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This document contents the breakthroughs of three workshops of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World, which are useful to our forum: “State and Development”, “European Continent” and “World Governance”


The ideological issue of “more State” or “less State” is no longer an issue. The State plays an essential role in development, not only correcting market errors, but also defining strategic guidelines with economic agents and compensating the serious deficiencies of the private sector in certain fields (research, strategic investment, etc.). Nevertheless, the nation State, as it has been created over the centuries and as the primary agent in international governance, is facing the growing complexity of an interdependent world. The globalisation of trade, transnational flows and community claims are some of the phenomena now questioning the State’s role.

Coinciding with this crisis, we are observing the failure of our production-oriented development models, which all too often waste non-renewable natural resources and are incapable of reducing the differences between the rich and the poor.

* The State should be considered as a link in the chain of governance: the role that the State should play in development can no longer be considered as a strictly national issue.

Absolute sovereignty is deceiving, and the international system based on the State as a cornerstone is no longer fitting for the interdependent world in which we live. We must abandon the idea of absolute sovereignty which, although it is in all our minds, is now obsolete. The activities of multi-national corporations, transnational trade and the economy on which international delinquency is based are evidence against absolute sovereignty. There is a difference between State representation and reality.

We observe another difference: the difference between the scale of the problems (increasingly global) and the scale of competences (national territory, where democracy is exercised). Indeed, this is a transition period. The State is inadequate and essential at the same time, because issued are no longer considered in terms of national intervention but in terms of adjustments between territorial hierarchies (transborder co-operation on a regional scale between different countries, world-wide environmental regulations, etc.).

* The State plays a federative role between different territorial levels (local, national and international), and between different time issues (between immediate interests and long-term objectives.)

The State is a link between different regulations. It therefore has to co-ordinate initiatives, be a place for dialogue and a catalyst for energy.

The State has a vision of society as a whole. It is the agent that has more relations with the exterior, so it obtains a global view. Because of its vision of the future, the State is what links the short-term vision of economic agents with the long-term vision required to preserve common welfare.

* The State is no longer the only responsible public institution that affects public interest.

The State is not the only regulatory agent, but one of many. The activities of a large number of private organisations affect the public field (multinational corporations, NGOs, etc.). It is also true that some States, under the influence of private groups, are not working towards the common good. Therefore, there is an urgent need to judge the private sector and the NGOs by their impact and not by their objectives.

Public objectives have to be combined with multiple statute agents. The public and private sectors are not opposing, but complementary, forces.

* Nevertheless, the State continues to be essential with regards to solidarity and the redistribution of wealth

If the State abandons its role as entrepreneur, it is with a view to reviewing major social infrastructures: national solidarity, education, redistribution of wealth, health care, education... It should, however, co-operate with other agents and take existing solidarity into account, co-operating and establishing a real dialogue with civil society and with the agents in different fields.

* Development can not be purchased: it is based on experience, personal abilities, learning and knowledge.

Development does not only imply building modern infrastructures, industrial units and effective telecommunication systems. Development is based primarily on the general mobilisation of the population and the assessment of its potential within a long-term global vision. Positive development experiences have shown that anchorage to the past and local experiences related to external activities (representing adjustment to technical progress) create innovation-oriented dynamics. These processes, with their roots in a territory and history, do not function when they have to face obstacles but when they are supported by the State.

As far as education is concerned, it is important to mention that priority has to be given to primary education, as is the case in Asia.

Development also implies familiarity with the mechanisms with which regulations are established on an international scale; considering the complexity of the international system, international aid should be more centred on training (for example, legal experts to control WTO mechanisms) than on technical assistance, which can create badly balanced situations if it is not suitably adapted. Technical aid, moreover, does not guarantee learning.

* For the State to be legitimate as well as legal, it should make every effort to obtain a global view of the society of which it is part. We also need to ask ourselves the following question: what is the present meaning of citizenship?

Are we citizens of the world, of Europe, of a region, a nation or a place?

Neither of these exclusively. There are plural citizenships that depend on each individual’s history. Citizenship depends on civic education, and on the opportunity that individuals have to belong to society as persons and not as mere economic agents, and to fulfil themselves, for themselves and for others, beyond the perspective of material benefits.


Summary of the original breakthrough document (6 pages) drafted by the co-ordinators and the organisers of the European continental assembly at Peles.

The political unity of continental Europe as a region

Continental Europe must build its political unity in order to become a centre for regional governance.

The purpose of this European regional governance is to contribute towards wider, world governance whose optimum configuration would be polycentric, with agreements between regions. Each region would be given the power of exemplariness, in order to bypass vetoes by vested interests to block progress (the example of the UN Security Council), and thereby counter the current system based on trials of strength.

