Our Global Neighborhood

Report of the Commission on Global Governance

Chapter Seven -- A Call to Action

In this final chapter, we set out our main conclusions and proposals, and then look at how the world community might consider these and other proposals on the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations.

Summary of Commission Proposals

Governance, Change, and Values

Promoting Security

Managing Economic Interdependence

Reforming the United Nations

Strengthening the Rule of Law World- wide

The Next Steps

The Need for Leadership

Summary of Commission Proposals

A global civic ethic to guide action within the global neighbourhood, and leadership infused with that ethic, is vital to the quality of global governance.

This section recapitulates the principal conclusions and recommendations thus far. A more complete list is found at the end of earlier chapters and we do not repeat them all. In recalling our major proposals, however, we emphasize the degree to which we see them as a coherent body of reform proposals--not inseparable, of course, but mutually reinforcing. We encourage their consideration as such.

Governance, Change, and Values

Global governance, once viewed primarily as concerned with intergovernmental relationships, now involves not only governments and intergovernmental institutions but also non- governmental organizations (NGOs), citizens' movements, transnational corporations, academia, and the mass media. The emergence of a global civil society, with many movements reinforcing a sense of human solidarity, reflects a large increase in the capacity and will of people to take control of their own lives.

States remain primary actors but have to work with others. The United Nations must play a vital role, but it cannot do all the work. Global governance does not imply world government or world federalism. Effective global governance calls for a new vision, challenging people as well as governments to realize that there is no alternative to working together to create the kind of world they want for themselves and their children. It requires a strong commitment to democracy grounded in civil society.

The changes of the last half- century have brought the global neighbourhood nearer to reality--a world in which citizens are increasingly dependent on one another and need to cooperate. Matters calling for global neighbourhood action keep multiplying. What happens far away matters much more now.

We believe that a global civic ethic to guide action within the global neighbourhood and leadership infused with that ethic are vital to the quality of global governance. We call for a common commitment to core values that all humanity could uphold: respect for life, liberty, justice and equity, mutual respect, caring, and integrity. We further believe humanity as a whole will be best served by recognition of a set of common rights and responsibilities.

It should encompass the right of all people to:

  • a secure life,

  • equitable treatment,

  • an opportunity to earn a fair living and provide for their own welfare,

  • the definition and preservation of their differences through peaceful means,

  • participation in governance at all levels,

  • free and fair petition for redress of gross injustices,

  • equal access to information, and

  • equal access to the global commons.

At the same time, all people share a responsibility to:

  • contribute to the common good;

  • consider the impact of their actions on the security and welfare of others;

  • promote equity, including gender equity;

  • protect the interests of future generations by pursuing sustainable development and safeguarding the global commons;

  • preserve humanity's cultural and intellectual heritage;

  • be active participants in governance; and

  • work to eliminate corruption.

Democracy provides the environment within which the fundamental rights of citizens are best safeguarded and offers the most favourable foundation for peace and stability. The world needs, however, to ensure the rights of minorities, and to guard against the ascendence of the military and corruption. Democracy is more than just the right to vote in regular elections. And as within nations, so globally, the democratic principle must be ascendant.

Sovereignty has been the cornerstone of the inter- state system. In an increasingly interdependent world, however, the notions of territoriality, independence, and non- intervention have lost some of their meaning. In certain areas, sovereignty must be exercised collectively, particularly in relation to the global commons. Moreover, the most serious threats to national sovereignty and territorial integrity now often have internal roots.

The principles of sovereignty and non- intervention must be adapted in ways that recognize the need to balance the rights of states with the rights of people, and the interests of nations with the interests of the global neighbourhood. It is time also to think about self- determination in the emerging context of a global neighbourhood rather than the traditional context of a world of separate states.

Against this backdrop of an emerging global neighbourhood and the values that should guide its governance, we explored four specific areas of governance central to the challenges of the new era the world has entered: security, economic interdependence, the United Nations, and the rule of law. In each case we have sought to focus on governance aspects, but these are often inseparable from substantive issues that we have had to address.

Promoting Security

The concept of global security must be broadened from the traditional focus on the security of states to include the security of people and the security of the planet. The following six concepts should be embedded in international agreements and used as norms for security policies in the new era:

  • All people, no less than all states, have a right to a secure existence, and all states have an obligation to protect those rights.

