top of page

Advocacy for Global Interdependence

Geneva, December 2018



In the currently named Anthropocene times, when humanity is becoming a telluric force capable of influencing the future of Mother Earth, it should empower itself to influence its own future. This is the ambition of the charter of interdependence advocated by the International Collegium. In the wake of the expert meetings, conferences and working meetings of the Collegium International with various bodies, and in particular the United Nations, the observation that interdependence is increased by the intensified process of globalisation has become obvious; and the need to regulate it through appropriate governance has become a brutal emergency in order to keep the world ship afloat. However, no progress can be made unless the diagnosis is followed by a reflection on the measures to be taken to improve global, state and societal governance.


The diagnosis is summarised as follows by Edgar Morin, Honorary President of the Collegium: "Spaceship Earth is continuing its course at full speed in a process with three faces: globalisation, westernisation and development. Everything is now interdependent, but at the same time everything is separate. The techno-economic unification of the globe is accompanied by ethnic, religious and political conflicts, economic convulsions, the degradation of the biosphere, the crisis of traditional civilisations, but also of modernity. A multiplicity of crises is thus entangled in the great crisis of humanity, which is unable to become humanity. The Collegium's reflections on governance are situated at the crossroads of law, macroeconomics, science and philosophy, using a conceptual toolbox (that of a Max Weber or a Karl Popper in another era, or today, those of Edgar Morin, Peter Sloterdijk, or Mireille Delmas-Marty...). More broadly, they are also inspired by literature and poetry (Edouard Glissant and Patrick Chamoiseau), and even by artistic creation. Paul Virilio and Heiner Muller said at the time that "the world as it has become, there is only a playwright who can understand it...". Today it has become difficult even for a playwright.


This is why the Collegium International is searching for a new grid to try to understand, and if possible to regulate, world events. Since its creation in 2002, the Collegium has been working on the concept of interdependence in solidarity and responsibility and its application to global governance, which cannot be conceived solely on the basis of the state model, but which includes supra-state and trans-state actors, both public (local authorities and international organisations) and private (transnational companies, TNCs), and civil society. It has taken up the intellectual fundamentals that make up its raison d'être, such as: the interdisciplinarity promoted by the "Group of Ten", Edgar Morin's "Complex Thinking", the "Mental Ecology" of the Palo Alto School, the work "The Three Ecologies" by Félix Guattari, the thought of Peter Sloterdijk; or, in the field of law, Mireille Delmas-Marty's " Organised Pluralism".


To this theoretical work the Collegium adds the experience and expertise of the politicians who have accompanied it since its creation, notably Michel Rocard, Milan Kučan (at the time President of the Republic of Slovenia), Anna Lindt, FH Cardoso, Mary Robinson, Helmut Schmidt, Alpha Oumar Konaré, Ruth Dreifus, Richard Von Weizsäcker, Danilo Türk, as well as Jacques Toubon and Pascal Lamy today. The various meetings, conferences and documents have also shed light on multilateralism and the United Nations, with Stéphane Hessel, Michael W. Doyle, Bernard Miyet, William vanden Heuvel, and on several occasions Kofi Annan and Michael Møller, UN Director General, who has been very supportive to the Collegium.


Illustrating Edgar Morin's Politics of Civilisation and the Highlighting of Metamorphosis, metamorphosis translates in particular: for states by Mireille Delmas-Marty's conceptual distinction between solitary sovereignty and their sovereignty in solidarity; for NCTs by the tightening of social and environmental responsibility. It implies common objectives (protecting global public goods and anticipating changes (climatic and environmental, demographic and migratory, etc.) and common but differentiated responsibilities. 

In short, our Appeal invites us to conceive and build together a world community of destiny.

Three principles for a Charter of Interdependence,

Interdependencies are first of all a fact, less and less questionable as they become more visible and more diversified: between human collectives (tribes, States, groups of States, TNC transnational companies); between present humans and future generations; between humans and non-human living; or even between human "subjects" and "intelligent" objects. They were the subject of legal recognition at the Earth Summit (Rio 1992): "The earth forms a whole marked by interdependencies". After this rather discreet entry, we find them in many projects.

Already in 2005, a “Declaration of interdependence” was presented to the UN institutions.It was drafted with a contribution of Mireille Delmas-Marty, Michel Rocard, Milan Kučan and Stéphane Hessel,  endorsed  by all other  members of the Collegium International.

During the ten years which followed, the projects multiplied, in particular in 2011 a “Universal Declaration of the human responsibilities”; in 2015 a “Declaration of the rights of humanity”; in 2015 the Paris Agreement on the climate underlines “the planetary character of threats to the community of life on earth” and the resulting duty of cooperation for States. It will be followed in 2017 by the White Paper Towards a Global Pact for the Environment (Club des juristes) which refers to this preamble. Finally, a surprising “Declaration of the poets” was published the same year by Patrick Chamoiseau, who took up the beautiful term “mondialité” launched by Edouard Glissant [1] to designate “what economic globalization has not envisaged”, this unexpected human "Who refuses to desert the world".

