All sectors of society must share social responsibility if current crises are to be addressed successfully aand Full text of draft of Council of Europe's Charter on shared social responsibilities

Posted on Friday, 4 March 2011

Addressing 400 people from 42 countries at a conference in Brussels organised by the European Commission and the Council of Europe, Fr Seán Healy, SMA, Director of Social Justice Ireland argued that:

  1. In a world undergoing a series of major crises the current processes which are appropriating resources from the poor and middle class and transferring them to the better off (e.g. gambling bankers, senior bondholders etc.) must be reversed.
  2. All sectors of society, including Government, business, trade unions and the Community and Voluntary sector, must share social responsibility if the huge problems facing society are to be addressed effectively in a fair and equitable manner. 
  3. Government should not dump its responsibilities onto other sectors. Such dumping is not acceptable on any basis.

The conference was being held to mark the launch for public comment of a draft Charter for Shared Social Responsibility which is being produced by the Council of Europe in conjunction with the European Commission. Seán Healy is a member of the Advisory Group that has prepared this draft Charter over the past two and a half years.

The new Charter seeks to involve ALL stakeholders in recognising their responsibilities and acting accordingly to address all these crises. It also seeks to have structures put in place in each country that ensure the decisions and actions of the different players are checked to ensure they are consistent with the objectives of social, environmental and intergenerational justice.

The new Charter for Shared Social Responsibility argues that if the current series of crises are to be addressed there must be a new sharing of social responsibilities; new forms of deliberation; new structures of governance and renewed criteria for assessing initiatives.

In his presentation Seán Healy argued that:

  1. the economic model that has been followed for several decades across the world is broken and must be replaced.
  2. It has led to the interlinked series of crises we face today e.g. banking, budget (fiscal), economic and social. 
  3. These have produced other crises e.g. unemployment, job losses and job insecurity, and over-indebtedness of individuals and the State.
  4. Responses to the current range of crises have focused on the economy. 
  5. The decisions taken have moved resources from the poor to bailout gambling bankers and senior bondholders and to increase the incomes of top 10%. This process of dispossessing poor people by appropriating their resources to pay for activities they had no hand, act or part in may be legal but it is deeply unjust and unfair.”

Seán Healy stated that if poverty is to be addressed effectively then policy should be focused on building a society in which every person had:

  1. Sufficient income to live life with dignity;
  2. Meaningful work;
  3. Real participation in shaping the decisions that impact on them;
  4. Relevant education;
  5. Complete healthcare;
  6. Appropriate accommodation and
  7. Cultural respect.

To achieve such a future, policy would have to:

  1. Be built on a sustainable basis
  2. Measure what matters
  3. Recognise the value of social capital and resource the role of civil society

The new Charter for Shared Social Responsibility can be accessed here