  • The primary goals of global security policy should be to prevent conflict and war and to maintain the integrity of the environment and life- support systems of the planet by eliminating the economic, social, environmental, political, and military conditions that generate threats to the security of people and the planet, and by anticipating and managing crises before they escalate into armed conflicts.

  • Military force is not a legitimate political instrument, except in self- defence or under UN auspices.

  • The development of military capabilities beyond that required for national defence and support of UN action is a potential threat to the security of people.

  • Weapons of mass destruction are not legitimate instruments of national defence.

  • The production and trade in arms should be controlled by the international community.

Unprecedented increases in human activity and human numbers have reached the point where their impacts are impinging on the basic conditions on which life depends. It is imperative that action should be taken now to control these activities and keep population growth within acceptable limits so that planetary security is not endangered.

The principle of non- intervention in domestic affairs should not be taken lightly. But it is necessary to assert as well the rights and interests of the international community in situations within individual states in which the security of people is extensively endangered. A global consensus exists today for a UN response on humanitarian grounds in such cases. We propose a UN Charter amendment to permit such intervention but restricting it to cases that in the judgement of a reformed Security Council constitute a violation of the security of people so gross and extreme that it requires an international response on humanitarian grounds.

There should be a new 'Right of Petition' for non- state actors to bring situations massively endangering the security of people within states to the attention of the Security Council. The Charter amendment establishing the Right of Petition should also authorize the Security Council to call on parties to an intrastate dispute to settle it through the mechanisms listed in Article 33 of the UN Charter for the pacific settlement of disputes between states. The Council should be authorized to take enforcement action under Chapter VII if such action fails, but only if it determines that intervention is justified under the Charter amendment referred to in the previous paragraph on the grounds of the violation of security of people. Even then, the use of force would be the last resort.

We suggest two measures to improve UN peacekeeping. First, the integrity of the UN command should be respected; for each operation a consultative committee should be set up, as was originally the case, with representatives of the countries that contribute troops. Second, although the principle that countries with special interests in relation to a conflict should not contribute troops should be upheld, the earlier view that the permanent members of the Security Council should not play an active part in peacekeeping should be discarded.

New possibilities arise for the involvement of regional organizations in conjunction with the UN in resolving conflicts. We support the Secretary- General's plea for making more active use of regional organizations under Chapter VIII of the Charter.

The UN needs to be able to deploy credible and effective peace enforcement units at an early stage in a crisis and at short notice. It is high time that a UN Volunteer Force was established. We envisage a force with a maximum of 10,000 personnel. It would not take the place of preventive action, of traditional peacekeeping forces, or of large- scale enforcement action under Chapter VII of the Charter. Rather, it would fill a gap by giving the Security Council the ability to back up preventive diplomacy with a measure of immediate and convincing deployment on the ground. Its very existence would be a deterrent; it would give support for negotiation and peaceful settlement of disputes.

The international community must provide increased funds for peacekeeping, using some of the resources released by reductions of defence expenditures. The cost of peacekeeping should be integrated into a single annual budget and financed by assessments on all UN member countries--with an increase of the peacekeeping reserve fund to facilitate rapid deployment.

The international community should reaffirm its commitment to eliminate nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction progressively from all nations, and should initiate a ten- to- fifteen year programme to achieve this goal.

Work towards nuclear disarmament should involve action on four fronts:

  • the earliest possible ratification and implementation of existing agreements on nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction;

  • the indefinite extension of the Non- Proliferation Treaty;

  • the conclusion of a treaty to end all nuclear testing; and

  • the initiation of talks among all declared nuclear powers to establish a process to reduce and eventually eliminate all nuclear arsenals.

All nations should sign and ratify the conventions on chemical and biological weapons, enabling the world to enter the twenty- first century free of these weapons.

For the first time in history, the world's dominant military powers have both an interest in reducing world- wide military capabilities and the ability to do so. The international community should make the demilitarization of global politics an overriding priority.

Donor institutions and countries should evaluate a country's military spending when considering assistance to it. And a Demilitarization Fund should be set up to help developing countries reduce their military commitments, and collective military spending should be reduced to $500 billion by the end of the decade.

