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Global Neighbourliness
Report of the Commission on Global Governance
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“The most important change that we can make is to change our way of looking at the world. People have to see with new eyes and understand with new minds before they can truly turn to new ways of living.”

The Commission on Global Governance issued its report, Our Global Neighbourhood, in 1995. The report was a contribution to the discussion on global reform with the hope that the 50th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) would prompt a process of review and reform to improve global governance, including institutional change at the UN.

Everyman Edict shares the concepts and values that underpin global governance – a world order that is better able to promote peace and progress for all the world’s people – adopted in the report.

The foremost challenge facing man in the 21st Century is shaping a future that is democratic, compelling, sustainable and secure. The New World that is emerging needs a shared vision to achieve higher levels of co-operation and a shared destiny.

This new generation is united in its vision that it should assume greater collective responsibility in both socio-economic areas and humanitarian action.

There is no alternative to working together and using collective power to create a better world. The enormous growth in our concern for human rights, equity, democracy, meeting basic material needs, environmental protection and de-militarisation has produced a multitude of new actors who can contribute to governance.

Contemporary practice acknowledges that governments do not bear the whole burden of global governance. Yet states and governments remain primary public institutions for constructive responses to issues affecting peoples and the global community as a whole. Any adequate system of governance must have the capacity to control and deploy the resources necessary to realise its fundamental objectives. It must encompass actors who have the power to achieve results, must incorporate necessary controls and safeguards and must avoid over-reaching.

Global governance is a broad, dynamic, complex process of interactive decision-making that is constantly evolving and responding to changing circumstances. Effective global decision-making thus needs to build upon and influence decisions taken locally, nationally and regionally and to draw on the skills and resources of a diversity of people and institutions at many levels. It must build partnerships - networks of institutions and processes - that enable global actors to pool information, knowledge and capacities and to develop joint policies and practices on issues of common concern.

The creation of adequate governance mechanisms is complex. More inclusive and participatory processes must be flexible enough to respond to new problems and new understanding of old mechanisms. There must be an agreed global framework for actions and policies to be carried out at appropriate levels. A multi-faceted strategy will require a collaborative ethos based on the principles of consultation, transparency and accountability. It will foster global citizenship and work to include poorer, marginalised and alienated segments of national and international society. It should seek peace and progress for all people, working to anticipate conflicts and improve the capacity for the peaceful resolution of disputes. Finally, it should strive to subject the rule of arbitrary power – economic, political or military – to the rule of law within global society.

Effective global governance will require an enormously improved understanding of what it means to live in a more crowded, inter-dependent world with finite resources. Moreover, it provides the beginning of a new vision for humanity, challenging people as well as governments to see that there is no alternative to working together and using collective power to create a better world. This vision of global governance can only flourish, however, if it is based on a strong commitment to principles of equity and democracy grounded in civil society.

Our common future will depend on the extent to which people and leaders around the world develop the vision of a better world and the strategies, the institutions and the will to achieve it.

The vision of one world in which all people are neighbours embodies the commitment to care for others, to the highest quality of behaviour among human beings.

What happens far away matters much more now. The shortening of distance, the multiplying of links, the deepening of inter-dependence – these factors and their interplay – is transforming the world into a global neighbourhood.

Movements motivated by a sense of human identity transcending national divisions are another mark of the world’s evolution into a neighbourhood. These transnational movements – in working to emancipate women, to protect human rights or the health of the planet or to bring about a world without nuclear weapons – have underlined the common humanity of the world’s inhabitants.

But, like most neighbourhoods, the global neighbourhood we have today is far from ideal. Not all its residents are fairly treated. Many do not have the same opportunities. Millions are so deprived that they do not even think they belong to a neighbourhood. This reaction does not disprove the emergence of a neighbourhood but it does pose challenges to its governance to reduce alienation among neighbours.

States as well as peoples are challenged to devise new ways to manage their affairs and to develop new approaches to governance for the global neighbourhood in the interests of all.

The quality of global governance will be determined by several factors. High among them is the broad acceptance of a global civic ethos to guide action within the global neighbourhood and courageous leadership infused with that ethic at all levels of society. Being global neighbours requires new ways of perceiving one another as well as new ways of living. The most important change that we can make is to change our way of looking at the world. People have to see with new eyes and understand with new minds before they can truly turn to new ways of living.

Establishing an ethical dimension to global governance requires a threefold approach:

Enunciate and encourage commitment to core values concerned with the quality of life and relationships and strengthen the sense of common responsibility for the global neighbourhood
Express these values through a global civic ethic of specific rights and responsibilities that are shared by all actors, public and private, collective and individual
Embody this ethic in the evolving system of international norms, adapting, where necessary, existing norms of sovereignty and self-determination to changing realities.
In stable times, when the authority and capacity of established institutions is strong and secure, the fundamental values and principles guiding human behaviour are usually taken for granted. In unstable times, prevailing values are more likely to be doubted, questioned or challenged. Paradoxically, then, values are often most in doubt when they are most needed. By providing a sense of direction, shared values can help people to see beyond immediate clashes of interest and act on behalf of a larger, long-term, mutual interest.

All humanity could uphold the core values of respect for life, liberty, justice and equity, mutual respect, caring and integrity. These provide a foundation for transforming a global neighbourhood based on economic exchange and improved communications into a universal moral community in which more than proximity, interest or identity binds people together. They all derive in one way or another from the principle, which is in accord with religious teachings around the world, that people should treat others, as they would themselves wish to be treated. It is this imperative that was reflected in the call made in the UN Charter for recognition of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.

Visit http://www.cgg.ch/contents.htm for an overview of Our Global Neighbourhood – Report of the Commission on Global Governance.

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Last Updated: 01-02-2007