I would like to start by greeting you all “ Happy International Day of Conscience”. The UN General Assembly Resolution A/73/L.102 “Promoting the culture of peace with love and conscience” was sponsored by the Kingdom of Bahrain and adopted in 2019 declared April 5 as the International Day of Conscience. The resolution re-enforces the values of peace, solidarity and compassion and encourages the international community to regularly mobilize their efforts to promote peace, tolerance, inclusion, understanding and solidarity, in order to build a sustainable world of peace, solidarity and harmony; During these trying times that we are all going through, these are the virtues that we need today to defeat this deadly pandemic. So I commend the the initiative of His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and the Government of Bahrain for sponsoring this resolution. UNAOC was the among the first to support the resolution. We also received a delegation from the Parliament of Bahrain last September in which we discussed how we can enforce the implementation of this resolution through joint activities together. I also commend the President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa for leading the effort in the adoption of the resolution.
Last but not least, I wish to thank my friend Jeffery Sachs and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for inviting me to this “virtual” event which is very timely amid this unprecedent human crisis. I feel very privileged to be among all these distinguished speakers.
This is probably the first time in modern history since World War II that the entire humanity is facing the same threat at the same time. It is also the first time everyone recognizes how interconnected our fates are despite the closed borders and travel restrictions. Indeed, we are all together in this.
In that sense, unity, solidarity, compassion and international cooperation are essential to address the pandemic. A whole-of-society approach encompassing the complex and multidimensional nature of this crisis are essential to defeat it and to ensure that the most vulnerable are not left out. The socio-economic impact of COVID19 is equally important as suppressing and containing the pandemic and should be a priority in our collective work. If done right, then we have lived to promise of the 2030 agenda of sustainable development goals and its promise that no one is left behind. The UN has an opportunity to lead in this crisis and reinforcing the relevance and viability of multilateralism.
Despite recognition from the international community of the necessity of a global response to this global pandemic, we witnessed a rise in stigma and xenophobic rhetoric against minorities and marginalized communities sowing the seeds of hatred and tearing apart the fabric of societies. To this end, I launched a joint appeal with Mr. Adama Dieng , Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide calling for Solidarity, Compassion and Unity and for standing all forms of discrimination and hate speech to preserve social cohesion.
Dear friends and colleagues,
Previous resolutions adopted under agenda item “culture of peace” which were referred to in this resolution, do not include the word “conscience” which brings me to my next point.
In the context of this unprecedented human crisis we are all going through, I would like to invite you to reflect, for a moment, on the meaning of the word “Conscience” and its relevance to 2 other interlinked and intertwined words : “Science “ and “Consciousness”. The 3 words, conscience, science and consciousness form the 3 angles of a triangle.
The first angle Science: no one can argue about the way the scientific revolution has contributed to the progress of mankind. Today, more than ever, we are talking about scientific research, neuro-data, neuro rights and “Brain Computer Interface” . Science will continue to advance and respond to the enormous existential challenges facing human beings.
Paradoxically that even though we are living in the age of extraordinary scientific discoveries, the main health recommendation repeated to us every day as a preventive measure to protect ourselves from this virus is “Washing our hands with soap for 30 seconds” . Isn’t that ironical? Afterall, this is what we our grandparents and their grandparents did for as long as we remember.
So “Science” will never be the only way out without “Conscience” . The second angle .
What is conscience ? if you google the word conscience. The word as it is commonly used in its moral sense, means the inherent sense of every healthy human being to perceive what is right and what is wrong, impelling one towards the right direction. It is the sum of moral and ethical principles that controls, guides, or inhibits the thoughts and actions executed by that individual.
If an individual is guided by their conscience and what it entails of social and moral responsibility then, one’s conscience will lead him/her to the right direction that is to do the general good namely : solidarity, fraternity, compassion and “to love thy neighbour”.
Nonetheless, science plus conscience are not enough. We need the third angle so that our triangle is complete. Here comes “consciousness”. You may ask: what is the difference between conscience and consciousness ? Again if we go to google, we will find that : “consciousness is the function and state of awareness of the human mind that receives and processes information, stores it or rejects it”. It is proven that the more information one is able to gather and process, the more aware and the more conscious one becomes regarding one’s internal and external world”
Awareness and wakefulness represent the 2 main components of consciousness.
My dear friends,
This triangle will help us in the implementation of the International day of Conscience: Science will explore innovative solutions. Conscience will lead us to right direction. And Consciousness will trigger our awareness of what is morally right and that we have a social and moral responsibility towards “our neighbours” in the broader sense that transcends neighbourhoods to cities , countries, and continents so that solidarity, compassion, fraternity prevails for the good of all humanity.