The Study Center is in charge of programming and carrying out the different activities of the Foundation. Under which criteria? The answer is very simple: responding to the essential aim of opening a reflection the wider and plural possible about the real degree of validity of certain values within our actual society. But, let’s be clear about this, I don’t refer to those that correspond to the private sphere of convictions or personal beliefs, without diminishing its importance for millions of people.
We have the intention to focus our efforts in the values that are of interest for all the community, regardless of personal beliefs, whether or not religious. Those values that define and characterize a particular model of social relationships and the system of government that we call democracy. Those that form what we could call the “moral heritage” of a free and democratic society. I think that this objective is particularly interesting and appropriate nowadays, as we are going through a year that is especially contradictory on the subject of respecting Human Rights.
On the one hand, we have celebrated the seventieth birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all that it has brought about the construction of a national and international recognition and the protection of fundamental rights of individuals. We have not only developed the rules, but also we have started up national and international legal mechanisms to enforce the respect of these rights.
There is no doubt, above all after the hecatomb of the Second World War, that we have experienced the most positive period in the means of recognizing universal freedom and human dignity. However, we have noted these last years that there has been a progressive and systematic degradation, nearly universal, not only of the essence of these rights but also of the values that maintain the democratic system.
The causes are multiples and happen at the same time: international terrorism and the measures taken at legal and operational levels to fight against it; the massive phenomenon of illegal immigration and the control measures or manipulation by many governments of the growing insecurity who profit each personal drama to introduce legislative modifications in many cases contrary to the most basic principles of criminal law and the system of procedural guaranties.
but taking into account that this deviation alone is already bad, it is even more disturbing the apparent passivity and indifference with which our societies accept such rules and the justifications that go along them. Those who put them in practice offer in many cases the following argument to justify them: “they are useful” or “the public opinion asks for them”.
The fundamental values of democracy (as freedom, justice, equality, and solidarity, among others) that should be more deeply rooted into each citizen, seem to have faded or blurred from the collective conscience and aren’t yet a parameter to guide government action.
We need, then, to pose some questions, why does this phenomenon happen? Are there any value that characterize democracy? And if so, which one could we consider to belong to a modern democracy nowadays? Finally, are they really universal?
The Foundation and its Study Center seek for answering these and many other questions through their activities and debates. We have put into practice a real forum of reflection about these questions, with room for all opinions, widely freely opened discussions and the conclusions that will be made public.
As you may have noted in the presentation of the President of the Fundación Valsaín, we have held the first meeting with an international scope, which is available in the section Information.
We will keep fostering these debate and reflections. This adventure is worthwhile and we encourage you to participate in this exciting task.