Such effervescence is not surprising because it is a real revolution: like Copernicus discovering that the earth is not at the center of the solar system, we discover that humans are not at the center of the earth. . Humans are not the owners of nature but parts of the ecosystem. But when we seek to organize responses to interdependencies, we must recognize that only humans (endowed with “reason” and “conscience” according to art. 1 UDHR) are responsible. Their relationship with non-human living is asymmetrical and without reciprocity. It is therefore up to humans alone to commit to a true “Charter of Interdependence” proposing three principles of action.

1. Preserve the differences

Globality is not uniformity. On the contrary, it recognizes differences and feeds on them, refusing standardization on a single hegemonic model feared at all times. Kant already feared a universal Republic which, according to him, would lead to the most appalling despotism. A century later Tocqueville imagines that despotism in democracy will infantilize humans to the point of transforming them into herds of docile animals. But he had not envisioned the digital revolution which puts at the service of his "soft" despotism, in which everyone participates spontaneously, the means of mass surveillance, fed by big data that we contribute, more or less consciously, to feed, while this mass data is processed by algorithms that escape us as artificial intelligence progresses and becomes empowered. Could this be the advent of another standardizing form, digital despotism?

On the other hand, globalism is both multiple and unique: “multiple”, it implies a certain pluralism, but “unique”, it is not satisfied with juxtaposing differences and calls for a common ordering. In this sense, globalism is close to “ordered pluralism” [2] which brings together differences without eliminating them, harmonizes diversity without destroying it and pluralizes the universal without replacing it with the relative: for there to be common There must remain differences, but they must become compatible.

To make the differences compatible, globality can be based on two mechanisms of international law: article 1 of the UDHR already mentioned, which establishes the equal dignity of human beings as a universal principle and article 1 of the Declaration of the United Nations. Unesco on cultural diversity adopted in November 2001 in the tragic climate of the attacks of September 11, 2001 (and included in the 2005 Convention) which qualifies cultural diversity as a “common heritage of humanity”. Article 4 of the Unesco Declaration, specifying that "no one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe human rights guaranteed by international law, nor to limit their scope", indicates a direction but does not say how to achieve it.

A method is therefore needed to determine the threshold of compatibility which, without imposing a total break with tradition, allows it to be reconciled with a relaxed universalism. Invented by the European Court of Human Rights, the concept of “national margin of appreciation” allows both to recognize common principles and to allow a margin of differentiation in their implementation, but it is not that a margin which must not exceed a certain threshold in order to remain “compatible” with the common principles.

In a posthumous publication [3] the Tunisian thinker Abdelwahab Meddeb suggests that this notion of "compatibility", more flexible than that of "conformity", would make it possible to preserve a national margin, the extent of which would depend on the "compatibility threshold" and the criteria. that determine it. Considering that a similar question now arises in the country of Islam, he recalls that at the turn between the 19th and the 20th century, Kang Youwei, Chinese intellectual trained at the Academy of the Ocean of Erudition, then exiled to Japan as a reformist, remained in favor of a conciliation while his disciple Liang Qichao advocated the rupture. This shows the importance of cultural rights in this "reconciliation of irreconcilables" which is undoubtedly one of the keys to a peaceful globality. All the more so as this method could find support in the second principle.

2. Promote solidarity

Solidarities come under common governance, but which one? As globalization spreads, the democratic separation between the three powers (executive, legislative and judicial) seems less and less transposable on a world scale. On the other hand, checks and balances seem to come from non-state actors, in particular private actors. As the climate conferences demonstrate, and as recent projects confirm (Global Pact on Migration or model convention on human mobility), now participate in the governance of the world not only political powers (States and international organizations) and economic (ETN), but also scientific knowledge (knowledge of scientists) and civic wishes organized on a global scale (NGOs or unions).

But this “SVP Governance” (Knowledge, Willingness, Powers) also calls, paradoxically, for a reterritorialization: “Act in your place, think with the World”, said Glissant. To act in each place, it is necessary to associate the States with the horizontal networks of local authorities (regions and cities). Likewise, the scientific knowledge of scientists must be associated with the experimental knowledge of the "knowledgeable", of those who experience the effects of globalization on a daily basis, such as workers, indigenous peoples or the most deprived populations (these are often the same ). Finally, the wishes of the citizens will have to be exercised at all levels, from the village to the city and even in the “Hyperlieux” which operate at all scales at the same time [4] .