States should undertake immediate negotiation and eventual introduction of a Convention on the curtailment of the arms trade--including provision for a mandatory Arms Register and the prohibition of the financing or subsidy of arms exports by governments.

Managing Economic Interdependence

The globalization process is in danger of widening the gap between rich and poor. A sophisticated, globalized, increasingly affluent world currently coexists with a marginalized global underclass.

The pace of globalization of financial and other markets is outstripping the capacity of governments to provide the necessary framework of rules and co- operative arrangements. There are severe limits to national solutions to such failures within a globalized economy, yet the structures of global governance for pursuing international public policy objectives are underdeveloped.

The time is now ripe--indeed overdue--to build a global forum that can provide leadership in economic, social, and environmental fields. This should be more representative than the Group of Seven or the Bretton Woods institutions, and more effective than the present UN system. We propose the establishment of an Economic Security Council (ESC) that would meet at high political level. It would have deliberative functions only; its influence will derive from the relevance and quality of its work and the significance of its membership.

The ESC's tasks would be to:

  • continuously assess the overall state of the world economy and the interaction between major policy areas;

  • provide a long- term strategic policy framework in order to promote stable, balanced, and sustainable development;

  • secure consistency between the policy goals of the major international organizations, particularly the Bretton Woods bodies and the World Trade Organization (WTO); and

  • give political leadership and promote consensus on international economic issues.

The ESC should be established as a distinct body within the UN family, structured like the Security Council, though not with identical membership and independent of it.

With some 37,000 transnational corporations world- wide, foreign investment is growing faster than trade. The challenge is to provide a framework of rules and order for global competition in the widest sense. The WTO should adopt a strong set of competition rules and a Global Competition Office should be set up to provide oversight of national enforcement efforts and resolve inconsistencies between them.

The decision- making structures of the Bretton Woods institutions must be reformed and made more reflective of economic reality; gross domestic product figures based on purchasing power parity should be used to establish voting strength.

The role of the IMF should be enhanced by:

  • enlarging its capacity for balance- of- payments support through low conditionality compensatory finance;

  • having oversight of the international monetary system and a capacity to ensure that domestic economic policies in major countries are not mutually inconsistent or damaging to the rest of the international community;

  • releasing a new issue of Special Drawing Rights; and

  • improving its capacity to support nominal exchange rates in the interest of exchange rate stability.

For some countries, aid is likely to be for many years one of the main ways to escape from a low- income, low- savings, low- investment trap. There is no substitute for a politically realistic strategy to mobilize aid flows and to demonstrate value for money, including cofinancing between official aid donors, the private sector, and NGOs with a view to widening the support base.

A false sense of complacency has enveloped the developing- country debt problem. Radical debt reduction is needed for heavily indebted low- income countries, involving at least implementation of 'full Trinidad terms', including the matter of multilateral debt.

In response to environmental concerns, governments should make maximum use of market instruments, including environmental taxes and tradable permits, and should adopt the 'polluter pays principle' of charging. We support the European Union's carbon tax proposal as a first step towards a system that taxes resource use rather than employment and savings, and urge its wide adoption.

A start must be made in establishing schemes of global financing of global purposes, including charges for the use of global resources such as flight lanes, sea- lanes, and ocean fishing areas and the collection of global revenues agreed globally and implemented by treaty. An international tax on foreign currency transactions should be explored as one option, as should the creation of an international corporate tax base among multinational companies. It is time for the evolution of a consensus on the concept of global taxation for servicing the needs of the global neighbourhood.

Reforming the United Nations

We do not subscribe to the notion that the UN should be dismantled to make way for a new architecture of global governance. Much of the necessary reform of the United Nations system can be effected without amending the Charter, provided governments are willing. But some Charter amendments are necessary for better global governance, and those we propose will help to create an environment propitious to a return to the spirit of the Charter.

UN reform must reflect the realities of change, including the new capacity of global civil society to contribute to global governance.

Reform of the Security Council is central to reforming the UN system. Permanent membership limited to five countries that derive their primacy from events fifty years ago is unacceptable; so is the veto. To add more permanent members and give them the veto would be regressive. We propose a process of reform in two stages.

