context, strengthening integration and cooperation, under the principles of solidarity, complementarity and respect for the self-determination of peoples, so that we can face the multidimensional impact on the economy, on our industries, as well as on our productive and self-sustaining capacities.

It is therefore vital to restructure the world financial architecture for global external debt relief, so that developing countries have the space to sovereignly implement social policies from a comprehensive and sustainable economic and social development approach. And, as has always been a cry from the countries of the South, we must balance the terms of trade that currently continue to benefit only the North.

In this regard, I humbly allow myself to share the experience of Bolivia.

After the recovery of democracy in 2020, thanks to the unity, struggle and consciousness of the people, we returned to the path traced by our Democratic and Cultural Revolution, of dignity and sovereignty.

We resumed the construction of our Plurinational State and the consolidation of our Productive Social Community Economic Model, a sovereign economic model in which we do not and will not accept impositions from the International Monetary Fund – IMF.

Our economic model responds to our political, economic, social and cultural reality, and is based on an active role of the State in the economy, in the nationalization of our strategic natural resources, the articulation of all forms of economic organization, the strengthening of public investment, industrialization with import substitution, the dynamization of the internal market, productive diversification, security with food sovereignty, income redistribution, the fight against poverty and inequalities. In other words, economic growth with social justice, under the civilizing political horizon of Living Well, which emerges from our original indigenous roots.

These responsible and sovereign policies have allowed us to return to the path of stability and economic growth with redistribution of income. As of the first quarter of 2022, economic activity grew 4%, driven by domestic demand.

With an inflation rate of 1.6% as of August, we are the economy with the lowest inflation in the region and one of the lowest in the world, compared to inflation rates in several countries that have already exceeded double digits in 12 months.

In the social area, in the second quarter of 2022, Bolivia recorded the lowest unemployment rate in the region with 4.5% and international organizations such as ECLAC, place us as the country that will reduce poverty to a greater extent in 2022, while other countries will even suffer increases.

However, like many other peripheral countries, we are still making great efforts to solve the problems related to the multidimensional and systemic crisis affecting us, which is making recovery increasingly difficult.

We regret that, while the countries of central capitalism are betting large sums of money on war, they are making insignificant contributions to integral and sustainable development, decolonization and depatriarchalization, the eradication of poverty and economic and social inequalities. An example of this is that in recent months 20 times more financial resources have been devoted to the conflict in Eastern Europe than have been committed to the Green Climate Fund in a decade.

Peace will not be achieved by buying and selling weapons, but by working together to build, and if necessary rebuild, the economic and productive capacities of all countries.

  • 6. THE CLIMATE CRISIS REQUIRES RESPONSIBILITY, SOLIDARITY, HARMONY BETWEEN HUMANS AND NATURE AND NOT USURY

Another crisis that threatens to destroy humanity and the integrity of our Mother Earth is the climate crisis, which is moving from crisis to ecological collapse. The discouraging levels of emissions reductions observed and projected so far show that countries that have the means to change their production and consumption patterns do not have the political will to do so, and those of us who have set ambitious goals have not received the means of implementation committed to in the Convention and the Paris Agreement to achieve them.

Moreover, those primarily responsible for greenhouse gas emissions are now calling for each country to pursue the illusion of “decarbonization” by 2050, without taking into account the historical responsibilities of developed countries or the capabilities and limitations of developing countries, for which access to state-of-the-art clean technologies is becoming increasingly unattainable.

Perhaps the historical climate debtors would like us all to worry only about the future, to avoid arguing in the present over unfulfilled promises to developing countries on financing, technology transfer and capacity building.

Recently, the floods in Pakistan, to whose people we wish to express our solidarity, serve as the most eloquent and tangible example of the high human and material cost of the real losses and damages caused by centuries of capitalist “bad development”. Today more than ever it is clear the need for a specific financial mechanism, based on solidarity and not on usury, to face the losses and damages caused by the Climate Crisis in the countries with high development of their productive forces.

We are convinced that a low-emission, climate-resilient future is not possible if we continue to concentrate wealth and income in the hands of a few. Therefore, to reverse the climate crisis we need to resolve the economic, social, and political contradictions caused by the capitalist model, as well as those between humans and nature.

  • 7. INDUSTRIALIZATION OF LITHIUM, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PEOPLE AND A FUNDAMENTAL PILLAR FOR THE ENERGY TRANSITION.

I would now like to refer to a strategic natural resource. Our country has the largest reserves of lithium in the world, and we assume this with great responsibility, especially at the time of implementing actions for its industrialization, ensuring that its use serves for the benefit of humanity, as a fundamental pillar of the global just transition to a low-emission future and respecting Mother Earth.

