GABRIEL BORIC FONT, President of Chile, underscoring a “firm conviction that democracy is memory and future”, recalled the details surrounding the 11 September 1973 coup d’état in Chile that his country recently commemorated, 50 years on. While some countries at the time were betting on instability, international organizations — such as the United Nations — played a fundamental role in defending human rights and democracy. Chile has “come a long way since then”, he noted, attributing its progression to learning lessons from the past. Through that learning, it is possible to envision future challenges, and he stressed that “a coup d’état is never inevitable” as democracy always offers alternatives. Another lesson, he said, is that human rights must be defended in all places at all times — “whatever the political colour of the Government that undermines them”.
He said that Chile has learned that democracy is vulnerable, fragile and not guaranteed; that violence is not acceptable as a method of political action; and that dialogue must always be prioritized among those with different views. Even at moments of great political turmoil, the international community must come together to put people ahead of differences. He also underlined the need to stop the advance of totalitarianism and to confront the disinformation that is corroding democracies from within. Democracy must be able to achieve results, he underscored, because when institutions fail — or are too slow — the resulting corruption, organized crime and inequality lead to a lack of trust among people. Looking after democracy means tackling peoples’ frustrations, yearnings and needs, and the collective interest, he stressed, must always be put ahead of that of individuals — particularly those with power, “including ourselves as the governing class”.
He also urged strict respect for human rights, denouncing the persecution of all those with thoughts or ideas different from those of the Ortega Government in Nicaragua. Further, unilateral sanctions in Venezuela are not improving the lives of the people there and, to ensure free elections in that country, the United States must lift the measures it has imposed. The same applies to the sanctions long applied against Cuba. He also condemned the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, emphasizing that small- and medium-sized countries such as Chile depend on international law for defence in potential future conflicts. “Today it is Ukraine, in the future it could be any of us,” he observed. Turning to climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss — “problems of today, not tomorrow” — he called for rapid action to accelerate transitions to change consumption and establish new rules to meet these demanding challenges.
Further, he called on countries with the greatest industrial activity to assume their full responsibilities to respect the environment and show solidarity with those suffering the most from the devastating effects of climate change. Also noting that Chile signed the agreement concerning the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, he offered Valparaíso as a headquarters for the treaty’s Secretariat. Additionally, he called for the creation of multilateral consensus and an ethical framework for the development and use of new technology such as artificial intelligence. While societies must progress, they must do so “in a responsible way”, he said.
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