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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

drawing of man standing on stack of papers and holding Earth

Proposed by Pierre Calame and André Levesque (France)
within the framework of the workshop "Human Cross-roads"

The Earth is our only, single, and irreplaceable homeland. Humankind, in its diversity, belongs to the community of life and is part of its evolution. Their destinies are inseparable. As the heirs of the women and men who on this earth have preceded us, we acknowledge our personal and collective responsibilities to human beings, to the community of life, and to the coming generations.

Humankind has the power and the science to transform its environment irreversibly. If for reasons of improvidence, greed, selfishness, unconsciousness, pride, ignorance, or indifference we forget our responsibilities and our duties of solidarity to others and to the earth, we are bound for self-destruction.

The scope and speed of the changes that Humankind has experienced in the past century, the rapid population growth, the blows to the diversity of cultures and living beings, the progressive depletion of resources and their inequitable distribution among human beings, and the inequalities among and within societies urgently require a new pact among human beings, in which they recognize each other as partners in the survival and the development of humankind and for the safekeeping of the planet.

This pact, intended to promote harmony in the relations among human beings, among societies, and between humankind and the planet, is rooted in our traditions and our wisdom. It rests on five fundamental principles. These principles must guide the conduct of individuals, public authorities, corporations, scientists and the international community.

1. To preserve humankind in its wealth and the planet in its integrity, diversity and unity must be conciliated at every level

To survive and to develop, humankind needs to preserve the integrity of the community of life of which it is part.

Humankind and the community of life are made of an infinite variety of beings, all of them interdependent. Unity and diversity are inseparable and equally necessary to the integrity of humankind and the community of life.

Every human community has the right to live according to its culture and its convictions, provided that it recognizes the same right to diversity for its own members and for the other communities.

2. Recognition of others is the foundation of all relationships and all peace

Every human being has a value in him or herself and the same right to dignity, respect, compassion, knowledge, and the natural resources of the planet.

Neither lifestyles nor actions can jeopardize the inalienable rights of others.

Recognition of others is the foundation for the peaceful management of conflicts and the search for cooperation in the management of the common good.

4. Acceptance of the constraints entailed by the preservation of the common good is indispensable to the exercise of freedom

The freedom of individuals, the right to seek, own, and undertake, and the sovereignty of nations are second to the preservation of the common good and to the need to preserve humankind and the community of life.

All power and all knowledge entail an equal and inalienable responsibility to others and to humankind. Everyone, with his or her own means, is jointly responsible for the safekeeping of the earth.

Exercising rights and duties simultaneously is what makes every individual a full member and a citizen of the human community, and every people a full member of the world community.

4. Material development is at the service of human development

The true measures of human development are neither the accumulation of wealth nor the accumulation of knowledge. They are the possibility for every individual to live a life in dignity and fulfillment, and the harmony of relations among people, among societies, and between humankind and the community of life.

The renewable resources of the planet are limited and must be equitably distributed among all human beings; the resources of intelligence and of the heart are infinite and the source of all human development.

The dignity of individuals has no measure and no price.

5. Innovation is not an aim in itself, it is a means to serve human development and the safekeeping of the planet

Humankind cannot, without preparing its own enslavement, turn nature and the community of life into instruments of its own desires, to be shaped at will.

The community of life is complex. From time immemorial it has created the conditions for us to live and to survive. Humbleness and caution are of the essence before we alter its balances.

The more the consequences of scientific and technological progress are unforeseeable, the greater should our caution be. Human societies should not implement innovations before being certain of their ability to control their present and future risks.

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Application of the Charter
To different spheres of human activitie

It is proposed to enrich and make more operational this Earth Charter project by applying broad principles to different spheres of human activities. Several draft apllication texts have already been formulated:

  • Call to the academics on the occasion of the World Conference on Higher Education;

  • Contract between science and society;

  • Principles for the management of public authorities;

  • Principles for the management of corporations.

These texts are in the form of codes for professionals and management rules for a sphere of human activity. They can be obtained from:

Contact: Pierre Calame, FPH
38 rue Saint Sabin, 75011 Paris, France
Tel: 33.(0) - Fax: 33.(0)

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The Workshop on "Human Cross-roads"

A small group of French allies of the Centre for Studies and Research in Sociology -- André Levesque, Georges Levesque, Alain Desjonquières and Roger Eon -- have adopted an original method to conduct the Alliance workshop on the search for a platform of common values that could serve as a foundation for collective life and peaceful cohabitation. This was the adventure of the "Human Cross-roads". Three fundamental ideas ruled over this session:

  • The values of a society are to be found in life itself, the most common problems are found in personal or collective experience: these values are living realities and do not trickle exclusively from the competence of experts be it in the field of ethics, philosophy, religion or morality.

  • By ethics we do not mean a gamut of values but some clearly defined criteria of making choices and some principles of behaviour, when we find that values we believe in, appear to be in conflict with each other or seem contradictory. Hence the idea that each civilisation is characterised by the manner in which these values relate to each other or confront each other and by the manner in which solutions are found when faced with these contradictions, what the CERS calls the "great cross-roads".

  • Experiments show that in Western Europe, groups of human beings, very different in age, training or social status have arrived at similar c

In order to assess the universality of these cross-roads and to understand better the similarities and differences, a similar experiment was carried out in India (January 1995), Brazil (August 1995), Burkina Faso (March 1996), China (May 1996) and Japan (September 1996).

This experiment proved to be fruitful. It provided a concrete, experimental foundation leading to the Earth Charter centred around major dualities found to be common to different civilisations: between unity and diversity, between self and the other; between freedom and common good; having and being ; innovation and long-term preservation.

Contact: Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Sociologiques (CERS)
16 bis, route de la Borde, 78110 le Vésinet, France
Tel: 33 (0)1 – Fax: 33 (0)

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