Charter of Human Responsibilities
www.alliance21.org > Workgroups > Thematic Groups > Global Governance > Reforming the U.N. and Redefining Global Governance

Main Points for the Discussion with the United Nations Secretariat

by Gustavo Marin - Pierre Calame -

This document was presented at the meeting organized by the Bridge Initiative and the UN Secretariat in New York on March 3, 2005

1. The United Nations Secretariat is facing a historic opportunity. The document it is to send to the Heads of State in view of the September 2005 General Assembly cannot amount simply to a compilation of recommendations for reforming the system designed in the wake of World War II. The reform should not be merely institutional, limited to the reorganization of the Security Council or the establishment of another body, to be called Security and Development. The dimension of our world’s challenges requires deeper answers than the simple reorganization of the political system of the United Nations. What is necessary is to lay the foundations for the progressive construction of a legitimate, democratic, and effective global governance truly able to deal with the interdependencies among our societies and between humankind and the biosphere.

2. The world’s citizens are calling for a true Global Constitution. This latter must not be the product of a purely administrative exercise, but the result of a process of institution through which the global community will build the foundations of a new democratic and responsible governance of solidarity. It will of course have to be based on the founding texts, i.e. the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations. The world has changed, however, new challenges are on the agenda, and the survival of the planet and of human beings is in danger. We need a third pillar of international life, a Charter of Human Responsibilities, which in addition to the rights of people and duties of states brings to the forefront the responsibilities of people, institutions, companies, and states to ensure that dignity is respected and that people thrive individually and collectively. A Global Constitution resulting from a process for the institution of a global community will act as the common reference for establishing the order of rights and duties applicable to United Nations agencies and to the other multilateral institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization.

3. A Global Constitution must clearly express a limited number of overall objectives that are to be the basis of global governance and are to guide the common action of the U.N. agencies and the multilateral institutions, where the specific role of each of these is subordinated to the pursuit of these common objectives.

- We must assert that we can defeat poverty and protect our Earth for ourselves and for our children,
- that everyone’s dignity implies everyone’s contribution to the freedom and the dignity of others,
- that durable peace cannot be established without justice that respects dignity and Human Rights,
- that power can be exercised legitimately only when it is put at the service of all and is accountable to the peoples.

We must once again reaffirm the founding principle of the international community: Our world belongs to all and no government nor any institution can claim authority without the democratic will of the all citizens.

4. The world is not a commodity. The market is a trading procedure but we must define its place and its conditions of legitimacy and efficiency for the same reasons as for other forms of governance. We must do all that is necessary to put the market in its place, so as to prevent work and people from being nothing more than goods. It is now a priority to fix, by law, the domain in which the market applies. We must move beyond the reductionist ideological view of the economy that puts the market at the center of all exchanges. The market applies exclusively to only part of the world’s goods: those that are divided when shared, i.e. mainly industrial goods and services for which the market can be the means for trading them. There are other categories of goods, natural resources in particular, the distribution of which is a matter of social justice, not of market economy, for which reason the international community must agree on the nature and the management of global public goods. There are above all the goods that increase when shared: knowledge, intelligence, and experience. They are to be pooled for everyone’s benefit.

The global community needs to establish common global rules to govern how the different categories of goods are exchanged and make of the economy a lifting arm for the global community instead of an arena of competition and altercations that do no more than make inequalities worse.

5. We must redefine global governance.
To do so, it is necessary to move beyond the conceptual and ideological foundations of the current system. This latter puts global governance at the center of relations among national states on the basis of an ideology of the state that emerged in Europe in the seventeenth century, the model of which was then progressively extended to the rest of the world. The architecture of global governance cannot no longer be conceived without a redefinition of national states themselves, of their role, their working procedures, and their articulation with the other political orders.

It is indispensable to back the emergence of a regional level of governance, between the states and the world. Negotiations and decisions should take place primarily at this regional scale. This is the case, among others, for the—ineluctable—reform of the Security Council. It should be a board made up of representatives of the regions of the world. Every region would have a rotating presidency by member states, which presidency would by the same token represent the region in international negotiations.
To take up the current challenges we need the action of all. Plural communities are forming from the neighborhood scale to that of the planet. Cultural diversity is an essential foundation of the global community, just as bringing together our various political, religious, and organization communities is requisite to building a new system of legitimate, responsible governance in solidarity.

Paris and New York, March 2, 2005

URL : www.alliance21.org/2003/article670.html