First, a new class of five 'standing' members who will retain membership to the second stage of the reform process should be established. They will be selected by the General Assembly and we envisage two from industrial countries and one each from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The number of non- permanent members should be raised from ten to thirteen, and the number of votes required for a decision of the Council raised from nine to fourteen. To facilitate the phasing out of the veto, the permanent members should enter into a concordat agreeing to forgo its use save in circumstances they consider to be of an exceptional and overriding


The second stage should be a full review of the membership of the Council, including these arrangements, around 2005, when the veto can be phased out; the position of the permanent members will then also be reviewed, and account taken of new circumstances--including the growing strength of regional bodies.

The Trusteeship Council should be given a new mandate over the global commons in the context of concern for the security of the planet.

The General Assembly should be revitalized as a universal forum of the world's states. Regular theme sessions, effective exercise of budgetary authority, and the streamlining of its agenda and procedures should be part of the process of revitalization.

We also propose an annual Forum of Civil Society consisting of representatives of organizations to be accredited to the General Assembly as 'Civil Society Organizations'. The forum should be convened in the General Assembly Hall sometime before the Annual Session of the Assembly. International civil society should itself be involved in determining the character and functions of the Forum.

The Right of Petition proposed in the context of promoting the security of people requires the formation of a Council of Petitions--a high- level panel of five to seven persons, independent of governments, to entertain petitions. Its recommendations will go as appropriate to the Secretary- General, the Security Council, or the General Assembly, and allow for action under the Charter.

In the light of experience and in the context of the proposed Economic Security Council and our other recommendations, we propose that the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) be wound up. The UN system must from time to time also shut down institutions that can no longer be justified in objective terms. We believe this to be true also of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and propose an in- depth review to this end. Our proposals on these UN bodies are part of the integrated set of proposals we make for improving global economic governance including, notably, the setting up of an Economic Security Council. Balance in governance arrangements will not be well served if decision- making is preserved in the hands of a small directorate of countries while institutions such as UNCTAD, set up to correct imbalances, are dismantled.

The world community can take pride in UN achievements in the economic and social sectors through the specialized agencies and the programmes and funds. But there is scope for improvement in responding to new needs and in efficiency. There is also need to improve co- ordination and for the specialized agencies to enhance their position as centres of authority. The various programmes and funds require more efficient governance structures and improved funding systems, with fairer burden- sharing among a wider range of donor countries.

To help put women at the centre of global governance, a post of Senior Adviser on Women's Issues should be created in the Office of the UN Secretary- General, and similar positions should be established in the specialized agencies.

The UN must gear itself for a time when regionalism becomes more ascendant world- wide and assist the process in advance of that time. Regional co- operation and integration should be seen as an important and integral part of a balanced system of global governance. However, the continuing utility of the UN Regional Economic Commissions now needs to be closely examined and their future determined in consultation with the respective regions.

The procedure for appointing the Secretary- General should be radically improved, and the term of office should be a single one of seven years. The procedure for selecting the heads of UN specialized agencies, funds, and programmes should similarly be improved.

Member- states should face up to the need to pay their UN dues in full and on time.

Strengthening the Rule of Law World- Wide

The global neighbourhood of the future must be characterized by law and the reality that all, including the weakest, are equal under the law and none, including the strongest, is above it. Our recommendations are directed to strengthening international law and the International Court of Justice in particular.

All member- states of the UN that have not already done so should accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the World Court. The Chamber Procedure of that court should be modified to enhance its appeal to states and to avoid damage to the Court's integrity.

Judges of the World Court should be appointed for one ten- year term only, and a system of screening potential members for jurisprudential skills and objectivity introduced. The UN Secretary- General should have the right to refer legal aspects of international issues to the World Court for advice, particularly in the early stages of emerging disputes.

The Security Council should appoint a distinguished legal person to provide advice at all relevant stages on the international legal aspects of issues before it. It should also make greater use of the World Court as a source of advisory opinions, with a view to avoiding being itself the judge of international law in particular cases.

We do not emphasize formal enforcement measures but failing voluntary compliance, Security Council enforcement of World Court decisions and other international legal obligations should be pursued under Article 94 of the Charter.

