Appeal for the Collegium International

Statesmen and intellectuals, mobilized at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Slovenia, have been reflecting for nearly two years on the consequences of the challenges affecting our world and on how to attain a profound transformation of the relationship between peoples and civilizations at the planetary level. The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 reinforced the conviction that there is an urgent need for a response to this world’s disorders. By revealing the negative inter-dependencies influencing our societies, this tragedy underlines the need to strengthen the existing positive interdependencies, and to establish new ones. The solution will not be brought about by purely military responses. The three great challenges – environmental, economic and ethical – confronting humanity today require a radical change in the running of the world. With this perspective in mind, the establishment of an International Ethical, Political and Scientific Collegium would be a significant asset.

Beyond the legitimate compassion for and solidarity with the American people, and the condemnation aroused by the attacks on New York and Washington, it is essential to consider the environment in which this murderous and suicidal terrorism was developed. It was nourished in part by the most counter-productive forms of inter-dependence that the West itself has implemented or authorized:

  • The dismantling of basic regulations and controls in the globalisation of economic exchanges;
  • A deeply non-egalitarian conception of world development, generating destitution and humiliation;
  • The continuous priority given to economic and financial logic as opposed to ecological, social and human requirements.

Three fundamental challenges

The worldwide nature of these problems requires the implementation of a sense of responsibility that is itself globalized. We must preserve the positive aspects of an increasing inter-dependence among societies and at the same time limit its more negative aspects, starting with the threats that may lead humanity to create the conditions for its physical and moral auto-destruction. Three great challenges – ecological, economic and ethical – thus appear linked to the lack of governance that humanity is experiencing today.

1. The ecological threats

We are beginning to understand the extent to which our Biosphere is fragile, that the Earth could become uninhabitable for ourselves, for our children and for coming generations if we do not act responsibly. We cannot ignore global warming, the lack of potable water which is suffered by two billion human beings (and the threats of shortage of this resource), the poisoning of our soils, the looting of nature and the waste of non-renewable energy. We cannot ignore the disastrous effects of technological catastrophes on our environment. The expansion of deadly pandemics such as AIDS must be taken urgently into account. All these ecological challenges call for regulation and the establishment of a world pact for the preservation of our environment.

2. Economic and financial deregulation

Regulated by democratic laws and civic institutions, economic freedom contributes to the prosperity and security of people. However security cannot exist durably in a deregulated world where, according to official figures of the United Nations, the accumulated wealth of less than three hundred individuals is equal to the income of two and a half billion human beings. A world that tolerates tax havens, the anonymity of offshore banking and the laundering of money, feeding terrorism or other forms of criminality, is not a secure world. A world where the imperatives of financial values are conditioning the advances of scientific research, particularly in the field of biotechnologies, is not a secure world. A humanized globalisation and a program of planetary civilization must replace the wild globalisation that we have experienced.

3. The crisis of thought and meaning

Humanity has a rendezvous with its own destiny, for it has acquired the capacity to destroy itself and knows that its biosphere is fragile. The formidable technical and scientific advances that we owe to its intelligence must be applied to a renewed sense of humanity. This involves rejecting the fascination of violence and intolerance, or materialistic obsession, which has its own violence, and embracing a living world democracy, which is the bearer of justice, reason and responsibility, and which is heir to the great ethical and spiritual traditions.

The terrorism we must combat is a distillation of hatred and narrow-mindedness. Only the values at the intersection of open-mindedness, justice and democracy are capable of confronting this formidable destructive energy. This combat can rely on the most positive achievements of world inter-dependence – such as the emergence of international law – but also on the contributions of different spiritual approaches. Their common point, as long as they have not been disfigured by hatred, extremist fundamentalism or materialism, has always been to consider that the barbarism that threatens humanity is not external but internal. A personal transformation of our behaviour, towards a greater autonomy and complexity, must therefore accompany any social transformation.

A Civic and Ethical Response

To provide a civic and ethical response to these challenges, it now appears necessary to work in two directions:

  1. The first is the emergence of a world citizenry and – with time – a world democracy, to give a legitimate democratic basis to the ecological, public health, social and economic regulations that have become indispensable;
  2. The second is to provide an ethical quality to the democratic model, which it is cruelly lacking today. Democracy cannot be confined to the electoral principle or even to the power of people to govern themselves: elections can be used by dictators, and people, left to their fears or their identity crises, can turn to war or oppression against other human beings.

World democracy must be built on a world ethos that relies on universally shared values, namely:

  • The inviolability of human life;
  • The respect for human dignity;
  • The golden rule of reciprocity toward our fellow human beings (“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) and of responsibility towards future generations. If science, economics, and technology are to become once again the means and not the ends of humanity, the establishment of world civility needs to be free of the constraints of special interests, of media obsession and short-term concerns.

It therefore appears necessary to the signatories of this text, who have benefited for their first work from Slovenia’s exceptional hospitality and the active participation of its President, to propose the establishment of an Ethical International Collegium which will have a threefold function:

  1. Monitor vigilantly the principal risks faced by humanity;
  2. Evaluate – in particular from the ethical point of view – the nature of these risks and the means necessary to address them;
  3. Advise governments and international institutions (principally the United Nations), on how to clarify their decision-making processes and make them more efficient.

Such a Collegium will bring together statesmen, philosophers, scientists and artists in a common human search, while listening to the voice of civil society (particularly NGOs and active citizens’ associations). At the same time, it will accept the difficult but essential task of combining the quest for truth, beauty and justice with the demands of concrete responsibility.