We do not want our lithium reserves to follow the path of other natural resources that, under the conditions of colonialism and capitalist development, only served to increase the wealth of a few and starve the people.

In this sense, we ratify the sovereignty over our natural resources such as lithium, its industrialization, the benefit oriented towards the welfare of the people, not of transnationals or of a small privileged group, and the sovereign appropriation of the economic surplus to be redistributed especially among the lower income population.

Likewise, we reject all types of interference and attempts to destabilize democracy in our country, with the aim of controlling lithium.

According to what was stated by the Commander of the U.S. Southern Command a couple of months ago, the so-called “Lithium Triangle” located in South America, formed by Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, is in the sights of the United States. The United Nations must take measures against all those countries that do not respect sovereignty and non-interference, and that confront peoples for the control of their strategic natural resources. We are not chess pieces, we are people who work day by day to get ahead and we have every right to decide on our natural resources.

  • 8. FROM NATIONALIZATION TO REGIONALIZATION OF THE FIGHT AGAINST DRUG TRAFFICKING

The approach to the fight against drug trafficking must change. Continuing to emphasize supply and not demand has only served as a pretext for militarization and the deployment of the International War on Drugs. This has affected peasants in the South and leaves the large criminal groups, never publicly identified, in countries whose populations consume massively all types of drugs, with absolute impunity. The “International War on Drugs” criminalizes and generates unilateral sanctions against countries of the South, but shields money laundering, facilitates drug trafficking and other related crimes in the countries of the North. This can no longer continue.

With a positive balance in the fight against drug trafficking, Bolivia defends its model and therefore we assume that it is time to work together, with Peru and Colombia, and with other countries affected by drug transit, in the “regionalization” of the fight against drug trafficking under a comprehensive approach that is less militarized and more economic-social. Then we must work from the United Nations on a mechanism to evaluate its results, not only in the countries of the South, but to those of the North, of which one of its members unilaterally “certifies” the fight against drugs.

  • 9. STRENGTHENING INTERNATIONAL MECHANISMS FOR PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT OF LANDLOCKED COUNTRIES

I would also like to draw your attention to the “Law of the Sea”, which is one of the major current issues in international legal relations, since all Mediterranean or cloistered States face serious difficulties in their access to the sea and the use of its resources, taking into account that marine spaces are areas of great potential for the development of countries, especially developing countries.

All countries have the right to access and use ocean space and marine resources, as stated in the Convention on the Law of the Sea itself. We must ensure the fair distribution of rights and responsibilities with respect to marine wealth, as it plays a decisive role in the future of the peoples of the world. The sea is a right of the peoples, therefore, no one should be deprived of its enjoyment and use for their development.

Likewise, guided by equity, non-discrimination, international solidarity, and social justice, as principles to correct global imbalances and injustices, we consider it important to strengthen international mechanisms for preferential treatment for States that are deprived of a coastline on the sea and therefore have a serious geographic disadvantage in the use of marine resources.

It has been demonstrated that landlocked countries are doubly affected, we have higher costs in product imports and our development is hindered.

In this regard, I must remind the international community that my country, Bolivia, was born with a sea, however, it is currently a cloistered country, forced by the circumstances of the past to face multiple barriers for transportation, communication and trade. We hope that sooner rather than later, dialogue and diplomacy can triumph to repair the injustices of a war driven by capitalist interests, and thus build a better future among brotherly peoples.

10. ENLARGE OUR VISION RESTRICTED OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY

We have no doubt that democracy and human rights are two inseparable sisters. The Plurinational State of Bolivia has experienced firsthand that when democracy is broken, the foundations for the exercise of human rights also crumble. Therefore, we express our firm commitment to the decisions and actions taken by the Organization [United Nations] in defense of the most vulnerable sectors of our society. Bolivia has decided to rebuild its institutional framework, incorporating the plurinational nature of the State, which implies that the 36 indigenous peoples are a constituent part of our State.

A people that is proud of its diverse identity can build a better country from the basis of interculturality, as Bolivians know. In a historical analysis, this has happened in a very short time and our challenge is that this transformation continues in the direction of achieving Vivir Bien for all.

We need to broaden our criteria of human rights and their relationship with democracy. Neither exists – neither human rights nor democracy – when the preservation of the privileges of a few is done at the expense of the effective non-fulfillment of the economic, social and cultural rights of the majority.

