Domenico Letizia on the UN Forum on Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

As the first day of United Nations Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law has ended, the China Research and Analysis Blog is pleased to hold a conversation with  Domenico Letizia.
Domenico Letizia is among those who contributed their views on knowledge, education and human rights to the submission that FLIA and the CPE helped present to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on behalf of all stakeholders.


CRA: You are one of the persons who helped identify the topics to be discussed at the inaugural session of the Forum on Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law. What it is, that motivates your interest in knowledge, and education?


Domenico Letizia: first of all I wish to thank FLIA and the CPE for their resolution and efforts in organizing and holding the presentations at the Forum on Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law the in the best possible way. I believed my participation was important to help formulate proposals on advancing human rights and the rule of law because, an important theme to be raised is the creation and codification of a new human right – the human right to knowledge. Only knowledge, and the right of citizens to hold and join genuine public debates allows to face pressing international and national themes in the most productive spirit. I am thinking about the current state of the public information that is available in Italy on themes as judicial justice, and how information on contemporary conflicts is still distorted. Any kind og monopoly of the press and the television media does not allow to understand contemporary phenomena, with the result we are unable to make others understand the rationale of the fundamental rights of individuals.


I have never spent long periods of time living abroad but, I have taken part to international events as the World Congress Against the Death Penalty, which was coordinated by Antonio Stango of the Italian League for the Rights of Man, and held in Oslo (Norway). I also participated to the Baku International Humanitarian Forum in Azerbaijan. 


The Geneva Forum has the duty to understand that the youth can be an agent of change, and in the affimation of universal and fundamental rights. Therefore institutions should be pressured to allow events as the Geneva Forum to take place constantly. Dialogue and the exchange of ideas, deepening one’s knowledge, and getting informed are only some of the challenges in knowing and facing the challenges of contemporary society. Some countries invest a lot in foreign policy and in the affirmation of the rule of law. Now it is our turn to disseminate these methodologies in those countries that are still linked to a nationalistic and campanilistic logic. In Italy, for instance, the National Youth Forum is doing an excellent work in this respect. The Forum is directed by Maira Pisani, and I cooperated with it with immense pleasure and curiosity.


CRA: What kind of resources, in your opinion, do young people need to be good global citizens, and good citizens in the society where they live?


Domenico Letizia: A lot could be done. A first step should see international and national institution work in synergy with institution created by the youth, and develop commissions, committees, and forums where contemporary events could be studies, to allow to generate new ideas which could help national and international organizations to best deal with relevant issues. This would require a spirit  of greater openness and organization by the institutions of my country. Civic Education is no longer taught in our schools therefore, the basic tooks to become global citizens in a globalized society are lacking.


CRA: What kind of rights should young people concretely enjoy, to have an opportunity to construct a better world for everybody?


Domenico Letizia: first of all they should know their rights, and therefore we get back to the Right to Knowledge. Some NGOs and international organizations, as Hands Off Cain, SIOI and the Global Committee for the Rule of Law on November 29, 2016 will hold a conference at the Senate of the Republic of Italy on the right to knowledge. It will be a crucial moment to undestand how knowledge is essential to the diffusion of the principles of democracy, universalism and non-violence.


CRA:  The divisions we see inside single societies are mirrored by the divisions we see between countries. But, our societies are made by us and opportunities to overcome divisions exist in our daily lives. How can we make the best use of these opportunities?


Domenico Letizia: We are living during a particular time in history. Institutions, civil society and international organizations have the burdensome duty to prove the essential nature of Unity and the value of universally acknowledged fundamental rights. If they will fail in this endeavor, which is something we may be witnessing, we will have to pay the price of a return of borders, barbed wire walls, and so no. If I am allowed to give an advice, the creation of the United States of Europe is something that can no longer be postponed, and yet the dream of the founding fathers of Europe continues to be ignored.


CRA: Social media are criticized by many, on the most diverse grounds but, according to human rights bodies social media are important to allow young persons to be good global citizens. What is your opinion on this?


Domenico Letizia: “I love freedom of the press out of consideration for the evils that it prevents far more than for the good that it does”. So did Alexis de Tocqueville write  a few centuries ago, thinking about freedom of the press. I believe his ideas to be extremely relevant to social media. Those who want to prohibit social media will always get the opposite outcome, for good or bad. Social media and digital information should become topics of conversation in our schools, ideally through events aimed at understanding how to best use social media. Have al look around, both teachers and their students are on Facebook, so why don’t we start a conversation about that?



Born in the city of Maddaloni, Italy, Mr. Domenico Letizia graduated in History from the University Federico II (est. 1224). He is a member of the board of Hands Off Cain, the Italian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, and a member of the Central Committee of the Italian League for the Rights of Man (Lega Italiana dei Diritti dell’Uomo).

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