We are facing a conjunction of global crises that are unprecedented in history: depletion of natural resources, irreversible destruction of biodiversity, disruption of the global financial system, dehumanization of the international economic system, hunger and food shortages, viral pandemics and breakdown of political orders ... none of these phenomena can be considered independently of the others. All are highly interconnected, constituting a single “poly-crisis” that threatens the world with a “poly-catastrophe”. It is time to assess the systemic nature of the problem, in order to at last bring integrated solutions – a first step towards redefining the principles that should inspire a comprehensive approach to the conduct of human affairs in the future.
2. Acknowledging our mutual dependence
To the extent that the great crises of the 21st century are planetary, men and women around the world must acknowledge their multiple interdependencies (between continents, nations and individuals). Disasters have happened and disasters are yet to come: at the crossroads of emergencies, it is now time for humanity to become aware of its common destiny. This is no butterfly effect, but the realisation, grave and strong, that our common home is in danger of collapsing and that our salvation can only be collective.
As a result of globalisation, states and international organisations are no longer capable of enforcing a world order or imposing essential global regulations. The end of imperial temptations and unilateral western domination, the growing role of non-governmental actors, all shore up the limits of state sovereignty and its international expression: inter- governmentalism.
National interests can only be protected by means of joint measures whereas, only too frequently, local self-interests transform the international scene into a forum of sordid bargaining.
Collective security, whether it relates to environmental protection or the fight against climate change, stabilising trade in raw materials and primary goods, regulating energy resources, reducing economic and trade imbalances,regulation and controlling financial markets, as well as with regard to the potential instability caused by migratory flows, the increase in inequality or social exclusion, is always confronted with the inevitable short–sightedness of national interests.
In this zero-sum game, every concession is experienced as a defeat. The facade of multi- polarity masks only too often the fragile balance of national aspirations to control and dominate. To remedy this problem, non-hegemonic organisational models, both integrated and pluralist, should be established.
3. Rethinking international legal principles
In order to create a genuine and meaningful world governance, one that is coherent on a global scale, it is essential to turn international law into a common, shared law of humanity by rethinking the following principles:
- Transform the concept of sovereignty into a concept of shared sovereignty;
- Redefine territorial jurisdiction in order to introduce a justice system with global reach;
- Strengthen the principle of international security as an extension of the “duty to protect populations” proclaimed by the Security Council in relation to the massacres in Libya, by giving greater scope to protection, beyond armed violence, and recognising a duty toward future generations and the biosphere.
A true world governance can only emerge if the obstacles incurred by bargaining between private interests are overcome, and if mechanisms for making political decisions for the planet are implemented in the interest of humanity, no longer considered as an international community (that is, structured on the concept of individual states) but as a global, human-to- human community.
4. Asserting a new principle
The first step towards a global community, a pre-condition for the metamorphosis providing for a new type of world-society whose unity, while constituting a World-Homeland, would nurture the diversity of states and cultures, is to have state and non-state actors, individuals and organisations, endorse a new, universal principle resulting from interdependence, which is the principle of planetary inter-solidarity.
In continuance of key international documents (from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the Statute of the International Criminal Court, via the concept of “global public goods”), this principle should both preserve diversity in a spirit of tolerance and pluralism, and resist relativism, which leads to dehumanisation. Far from opposing the responsibility- principle and the hope-principle, the principle of inter-solidarity reconciles these principles so that fear generates solidarity and responsibility leads to hope.
5. Three urgent measures
In losing sight of fundamentals by giving priority to urgency, we overlook the urgency of fundamentals.
To avoid the repetition of the economic and financial crises that are becoming more and more severe and destabilising, the role of inter-solidarity is to translate urgency by implementing measures that are demanded by civil society and many parliaments, and that are even announced by several governments, but which in practice are caught in the stranglehold of banking and financial lobbies:
- The effective eradication of tax havens;
- The separation between commercial banks and banks dealing in speculative investments;
- The taxing of financial transactions.
6. Re-opening core negotiations
Inter-solidarity should also lead the international community to resume negotiations on the regulation and control of the global economy, while ensuring balanced sustainable development and the reduction of inter-state and intra-state inequalities. This worthy and legitimate ambition that aims for the implementation of a fairer and more stable new world economic order, an essential condition for international security, has unfortunately been sacrificed since the 80s, under the pressure of neoliberal economic theories whose damaging effects can be measured today.
It should be expressed through a new round of discussions and the rapid taking of decisions on the issues to be solved in the short-term for the survival of the planet:
- The preservation of the biosphere;
- The elimination of weapons of mass destruction;
- The control of nuclear energy.
7. Fulfilling four on-going conditions
Effective implementation requires:
- Reaffirming all of the fundamental rights of existing individuals, extending them to future generations and strengthening their enforcement within the necessary limits, in a democratic world society, imposed by national and supranational public policy;
- Recognising that the control of power that is global in scope, whether it be economic, scientific, media-based, religious or cultural, implies a global responsibility that covers
all of the consequences of such power;
- Encouraging sovereign States to recognise the necessity of integrating supranational public policy in the defence of common values and interests of which they are the principal medium;
- Facilitating the development of institutions representing regional international communities, as well as reinforcing the world community and the emergence of a global citizenship, in order to develop a common policy for the regulation of flows, the prevention of risks and the punishment of crimes.
We therefore call for the creation of a political forum where the superior interests of humanity can be practically defined, a place where the diversity and wisdom of cultures can express themselves through representatives of civil society and moral, intellectual and scientific authorities.
We call on state representatives to exert pressure on the General Assembly of the United Nations, to adopt the "Universal Declaration of Interdependence" with the following threefold objective: Resist dehumanisation, promote greater responsibility of protagonists of globalisation, and address future risks.
In other words, we call for regaining the pioneer spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, which proclaimed: "We the peoples".
Endorsements by the Collegium International members :
Edgar Morin, Michel Rocard, Mireille Delmas-Marty, Richard von Weitzsäcker , Milan Kucan, Stéphane Hessel, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, René Passet, Peter Sloterdijk, Bernard Miyet, Patrick Viveret, Ahmedou Ould Abdalah, Ruth Dreifuss, William vanden Heuvel, Michael W. Doyle, Ricardo Lagos. Other endorsements forthcoming.