11. INTERGENERATIONAL SOLIDARITY

On the other hand, we are convinced that this vibrant and productive generation must show solidarity with those who have built the first foundations of our homes. We cannot ensure equity with future generations if we do not consolidate equity among present generations. We are concerned about the unbalanced emphasis in the multilateral sphere on future generations, without taking into account all the work that has been done by the elderly in our countries. We are concerned that to date there is no universal treaty to protect them. We hope that this reflection will be carried out in a profound manner in this universal house.

12. DECLARE THE DECADE OF DEPATRIARCHALIZATION TO  FIGHT AGAINST ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS

In the same way, I would like to draw attention to something that alarms us globally: the persistence of violence against women and girls and, in particular, indigenous women and girls and those living in poverty.

The pandemic and the structural crises of capitalism are deteriorating living conditions, especially for women, in rural and urban areas.

They continue to face complex and intersectional forms of violence. As UN Women and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) note in their annual review of the nine targets that comprise Sustainable Development Goal 5, in their report on the gender landscape: “Gender discrimination has long relegated women and girls to subordination to men in work, politics and the home […] and at the current pace of change, the report estimates that we are 21 years away from achieving universal laws prohibiting violence against women and an exorbitant 286 years to achieve gender equality in legal frameworks.”

The report also points to a worrying setback in poverty reduction and the likelihood that price increases will exacerbate this trend. By the end of 2022, some 383 million women and girls will be living in extreme poverty. In most parts of the world, many others will have insufficient income to meet basic needs, such as food, clothing and adequate shelter.

In our Plurinational State of Bolivia, we have declared 2022 as the “Year of the Cultural Revolution for Depatriarchalization: For a life free of violence against women”. And we are promoting policies aimed not only at strengthening regulatory frameworks, but also at attacking the structural causes of violence, from education, strengthening the economic autonomy of women, and also through cultural processes, to transform this unfortunate reality, originated by patriarchy, as the oldest system of oppression, and that feeds back to colonialism and capitalism.

We propose that this General Assembly declare the “Decade of Depatriarchalization”, and we speak of depatriarchalization because we urge a profound process of political, economic, social and cultural transformations, from a community perspective, aimed at the construction of reciprocal relationships for a life free of all forms of exclusion, domination, exploitation, discrimination and violence, for all humanity and our Mother Earth.

13. REJECTING UNILATERAL SANCTIONS

It is inconceivable, in a world hit by crisis and pandemic, that unilateral coercive measures are still being applied with the aim of subduing governments at the cost of the hunger and suffering of their peoples. At the present global juncture, no country should be persecuted, sanctioned or cornered for exercising its right to freely determine its own political, economic and social systems.

An example of the unilateralism with which some countries act is the incorporation of Bolivia in a list of “main drug transit or illicit drug producing countries”.

The Plurinational State of Bolivia has a sovereign policy in the fight against drug trafficking that has yielded important results, and we ratify our government’s commitment to strengthen the fight against this global scourge.

However, it is clear that the war on drugs, mainly that unleashed by the United States, has failed, and therefore there is an urgent need for this country to carry out an in-depth analysis of the change in its policy, given that it has become one of the main consumer countries, which has resulted in the unfortunate death of more than 100,000 people for drug overdose and drug addiction, within its territory.

Another clear example of the application of unilateral measures is the inhumane and criminal commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, which puts the lives of millions of citizens at risk. It is a crime against humanity to maintain this type of measures and at the same time to include this country in the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, but at the same time it is a regrettable example, which should make us reflect, of how the majority decisions taken every year in this Assembly are not complied with by certain countries.

Finally, Mr. President,

14. ENSURING THE FULL VALIDITY OF THE UN CHARTER AND THE PRINCIPLE OF MULTILATERALISM

If we are unable to overcome the major problems we face as an international community, we will lead our peoples to a catastrophe of great dimensions. Today, more than ever, we have a responsibility to demonstrate the effectiveness of the United Nations Charter, international law and its institutions.

The multidirectional crisis that the planet is going through as a result of capitalist ambition, far from being overcome, will worsen if urgent measures are not taken.

Only through strengthened multilateralism will we be able to achieve greater dialogue and cooperation in the search for solutions to this crisis. A genuine revitalization of multilateralism will enable us to restore the validity of international law and the preservation of peace with social justice, as well as to reshape the fragile international order to make it plural and solid.

The Plurinational State of Bolivia, based on the experience built since 2006 with our Democratic and Cultural Revolution, is optimistic about overcoming the current polarization of the world architecture, overcoming the capitalist order that has put us in a dizzying, dangerous and unlimited race of consumerism that endangers humanity and the planet, and instead in the building a more just, inclusive and equitable world, for all, under the principles of Living Well and People’s Diplomacy.

Thank you very much.

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