An International Criminal Court should be quickly established with independent prosecutors of the highest calibre and experience.

The International Law Commission, or other appropriate body, should be authorized to explore how international law- making can be expedited.

The Next Steps

If reform is left to normal processes, only piecemeal and inadequate action will result.

We have made many recommendations, some of them far- reaching. We would like in this chapter to go one step further by suggesting a process through which the world community could consider these and similar recommendations.

At several points in this report we have recalled the establishment of the United Nations fifty years ago. The passage of a half- century provides an appropriate occasion to assess how the UN system has measured up and how well it is equipped to cope with present and emerging challenges. The world has not stood still these fifty years. We started this report by noting how the world had been transformed in the post- war period. Accelerating change has been a prominent feature, even of the recent past.

During the time this Commission has been at work, we have witnessed the currencies of Europe held hostage by forces of speculation themselves out of control. Powerful economies confronted each other on the threshold of trade wars, while marginal ones collapsed. There was ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, a 'failed state' in Somalia, and genocide in Rwanda. Nuclear weapons lay unsecured in the former Soviet Union, and neo- Fascism surfaced in the West.

The United Nations has faced much greater demands. Its existence is a continuing reminder that all nations form part of one world, though evidence is not lacking of the world's many divisions. Today's interdependencies are compelling people to recognize the unity of the world. People are forced not just to be neighbours but to be good neighbours. The practical needs of a shared habitat and the instinct of human solidarity are pointing in the same direction. More than ever before people need each other--for their welfare, their health, their safety, perhaps even for their survival. Global governance must acknowledge that need.

Our report is issued in the year the UN marks a jubilee. It is not tied to that one event or to the UN system alone. It speaks to a longer time and a larger stage, but the UN and its future are a central part of our concerns. It is important that the international community should use the UN's anniversary as an occasion for renewing commitment to the spirit of the Charter and the internationalism it embodied, and establish a process that can take the world to a higher stage of international cooperation. This process must be centred on the UN but not be confined to it.

Ours are not the only recommendations that will be considered in the anniversary year. Many new ideas have been put forward by the UN Secretary- General in his An Agenda for Peace and its updates and in 'An Agenda for Development'; by Gareth Evans, the Foreign Minister of Australia, whose study Cooperating for Peace has offered well- developed proposals for strengthening global capacity for preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding; and by Renewing the United Nations System, the comprehensive study of the UN done by Erskine Childers and Brian Urquhart.

Other major studies are in progress, one under the aegis of the Ford Foundation on the United Nations in its Second Half- Century and one by the Carnegie Commission on the Prevention of Deadly Conflict. The General Assembly itself will be offering ideas for reform resulting from the discussions of its Working Group.

The variety of reports and studies presenting the case for change and proposing the form it should take reflects the wide recognition that change is needed. That itself does not guarantee that action will be taken to bring about change. The will to change does not exist everywhere. It would be easy for all the effort to promote reform to be stalled by a filibuster or simply by inertia. Or, paradoxically, it could be overwhelmed by the onset of the very dangers that some of the changes proposed are meant to guard against.

We are prompted to recall the vision that drove the process of founding the United Nations and the spirit of innovation that ushered in a new era of global governance. We need that spirit again today, together with a readiness to look beyond the United Nations and nation- states to the new forces that can now contribute to improved governance in the global neighbourhood.

We fear that if reform is left to normal processes, only piecemeal and inadequate action will result. We look, therefore, to a more deliberate process. Article 109 of the UN Charter envisaged Charter revision. Interestingly, a mandatory revision was one idea canvassed at San Francisco in the context of the objections to the provision for a veto by countries that were not great powers. The Charter has been amended on four occasions: in 1963 to enlarge the Security Council from eleven to fifteen members, in 1965 to enable a review conference to be held at any time, and in 1971 and 1975 to enlarge ECOSOC from eighteen to twenty- seven and then to fifty- four members. But revision of the Charter is the ultimate stage in a process of reform and is not required for many of the changes we propose.

The ultimate process has to be intergovernmental and at a high level, giving political imprimatur to a new world order whose contours are shaped to the designs developed for the anniversary year.

