Two dangers constantly threaten the world: order and disorder. Paul Valéry An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come. Victor Hugo Henceforth, our country should be the universe. Flora Tristan . . . for with freedom come responsibilities. Nelson Mandela *

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True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice. Martin Luther King, Jr.

. . . for with freedom come responsibilities. Nelson Mandela

An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come. Victor Hugo

Two dangers constantly threaten the world: order and disorder. Paul Valéry

The world is for the public good, such is the Great Way. Confucius

Do what is right. Rosa Parks

Henceforth, our country should be the universe. Flora Tristan

Whenever you are in doubt, recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man. Gandhi

A Multilateral System

The world-governance system so desperately needed today has necessarily to be multilateral. Confrontations are recurrent and growing in numbers, while economic, political, and military multilateralism is blocked by belligerent tensions and xenophobic ideologies. As a result, it has become all the more difficult now to lay the foundations for new institutions that will be adapted to all levels of governance, from local to global.

In this context, the executive, legislative, and judicial structures inherited from the past do not provide an adequate response to the complexity of contemporary society, where private enterprise and public services are seriously undermined by corruption. In many countries, the gap between civil society and political institutions has widened so dramatically that it is often a daunting challenge to our existing institutional systems, sometimes even to democracy itself.

Political parties have also proven to be unable to think constructively about emerging forms of citizenship in all their complexity. Participatory democracy is the reflection of strong social commitment, but social movements and civil-society organizations cannot solve the core issue of legitimacy of power in society and are themselves incapable of giving democracy a fresh momentum. They are often just a sounding board for the demands of individual interest groups and stakeholders.

The political risks brought about by this situation are obvious, and strategic political thinking on the subject is lagging enormously behind the stakes. Recent history shows that an institutional participatory system is not only fairer, but also more effective than an authoritarian one. So how can we reverse the current trend to discredit democracy, both in the public debate and in political practices?

Fortunately, there are pockets of progressive change. Here and there, we can identify promising economic, social, technological, and cultural innovations, especially at local or national levels. Nevertheless, we have to admit that they have not succeed in reversing the general trend toward more conflicts or the irreversible deterioration of the biosphere.

We need to rethink world governance and, to achieve this, we must go beyond the conceptual and ideological foundations of the current system. One of the necessary innovations is to introduce a regional level of governance, between national and world institutions. We need to prevent, for example, the construction of Europe from being undermined by sterile arguments among states. Europe represents a historic effort to build a supranational entity on the foundations of economic convergence and community law. New negotiations and decision-making processes must be anchored at a regional level, something that the future—and inevitable—reform of the UN Security Council needs to take into account. The Security Council ought to be a world committee in which all the regions of the planet are represented. Its chair would be held on a rotation basis by a country of one of the regions, which would also represent it in international negotiations.

To face these challenges, we must all play our part. Multicultural communities are emerging in local neighborhoods and at all other levels, including the global. Cultural diversity offers a fundamental starting point for global communication, and we must bring together our many political and religious communities, and nonprofit organizations to build a new system of legitimate and responsible governance.

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