2000 Council On Ideas
Position Statement

2000 Council on Ideas Members:
M. Cherif Bassiouni
Murray Gell-Mann
Nikki Giovanni
Stanley Karnow
Anna C. Roosevelt

We are living in a time of accelerating globalization, and not only in commerce, finance, and communications. Moreover, we now have the ability to make very significant changes on a global scale that affect humankind and the rest of the biosphere.

The human race is facing a wide range of tightly connected challenges, including issues of war and peace, extremes of poverty and wealth, intolerance and tolerance, resource exploitation and biological diversity, and crime and the rule of law.

The potential use of weapons of mass destruction by individuals and groups as well as nations poses a very serious danger. Meanwhile, conflicts with conventional weapons are causing tragedy in many parts of the world. Yet the major organizers of large-scale violence usually remain unpunished as the international community pursues expedient political settlements, ignoring the maxim that without justice there can be no peace.

The appearance of centralized and stratified societies over the last ten thousand years or so, the growth of human populations, and the development of new technologies have greatly increased human impacts on the environment. Today, locally and globally, the physical environment is being degraded and biological diversity is being lost on a large scale. It is important to implement the “planetary bargain,” by which developed nations share the cost of environmental protection in the developing world.

Achievement of economic and social justice includes the need for reducing the enormous gaps between the rich and the poor among and within societies. Access to resources, justice, education, technology, and security is often very unequal, and these inequalities are often associated with differences in race, ethnicity, gender, age, and nationality.

In addressing these and other crucial challenges, their interdependence must be recognized. Yet our transnational and national institutions deal with them in a compartmentalized way. There is no integrative strategy. In addition, the bureaucracies need to pursue their goals with greater adaptability, including accountability and transparency, responsiveness to criticism, and flexibility in the face of change.
Addressing these concerns requires a balance between the rights and prerogatives of communities and those of individuals.

For example,

  • Accountability for international crimes should be firmly established through an international criminal court, national justice systems, and truth and reconciliation commissions, as well as through victim compensation and other measures of redress.
  • Encouraging democracy and good governance and supporting the rule of law requires public accountability, access to information, and the exercise of civic and political rights by all members of the population.
  • Social justice requires greater responsiveness to the interests and needs of vulnerable segments of societies such as women, children, minorities, the disabled, the aged, and refugees.
  • Education for the coming age calls for new approaches and a strong program of research on effective techniques and strategies, as well as vigorous debate on how the necessary resources can be provided for universal education of high quality. In addition, for children to learn they need a secure existence for themselves and their families.
  • Societies owe to their populations access to adequate health care irrespective of individual resources. Research in health care policy as well as in biomedical science can be of use in finding better ways for communities to fill gaps in health care
  • The influence of transnational corporations is increasing and they should be brought under a system of national and international accountability.
  • Sustainable resource management can exploit the synergy between conservation of ecological systems and fulfillment of the needs of local communities dependent on those systems.

Noting that progress has been made in recent times in addressing the issues of the coming age and acknowledging the rise of international civil society and its role in dealing with the problems of globalism, the members of the 2000 Council on Ideas are hopeful that through human solidarity and the recognition of our interdependence the challenges will be met.