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Global Dialogue 2007
Global Dialogue 2007: building global communities for all life
theme Theme of Global Dialogue 2007: building global communities for all life
Building global communities for all life Global Dialogue 2007: building global communities for all life

Community Rights

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Section 4, Community Rights, on the Scale of Human and Earth Rights includes 'direct democracy'



Perhaps now we should introduce some important members of the Global Community: the global civil society, the Earth Community, the human family, all different ways of expressing the same people.

What rights should be assigned to 'a global community' and to the Global Community? All life on Earth is part of communities and, therefore, every human being has a responsibility toward all lifeforms.

To determine rights requires an understanding of needs and responsibilities and their importance. The Scale of Human and Earth Rights and the Charter of the Global Community were researched and developed by the Global Community to guide us in continuing this process. The Scale shows social values in order of importance and so will help us understand the rights and responsibilities of global communities.


We can no longer perceive ourselves as a People who could survive alone and a People who does not need anyone else. We belong and depend to this much larger group, that of the Global Community. The 21st Century will see limitless links and interrelationships with the Global Community.

Every single human being must deal responsibly with the affairs going on in his (her) own 'global community' ~ when a person takes personal responsibility for his own affairs ~ he becomes empowered as a person. He can then reach beyond his own property and family, and help to work with others living in and around, even a part of the local community he lives in ~ the villages, the town community, the surrounding territory, and so on.

The key is personal responsibility. Therefore the individual is the important element, one who takes responsibility for his community. This individual cares about jobs, homes, streets, the welfare and success of his community.

When a group of ordinary people realized they, personally, will make the changes they need in their fields, in their village. They can then find ways to bring these changes for all. There is a wisdom in the ways of very humble people that needs to be used. Every humble person deserves to have ideas respected, the courage to develop his own life for the better and for the good of all. Sound solutions to help manage and sustain Earth will very likely be found this way. Everyone can help assess the needs of the planet now and propose sound solutions for its proper management, present and future.

Perhaps now we should introduce some important members of the Global Community: the global civil society, the Earth Community, the human family, all different ways of expressing the same people. Most of the time many politicians representing their citizens at the United Nations have no knowledge, experience, and understanding of global problems. They seek advise from others, and these 'others' are always memebers of the global civil society. Yet politicians make global decisions or the lack of them during meetings. Politicians become actors on the world scene. Actors taken jobs they are not always qualified to take in reality. They make decisions and they dont understand consequences. In effect, politicians are threatening the security of all people and all life on Earth.

The global civil society is made of people from all aspects of life who have a greater understanding of the problem whatever it may be. The global civil society is the mind, heart and Soul of humanity, the human family. They maybe NGOs, businesses, agencies, scientists and professionals, religious groups, or other groups. They should have a voting right during all meetings of the General Assembly and Security Council of the United Nations. They are given an important status in the Global Community.

During Global Dialogues 2000, 2002 and 2004 we have found why each member of this Global Community is important ~ and how all work together to create a good place to live. Now is time to assign rights to these working communities. What rights should be assigned to 'a global community' and to the Global Community? All life on Earth is part of communities and, therefore, every human being has a responsibility toward all lifeforms.

To determine rights requires an understanding of needs and reponsibilities and their importance. The Scale of Human and Earth and the Charter of the Global Community are the best guidance for continuing this process. The Scale shows social values in order of importance and so will help us understand the rights of a community. What are the universal needs of a person, family, a community?

All families need shelter, food, parents, language, body of knowledge, certain skills, a source of income. Security of the home is an important aspect for any family and the global community it belongs to. The needs of a community raise the question of interacting universal responsibilities. In terms of parenthood, parents must raised their children mentally and physically healthy. It is a responsibility to do so. Which also means each local community must have an educational system to help parents rasie the child.

Morally right actions or policies are those that result in the greatest number of people. How meaningful is the right of the greatest number of people if they agree to damage the ecological base of the Earth. The greatest number of people cannot and will not be allowed to supersede the rights of the ecological base of Earth.

How meaningful is the right to life or to participation in political life if poverty, gender inequality, destitution and epidemics prevent individuals from enjoying freedom of movement, freedom to vote, to marry and so on? The economic and social rights are the essential prerequisite for the effectiveness and exercise of all other rights (other than ecological rights) recognized for human beings. The developing countries are having a harder time than others to achieve the exercise of these rights on a lasting basis, with the problems of economic globalization presenting new challenges. We must therefore beware of enforcing economic rights alone to the detriment of individual civil rights and the rights of all individuals to decide their own fate and the future of their country, their political rights. The universality of human rights recognizes the right of all individuals to participate in the cultural life of their community and of other country, to receive education and training, and to be informed.

Traditional customs and standards could burden the sustainability of all life on Earth. They could burden Earth society or any society forever, and holds individuals in a straitjacket. We cannot accept that. No one can! There are choices to be made and you must make them. Cultures can develop and can go on developing. Even religious beliefs may evolve. We are living now and we are able to create these changes. Cultural and religious differences cannot be a reason or an excuse or a pretext for not respecting human and Earth rights including and most importantly the ecological rights. Quite the contrary, all kinds of cultures may promote human and Earth rights. They are different in their achievements, but they are equal in dignity where they are expressions of freedom. At any time or in any given place, men, women and children use their culture to invent new ways of making human and Earth rights a living reality. Diversity enriches us if it respects the dignity of each individual, and if it takes account of human and Earth rights as a whole.

