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Symposium 2015

Norms for Constructive Coexistence: Challenges of Collective Action

The Challenge

To manage systemic global risks, we must manage transnational challenges more effectively. The tension between the short-term popular pressures on national leaders, and the trade-offs needed to balance costs and benefits in international transactions and those with intergenerational significance, complicates collective action. Current events, from the recent global (and European) financial crises, through geopolitical challenges and the transformative effects of new technologies, to the risk of inflection points if we transgress planetary boundaries, make it clear that present arrangements are unsatisfactory.

No State power can today build a world order on its values and norms. As the U.S. National Intelligence Council, recognised in 2008, in Global Trends 2025, this is both a reality and a continuing trend for the foreseeable future:

“The whole international system - as constructed following WWII - will be revolutionized. Not only will new players - Brazil, Russia, India and China - have a seat at the international high table, they will bring new stakes and rules of the game.”

The rescendence of Asian powers, with deep historical reservoirs and literate high cultures, makes challenges to the norms of international exchange established over almost two centuries of Western dominance, inevitable. The normative grip of the West on the world has slipped, and the characteristics of a successor regime are still unclear.

The conduct of international relations involves nation states pursuing national interests in accordance with their values, in an environment in which the interests and the values of other states may well diverge. This tension is mitigated by joint definition of a legitimate order that accommodates the reasonable interests of all powers. Periods of relative peace and stability have been characterized by agreement on the norms constituting the legitimate order in each era, and a balance of power enabling the accommodation of the vital interests of each state.

Hedley Bull observed that a global society must comprise ’ . . . a group of states, conscious of . . . common interests and common values . . . conceiv[ing] themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations to one another.”

The challenge is thus to clarify the interests and the values that nations hold to, on different matters of collective importance, and to negotiate the common set of rules that will shape inter-state behaviour, and our collective conduct on matters affecting the global commons. Only well-defined, widely-accepted norms can reduce and manage the tension between short-term national interests and the demands of a coherent global order. Only by defining an inclusive normative framework appropriate to our time, can we create an anchor the systems of regional and global governance needed to meet the needs of our highly connected world.

This does not require us to deny the diversity of cultures and value systems in global society. It does demand an honest enquiry into what we hold in common. While group identities and cultural differences contribute to the richness of humanity, our ability to co-exist in an interdependent world requires respect for, and adherence to, a certain quantum of universally-accepted norms. The challenge lies in defining the norms that all will accept, and applying them to particular needs at appropriate scales, while leaving room for proper expression of the diversity of human cultures.

This session is organized by the FutureWorld Foundation, Switzerland. Please check out the tabs below for additional facts and information.

    Solutions

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Towards the Common Good, in Practice

    Towards the Common Good, in Practice

    Towards the Common Good, in Practice

    Virtual Library

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Shared Values for Constructive Global Coexistence: A Chinese Position from the Perspectives of “Écart” and “Polarity”

    The authors compare translations of some culturally important Chinese terms in the writings of a Western missionary and a Chinese intellectual. They seek to display a unique logic behind the double in ...

    The authors compare translations of some culturally important Chinese terms in the writings of a Western missionary and a Chinese intellectual. They seek to display a unique logic behind the double interpretation of Chinese and Western ideas in their writings, and suggest that this logic should be the foundation of constructive global coexistence.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Sharing the Norms and Values that Enable Global Coexistence: From the Russian Perspective

    The author elaborates on the Russian view of norms and values and argues that the normative framework that Russians have identified with has drastically changed over the last two decades from Christia ...

    The author elaborates on the Russian view of norms and values and argues that the normative framework that Russians have identified with has drastically changed over the last two decades from Christian morality, to secular, Soviet communism. In the absence of a full new set of norms to take over after 1990s, he highlights the current importance of sovereignty, independence, justice, and strength and the evolution of these norms in Russia's relationship to the West.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Islamic Perspectives on Developing Shared Norms and Values to Enable Constructive Global Coexistence

    The author discusses the importance of religious values in the Islamic World and presents value-related interpretations of the Qur’an and Islamic thought that contribute to norms that are globally s ...

    The author discusses the importance of religious values in the Islamic World and presents value-related interpretations of the Qur’an and Islamic thought that contribute to norms that are globally shared. The author also reflects on the religious thought that underpins the policy-making of many national regimes in the Islamic World that is at odds with liberal Western values.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Sharing the norms and values that enable global coexistence, while respecting cultural differences

    In order to understand and potentially overcome the origins of violence and extremism, the author calls for a greater effort to take diverse perspectives and engage in dialogues with different religio ...

    In order to understand and potentially overcome the origins of violence and extremism, the author calls for a greater effort to take diverse perspectives and engage in dialogues with different religions, disciplines, and worldviews.