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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World
Number 6 August 2000

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bulletASSEMBLY 2000-2001
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 · What kind?
 · Discussion Paper (Revised)
 · Brainstorming
 · Extra-nationality
 · Security
 · Crime Industry
 · Water management
 · No longer source of life
 · Water famine in India
 · African framework
 · Future of Nation-State
 · Social movements
 · World Social Forum
 · Political renewal
 · Partners
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For the renewal of political thinking
The Beirut Meeting (November 23-27, 1999)

Having met in Beirut for five days at the invitation of the Cultural Council of South Lebanon to hold an international forum on "Governance and Citizenship for the Renewal of Political Thinking", players in the social field, intellectuals and allies from China, India, Australia, Armenia, Germany, France, Senegal, Rwanda, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Chile as well as Arabs from Egypt, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon wrote a report, of which we present large extracts here:

Globalization can be the source of increasingly exacerbated social and economic inequalities, not only between the North and the South but also between the rich and poor of every society in the world. The scientific and productive developments it generates can worsen the deterioration of the biosphere and the environment and endanger life, including our own, on Earth.

But it can also be an opportunity for humanity, if only men and women are able to act and fight in every region of the world to build one which is both responsible and united, and succeed in bringing together efforts.

Social movements

The economic and social changes caused by this radical transformation of industrial and rural societies and the new-found awareness that many sectors of society have of their rights leads new players to the front stage of the political and social scene, in particular women and young people, farmers' unions, indigenous movements, networks of ecologists, ... These new players are not competing with established labor unions and political parties, but they seek new means by which all the social organizations that work towards radically changing the current situation can meet and strengthen each other.

Political parties

They have a major role to play in revigorating political activity. However, most of them are undergoing profound crisis, many of them being increasingly remote from the interests of citizens and electors, or even a source of corruption and bureaucracy. A new link between all the components of civil society has become vital so that citizens' and all types of organizations and political parties can strengthen each other reciprocally. Any attempt to restructure civil society first requires that social movements and the people become the protagonists of change in the societies in which they live.


Intellectuals who devote their thinking to formulating new theories of social change, without distancing themselves from social obviously have a role to play in this perspective. They should encourage the wisdom and creativity contributed by players in the social field. New knowledge of the world is being generated and diffused within and by organizations set up by women, young people, farmers, artists and intellectuals. A new relationship between scientific knowledge and philosophical reflection needs to be forged by all men and women who work for a more united world.

The State

The State remains in certain parts of the world an important instrument for organizing and controlling life in society. However, States limited to action within their national boundaries have become powerless. Globalisation requires a new scale of supranational regulation, capable of meeting the economic, political and military challenges that the United Nations and other multilateral agencies are no longer capable of dealing with. Seeking a new form of organization capable of meeting the contemporary challenges of governance between societies is one of the most important tasks in the years to come.


Culture, in its diversity, is an essential instrument for enhancing this new arena now being occupied by different communities, peoples and social movements in our societies. However, cultures also contain structures of domination ; they can be used to justify retreats into sectarianism that paralyze social change and fuel conflict within society.

Globalization conveys a dominant culture that sets a uniform mould for artistic and sports events and standardizes habits and behaviors, and causes irreparable damage to the visions and customs developed by different cultural communities.

The renewal of political thinking must attempt to forge a fertile link between the cultural diversity that enriches us and the unity that gives strength; this is one of its main tasks.


Democracy is a historical process and a political system that must be conjugated in the plural. The different paths and political experiences of societies in Asia and Latin America, as well as in the countries of the North, demonstrate that peoples have built rich and complex systems of social regulation that should be given credit and developed. Furthermore, the democratic political systems of Western societies are in a state of crisis. The role of networks of organizations, citizens' forums, and different civil society organizations, including the renewal of political parties, are elements that attempt to respond to this new challenge.

Creating a new world-wide structure that incorporates the initiatives of the men and women who fight to change this world is urgent. We must not reproduce the same mechanisms of operation as the international organizations of the past. The aim is not to build a bureaucratic institution. The Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World is an innovative experience that contributes to the effort of constructing this new international dynamic, in the perspective of a mutual strengthening of the efforts of the men and women who, all over the world, work to live in peace, surely a fruitful means to prevent globalization in its present becomes a social, democratic and solidary process.

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© 2000 Alliance for a Responsible and United World. All rights reserved. Last updated October 29, 2000.