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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World
Number 4 October 1999

bulletFrom Readers
bulletAlliance in Motion
bulletOasis of the Alliance
 · Third Pillar
 · Earth Council Proposal
 · Human Crossroads Proposal
 · Considerations
 · South Asian Response
 · South Asian Draft
 · African Freedom Charter
bulletThe Artist
bulletCover Page
bulletReturn to ALLIANCE LIBRARY

Towards a Charter of the Peoples of the Earth
Coordinated by Philippe Guirlet

Charte de la Terre, Carta de la Tierra, Earth Charter... As the year 2000 approaches, more and more initiatives are being taken to equip the international community with a new fundamental text. A text that can provide an answer to the severe imbalances, often irreversible, that the materialist mode of development – the crowning glory of the twentieth century – has brought about. All these texts underline the urgency of laying down certain principles in order to regulate the relationship between humanity and the biosphere. They also emphasise the necessity of formulating rules of conduct applicable to everyone alike, individuals, enterprises, governments... It is a question of protecting the diversity of the living, of adopting sustainable modes of production and consumption, of putting an end to the sheer inequalities of distribution of natural wealth, of fostering a harmonious development and a peaceful co-existence of societies, of preserving the resources of the planet for the future generations... A vast programme!

Then, which founding text can enable us to restore the lost harmony between humanity and the planet, between societies and amongst human beings? Where is this visionary text which would be accepted by all, imperative to everyone, irrespective of one’s culture, religious beliefs, means or the power one possesses?

The quest for this text is the subject of this special report of Caravan. Frankly, we have not discovered it! Since twenty-five years not one project of the Earth Charter was able to arrive at a consensus. We also recollect that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights itself, which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary recently, has been periodically questioned and often ridiculed. And so, we made up our mind to be more modest in our ambitions.

But hidden behind this modesty is a greater ambition. We started to dream that each one would ponder over the meaning of the pact that he or she would like to make with the Earth. We imagined each and every people of this Earth writing its own Earth Charter; in relationship with its environment within its history and culture. We also wished that these texts circulate in a big way within communities in order to instigate popular adherence like in the case of South Africa’s Freedom Charter of 1955 (see article). And lastly, we wanted these charters to circulate amongst ourselves, as a gesture of goodwill and a desire to express one’s good intentions.

Fortunately the discussion about an Earth Charter within the framework of the Alliance for a responsible and united world, is taking such a positive course. The texts of this seven-page report give an overview of the adventure which has just begun. In response to the Earth Charter drawn up by the Earth Council (see article) and to a counter-proposal of the Earth Charter discussed within the framework of the "Human Cross-roads" Alliance workshop (see articles), commentaries, reactions and alternative projects poured in from Europe and India (see Considerations and South Asian Response), from South Asia (see South Asian Draft) and Africa (see African Freedom Charter). These documents are full of intelligence, generosity, wisdom and hope. Therefore, it makes good sense to embark upon this impressive and multi-dimensional project of drafting a Charter of the Peoples of the Earth which will be worthy of its name once it becomes a part of the inheritance of each child born on this planet, our homeland. As for its form, its content and the time it’s going to take, we have no idea as yet. But that depends on us.


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© 2000 Alliance for a Responsible and United World. All rights reserved. Last updated March 23, 2000.