A new concept of citizenship

Until recently, the "citizen" placed his or her confidence regarding many situations in disinterested and uncontested experts: doctors, teachers, farmers, political leaders, etc. Today these institutions and persons should accept reconsidering their roles, seeing them contractually rather than as a mission. In return, it is obvious that citizens must take on more duties. They will have to take responsibility for the consequences of the decisions made with them, since then nobody can plead ignorance or powerlessness. Citizens will have a voice in their own destinies, with no more clerks to speak in their name.

Governance based on active/participatory subsidiarity and solidarity

Institutional subsidiarity : This means that all decisions are taken at the level closest to the issue concerned, and thus the people involved, however it is important to check : financial viability ; solidarity between territories ; level of knowledge of the issue ; respect for the opinion of minorities when taking decisions ; participation by citizens ; efficient decision-making and agreement of the local community.

Participatory subsidiarity : All political power must ask for the participation by citizens and/or civil society, and it must ensure the collaboration of the administration. It must therefore dialogue with civil society and set up a participation process so that any citizen can participate in the reflection and decision-making involved. For that it requires a mediator who would ensure they are trained and that what they say is taken into account.

The role of civil society

Current political organisations do not generally associate citizens in their actions or in formulating their decisions. This "shortcoming" is offset spontaneously by citizens who organise themselves : this is the vast though often loosely structured movement known as civil society which generates new forms of collective action. Today this type of organisation is gradually finding its place. These social relays that compose civil society have the following essential functions: stimulation ; crucial intellectual, cultural and social role ; bring issues to light on the national and international stages ; participate in formulating alternative solutions.

Evolution of democracy

The elements have changed : societal complexification, higher level of knowledge, economic globalisation, growing insistence for democracy, etc. The elitist argument that citizens are incapable of making complex decisions falls flat once they have the necessary information. To answer the need for more democracy, and to cease relying on our establishments, we propose instilling the idea of "democratic quality" in society. This implies that representative democracy should be completed and strengthened by participatory democracy at different levels. What’s the "price" of democracy ? Part of the public budget (for example, of the European Commission) could be allocated (in the same way as for elections). This change would be in the public interest and taking this "wealth" into account (agreement and social cohesion) can hardly be considered as a non-productive expense.

Basic income

Full employment has become a myth : we need to examine alternative solutions such as the basic income. Unemployment leads to irreversible situations of social exclusion, whereas a solution avoiding any exclusion by paying out a minimum basic income would allow everyone to return to the labour market if and when there is a shortage of labour. The basic income cannot be compared to other conventional social revenues that are invariably linked to specific social conditions; on the contrary, it would be unconditional and non-discriminatory.

Freedom of movement and opening up borders

Harmonising the European Union's immigration and asylum policies is necessary. But, neither opening them without restriction, nor negating constitutional laws can be considered. For most European citizens, this option that respects the right of human beings to circulate freely between countries is the cause for violent emotional reactions. Acting on these fears demands opening up a debate through which they can be expressed and exorcised. Such a debate would give Europe the opportunity to innovate and formulate policies that correspond to both its democratic ambitions and its future challenges.

Reversing the concept of productive work

It is urgent to dissociate social and individual recognition from employment and productivity. Respect should not only be given to work as a tradable value, all forms of activity should be recognised according to a scale that integrates social, cultural and political dimensions too.

The right to human dignity is still based on work and social recognition is founded only on the "productive" activity it involves. Meaningful production of all kinds should be given social recognition and be taken into account by the community as a whole.

A new conception of territorial management

Europe has such limited space and a very large population. We must above all think of this territory as fulfilling a host of functions, but in an integrated way : each part of the territory must fulfil the largest number of functions possible: environmental, production, social, etc. This implies radical change since it entails subordinating economic policies to territorial management. It is manifestly absurd at present to continue an independent agricultural policy.

Modification of how wealth is calculated

The mechanism generally used for measuring and/or comparing the quality of life and well being of our societies, i.e. GNP (Gross Domestic Product) is no longer adequate ; because it is unable to express the distribution of this wealth, it is generally limited to official markets while it excludes informal activities, and makes no distinction between the growth generated by industry that satisfy consumer demand and the economic activity that merely serves to offset the destructive consequences of industrialisation. For all these reasons, we ask our political leaders to give up this mechanism and use other indicators such as HDI (Human Development Indicators) that does not only take into account economic values, but also values such as health, education, culture and environment.

