Manifesto for the Abolition of International Apartheid

By Yves Bonnardel and David Olivier

The ethical and political principle of equality of all individuals of the human species is now acknowledged by nearly all. It is almost universally accepted that any discrimination between human individuals based on an arbitrary criterion is unjust and must be abolished.

Since the end of interracial apartheid in South Africa, no longer any state in the world openly practices discrimination between humans based on the arbitrary criterion of skin colour. Today, however, another equally arbitrary criterion is still accepted and applied by virtually every state in the world. For a human individual to have been born in some a particular place, from parents of some particular nationality, and thus to possess emself some particular nationality, is a matter of chance, and cannot be taken as a non-arbitrary criterion of discrimination.

Following this arbitrary criterion of nationality, states either grant or deny human individuals the right to dwell on their territories as well as access to the social benefits that are granted to the natives. Just like interracial apartheid in South Africa, this arbitrary discrimination would be but a relatively harmless absurdity if its consequences were a mere separation. But the reality of the world we live in is marked by the existence of vast areas in which most inhabitants suffer from severe poverty and high rates of mortality; and of other areas in which inhabitants live in conditions that, though not always good, are for the least considerably better than the conditions that prevail in the poor areas. The refusal to allow certain individuals to live in rich countries on the basis of their nationality is *de facto*, just like interracial apartheid, an arbitrary denial of often vital benefits granted to others.

We therefore recognise as fundamentally contrary to the ethical and political principle of human equality the state laws and regulations, particularly those of the rich states, that deny individuals the right to enter and live on their territories, and access to social benefits, on the basis of their nationalities. We demand the abolition of this international apartheid, and demand that all appropriate measures be taken to render this abolition effective as quickly as possible.

As a consequence of the ethical and political principle of human equality, we recognize these laws and regulations as illegitimate. We demand that they be abolished, and that every human being, whatever eir nationality, be permitted to live on the territory of any state, and receive equally the social benefits that are granted to the natives.

We declare ourselves under no obligation to respect these illegitimate laws, and ready, should the case arise, to transgress them and to help others to transgress them.

Explanations of the Manifesto

A necessary radicality

The text of the Manifesto for the Abolition of International Apartheid calls for an important change relative to the current state of affairs. This radicality is however necessary. It is not possible, for instance, for us to reproach to the officers of the state the fact they control and expell immigrants if at the same time we approve those laws that they are enforcing. We cannot demand the regularization of the clandestine immigrants who are already in the first world countries if we accept that their borders remain closed to whoever has not had been lucky or clever enough to get through.

Most importantly, we cannot claim to be supporters of human equality if we accept that the arbitrary criterion of birth continues to weigh so heavily on the fate of individuals. We cannot condemn the way the white population of South Africa clung on to apartheid if we do not challenge our own support to another apartheid, for the sole reason that in this case this apartheid suits *us*.

Ethics: a necessary basis for political action

The Manifesto is based on a clear and rational ethical reasoning which is accepted, *in theory*, by almost everyone in our societies: that it is arbitrary, and unjust, to priviledge one individual relative to another if there exists no *relevant* difference between them. Now, we believe that the clarity of our ethical bases is a necessary condition for political action.

Ethics is in no manner a *sufficient* condition for political action, as can be seen from the time it took for the anti-apartheid struggle in South-Africa to overcome. However, the clear perception of the justice of this cause was, quite evidently, a key factor in its final victory. Without an ethical basis, on the other hand, political struggle has no compass. If the desire for justice that each and everyone of us has inside is denied the possibility of asserting itself clearly, ends up taking refuge in an attitude of personal purity - "Don't ask *me* to denounce immigrants!" - or even to slowly disappear. It is no wonder, for instance, that nowadays a majority of French citizens declare to be "somewhat, or fully, racist".

Today, however, a few voices here and there are can be heard that call for the free circulation of persons worldwide. This demand no longer appears purely idealistic. The struggle will be long; this manifesto aims at strengthening its foundations.

The fate of the Manifesto

This manifesto will not be put on the desks of the Members of the Parliament or of the Governement; these will vote and enforce just laws when the population will call for just laws.

This manifesto is addressed to the whole of the population, of all countries, whether developed or not. Concretely, this implies that we collect the greatest number possible of signatures and publish the Manifesto in the press, eventually paying for this. We must also translate its text into as many languages as possible and spread it in all countries.

This work, and the collection of money to be used to buy space in the press, will be the task of the Committees for support to the Manifesto.

The initiators of the Manifesto

Yves Bonnardel and David Olivier are two activists long engaged in struggles for equality, against racism, sexism, speciesism and other forms or arbitrary discrimination (homophobia...). It was however more specifically through their experiences as animal liberation activists, in the journal "Les Cahiers antispecistes", that they grasped the impossibility to do politics without a clear ethical reasoning, and were brought to formulate this call.

Note: ey = she or he; eir = his or her, etc. (plural form they, their... without the th)