The year 2018 was marked by new political developments that presented a formidable challenge to the liberal, multilateral order: the isolationism of the United States under Donald Trump, a shift to the right in Latin America that intensified with the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil, the continued rise of China, and the suppression of the liberal-democratic spirit in numerous European countries by right-wing populist forces. All of this underscores the fact that the international order is changing, and the resulting shifts in power are shaking old certainties.
Those certainties include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose first article states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” 2018 marked the 70th anniversary of its adoption – a good reason for us to focus our work in the past year on topics such as gender policy and the protection of minorities. With the publication of our online dossier “Human Rights: Universal and Indivisible”, we took the anniversary as an opportunity to present our human rights work as a core task of the Foundation and thus a reflection of our positions and values.
Over the past year, climate protection – a key priority of ours – took center stage in mainstream society. Young people around the world have taken to protesting for climate protection every Friday, demanding compliance with the Paris Agreement. The upshot here is that we are seeing the emergence of a new environmental movement. The social and ecological transformation of our economy and society will require structural change in many areas of life and business. This change must be driven by social, cultural, economic and technological innovation. The digital transformation is inextricably linked with this. As an organization shaping this change and a mediator between society, business, science and politics, we are committed to tackling these questions of the future.
Barbara Unmüßig and Dr. Ellen Ueberschär
Presidents, Heinrich Böll Foundation