Renovating education

Education must have several objectives: it must no longer only focus on awarding professional qualifications but must be restored as a "free" service and teach people how to use their spare time ; it must educate on civic responsibilities and analyse the social and political environments ; it must educate citizens to have open minds. This requires leaving behind purely national visions of education in order to instil an education with European vision. It also entails recognising the diversity and cultural plurality of individuals.

The transformation of international relations (co-development and contracts)

Europe currently imposes its economic and political interests as well as its Western system of democracy in its development activities. The aim is, on the contrary, to change this outlook and demand that Europe take a contractual approach to all its development actions. The contract should set out the rights and duties of each party, clearly explaining the interest of each of them. The concept of development would therefore change into one of co-development.

Europe could use this contractual method in an independent way in other regions of the world, in view to creating polycentric world governance. (Why not draw up a contract between two regions to reduce the greenhouse effect, without being held up while waiting for world-wide consensus.)


The handling of the crisis of 11 September 2001 demonstrates the weakness of world governance in dealing with terrorism and its financing, resulting in authority being given to one country, due to its power, to exact justice itself. The divide is widening between the leaders of states and public opinion and between the peoples of the North and the South. Most feel that current world regulations have no legitimacy and are ill-adapted to increasing interdependence between societies and between humanity and the biosphere. We cannot be satisfied by modifications made on the sidelines of the present system; a new architecture based on another vision of the world and governance has become indispensable.

1- The issue of “world governance” is no longer simply a question of relations between sovereign states. Since it is not possible to set up democratic world governance elected by universal suffrage in the short term, an original system must be invented that is capable of dealing with complex challenges common to humankind. This means new regulations, laws and constraints. For them to be accepted by the world’s peoples, they must be seen to be legitimate, with clear objectives and to apply to rich and poor countries alike. Moreover, their definition and control requires the participation of all peoples.

2- “World governance” is no longer a system to be considered “apart”, operating according to principles different to those of states and territorial authorities. Every level of government is a part of the same edifice and must be based on the same principles. Their relations are regulated by the principle of active subsidiarity.

3- World governance requires common foundations: a) common objectives: sustainable development, the reduction of inequalities, peace; b) a common ethical basis: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of Human Responsibilities. These are the foundations on which it is possible to define the areas of action by the international community, since the hierarchy of norms and standards apply to every area (trade, the environment, health, security, etc.), and to the great world causes in which both states and multilateral institutions must co-operate.

4- An international community conscious of its unity and diversity must emerge in order to break away from the present system of relations between states. This community does not simply consist of co-operation between “blocks”. It is also composed of relations between social and professional "milieus" that occupy very different positions in society and the economy, with every milieu claiming its rights but acknowledging its responsibilities vis-à-vis the others. Rethinking governance also means rethinking the “social contract” that links different milieus with the rest of society. This is why the construction of the international community must include: a) the emergence of regional communities that group the countries of the same region, in the same way as the European Union; b) the institution of international "collegial communities” that gather people from the same milieu and share the desire to apply the Charter of Human Responsibilities to their field.

5- A community needs founding actions: a world parliament held in 2008 could be the solemn occasion for bringing together regional and collegial communities. The Lille Assembly is the first step in this direction.

6- The world is not a merchandise. World governance defines the principles that state what does and does not belong to the realm of trade. The following should not be subject to trade: world public property (air, water, etc.), the use of natural resources, goods that multiply through sharing, especially that which belongs to the realm of sharing knowledge and experiences .

7- World governance is based on a new vision of the world in which less attention is paid to each person’s activity and competency than to the organisation of relations and the methods of co-operation between levels of governance and between actors in the public and private sectors. This puts an end to the black and white division between public actors that manage public interests and private actors that serve private interests. Most importantly, a private actor whose activity has an impact on the public therefore takes on public responsibilities. This is the framework in which new relations are forged between multilateral institutions and civil society, resulting in a new philosophy of partnership and contract linking public and private law. Application of this philosophy to the international debt, for example, would bring about the conditions making it possible to judge the validity of a contract between a government and an international financial institution.

8- An arena must be built for world public opinion and community debates encouraged to ensure the emergence of an international community and democratic world governance. The democratic use of Internet could be a powerful tool to this end. Organised civil society constitutes the counterbalance required, in particular by calling governments to account and contributing to a permanent audit of multilateral institutions.

9- Regarding international public policies the "power of proposals”, over which the United Nations General Secretary would have complete authority, in the same way as the European Commission, must be dissociated from the “power of decision” which would belong to an Assembly of World Regions, with each regional community being represented fairly.
Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer © 2003