Editorial, by Samuel Morard of the MIDE, 24 January 2019

2019 01 24 ED singes capucins S MorardPrimatologists Brosnan & De Waal taught brown capuchins to exchange pebbles for food. Two monkeys each receive a slice of cucumber and are delighted. Scientists then give some delicious grapes to just one of them. Seeing its conspecific (member of the same species) get a more attractive reward for equal effort, the disadvantaged monkey refuses to continue the experiment. When one receives grapes without reason, this triggers violent anger in the screaming "victim" which throws its pebbles at the researchers. The reward that it was happy with before wasn't what changed. These reactions confirm the early evolutionary origin of the aversion to inequalities: Capuchins are not satisfied with clearly unjust treatment - nor are their cousins - Homo sapiens.

This dissatisfaction doesn't just come from any objective deficiency, but also from the awareness of unequal treatment. Albert Einstein understood this well; it was he who in 1949 predicted an explosion more serious for humanity than that of atomic fission, the explosion of information: "by all kinds of technologies, the poorest and the most unfortunate will know what humanity is capable of and the possible ways to ease their misery and distress. Everywhere on the planet, and for the first time in history, man will know the absurdity of his suffering and therefore suffer to know that he is suffering." With the advent of new communication and information technologies, this revolution is already well underway. The Unicef report "Children in a Digital World" shows that a growing number of children are connected. This allows infinite opportunities; the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) enshrines the right to information, under which states recognize the importance of the media and ensure that children have access to information to promote their well-being (Article 17). While new technologies tend to remove the barriers of time and space, innumerable injustices remain and social and economic inequalities are widening, as indicated in the 2018 Global Inequalities Report. Similarly, the OECD data on Child Well-Being and the UNICEF report "A fair chance for every child" highlight significant inequalities among children, despite the fact that the CRC acknowledges the right to non-discrimination (article 2). In the UNICEF report, Kailash Satyarthi quotes a "small, skinny child labourer" who asked him: "Is the world so poor that it cannot give me a toy and a book, instead of forcing me to take a gun or a tool?"

How can we settle for a cucumber while behind the scenes others are stuffing themselves with delicious grapes? Everything must be done so that every child can claim their rights and benefit from the wonders that our world has, on an equal footing.

Picture: pxhere/no copyright 

NB: The editorial does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IDE board and team.

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