FORMER president Anthony Carmona says the International Day of Conscience is a reminder of the need to bring back morality in leadership and for every man, woman and child in developing countries to get their just due and deserts.
One long overdue, he said, "is reparative justice and reparation for those nations who suffered under the egregious yoke of slavery, indentureship and colonialism.”
Carmona virtually addressed the UN commemoration of the third anniversary of the International Day of Conscience on July 25.
He also received the World Peace Culture Award (FOWPAL) in commemoration of the anniversary, which had as its theme: Conscience inspiring Solutions to solve Challenges facing Nations.
Carmona observed, “The International Day of Conscience is a telling reminder of the need to bring back morality in leadership."
Governance and institutional practice cannot be rationalised by the unwavering application of the law to the detriment of morality and fairness, he said.
Ethical conduct “suffers on the altar of imprimatur law and authority where legitimacy and legality stretch and even compromise moral conduct expected in and of institutional governance."He said democracies were overwhelmed by “ruthless political pragmatism that benefits the few and the privileged" and conscience was buried in discrimination, marginalisation "and a deep sense of helplessness and hopelessness that things will not get better...for the common folk."
Meanwhile, “The parliaments of the world have become the refuge of the politicians and not the refuge of the people."
He said constitutional and parliamentary majorities subverted democracy by sleight of hand, specious manipulation and interpretation of procedural law and preventing legitimate national concerns from being addressed and discussed in open debate,
He gave as an example parliamentary standing orders being invoked to protect governments from accountability, transparency and scrutiny that exposes wrongdoing, incompetence and inefficiency in governance.
But, he felt, “If the conscience is invoked and becomes the talisman of our actions, words and deeds, wrong will never triumph, injustice will never rule and right will always prosper.
What was needed was "an enlightened and inclusive constitutional regime that addresses specifically, equality of treatment and more broadly the fundamentals of our humanity.”
He argued that NGOs act as the social conscience of a society.
“NGOs fiercely independent of government and contaminating zones of influence can genuinely rejuvenate the economic conscience of corporate entities by ensuring adherence to the triple bottom-line philosophy, where people, profits and planet are given due and just consideration.”
The UN celebration, he said, is also an opportune moment to reaffirm the importance of adherence to the rule of law, nationally and internationally.
Adopting a consultative approach to climate change to reduce global temperatures could also influence the average citizen to take ownership of climate change.
Such dialogue, based on conscience, would go a long way in mobilising finance to address loss and damage, adaptation, mitigation and other climate-related issues.