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The mission of The Global Citizens’ Initiative (TGCI) is to help build a participatory, values-based, and sustainable world community. Such a community needs to be participatory in order to be responsible to its members and engage them in governance. It needs to be values-based and grounded in the global norms and standards, such as human rights, agreed upon by world leaders since the end of World War II; and it also needs to be sustainable, committed to replenishing the natural resources that people around the world use to feed, clothe and otherwise support themselves. The building of such a world community is the major challenge facing our planet in this new millennium. Without it the world will remain fragmented and vulnerable to continued environmental degradation, socio-economic conflict, and autocratic leaders.
The conditions for building a participatory, values-based, sustainable world community are perhaps more favorable than they have ever been. Why is this so?
First, the number of political, economic, and social issues that can’t be solved by individual nation-states on their own is growing; issues such as human rights, environmental protection, poverty reduction, the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and others.
Secondly, we are witnessing the erosion of the concept of a “super-power.” It is becoming increasingly difficult for any country to assume responsibility by itself for solving a global crisis, for example witness the global reaction to the US effort to use its military force to resolve the civil war in Syria. There is a general worldwide dispersal of resources and might that used to be ascribed to countries like the United States or the former USSR, and with this dispersal of power comes a demand for increased collaboration among governments that is needed to solve global problems.
Thirdly, there are the growing number of global governance organizations already embarked on establishing the norms and standards needed for the building of world community. Examples of such global governance organizations range from the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund to the International Standards Organization and the International Federation of Accountants. Some of these organizations have excellent open and transparent structures and do great work, some are in need of reform, and some may be redundant with one another. But the increase in the number of these organizations provides early evidence, on the governance level, that world community-building already is taking place.
Finally, in terms of conditions favorable to the building of world community, there is the globalization of peoples’ identities. A global dimension has been added to most peoples’ lives today. It has been added in many ways, for example through the clothes that we wear, the food we eat, our interactions on the Internet, the work that we do, or even the entertainment we enjoy. At many different levels we all are engaged globally. Therefor the potential exists for people around the world to build on their global identity and adopt the practice of global citizenship needed for building world community.
Yet despite these favorable community-building conditions, many challenges lie ahead. The creation of a sustainable values-based world community will not happen unless we find ways to grow and support more global leaders; raise the awareness of people around the world about the need for them to assert their global citizenship rights and responsibilities; and increase the ability of global governance organizations to more actively engage citizens in the development and implementation of policies and programs that affect them.
TGCI’s contribution to meeting these challenges lies in the work we do with citizens and governance organizations around the world. We help raise awareness of the importance of people seeing themselves as global citizens with universal rights and responsibilities. We also work with governance organizations (governments, international agencies, transnational businesses) to help them do a better job of engaging citizens in the development and implementation of their organizational policies and programs.
We welcome your participation in The Global Citizens’ Initiative. Please visit our website and complete a short registration form. It’s free. www.gcitizen.org
Ron Israel is co-founder and a Board member of The Global Citizens’ Initiative (TGCI), a member based organization that seeks to strengthen the practice of global citizenship.