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Global Civil Society

March 20, 2006
 
 We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its
 future. …To move ahead we must recognize that in the midst of the magnificent diversity
 of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a
 common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded
 on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.
 –
The Earth Charter
 
 
The principles of Earth Democracy:
 

I.     Earth Community

We are all members of an Earth community. Life exists only in complex, self-regulating, self-regenerating multi-species communities in which the health of every individual organism depends on the health of the community that sustains it. We humans are no exception.

 

2.     Intrinsic Worth and Rights of All Species and Peoples

All species, persons, and cultural communities have intrinsic worth and basic rights. It is the responsibility of each person to protect the rights and welfare of all species and all people. No human person or institution has the right to treat other species or persons with cruelty or violence; deprive them of the ecological space necessary to their survival; or claim rights of ownership over their knowledge or genetic codes through patents or other intellectual property rights.

 

3.     Diversity in Nature and Culture

Biological and cultural diversity is at once a sacred heritage and a resource essential to the vitality, resilience, capacity for innovation, and self-regulating, self-regenerating processes of all living systems — including human societies. Biological diversity assures the continuity and resiliency of life. Through cultural diversity we come to know the rich variety of the human experience and the vast range of the possibilities available to us as a species. Economic diversity is the foundation of resilient, energy efficient, self-reliant, local economies that serve the needs of people, community, and nature. The defense of diversity is a basic responsibility of all persons.

 

4.     Natural Rights to Common Heritage Resources

The water, land, air, sunlight, forests, and fisheries essential to life and the foundation of all wealth are the natural gifts of creation. Technology, knowledge, and culture are collective creations of the human species and embody the creative contributions of countless individuals, each building on the gifts of those who went before in a line extending back to our earliest ancestors. The gifts of nature and the gifts of our fellow humans are all by natural right common heritage resources to be shared equitably among all persons and all of life’s children. No state, corporation, or individual has the right to monopolize common heritage resources or to deprive any individual of their rightful, equitable share in the benefits derived there from.

 

5.     Economic Democracy

Economic democracy — the equitable participation in ownership rights to the common heritage wealth of society and the right of access of every person to an adequate and dignified livelihood — a means of living — is an essential foundation of political democracy and economic justice. Markets respond to the wants of those with money and disregard even the most basic needs of those who lack the means to pay. For markets to allocate fairly and efficiently there must be an equitable distribution of ownership rights and purchasing power. 

 

6.    Living Economies

We humans have proven our ability to create a global suicide economy that mimics a cancer to the end of making money for the rich. We must now learn to create a planetary system of living economies that provide people with the means of living healthy, full, and meaningful lives through the production and fair exchange of life-serving goods and services. Because conservation of the earth’s resources and creation of sustainable and satisfying livelihoods is most caringly, creatively, efficiently, and equitably achieved within place-based communities, living economies have strong local roots. They are comprised primarily of locally-owned, human-scale enterprises that use local resources to meet local needs. They trade their surpluses with one another nationally and internationally for goods and services they are not reasonably able to produce for themselves using local resource, labor, and knowledge.

 

7.     Living Democracy

True democracy involves the active engagement in public life of every person — the living practice of citizenship — based on principles of inclusion, diversity, ecological and social responsibility, respect for the rights and freedoms of every person, and recognition that all legitimate authority flows from the will of the people. Those who will bear the consequences of a decision must have a voice in making it. The role of a democratic state is not to rule, but to secure the political voice of every person and the popular accountability of the society’s institutions. When the power of the people is usurped by distant politicians who rule in the people’s name without direct popular participation, democracy dies.

 

8.     Living Knowledge

Earth Democracy is based on the earth-centered and community-centered knowledge created by, embodied in, and essential to the healthful function of the living systems of nature and society. This living knowledge is continuously renewed through the discovery and actualization of unfolding possibilities as life adapts to its ever changing context. Living knowledge is a commons that belongs collectively to all communities that contribute to creating, nurturing, and renewing it. All humans have a duty to share knowledge. No person or corporation has a right to enclose, monopolize, patent, or exclude others from the beneficial use of living knowledge.

 

9.     Balancing Rights with Responsibility

Freedom and responsibility are inseparable companions, for there is no freedom without responsibility. Among all species, we humans have the greatest freedom of choice as to how we will live and the greatest impact on the life of the whole. We therefore bear a special responsibility for the health and well-being of the whole, including taking all necessary steps to avoid the use of technologies that pose a potential threat to life.

 

10.    Globalizing Peace, Mutual Responsibility, and Compassion

Earth democracy seeks the connection of people in circles of caring, cooperation and compassion through the globalization of caring, not hate; abundance, not scarcity; sufficiency, not greed; peace, not war. It seeks to globalize the right and freedom of all people to create and explore new ways of being and organizing consistent with their values and experience and to participate fully in local, national, and global public life.

 
 
People Centred Development Forum 
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