For such a process to have the best prospect of securing agreement on the nature and form of a new system of global governance, there will need to be careful preparation. Civil society must be involved in the preparatory process, which should reach out beyond governments to even wider sections of society than the preparatory processes leading to recent world conferences did. Many views must be examined, and many ideas allowed to contend.

Our recommendation is that the General Assembly should agree to hold a World Conference on Governance in 1998, with its decisions to be ratified and put into effect by 2000. That will allow more than two years for the preparatory process.

We do not envisage that action on all recommendations needs to await the final conference. Indeed, some changes cannot be delayed without giving rise to the possibility of movement along dangerous lines, particularly in the area of peace and security. We would be happy to see the General Assembly taking up some matters, such as reform of the Security Council, without waiting for their consideration as part of the preparatory process. It should also be possible for decisions to be taken during the course of that process on recommendations that warrant early consideration.

Many of the changes proposed do not need an amendment of the Charter. Some changes are already under way. We encourage action on reform at all levels--provided, of course, that ad hoc decisions do not become a substitute for systematic reform through a fully representative forum. We recall that the nuclear arms race began because the process of disarmament blessed by the very first resolution of the General Assembly was talked out until it was too late to stop the race beginning.

A special responsibility devolves on the non- governmental sector. If our recommendations and those from other sources are worthy of support, international civil society must prevail on governments to consider them seriously. By doing so they would ensure that 'WE THE PEOPLES' are the main instruments of change to a far greater extent than they were fifty years ago. We call on international civil society, NGOs, the business sector, academia, the professions, and especially young people to join in a drive for change in the international system.

Governments can be made to initiate change if people demand it. That has been the story of major change in our time; the liberation of women and the environmental movement provide examples. If people are to live in a global neighbourhood and live by neighbourhood values, they have to prepare the ground. We believe that they are ready to do so.

We urge governments to set in motion a process of change that can give hope to people everywhere, and particularly to the young. Despite today's many complexities and hazards, the world has a unique opportunity to take human civilization to higher levels and to make the global neighbourhood a more peaceful, just, and habitable place for all, now and in the future.

The Need for Leadership

The world needs leaders made strong by vision, sustained by ethics, and revealed by political courage that looks beyond the next election.

Whatever the dimensions of global governance, however renewed and enlarged its machinery, whatever values give it content, the quality of global governance depends ultimately on leadership. Throughout our work, we have been conscious of the degree to which the effectiveness of our proposals--indeed, their very realization--depends on leadership of a high order at all levels within societies and beyond them.

As the world faces the need for enlightened responses to the challenges that arise on the eve of the new century, we are concerned at the lack of leadership over a wide spectrum of human affairs. At national, regional, and international levels, within communities and in international organizations, in governments and in non- governmental bodies, the world needs credible and sustained leadership.

It needs leadership that is proactive, not simply reactive, that is inspired, not simply functional, that looks to the longer term and future generations for whom the present is held in trust. It needs leaders made strong by vision, sustained by ethics, and revealed by political courage that looks beyond the next election.

This cannot be leadership confined within domestic walls. It must reach beyond country, race, religion, culture, language, life- style. It must embrace a wider human constituency, be infused with a sense of caring for others, a sense of responsibility to the global neighbourhood. Václav Havel gave it expression when addressing the US Congress in 1990 he said:

Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in our being as humans, and the catastrophe toward which our world is headed...will be unavoidable....We are still incapable of understanding that the only genuine backbone of all our actions--if they are to be moral--is responsibility: responsibility to something higher than my family, my country, my firm, my success, responsibility to the order of being where all our actions are indelibly recorded and where, and only where, they will be properly judged.

Acknowledging responsibility to something higher than country does not come easily. The impulse to possess turf is a powerful one for all species; yet it is one that people must overcome. In the global neighbourhood, a sense of otherness cannot be allowed to nourish instincts of insularity, intolerance, greed, bigotry, and, above all, a desire for dominance. But barricades in the mind can be even more negative than frontiers on the ground. Globalization has made those frontiers increasingly irrelevant. Leadership must bring the world to that higher consciousness of which Václav Havel spoke.

