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Speech of H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias at Georgetown University

EE.UU.(Washington D.C.), 22.03.2000

L

et me express once again how happy I am to be here, in this campus were I spent two of the most pleasant and rewarding years of my academic life. It has become a habit for me to try to come once a year to G.U., and this not only brings back cherished memories, but also gives me the opportunity to participate in an overall review of worlds affairs, and of the views this country has of them. I see it as a truly valuable exercise that helps one determine the real dimensions of today?s risks, challenges and opportunities in this?Global World? of ours.

A year has gone by since I had the honour to inaugurate a new and exciting project here at Georgetown University:?The Prince of Asturias Chair of Spanish Studies?.

Once again I would like to express my gratitude to ENDESA, one of our leading multinational Electric Power companies for its support in this initiative. In doing so ENDESA well represents the new and more enlightened vision of an increasing number of our corporations, which transcends mere business or trade and assumes a much greater responsibility and commitment with the social, cultural and intellectual issues that increasingly confront us all regardless of where we live in the world.

The Chair is now under the direction of Professor Jesús de Miguel, a distinguished scholar from the University of Barcelona. He is the Chair?s first tenant and as such, will surely imprint it with his academic excellence, hard work and far-reaching vision. Allow me, Professor de Miguel, to congratulate you in advance for your undoubted success. I am certain you will set the tone and pace for the chair to grow and become a?landmark? in Georgetown?s Academic offer for students interested in Europe, The Mediterranean and also in our special link to Latin America.

Now, before Professor de Miguel gives us his address on Spain, let me steal the show for just a few minutes to make a couple of comments about the?Global World? I mentioned earlier and the need for collective responsibility.

With regard to Globalization we have seen in recent times and will be seeing in the future many issues making the headlines of newspapers or becoming the lead stories of T.V. newscasts. Many of them have a surprised tone, and most show a deep concern. But although the sheer number and variety of events make a comprehensive evaluation difficult, it is still possible to detect certain trends that may lead us to believe that we can be optimistic in our quest for greater collective responsibility as a necessary -and quite urgent- response to globalization.

It is obvious that globalization is a daily reality which affects us more and more and in many ways. We can see it, feel it, even touch it when we turn on our PC and?surf? on the internet or set up with marginal costs, practically no overhead and zero publicity budgets, a thriving import-export business, travel agency, or any of the multiple?downstream? options that are only limited by the boundaries of our imaginations. Coupled with an efficient?shipping and handling delivery system?, market access has become essentially universal. Through technology, competitiveness and free trade have acquired new and unlimited potential. The same could be said about information in general, financial, transactions or simply about contacts among individuals which have become instantaneous around the world, exchanging views, experiences and opinions, that no doubt help level any pre-existing cultural, ideological, physical and even language barriers.

However, this global network is like a body whose explosive physical growth has far outstripped its?moral? or ethical development. It is, at the risk of being considered fanciful, like a golem which possesses neither a conscience nor a soul. Because of this, one of the major issues which we face today is how to ensure responsibility, how to define some indispensable rules to?play the game? in this new environment (By the way, I saw an interesting piece in the new Georgetown journal on International Affairs on?Globalization and Governance? which I am very keen to read).

Thus, collective responsibility, as a result of greater globalization, is fast becoming one of our greatest challenges today. It is, by force, multidisciplinary, because its ramifications and consequences are all-encompassing. It affects both individuals and groups, be that countries or different type of organizations, NGO,s, corporations, multilateral organizations,?and needs to be defined on all fronts, be they political, cultural, academic or social.

As I mentioned before, certain events over the last year or more can be viewed as positive trends in this direction. First on a national level, with the awakening of genuinely popular movements that demand much greater attention of our governments towards: A- the fate of the developing world, B- towards countries where intolerable conditions of poverty or disease prevail or those which are victims of natural catastrophes, and C- towards taking action against gross violations of human rights. The down side is that the methods applied are still not very effective nor free from deep controversies.

Nevertheless, public opinions in an ever-growing number of countries seem to have acquired increased sensitivity towards moral issues that only a few years ago would have been considered either beyond their responsibility or irrelevant to their interests, let alone to their national interest. Much is due to the so called and so often referred to?CNN effect?, but I would hope that this is not the only reason.

On the international level for example we can see the increased awareness and evidence that terrorism, drug trafficking or money laundering have indeed already?gone global? and that any effective action against them requires redefining new levels of international cooperation to effectively eliminate the possibility of remaining safe havens, to tackle their financing schemes and to ensure the proper, and legitimate, legal measures to prevent them from?slipping through our fingers?.

The strong impact of public opinion has certainly been a key factor in consolidating a new and stricter code of ethics for international relations and in fostering its effective implementation. We should not forget the extent to which the international community has acted to stop practices, like?ethnic cleansing?, which were being systematically enforced by political leaders who considered they could hide their wrongdoings against humanity behind the principle of non intervention, an alleged?national interest? or?domestic affair?. These are no longer deterrents against international intervention.

Also, we have seen how international organizations and certain national judiciary systems have taken action to ensure criminal responsibility and prosecution of individuals or regimes that until recently considered themselves immune from prosecution outside their own jurisdictions for so-called?political decisions?.

In all these cases, and in others we can detect the embryo of the collective responsibility which we urgently need to define, develop and manage in order to avoid fulfilling the pessimistic predictions of greater fragmentation of our societies and between nations or of outright?global anarchy?, as some like to announce. It is a new and unknown territory, fraught with unseen pitfalls, hidden sandbars and lee shores. In ancient maps, the?Terra Incognita? often included the reference?There be Tygers?.

In our endeavour to chart these new waters, we need the guidance of the academic institutions of our countries, for while they are the repositories of tradition and knowledge, they are also sources of wisdom and imagination.

Paraphrasing William Blake, theirs are the hands and the eyes that must frame the fearful symmetry of the?Tyger, tyger burning bright, in the forests of the night?.

Thank you very much.

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