New York, 5 February 2002


Signatories (indication of their position at the time of signing):

ARIAS SANCHEZ Oscar, Prix Nobel de la Paix, ancien Président du Costa Rica

ATLAN Henri, Biophysicien et philosophe, France

AXWORTHY Lloyd, Directeur et PDG, LIU Centre, Université de Columbia; Ancien Ministre des Affaires étrangères, Canada

BOLGER James, Ancien Premier ministre de Nouvelle Zélande

CARDOSO Fernando Henrique, Président du Brésil

CASTELLS Manuel, Sociologue, Espagne

DE LA MADRID Miguel, ancien Président du Mexique

DELMAS-MARTY Mireille, Professeur au Collège de France

DREIFUSS Ruth, Ancienne Présidente de la Confédération Suisse

DOYLE Michael W., Professeur de Relations Internationales, Columbia University, USA

DUPUY Jean-Pierre, Professeur de philosophie sociale et politique, France

EVANS Gareth, Président ICG, Ancien Ministre des Affaires étrangères, Australie

FRASER Malcolm, ancien Premier Ministre, Australie, Président, InterAction Council

GEREMEK Bronislaw, ancien Ministre des Affaires étrangères de Pologne

GOLDMAN Sacha, Secrétaire général du Collegium International, France

GUTTERRES Antonio, ancien Premier ministre du Portugal

HABERMAS Jürgen, Philosophe, Allemagne

HABIBIE Bacharuddin Jusuf, Ancien Président de l’Indonésie

HALPERIN Morton, Council on Foreign Relations, USA


HAVEL Vaclav, Président de la République tchèque

HESSEL Stéphane, Ambassadeur de France

HORN Gyula, Ancien Premier Ministre, Hongrie

HRIBAR Tine, Philosophe, Slovénie

KONARÉ Alpha Oumar, Président du Mali

KOUCHNER Bernard, Minister de la santé, France

KUCAN Milan, Président de la Slovénie

LAGOS Ricardo, Président du Chili

LE CARRÉ John, Ecrivain, GB

LEVITTE Jean-David, Ambassadeur de France auprès de l’ONU

LIFTON Robert J., Professeur, Université de Cambridge, Massachussetts, USA

LINDH Anna, Ministre des Affaires étrangères, Suède

MAGRIS Claudio, Écrivain, Italie

MAJALI Dr. Abdel Salam, Ancien Premier Ministre, Jordanie

MERI Lennart, ancien Président de l’Estonie

MERLANT Philippe, Directeur du magazine “Transversales”, France

MESIC Stjepan, Président de la Croatie

MIYAZAKI Isamu, Secrétaire général, InterAction Council

MIYET Bernard, Diplomate, ancien Secretaire général-adjoint des Nations-Unies, France

MORIN Edgar, Philosophe, France

MÜHEIM Franz, ancien Ambassadeur, ancien Président de la Croix Rouge Suisse

MULADI, S.H., ancien Ministre de la Justice, Indonésie

NORDMANN François, Diplomate, Confédération Suisse

OGATA Sadako, ancien Haut Commissaire du H.C.R., Japon

OULD ABDALLAH Ahmedou, Représentant spécial du Secrétaire général des Nations Unies en Afrique de l’Ouest, Ancien Ministre des Affaires étrangères de Mauritanie

PATTEN Christopher, Membre de la Commission Européenne, Relations extérieures, GB

PASSET René, Économiste, France

PETIT Philippe, Sous-secrétaire Général des Nations-Unies (WIPO), France

PINTASILGO Maria de Lourdes, Ancien Premier ministre du Portugal

PRIMAKOV Evgeny, Ancien Premier Ministre, Fédération de la Russie

RAMOS Fidel, ancien Président des Philippines

RAWLINGS Jerry, Ancien Président du Ghana

ROBIN Jacques, Philosophe, Fondateur de “Transversales”

ROBINSON Mary, ancienne Présidente de l’Irlande

ROCARD Michel, ancien Premier Ministre de la France,

Président de la Commission des affaires culturelles au Parlement européen

ROOSEVELT Anna Eleanor, Co-Présidente de l’Institut Eleanor

et Franklin-Roosevelt, USA

SACHS Wolfgang, Économiste, Président de Greenpeace, Allemagne

SAHNOUN Mohamad, Ambassadeur, Algérie

SCHMIDT Helmut, Ancien Chancelier de la République fédérale d’Allemagne

SEN Amartya, Économiste, Prix Nobel, Inde

SLOTERDIJK Peter, Philosophe, Allemagne

STIGLITZ Joseph, Economiste, Prix Nobel, Université de Columbia, USA

THAROOR Shashi, Diplomate et Ecrivain, Inde

TÜRK Danilo, Secrétaire-Général Assistant pour les Affaires Politiques, United Nations

VAN AGT Andreas, Ancien Premier Ministre des Pays-Bas

VANDEN HEUVEL William, Ambassadeur, Co-président de l’Institut Eleanor et Franklin-Roosevelt, USA

VASSILIOU George, Ancien Président de la République de Chypre

VIRILIO Paul, Philosophe, France

VIVERET Patrick, Économiste et philosophe, France

VON WEIZSÄCKER Richard, Ancien Président de la RF d’Allemagne

VRANITZKY Franz, ancien Chancelier, Autriche

WEISSBRODT David, Professeur de Droit à l’Université, USA

YANG Huanming, Directeur, Institute du Génome Humain, Beijing, Chine

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