Plurality (places as well as temporalities) and the diversity of actors could be the characteristics of a peaceful globality. On condition of keeping an overall coherence, which supposes a distribution of responsibilities based on common objectives which give coherence and differentiation to respect plurality and diversity.

3. Distribute responsibilities

For the whole to be coherent, it is necessary to distribute the responsibilities on the basis of common objectives. The preamble to the Charter should therefore begin with an enumeration of these objectives, including in particular:

  • the objectives resulting from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Earth Summit and the Charter of Mother Earth (2000), the Unesco Convention on Cultural Diversity “common heritage of humanity” ( 2005);

  • the 8 Millennium Development Goals mainly focused on poverty reduction (MDGs, UN SG, 2000) and the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs, 2015);

  • In addition we propose, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the UDHR, to add 2 objectives particularly necessary for our century: “universal hospitality” and “misery outside the law”.

From these general objectives, specific objectives, qualitative and quantitative, must for each topic specify the responsibilities of States by indicating the differentiation criteria (see for the climate the Paris Agreement and for migration the Global Pact and the project convention, 2017). Distributing responsibilities indeed implies adapting them to an interdependent world without renouncing differences, and therefore transforming the solitary sovereignty of States into solidary sovereignty whose implementation varies according to the context of each State (“common but differentiated” responsibilities).

In addition, the responsibilities of non-state actors when they exercise global power should be clarified. Thus for TNCs, “social and environmental responsibility” (CSR) leads to broadening the notion of social interest to certain forms of general interest (cf. Global Compact, SG Onu, 2000 [5] ). These are spontaneous commitments (soft law) which remain to be hardened by making them binding and sanctioning transgressions as certain courts, national and international, have begun to do. At the same time, laws, such as the French law of 2017 on the duty of vigilance of parent companies and ordering companies with regard to their subsidiaries and subcontractors, are contributing to this tightening.

In conclusion, in this world in transition, globalization remains fragmented and incomplete and warning signs are multiplying. Like lookouts, the whistleblowers keep watch at the bow of the ship so that human dignity is respected, that Mother Earth remains habitable and the Planetary Garden is alive [6] . But to prevent Humanity from entering a “doldrums” which would presage paralysis or shipwreck [7] , we need instruments, especially legal ones.

The Charter of Interdependence is not a utopia, but an emergency. Faced with a reality that is already perceptible, it would be a navigation tool, which can also be improved because this charter was designed as interactive and evolving.

Adapted to our Humanity, which is both unique and multiple, this Charter does not oppose diversity to unity, the different to the common, the relative to the universal. It uses the law as a compass to make differences compatible and to distribute responsibilities in a differentiated way. It is the condition of a peaceful globality which does not claim to guarantee either the perpetual peace imagined by Emanuel Kant, nor the Great Peace of the Chinese Classics, but more modestly to prepare the path towards an always reinvented peace.

The Collegium International thus undertakes today the creation of a CHARTER OF INTERDEPENDENCE carried out as a solemn appeal to the United Nations and to its Secretary General, who has, moreover, already expressed its support for this project.

Through this event of December 17, 2018, the Collegium aims to promote political awareness, at the international level, of the higher interests of humanity in a framework respectful of the diversity and wisdom of various cultural traditions, through the mobilization of representatives of civil society and moral, intellectual and scientific authorities.

It is important to reconnect with the pioneering spirit of the United Nations Charter, in the spirit of "We the peoples ...". This is the ambition of this “Charter of Interdependence” intended to strengthen awareness of the need for world governance that has been battered for three decades and whose shortcomings could have catastrophic consequences for the future of our planet.

Insofar as only a multidisciplinary approach can make it possible to confront disruptions and threats, the launch of a solemn appeal in favor of the drafting and adoption of such a Charter is an essential step, before its presentation to the public. the nations gathered in the General Assembly.

[1] Edouard Glissant La cohée du Lamentin, Gallimard 2005, Patrick Chamoiseau, Migrant brothers, Seuil, 2017

[2] M. Delmas-Marty, Le pluralisme ordered, Seuil, 2006.

[3] Abdelwahab Meddeb "Law and Sharî'a", in Le temps des irronciliables, Contre-prêches 2, 2017, p. 227

[4] Michel Lussault, Hyperlieux, Seuil 2016

[5] cf Action plan for the growth and transformation of companies, PACTE launched in France, October 2017

[6] Gilles Clément, Manifesto of the Third Landscape, Subject / Object ed, 2004.

[7] M. Delmas-Marty, Aux quatre vents du monde. Short guide to navigation on the ocean of globalization, Seuil, 2016.

About: Headliner
I’m an image title
I’m an image title
I’m an image title
About: Photo Gallery
bottom of page