To a very particular degree today, the need for leadership is widely felt, and the sense of being bereft of it is the cause of uncertainty and instability. It contributes to a sense of drift and powerlessness. It is at the heart of the tendency everywhere to turn inwards. That is why we have attached so much importance to values in this report, to the substance of leadership and the compulsions of an ethical basis for global governance. A neighbourhood without leadership is a neighbourhood endangered.

International leadership is a quality easy to identify by its presence or its absence, but extraordinarily difficult to define, and even more difficult to guarantee. Political differences and conflicts between states, sensitivity over the relationship between international responsibility and national sovereignty and interest, increasingly serious national domestic problems, and the somewhat disorderly nature of the international system of organizations and agencies--all these constitute considerable obstacles to leadership at the international level.

Such leadership can come from a number of possible sources and in many different forms. Governments, either singly or in groups, can pursue great objectives. The American- led post- war planning that produced the new international system based on the United Nations was a classic example of such leadership. Individuals can put their reputation on the line for international innovation, as Lester Pearson of Canada did for UN peacekeeping. Specific governments can create a constituency for an international initiative--Sweden on the environment, for example, or Malta on the Law of the Sea.

In the UN itself, international leaders may also emerge. Ralph Bunche pioneered trusteeship and decolonization and set up a new standard for international mediation and, indeed, for international civil service in general. Dag Hammarskjöld was the dominant, and the most innovative, international leader of his time. Maurice Pate and Henry Labouisse spearheaded the drive to make the world's children an international concern. Halfdan Mahler led the World Health Organization into a vital international role.

By leadership we do not mean only people at the highest national and international levels. We mean enlightenment at every level--in local and national groups, in parliaments and in the professions, among scientists and writers, in small community groups and large national NGOs, in international bodies of every description, in the religious community and among teachers, in political parties and citizens' movements, in the private sector and among the large transnational corporations, and particularly in the media. NGOs can be of crucial importance in developing support and new ideas for important international goals. Recent examples have included the environment, women's rights, and the whole broad area of human rights world- wide.

At the moment, political caution, national concerns, short- term problems, and a certain fatigue with international causes have combined to produce a dearth of leadership on major international issues. The very magnitude of global problems such as poverty, population, or consumerism seems to have daunted potential international leaders. And yet without courageous, long- term leadership at every level--international and national--it will be impossible to create and sustain constituencies powerful and reliable enough to make an impact on problems that will determine, one way or another, the future of the human race on this planet.

A great challenge of leadership today is to harmonize domestic demands for national action and the compulsions of international co- operation. It is not a new challenge, but it has a new intensity as globalization diminishes capacities to deliver at home and enlarges the need to combine efforts abroad. Enlightened leadership calls for a clear vision of solidarity in the true interest of national well- being--and for political courage in articulating the way the world has changed and why a new spirit of global neighbourhood must replace old notions of adversarial states in eternal confrontation.

The alternative is too frightening to contemplate. In a final struggle for primacy--in which each sees virtue in the advancement of national self- interest, with states and peoples pitted against each other--there can be no winners. Everyone will lose; selfishness will make genius the instrument of human self- destruction. But the leadership to avert this is not sufficiently evident. The hope must be people--people demanding enlightenment of their leaders, refusing to accept the alternative of humanity at war with itself. And that hope is balanced by the promise of the leadership that future generations will bring.

In a real sense the global neighbourhood is the home of future generations; global governance is the prospect of making it better than it is today. But that hope would be a pious one were there not signs that future generations come to the task better equipped to succeed than their parents were. They bring to the next century less of the baggage of old animosities and adversarial systems accumulated in the era of nation- states.

The new generation knows how close they stand to cataclysms unless they respect the limits of the natural order and care for the earth by sustaining its life- giving qualities. They have a deeper sense of solidarity as people of the planet than any generation before them. They are neighbours to a degree no other generation on earth has been. On that rests our hope for our global neighbourhood.




  • Cover page
  • Chapter 1 A New World
  • Chapter 2 Values for a Global Neighborhood
  • Chapter 3 Promoting Security
  • Chapter 4 Managing Economic Interdependence
  • Chapter 5 Reforming the United Nations
  • Chapter 6 Strengthening the Rule of Law World-Wide
  • Chapter 7 A Call to Action