Global consumption is a very important aspect of a community's needs. Consumers should be concerned with the impact of their decisions on the environment but also on the lives, human and Earth rights and well-being of other people. Since one of the key functions of families as a social institution is to engage in production (selling their labour in return for wages) and consumption (using those wages to buy goods and services), then the role of families has impacts on sustainable consumption and development. This certainly limits the rights of a family and of a community.

Just as corporations have  social responsibilities and so do consumers in societies. Consumers are socialized to improve the quality of their lives. Quality of life is a multi-dimensional, complex and very subjective concept. For instance, someone who has changed their consumption habits to better ensure that their choices will make a better quality of life for themselves, the environment and future generations, may be seen by others as having a lower or inferior quality of life since they have removed themselves from the materialistic mainstream characteristic of our consumer society. Someone may feel that an absence of violence and abuse in their life leads to a higher quality of living even though they have fewer tangible resources, money, or shelter; peace of mind and freedom from abuse has increased the quality of their daily life relative to what it was like before. There are universal quality of life values which lead to 'human betterment' or the improvement of the human condition. In addition to the value of species survival (human and other living organisms), they include: adequate resources, justice and equality, freedom, and peace or balance of power. A better quality of life for all people of the Global Community is a goal for all of us.

The concept of a community being the street where we live in and surrounded by a definite geographical and political boundary has originated during the Roman Empire period. An entire new system of values was then created to make things work for the Roman Empire. Humanity has lived with this concept over two thousand years. Peoples from all over the world are ready to kill anyone challenging their border. They say that this is their land, their property, their 'things'. This archaic concept is endangering humanity and its survival. The Roman Empire has gone but its culture is still affecting us today. We need to let go the old way of thinking. We need to learn of the new concept, and how it can make things work in the world.

A global community is not about a piece of land you acquired by force or otherwise. A typical community of a million people does not have to be bounded by a geographical or political border. It can be a million people living in many different locations all over the world. The Global Community is thus more fluid and dynamic. We need to let go the archaic ways of seeing a community as the street where we live and contained by a border. Many conflicts and wars will be avoided by seeing ourselves as people with a heart, a mind and a Soul, and as part of a global community with the same.

The effect of such change in our ways will be acceptance of being a part of the global community and that each one of us is doing things for the good of all. In this way, the heart, mind and spirit of the Global Community will be in the forefront of positive actions to ensure our survival.


Rights of direct democracy
As defined in Chapter 10.6.3 of the Global Constitution, direct democracy is a community right. Direct democracy is important to sustain life on the planet but its position on the Scale gives it its overall importance. 'Direct democracy' is very much like a voting system based on 'proportional representation'. There are many different aspects of 'direct democracy'. For instance, in a single riding there may be as many as 8 seats and and several candidates running. Parties offer voters a slate of local candidates. Voters can rank candidates of the same party, but may also choose to give support to candidates of different parties. Voters rank as many or as few candidates as they wish. Voters can rank any number of candidates without fear their vote will be wasted by selecting unpopular candidates. A voterís rankings will be considered in order until that voterís ballot can be used. When your number one choice is eliminated for lack of support your number two becomes your first choice. When a voterís ballot is used in support of a given candidate, but that candidate has a surplus of votes, a ballotís unused portion will be transferred to the voterís next choice until a ballotís full value has been used. Most votes will count, little fear of wasting oneís vote, no fear of vote splitting. No need to support a candidate or party you donít really want for fear of helping elect those you like even less. You can vote authentically. This is freedom for voters. This is how democracy is supposed to work. This voting system empowers voters more than parties because votes are for candidates not for parties. Also, candidate selection will take place at the local riding level, not at party head office. Most importantly, voters will rank candidates of the same party as well as candidates of different parties. It maximizes choice for voters. Competition is not just between candidates of different parties but also between candidates of the same party. This voting system is also a measure of independence from party control and that will make a very significant contribution to greater accountability in government. It will yield a legislature that mirrors the political, social, ethnic, and geographic diversity of a population. Electing candidates in multi-member ridings ensures a broader range of political interests and issues will be represented than is possible under any other system. Preferential voting induces a politics of cooperation, consensus, and civility.

Direct democracy comprises a form of democracy and theory of civics wherein all citizens can directly participate in the political decision-making process. Some proposed systems would give people both legislative and executive powers, but most extant systems allow input into the legislative process only. Direct democracy in its traditional form is rule by the people through referenda. The people are given the right to pass laws, veto laws and withdraw support from a representative (if the system has representatives) at any time.

Direct democracy in its modern sense is characterized by three pillars:

*     Initiative
*     Referendum including binding referenda
*     Recall

The second pillar can include the ability to hold a binding referendum on whether a given law should be scrapped. This effectively grants the populace a veto on government legislation. The third pillar gives the people the right to recall elected officials by petition and referendum.

In Canada, the use of citizens' assemblies (also known as an estates-general in the province of Quebec), involving citizen bodies chosen at random, is growing and avoids the disadvantages of older, more plebiscitary forms of direct democracy. The province of British Columbia recently set up a Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform in which members were chosen at random for each riding. The citizens' assembly has just recommended the province use Single Transferable Voting (STV) to elect the provincial legislature. In a referendum conducted on May 17, 2005, 57% of the voters approved by this new system of voting.

 

 

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