International solidarity is a value that can be found in many different cultures. It is a spirit of unity and sharing, that encompasses the union of interests, purposes and actions and the recognition of different needs and rights to achieve common goals. It is a shared commitment to a common cause and to the principles of freedom, justice and equality.
Throughout history, incidents that brought people together and evoked international solidarity have been crucial in shaping world affairs and society. In the labour movement, events like the shooting of striking workers at the Haymarket in Chicago in 1886 triggered widespread sympathy amongst the public, which helped to win the union’s fight for better working conditions.
There is no doubt that the spirit of solidarity enlivens global social and economic relationships, and can contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future for all. Whether it be the UN’s proclamation of International Human Solidarity Day or the establishment of the World Solidarity Fund to eradicate poverty, the concept of international solidarity has been a driving force in the fight against global poverty and inequality.
In the context of climate change, solidarity is a means of helping people to live more sustainably. It is a way of making it possible for people who are poor and vulnerable to participate in the decisions that are being taken to solve environmental problems, while simultaneously contributing to human development.
It is an ethical imperative to ensure that the measures adopted for the fight against climate change will benefit the poor and the vulnerable as much as they are beneficial for the planet. Likewise, it is a moral imperative to ensure that the human development agenda will be based on a sound and holistic understanding of the interconnectedness of social and environmental issues.
This is why the United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 20 December, International Human Solidarity Day to encourage new initiatives for poverty eradication and to promote the culture of solidarity. It also aims to strengthen partnerships between States, businesses, and non-governmental organizations in order to build a more sustainable and equitable future for all.
The right to international solidarity is a core tenet of human rights law and it is an essential part of the right to international peace and security. It is a right that all States, irrespective of their nationality and political affiliations, have a duty to respect.
To fulfil this right, all States must cooperate with one another and with non-State actors to promote collective action to address poverty, hunger, illiteracy, violent conflict, gender discrimination, preventable deaths and contemporary slavery in all its forms.
In doing so, they must respect and protect the unique cultural diversity that exists in the societies in which they operate, and the reciprocal influences that peoples exert on each other.
As such, they must ensure that the principles of non-refoulement and asylum are embodied in any international solidarity agreements that they enter into with other States.